Today we ventured to Gibside in County Durham. We were greeted by a VERY welcoming host who told us that Gibside was extremely family friendly and all about exploring the great outdoors with different activities on every week. She carefully explained pushchair friendly routes around the grounds and gave Harry his own adventure booklet.
We started our day in Strawberry Castle play area which is one of the best parks I think I've been to. The kids loved playing 'King and Queens' in the wooden castle, horses and stocks and Jack spent ages crawling through various tunnels. There were treehouses, zip wires, swings, balance beams, climbing frames and rope frames galore! We could have actually spent all day here. The countryside views were lovely and there were plenty of picnic tables/space for blankets.
After an hour in the park, we walked back to the chapel to find a spot for our picnic. The picnic field was lined with trees and there were plenty of shady spots free for us to set up camp. Our timing was perfect as just as we were finishing our picnic the North Tyneside Steel Band started playing in front of the chapel and the whole atmosphere of the field turned almost festival-like. Children were up dancing, bubbles were being blown, feet were tapping and ice creams were in high demand from the nearby stall. There was a lovely mix of people enjoying the sunshine and music - elderly couples with their flasks of coffee seated in their deckchairs, young families who joined forces to start a game of cricket, groups of teenagers topping up their tans and friends who enjoyed having a little dance and clap along to the music. We had such a lovely time and it was a relaxing way to spend an afternoon.
As we left Gibside we browsed the plants for sale and had a quick peek at the potting shed which turns into a family friendly beer-garden every Friday night in the summer. We shall probably be back to try here on 22nd June when they're hosting a midsummer hog roast night with live music, real ales and firepits in the beer garden.