A family of 5 with a zest for life

Autumn Adventures with Kids at Seaton Delaval Hall

I have been trying to get out for an Autumnal walk for a while now and we finally had the chance last weekend. We only had a few hours spare so we decided to head to Seaton Delaval Hall which is our local National Trust property.

Built in the early 1700's, Seaton Delaval Hall is a stunning house set in beautiful grounds and landscaped gardens. In 2008, the site was bought by the National Trust after Lord Hasting's death. The trust has worked hard over the last few years to restore the hall to it's former glory and work is still on-going.

Our first stop was the hall itself which a friendly guide informed us was the location of many a good party. The high ceilings, spiral staircases and ornate statues are really quite breathtaking.

We were interested to learn about the bat's that inhabit the hall - although we didn't spot any today.

I love this photo - it reminds me of we're going on a bear hunt

This beautiful weeping willow tree is 300 years old

We explored the rose garden next which is kind of like a mini maze too. I was surprised to see so many flowers still in bloom. 

Harry looking for frogs in the pond

We were invited to have a peek inside the estate's private chapel. We loved the stained glass windows.

We had a quick forage around the woods to see what we could find - we were lucky to find one left over conker and of course Jack found a stick (he intended to use it to fight off any ghost's!)

We found a beautiful spot to take some photograph's - Heidi is the only one of my children who really co-operates when I'm taking photo's, in fact she's a pro! She loves posing for the camera - I hope this is always the case! I know I am biased but I really think she could be a model.

Steve and I then had a seat while the kids rolled down hills and generally ran about playing hide and seek in the formal gardens.

Then we ended our day via the natural play area on our way back to the car.

We spent a lovely few hours at Seaton Delaval Hall and it was lovely to see my children having such fun that didn't include youtube, minecraft or watching TV! We have decided to revisit the hall in the Winter months and see how it compares to today.

Opening times vary so do check Seaton Delaval Hall's website before setting off, entry is £6 per adult, £3 for children (non-gift aid) or free if you are National Trust members. There are usually free craft activities every Sunday.


Our top 6 places to eat at Butlin's Bognor Regis

Readers of our blog will know how much we love our food. Good food plays a huge part in our lives. However great food and Butlin's aren't two phrases you would necessarily think go together. I am happy to report that while we've been staying at Butlin's this week, our standards haven't dropped and we have been really impressed.

When you add a Premium Hotel Dining plan to your holiday you can dine in any restaurant on resort with an allowance of £13 per adult and £6.50 per child. Here is a snapshot (in no particular order) featuring the top 6 places and foods we've enjoyed :-

1 - Burgers and Shakes at The Diner

50's style diner with fantastic food, atmosphere and service. You might be in for a surprise or two as well.

2 - Gourmet pork pies at Turners

Celebrity chef Brian Turner has his own restaurant on resort. It feels grown up and refined with perfect, attentive service and delicious food to match.

3 - Ice cream at Scoop Ice Cream parlour

There are 20+ flavours of ice cream to choose from in this cute ice cream parlour. They really hit the spot and we loved the pink cow decor.

4 - Pizza at Papa Johns

Although not exactly gourmet, the kids LOVE Papa Johns pizza and it is a treat we rarely enjoy back at home. When they spied there was a Papa John's restaurant on resort we had to visit! The pizza was spot on and the kids loved dancing along to party hits in between courses.

5 - An amazing all you can eat breakfast everyday in The Deck

Buffet style is perfect for breakfasts which are served until 11am in The Deck restaurant. The selection is fantastic, plentiful, hot and tasty. We filled our boots every morning and didn't need to eat again until the evening. 

6 - Traditional Pub food at The beachcomber Inn

This beach-themed pub serves the most amazing steaks and pies and the kids are entertained with activity sheets and Cbeebies. 

I ordered rare steak and that's what I got - perfection!


The Hasting's Arms, Seaton Delaval

We were looking for somewhere to visit for lunch this weekend after our walk around Seaton Delaval Hall. A quick look at tripadvisor reignited my interest in The Hastings Arms in Seaton Delaval. I have wanted to visit for a while now and the glowing reviews sealed the deal.

We arrived at about 1:30pm and the pub wasn't too busy. It is traditional in style but feels homely and inviting. We found ourselves a table and had a look at the menu. I never understand why pub's have HUGE menu's as it takes so long to decipher them all and decide what to order - today we had the choice of a main menu, a light bites menu and a specials menu. I always think it works much easier if there is just a lunch menu then an evening menu plus a specials board, anyway I digress.....

We were extremely impressed with the prices and the deals on offer. Especially as food is homemade and locally sourced. We made our choices and our order was taken by a lovely barmaid who explained as everything was cooked to order there may be a little wait - that was fine by us.

There are no children's options on the menu and none of the usual colouring in sheets ect....you might normally receive in a pub however this made a welcome change and we all actually had a conversation.

Steve ordered from the extensive pie menu. The gourmet pies are locally sourced using fresh ingredients. Steve chose to go for the steak and cheese pie which won a Gold Award in the British Pie Awards. You choose a pie, a spud, a side and a sauce for only £5.95 which is amazing value! Steve opted for homemade hand cut chips, mushy peas and rich beef gravy which is generously served in it's own gravy boat. The food was fantastic and is what proper pub food should be like instead of all this microwaved crap you seem to get these days.

I went for 'The Northumberland Whirl' which has been handmade by The Northumbrian sausage company using over 85% Northumberland pork shoulder. I chose homemade chips and mushy peas too and was delighted when I was also provided with my own gravy boat. My dish was £5.95 and again fantastic value. The homemade chips were to die for and you could tell the sausage was of good quality. There was so much food though and I had to leave some. Gutting when you have to do that when the food is so nice!

Our 8 year old ordered the cod goujons - made with crisp homemade ale batter. This was also £5.95. His portion was huge and there were loads of chips which he kindly shared with his younger brother and sister. Harry asked if we could try and make homemade chips at home as he loved them - I do agree, they are a million times better than the Mccain oven chips we usually have. I am not sure about making them myself though and think we will just have to return to The Hastings Arms to get our fix.

Heidi and Jack both ordered a Northumbrian sausage butty which at £2.95 each was an absolute bargain.

There are some fab deals to be had Monday-Saturday 12noon-8pm including:-
  • Any Sandwich, hand cut chips and a soft drink for £4.50
  • Any Sandwich, hand cut chips and an alcoholic drink for £5.95
  • Homemade soup of the day and any sandwich £4.95
We were assured that the fish finger sandwich (included in these deals) is amazing by a fellow customer - they recommended it to us as we were ordering and said it was all homemade and the best they'd ever had.

The Hastings Arms hold regular quiz night's on a Wednesday at 9pm and Sunday lunch is served between 12-4pm (also a bargain at £5.95).

Next time we are looking for a hearty, homemade pub lunch, The Hasting's Arms is going to be on the top of our list! Our lunch for 5 including drinks was less than £30. You can't get better value than that on a Saturday lunchtime.


Celebrating in style at The Grand Hotel, Tynemouth

I have spoken about my love for Tynemouth many times on my blog and I will always dream of owning one of the gorgeous sea front apartments. Tynemouth to me is like a grown up's playground - independent boutique stores line the streets alongside tapas and cocktail bars, there is a popular weekend market and the views over the priory out to sea are some of the best in the region. The Grand Hotel is the jewel in Tynemouth's crown. Built in 1872, The Grand Hotel was once the summer residence of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland. You cannot fail to be impressed by the imposing listed building that takes pride of place overlooking Longsands beach. I could not think of a better place to celebrate winning North East blogger of the year.

The Grand Hotel's Victoria restaurant* has been recommended in the Michelin guide for several years running yet was quiet on the night of our visit which is a real shame. The dining room is beautiful and the perfect location for a special meal for two. The mood is set with white linen table clothes, panelled walls, gorgeous chandeliers and you can hear distant sound of piano music. We chose to sit near the window which offered glorious views out to sea. I was delighted to spot an English Sparkling wine (£22.50) on the comprehensive wine list. It is our absolute favourite and I have yet to find another restaurant in the North East where this is available. We promptly ordered a bottle (well we were celebrating) and were then left to browse the menu.

The menu is modern British using only the finest ingredients and is locally sourced where possible. I was extremely impressed with the prices considering what was on offer. Starters are priced at £4.95 each which is amazing value when you can choose options such as rope grown mussels, pan fried pigeon breast and slow cooked belly of pork. We placed our order with the very friendly and knowledgable front of house who was happy to recommend side dishes and explain a little more about the dishes we had chosen. I am always impressed when staff know the menu inside out - nothing more annoying than them having to pop back to the kitchen to ask questions. We were offered some complimentary freshly baked bread with a variety of butters including garlic and chilli as we waited for our starters. A lovely touch.

Shetland rope grown mussels with a spicy garlic sauce served with a garlic and herb bruschetta (£4.95)

Pan fried pigeon breast with a carrot and thyme salad, potato crisps and blackcurrant jus 

Our starters were superb and brilliantly executed. The pigeon breast was perfectly pink and the whole dish was bursting with Autumnal flavours. My mussels were plump and served with a delicious homemade sauce. The portion was impressive - still can't believe it was only £4.95!

English lamb rump with baby fondant potatoes, homemade minted pesto and aubergine caviar 

Steve's lamb was again perfectly pink, served with plenty of delicious mint pesto (always annoying when you don't get enough!) and beautifully presented. 

Pan fried Monkfish tails, baby new potatoes, confit cherry tomatoes and a balsamic reduction

Panache of vegetables 

My monkfish was like a work of art. The presentation was spot on. I have never tried monkfish before but was tempted after seeing a snap earlier in the week on the Grand Hotel's facebook page. In hindsight, I think monkfish was perhaps a little too meaty for my taste, Steve however loved it and said he would order it again so this is probably just a personal preference.  

Tarte au citron served with a biscuit crumb topping and vanilla ice cream

I was in dessert heaven with this Tarte au Citron. It is up there with the best I have tried. The lemon flavour of the tarte was subtle but the lemon drizzle provided a lovely kick. Served with fresh fruit, ice cream and a biscuit crumb - my mouth is watering as I type. I would go back for this dessert alone.

Milk chocolate and caramel truffle with berry compote and chantilly cream

I had to steal a bite of Steve's dessert while I got the chance as it didn't last long. If you love chocolate - this is for you. It tasted like a giant, luxurious chocolate truffle and was a little piece of chocolate heaven. We would definitely recommend this too.

The refined and elegant atmosphere, the delicious food and the professional service really make the Victoria restaurant one of the best places we have been for a grown up date and it is a very special place to celebrate. If you really want to make a night of it you can stay over too.

After your meal you can take coffee in the dining or drawing room and then walk the 5 minutes along the coast to Tynemouth village where you will find a lovely selection of pubs and cocktail bars to finish your evening.

Thank you so much to The Grand Hotel for your hospitality, we can't wait to return soon.

Please call 0191 293 6666 for reservations

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