A UK Family Travel & Lifestyle Blog

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

An afternoon potter around the Milkhope Centre, the Blagdon Farm Shop & Blacksmiths Coffee Shop

I have a new thing where I give myself every Wednesday afternoon off work. This is the day I'll either go out for lunch with Steve, family or friends and do something other than sit in front of my laptop. I must say it feels super indulgent doing something like this when the kids are at school but as they say, you only live once and there's definitely more to life than work. A few weeks ago I decided to head to the Milkhope Centre for a spot of lunch and a catch up with my mam and bro.

The Milkhope Centre is not too far from Cramlington and it doesn't matter what time of day you visit, it's always busy! The Blacksmiths Coffee Shop seems to be a firm favourite with local pensioners, ladies who lunch and a place to hold an informal business meeting. On this particular visit, we were lucky to grab the last available table in the conservatory area.

Lunch at Blacksmiths Coffee Shop

Blacksmiths Coffee Shop serve a range of salads, jacket potatoes, homemade pies and quiches, sandwiches and baked goods ranging from cheese scones to cheese cake. You can order a refillable filter coffee for £2.10 which seems to be popular. The coffee is decent too. We ordered 2 lots of sandwiches (served with crisps and homemade coleslaw), a jacket potato, a slice of homemade citrus cheesecake and 3 hot drinks (including a refillable coffee). The bill was a bargain £26. Our food was served quickly and the portions were huge. Nothing beats a homemade cake from a coffee shop. 

It's fair to say we were pretty stuffed and impressed with the quality and quantity served. I can see why it's so popular. 

The Blagdon Farm Shop

The Blagdon Farm Shop is award winning and a place you can really stock up your kitchen cupboards. There's a huge selection of sauces, jars and bottles of all sorts of treats to choose from and I can never resist trying something new. 

You'll also find a butcher's counter, cheese counter and lots of baked cakes and goods for sale too alongside fresh fruit and veg. It can be pricey but you get what you pay for and we've found the quality has always been very good and worth the extra pennies for a treat.

Shopping at The Milkhope Centre

The Milkhope Centre is home to some lovely independent businesses and they are definitely worth popping into for a browse. There's something for everyone from the Blagdon Gallery to Home Living Cane Furniture, the Skin Clinic and my personal favourite, La Cookshop - if you love browsing kitchenware, this is the shop for you.

I know writing this post might make me sound incredibly old before my time but sometimes it's nice to head somewhere like this and just have a potter. It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon with my mam and brother, I managed to buy a few treats for home and fed my Le Creuset habit with the purchase of a new espresso cup. Let me know if you've ever visited.


Tuesday, 25 July 2017

UK Family Holidays | Reviewed & Recommended | Bluestone Wales by Tantrums To Smiles Blog

Welcome back to our UK Family Holidays series. Today Jess from Tantrums To Smiles blog recommends Bluestone in Wales as a superb place to get away from it all with the family.

Credit | Tantrums To Smiles

Tantrums To Smiles are a family of four with two children aged 7 and 3 years old. They love Bluestone in Wales and think the resort gets the balance of relaxation and nature for the grown-ups and fun and activities for the kids just right. Bluestone is the kind of place you leave and immediately want to return. Everything about it is magical. There are 5 areas where Jess thinks Bluestone really stands out as being perfect for families:

  • Accommodation that has absolutely everything you could need
  • Plenty of parks and nature/woodland trails
  • Bookable activities for the kids (and big kids) that are reasonably priced
  • A huge variety of places to eat on site to suit all taste buds
  • There are both indoor and outdoor activities so you don't need to rely on the weather
Credit | Tantrums To Smiles

You don't really need to leave resort but if you'd like to, there's a huge range of places to visit in the area. Jess particularly recommends paying Folly Farm a visit.

You can dine out or eat in at Bluestone and most families will probably do a mix of both. The accommodation has full size ovens, hobs and microwaves which makes eating in the lodge a lot easier. There are several restaurants on site including a pub, fish and chips and Italian. Camp Smokey is a real favourite which is a barbecue restaurant in the woods - you can smell the cooking for miles and it's always very tempting.

Credit | Tantrums To Smiles

Jess's Top Tip: Hire a golf buggy if you don't like to walk or have young kids. Bluestone is set in a National Park and is huge and hilly. Cars are not allowed on site and activities such as swimming can be quite a walk from your lodge. The kids loved whizzing around in the golf buggies. 

Read more:

You can find out more about Bluestone Wales and the breaks they offer via their website here.

Thanks for this recommendation - I must admit, I've always fancied booking a holiday here but I've just never got around to it!

If you are reading this and would like to recommend a UK Family Holiday, please complete this form and I'll be in touch. 


Monday, 24 July 2017

The importance of down time in the summer holidays

If you follow me on Social Media it may seem like there's not a day goes past that we aren't going on some sort of exciting adventure and to some extent that is true - we do enjoy a lot of days out and weekends away. I adore going out and about with the kids, especially when the weather's nice but all is not always what it seems. We do spend a fair bit of time at home just chilling out with unstructured play too and I physically plan these days into our diaries as I really think that chilled days at home are just as important as days out. I am just far less likely to post a photo of us sitting at home doing nothing than I am of a nice day out. That's just the curse of Social Media I guess.

My parents didn't have too much money as we were growing up. I don't think I ever visited a theme park apart from when my mam's friend took me to Flamingoland. My dad pretty much had a 9-5 job and weekdays in the summer holidays would be spent playing out in the street with friends playing hide and seek around the estate or rounders using the lamp posts as bases. We'd have to do things like walk to the shopping centre and help mam carry the heavy bags back - I seriously cannot imagine doing that with my own kids (you have heard about my Prime habit right). The house I grew up in had a huge back garden and we'd build dens, form clubs, make our own perfume, set up table top sales in the street and pretty much just have the time of our lives. They were definitely simpler times. I have vivid memories of playing with my barbie dolls in our front garden and washing all of their clothes in a bucket of soapy water on a sunny day before hanging them on my mam's clothes horse to dry and before playing sweet shops with the girl across the road from us. Happy days!

Back in the 80s we rarely enjoyed a day out during the week in the summer holidays - we just played with our toys or played outside. However weekends were a different matter and we'd always enjoy a family day out when dad was home. Our local haunts would be Ridley Park, Plankey Mill, Hexham Park, Rothbury, Scarborough beach or Ingram Valley - please note that none of these cost any money. We'd really look forward to these days out and enjoy a proper childhood by doing things like swimming in rivers, fishing for tadpoles, building sandcastles and having picnics. I think my own memories of childhood have reminded me that you really don't need to spend money to enjoy quality time together this summer and sometimes less really is more.

We do have lots of adventures planned this summer. We're starting off with a jam packed week in Wales which I am super excited for. We do have lots of time at home planned too though and I really believe this is important. My children love playing on their computers and watching YouTube videos - these 6 weeks are their holiday and down time too and there will definitely be days where I let them play on their X Box or iPad for hours on end. If that's what they want to do, I'm fine with that. School is so pressured now and I really want them to have some time off doing things they enjoy.

That's not to say I won't be sending them outside to play either. This summer I'm going to make a real conscious effort to send the three of them outside to play in the street and make their own adventures too. Hopefully these will be the days they remember so fondly like I do.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's all going to be about balance for us this summer and I'm cool with that. There will no doubt be rainy days where the kids are stuck to their devices and I'm sat on my laptop blogging away, there will be days where the kids play out and hopefully rekindle the friendships they made with other children in our street last summer, there will be days where they spend hours using there imagination and building forts or playing with LEGO and there will be days where we head off out and enjoy some real family adventures too.

I just need to remember that we don't need to spend lots of money or plan a huge itinerary of activities this summer to have a good one. The main objective for us this summer is to just have fun, spend some time relaxing and enjoying more time together as a family. What about you?


Friday, 21 July 2017

Why Jack can't wait to watch Peter Pan, Captain Hook & The Crocodile in this year's Disney On Ice presents Passport to Adventure

*This is a collaborative post. Please see my disclosure policy for details

We're working with Disney On Ice again this year and honestly believe that this year is going to be the best year yet. I've already discussed how Heidi can't wait to watch The Little Mermaid and Harry is super excited to re-live The Lion King live on ice in Newcastle this October and now it's Jack's turn to share why he's super excited. 

Jack is a massive Captain Hook fan. He kind of has a weird love-hate relationship with pirates you see. Pirates can scare Jack on occasion (for example he refused to take part in a Pirate Escape room recently for fear of being captured) but they delight him just as much. Peter Pan is a movie that he has enjoyed since he was very young and I know he will just love watching Captain Hook and Peter Pan battle it out before his eyes.

Disney's Peter Pan was released in 1953 and is set in London at around 1900. Peter Pan visits two little boys (John and Michael) during the evening, teaches them to fly and whisks them off to Never land with the help of his much-loved pixie friend Tinkerbell. Here the gang embark on a huge adventure that involves pirates, crocodiles and canons. I have no doubt that the Peter Pan section of this year's Disney On Ice is going to be just as action packed. 

One of the reasons I love Peter Pan is the soundtrack - there are some real classic songs in the film ranging from "You can fly" to "Following the Leader". I also love the magic that surrounds Peter Pan and really hope we get to see the cast 'fly' live on ice. 

Find out why other local bloggers are excited for this year's Disney On Ice: 

About this year's Disney On Ice presents Passport to Adventure

Celebrate the most memorable Disney tales with your favourite characters in Disney On Ice presents Passport to Adventure. Join Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Daisy on a journey to the magical worlds of Disney’s The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan and Frozen. Explore the Pride Lands with Simba, dive into Ariel’s underwater kingdom, fly to Neverland with Peter Pan, and join Anna, Elsa and Olaf’s quest to discover the most magical power of all. Plus, don’t miss the chance to warm up at the Fit to Dance pre-show featuring Zootropolis! Upbeat music and unforgettable moments make this an experience your family will cherish forever!

The show will be visiting Newcastle's Metro Radio Arena from 3 October - 8 October. Tickets are available here. 

intu Eldon Square & intu Metrocentre are giving away a money can't buy Disney On Ice experience this year. The prize includes rink side seats, the chance for your children to appear in the show and the full VIP treatment. To be in with a chance of winning, simply enter P2ADVENTURE when you purchase your tickets. Find out more here. 


Thursday, 20 July 2017

What's on in the North East - Summer Holiday Special | 22nd - 28th July 2017

I am changing the format of our 'what's on' guides throughout summer and will be including weekly guides as opposed to just a weekend guide. Make sure you are following my North East Family Fun Facebook page where I'll be posting more days out ideas throughout summer and why not join my North East Days Out Facebook group where you can ask for recommendations or suggest places to visit yourself.

We're off to Kynren in Bishop Auckland this weekend - so excited about this as we've only heard good things and then we're heading to Swansea Bay for the week. Please pray for sunshine! I've decided I'm going to create a daily short video to cover our trip and I'd really appreciate it if you could subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow my adventure.

What's on in the North East this week

21st - 23rd July | Sunderland Airshow | Roker & Seaburn | FREE EVENT

The International Sunderland Airshow returns to the North East this weekend. Expect stunning air displays, fireworks, live music and entertainment, catering, stalls, RAF and armed forces plus lots more. Find out more here. In 2015 we enjoyed the airshow onboard King Seaways. There are still tickets available to this year's cruise here. 

22nd & 23rd July | Clash of the Knights | Belsay Hall

Four teams of Knights will battle it out for victory in this special event. There will be an event field where battles will take place as well as a medieval camp where you can watch food being cooked, traditional musicians play and crafts being made. We've visited this event before and really would recommend it. Find out more here

22nd & 23rd July | How to be a Roman Soldier | Birdoswald Roman Fort

This event is free to English Heritage members and lots of fun for grown ups and children. We've taken park in Roman Soldier training a few times now and it really is a fab way to bring history to life. Find out more here

23rd July | Invasion VIII | Woodhorn | FREE EVENT (parking charges apply)

The 8th instalment of this very popular event will hit Woodhorn this weekend. A must-visit event for Sci-fi fans. You'll find photo ops with your favourite sci-fi characters, stalls, merchandise, superhero crafts and more.  Find out more here

23rd July | Louisa Johnson, Jedward & Special Guests | Bents Park | FREE EVENT

There's another free concert taking place in Bent's Park this weekend as part of the South Tyneside Festival.  Find out more here

23rd July | Little Festival | Rutherford AFC, Lobley Hill

The Little Festival is an outdoor festival especially for  babies, toddlers and children up to the age of 8. Expect baby massage, children's yoga, storytelling, balloon modelling, children's rides, free face painting, free inflatables, free soft play and more.  Find out more here

23rd July | Butterflies, Beasties & Beauties | Rising Sun Country Park | FREE event

Drop-in to the Rising Sun Country Park between 11am - 4pm and enjoy a range of free activities from minibeast hunting to wildflower detecting. Find out more here

24th July | Fingerprint bees | Cherryburn

Pop by between 11am - 3pm and create your own busy bee masterpiece. The event is included with regular National Trust admission. Find out more here

25th July | Play & Invent | Discovery Museum | FREE event

Join the discovery museum for a free arts and craft session (provided by TURBINA) or crafts with Play & Invent for a small additional charge. Find out more here

25th July | Baby Bounce | The Word | FREE event

Suitble for babies up to age 13 months, drop into today's free baby bounce session (begins at 10:30am) where you'll enjoy gentle finger, knee bouncing and action rhymes for babies. Find out more here

25th - 27th July | Explore the world week | Great North Museum | FREE event

There is a different theme running every Tuesday- Thursday throughout the summer at the Great North Museum and things kick off with Explore the world week. Experts will be on hand to help you explore different cultures around the world. There'll be object handling, drum workshops and a special gallery trail. Find out more here

25th July | Summer of sport | Souter Lighthouse | FREE event

Souter lighthouse are offering free sport sessions this summer. Join Durham Hockey Club and Houghton Rugby Club on Foghorn field this week. No need to book - you can just drop in. There'll also be the chance to try archery, orienteering, rounders, tennis and volleyball. Find out more here

25th July | Tots Plots | Gibside

Join the Gibside gardeners at 11am and learn all about seed sowing and growing vegetables with your little ones. There are 10 slots available (bookable on arrival) and tickets are £4 each to include juice nd biscuits. Find out more here

25th July | Barefoot mud painting | Cherryburn

Take off your shoes and get ready to get dirty. Make sure your feet are nice and muddy before walking over the giant paper to make a huge piece of art. Included with National Trust admission. Find out more here

25th - 26th July | Prince Amir & Nazreddin | Alnwick Garden

The meerkat king and his grumpy camel will be appearing at Alnwick Garden at regular intervals throughout the day today. Find out more here

26th July | Crafty Romans | Arbeia Roman Fort | FREE event

Pop into Arbeia today and enjoy creating your very own Roman crafts. Find out more here

26th July | Mini Masters | Q Festival Spielgel Tent (outside the Baltic) | FREE event

This FREE event for ages 4-6 years will involve energetic dancing, songs and drama games. No need to book - just turn up! Find out more here.

26th July | Alicia Ward-Yarrow's Tongue Twisters | The Word South Shields | FREE event

This is a free event for ages 4-11 years but you do need to book tickets. Join local children's author Alicia as she tackles some epic tongue twisters and help to create a tongue twister of your own. Find out more here

26th July | Discover-EAT | Discovery Museum | FREE event

The Discovery Museum are launching a new monthly foodie event this month. Expect the coolest eats, sweets and treats from local suppliers and there'll be a children's entertainer in the plaza from 12-3:30pm Find out more here

26th July | Get Active Fun Day | Rising Sun Country Park | FREE event

No need to book - just turn up to this FREE event. Expect games, challenges, music, dance, family fitness, face painting, sport tasters and the chance to try a smoothie bike. Find out more here

26th July | Make your own bath salts | Seaton Delaval Hall

Join the team in Seaton Delaval Hall's activity hut and create your own bath salts to take home. Included with National Trust admission. Find out more here

26th - 27th July | Beauty & the Beast Panto | Customs House South Shields

AJ pantomimes return to the Customs House with their brand new summer production - Beauty & the Beast. Expect slapstick comedy, audience interaction and superb costumes and sets.  Find out more here

27th July | Magic School for mini magicians | Discovery Museum

These special magical workshops will transform your children from muggle to magician in no time. This fun interactive workshop is run by a real magician and will teach your children tricks to wow their friends and family. Workshops are suitable for beginners and available to book from £5 per child. Find out more here

28th July | Make a mud pie | Cragside

Head up to the mud kitchen, pop on an apron and make your very own messy mud pie. Included with National Trust admission. Find out more here

28th July | Screenage Kids presents Dumbo | Baltic Square

Join Screenge Kids in the Spielgel tent for their immersive film experience featuring a Disney classic. Watch the movie come alive with fun activities and face painting. Find out more here

Phew! That's quite a lot to take in and we're only on week one. If you're still struggling for ideas, check out my video featuring fun activities to try in Whitley Bay and some of the blog posts below. Have a good one:


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The Doctor Who Experience is closing on 9th September 2017 - Catch it now before it's too late!

If there is one TV show that us Rickelton's love above all others, it has to be Doctor Who. Steve and Harry are especially what I call hard core fans. They own at least 50 Doctor Who DVDs between them, enjoy listening to Doctor Who audiobooks and are very proud of their special collection of Doctor Who novels. Over the years we've collected various Doctor Who memorabilia and if there's a new season, I have to resort to planning our Saturdays around what time Doctor Who is showing on TV. Heaven forbid anyone should talk during a new episode premiere.

We are such big fans that back in the summer of 2013 we made the LONG trip down to Cardiff for the sole purpose of visiting The Doctor Who Experience. It seems like such a long time ago now. I blogged about it here if you fancy having a bit of a trip down memory lane.

That trip to Cardiff was four years ago and yet we all still talk about it with lots of enthusiasm and happy memories. We loved flying the tardis, being chased by Cybermen and dodging the weeping angels. The experience is very interactive and you really feel as if you could be a new cast member. There's lots of memorabilia on display and photo opportunities too with production sets, costumes and props.

The Doctor Who Experience will be ending it's 5-year tenure in Cardiff Bay on 9th September 2017 and if you have any Doctor Who fans at home, I would honestly highly recommend visiting this summer. We are staying in Swansea Bay next week and have tagged a trip to The Doctor Who Experience onto our stay as we really would love to see it one last time before it ends. There aren't many attractions I would travel so far to see twice - it really is worth it.

During our last visit in 2013, Matt Smith was 'the Doctor' and the main set was based around him. There have been a few changes since then and there's a whole new adventure with Peter Capaldi to explore. Check out this teaser below:

What to expect from The Doctor Who Experience this summer

  • An interactive adventure featuring a digital version of the twelfth doctor 
  • Free time in the Exhibition Hall which is home to the world's largest collection of props, sets and costumes
  • The official Doctor Who shop 
Special events this summer: 
  • During the summer holidays, visitors can also join a special series of walking tours around Cardiff Bay featuring sites from series 10 and memorable sites from previous series
  • Series 10 props, costume and sets have just been added to the experience this month 
  • On 22nd July the museum will host it's last Monster event. This one will be based around Cybermen and will include the chance to be transformed into a Cyberman, Q and A sessions and live Cybermen walking around the experience
  • 5th August will see the biggest Doctor Who cosplay day. Everyone is invited to attend dressed as their favourite doctor, villain or cast member

Under 5's go free to the Doctor Who Experience and if booked in advance, adult tickets are just £14 and children's tickets at £9.75. This is a steal compared to other similar attractions.

The Doctor Who Experience will close it's Tardis doors for the last time on 9th September. If you'd like to visit, I advise booking tickets sooner rather than later. 


Tuesday, 18 July 2017

UK Family Holidays | Reviewed & Recommended | Butlin's Bognor Regis by Boo Roo & Tigger Too

I am delighted to launch a new occasional series which will feature some fabulous places to take the family on holiday in the UK. All of the places mentioned in this series are real favourites and have been personally recommended as fantastic places to take your family. Let's get started with our first recommendation from Sarah who blogs over at Boo Roo & Tigger Too. Sarah and her family highly recommend Butlin's Bognor Regis as a place that caters for all ages and guarantees lots of fun.

Sarah's children are aged 10y, 6y and 19m so they need a holiday that will suit a wide variety of ages and Butlin's Bognor Regis does just that. Sarah was especially impressed with the range of facilities happening at the same time so there was always something to do - it's good to have a choice! A special mention goes to the cleanliness and availability of toilets too. Always a must with little ones in tow!

You don't really need to leave the site, but if you do, there's the seaside town of Bognor Regis to explore and a beach on your doorstep too. 

Credit : Boo Roo & Tigger Too

Sarah recalls a special memory from the holiday: 

"My son was able to venture into the pool. He loved being able to walk at his own pace with the sloping pool entrance rather than having to climb in"

At Butlin's you can choose to stay self-catering, eat out or select a dining package. It's such a flexible holiday and you can tailor it to your family. Sarah recommends the dining package for convenience.

The beauty of Butlin's is you can spend as much or as little as you want to. If you've booked a dining package, there's only lunch to think about which can be snacks as you've probably eaten a cooked breakfast and will be enjoying a 3 course dinner later. Other than that, activities are included in the holiday price and there are no extras. 

Credit : Boo Roo & Tigger Too

Sarah's top tip: Prebook sessions you really want to attend on the day you arrive. 

Read more: 

Short breaks to Butlin's Bognor Regis are available from just £13 per person. Check out the Butlin's website for this year's special offers. 

Thanks Sarah! I must admit, we have a soft-spot for Butlin's too. If you'd like to share your favourite UK Family Holiday, please complete this form and I'll be in touch. 


Monday, 17 July 2017

20 free & discounted family days out to enjoy by bus with Go North East this summer

*This is a collaborative post. Please see my disclosure policy for details

It's that time of year again - our school breaks up at 2pm on Friday and I can't wait. We have lots of fun planned this summer and we've been counting the days down until that final school bell rings.

There's no denying that 6 weeks is a long time though and keeping the kids entertained can end up fairly expensive. We're half way through decorating our living room and I've had to put it on hold until September as I just know that despite my best intentions, the kids are going to cost me a fortune. With a view to saving us all a few pennies this summer, I've teamed up with Go North East to bring you 20 free or discounted days out to enjoy with the kids and Go North East this summer. 

The Go North East Family Ticket

First of all, let me tell you about the Go North East Family Ticket. This ticket offers unlimited travel across most Go North East services (although some exclusions apply) for up to 2 adults and 3 children for one day. The opportunities for fun are endless and the best thing is, a ticket costs just £10 through the Go North East app or £13 from your Go North East bus driver. A family ticket will also provide discounted entry to many of the North East's top attractions (I'll go into this more later) which will save you even more money. We enjoyed a Go North East day out a few weeks ago and combined a few of these ideas together - it's a good way to get the most out of your ticket I think. 

As I've mentioned in the past, Steve and I car share and he will be using the car most days for work this summer. I love that for £10 I can still travel far and wide across the North East with the kids and we'll definitely be enjoying a few bus adventures this summer. Even when Steve is with us, I like taking the bus as there is no stressing about finding a parking space and it means we can both have a cheeky pint if we happen to stumble upon a beer garden. 

20 free & discounted family days out to enjoy with Go North East this summer

1 - Life Science Centre - Kids Go Free

One child is admitted free with every paying adult if you show your Go North East (same day) bus ticket at the admissions desk. This is a saving of £7.50 per child. We used this offer to visit Dino Jaws recently and have to say we loved it. You can easily spend 4 hours at Life and team a visit up with the free Discovery Museum nearby to make a day of it. My top tip would be to visit on a sunny day as in my experience, it tends to be a lot quieter then. 

2 - Cullercoats Beach - FREE day out

We travelled from Newcastle to Cullercoats using the Coaster 1 bus last weekend. It has been years since I visited Cullercoats and I don't actually think I've ever taken my own children. I always struggle getting parked and we usually opt for Blyth or Whitley Bay as they are closer. I am so pleased we made the journey though as Cullercoats is easily my new favourite beach in North Tyneside. You can hire deck chairs, buy drinks and buckets and spades from the kiosk, watch the Lifeboats and it is super sandy and sheltered. We loved it. If you haven't visited Cullercoats in a while, I honestly cannot recommend a trip highly enough this summer. We felt like we were in the Med.

3 - Angel of the North - FREE day out 

We are lucky to have some superb landmarks in our region. We visited the Angel of the North for the first time last year and loved it. The Go North East Angel 21 bus will drop you right outside. It's a fab spot for a picnic and until you see her up close, you don't really appreciate just how huge she is. 

4 - Shipley Art Gallery - FREE day out

The Go North East Q1 & Q2 stop right outside of the Shipley Art Gallery. Entry is free and there are oftern free special events running during school holidays. Don't miss their giant garden games including giant noughts and crosses and dominoes this summer.

5 - NE1 Screen on the Green - FREE day out

The Newcastle NE1 Screen on the Green returns this summer. Head to Old Eldon Square in Newcastle City Centre and you can catch free family movies on most days during the summer holidays. I recommend taking your blanket and grabbing a picnic from The Grainger Market to enjoy with the movie. You can find the latest screening information here.

6 - Ocean Beach Pleasure Park - £25 worth of ride tickets for £15

South Shields is one of our favourite places for a big family day out. If you have a Go North East smartcard, you can buy £25 worth of ride tokens for £15. This will get you on a fair few rides. The Ghost Train and the Dodgems are our favourites. Hop aboard the Go North East 88, 88a, 20A or  Go North East 50 to get there. 

7 - Saltwell Park - FREE day out

After catching the Go North East Angel 21 bus to Saltwell Park last year, it's been a firm favourite of ours. It's just a short bus journey from Newcastle city centre and you really could spend a full day here. There's lots to keep you entertained from boating lakes to mazes, play parks, pets corner and ice cream huts. 

8 - Beamish Museum - 25% off admission

If you show your Go North East bus ticket at the admission's desk at Beamish, you'll receive a 25% discount off your ticket. This includes annual passes so is a real bargain. Beamish can be reached via the 8, 28, 28A and 128 buses. The museum has a whole host of events planned over the summer and it will be very easy to get your money's worth from your ticket. 

9 - The Word South Shields - FREE day out 

Combining a trip to Ocean Pleasure Beach (see above) and The Word makes sense. This cutural hub hosts a huge range of activities over summer and many of them are free. There's everything from young writers workshops to story time. There's a library, story lab, fab lab, interactive areas, gaming zone and more.....

10 - Blue Reef Aquarium - £2 off admission

Now I will be the first to admit that I'm not a huge lover of the Blue Reef Aquarium. I find it to be fairly expensive for what it is and we've never spent longer than an hour inside. However, if you have a Go North East smart card you are entitled to a £2 per person discount which makes it more affordable. You can also come and go all day so can check out the animal talk times and combine a trip with a visit the beach or Tynemouth park. My three are probably a little old now but they really did love visiting the aquarium when they were younger and toddlers will especially love the huge variety or fish and marine life. You need to catch the Go North East Coaster 1 bus and it will drop you pretty much outside of the aquarium.

Credit | Life in Geordieland Blog

11 - Great North Museum - FREE day out 

The Great North Museum is a real favourite in our house. It's interesting, interactive and free! A quick visit is a fab way to begin or end your day.  The museum has a whole summer of fun planned with various weekly activities ranging from 'Explore the world week' to 'Wildlife week'. Check out their website for details. 

12 - Rising Sun Country Park - FREE day out

The 42 and 42A Go North East buses will drop you off right outside Asda Benton. If you follow the path around the (McDonalds side) building for 5 minutes you'll stumble upon the Rising Sun Country Park which I think is a real hidden gem. There are picnic tables, BBQ areas, a water sensory area, a shaded play area and a cafe all overlooking the gorgeous pond. There are lots of family trails to explore through the woods too and you can visit the animals at the free community farm and watch the birds from the hides around the lake. We used to live right by the Rising Sun (and Steve's parents still do) and to this day it is one of Jack's favourite ever days out and a place he asks to visit time and time again. If you're lucky you might also spot the Rising Sun stag. 

13 - Red Kite Trail - FREE day out

Hop aboard a special Go North East Red Kite Bus and explore the Red Kite Trail around Derwent Valley. There will be plenty of opportunities to spot lots of nature around this circular walk (including the star of the show - Red Kites). Pack a picnic and make a day of it.

14 - Bill Quay Farm - FREE day out 

Bill Quay Farm is a much-loved community farm that is free to enter and nice to have potter for an hour or so. You'll need to catch the Go North East Crusader 27 bus. Check out Nomipalony's video review below for an idea of what to expect:

15 - intu Metrocentre - FREE day out

Some people laugh at me when I mention intu Metrocentre as a fab place to take the kids but I really believe it is! First of all there's the FREE soft play at IKEA where you can leave your children with qualified staff and enjoy a coffee in the cafe (which is also free if you're a family card membere). Then you can pop into Pets at Home to meet the animals (they also run a range of free workshops for kids - see here for details) before letting them go wild in Toys R Us. Finally, head over to intu Metrocentre where you'll find 4 weeks of FREE pirate fun happening from 31st July with a new Metrognome show every week. There's also a nice little play park outside of the Qube and if your kids have saved any pennies, they'll love the amusement arcades. Here's a handy list of places where kids eat for free or £1. 

16 - Chester-le-street Riverside Park - FREE day out 

Hop aboard service 36 or 78 - both stop right beside this fabulous park. Riverside park is always popular with little ones and the outdoor water play area and paddling pool has to be one of the best in the North East and perfect for a sunny day. There's also a play area, beautiful gardens and riverside walks to enjoy too.

Thanks Jayne for the pic

17 - South Beach Blyth - FREE day out

The 309 and X39 Cobalt Clipper stop by South Beach in Blyth which is one of our favourite spots to enjoy a family day out. There are 2 large play parks, there's plenty of grass and it's a lovely walk along the beach too. You can pack a picnic or enjoy fish and chips from Coastline or a cheeky ice cream from the ice cream parlour too. If you fancy making a day of it, why not hire a beach hut?

18 - Newcastle Quayside  - FREE day out

My three love riding the Go North East Quaylink buses along the Quayside. They love that it's an electric bus and the way they can follow their stops on screen and listen to the Geordie voiceovers. Catch the bus from the Haymarket and enjoy your ride down to the Quayside where you can experience what has to be the ultimate free day out. There's the opportunity to build sandcastles on the Quayside Seaside, the chance to experiment with art and enjoy the views from the Baltic, a free small soft play area in the Sage and you can walk along to Ouseburn and meet the animals at Ouseburn farm. 

19 - Exhibition Park - FREE day out 

Another Newcastle-based day out. Exhibition park is a fab place to enjoy the last of the day's sunshine after a day's adventure. There are two lovely play parks, a boating lake, sports courts and more. Mum and dad can even relax with a drink from Wylam Brewery if they're lucky.

20 - Diggerland - save 20%

You can save 20% off regular admission for up to 4 people if you show your Go North East key card or bus ticket along with this voucher when purchasing your tickets at Diggerland Durham. Services 13, 14 and X25 will drop you at Langley Park which is a short walk from Diggerland. I think Diggerland is definitely more suited to children who are taller than 90cm as there are a lot more rides they are able to go on then.

We enjoyed our own bus adventure with Go North East a few weeks ago using their £10 family ticket. We packed a lot into our day and really made the most of it from the NE1 Motor Show in the morning to DinoJaws at Life over lunch time and then ending our day at Cullercoats beach. Check out my vlog below to see what we got up to:

Let me know if you have any suggestions for places to visit with the Go North East Family Day Ticket. I hope I've inspired you to try somewhere new this summer. 

Sunday, 16 July 2017

A busy weekend featuring a Newcastle bar crawl, meeting Mister Maker & Parlour Tricks

Phew! What a weekend. Just when I think our weekends can't get any busier....they do. Steve broke up from work for 2 weeks on Friday night and his time off started in style!

Saturday morning | Family chill out time

Weekends for us are always busy, busy, busy and I actually block out 'chill time' in our diaries so we don't all become too burnt out.The kids love this time where they can spend the morning in their PJs and play on their computers without me dragging them out on some adventure and Steve and I really love just chilling out at home watching Saturday kitchen and drinking coffee. Saturday mornings like this are my favourite kind of Saturdays and we actually have another one in our diary next week before the madness of the summer holidays. I can't wait.

Saturday afternoon | Drinks in Newcastle

It's Steve's birthday next week and Steve's mam kindly offered to have the kids for us on Saturday afternoon and overnight. We decided to make the most of our child-free time and head into Newcastle for the afternoon. We really enjoyed ourselves. You can watch what we got up to (and how many drinks we consumed) in this video below. I am really trying to work on my editing at the moment so I hope you like it:

We started with food and drinks in Colonel Porter's Emporium which is a new bar on the Quayside. It's pretty big inside and whilst most people were sitting in the bar area we opted for a couple of comfortable armchairs in the bar's lounge where they offer table service. I ordered the Black Forest cocktail (which was pretty strong) and Steve went with a recommended real ale. We shared an anti-pasti board which was packed with meats and served with our own baked Camembert with Newcastle brown ale bread. Delish! We were really impressed with this bar which also has it's own secret area and we'll be back with the kids for Sunday lunch soon I think. We were also served a complimentary dish of goat's cheese popcorn with our drinks which was a nice little treat.

We didn't have loads of money to spend so searched for a few deals around town on a Saturday. There are some pretty good bargains to be had during the day including 2 cocktails for £7 at The Glasshouse, BOGOF cocktails at Las Iguanas, £7.50 pitchers of Sangria at Tapas Revolution (including complimentary bar tapas) and BOGOF cocktails at Turtle Bay. Las Iguanas on Grey Street is the perfect spot for people watching if you can grab a table outside. We saw all sorts and were definitely kept entertained by passers by.

Saturday evening | Great Northern Soul Food at Boiler Shop

I used to love visiting the Bolier Shop Steamer and it's a real miss! So when we discovered that the Great Northern Soul Food event was happening on the night we had sitters, we snapped up tickets and arranged to meet up with a couple of our friends. Tickets were £8 pp in advance or £10 on the door. I have to say I loved the refurb and there were loads more tables available which made us easy to sit down and catch up with each other. There was a fab DJ and live band playing inside where a fair few people were having a bit of a boogie to everything from the Jackson 5 to James Brown.  We opted to sit outside and chat instead. There were various food stalls on offer ranging from the Grind to Longhorns and we all agreed that it was a little on the pricier side. For example, the Longhorns BBQ Brisket Sandwich is £5.50 to eat inside the Longhorns restaurant in Newcastle City Centre where as they were selling it for £6 at the event. Drinks were £4 for a bottle of sol or £5.30 for a pint. We didn't really mind paying a premium as you are paying for the ambience but it's worth keeping in mind if you're thinking of heading to any future events. We had a really good night and ended up at Billy Bootleggers (which was heaving) and then The Alchemist for a night cap before catching the last bus home.

Sunday afternoon | Evan's Bistro & meeting Mister Maker

We were very surprised to wake up with zero hangover on Sunday and I spent the morning editing this video and catching up on my favourite blogs before collecting the kids from grannies and heading over to Evan's Bistro in Whitley Bay for Sunday lunch. My mam had been on holiday for 2 weeks and we all met for an epic catch up (she recommends Benalmadena by the way). I can't get enough of the Cumberland sausage they serve here - it's their butchers' secret recipe! It was just what I needed after a night on the town. It was a lovely way to spend a few hours as the kids played nicely (for once) with the board games in the kids snug and us grown-ups could have a proper chat and catch up.

Heidi and I were invited along to watch Mister Maker and the Shapes Live at Whitley Bay Playhouse (press tickets). I am always completely honest in my reviews and will say that the prospect of spending 2 hours in the company of a theatre full of excited children and a CBeebies star isn't exactly how I wanted to spend a Sunday afternoon after a Saturday night out in town. The things we do for our kids eh! Well actually, I was pleasantly surprised and the show was really entertaining. We were all up dancing with the shapes, Heidi smiled the whole way through and it was generally just lots of fun and not at all mundane as I had suspected. It's fair to say that all of the kids in the audience had the best time and I'm sure they were inspired to create a special make of their own at home. We were lucky enough to meet Mister Maker after the show and I have to say he is so canny! He really made an effort to chat with us and Heidi and her new BFF Sophia were chuffed to bits to receive a signed Mister Maker magazine. If you get the chance to catch a Mister Maker show or simply fancy downloading one of his free craft tutorials, visit the Mister Maker website here.

Sunday evening | Morgan & West Parlour Tricks at Tyne Theatre & Opera House

We decided to let the kids stay up late on Sunday night as we'd been invited along to Morgan & West Parlour Tricks at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House (press tickets). I love the grandeur of the Tyne Theatre and always feel like a night out here offers a real sense of occasion. Morgan & West are not only super talented but also very entertaining and the show was perfectly pitched to an audience of grown ups and families with older children. We were wowed by their ability to read minds, laughed as audience members forgot which card they'd selected for a trick and were amazed at the duo's quick changing tricks. H, H and J thoroughly enjoyed the show and giggled and gasped the whole way through. As did Steve and I for that matter. It really was the perfect way to end our busy weekend together. The Tyne Theatre & Opera House host a range of family shows throughout the year and I would highly recommend booking ahead for Smile for a night variety show on 1 October which involves panto favourites Danny Adams and Clive Webb alongside North East escapologist Chris Cross, Britain's Got Talent Mimic Men, Alfie Joey and more. Tickets are just £30 per family of 4 and available here.

I honestly feel like I need a week to recover but there's no rest for the wicked! I'll be up early on Monday preparing for my blogging talk at the Q Festival on the Quayside just outside the Baltic on Monday evening. There are still tickets available here if you fancy it.

Let me know what you got up to at the weekend and if you have any exciting plans for next weekend.  

© North East Family Fun | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Designed by pipdig