A UK Family Travel & Lifestyle Blog

KoolioBandz Identity Bands for kids

We're attending three festivals this summer (Geronimo, Corbridge and Just So) and absolutely can't wait. Now that our children are older we do let them have a little more freedom and festivals are the perfect place to let them experience this. We will always keep them in our line of sight however we won't insist on holding their hand the whole time. Something that plays on my mind is that they could easily get lost and separated from us (festivals are busy places!). Although they are sensible and I would hope they'd know what to do in this situation, anything I can do to help our reunion or feel less anxious certainly helps.

KoolioBandz Identity Bands for kids

We have kindly been sent some KoolioBandz to test out - they are available in ages 2-5 years or 6-10 years. The idea is, you register your child's band online with two phone numbers. If your child is lost, an adult can follow the instructions on the child's wristband to send a text message (via KoolioBandz so everything is recorded and your phone number or personal details are never disclosed) alerting you where your child is. There is no subscription fee for this service and it works in 40 countries and languages. I like how language is no barrier and if a child is lost in say France, KoolioBandz will translate the message they receive into English for you.

KoolioBandz Identity Bands for kids

Kooliobandz cost just 9.95 euros for a pack of 2 which includes up to 5 text messages. You can buy them here or from Boots stores. The Make-A-Wish foundation will receive 45p for every band sold. The Make-A-Wish foundation receives no Government funding and every penny really does count to help grant 'One True Wish' to every eligible child. 

I've registered our bands (it took less than one minute) and our children will be wearing them whilst out and about this summer. Hopefully, I won't have to test the technology out for myself and obviously these bands don't replace vigilance or common sense but I am pleased to have this little extra reassurance and will explain to my three that they if they are lost they must not worry and find someone in uniform or a grown up with children and ask them to follow the instructions on their band which will reunite us in no time. 


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My favourite short walks in the North East

I have been walking every day for 20 minutes in my lunch hour for a few weeks now as part of Westfield Health's Walking Lunch challenge and have really noticed a difference. A few of the benefits I have noticed are:-

*Weight loss (head over to Life As Mrs R to find out how much)
*Increased fitness
*More mindful of my surroundings
*More energy
*A better working routine

I work from home and usually sit at my desk for long periods of time (yes I even eat my lunch here) and fitting in a lunch time walk has really set structure to my day and allowed me to be more focused. Sometimes if I am busy I will just walk around my neighbourhood, other times I have walked to my mum's who lives 8 minutes away (we've timed it) and take her dog out for 10 minutes but on days when my husband is at home I have taken a 'proper lunch hour' and we've driven somewhere locally with the purpose of taking a more strenuous walk. If you include driving time, this only takes 40 minutes out of my day and it's lovely to see the local beauty spots on my doorstep, spend time together and improve our health. So here are my favourite local walks so far:-

Plessey Woods




Ponteland Park



Finding a local park to walk through really lifts your spirits. Ponteland Park is full of flowers in bloom and a home to lots of wildlife. Walking along the riverbank is beautiful. We walked around the park and covered one mile in 20 minutes last week burning 162 calories and walking 2200 steps along the way.

Northumberlandia


Northumberlandia is a fab place to walk for people of all abilities. You can climb the peaks or just walk around the flat surface. We climbed right to the top and back in just under 20 minutes and were rewarded with spectacular views of the surrounding quarries. 

Newcastle Monument to Quayside



I quite often have meetings in Newcastle City Centre. Rather than just sitting in a coffee shop and heading home I have switched my habits and made sure that I include a lunchtime walk into my routine. The walk from Grey's monument down to the Quayside and back is exactly one mile (if you stop at The Vermont Hotel) and takes just over 20 minutes. It's lovely to take in the beautiful architecture, I only wish it was downhill on the way back!

If you are feeling inspired to check out some of the local short walks in your area, why not sign up to take part in Westfield Health's Walking lunch next month. It is FREE to take part, motivates you and you might be surprised with the benefits of adding a 20 minute walk into your lunch hour. 










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Holiday Fashion for Boys

What is going on with the weather at the moment??? I've been trying to photograph the boys in their new summer outfits for two weeks now but we keep getting caught up in freak thunderstorms, hail and snow! Hello Mr Sunshine - you do realise it's almost May!

It's 6 weeks until our holiday in Spain now so I am just going to ignore the UK weather for now and focus on that. I am in full holiday-shopping mode now. Last week I shared some of Heidi's new outfits for spring/summer and today it's the boys' turn.

There is no denying that shopping for boys just isn't as fun as shopping for girls - there does seem to be less choice and as a FB follower pointed out, a lot of boys fashion focuses around superheroes and TV characters printed on a t-shirt. I was up for the challenge of finding them a few holiday outfits and headed to intu Eldon Square to see what they had to offer. I was advised by a fair few Facebook followers that when it comes to boys, I should invest in good quality t-shirts and then stock up on cheaper shorts from the likes of H&M and Primark so that is what I tried to do.


Ooops I clearly fell at the first hurdle and ended up buying Harry a superhero t-shirt! I love this Captain America/Iron Man top and think it's fairly grown up and can be dressed up or dressed down so I couldn't resist. 

T shirt | Next    Hat | Next   Denim Shorts | Next   


My boys aren't too keen on wearing denim as they say it's not very comfortable but I love the waistband on these shorts from Next which make them super comfy and wearable and the boys will look smart without any complaining.

Ted Baker T-shirt | Debenhams

I was very impressed with the children's t-shirt selection in Debenhams and will be definitely head here more often. Although Ted Baker T-shirts are a little more expensive than what I would usually spend (they are £14-£16 each), the quality is fantastic and I think their designs really stand out. Perfect for days at the beach or evenings out. Very versatile!



T-shirt | Debenhams

One of the key trends for spring/summer 2016 is stripes and this is certainly reflected in some of the boys' outfits I picked. 

Ted Baker T-shirt | Debenhams

Marks and Spencer never lets me down when it comes to children's fashion and it's somewhere I shop a lot. I love how this season's nautical trend has filtered down into some of their children's ranges. My husband Steve has commented that he would like the outfit below for himself!

Shorts | Marks and Spencer   T-Shirt | Marks and Spencer


I wouldn't normally buy patterned shorts as think you are sometimes restricted with what you can match them with but there are a lot of the same trends in various stores across intu Eldon Square so it is easy to mix and match items from different places.

T-shirt | Debenhams    Shorts | Marks and Spencer


T-shirt | Marks and Spencer

Finally, Jack is absolutely obsessed with dinosaurs but a lot of the t-shirts with dinosaur prints on seem quite babyish now. I LOVE this top from Debenhams which I am sure will get a lot of wear over the summer.

T-shirt | Debenhams

I still have a few bits and bobs to buy - mainly swimwear which I'll be heading back to Debenhams to buy I think but I am mostly done! I am so sorry I couldn't show you these outfits as modelled on the boys like I did with Heidi but that's British weather for you! I am sure you will spot them in lots of blog posts and vlogs in the next few months. 

What do you think of my choices? Do you have a favourite? 

Thanks to intu Eldon Square who helped us pick these outfits and advised us on key trends for spring/summer 2016.










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Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire - A review

Tattershall Castle is an excellent example of a 15th Century red brick castle. Owned and managed by the National Trust it is definitely worth a visit if you are in the Lincolnshire area. We visited during our stay at Tattershall Lakes which is just next door.

Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire - A review

Entry is £15.90 per family or FREE if you are National Trust pass holders as we are. We were lucky enough to visit on a lovely clear and sunny day. The staff at the gate were very welcoming and we spent some time reading about the castle before heading inside. 

Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire - A review

Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire - A review

Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire - A review

First up was the cellar which was dark and creepy, just as a cellar should be! We hunted for a dragon but think he must have been sleeping :-) 

Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire - A review


There were traditional games and an educational movie available on the ground floor which kept our children entertained.

Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire - A review

Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire - A review

The Castle is in very good condition and as it is split over a few levels you don't have to climb all the way to the top in one go which is great news if you are unfit like me!

Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire - A review

Some of the rooms truly are magnificent and our three enjoyed running around pretending they were master of the manor.

Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire - A review

Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire - A review


The real highlight of Tattershall Castle however is the stunning views of the Lincolnshire countryside from the top. We could even spot our accommodation where we were staying at Tattershall Lakes.

Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire - A review

Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire - A review

Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire - A review


There is an RAF airbase right next to the castle/Tattershall Lakes and we were lucky enough to watch a fighter jet perform stunts as we watched from the prime location of the castle rooftop.

Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire - A review


Tattershall Castle is in our eyes, an unmissable place to visit if you are staying nearby. There isn't a tearoom/cafe but I do think the grounds would make a wonderful place to stop for a picnic if the weather's on your side.

Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire - A review









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Family Dining at Fratello's, Jesmond - A review

It's Heidi's birthday this week so when we were invited along to Fratello's in Jesmond to celebrate of course we said yes. Italian food is Heidi's absolute favourite and she was really looking forward to a special trip out after school. I will start by saying that I normally avoid Jesmond like the plague as I am scared of parking there - I can never seem to find a parking space!! Luckily, customers of Fratello's can use the complimentary parking at the Holiday Inn which is set back just off to coast road and joined onto the restaurant. Phew! You just need to inform reception that you're there and it's all good.

Family Dining at Fratello's, Jesmond - A review - Fratello's interior

Family Dining at Fratello's, Jesmond - A review - Fratello's interior

Fratello's is warm and inviting with some of the friendliest staff we have met. They couldn't do enough for us and we were looked after very well. They started with the essentials - colouring sheets and crayons for the kids. 

Family Dining at Fratello's, Jesmond - A review - kids menu

As much as I would have loved to order a three course extraveganza, it's pretty well documented now that I am counting my calories. I was momentarily tempted by shallow fried mozzarella to start (yum!) but stayed strong. I even declined the complimentary home-baked bread for our table. We headed straight for mains and I was pleased to see you could order a half portion of stonebaked pizza (the dough is made in house) with a side salad and opted for that where as Steve ordered a portion of Arrabiatta Pasta and he couldn't resist some sweet potato fries too. 

Family Dining at Fratello's, Jesmond - A review - Light option half pizza and salad

Family Dining at Fratello's, Jesmond - A review - Light option half pizza and salad

Family Dining at Fratello's, Jesmond - A review - Penne Arrabiatta

Our food was delicious - Steve's pasta sauce deserves a special mention. You can definitely tell the pasta sauce is homemade and he immediately regretted declining the bread to mop up the extra sauce. Although my pizza was a half portion it was still very satisfying, especially when paired with a side salad which was nicely dressed. I am slowly learning that you can choose lighter options when dining out and still have a very nice evening.

The Children's Menu


The children's menu is £6.50 for two courses and I am pleased to see they offered more than the usual chicken nuggets/sausages and chips. Jack went for his own pizza, Heidi decided on Penne Napoli and Harry ordered his favourite Pasta and Meatballs. The portions were huge, flavoursome and the same care had gone into preparing these dishes as the adult dishes which I am always pleased to see.

Family Dining at Fratello's, Jesmond - A review - Kids Pizza

Family Dining at Fratello's, Jesmond - A review - Kids Pasta
Child's pasta and meatballs

Family Dining at Fratello's, Jesmond - A review - Kids Pasta
Heidi couldn't wait to devour her pasta dish

Steve and I resisted dessert (well, I ordered coffee but that's allowed) but the kids ordered ice cream which was included in their meal deal. The scoops were huge and Heidi was delighted there were a few hidden raspberries in hers too. 

Family Dining at Fratello's, Jesmond - A review - Kids Ice Cream

Family Dining at Fratello's, Jesmond - A review - Kids Ice Cream

Family Dining at Fratello's, Jesmond - A review - Kids Ice Cream

We were highly impressed with Fratello's. I can see it as the sort of place I would visit on the way to/from Newcastle or as a lovely venue for a nice family get together or special meal where you don't want the hassle of driving into the city centre. Our food was fresh, flavoursome and authentic and as a family we were made to feel very welcome. 

Make sure you follow Fratello's on Facebook to keep up to date with offers and events. 

We were provided with a complimentary meal in return for an honest review.  Thank you to the staff who looked after us - we will be back soon. 



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A letter to Heidi on your 7th birthday

Wow I can't believe 7 years have passed since your dramatic entry into this world (check out this post if you'd like to know the details). What a beautiful young lady you are turning out to be both inside and out.

You have always been a fussy eater but in the last few months you have shown great maturity and will now try pretty much anything that has been put in front of you. You have such a caring nature and will be the first to put an arm around one of your brothers if they fall or are upset and do such a good job of looking after your own 'babies'.


You are a very girly girl and love dressing up. Your favourite thing is when I curl or straighten your hair or let you wear make up for a special occasion. You love shopping for clothes and listening to music with Justin Bieber, Little Mix and One Direction being current favourites. It's so sweet listening to you sing along in the car.

On the other hand though you still love adventure and will be the first to climb trees (or anything that is around that you can climb on) when we are out and about. Playing outside on your bike makes you happy. You also have a stubborn streak just like your mam and I really wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of you.


I know you are a bit of a dreamer and your teachers tell me you are often in your own world at school. I don't mind this though as I know you try very hard when it comes down to it and you scored the highest mark in your class during a mock SAT test this month - well done!


Everyone comments how beautiful you are in the photographs I take and you love posing in front of the camera (and are a natural at it too) but I really try and drum it into you that it's what inside that matters and I hope we can inspire you to travel the world and then find a career you love and deserve when you are older.



This year you haven't really asked for much for your birthday - you would love some roller boots and more Bratz dolls. You are also very much into Shopkins which is a new craze of over-priced tat if you ask me! I hope you receive everything you've asked for and more because you deserve it. You asked to go 'somewhere that serves pasta' for your birthday tea so we are off to Hinnies in Whitley Bay tonight. You are very excited to make your own ice cream. Then we are hopefully organising a 'clip and climb' party with a few of your friends next week.

Happy 7th Birthday Heidi, we couldn't be more proud.  x


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