North East Family Fun

A UK Family Travel & Lifestyle Blog

There's a secret Forest School in the heart of Plessey Woods - here's how to join Footprints on the Moon

*Blogger Event Review - see my disclosure policy for details

Despite what the media tries to tell us, my children (like most) still love playing outside, exploring the great outdoors and getting nice and dirty. We enjoyed lots of outdoor fun over summer and this does not look like it's going to slow down any time soon. The weather is no deterrent for us and as long as you have the correct clothing, we believe that the great outdoors can be enjoyed in all weathers. 


So when we were invited along to a secret forest school in the middle of Plessey Woods last weekend, I knew it was going to be right up our street. Forest school is suitable for all ages and abilities and the activities are tailor-made to the group. If there are lots of young children I imagine the mud kitchen will be in full swing and older groups will be keen to challenge themselves and build their own den or use real tools. Forest School can be booked as a private event or party (fab for birthdays) and an exclusive 2 hour session can be booked from just £160 including campfire and treat (see here for full pricing and availability). We took part in a session during heavy rain and due to the natural woodland canopy plus a few strategically placed covers, the rain didn't bother us at all and we didn't end up too wet (not that the kids would have been bothered if they were). 

What to expect from Forest School with Footprints on the Moon at Plessey Woods

Forest School is held in a super secret location in the heart of Plessey Woods. There's plenty of free parking, a play ground, loos and cafe nearby. You'll be asked to meet at the visitor centre where Sarah, Annie and Rachel will meet you at your allotted time. After a quick safety briefing and a few games to help us get to know each other, we ventured into the woods. 


The setting is gorgeous and so inviting to kids and grown-ups alike. There's quite a bit of land to explore with various staffed and un-staffed stations and activities dotted about. I loved that the kids could just run off and do their own thing - there's no structure or kids being forced to do something they're not keen on - they can all choose which activities they'd like to try first. We split up for most of the afternoon with Harry and Heidi doing their own thing whilst I supervised Jack. Here are some of the activities we got up to. I still can't believe we managed to fit them all into just two hours! 

Making our own bread


The first activity my three wanted to join in with was baking bread. This is something we do fairly regularly at home and really enjoy but I think doing it in a special forest setting made it that little bit more fun. Rachel led but encouraged everyone to get involved. The dough was saved to be cooked on the campfire later in the day. 




Using real tools


There's no way I'd let them loose on our power tools at home so they loved the chance to have a try in this safe and supervised session. The children took it in turns to use saws, drills and blades and created wooden medallions and sticks for their marshmallows. Jack particularly enjoyed this and was very determined to saw through some wood all by himself and with a little guidance, he managed it. He was super proud and it was great for his self esteem. 






Woodland crafts & knot making


My three love messy play but it's something we don't do as often as they would like so when the opportunity to create forest-inspired models from clay was presented to them, they were super pleased. Heidi and Harry mostly did this when I was with Jack in the tool section and they worked super hard to make their own woodland mug and woodland piggy! They found a safe den in the forest for them to hide in when they tried the other activities and were able to bring them home at the end of the session which pleased them greatly. 



If clay isn't your thing, you could also learn how to make various types of knots and how to use them to create a hammock or string bag and there were rope courses around the forest to try too.




Den building


This is something the kids were encouraged to run off and do by themselves and this delighted Jack and his friend Charlie. I love the picture of them below as they are clearly really thinking about how they're going to build a good den. 



I loved that they worked together in a team and they really were proud of their final den (which I forgot to take a photo of - oops!).




Campfire cooking


Our session ended with us all gathering around the campfire. We'd been out in the cold and rain for over an hour and it was the perfect way to end our session. It felt super safe with plenty of adult supervision and checking that the children all knew and followed the rules. 




The photo below really sums up our afternoon - I can't remember what we were all laughing at now but I do remember the feeling and that we were all feeling nice and happy.








Mugs of warm tomato soup were handed around with chunks of our homemade bread and we ended the day toasting some marshmallows on our special sticks - perfect.



Mud kitchen 


Finally, how cool is this mud kitchen! It was a real hit with the smaller children in our group who spent time creating and getting messy. 



We packed so much into our 2 hours session, when I checked my watch on leaving I really thought we'd been there for around 4 hours. It never felt rushed and Harry, Heidi and Jack all left tired and muddy but with huge smiles on their faces. 


What really makes Forest School special for me is the staff - Annie and her team are all super passionate about the great outdoors and encouraging children to create their own adventures. It's a hard balance to keep children safe yet give them the freedom to explore AND ensure they have lots of fun. Footprints on the Moon manage to get the balance just right. The afternoon was inclusive to all with nobody feeling left out and I really believe it worked wonders for the kids' confidence and self worth. 

Footprints on the Moon offer birthday parties, private events for groups, schools and team-building, forest school and special TreeTots sessions for under 5s. Check out their website here for details


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What's On in the North East for Kids & Families | 23 & 24 September 2017

This week's post is super brief - trying to write it around a couple of other deadlines AND Harry's birthday celebrations has proven quite difficult. There's plenty to choose from this weekend - we're heading to Whitley Bay for the day on Saturday where Harry and his friends are going to enjoy some time playing with VR gaming machines. Let me know what you're up to.

In case you missed them, you might like to get ahead and check out the following posts too:


From 22 September | Jurassic Kingdon Tour Newcastle

22 September | Dog Days Annual Dog Show | Backhouse Park, Sunderland

23 September | Family Clubercise Launch | Eastcoast Kickboxing

23 September | Storytelling with The Snow Queen | Enchantment Cafe Sunderland

23 - 24 September | Under the Sea | Seven Stories

24 September | The Magic Faraway Tree Story Explorers | Wharton Park

24 September | Fungal Foray | Chopwell Woods

24 September | Fungi Foray | Allen Banks

Have you checked out our Christmas Blog yet? You can follow Mrs Mulled Wine on Facebook here.

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Top Family Highlights from our trip to Florida

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

We had the opportunity to visit all 4 SeaWorld Parks this summer - SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Discovery Cove and Aquatica. I have so much to share from this trip and I thought I would start with our family highlights. 

Taumata Racer | Aquatica Orlando

It is fair to say that we had THE best time in Florida. Others mentioned I’d be planning another trip as soon as I arrived home and I laughed it off but they were right - we’re already planning our return visit in a few years and have definitely caught the ‘Florida bug’. Florida is like no other place I have visited before. It’s full of experiences that I just never expected and the whole family had the best fun from sun up to sun down. I was going to include our top five highlights in this post but it’s proven too difficult to narrow it down to just five so instead I’ve asked each family member to share their own personal highlights. 

Sam (mam) - loves planning, relaxing in the sunshine & trying new things


Mako | SeaWorld Orlando

There were so many trip highlights for me and I’ve really struggled with creating a short list but for me, riding Mako at SeaWorld has to be up there. Mako is Orlando’s longest, tallest and fastest rollercoaster. At 200 ft tall, this hypercoaster allows you to experience weightlessness as you reach speeds of 73 mph. I loved it so much I rode 6 times throughout the week! I am so proud that Harry mustered up the courage to join us on our last ride and it was fantastic being able to experience Mako with him. 

Serengeti Safari | Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Another highlight for me was grabbing a selfie with a giraffe during the Serengeti Safari at Busch Gardens. I never expected to get so close to the animals and I think this has to be my best selfie to date. I have stuck this photo on my fridge and it’s a picture that really puts a smile on my face whenever I see it.

As part of our trip we were taken on a Behind the Scenes Tour at SeaWorld and around the animal rehabilitation centre. This can be booked as an optional extra and I would say is definitely worth doing. We discovered how rescued sea turtles and manatees are cared for and the work that goes into rehabilitating them back into the wild. I was moved to tears as I saw first hand some of the injuries that animals had sustained due to accidents with boats and fishing nets and this part of our trip really has left a lasting impression on how we can all help to keep our marine life safe. 

Roa's Rapids | Aquatica Orlando

A holiday isn’t a holiday for me without a few moments of relaxation and my favourite way to do this was to float along a lazy river. There are a few to choose from in the SeaWorld Parks but my favourite was Roa's Rapids at Aquatica. The rapids do all of the work for you and whisk you along past swirling whirlies and gushing geysers - you just need to lie back and relax with no distractions. Bliss! 


Steve (dad) - enjoys good food and rollercoasters


Falcon's Fury | Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Steve is a bit of a thrill seeker and in our pre-children days we used to regularly visit theme parks and ride the latest white knuckle rides. Taking a trip to Florida allowed Steve to relive his youth a little and he loved being able to experience many of the extreme rides that SeaWorld Parks has to offer. One such ride was Falcon’s Fury at Busch Gardens. This ride takes you 335 ft high, tilts you so you are facing the ground and then unexpectedly drops at 60 mph. Not one for the faint hearted but definitely lots of fun!

Steve really enjoyed the water parks too and his favourite ride from the whole trip was Ihu’s Breakaway Falls at Aquatica. This slide involves you standing on a platform only for it to ‘break away’ under your feet and you experience a free fall before riding this super quick slide. This is one of the only times I’ve heard Steve scream on a ride and it was hilarious watching his face! 

Jungala | Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Tigers are Steve’s favourite animal and at Jungala at Busch Gardens Steve managed to get the closest he’s ever been to this magnificent creature with the help of a special glass viewing box. The Bengal Tiger likes to sit on top of the box and you can pop your head in to get a very close look. I was honestly astounded at how big a tiger’s paw is! 

Finally, Steve loves his food and Twisted Tails Pretzels at Busch Gardens was a real foodie highlight from our trip. These pretzels have to be the best pretzels ever and come in a wide variety of flavours from cheeseburger to pizza. Steve highly recommends trying the bacon pretzel - you won’t regret it! 


Harry (aged 10) - loves swimming, virtual reality and learning facts


SeaVenture | Discovery Cove Orlando

Harry’s favourite activity from our whole trip was SeaVenture at Discovery Cove. This experience is only open to adults and children aged 10+ and I have to say, it’s the activity I was most nervous about trying myself. SeaVenture allows you to take a 20 minute walking tour along the ocean floor without any prior diving or SCUBA certification. We were able to get up close with lots of sea creatures, come face to face with sharks (behind glass), hold crabs and experience tropical fish feeding around us. I never expected that Harry would be able to take part in something like this but I’m really pleased he was able to as it was such a memorable experience and one I don’t think Harry will ever forget.

Kraken Unleashed | SeaWorld Orlando

During our time in Florida, Harry was keen to conquer some of the extreme rollercoasters and rides and Kraken Unleashed at SeaWorld was the first ride we tried. This is a virtual reality roller coaster like you’ve never experienced before and a very different experience - you ride the coaster wearing a VR headset so can’t anticipate where the ride is taking you. We were shocked when the ride was over and discovered we’d been upside down seven times! It certainly didn’t feel like it. The next big ride Harry tried was Journey to Atlantis and by the end of the week, Harry’s confidence had really grown - so much so that he begged us to take him on Mako and Manta too.  So we did and he loved them both. I am so chuffed that Harry managed these rides and it’s fair to say that after riding Kraken Unleashed, Journey to Atlantis, Manta and Mako,  he now feels like he can take on anything. 

Jungala | Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

You may remember that we adopted an Orangutan a few months ago and visiting another was at the top of Harry’s to-do list. He was thrilled when an Orangutan walked right up to the glass in the Jungala area at Busch Gardens and we spent a few magical moments exchanging silly faces.
Aquatica Orlando

Harry’s final highlight was definitely our trip to Aquatica. He managed to take on every slide except Ihu’s Breakaway Falls and loved every second. His favourite slide was Dolphin Plunge where you speed through a pod of black and white Commerson's dolphins. 


Heidi (aged 8) - an adventure loving thrill-seeker and animal lover



Swimming with Dolphins | Discovery Cove Orlando

Heidi is such a sweet and caring girl and she has a real soft spot for animals. In the weeks leading up to our trip all she would talk about was how excited she was to swim with dolphins at Discovery Cove. You can enjoy a full dolphin swim from aged 6 at Discovery Cove. It was really nice being able to experience a special moment like this together as a family. Swimming with dolphins certainly did not disappoint. Heidi thoroughly enjoyed interacting and swimming with dolphins Kayla and Daphnie and she was beaming from ear to ear the whole time. The whole experience is not pressured at all, taken at the dolphin’s pace and is a wonderful thing for children to experience. I have no doubt that swimming with dolphins is the first thing Heidi will tell her friends about when she returns to school and she could not resist buying a dolphin soft toy as a special memento from the day. 

Cheetah Hunt | Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Heidi is very small for her age and despite being two years older, is only 1-2 cm taller than Jack. This meant that she sadly just wasn’t tall enough to enjoy a lot of the bigger rides that she would have liked to. All was not lost though as she was super happy that she could ride Cheetah Hunt and Cobra’s Curse at Busch Gardens. Cheetah Hunt is a triple launch roller coaster and reaches speeds of 60 mph. It’s lots of fun as you actually speed up the inclines too. Heidi was delighted that she was able to experience what it’s like to turn upside down on this ride too. 

Taumata Racer | Aquatica Orlando

A real holiday highlight for Heidi was being able to race myself, Steve and big brother Harry down Taumata Racer at Aquatica. You ride this slide lying on your tummy on a mat and up to eight people can race at once. You’re all given a time at the bottom and it’s hard for your competitive streak not to come out. We enjoyed this slide a few times and had lots of fun together as a family trying to beat our previous times (and each other). 

The Grand Reef | Discovery Cove Orlando


Heidi embraces any new challenge and I loved watching her swim with rays and get up close and personal with sharks at The Grand Reef in Discovery Cove. Heidi took to snorkelling like a duck to water, in fact she was better at it than I was and she was thrilled to be able to stroke rays as they swam past and watch real sharks sleep behind clear glass. You are allowed to keep the snorkel you use at Discovery Cove and Heidi spent every night pretending she was a shark and snorkelling from one side of the pool to the other during our evening swim in our hotel pool.

Jack (aged 6) - likes silliness, sharks & food


Shark's Underwater Grill | SeaWorld Orlando

Jack’s favourite experience in Florida was ‘Dining with Sharks’ at  Shark’s Underwater Grill in SeaWorld which just happened to be the way we decided to end our time in Florida before heading to the airport. Jack’s favourite food is fish and surprisingly we didn’t find fish on any children’s menu in Florida apart from at Shark’s Underwater Grill. Jack ordered fish and chips and devoured every last bite. The food here is really very good and the children’s menu includes a special shark sundae which was a quirky treat that the kids enjoyed. This dining experience is unique as you are surrounded by sharks and Jack loved shouting ‘Shark’ whenever one swam past. Sharing our lunch with a shark is certainly something we did not expect to do at SeaWorld. 

Congo River Rapids | Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Jack loves a good laugh and his favourite ride from the week had to be the Congo River Rapids at Busch Gardens. Jack could not contain his laughter as he anticipated us all getting soaked - which we did. Jack loved this ride so much that he begged us to ride three times in a row! 

Pacific Point Preserve | SeaWorld Orlando

Sea lions are funny animals and Jack loves anything that’s a little bit silly. He was provided with his own tray of fish at Pacific Point Preserve in SeaWorld to feed the Sea lions with and we had such a laugh watching the expressions on everyone’s faces.

Jack’s final highlight was being able to walk through Lory Landing at Busch Gardens and hand feed a selection of tropical birds. We have taken part in experiences similar to this in the past, but I have to say, the experience at Busch Gardens has to be the best and Jack really enjoyed this close-up encounter. 

Discovery Cove Orlando

I could honestly go on…..we experienced so much across the SeaWorld Parks - SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, Busch Gardens and Aquatica were all so much fun. We took part in adventures that we never expected and all had the best time ever. There really is something for the whole family to enjoy in Florida and I know we’ll all still be talking about this trip in weeks, months and years to come. Let me know if you’ve tried any of the experiences I’ve mentioned or if you fancy giving any of them a go yourself. 

Please note: Serengeti Safari, Behind the scenes tour and SeaVenture are available at an additional cost. 
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50+ Spooktacular Halloween Events & Children's Parties in North East England | October 2017



Halloween is fast approching and if like me, you like to be organised, you'll love my bumper guide to celebrating this festival with kids in North East England. There's everything from potion making to Harry Potter inspired plays, pumpkin carving and fancy dress parties. As always, timings and events can change so please always check details before booking/attending.


14 - 18 October | Wand & Potion Making | Alnwick Garden

Join Alnwick Garden in their crafty cabin for wand and potion making. Find out more

16 October | Spooks & Spiders Halloween Event | Round the Twist

Halloween Special Messy Play. Tickets are £5.95 and include unlimited soft play. Don't forget a towel! Find out more


7 - 31 October | Spooky Trail | Sunderland Winter Gardens

Follow the trail to find spooky stories and collectibles. Trails are available from the museum shop for £2.50 and include a special prize on completion. Find out more



Half Term Week

21 - 25 October | Halloween Scare Zone | Alnwick Garden

The Bamboo Maze will come alive - or should that be undead this week. Parental discretion advised for this one. Find out more here

21 - 29 October | Funny Bones Halloween Fun | Wallington Hall

See how many pumpkins you can spot in the woodland, make a mud mask and book your place on a pumpkin. Find out more here


21 - 29 October | Halloween Spooktacular at Frighthouse Farm | Whitehouse Farm

Lots of extra Halloween themed activities included with admission at Whitehouse Farm this week. Find out more here


21 - 29 October | Pumpkin Week | Belsay Hall

Take part in a spooky trail around the grounds and some special Belsay crafts. Find out more

21 - 29 October | Spooky Face Painting & Spooky Trail at Sage | Sage Gateshead

Head to the Sage between 11am - 2pm and take part in their FREE spooky trail and have your face painted. Find out more

21 - 29 October | Halloween Half Term | Alnwick Castle

With artisans, medieval alchemists, spooky trails and broomstick training. There's loads going on at Alnwick Garden this week. Find out more


21 - 29 October | Spooky Half Term | Warkworth Castle 

Discover the castle's gruesome history with scary story telling and a spooky trail to complete. Find out more

21 - 29 October | Halloween at Seven Stories | Seven Stories

Seven Stories will be decorated in spook-tacular fashion this week. You'll find a range of scary reads in the book shop and spooky story telling upstairs in the attic. Fancy dress is encouraged. Find out more

21 - 29 October | Halloween Half Term | Hall Hill Farm

Make your own scarecrow, carve a pumpkin, watch a puppet show and have your face painted at Hall Hill Farm this week. Find out more


21 - 29 October | Pumpkin Festival | Adventure Valley 

Adventure Valley are hosting their first ever pumpkin festival. Collect a free pumpkin from the pumpkin patch, enjoy pumpkin slingshot and watch a pumpkin puppet show. Find out more

21 - 29 October | The Great Pumpkin Robbery | Brockbushes

Enjoy a 20 minute puppet show before heading into the maze where you'll meet the frog who will help you save Halloween. All children will receive a free pumpkin to take home, pumpkin seeds and a tractor ride back to the car park. Aimed at children aged around 2-7 years. Find out more

21 - 29 October | Halloween Fun at Preston Park | Preston Park Museum & Grounds

Enjoy lots of Halloween fun at Preston Park this week - there's a different activity every day. Choices include freaky face painting, broomstick training, magic school, potion making and a dragon parade. Find out more

21 - 29 October | Halloween Half Term | Down at the Farm

Visit the pumpkin patch, carve your pumpkin, make a scarecrow, watch creepy critters, enter the haunted house, watch a spooky magic show and more. Find out more here


21 - 29 October | Pumpkin Trail | Woodhorn Museum

Find all of the pumpkins dotted around the museum. Complete the trail and receive a small treat. Find out more

21 - 31 October | Halloween Trail at Gibside | Gibside

Trick or treating, creepy crafts and a spooky outdoor trail.  Find out more

21 - 31 October | Halloween Glass - Various Activities | The National Glass Centre

There are different activities each day including make a glass pumpkin, glass pumpkin demos, goulish glass painting and shadow lanterns. Find out more

22 October | Halloween Decorations | Ormesby Hall

Create spooky decorations and Halloween bunting to decorate your home for Halloween. Find out more

23 October | Beastly Britons | Segedenum Roman Fort

Follow clues around the museum and complete a murder mystery, create charms from natural materials to ward off evil spirits and make a goulish head on a stick to take home. Find out more

23 - 25 October | Wendy the Witch | Customs House South Shields

Join Wendy the Witch for this 60 minute family-friendly performance as she tries to find her magic spells. Find out more

23 - 27 October | Boggle Busting Halloween Trail | Cherryburn

Boggles are Northumbrian ghastly spirits. Follow the trail and become an expert boggle buster. Find out more

23 & 24, 27 & 28, 31 October | Halloween Evenings at Beamish | Beamish Museum

There is SO much going on - activities include a best-dressed competition, eyeball soup for sale, a demon dentist, stocks, meet the mad scientist making potions, escapologist Chris Cross, spooky lino painting, the forest of lost souls and more. Find out more here 

24 - 29 October | Potions, Charms and Spells | Hardwick Hall

Grab our trail from the gift shop and take part in a wizarding adventure around the park. Find out more 

25 October | Unicorn Pumpkin Painting | Katie's Garden

Create a pumkin with a difference at Katie's Garden this Halloween. All materials are provided. Find out more here

26 October | Harry Panto & The Chamber Pot of Secrets

A spectacular parody that will leave you wanting Volde-more. Suitable for the whole family with magic tricks galore. Find out more here

26 & 27 October | Pumpkin Carving | Wallington Hall

Carve a spooky lantern design during a special carving session. Find out more

26 October - 31 October | Hocus Pocus | The Word, South Shields

Join The Word for a spooktacular storytelling session where you'll be taken on a magical potion stirring journey. Find out more here

26, 27, 28 October | Museums at Night | Across Newcastle

Explore art, history and heritage in some of Newcastle's most-loved museums at night as part of this special event. Find out more here

26, 27, 28 October | Hallowe'en Fun | Souter Lighthouse

Trick or treating, spooky crafts and a special Halloween trail Find out more here

26, 27, 28 October | Pumpkin Carving | Gibside

Join the pumpkin carving team at Gibside and create your own spooky lantern to take home. Find out more

27 October | Spooky Night at The Museum | Discovery Museum

Join the Discovery Museum for a special family-friendly Halloween party. There will be bewitching tales, bug handling, creepy crafts, a devilish disco, face painting, games and more. Find out more

27 & 28 October | All Hallows' | Auckland Castle

Join this special 40 minute family-friendly torch-lit trail through the deer park.  Find out more

27 - 29 October | Back from the dead | The Linskill Centre

The Linskill zombies are back from the dead with more screams and horror than ever before. Find out more



Halloween Weekend

28 October | Halloween Party | The Jolly Bowman

Join the Jolly Bowman for party games, face painting and lots of Halloween fun at their family party. Find out more here

28 October | Beer & Fright Night | Gibside Beer Garden

Expect the usual Friday night fun at Gibside but with extra cobwebs, dressing up and fun foodie puns. Find out more

28 October | The Keel Row Halloween Party | The Keel Row

The Keel Row pub are back with their famous family Halloween party with a free spooky buffet, party games, kids punch, disco and more. Find out more

28 October | Pumpkin Fun Workshop | Blackfriars

Spend the day at Blackfriars carving pumpkins and enjoying some delicious Pumpkin soup and Pumpkin pie for lunch. Find out more

28 & 29 October | Tanfield Ghost Train | Tanfield Railway

The Tanfield Ghost Train will involve witches potions, fangtastic food and station clowns! Find out more

28 & 29 October | Pumpkintastic Weekend | Kirkley Hall Zoo

Bring along a pumpkin and join in with Kirkley Hall's carving competition - you can even leave some pumkin behind for the animals to enjoy. Find out more here

28 & 29 October | Terrible Tales & Halloween Birds of Prey | Woodhorn

There will be Birds of Prey demonstrating their skills and spooky stories from Northumberland's past taking place across the weekend.  Find out more

28 & 29 October | Children's Halloween | Crook Hall & Garden

Complete a treasure hunt with tricks and treats along the way - watch out for the white lady and the witch locked in the tower.  Find out more here

28 October | Kids Halloween Party | The Wheatsheaf, Benton

An afternoon of Halloween fun with games, prizes and fancy dress. Find out more

29 October | Halloween Special | Stephenson Railway Museum

There'll be a witch hunt around the museum and the Stephenson trains will be decorated in spectacular Halloween fashion. Find out more

29 October | Family Halloween Party | Blue Flames Sporting Club

Dress up and join Blue Flames for their annual Halloween party with disco and games. Find out more here

29 October | Halloween at the Hall | Seaton Delaval Hall

Bring your pumpkin and join in with the parade, enter competitions and listen to spooky storytelling in the woods. Find out more

30 October | Halloween Baby Boogie Disco | Round the Twist

Enjoy a Halloween disco in the dark for babies aged under 18 months. Includes unlimited entry to soft play. Find out more 



Halloween

31 October | Funnybones Halloween Party | Round the Twist

Join Round the Twist for a Glow in the Dark Disco, Treasure Hunt, Graveyard Room, Soft Play and more! Find out more

31 October | Halloween Spooky Walk | Preston Park Museum & Grounds

Hop aboard the fear bus and join Preston Park for an extra spooky walk with lots of surprises around their ground. Find out more
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Why I've finally rejoined the gym after 8 years off

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

Last week I re-joined the gym after around 8 years. I was pretty scared to take my induction but it was absolutely fine and I survived! Back in the day, I used a gym from age 16. Boys and alcohol took over for a few years but I rejoined when Harry was born and continued until Heidi was a baby and Harry was a toddler. It was pretty easy then as I worked part-time, my local gym offered childcare, I had my own car and lots of willing babysitters. I really loved it and I am certain that all the advice that tells you that exercise is important not only your physical health but also your emotional wellbeing is true. Going to the gym feels pretty indulgent too - as parents when else do you get a full 30 minutes - 1 hour to yourself to listen to Beyonce?? 


It's not really an excuse but then Jack came along and I was suddenly running around after 3 children and the gym really was the last thing on my mind. The years passed by and we moved away from the gym with childcare, I no longer had my own car and if you fast forward to the present day, I work full-time on my blog whilst juggling looking after 3 kids with little help so trying to squeeze in the gym seems almost impossible at times and the whole thing was just pushed to the back of my mind.

The thing is though, in your 30s (or any time of life really), your health should always be a priority. The ONLY thing that works to improve my health and fitness is going to the gym and it's the only thing I ever stick to. Once I get started, I actually love it too. I joined my local council gym which is £32 per month so not too expensive at all. I plan to go just twice a week to start off with and hopefully as I get more organised move this to three times. If I walk the kids to school, walk to the gym, complete a 45 minute workout and then walk home, I should be back at my desk by 11am which means I am only taking 3.5 hours out of my work time to do this. It also means that I'll be walking 6 miles per day on top of my workout on gym days. September always feels like a good time for a fresh start and now that I've been working full-time from home for two years now, I feel comfortable enough to make some more time for myself and that the world won't end because of it.

I'm not exactly skinny though and I think one of the barriers for me to overcome has been not knowing where to buy decent gym clothes that look ok and are supportive. I'm a size 18-20 and it's not like I can just pop to JD Sports. I also had the problem of buying a sports bra - I'm  a 38 HH and it's not an easy task. Even M&S or Bravissimo don't stock a Sports Bra in that size. So the mission was on to find somewhere! 

Before our trip to Florida, I popped into Simply Be at the MetroCentre for the first time ever and I was actually impressed with the range on offer and how comfortable their clothes were. I picked up this gorgeous Maxi dress for £35 which is now my new favourite holiday dress. I picked up a few bits and bobs in fact and loved every single piece - even their denim range fit me perfectly and didn't feel like it was digging in at all. I vowed to go back when I needed to update my wardrobe again. 


I wasn't sure if Simply Be also offered gym clothing too so checked online and was delighted to see a full range of active wear. They offer everything from a variety of leggings in sizes 10 - 32 to sports tops, joggers and swimwear. I even managed to find a Sports Bra that fits (whoop whoop). Here's my new gym kit below. I love it! 

My gym membership includes unlimited swim (which will please the kids) and unlimited classes too. There is so much choice though and I am a little overwhelmed as there are over 100 to choose from. Let me know if there are any from this timetable you'd recommend to beginners like me. 

So there you have it, I'm now one of those annoying people who will probably start checking into the gym on Facebook and posting pics of my workout on Insta Stories. Don't hate me too much! 


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