A UK Travel, Food & Family Lifestyle Blog

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Frightwater valley with under 5's

We visited lightwater valley in the summer and absolutely loved it. You can read all about that visit here. We were delighted to be asked back and see what frightwater valley had to offer! I immediately started watching all of the promotional material for frightwater valley and it looked amazing! My 7 year old was blown away by this youtube video. My 4 year old wasn't so keen though and I was a little apprehensive about taking her for fear that it may be too scary. In the end we decided to just go for it and we could always leave early if it was all too much for her.

Frightwater valley proved to be very toddler friendly. The first thing I liked was that there were NO QUEUES for rides. We were able to ride our favourite rides over and over again - my 2 year old was even able to go on his first roller coaster (the caterpillar) with me sitting next to him. It was quite surreal seeing everybody dressed up on the rides.






As you can see from the photos, we were really blessed with the weather and it was a lovely mild day.

We enjoyed watching a horror magic show which was on every hour or so. We saw a man have his head chopped off! 

Our children's favourite part of the day was the UV puppet show which takes place in the indoor theatre. It had our kids in stitches and had everyone clapping and dancing along at the end. It only lasted 20 minutes or so and was the perfect length to keep littles ones entertained without getting bored. (Unfortunately no photography allowed in this show).

We decided we were brave enough to take on the walk through the fairground graveyard.


It looked super scary and we had to dodge many live (and realistic) actors. Our kids loved it though and we had a laugh together because we were braver than some of the teenagers who were too scared to give it a go! The actor's were fantastic and stayed in character the whole time.


I was really impressed with how much lightwater valley had went to town with the decorations. The park had been transformed for the occasion!





Some of the rides had a Halloween makeover too!



There were some special Halloween options for food and snacks too. Toffee apples were on sale for only £1!! We couldn't resist the smell wafting from the pancake stall and decided to try the Halloween special.



It had the thumbs up from the kids although it was very messy to eat and we really could have done with a sharper knife.

A trip to lightwater valley would not be complete without a visit to their fantastic
Birds of prey centre - they have lots of birds on display and the keepers are lovely and friendly and will answer any of your questions.



We also couldn't escape visiting te angry birds zone as it is a big favourite of ours.




Should you wish to really make the most of your day, there was even more going on including face painting, a huge stage with Halloween dancers and live music, a live action horror maze, trick or treat doors and lots of interaction with actors around the park. It was also nice to see the park all lit up at night (park closes at 6:30pm during this event)


Our verdict on frightwater valley with under 5's is that it was fantastic value for money. You get all the usual rides and attractions (but with no queues) plus a whole load of extra's thrown in AND later opening. It wasn't too scary at all for our children and a lot of the attractions were actually geared towards them. 


Frightwater valley continues until 2nd November from 10am-6:30pm. Tickets are £19.50 each if booked online (£4 if you're under 1 metre).

Disclaimer:- we were given complimentary tickets for the purpose of this review. All views are our own.































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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

November bucket list

*Make a batch of my homemade cream of chicken soup (to eat straight away) and a batch homemade Thai chicken soup to keep in my freezer.


*toast our 7th wedding anniversary with a glass of champagne

*write our names with sparklers in the air on bonfire night


*get into the festive spirit and shoppong locally at the living north Christmas fair and Newcastle Christmas market

*Taking the kiddies to see Fenwicks window on the last Friday in November


*Raise £25 for children In need 

*Bake my Christmas cake and Christmas pudding

*Enjoy a family winter walk through the woods and try to spot a robin




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What's new at Wetherspoon's?

A branch of Wetherspoon's opened in our town this summer. It was a much needed addition to our town centre and it is such a versatile pub that I've enjoyed it many times. From family breakfasts to lunch with the girls to steak night with hubby, Wetherspoon's really is the pub that has something for everybody. They have even recently extended their food serving times and now serve food until 11pm throughout the week. This will be fab for us as sometimes hubby doesn't finish work until 10pm and it's always difficult finding somewhere to eat at that time.

I like how you get excellent value for money at Wetherspoons and the food is always consistent - with Wetherspoons you know what you are getting.

Therefore I was interested to learn that Wetherspoon's have just launched a brand new menu . Dishes such as twice cooked pulled pork sandwiches and Mexican dog with cheese, salsa, guacamole and chilli peppers are sure to be a real hit with pub go-ers.

Wednesday's are now Chicken Club Wednesdays which add an extra 5 chicken dishes and sides to the menu for you to choose from. We went along for my grandma's 80th birthday. I could not resist trying the southern fried chicken strips with Jack Daniels Tennessee honey glaze, coleslaw and chips. The chicken was really tasty, as was the glaze (although I would have liked more to dip my chips in) and the chips were a lot better than expected from a chain pub.



Hubby tried the pulled pork sandwich which was really well presented and arrived on a mini platter with chips, onion rings and coleslaw. I thought the portion looked rather small but hubby assures me it was just right and he didn't ask for pudding so it must have hit the spot. All of our food was well cooked and arrived promptly.



My grandma really enjoyed going out to the pub with all the family for her 80th birthday. This is what we ordered:-
Pulled pork sandwich, chips, onion rings and coleslaw
Chicken strips with chips, onion rings, coleslaw and Jack Daniels glaze
Large fish and chips
2x child's hot dog and chips
1x child's cheesy pasta
2 x glasses of wine
1x pint of fosters
3 x fruit shoots.

I cannot believe that we ordered all of the above and still had change from £35! What an absolute bargain! We will be back soon to check out the new additions to the breakfast menu and for lunch to try one of the 18 dishes on the menu that is now under 500kcal. Keep an eye out for those posts coming soon.

Disclaimer:- we were given some vouchers to try out the new additions to the Wetherspoons menu. All views are our own.

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Pumpkin carving is not my forte!


When I was younger, pumpkins weren't readily available in the shops and we had to use turnips! How my dad managed to scoop out and carve a raw turnip I will never know! I'm sure I remember him using a drill once to make holes for the string! 

Thankfully, Pumpkins are readily available now and are a lot easier to scoop out so our generation has it a lot easier. However I still struggle to make them look good!



Scooping and carving is easy enough but how do people make such intricate designs? Look at these amazing examples from my facebook feed yesterday.



My children prefer to cover their pumpkin in pen.........:-/



Oh dear! What a mess! 

I would love to see your pumpkin photos and if yours is intricately designed - how do you manage it?!




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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Alnwick castle in Autumn

We are so lucky to live in Northumberland. People travel thousands of miles to visit us. Our castle's are a huge attraction. We have already visited Bamburgh and Warkworth castle this year and loved them both. Alnwick castle is the castle we have visited the most and is probably the most famous due to it's Harry Potter connections. We haven't visited for a few years though, in fact the last time we paid a visit was Spring 2009 when Heidi was just a few weeks old. Cringe at the hideous family selfie!


So when we were invited along this year we couldn't wait to see what they had to offer.

The day of our visit was crisp, clear and typically Autumnal. Our boys enjoyed collecting what we later discovered to be hazelnuts on the long but picturesque walk from the carpark to the castle (£3.50 charge for all day parking - have some change to pay the attendant at hand before you leave). The walk is quite lengthy with toddlers but because you pass the treehouse, some friendly ducks and various stalls along the way it doesn't seem too bad.

The walk leading up to the castle provides some spectacular views.


Although there are some cobbles we found the castle to be very buggy friendly.


The state rooms were closed for winter on the day of our visit and the car park attendant informed us that entrance would be half price because of this. Bargain!

Our first stop of the day was the Knight's Quest area where we were told all the action is. We reserved our space on the 11:30am broomstick training course and decided to take on the Dragon's Quest challenge.

The dragon's quest is a new addition to the castle since our last visit. Children are advised to enter with an adult as it can be quite scary in places. Expect to encounter skeleton's, mirror mazes and giant dragon's! My children survived but I don't think my daughter would have tried it a second time. You can watch a short video of the quest here.




So, after the Dragon's Quest we went in search of something a little tamer and decided to dress up as medieval knights and princesses. There is a huge selection of costumes to choose from and staff on hand to help choose an outfit and ensure the area is kept tidy! 

Heidi decided to be transformed into a princess. I love how there is a huge mirror you are encouraged to admire yourself in once your makeover is complete.


Harry decided to become a dragon!


We also had a mini knight in our group. Super cute.


Wearing our costumes we ventured around the courtyard and tried our hand at some of the traditional activities on offer including:-

Sword training

Putting Grandma in the stocks and throwing rats at her!

Traditional courtyard games

And watching an Alchemist.

As you can see there was lots and lots going on and loads of fun to be had.

Before broomstick training we decided to take a stroll around the castle grounds. They are very safe and a great place to let you toddler run about. We had lots of fun pretending to fire cannons at our enemies by the river.


The views are simply breathtaking and I really look forward to returning one day without my children and take the time to take some proper photographs.


We bumped into a fire breathing dragon on our travels. He was friendly though and even let us give him a little stroke.


Broomstick training was all my 7 year old had been talking about the whole time we were walking around the castle. He was very keen to get started. Our lesson started at 11:30am and was inclusive of everybody no matter how big or small. The staff who provided the lesson were really entertaining and we learned how to mount, manouver and whooooosh on our very own broomstick. The 20 minute lesson was great fun and there were lots of giggles. 



We had certainly earned our lunch after our super busy morning. We had planned to eat in the courtyard cafe however the queue was out of the door so we decided to walk to the sandwich shop at the entrance of Alnwick garden. We quickly found a seat here however service was very slow and children's meals were £4.50 for a sandwich, juice, fruit and mini cheddars so a little on the pricey side. In future we will definitely choose to eat either at a non-peak time or take a picnic as there are plenty of picnic spot's around the castle to enjoy.


So, our verdict on Alnwick castle was we LOVED it! It was really toddler and child friendly and there is always lots going on. It was absolutely stunning as well. We could have easily spent all day here. You can visit the woodland walk and treehouse free of charge too. If you buy your ticket in 2013 it will be valid for 12 months. Check website for up to date information.

Disclaimer:- we received complimentary entry to Alnwick castle for the purpose of this review. All views are our own.
















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