A family of 5 with a zest for life

Lightwater Valley Code - Tickets only £10 this weekend!

There's good news if you live in area's with a postcode beginning with DH, DN, HU, NE or SR. You can visit Lightwater Valley this weekend (Sat 4th Oct and Sun 5th Oct) for only £10 per person! (Children under 1m tall are only £5 and babies in pushchairs are free). Wow! What a deal!

The weather forecast is good and there are lots of rides for grown ups, teens and little ones. We love the pirate zone, eagle creek farm and the giant ferris wheel! If you need a break from the rides the Angry Bird zone is fantastic and your children won't want to leave.

There is even an angry birds indoor space zone should the weather turn bad and make sure you check out one of the fantastic birds of prey show at the falconry centre  - all included in your admission.

To book your tickets online use the code LOCAL10. You will then need to proof of address (drivers license or utility bill) when you collect them from the admissions kiosk on arrival. Remember, this deal is only available for the 5th and 5th October.

Alternatively, simply turn up with your proof of address and pay this fantastic price on the door.

The park opens at 10am and closes between 4:30pm and 6pm depending on demand, car parking is free and there is food to buy on site or picnic areas if you're feeling brave.


Sunday lunch at the Cook and Barker

The Cook and Barker describes itself as 'A Real traditional Northumbrian Country Inn'. I couldn't describe it more perfectly myself. Nestled away in the picturesque village of Newton on the Moor, you would never believe you were just minutes away from the busy A1. I usually work every Sunday so a proper Sunday lunch is a real treat for me and when it worked out I would have last Sunday night off, I wanted to make the most of it and book somewhere nice.

I asked for recommendations of the best place to go on my facebook page and The Cook and Barker was a name that appeared over and over again so we booked at table for the five of us at 5pm on Sunday evening.

The Cook and Barker feels warm and inviting and I loved how friendly the staff were. We were seated in 'the snug' which was a lovely little hideaway from the main bar. The pub was busy with locals but not too full that we felt rushed. 

Our food was amazing but I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. The roast beef melted in the mouth, the roast potatoes were crisp, the vegetables were cooked to perfection and there was so much to go around. The gravy was packed full of flavour too. There is no children's menu as such but we were made to feel very welcome and there was a lovely family atmosphere. Children can order half portions of anything from the main menu.

Everybody was really good and ate all of their greens so we could not resist some homemade desserts which finished off our meal perfectly.

Our bill was just short of £60 for two courses, wine and drinks which is a good price considering the quality (A Sunday lunch is £8.95).

I cannot wait to visit the Cook and Barker again. I think it would be the perfect place to escape from it all and stay over for an evening. I also really like the look of this special evening menu which is only £45 per couple for 3 courses, coffee and a bottle of wine on a Sunday, Monday or Tuesday evening. Bargain!

To find out more about The Cook and Barker, you can visit their website here: 


Kings Cross in Pictures

If you ever find yourself waiting for a train at King's cross, there is plenty to do and see. Here is a tiny snapshot of my spare 90 minutes there on Friday night.


24 hours to win a night in the 5* Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington


Hi everyone,

As we may have mentioned, we recently attended the MAD blog awards which were held at The 5* Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington.

The service and food we received were amazing and I took a little snap of our delicious dessert - a vanilla cheesecake with lemon and coriander. On a whim, I entered it into a competition the hotel were running to win an overnight stay for 2 complete with champagne!

I cannot believe I have made it into the final 5 photographs! I would LOVE to return to this hotel and would be so greatful if you could follow the link below, click on my photograph and give it a like ;-) The photographs with the most likes wins.

Voting closes 12 noon Friday 26th Sept so you need to be quick!

Thank you all so much :D

An afternoon at The Science Museum, London

The Science museum is located next door to The Natural History Museum and across the road from The V&A museum. All of these fab attractions are FREE and very easy to find on the doorstep of South Kensington tube station. I knew my son would love to spend his 8th birthday here so after a whistle-stop tour of the Natural History museum in the morning, we made our way over to The Science museum. There was no queue which is always a relief and again, no pressure to make a donation (although always good to do this if you can).

As soon as we entered I was completely blown away. There was so much to see and do and I really didn't know where to look first! We picked up a map from the information desk (free) and made our way along the ground floor. This featured lots of inventions that have shaped the modern world and a space section which was fantastic - I especially loved the model of Apollo 11.

The Science museum features new technology too and it was great watching the 3D printers in action and looking at some of the fab items that have been created (including a whole bike!).

Next, we stopped on the third floor and spent quite a bit of time in their 'futures' exhibition. There were lots of interactive computer games designed to make you question the future. Questions such as, 'Should parents be allowed to track their child's location through satellites or is this an invasion of their privacy?' were posed and explored using fun games (I loved pretending to be a child, sneaking out and dodging the satellite beam so I wouldn't get caught).

Next, we walked through the fly zone which featured lots on lots of planes from throughout history up to the modern day. It was very interesting looking at a cross section of a modern-day jumbo jet (they are huge!!) compared to the very first flying machines. There were some paid-for experiences in this section such as a 4D flying with the red arrows experience and flight simulator's that looked like lots of fun.

The main part of the museum I had wanted to visit was the launchpad which is where most of the hands on fun is. It is designed for ages 8-14 years but my 5 year old also loved it. It was fairly busy but I must say all of the children were very polite and everybody took their turn fairly. There are over 50 hands on exhibits that were lots of fun including looking through a brick wall (this had me stumped for a while until I figured it out!), launching a rocket, learning about viscosity through experiments, making waves and learning about magnetism. We had a fab time in this area and all absolutely loved it. 

There is a learning room within the launchpad where free demonstrations, talks and experiments occur throughout the day. There is no need to book a place, just listen out for the announcements. We watched the FLASH, BANG, WALLOP show which was all about explosions. Very exciting! The show lasted about 20 minutes and was very engaging with lots of audience participation. Lots of things were blown up and barbie was even fired from a canon! The show was really lots of fun and the presenter skilfully sneaked some learning in too - my children now know all about the combustion triangle!

At 3:30pm we hadn't eaten anything since lunch so decided to eat in the energy cafe by the entrance. In future visits I will definitely plan ahead and take a packed lunch to enjoy in one of the museum's picnic areas (including one right next to the launch pad) as the prices were very high. One small slice of cheese and tomato pizza was £6 and a can of coke was £1.70. Still, we enjoyed it and were in a rush and £32 for lunch for 4 didn't break the bank.

We left through the gift shop and again found some of the prices to be very high. A Rubik's cube for example was £18. There were lots of good pocket money toys to choose from though around the £2-£3 mark. My daughter loves her slime ball!

We left The Science Museum after 2 hours as we needed to catch our train home but could have easily spent a lot longer here. We all really enjoyed taking part in the hands on experiments and I loved how the exhibits were all modern, relevant and engaging. We will definitely return to The Science Museum in the future.

You can read more about The Science Museum here:- www.sciencemuseum.org.uk


2 hours at The Natural History Museum

When in London this weekend for my son's 8th birthday I could not decide between taking him to The Natural History museum which to me is something every child should see in their life or The Science museum which is next door and I think my son would enjoy too as science is his favourite subject at school. I have been to The Natural history museum before with my husband so we were very aware of how huge it is but still, we took the decision to try and see them both in the same day. I am pleased to say, it can be done!

The Natural History museum is very easy to find - simply exit South Kensington tube station and it is right in front of you - you will probably spot the queues first! We got there for just after 11am and queued for approximately 20 minutes - the queue was very fast moving.

The Natural History museum IS FREE! and nobody hassles you to donate (although of course it is good to give what you can). Maps can be purchased for £1. There is an impressive model of a diplodocus in the museum foyer but don't forget to look around at the stunning architecture too. We paused for a moment to consult our map and decide upon the main sections we wanted to see.

Our first stop was the blue zone on the lower floor which is home to the famous dinosaur exhibit. This was definitely the busiest part of the museum with the flow of people regularly coming to a standstill. We still managed to see everything though and take a few pics. The dinosaur exhibit is spread over one floor with a mezzanine level which you walk along first. It is packed full of information and I think if you wanted to look at everything properly you could expect to spend 3 hours in this section.

We are big dinosaur fans in our house and it was lovely watching our children putting their knowledge to the test as they were naming the dinosaurs and consolidating everything they have learnt at school. The highlight of the dinosaur exhibit for us was definitely the moving T-Rex - very scary!

The exhibit questions whether T-Rex's were killers or scavengers amongst other things, is full of up to date research and really makes you think. We loved it and there is something for all ages.

Next, we quickly walked around part of the Green section (sorry - no photos). It was lovely walking amongst the planets, models of cells and fossil collections. Although we didn't stop to read anything it was enough to just walk around and take the environment in.

After the Green section we headed to the red zone which was the other part of the museum we really wanted to see. This section is all about our ever changing planet and featured lots of interacting ways to learn about weather, erosion, volcanoes and earthquakes. I was really inspired to read that weather is never actually destructive - it simply changes part of our world. Certainly food for thought!

How fantastic is the entrance to the red zone! Loads of fun and very exciting. I can't believe this is free!

The volcanoes and earthquakes area was amazing with lots of hands on fun - the highlight being the earthquake simulator. We all got to stand in a mock shop and the floor moved as if we were in a real earthquake - such a fantastic way to learn about what happens.

We spent about two hours in the Natural History museum but only probably covered about 1/8 of everything there is to see. You could easily spend two days here but if you want to, you can also break it down and spend a few hours there only visiting a few sections of interest. We certainly learned a lot during our two hours - everything was so visual and interactive. I would really like to visit the museum again and see more.

We left the museum via the gift shop - some things were expensive however these cuddly dinosaurs were only £8 which I didn't find too bad. There is a huge selection of fantastic books available to buy too and certainly worth a browse.

You can find out more about The Natural History museum here:- http://www.nhm.ac.uk/

The museum is situated next to the Victoria and Albert museum and The Science museum.


The MAD blog awards : Our First bloggers event

This weekend we attended the 2014 MAD blog awards which were held at the fabulous 5* Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington. As you may have read in my previous post, I was slightly nervous about spending the evening with people I had never met. It all turned out fine in the end though and we all had a great evening.

I arrived at the hotel to a red carpet reception and noticed a group of lovely looking ladies in the foyer - I made a beeline for them and found out they were bloggers too (I think we have a certain look!). We all got chatting and I eventually felt at ease.

We entered one of the hotel suites where we all posed for photographs and were provided with plenty of glasses of champagne as we mingled and chatted amongst ourselves. Most of us posed for photographs with the event host Dr Ranj (of Cbeebies fame) and with the crazy giant pokemon that was walking around.

Soon, it was time to enter the very elegant dining room where our tables were set with glamorous candlesticks. 

I was lucky to share a table with the lovely Alison from Not another Mummy blog (and foodies 100 editor), I was entertained with stories from Sian who blogs at You're not from round here and loved hearing about Vicky's family from Being Tilly's Mummy. I was sat next to Amy who works in PR for Brabantia who were sponsoring and presenting the best interiors blog. It was interesting seeing these events from a PR point of view too.

The service was of the highest standard and the food and wine were free-flowing and absolutely delicious. 

We were well and truly spoilt and our meal ended with a selection of personalised chocolates provided by wrapped for you and coffee and petit fours from the hotel.

After our meal, we got down to the main event of the night which started with a crazy flash mob dance who interrupted Dr Ranj's introduction dancing to Olly Murs 'Dance with me tonight.' Dr Ranj was a fantastically fun and natural host and we all had a giggle at some of his remarks and comments (v-bomb anyone?!).

There were 6000 blogs nominated for the MADs and to get down to the final 5 in the best family fun category was simply amazing - thanks to everybody who voted for me. We didn't win our category, however family days tried and tested were very deserving winners and it was lovely to hear that they had only just got engaged earlier in the day too. Some of the speeches were very emotional and there was almost a tear in my eye as my two mums accepted their award for best innovative blog. Other winners included the gorgeous Capture by Lucy for best photography blog, the fantastic Don't be sorry (best new blog) which is an honest account of the ups and downs of raising a child who happens to have downs syndrome, the hilarious Northern Mum who won best entertaining blog and the star of the evening The Future's Rosie  who won not one but two awards for best writing and blog of the year. Everyone was on their feet as Tom collected his well deserved awards for his honest and open blog which breaks down the misconceptions of raising a child with downs syndrome. A special mention also has to go to Kids days out reviews who won best travel blog. I was lucky enough to meet them at the awards and loved the long dress and converse combo!

The evening ended all to quickly and it was after 11pm before we got to hit the dance floor. I had a tube to catch back to the hotel, so didn't have time to join in with the dancing but collected my jam-packed parentdish goody bag and headed back to my hotel full of ideas, inspiration and also glad that I am part of such a fantastic community.

Thank you so much to Sally and the team from Tots 100 for organising such a fantastic event, to Parentdish for sponsoring the even, Visit Northumberland for sponsoring me to attend and to the Royal Garden Hotel for hosting. I really had a wonderful night.

Mama and More
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