A UK Family Travel & Lifestyle Blog

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Sunday Lunch at The Broad Chare Pub, Newcastle Quayside | A Review


After visiting (and falling in love with) the Broad Chare Pub on Newcastle Quayside during Oktoberfest, they have been well and truly on our radar. Often cited as the best Sunday lunch in the toon, we booked a table as something to look forward to during our Christmas shopping weekend. The kids were at grans so it was just Steve and I. As we were Christmas shopping, I wasn't keen on carrying my camera around too so I relied on my trusty iPhone for these pics.

Sunday Lunch at The Broad Chare Pub, Newcastle Quayside | A Review

We booked a table online and would recommend doing this as both the pub and restaurant were super busy. After our wander around the Quayside Market we were 40 minutes early for our reservation so popped into the Head of Steam pub next door for a pre-lunch drink. We finished our drinks just in time and at 2pm we headed across to the Broad Chare.

Sunday Lunch at The Broad Chare Pub, Newcastle Quayside | A Review - exterior shot

Sunday's have a completely different vibe to a weekday lunch. They are certainly more relaxed with toddlers in highchairs digging into Yorkshire puddings and extended families sitting around a big table together and enjoying lunch and a bottle of wine. It almost made me wish we'd actually brought the kids along.

The service at The Broad Chare is always fantastic. Friendly, attentive and knowledgeable. Just what you need. It's quick too - we were in and out within 45 minutes. For 2 courses, that's really good. I prefer the service to be speedy but I noticed other tables were more relaxed and if you want to take your time over a few glasses of wine and dessert then that won't be an issue.

I love a good wine list and the Broad Chare's is very good with a lot of wines available by the glass. Their real ales and beers list is substantial too. Steve picked an ale from the list (I have no idea what it was but he seemed to like it) and I opted for a large glass of Chilean Merlot to accompany my beef. Perfect.

Sunday Lunch Menu at The Broad Chare


There were two choices for Sunday lunch (beef or lamb) on the day of our visit or you could choose anything from the main a la carte. I went for the beef and Steve the lamb. I will never understand those who order anything but Sunday lunch on a Sunday! We ordered a couple of bar snacks to start with.

Sunday Lunch at The Broad Chare Pub, Newcastle Quayside | A Review - scotch eggs bar snacks

Steve went for the Scotch Eggs which he thoroughly enjoyed. He mentioned they were a tiny bit  overdone as he prefers a runnier yolk but that's probably personal preference. Ordering a bar snack as a starter is ideal before Sunday lunch as the portions aren't too big and you are left satisfied but ready for the next course.

Sunday Lunch at The Broad Chare Pub, Newcastle Quayside | A Review - scotch eggs bar snacks

I went for the Monkfish cheeks just because they intrigued me. I've eaten monkfish a couple of times but I haven't had it served like this. They were lovely and light and served with a homemade tartar sauce, the perfect start to my lunch. We are already planning a bar crawl along the Quayside at the beginning of next year and will definitely be sampling a few more bar snacks from the menu then.

Sunday Lunch at The Broad Chare Pub, Newcastle Quayside | A Review - monkfish cheeks bar snacks

Onto the mains......

Sunday Lunch at The Broad Chare Pub, Newcastle Quayside | A Review - Roast beef Sunday lunch

Sunday lunch is priced at £13 at the Broad Chare which I think is very good value. How perfect is my roast beef! Served pink it was beautifully tender and there was plenty of it as well. I was chuffed it was automatically served with a pot of Horseradish too. Yum! The roasties were homemade - crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside and the veg was just proper comfort food at it's best. Steve welcomed the addition of spouts, bacon and nuts served as an additional side bowl to our table.

Sunday Lunch at The Broad Chare Pub, Newcastle Quayside | A Review - sprouts and bacon, horseradish sauce

Sunday Lunch at The Broad Chare Pub, Newcastle Quayside | A Review - Roast beef Sunday dinner and homemade yorkshire pudding

Steve's lamb was again 100% perfect. The sort of lamb that melts away when you eat it and is full of flavour. I spied a slow cook shoulder of lamb to be shared between 5 people on the specials board. I bet that is something else! The Yorkshires were also perfect. You can't beat a homemade Yorkshire can you. The only criticism we both had with our meals was the gravy which really let the meal down. I LOVE a good gravy but unfortunately, the Broad Chare's was very thin and had no flavour at all which was disappointing. There also wasn't nearly enough of it. It just wasn't a patch on the red wine gravy we'd enjoyed at The Cherry Tree a few weeks earlier which was served in a generous jug for our table.

Sunday Lunch at The Broad Chare Pub, Newcastle Quayside | A Review - Lamb Sunday lunch

Our lunch was £48 for 2 courses including alcoholic drinks and a 10% service charge which I think represented good value. Is it the best Pub Sunday lunch in Newcastle? Maybe. There's still a few places for me to try before I say that though. What I can say is that although I did thoroughly enjoy our lunch and would return, my favourite Sunday lunch in the North East still belongs to the Fox Hole at Piercebridge which is AMAZING! You simply must try their Sunday lunch platters.

Let me know if you've tried Sunday lunch from the Broad Chare and if you have a favourite spot for Sunday lunch.

Disclosure : We paid for our own lunch and drinks


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Sunday Lunch at The Broad Chare Pub, Newcastle Quayside | A Review by North East Family Fun


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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Omni Cafe - Asian Tapas in Monkseaton near Whitley Bay | A Review

First of all, I will apologise for the crappy iphone photos in low light. I didn't intend to blog about our meal at OMNI and was hoping to enjoy a date night with Steve and leave my phone in my bag. You can't take the blogger out of me though and as bowls of delicious food arrived, I just couldn't help but take a few snaps and tell you all about it.

Omni Cafe - Asian Tapas in Monkseaton near Whitley Bay | A Menu Review

OMNI is a neighbourhood cafe in Monkseaton, not far from the metro station. Serving Asian inspired tapas in a laid back and relaxed environment, it's exactly the sort of place I wish we had in my home town of Cramlington.  We received a warm welcome and found a snug table for 2. The cafe is cosy with low lighting, flickering candles, scatter cushions, fairy lights, a projector playing old movies and a soundtrack playing an eclectic mix featuring everything from Bob Marley to the Beatles.

Omni Cafe - Asian Tapas in Monkseaton near Whitley Bay | A Menu Review - thai curry

When it comes to Tapas, we always over-order. We decided on 4 small plates and 3 side dishes but think that dropping down to 3 small plates and 2 side dishes would have been enough. I am not sure which dish we would leave out though! We spent £48 but this includes 2 beers (£3.80 each) and think this was money well spent. You could easily dine here for £20 a head and leave happy.

Omni Cafe - Asian Tapas in Monkseaton near Whitley Bay | A Menu Review - Thai Green Curry

The Thai Green Curry was homemade and deliciously creamy and served with tender chicken, bean sprouts and mange tout. It had a good kick to it too and I'm always happy when cafe's aren't scared to add a bit of spice. There was plenty of it too and it's the perfect dish for a cold winter's night. We ordered a side of Jasmine rice to accompany.

Omni Cafe - Asian Tapas in Monkseaton near Whitley Bay | A Menu Review - Jasmine Rice

Omni Cafe - Asian Tapas in Monkseaton near Whitley Bay | A Menu Review - Spicy Squid

As a rule, if squid's on a menu, we'll order it. Omni's is good - served again on the spicy side with a wedge of lime and sweet dipping sauce, the portion was again very good value. I usually think restaurants scrimp on portions when it comes to squid so I'm pleased that wasn't the case here. It was still the first dish we finished though.

Omni Cafe - Asian Tapas in Monkseaton near Whitley Bay | A Menu Review

Omni Cafe - Asian Tapas in Monkseaton near Whitley Bay | A Menu Review - spicy fries

We went for spicy fries (can you see a theme here) as one of our side dish and oh my they were SO moreish! We couldn't get enough and I loved the spicy/mild dipping sauce they were served with.

Omni Cafe - Asian Tapas in Monkseaton near Whitley Bay | A Menu Review - steamed portk dumplings with sesame and soy

The Steamed Pork Dumplings were a complete contrast to the rest of our dishes. The soy, sesame and spring onion dressing was nice and delicate and the dumplings were light and elegant. I only wish there were more! After enjoying some homemade crab dumplings at the Hoopers' house earlier in the weekend, they seemed pretty easy to make and we're going to attempt (by we, I mean Steve) to make our own soon taking inspiration from this dish. Watch this space!

Omni Cafe - Asian Tapas in Monkseaton near Whitley Bay | A Menu Review

The side of Asian slaw was possibly my favourite dish. It was zingy and fresh with lots of lime and sesame. It's the sort of food I love.

Omni Cafe - Asian Tapas in Monkseaton near Whitley Bay | A Menu Review - Asian Slaw

Our final dish was slow cooked belly pork in a honey, soy and sesame sauce. Steve's favourite dish and a close second for me. The sauce was sticky and rich and I couldn't help dipping my fries in. The pork was beautifully tender and I was surprised to see a few pieces of crisp crackling in there too. YUM! 

Omni Cafe - Asian Tapas in Monkseaton near Whitley Bay | A Menu Review - sticky belly pork

The staff were ever so lovely at Omni and if you're looking for a chilled out date night with no fuss and good food, I would highly recommend. We'll definitely be heading back for brunch at the beginning of next year and their cake counter looked very tempting too! For those with dietary requirements, they have special menus too which is nice to see. 

Omni's daytime menu is served 10am-4pm Tuesday-Saturday and their evening menu is served 5pm-8pm Tuesday-Saturday. Closed Sundays & Mondays. Find out more via Omni's website here. 

Disclosure | We paid for our own food and drinks

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Omni Cafe - Asian Tapas in Monkseaton near Whitley Bay | A Menu Review



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Monday, 28 November 2016

The Best Places to take the kids Ice Skating in the North East 2016

T'is the season to enjoy some festive fun and what could be more fun than whizzing around on an outdoor skating rink? Now I will be honest when I say that I have never taken my children ice skating. It just scares me too much and all I can imagine is our fingers being chopped off. I actually googled how often this happens and couldn't find a definitive answer and I know I'm being silly and the chances are very slim. Perhaps this year will be the year that I actually take the kids? Or maybe I will play it safe and try a fake ice rink first. Hmmmmm we'll see.

The Best Places to take the kids Ice Skating in the North East 2016


Without further ado, here is our guide to outdoor skating rinks in the North East for 2016. Let me know if you have any favourites:


Ice Skating at Life Science Centre, Newcastle


When: Until 26 February 2017
Recommended Age: All ages. Children aged 9 and under require adult supervison. Children aged 10-12 can skate with an adult spectator.
Cost per Adult: £9
Cost per Child: Under 4's are £3 and children aged 5-17 years are £7. Family skating £25.
Real Ice?: Yes
Need to Know: Visit Science at Life Website


Pityard Skating Rink at Woodhorn, Northumberland


When: Weekends and Northumberland School Holidays until 23rd December 2016.
Recommended Age: 2 years+, all under 5's must be accompanied by an adult.
Cost per Adult: £6.50
Cost per Child: £5.50
Real Ice?: Synthetic Ice Rink
Need to Know: Visit Experience at Woodhorn Website


Ice Skating at Beamish, County Durham


When: Daily until 31st December, February Half Term and weekends from 3rd Jan - 17th Feb.
Recommended Age: All ages. Skates available from child size 10.
Cost per Adult: £5 per adult. One child goes free with every paying adult.
Cost per Child: One child goes free with every paying adult or £4.
Real Ice?: Yes
Need to Know: Visit Beamish Website


Christmas Skating Rink at Alnwick Garden, Northumberland


When: 26th & 27th November, 3rd, 4th & 10th December
Recommended Age: All ages
Cost per Adult: from £5.60 (includes Garden admission)
Cost per Child: from £3.99 (includes Garden admission)
Real Ice?: Synthetic ice
Need to Know: Visit Alnwick Garden Website


The Frost Village Ice Rink, Keel Square | Sunderland


When: Until 24th December
Recommended Age: All ages
Cost per Adult: £7.50
Cost per Child: £6.50. Family ticket available for £25.
Real Ice?: Yes
Need to Know: Visit Christmas in Sunderland Website


Mini Moos Fun Park | Durham


When: Weekends throughout December then 17th-24th December (website states rainy days only)
Recommend Ages: All ages
Cost per Adult: £9 (includes admission to farm park)
Cost per Child: £8.50 (includes admission to farm park)
Real Ice?: Synthetic ice
Need to Know: Visit Mini Moos Website


So where's best? For me, if you are already an annual pass holder, the best value has to be Beamish. £5 for one adult and child to skate on real ice is a real bargain. Then it all comes down to location I suppose - Family skating at the Frost Village in Sunderland and Life Science Centre in Newcastle are both priced at £25 and I imagine they are both as good as each other. 'Faux' skating is probably better for very small children and again, I guess it all depends on location. You could make a day of it at both Alnwick Garden, Mini Moos and Woodhorn with their various trails, activities and attractions.

The Best Places to take the kids Ice Skating in the North East 2016

Finally, I couldn't post about ice skating and not mention Whitley Bay Ice Rink. Skating here is priced at £31 per family including skate hire so more expensive than the other rinks mentioned. However it is indoors and they offer tuition, parties and more throughout the year.

Let me know if you have any recommendations for the best place to take your children ice skating in the North East. 

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Sunday, 27 November 2016

Jack and the Beanstalk Pantomime Review | Gala Theatre, Durham

Jack and the Beanstalk is this year's panto of choice at the Gala Theatre, Durham. Tickets are available from now for performances until 7th January and are priced from just £6 (family ticket £50-£58). The theatre is running a special deal with the Fat Hippo Durham where kids can eat free if they are heading to watch the show. YUM! See Gala Theatre website for details. We sent guest reviewer Kim and her family along to watch the show and let us all know her thoughts. Over to Kim...........

Jack and the Beanstalk Pantomime Review | Gala Theatre, Durham

Last night, we went to see the Durham Gala Theatre pantomime of Jack and the Beanstalk. We were a party of 5 – myself, my two children, who are 10 and 7, Nanna, and Great Nanna. We arrived at 5.40pm for a 6pm start, and although it was very busy, we were able to collect our tickets straight away. 

Jack and the Beanstalk Pantomime Review | Gala Theatre, Durham

The show began almost 10 minutes late, but once it got started, the story got into full swing. The show was written and directed by Neil Armstrong and Paul Hartley, who play Fleshcreep and Silly Simon. Most of the actors in the show are local, and the Pantomime itself was set in Spennymoor, so there was a lot of local jokes, and tongue-in-cheek mocking of some local places, but all in good fun. 

Jack and the Beanstalk Pantomime Review | Gala Theatre, Durham

The Dame of the show was great fun, and picked a poor man in the front row for most of the jokes and innuendo, which he took in good spirits, and played along. The characters were really well played, with most of the characters keeping to the same ones as the classic story, and some being new additions, which made it a little more interesting. The same goes for the story itself – the gist of the show was based on the story, with some changes in there, which we thought were great. 

Jack and the Beanstalk Pantomime Review | Gala Theatre, Durham

The songs in the show were really funny, with some being based on current and older pop songs, with new lyrics, which the children thought were great. The villain of the story, Fleshcreep, was tremendous - he played a great part, and was very funny too. This is his 30th year in panto, and you can tell! His part in the show required some special effects, including pyrotechnics, which were amazing! Jack’s brother’s character, Silly Simon, was great fun, and very funny, and played a great team with Milkshake the Cow! 

Jack and the Beanstalk Pantomime Review | Gala Theatre, Durham - cast on stage

The main characters of Jack and Princess Jilliana were played very well, with a good rapport between the two of them. My favourite character was Moonflower the good fairy, who is determined to conquer her evil brother Fleshcreep, and return the Amazing Amulet of Auckland to its rightful place. 

Jack and the Beanstalk Pantomime Review | Gala Theatre, Durham

As in every good pantomime, there is always the tiny, cute dancer, whose role in this show was ‘Daisy Dobson of Dobson’s Dairy’, and for being such a small girl, she played her part very well, remembering all her dances, and also her speaking parts. 

Overall, we all thought this was a great show, and would say it was just as good, if not better, than some of the larger venue pantomimes we have been to previously, and at a fraction of the price! I will definitely be looking into this pantomime again for next Christmas.

Thanks Kim - it sounds like you had a fantastic time! Tickets are still available for performances until 7th January via the Gala Theatre, Durham Website here.

Disclosure : We were provided with complimentary press tickets

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Jack and the Beanstalk Pantomime Review | Gala Theatre, Durham



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Friday, 25 November 2016

James and the Giant Peach, Northern Stage | A Review

I will start this review by saying that I usually adore Northern Stage's Christmas performance (see our previous reviews of 2014's Get Santa and last year's Wizard of Oz) and after reading rave reviews of this year's James and the Giant Peach over in the Family Explorer's North East group I seriously couldn't wait!

James and the Giant Peach, Northern Stage Newcastle | A Review

As soon as we entered the theatre we could already see a change from previous years. The stage also takes up part of the floor and even the sides of the theatre are used at some point. You are certainly a lot closer to the action and more involved with the production than in previous years.

James and the Giant Peach, Northern Stage Newcastle | A Review - stage setting

My children haven't read Roald Dahl's classic tale of James and the Giant Peach yet and my memory of the story was sketchy at best so we settled into out seats and waited for the tale to begin.

James and the Giant Peach, Northern Stage Newcastle | A Review - peach

James and the Giant Peach is fast paced from the outset with scooters whizzing around the stage, basketballs being passed about, singing, dancing and skipping. There are a lot of characters to remember from the Old Green Grasshopper the Miss Spider. There is a lot going on and there's always something new to watch on stage which means that the 2 hour show is over in a flash. Not once did my 5 year old ask when was it over which is very unusual.

James and the Giant Peach, Northern Stage Newcastle | A Review

What really stands out in this performance is just how immersive the whole experience is. It honestly feels as if the whole theatre is the stage and as if the audience is part of the cast. From encouraging the kids to 'Dab' (they'll know what to do), to bubbles, flying seagulls and a giant inflatable peach that is passed around the theatre, there is LOADS of fun to be had and the kids will really enjoy themselves I promise. I LOVED the under water scenes in the second half and the use of props, music and staging is honestly the best I've ever seen. I don't ever need to swim in the ocean with jellyfish now as I feel like I've already ticked this from my list, albeit in a theatre in Newcastle.

James and the Giant Peach, Northern Stage Newcastle | A Review

James and the Giant Peach is recommended for children aged 5+ (although there were younger children in the audience who seemed to enjoy it just fine) and there are a couple of scarier parts that you should be wary of if your children are particular sensitive - a giant Rhino escapes from the zoo and kills James' parents for example and the storm scene near the end features some scary looking creatures and it is so realistic you do feel as if you are actually part of the storm. My three managed with these scenes just fine though and nobody in the audience seemed upset.

James and the Giant Peach, Northern Stage Newcastle | A Review

As well as the staging and immersive experience, the music really stands out. The music is original and all played live, usually by the cast themselves and it really is a special treat.

We loved all of the characters in this play but unfortunately they just didn't really capture our heart like they have in previous years. James and the Giant Peach is a real team effort and although the cast are all loveable in their own different ways, no one performance really stands out. I will also say that there definitely aren't as many laughs as previous years but this doesn't take away the amount of fun the kids had. There are more laughs during the whole experience rather than at any one liners or scripted jokes.

James and the Giant Peach, Northern Stage Newcastle | A Review

The sold out performance ended with a standing ovation from both children and their grown ups. I really think James and the Giant Peach offers phenomenal value. The acting, music, costumes, staging and storytelling is honestly up there with any West end performance I've ever seen. I often wonder why Northern Stage don't take these shows on a UK tour as I'm sure they would do extremely well. For now though, I'm happy to keep this talented team as Newcastle's little secret.

Tickets are still available from just £10 for performances until 31st December. The performance doesnt' feel 'Christmassy' in the slightest and I think it's the perfect tonic to the never-ending festivities and I would recommend for all ages. Perhaps you even could buy tickets for yourself, the kids and their grandparents as a gift this Christmas. I can't think of a nicer gift and I promise you won't regret it.


Press Image Credits : Topher McGillis

Disclosure : We were provided with press tickets in return for an honest review. 
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Camping San Nicolò, Lido di Venezia | An Ideal Choice for Families on a Budget

*This is a collaborative post

When you think about planning a trip to Venice, I bet over-priced hotels spring to mind. There are other ways to see this magnificent city though and they don't have to be expensive either. There are some fantastic options for visiting Venice on a budget.

Camping San Nicolò - How to stay in Venice on a budget. The best located  family campsite in the Lido di Venezia area.

Camping San Nicolò is a family campsite located in the Lido di Venezia area, offering budget accommodation with plenty of facilities for families and the best part is, it's within easy reach of Venice with public transport on their doorstep.

Why Camping?


As a family, we adore camping. I love the freedom that camping gives you and how camping forces you to relax into a slower pace of life. When you need to wait 15 minutes for your kettle to boil on the stove for your morning coffee, there's nothing to do but just sit and relax, perhaps with your favourite book and this is a good thing. Our children adore sleeping under the stars too and we have always found campsites to be a fantastic way for them to make friends on holiday - you're with like-minded people and kids just seem to be drawn to each other, even if they don't speak the same language which is nice. 

Camping San Nicolò - How to stay in Venice on a budget. A family campsite in the Lido di Venezia area - Best Venice Campsite


Facilities at Camping San Nicoló


Camping San Nicolò is a small site but it features all of the facilities you need to ensure your Venetian break is as comfortable and memorable as possible. There is a well-maintained play park for children, a bar area to enjoy a few drinks in the evening of coffee in the morning plus showers, washing machines, washing up areas and toilet facilities. If you don't wish to bring your own tent, you can even rent a tent or caravan plus sleeping bags from the site itself and there is the option of electric hook-up if needed. 


In The Area


If you choose to stay at Camping San Nicolò, you will be staying at one of the best-positioned campsites on the Lido. You can easily reach both the magnificent city of Venice and the sandy beach of San Nicolò via public transport. In fact, there is a bus stop directly outside of the campsite. 

Camping San Nicolò - How to stay in Venice on a budget. The best located  family campsite in the Lido di Venezia area.  - Venice Canals

If you can tear yourself away from the 12 kilometres of sandy beaches, you'll find lots to keep you entertained in the Lido di Venezia area. You can catch a water taxi over to Venice and soak up the culture whilst getting lost in the architecture. Kids will love creating their own Venetian masks and watching the entertainment in Piazza San Marco. Or perhaps you will choose to hire a bike and explore the lido with it's many beaches, pools, gardens and family restaurants. 

Camping San Nicolò - How to stay in Venice on a budget. The best located  family campsite in the Lido di Venezia area.  - Make Venetian masks with kids

I'm not going to lie and for me, a trip to Italy would mostly be about the food. One of the things I love about camping is being able to shop for local ingredients in markets and cooking our own dinner in the great outdoors (which would be accompanied by a few glasses of Prosecco in Italy of course). It's a fantastic way to enjoy delicious food from the place you are visiting without the high costs associated with dining out.  

Camping San Nicolò - How to stay in Venice on a budget. The best located  family campsite in the Lido di Venezia area.  - An Italian seafood market in Venice
Fresh Fish from a Market Stall in Venice


Prices and How To Book


Camping San Nicolò is now taking bookings for next season and their prices are very reasonable from €15  per adult  and €8 per child per night. To book, simply email  info@campingsannicolo.com or call +39 041 526 74 15.

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Camping San Nicolò - How to stay in Venice on a budget. The best located  family campsite in the Lido di Venezia area


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Thursday, 24 November 2016

What's On in the North East including Christmas Markets | 26th & 27th November

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the North East and there are lots of events happening across our region this weekend. From Christmas jumper making to Japanese culture. There's something for everyone! Don't forget to follow North East Family Fun's Facebook Page to keep up to date with what's on in our region and you can sign up to our monthly newsletter at the bottom of this post.

What's On in the North East including Christmas Markets | 26th & 27th November


Gateshead Christmas Village
24th - 27th November

Gateshead Stadium will be transformed into a Christmas shoppers paradise this weekend with a children's fairground, Santa's grotto and live nativity to keep children entertained alongside lots of mulled wine, mince pies, carol singing and plenty of stalls. Find out more here


Festive Live Music | Seaton Delaval Hall 
26th November

This event is included with regular admission and is your chance to enjoy some festive live music from 12noon-2pm. There will also be mulled wine and mince pies for sale in the West Wing cafe. More details here


Christmas Light Switch On | Manor Walks
26th November

Cramlington's Christmas lights will be switched on at 4pm but there is a whole day of fun activities planned from a Christmas Magic Show to Cramlington's Caribbean Crew Steel Band. Find out more here. 


Morpeth Advent Market
26th November

A festive market featuring live music, children's crafts and stalls selling ethical and fairtrade products. Find out more here


Christmas Craft & Food Market | Rainton Meadows
27th November

Another Christmas Market with FREE entry and FREE parking. Expect plenty of food stalls, live music, Santa Claus, Dance Schools, Brass Bands, Choirs and more. Find out more here. 


Children's Chocolate Workshop | Wynyard Hall Gardens
26th November

Wynyard Hall Garden's are hosting a very special chocolate workshop with the help of a local chocolatier. Children will have the chance to decorate a chocolate lollipop, decorate their own apron, make a chocolate marshmallow caterpillar, join in with a chocolate coin treasure hunt and more. Tickets are £35 per child and available to book here. 


Tall Tales Tree Trail | Wallington Hall
From 23rd November

This event is included with admission. Follow this magical trail around the Wallington East Wood and spot some of the unusual trees that grow here. Keep your eyes peeled for some fairytale characters too! More information here


Parkmade Family Christmas Rag Wreath Workshop | Preston Park
27th November

Suitable for children aged 9+, this workshop is the chance to create a unique wreath to take home and treasure. Recycled material is provided but you can also take your children's old clothes to use if you'd like an added personal touch. Tickets are £20 per child. More information here. 


Japanese Culture Day | Science at Life
26th November

If you're not ready to get into the festive spirit just yet, why not pop to Science at Life and participate in their Japanese Culture Day. These extra activities are included with admission and include traditional Japanese games, magic, language and toys. More information here. 


Christmas jumper making at Souter Lighthouse
26th & 27th November

This event sounds like so much fun. Children can make their own festive jumper for just £3! Sessions last around 45 minutes and booking is advised. More information here. 


Tynemouth Stations Christmas Market
26th - 27th November

Tynemouth Station will host over 150 local stalls, perfect for Christmas shopping and there will be a few festive additions including Christmas choirs, mulled wine and mince pies. Plus there will be a special post box for children to post their letter to Father Christmas. More details here


Open Day | Pityard Skating Rink at Woodhorn
From 26th November

Woodhorn's Skating Rink opens this weekend. Prices are just £5.50 for children and £6.50 for adults. Online booking is advised. Please see here for details 


Meet Santa's Reindeer | Discovery Museum
26th November

Pop into the Discovery Museum's new Discovery Plaza and you'll find Santa's reindeer making themselves at home for the day. Children will be able to find out how they live, stroke them and if they're lucky feed them too. Free entry (donations welcome). More details here


Joe McElderry - Northern Lights Christmas Show | Tyne Theatre
27th November

Join Joe McElderyy at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House for this special Christmas performance. Tickets available here. 






Please remember that dates/times can change & events are prone to being cancelled at this time of year. Please double check details before heading out. Don't forget to let me know what you're up to this weekend. 
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Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Christmas at Lidl - Mains & Sides | What to Buy & What to Avoid

*This is a collaborative post

Until recently, I had not stepped foot in Lidl. I'm not a food snob or anything, it's just that we don't have a Lidl store in my home town so it's not the most convenient place for me to shop (there are rumours there is one opening soon though). 

Christmas at Lidl - Mains & Sides | What to Buy & What to Avoid

I normally shop at Aldi/M&S/Waitrose/Independent retailers/Gousto. We were asked by Mumsnet to sample some of Lidl's alternative mains and side dishes for Christmas and obviously, we love our food at North East Family Fun so happily obliged. I decided to step out of my comfort zone and we filmed our first ever visit to Lidl. You can watch our video below:-



First on our list was 'Lamb Guard of Honour'. We all love lamb in our house and priced at £12.99 for 16 cutlets, this was very good value. I assumed we would find this dish in the fresh aisle but when I noticed it was in the freezer section, my expectations weren't great to be honest. I've never cooked lamb from frozen before but I was willing to give it a go. 

We review Christmas food at Lidl - Mains & Sides | What to Buy & What to Avoid - Deluxe  Lamb Guard of Honour

The lamb was so easy to prepare - just pop in the over straight from the freezer for 90 minutes and then rest for 10 minutes. No faffing about which I liked.

We review Christmas food at Lidl - Mains & Sides | What to Buy & What to Avoid - Deluxe  Lamb Guard of Honour

The Lamb Guard of Honour is a real showstopper. Not only does it look fantastic on your table, but it also tastes delicious and it couldn't be easier to prepare. I would never have guessed it was cooked from straight frozen. There was more than enough for the 5 of us and I would not hesitate to buy again. The meat was succulent and tender and I was very pleasantly surprised. I can really see this lamb being the centrepiece of a Christmas Day table and it would work well alongside a traditional turkey too. I'm going to buy another this week to pop in our freezer to enjoy over Christmas. The lamb was easily our favourite dish from everything we tried at Lidl. 


We review Christmas food at Lidl - Mains & Sides | What to Buy & What to Avoid - Deluxe  Lamb Guard of Honour

We review Christmas food at Lidl - Mains & Sides | What to Buy & What to Avoid - Deluxe  Lamb Guard of Honour

Next up were the 'Deluxe Roast Potatoes in Goose Fat' which were also frozen. I will be honest and say we would never buy frozen roast potatoes as we always make them ourselves. Homemade roast potatoes are one of the best things in life (ha ha). I wasn't wowed by these potatoes and they weren't a patch on homemade. However, if you are looking for something quick, easy and convenient and aren't as obsessed about homemade roasties as I am, they only cost £1.29 so it might be worth you trying them for yourself. 

We review Christmas food at Lidl - Mains & Sides | What to Buy & What to Avoid - Deluxe Goose Fat Roast Potatoes

We review Christmas food at Lidl - Mains & Sides | What to Buy & What to Avoid -

Onto meal number two and we selected 2 'Deluxe Beef Wellingtons' (also from the frozen aisle). They may be a good idea if you are cooking an intimate dinner for 2 this Christmas and aren't keen on turkey. Priced at a very reasonable £6.99 for 2, these again were super easy to cook - straight in the oven from the freezer. The Wellingtons are served with a Red Wine and Port Jus which you need to heat in a pan.

We review Christmas food at Lidl - Mains & Sides | What to Buy & What to Avoid - 2 Deluxe Beef Wellingtons

The beef has been matured for 21 days and is described as 'succulent'. We wouldn't describe it as succulent as it did seem a little on the dry side but this didn't matter too much as there was plenty of jus to go around and it was very rich and full of flavour. The pastry was perfect too and tasted almost as good as homemade. All in all, a decent meal but I am not sure it has the same wow factor as the lamb did. You can't complain too much at less than £3.50 per portion though.

We review Christmas food at Lidl - Mains & Sides | What to Buy & What to Avoid - Beef Wellingtons and Duchess Potatoes

We selected 'Deluxe Duchess Potatoes' to accompany our Wellington's (99p) and we enjoyed these more than the roast potatoes - I think it's because it's something we wouldn't normally make ourselves. I'll also be re-purchasing these to keep in our freezer.

We review Christmas food at Lidl - Mains & Sides | What to Buy & What to Avoid - Duchess Potatoes

There are lots of delicious sounding side dishes available at Lidl but we struggled to find any of the deluxe vegetable dishes when we visited mid-November. I would love to try the deluxe vegetable parcel but that will have to wait for some other time. Instead, we picked up a bag of regular mixed veg for just 79p and it was a quick and easy way to add some green to our meals.

We review Christmas food at Lidl - Mains & Sides | What to Buy & What to Avoid

We review Christmas food at Lidl - Mains & Sides | What to Buy & What to Avoid - - Beef Wellington

Finally, we could not resist Mature Blue Stilton Cheese in a Ceramic Pot and Deluxe Columbian Estate Coffee beans. Both are priced at an unbelievable £3.49 and look (and taste) very luxurious. As well as accompanying your Christmas lunch, I think they'd be a welcome addition to a food hamper gift this Christmas. The coffee and stilton were both something we would most definitely recommend and buy again. The coffee was as good as the local beans we normally buy and the Stilton was lovely and crumbly. At these prices we don't need to save fresh coffee and a cheese board for a special occasion and will probably re-purchase this coffee to enjoy throughout the whole month of December.

We review Christmas food at Lidl - Mains & Sides | What to Buy & What to Avoid - Deluxe Coffee Beans

We review Christmas food at Lidl - Mains & Sides | What to Buy & What to Avoid - Deluxe blue stilton in ceramic pot


So in summary:-
  • Lamb Guard of Honour - You MUST try this! It's a real showstopper
  • Deluxe Roast Potatoes with Goose Fat - Pretty average
  • Deluxe Beef Wellington with Red Wine Jus - Very nice but maybe not special enough for Christmas Day
  • Duchess Potatoes - We'll be re-purchasing. A bargain at only 99p
  • Mature Blue Stilton Cheese in a Ceramic Pot - We'd definitely recommend
  • Deluxe Columbian Estate Coffee beans - Amazing value, we would 10000% recommend as a treat this November/December.
Don't forget to check out our video featuring our experience below and let me know what you'd recommend at Lidl. It's safe to say I've been converted and will definitely be popping back to try some of their other Christmas treats next week. You can find out more about what's on over via the Christmas section of the Lidl website here.


Disclosure : I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. I have received a voucher in return for writing this post.

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