North East Family Fun

A UK Family Travel & Lifestyle Blog

89% of people in the UK do not drink enough water - are you one of them?

*This is a paid collaboration

I was shocked to learn recently that 89% of us living in the UK don't drink enough water to keep us hydrated. I know I can count myself in this list too. I tend to go through phases of being really conscious about drinking lots of water and on some sort of health kick but sadly this is matched by my equally unhealthy phases of drinking too much coffee or sugary drinks. Obviously this isn't ideal for my long-term health. 

There are countless benefits to drinking water. These include:

  • Increasing energy
  • Flushing out toxins
  • Improving skin
  • Boosts immune system
  • Improves brain function
  • Can help prevent headaches
  • Can help with weight loss
The benefits clearly speak for themselves. AQUA PLUS is a young German company with an ambition to get people to drink more water. They don't want to replace water with their water enhancers, just encourage people to drink more of it. I've been trying out their water enhancing products over the last few weeks and actually, it has worked for me so far and I've found myself consciously thinking that I should opt for water instead of a sugary alternative. The fact that I can add a squirt of AQUA PLUS to ensure it tastes nice certainly helps. 

A little about AQUA PLUS:

  • A natural alternative to the usual 'no added sugar' drinks
  • Free of sugar and calories
  • Uses natural sweeteners derived from Stevia plants - perfect for those who wish to reduce their sugar intake
  • Contains all natural ingredients. No aspartame or artificial colours
  • Makes 75 drinks with one small bottle - the bottles are only 30ml and perfect to pop in your bag and take to work
  • Many flavours are suitable for Vegans and Gluten free

AQUA PLUS is available in a range of flavours and it's fair to say there's a flavour for everyone. The kids love them too and Jack has been asking for AQUA PLUS Cherry in a glass of water instead of his normal orange juice with his dinner every night this week. For me, it's the raspberry flavour that I like the most. Steve really likes the Mango flavour. You can add as much or little of Aqua Plus as you like too. Jack loves his Cherry drink to be made quite strong. Flavours include:
  • Raspberry
  • Grapefruit
  • Mango
  • Elderflower
  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Cherry Blackcurrant

I'd recommend giving AQUA PLUS a try if you're conscious you need to drink more water. This little kick of flavour might be just what you need to keep motivated and drink more water. I'd also highly recommend finding a flavour your kids like too. Sometimes my kids love drinking water but other times (especially when we're out for the day and they spy fruit shoots or capri suns for sale), they won't entertain the idea. I know now that the Cherry AQUA PLUS is just as appealing to Jack as a bottle of regular fruit squash and will just keep it in my bag to add a few drops to a bottle of water when we're out and about. It's good to know that this is a 100% natural product that encourages the whole family to stay hydrated.

As a final note, AQUA PLUS is actually clear when it's added to water. If you fancy a bit of fun with the family, try a blind taste test and see if they can guess the flavours.


When half term plans go wrong

This half term I had decided I was going to book a last minute break in the sun. I decided the Canaries (and probably Tenerife) would be the best bet. Harry declared he wanted to stay at home with Steve (who is working) so it would just be myself, Jack and Heidi. I really needed a break in the sun where I could just chill out. However, my plan didn't go quite to plan as all of the deals I had been watching sold out before I had the money ready to book and then Jack declared he had developed a sudden fear of flying and started crying that he didn't want to go on a plane! Ah! So I just stopped looking at holidays altogether.

As Steve is working all of half term apart from one day, I don't have access to our car. I decided to have a look at National Holidays bus trips and found a fab deal for myself and the kids - for £260 we'd be picked up from Whitley Bay, taken to Cadbury World on Saturday, stay in a hotel on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis and then head to West Midlands Safari Park on Sunday before being brought home. This looked fab but I didn't book as I thought I'd speak to the kids about it first. They loved the idea but when I logged in to book all of the quadruple family rooms had been taken and they won't let us sleep in a triple room (I'd happily share a bed with Heidi) or let Harry have his own room. Ahhhhh!

Next I had the brilliant idea of spending a Paddington-themed day in Newcastle. We'd go and see the new movie at the Tyneside Cinema and then enjoy lunch at the Paddington Cafe in Fenwick. I started to get excited! I checked the cinema times though and discovered that Paddington's not actually released until 10 November. What's that all about!!!

So I've kind of given up on half term plans if I'm honest. We're just going to use next week to relax at home. We do have a few bits and bobs planned such as a family meal to celebrate a family anniversary on Saturday, family afternoon tea on Monday and I've booked tickets to take Heidi and Jack to see the My Little Pony movie. The kids really want to go swimming one day and on Steve's day off I think we might try the Halloween trail at Cherryburn as it's been a while since we visited there and I've never actually written a blog post about this National Trust gem.

Our last trip to Cherryburn - how small are the kids! 

So my plans for October half term are a bit, shall we say 'meh' but you know what, we'll make the most of it and watching movies and having PJ days is still a pretty good way to spend your time right? Who needs a week in the hot sun.

Seventh Generation - A new way to clean in the UK

*This is a paid collaboration. Please see my disclosure policy for details

Have you heard of Seventh Generation? Before they got in touch, I certainly hadn't but I must say their press release piqued my interest. Steve and I are members of the Green Party and are fairly conscious of the impact our lives have on the environment. We aren't what you'd call eco-warriors, but we do like to make small changes where we can and teach our children to respect and care for the environment they live in. Seventh Generation is a brand that really mirrors this ethos so when they asked if they could send us some of their products to try, I agreed. On a personal level, I really wanted to learn more. 

A little bit of an introduction first. Seventh Generation are a very established brand in the US (28 years strong) and have recently crossed over the pond to UK soil. Their household cleaning products are all plant based and contain 0% synthetic fragrances or dyes. Seventh Generation appear to really care about our planet and by 2020 their aims include:

1 - All products and packaging wplant-basedt based or made from recycled materials
2 - All materials are certified as sustainable by a credible third party
3 - Zero waste - all products and packaging will be biodegradable or fully recyclable
4 - All energy will be sourced from non-fossil sources and all Seventh Generation customers will wash their clothes in cold water
5 - Be radically transparent - all ingredients and materials and fully disclosed
6 - Create healthy products for healthy homes. Seventh Generation products are not acutely toxic

These goals are pretty cool right? I'd love to see other brands and businesses taking on such a conscious attitude towards our environment. You can read about Seventh Generation's plan for 'Generation Good' and sign up to join their free community of like-minded people here

My pre-conceptions of 'eco' cleaning products is that they'd be a bit crap. Surely we need all of those chemicals to do a good job right?

Wrong! I've honestly been really impressed with the cleaning power of Seventh Generation products and have to say the all-purpose cleaner leave my benches sparkling. The cleaning power of Seventh Generation products is definitely impressive and if anything, they're a little better than the normal high street brand I normally use as they don't leave any residue.

One thing you need to get used to when using Seventh Generation is that there's no or minimal scent. I am one of those people who loves to throw a bit of bleach down my loo so it smells 'clean' and I think I've just been conditioned to think that bleach is what clean smells like. But really, a bleach smell is quite potent and most people know that bleach can cause burns and that inhaling bleach fumes can cause damage. Yet we still use it! It took around a week of getting used to but now, I like that my bathroom smells 'clean' rather than of bleach and I've been really impressed with this toilet bowl cleaner. It's a product that I'll definitely pick up again in Tesco (I also love that it has a handy spout attached to the cap which helps you to use less product and get more for your money).

Similarly, when I clean my benches with my normal brand of surface cleaner, I am used to that lingering smell that I associate with 'clean'. In reality, it's synthetic and actually not that nice! Again, it took my a while to get used to Seventh Generation Surface Cleaner having no scent and it's weird that my kitchen just smells clean now rather than of harsh synthetic lemon. I spend a fortune on fancy candles and reed diffusers and it's nice to be able to smell them all of the time now. This cleaner comes in a large bottle and will last for ages too.

I've saved the best until last - Seventh Generation Natural Washing Liquid (and Concentrated Washing Liquid) are the products I've been most impressed with. I loved the natural lavender scent and it was lovely and subtle rather than being over-powering. I love that these products are made with 100% essential oils and botanical extracts and that there are absolutely no synthetic fragrances, dyes and artifical brighteners. We do a lot of washing in our house and I feel a little bit more at peace with the world knowing that our family washing is no longer adding anything synthetic to our eco-system. This product is also not tested on animals and it's ingredients have not been tested on animals either. There's no point in using an eco-friendly product if it doesn't work but I'm happy to report that Seventh Generation Natural Washing Liquid works really well - our clothes are still nice and soft and lovely and clean.

Some Seventh Generation products are competitively priced and others are a little more expensive than what I'd normally pay but I kind of see buying a Seventh Generation product kind of like spending a little more on Organic meat rather than buying the meat that's on offer. We all have the choice to decide where we spend our money on and for me, I don't mind spending a little extra on Seventh Generation products as for me, the small increase in cost is worth it. 

Seventh Generation products are available from Tesco and Amazon. I expect them to pop up in a few other places as their popularity grows in the UK too. Let me know if you've tried or fancy trying them?

Seventh Generation Giveaway

If you'd like to sample Seventh Generation for yourself, I have been provided with a box of goodies to give away. Prize includes:
  • 1 x Lavender & Mint Washing Detergent
  • 1 x Free & Clear Washing Detergent
  • 1 x Washing up liquid
  • 1 x toilet bowl cleaner
  • 1 x glass and surface cleaner
  • 1 x all purpose cleaner
One winner will be selected at random from all valid entries and notified by email. All entry options are optional and you can enter via Twitter daily. Giveaway ends midnight 25/10/17


What's On in the North East for Kids | The Ultimate Guide to October Half Term 2017

If you're looking for ideas to keep the kids occupied over October Half Term, this is the post for you. I have handpicked three top events each day and hope to inspire you to try something new. Before you dive in, make sure you check out these posts too:

The Big Trick or Treat at intu Metrocentre

Saturday 21 October 

  • Meet the characters from this year's Custom's House panto, The Lambton Worm, at The Word today at 10:30am & 2pm. Characters will be entertaining guests and posing for photos. Find out more here.
  • Anime Attacks 7 at Gateshead Central Library. This convention celebrates all things Manga. Packed full of fun, special guests and artists. Find out more here
  • Dark Side of Chivalry at Alnwick Castle. Join the Knights in training and hear tales of deceit and backstabbing along the way. Find out more here. 

Sunday 22 October

  • Diwali Fireworks at Westgate Community College for Sport. Enjoy stalls, Indian street food, street entertainers and a funfair from 4pm with a big firework finale at 8pm. Find out more and book here.
  • David Gibb: Climb That Tree at Sage Gateshead. Join David on a magical and surreal journey through his imagination. Find out more and book here.
  • Wand making masterclass at Cragside. Forage the woods for materials and head back to base to create your own wand and cast your own spells. Find out more here. 

Monday 23 October

  • Pumpkin hunt around the centre at Dalton Park. Pick up an entry form from customer services and return for a reward. Find out more here. 

Tuesday 24 October

  • Home alone drive-in movie at Bents Park. A unique movie experience! There'll be hotdogs, nachos, candyfloss and ice cream from Scoop & Bean too. Find out more here. 
  • Vintage buses on the plaza at Discovery Museum. Marvel at the transport of yesteryear and hop aboard for a ride yourself between 10:30am-2:30pm. Find out more here.
  • Halloween Tremendous Tuesday at South Shields Museum & Art Gallery. Join in with crafts themed around 'Day of the Dead'. Find out more here. 

Wednesday 25 October

  • Half Term Curiosities featuring the Crochet Brothers at Sunderland Winter Gardens. A drop-in day packed with FREE fun activities. Get crafty and make a giant moustache, try knitting, weaving and rag making and then follow the Curiosities Trail dressed in disguise. Find out more here.

Thursday 26 October

  • Imagine That : Family Day at Gateshead Central Library. Explore stories in new and exciting ways, meet author Chloe Daykin and have a go at creating your own unusual book. FREE drop-in event. Find out more here.
  •  Hocus Pocus at The Word South Shields. Join in with spooky and immersive storytelling. Guests are invited to come along dressed in their favourite Halloween costumes. Find out more here. 

Friday 27 October

  • Electric boo galoo silent disco at intu Eldon Square. Enter the transformation station for free spooky Halloween hair styling and face painting then showcase your moves in the silent disco. Find out more here
  • Pumpkin Play Day at Wallsend Park. Carve a pumpkin, take part in a special pumpkin treasure trail, enjoy pumpkin soup in the cafe and take part in ghostly games on the green. Find out more here.
  • Liz Pinchon & the Tom Gates Brilliant Bands & Doodle Show Live at Tyne Theatre & Opera House. A huge fun-packed interactive monster drawing event with live music. Find out more and book here. 

Saturday 28 October

  • A celebration of local superheroes - free family fun day at The National Railway Museum, Shildon with Durham Police. This FREE event includes the chance to experience what it's like in a police cell, police vehicles, dog displays, a treasure hunt and crime scene investigations. Find out more here.
  • Pumpkin Carving at Gibside. Head to the stables and meet the special pumpkin carving team. Create your own design and take your complete pumpkin home with you. Find out more and book here.  
  • The Big Trick or Treat at intu Metrocentre. Collect a FREE Pumpkin bucket from the Blue Lounge Customer Services and make your around the centre picking up treats when you spot the pumpkins along the way. Find out more here. 

Sunday 29 October

  • Tanfield Ghost Train at Tanfield Railway. Take part in gruesome games and keep your eyes peeled for creatures lurking in the night! Find out more and book here.
  • Halloween Day at Seaton Delaval Hall. Join in with the pumpkin parade, take part in competitions and enjoy spooky ghost stories in the woods. Find out more here. 
  • Halloween Thrills at The Manor of Horrors, Manor Walks - Cramlington. Bring the kids to enjoy trick or treating around the shopping centre, take part in broomstick training, listen to spooky storytelling and participate in the fancy dress parade at 2pm. Find out more here. 

We did have plans to try and book a last minute deal but sadly that isn't going to happen I don't think. Boooo! All of the good deals now seem to have sold out. We're planning on watching the My Little Pony Movie, swimming and having a day out at a National Trust property too - not sure which one yet.


Sachins - The Best Punjabi Restaurant in Newcastle

*This is a collaborative post. Please see my disclosure policy for details

Sachins is a bit of a North East institution. Standing on the historic Forth Banks for 30 years, it's the place that most Geordies will recommend as the best curry house in toon. To me, it's always felt a little 'out of the way' and I've always been under the impression that it's on the pricey side. Well after our visit today I can say that both of these statements are not true. Sitting just behind the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Central Station, it took us around 10 minutes to walk there from Grey's Monument and their prices were actually really competitive too. 

We were warmly welcomed by the staff and offered a lovely table by the window (perfect for people watching - especially as Northumbria Police HQ is across the road). The staff are knowledgeable and know the menu inside out - our server reeled off the beers on offer and was able to make recommendations without a problem. It may seem like a simple thing but I can't tell you how many places I've visited where the staff don't know these things. It's the little things like this that hint at the polished experience you're about to enjoy.

The menu is fairly large but it's broken down into vegetable, seafood, chicken and lamb sections so fairly easy to read and doesn't feel overwhelming. I normally stick with a few favourites when ordering Indian food - lamb madras or Goan curries. I decided today that I was going to be a little more adventurous and try something new.

We ordered our foods and enjoyed our drinks. It was lovely to see the restaurant filling up with regulars and everyone was greeted like friends as the staff chatted to customers asking after their family and winter holiday plans. A couple sitting near us ordered their meal and then also placed a takeaway order of 4 curries to pop in their freezer for the rest of the month. What a genius idea!

We skipped Poppadoms and our starters arrived in good time. I ordered Salmon Tikka 3 ways. I love salmon but we rarely have it at home as Steve's not a fan so this was a real treat for me. I can hands down say that this was the best salmon I've ever tasted! The spices had really infused and the tikka flavours worked so well with the fish which was super succulent and was falling apart. I'm rubbish at cooking salmon and it's always a little on the dry side - this dish was the complete opposite. Next time you head to Sachins take my advice and order Salmon Tikka 3 Ways - you won't be disappointed!

Steve started with Kashmiri Champney - spring lamb chops, marinated in spices and cooked in the tandoor. This dish was spicier than my dish was a nice and large portion. I often find lamb dishes to be a little on the stingy side but this dish featured a whole 5 chops which meant that I managed to steal one without too many complaints.

With a nice pause between courses, it was onto our mains. In the end I ordered a Murgh Malabar - diced chicken cooked in South Indian spices, mustard seeds, fresh curry leaves, chilli leaves and coconut milk. I much prefer my curry to be made with coconut milk and this one did not disappoint. Not many of the dishes on the menu are labelled as 'hot' and this dish is labelled as 'medium'. The mustard seeds and chilli certainly packed a punch and it had a lovely warmth to it - not as hot as a madras and perfect to warm up after a chilly walk through Newcastle. My curry was nice and saucy too so perfect for dipping in a freshly baked naan or two. I love that you can order a bread basket here which is a selection of mini naans or parathas.

Like me, Steve also loves a Goan Curry and it was the Goan Chingri that tickled his fancy - King Prawns cooked in a rich tomato and onion based sauce with mint and coriander. This dish was more mild than my own but very aromatic. Steve loved it and was impressed at the number of King Prawns hiding in there too. 

I'm so pleased we have finally tried Sachins as I now know I can make a confident recommendation for this place to anyone who asks me where to enjoy a decent curry in Newcastle. The food and service really were spot on and I think the fact that most of the other diners in the restaurant were longstanding regular customers really speaks volumes about the place.

Just a quick word about Christmas if I may..... the Sachins Christmas menu is SUCH a good deal! I've already booked our Christmas meals for this year (yes - there are multiple meals) but will definitely be putting Sachins into the hat as an option for our Christmas night out next year. 


Why you should take the kids to visit Eureka! The National Children's Museum in West Yorkshire

*This is a paid collaboration. Please see my disclosure policy for details.

Eureka! The National Children's Museum is somewhere I have always wanted to visit. I've read numerous posts by other bloggers all declaring how much fun it is. In my head, Eureka! was always miles away from our home in Northumberland but actually, it's just over a 2-hour drive from Newcastle and the same length of time by train too (with a quick change at Leeds). Eureka! is right next door to Halifax train station so perfect for a school holiday adventure or weekend day out. Piece Hall is just across the road too if you'd really like to make a day of it. 

Our visit to Eureka! formed part of our weekend break in Calderdale. On Sunday morning we packed up our bags and navigated the country roads to Halifax. The views of the Calderdale countryside were stunning. We had made the most of our huge kitchen in Stephenson House and enjoyed a Full English for breakfast so weren't planning on lunch until later. I knew the kids would need a snack though (because they always want snacks!) so popped a couple of GoGo squeeZ pouches into my handbag. We love these fruit and yoghurt snacks when we're out and about as they don't need to be refrigerated, they contain no artificial ingredients, some varieties are one of your 5-a-day and they are mess-free with no spoon required. Plus the kids love them which is always a bonus. You can find out more about GoGo Squeez here and try them yourself from Tesco or Amazon. 

We were a little confused on arrival and think we took a wrong turn - we bypassed the official car park and found a spot in the centre of Halifax town instead. Parking was cheap at around 60p for the full day. It's not too much of a walk to Eureka! from the town centre.

Eureka! is spread over two levels. There were some sections that we missed out altogether (eg the under 5s areas) but I'd love to share a few of our highlights with you. Harry, Heidi and Jack were aged 11, 8 and 6 on the day of our visit. 


Soundspace is an area dedicated to exploring sound. There are challenges, family games, the chance to create your own masterpiece and learn all about different types of music. We really enjoyed this section and it was a good introduction to the museum. 

Living & Working Together

My children would have really enjoyed this section when they were younger but have outgrown pretend play now and deemed this area to be a little babyish. It's fab for under 5s though with a mock M&S and Halifax bank, the opportunity to put a car through a car wash or it's MOT and more. 

Spark Gallery

This was our favourite section on the ground floor. The area is packed with digital art games and H, H and J all thoroughly enjoyed creating digital versions of themselves and playing around with technology. Everything worked seamlessly too which is my experience isn't always the case so Kudos to Eureka! for that. 

All About Me

All About Me takes up most of the first floor and was by far our favourite exhibition in the whole of Eureka! It's perfect for all ages and everyone from toddlers to pensioners will learn something new. The exhibits of super hands on and we loved measuring ourselves against each other at the start - who was the tallest? Who could take the biggest step and who would look the best when they aged? We found out the answers to all of these questions and more. 

We visited the health centre and learned all about our teeth, discovered how a baby is born and what happens in an antenatal clinic and even scanned our own bodies. 

The exhibits are large and bright and can't help but draw children in. The kids couldn't help but look up the giant nostrils and into an ear canal. Heidi and Jack really enjoyed playing electronic healthy eating games (and I'm pleased to say they won) and we all tested our steady hand against a buzzer game. 

Every little space is used up at Eureka! and we were fascinated by this feature wall which demonstrates lots of cool achievements such as the highest human jump in a very visual form. 

We spent around 2 hours at Eureka! - I think if you had younger children with you, this could easily extend to 4-5 hours or even a full day if you visit every single exhibit, the cafe and the outdoor area too. There is an indoor picnic marquee if you'd like to take a picnic too. What I like about Eureka! is that you pay once, and your ticket is valid for the full year. Under 1's are admitted FREE, 1-2 year olds are just £5.25 and children and adults aged 3+ are £12.95. Even if this didn't include an annual pass I'd still think it was pretty good value for money. Eureka! is closed on Mondays during term time. 

There's a lovely outdoor zone at Eureka! too and lots of children were enjoying the large sandpit and buckets and spades. We stopped by the outdoor picnic tables to enjoy our GoGo squeeZ snacks before enjoying the various obstacle courses. 

No visit to a museum is complete without a trip to the gift shop and I was relieved to find that Eureka! stock a selection of pocket money toys. Jack and Heidi teamed up to buy 5 mini animals for £1 between them. Bargain! 

I would definitely recommend a trip to Eureka! The National Children's Museum. I think it's best suited for 3-5 year olds but children of all ages will definitely get something from a visit. 

Let me know if you've visited Eureka! and if you'd recommend. 

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