A UK Family Travel & Lifestyle Blog

The pros and cons of flying long haul with children


As you know, I always like to book our holidays way in advance. I am seriously considering a long haul holiday with the kids next year and I am currently stalking online travel agents and searching for cheap deals to Mexico. Steve and I have travelled to Mexico twice before (without the kids) and it is a destination we desperately want to visit with them. It's such a big commitment though (in terms of price and distance) and I'm just not sure we're ready!


The pros and cons of flying long haul with children

Advantages of flying long haul with children


It's all about the destination

The main advantage of flying long haul for me, is that it gives us the opportunity to show our children places that offer something completely different to the UK. For me, I really want to take my children to visit the Mayan pyramids. I know they'll be fascinated and it will be a truly memorable experience for them. Cathy from Mummy Travels agrees:-

'If you limit yourself to flying short-haul, you're saying you're happy to stay within Europe - and wonderful though holidays in Europe are, there are just so many other experiences to introduce kids to. The whole of the USA for starters, whether that's the amusement parks of Florida or California, where we did a fabulous road trip along the Pacific Coast. Or the Caribbean: as idyllic as the postcards, my daughter still remembers swimming with stingrays. 


Further afield you could swim in the Indian Ocean, take a safari in Africa or discover the cultures of South East Asia. Our biggest adventure so far has been to Burma, where my daughter - then three - saw lake houses on stilts, temples galore, and discovered a very different way of life to her own.'


Cat from Here Come the Hoopers goes on to say that their family have been tavelling to Orlando with their girls since they were around 18 months old. For them, it's all about that particular destination Disney World which makes the 9 plus hours in a plane bearable.

The pros and cons of flying long haul with children - Mayan Pyramid
I would love to take my children to see Chichen Itza


My children travel well

My children are very good travellers. If we can manage a 36 hour coach trip to Spain, I am pretty sure we can manage anything. I know in my heart they'd be no trouble at all on a 10+ hour flight.

The pros and cons of flying long haul with children - coach trip to Spain


Long haul flights are more comfortable

Long haul flights such as the 787 Dreamliner are much more comfortable than a standard plane and I know my children would love having access to their own TV screen and being served food on a plane. How exciting! 

Long haul can work out to be better value

Long haul holidays are usually more expensive than short haul holidays but I think they offer better value. We'd be looking at a 4/5* luxury all inclusive hotel with multiple activities, restaurants, drinks and snacks all included. I have found some Mexico deals that cost as little as £700 per person for 7 nights. We wouldn't need to worry about spending money and the kids would love having access to unlimited ice creams.


Disadvantages of flying long haul with children


Long haul holidays are expensive

Even if we do book a £700 deal, this is still £3500 in total which is more than double we've ever paid for any holiday before. On paper, we can afford it but I am always scared by such a big commitment! 

There are no free child places

Long haul destinations don't tend to offer free child places at all inclusive resorts like they do in Europe and so we won't be getting the best deal. 

Things might not go to plan

I say that my children will travel well but what if they don't? Or what if they are poorly? 10+ hours is a long time to be stuck on a plane with a badly behaved or poorly child. This story from Babyfoote also really puts me off:

'We went through 5 changes (yes, I pack that many clothes in my hand baggage including a bra) and then back into the first outfit because it was the cleanest when James had a sickness bug on the way back from Orlando. The long haul flight was the longest ever! We just wanted to get off, home, and showered! We were all three of us COVERED in puke'


Jet lag is a worry

There is a whole 7 hour time distance to consider when travelling to Mexico. My children have not had to deal with jet lag before and I do worry how it will affect their routine and tiredness levels. The last thing I want to do is spend thousands of pounds on a holiday for it to be ruined by cranky kids.

Safety concerns

My children are responsible and follow instructions most of the time but it's still daunting travelling so far away and going through airport security and passport control ect.....when there are more children than grown-ups! I know it's silly but it feels more daunting doing this in a long haul destination airport than a European one. I feel like somebody needs to invent actual eyes for the back of my head!



We will be making our final decision and booking up in May. Our top two contenders are either a long haul luxury all inclusive resort in Mexico or a self catering apartment in the Italian lakes. I would really appreciate your help. Have you travelled long haul with your children? Would you recommend it? Or should we stick with Europe for now? 

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The pros and cons of flying long haul with children



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10 ways to save money at Center Parcs


Center Parcs is one of our favourite holiday destinations. We love the woodland setting, activities on offer and relaxed pace of life. There is no denying that a Center Parcs break can be expensive though, especially in school holidays. I have a few tips to save you a little bit of £ when booking up......

10 ways to save money at Center Parcs



1 - Travel during inset days to avoid holiday price hikes

My number one tip is to book a weekend where your school has an inset (or teacher training day) on the Friday. This avoids needed to take the kids out of school AND the expensive school holidays and if you travel down early on the Friday, you can start using the facilities at Center Parcs from noon (pack a picnic for your first day). You can either leave late on Sunday night or super early on Monday morning.

10 ways to save money at Center Parcs  - lake


2 - Order wine and groceries in advance

The Center Parcs supermarket is super pricey - I think a loaf of bread was over £2 on our last trip. I would advise looking for wine and champagne deals online and bulk buying before hand to save money. Similarly, I recommend meal planning for your stay and ordering a supermarket shop online to click and collect en-route. Don't forget the marshmallows!

3 - Don't feel pressured into paying for activities

There are hundreds of activities to choose from ranging from a few pounds up to £50+. Don't feel pressured into having to book lots of things to do. In my opinion, kids are just as happy playing in the woods, riding their bikes and spotting wildlife.

4 - Plan and book paid-for activities in advance

If you do wish to book activities, I would recommend no more than one per day. You can book activities online well in advance so if there's an experience your children particularly want to do, you can maybe ask grandparents to pay for it for their birthday, or book one activity every pay day to spread the cost. We love the baby owl experience and this cost us less than £40 for the family.

10 ways to save money at Center Parcs  - baby owl experience


5 - Take your own bikes and scooters

Bike hire for the family can work out expensive and would be well over £100 for us 5. A Center Parcs holiday just isn't a Center Parcs holiday without feeling the fresh air on your face as you cycle through the woods. For me, not having my bike there is non-negotiable. You can save money however by taking your own from home. A bike rack can often cost less than bike hire but offers much better value for money as it can be used time and time again.

10 ways to save money at Center Parcs  - take your own bike


6 - Take advantage of Center Parcs' Come Back Soon offer

If you book another Center Parcs break within 28 days of your holiday, you'll receive the lowest possible price. You can book using this deal up to 18 months in advance with a low deposit and if you're a Center Parcs fan, this is the best way to get the cheapest deal. You'll also be rewarded with a £25 voucher to spend on resort during your break which will pay for a nice little treat (I recommend pancakes at the pancake hut)

7 - Dine early

Restaurants in Center Parcs are expensive and there's no getting away from it! We have always found Bella Italia to be the best value with lunch prices from £6.99. Kids can eat for just £5.99 for three courses, nibbles, unlimited drinks and unlimited gelato ice cream which is excellent value. Bella Italia's cheaper lunch menu runs until 5pm and I'd recommend booking a 4pm table to take advantage of this and then enjoying a supper back at your lodge later in the evening.

10 ways to save money at Center Parcs  - center parcs Bella Italia


8 - Swimming is your friend

Swimming is free of charge at Center Parcs and you can go as many times as you like. Pools are normally open from 10am - 9pm and I guarantee that a visit will be a highlight of your holiday. There are flumes, kids pools, water toys to play with, lazy rivers, waves........lots going on and to get the best value from your holiday I recommend visiting in the evening when it's usually quieter and will (hopefully) tire the kids out and ensure they sleep soundly.

10 ways to save money at Center Parcs  - swimming pool


9 - Bring the spa to you

The spa at Center Parcs is probably the best spa I've ever visited and if you can, I think a visit is definitely worth it. Again though, it is expensive and if you are looking at saving money there's no reason why you can't bring the Center Parcs spa experience to your lodge instead. Get your partner to take the kids out for a walk, run yourself a bubble bath and relax with a face mask and magazine. You'll feel just as relaxed and won't have spent a penny.


10 - Buy logs in advance

If your lodge comes with a wood burning stove or fire, Center Parcs will charge you a small fortune to buy their logs on site. It pays to be prepared and buy your logs in advance. Nothing beats warming your toes in front of the fire after a nice long walk but it's even better when you know you've saved money.

Looking for more ways to get the most out of your Center Parcs break? Check out these posts below:





Writing this post has made we realise how much I want to go to Center Parcs again! It really is the best. Let me know if you have any ways you can save money on a break.

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10 ways to save money at Center Parcs

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What's On in the North East for Kids & Families | 1st & 2nd April 2017


Hello April! One of my favourite months of the year. We have lots of outdoor fun planned this month including a trip to Alnwick and Whitehouse Farm. We are spending this Sunday at Exhibition Park where we'll (hopefully) enjoy Sunday lunch at Wylam brewery and take a miniature train ride around the park (they take place on the first Sunday of every month thanks to TSMEE). Don't forget that it's April Fool's Day on Saturday too - let me know if you have any ideas of how I can prank the kids!

What's On in Newcastle and the North East for Kids & Families | 1st & 2nd April 2017


Northumberland Residents' Festival | 1st & 2nd April

If you live in Northumberland, you can enjoy free, half price and discounted entry to many top attractions across the region this weekend. Read our guide to Northumberland Residents' Festival for more information and to download your voucher.


Maker Faire | Life Science Centre | 1st & 2nd April

The Maker Faire is a celebration of crafts, creation and cool stuff. Expect hackers, coders, inventors, workshops, speakers and lots of hands-on fun during this event that's not to be missed.


Fools Weekend | Alnwick Castle | 1st & 2nd April

Alnwick Castle re-opens after winter on 31st March and they'll be celebrating April Fools weekend in style with comedy jester 'Zooted'. Expect fire eating, sword swallowing and lots of tricks. Event is included with annual admission. If you pay to visit Alnwick Castle once, you can validate your tickets on the day and turn them into an annual pass at no additional cost.

Puppetry for Children Day | Ouseburn Farm | 1st April

Children will love the chance to get involved with puppetry at Ouseburn Farm this weekend. There will be puppet making workshops (pre-book), giant walkabout puppets, colouring, magicians and giant bubbles. Read about our February trip to Ouseburn Farm here.



Route to Relaxation Trail | Gibside | From 1st April

The route to relaxation trail opens at Gibside this weekend. It's a chance to discover nature, awaken your senses and freshen your mind. The event is included with regular admission. Read about our family trip to Gibside last summer here. 


Gateshead Comic-Con | The Lancastrian Suite | 2nd April

Entry to this event is just £6 per adult, £3 (under 12's) and under 5's are free. Pay on the door only. Expect over 80 traders, Gateshead Pokemon Club, Colin Baker making an appearance, Zombie survival school, Lightsabre academy, NERF war and more.......


Still planning your Easter activities? Bookmark the following posts:

As always, events are subject to change. Please check details before heading out. 
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How to squeeze as many road trips into the year as possible without spending a fortune

*This is a collaborative post

The main reason I started this blog was because my friends would tell me that I am always taking the kids here, there and everywhere and I should start my own website with my reviews. UK travel is hugely important to us something I really feel passionate about. I really want my three to understand the history of our country and see everything that the UK has to offer.

How to squeeze as many road trips into the year as possible without spending a fortune

I am in a privileged position in that I do get invited to review a few attractions across the year but I also still book (and pay for) plenty of trips myself too. Sometimes I do get carried away and when I last checked my diary my next free weekend this year is in September. Ooops! I often forget just how expensive road trips can be and petrol, accommodation, food ect..... all needs to be budgeted for. Travelling across the UK can be expensive and it's fair to say that 90% of our disposable income is spent on travel and days out. Today I am sharing some hints and tips on how to squeeze as many road trips into the year as possible without spending a fortune.

How to save money on car travel


We mostly travel around the UK by car. Steve works every other weekend and uses our car for work so it's one of my goals to buy my own car next year so I can take the kids on even more adventures. We'll be looking at using an insurance provider who offer multi car discount and I'll be buying a car that has low running costs (something similar to a Ford Ka I think). 

In terms of fuel costs, I have always been a fan of PetrolPrices.com which is a free website that compares fuel costs in your area and it goes without saying that you should avoid filling up on motorways where possible.

I have written about my hatred of service stations in the past and will always pack a picnic and look for a National Trust or English Heritage property to stop at instead. They provide much more space for kids to run around and properly stretch their legs, entry is free if you are members as we are and it feels much more enjoyable than a grim service station. Packing a picnic avoids you being ripped off and paying £5 for a service station sandwich too. 

Planning is key


I will hold my hands up and say I am one of life's planners. I book now and worry about the consequences later. I genuinely think if you book early though you do get the best deals. Take budget hotels for example, Steve has just booked a road trip to Manchester to see Metallica with his friend in October. We booked his hotel room (with free cancellation) before tickets went on sale for the bargain price of £35. If we were to book the same hotel room now it would be over £100.  

Planning also gives you plenty of time to spread the cost too. I booked a holiday cottage for Christmas 2017 before Christmas 2016 had even happened. We paid a small deposit and have spread the cost throughout the year. 

How to squeeze as many road trips into the year as possible without spending a fortune - Christmas cottage


Memberships and annual passes will save you money


We are National Trust and English Heritage members and both save us so much money throughout the year. If we're taking any sort of road trip it nearly always involves National Trust or English Heritage and because we've paid for our membership in advance, it feels as if it's a free day out.

In terms of attractions, it's worth looking into annual passes too. For example, you can buy a summer pass to Lightwater Valley theme park for just £45 per person (or £174 for a family of 4). I think that Angry Bird land is worth this price alone and if I lived a little closer, I'd certainly be visiting with the kids on a weekly basis (this would work out at just £7.25 per person per visit). 

I have always fancied a Merlin Annual Pass and think I will probably commit to a purchase in the next few years. From just £139 per person (cheaper in their sale), you can have access to over 32 Merlin attractions across the UK. That is enough to visit more than one attraction per fortnight and if you visited every attraction throughout the year, it would cost you £4.34 per visit. That is a serious bargain! 

How to squeeze as many road trips into the year as possible without spending a fortune - Lightwater Valley


Create a bucket list and use it to plan your road trips for the year


I think it's all too easy saying 'x, y and z is on our bucket list' but then never doing anything about it. At the beginning of every year we sit down as a family and all decide together where we'd like to tick from our list that year and then plan our road trips accordingly. In 2016, we ticked Loch Ness and the Houses of Parliament from our list, in 2015 we visited Stonehenge , in 2014 it was the Natural History and Science Museum and back in 2012 we ticked 'hiring a beach hut' from our list. 2017 is the year we'll celebrate Christmas is a cottage and we're hiring a boat to sail the Norfolk broads (wish us luck for that one). Once you have chosen your destinations for the year, book holidays from work ASAP and then start making them a reality by looking for deals and ways to save money wherever possible. We have used all means possible to work through our bucket list and stayed in everything from youth hostels to campsites and everything in between. 

How to squeeze as many road trips into the year as possible without spending a fortune - visit Stonehenge

Where are North East Family Fun heading this year? 


We have a full year of trips lined up and of course, I'll be sharing our experiences right here on this blog. Upcoming trips include:
  • Easter at the Coach House - Brownside B&B in Alnwick
  • A weekend in Telford
  • May half term at Riverside park in Wooler
  • A Stay, Play & Explore weekend break in Leicestershire
  • A boating trip exploring the Norfolk Broads
  • The Just So Festival
  • Warner Brother's Studio Tour
  • Christmas in a Northumberland Cottage

Let me know if you have planned any road trips this year and if you have any tips for saving money. 

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How to squeeze as many road trips into the year as possible without spending a fortune



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The Best Picnic Spots in Newcastle Upon Tyne

*This is a collaborative post

Picnic season is almost upon us and I can't wait to dig out my cool bag and enjoy our first picnic of 2017. It is around this time of year that I start browsing websites such as Theworks.co.uk and stock up on outdoor toys. There are some real bargains to be had such as these 3 bottles of bubble solution (with wands) for £1, a Mr Bump Space Hopper for £5, a Children's Cricket Set for £3 and a Paw Patrol Kite for just £2. There is free standard delivery when you spend just £20 or you can use in-store click and collect at no additional charge too. I tend to buy a few bits of bobs for the Easter holidays which lasts us throughout the summer.

The Best Picnic Spots in Newcastle Upon Tyne

One of my spring jobs is to re-stock our 'Outdoor Adventure' kit which I keep in our conservatory. The box contains a picnic blanket, a coin purse full of change, our buckets and spades, a beach towel. suncream, bubbles and our outdoor games. Then if the sun does happen to shine for us, everything is within easy reach and ready to go. I've put together a list of 10 places to enjoy a picnic in Newcastle for when the sun next has his hat on. Let me know if I've included any of your favourites:

The Best Picnic Spots in Newcastle Upon Tyne


1 - Quayside Seaside


The Quayside Seaside is Newcastle's very own city centre beach. The Quayside Seaside is set to open by 9th April this year (although check details nearer the time as this is subject to change) and can be found in a prime location overlooking the Tyne not far from the Pitcher and Piano. There are free deckchairs and buckets and spades for the kids and it's the perfect spot to enjoy your lunch and people watch. Especially on a sunny day. 

The Best Picnic Spots in Newcastle Upon Tyne | Quayside Seaside


2 - Heaton Park


Heaton Park is one of Newcastle's hidden gems and a popular spot with families. If you happen to forget your picnic or fancy an ice cold drink, there's a Sambuca restaurant in Heaton Pavillion. There's a lovely play park to keep the kids entertained and lots of space to exercise your four legged friend too.

3 - Paddy Freeman's Park


Paddy Freeman's Park is a very popular park with locals and it's almost always busy. With a boating lake, inclusive play area, tennis courts and bowling green, there's lots to see and do. There are plenty of picnic spots around the park including two accessible picnic tables suitable for wheelchairs. 

The Best Picnic Spots in Newcastle Upon Tyne | Paddy Freeman's Park
Photo source

4 - Jesmond Dene Park


Jesmond Dene is one of my favourite places in the North East and it certainly doesn't feel as if you are just a couple of miles away from Newcastle's busy city centre. There's lots of grass to enjoy a picnic or play sports, picnic tables, a play park and of course pets corner where you can meet the dene's resident animals. You're also right next to some lovely woodland walks - perfect for walking off that extra slice of cake! In the summer months there's a Thomas train that runs around the park and a resident ice cream van. 

The Best Picnic Spots in Newcastle Upon Tyne | Jesmond Dene Park


5 - Newcastle Castle


I am forever recommending Newcastle Castle to visitors and locals alike. It's one of the best places to visit Newcastle I think and where better to enjoy a picnic than on the grass outside of the castle. You can work off the sausage rolls and cakes by climbing the 99 steps to the very top of that castle afterwards. You'll be rewarded with some of the best views of Newcastle. 




6 - Walker Park


Walker park received an investment of over £2.5 million in 2015/16 thanks to the National Lottery so it's a picnic spot with lots of facilities. There's a large play area and separate park for younger children, football pitches, bowling green and community garden. It's free to park with no restriction on the roads surrounding the park too.

7 - Exhibition Park


Exhibition Park is hidden just behind Newcastle University and next to the RVI hospital in Newcastle City Centre. After a recent £3 million refurbishment, it's a gorgeous place to escape the city centre for a picnic or visit for a picnic lunch after a trip to the nearby Great North Museum. There's a boating lake where you can hire boats at the weekend, playgrounds, a skate park, tennis courts and crazy golf. If you fancy a pint, Wylam Brewery is open from midday every weekend (and some evenings). A miniature railway offers train rides around the park too. Check out their website for further details.

The Best Picnic Spots in Newcastle Upon Tyne | Exhibition Park
Photo source

8 - Great North Museum Gardens


We love a trip to the Great North Museum (and it's free - hurray!) but I also think their gardens make a pretty lovely spot for a picnic. You can hire a locker for £1 in the museum, explore what's on offer and then retire to the museum gardens for a picnic. If I was to suggest my number one free day out in Newcastle, this would have to be it.

The Best Picnic Spots in Newcastle Upon Tyne | Great North Museum
Photo source 

9 - Throckley Dene


Throckley Dene is home to an ancient woodland and a walk along Dewley Burn is wonderfully peaceful at any time of the year. There's an abundance of wildlife to spot and a few grassed areas where you can pop down your picnic blanket and enjoy a picnic with nature.

The Best Picnic Spots in Newcastle Upon Tyne | Throckley Dene
Photo source


10 - Havannah and Three Hills Nature Reserve


Havannah and Three Hills Nature Reserve can be found on the former Hazlerigg Colliery. It's a site of Nature Conservation Interest and children will be delighted when they spot frogs, herons, ducks, woodpeckers and even deer or a red squirrel if you're lucky. There are circular walks to enjoy and ponds to explore before stopping to find a perfect picnic spot.

You can find out more about visiting these picnic spots along with parking and public transport information over on the Newcastle City Council website here.

Let me know if I've missed your favourite picnic spot in Newcastle - I'm always looking for new places to try. 

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The Best Picnic Spots in Newcastle Upon Tyne

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5 unique ways to celebrate your wedding anniversary in North East England


Steve and I love a good date day and equally, we always do something special to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary at Jesmond Dene House last year and booked a holiday to Cuba. We're definitely making the most of it! We LOVE the North East but it sometimes feels like we've pretty much exhausted every date opportunity there is in our region. With this in mind, I've scoured the internet to find some pretty unique places to enjoy a date in the North East. I am adding them all to my list!

5 unique places to celebrate your wedding anniversary in North East England

1 - Take a helicopter ride over your favourite North East landmarks


I can't think of many experiences that would have the same wow factor as a helicopter ride for 2 across your favourite North East landmarks. Flydays.co.uk offer a variety of helicopter experiences across the North East including a 35-minute flight for 2 for just £149. I can't think of a more memorable way to celebrate a special anniversary.

5 unique places to celebrate your wedding anniversary in North East England | Helicopter ride for 2
Source | Pixabay


2 - Take in some of the darkest skies in the world from a treehouse


Did you know that Kielder has it's very own treehouse? The Sky Den featured on George Clarke's Amazing Spaces a few years ago and features an opening roof. Such a perfect place to snuggle up with your loved one with some blankets and take in some of the darkest skies in the world. The Sky Den can be hired for just £175 per night.

5 unique places to celebrate your wedding anniversary in North East England | Sky Den Tree house Kielder


3 - Sunset Sunset Cruise to the Farne Islands


On Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 16th May until 14th September, Serenity Farne Island Boat tours offer a magical sunset cruise. Departing from 7pm, it is a chance to take in the calmness of the islands and watch the wildlife in the evening light. If you're lucky, you might catch a magical sunset behind Bamburgh Castle on your return at 9pm. If you are looking for a unique way to celebrate your anniversary but you're on a budget, this would be my number one choice as tickets are priced at just £15 per adult.

5 unique places to celebrate your wedding anniversary in North East England | Farne Islands Sunset Cruise
Source | Pixabay


4 - Stay in a double decker London bus with it's own hot tub


You can stay in a refurbished double decker London bus right here in the North East. The Trafalgar Square bus at South Causey Inn, Country Durham is available from £240 per night and includes a luxury roll top bath with flat screen TV and it's very own hot tub! I think this is possibly the most unique place to stay in the whole of the North East and after staying in the Treehouse suite at South Causey last year, I can highly recommend as a special place to get away from it all with your other half.

5 unique places to celebrate your wedding anniversary in North East England | London Bus with Hot tub, County Durham


5 - Book the ultimate spa break for couples at Rockcliffe Hall


For just £240 per person, couples can enjoy the ultimate spa break for 2 at Rockliffe Hall. This break is high on my wish list and includes a welcome drink on arrival, 2 full days use of Rockliffe Hall's 5* spa, a mud rasul ritual for 2, a 45 minute treatment each, a 2 hour spa garden experience, a 2 course dinner in the brasserie, overnight stay and brunch. How fabulous!

5 unique places to celebrate your wedding anniversary in North East England | Couples Spa break at Rockcliffe Hall
Source | Pixabay

Let me know if you've tried any of the experiences mentioned and if you have any recommendations for us too. 

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5 unique places to celebrate your wedding anniversary in North East England

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Do children still want to play with toys?

*This is a collaborative post & contains affiliate links

As a little girl, I loved playing with dolls. I would spend hours pushing them around my street in their pram with my friends. Pretending we were 'mammies' was one of our favourite games and I remember spending many a summer's day in my front garden with a washing up bowl and fairy liquid which would be my version of 'giving my baby a bath' before moving on to washing all of my dolls' favourite outfits and hanging them on my mam's clothes horse to dry in the sun. Ah a life before iPads, apps and computers - life was certainly simpler then.

Do children still want to play with toys?


I really want to give my children the same sort of childhood memories that I had - spending long summers out with their friends, inventing games and staying out until dark. I think as much as children love to be 'plugged in', they still very much enjoy playing with traditional toys too. I know that some people have a perception that children these days spend all day long playing Minecraft or watching YouTube videos (my mam is one of these people) and I will admit that my three do play on iPads, probably most days. But it's no longer their favourite thing to do. I kind of feel like the novelty has worn off a little. Jack and Heidi spent the whole of last weekend playing outside with their friends (through choice) and Harry spent the weekend at his friend's house. 

My three all have televisions in their bedrooms and have since a young age but just because they are there doesn't mean they watch TV 24/7. All three will spend hours playing LEGO and we currently have a bucket between their rooms on our landing which I can hear them sneaking into at night. I didn't have the luxury of a television in my bedroom until I was 10 years old and I'm pretty sure our first home computer was when I was 12 or 13. Times do change though and as our children ar growing up in a world surrounded by technology, I do think it's important they are brought up using it too. But I don't want this to get in the way of the traditional childhood I want for my kids either.

It is easier to encourage my children to use their imagination a little more now they are older I think- they can play outside in our street without supervision and Harry and Heidi can be trusted to go to the park at the end of our street. They love having this freedom and as the sunshine continues I know they'll be spending more time carrying boxes of toys onto our lawn and playing with their friends. Just as I did when I was a little girl.

Toys have changed now though and although Heidi would be happy washing her dolls in a kitchen bowl like I did, her eyes can't help but widen when she spots a new dolls accessory to try. It's Heidi's birthday soon and the lovely people from BABY Born sent Heidi their new BABY Born Interactive Bath with Foam as an early birthday gift. I have to say, Heidi LOVES it and if your child enjoys playing with dolls, this bath makes a lovely birthday present. 

BABY Born Interactive bathtub with foam - instructions and review

BABY Born Interactive bathtub with foam - instructions and review


Why we loved the Baby Born Interactive Bathtub with Foam


  • Batteries are included (hurray)
  • There is a real working shower - just press the shower button and water will spray from the shower head
  • It's well-made and I certainly see it lasting for the rest of Heidi's childhood
  • Heidi loved the bubbly feature - add your favourite bubble bath to the shower tray and press the bubble button for lots of bubbles
  • There's a rubber duck
  • Press another button for music and lights - something Heidi wishes she had in her own bath! 
Check out our video demonstration below:




BABY Born Interactive bathtub with foam - instructions and review - how to use the shower pump

BABY Born Interactive bathtub with foam - instructions and review - rubber duck

BABY Born Interactive bathtub with foam - instructions and review - how to create bubbles plus music and lights

There are hardly any negatives we could think of if I'm honest. We used Heidi's BABY Born Sister doll but the bath will fit most dolls. Heidi did mention that there should be a bath extension with a bottle of bubble bath but I'm not sure this is needed - especially as so many children suffer from allergies. I think sticking to a bubble bath you know your child is ok with works best. I would have liked to have seen a baby bath towel included with the kit so it was a complete bathing experience but it wasn't too much of an issue that one wasn't included - Heidi just used one of our hand towels. 

BABY Born Interactive bathtub with foam - instructions and review - Heidi bathing her BABY born doll

So in answer to my original question - yes, children still very much want to play with toys. You may have an image of today's kids sitting in their bedrooms with their headphones in and being glued to their iPads 24/7 and yes, this is sometimes the case but I promise that around 80% of the time it's not. They still very much enjoy playing with traditional toys with dolls, action figures, LEGO, Dr Who figures and cardboard boxes being very much an everyday staple in our house. Heidi and Jack loved spending the weekend playing 'mams and dads' and our BABY Born doll was very well looked after - she was washed, dried, fed and taken for numerous walks and introduced to other children in our street. It was lovely to see and now the weather's getting nicer, I can't wait for more weekends like this. 

Shop | Our Favourite BABY Born Accessories



      


Let me know if your children still spend a lot of time playing with toys.


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BABY Born Interactive Bathtub with Foam Review, Video, Demonstration and Instructions

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Stick Man Live visits Tyne Theatre & Opera House in Newcastle | 2 & 3 October 2017

*This post contains affiliate links

I am so excited about this announcement! Stick Man is one of our favourite ever stories. In fact I will go as far as say it is possibly the book we have read more than any other. Our whole family can recite the whole book from start to finish now and despite my children probably being a little old for the story now, we still do secretly love it and it was Jack's book of choice to take into school for World Book Day this year.

Stick Man Live visits Tyne Theatre & Opera House in Newcastle | 2 & 3 October 2017. Buy tickets here
Credit | Stick Man © 2008 Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Published by Alison Green Books, an imprint of Scholastic Children’s Books

"Stick Man lives in his family tree. With his Stick Lady Love and their stick children three"

Stick Man Live is an award winning production featuring a trio of top actors and a show packed with puppetry, live music and funky moves and the production has received 5 star reviews from the likes of the Sunday Express and What's On Stage.

The performance is aimed at ages 3+, but the whole family are welcome. I think it will make a wonderful treat for toddlers, pre-school children and those in early years and even Key Stage One.

Buy Tickets to see Stick Man Live in Newcastle here


Newcastle performance times:
  • Monday 2 October 1:30pm
  • Monday 2 October 4:30pm 
  • Tuesday 3 October 10:30am
You can buy tickets from £12 online here or in person at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House Box Office during opening hours (10am - 3:30pm Monday - Friday and event days).

This video will give you an idea of what to expect from the show:



I think tickets to the show have been released just at the right time and they'd make a fantastic Easter gift when teamed with a couple of the suggested ideas below. 

Shop | Stick Man Gifts



Let me know if you'll be buying tickets. 
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Disney On Ice returns to Newcastle in 2017 | How to access priority presale & discounted tickets

*This is a collaborative post 

Following on from last year's successful Disney On Ice presents Frozen tour, Disney On Ice will be returning to Newcastle in 2017 and we are super excited to see what this year's show will bring. More details about this year's show will be announced soon.........



Feld Entertainment has created this fantastic video which I think really captures the magic of Disney On Ice - look carefully and you might spot a few familiar faces. Watching this honestly gives me goosebumps:




Priority presale tickets to this year's Disney On Ice will be available to purchase in late April but ONLY to those who have been granted exclusive access by signing up as an exclusive UK Feld Entertainment Priority Customer.

Signing up as a UK Feld Entertainment Priority Customer | Benefits


  • It is FREE to sign up and you can opt out at any time
  • Access to advance priority booking to get the best seats prior to general public on-sale
  • Exclusive discounted tickets available for all UK Feld Entertainments Shows including Disney On Ice, Monster Jam and Marvel Universe LIVE
  • You'll be the first to hear about new tours and shows


Check back soon for more announcements...........





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The Northumberland Arms, Felton | Sunday Lunch & Children's Menu Review

*This is a collaborative post

Felton in Northumberland is one of those villages where Steve and I would love to retire to. Unfortunately, with an average property price of £333,500, this is unlikely to ever happen but we do get the chance to dream every now and then and visit the village regularly. 

The Northumberland Arms, Felton | Sunday Lunch & Children's Menu Review

If you fancy a drive to a beautiful village in Northumberland, they honestly don't get more idyllic than Felton. It's fairly easy to get to, just off the A1 between Morpeth and Alnwick and there is plenty of free parking (or The Northumberland Arms has it's own car park too). 

The Northumberland Arms, Felton | Red phone box and the running fox bakery exterior

We were invited down to sample Sunday lunch at The Northumberland Arms - pretty much what I'd describe as the perfect country pub with rooms. There are cosy corners for romantic meals for two, larger dining areas for families, a bright and airy conservatory for larger groups and parties and a busy bar where locals meet for a pint or a spot of lunch. It's one of those pubs that really feels as if it's the hub of the community and we've always received a warm welcome here.

The Northumberland Arms, Felton - exterior

Bookings are recommended on Sunday's as it was fairly busy. We were seated straight away by our lovely waitress Heidi (our actual waitress was called Heidi too - my daughter hasn't suddenly landed herself a Sunday job) and the children were given various colouring sheets and crayons which was enough to keep them entertained whilst we browsed the menu.

The Northumberland Arms, Felton - kids crayons and colouring sheets

The Northumberland Arms, Felton

The Northumberland Arms, Felton - kids activities

The Northumberland Arms, Felton - wine

The Northumberland Arms, Felton | Sunday Lunch 


There are several options available for Sunday lunch ranging from just a main course for £11.95 up to three courses for £19.50. It is rare that we can manage a full three courses on a Sunday so we opted for a main each and a dessert to share. 

The Northumberland Arms, Felton - roast beef sunday lunch

There was a good choice of lamb, beef, pork or turkey or a platter of all meats if you were feeling particularly hungry (available for a £3 supplement). I was pleased to see that meat is locally sourced from Northumberland and the Scottish borders.

We rarely have roast beef at home so it's my pretty much go-to order when we're out for Sunday lunch. I was very impressed with the portion sizes - I think there were 4-5 slices of beef on my plate and it was beautifully tender. It had obviously been slow cooked as it just fell apart when I cut into it. Delicious! It was served with a giant homemade yorkshire pudding, a bowl of cauliflower cheese and a bowl of perfectly cooked seasonal veg including my favourite - green beans! These ones still had a good crunch to them too.

The Northumberland Arms, Felton - sunday lunch vegetables

I was very pleased when a jug of gravy was brought to our table without asking too. Top marks for this! I will say that the gravy didn't taste as good as the offering at The Stables or The Cherry Tree but for £11.95, this lunch was plentiful, home-cooked and delicious. Definitely worth a trip to Felton for.

The Northumberland Arms, Felton - jug of gravy

Steve pushed the boat out and ordered a 40 day aged, Himalayan salted sirloin with all of the trimmings. Fairly pricey for a Sunday lunch at £18.95 but if you're looking for a special treat and love steak, this is the dish for you. Steve enjoyed every bite and said it's definitely a dish worth pushing the boat out for. It's unique to Northumberland too! You can read more of Steve's thoughts over on his review of The Northumberland Arms on Big Stevie Cool here. 

The Northumberland Arms, Felton - 40 day aged sirloin strip steak

The Northumberland Arms, Felton

The Northumberland Arms, Felton | Children's Menu Review


The Northumberland Arms, Felton - children's menu

The children's menu at The Northumberland Arms is a very reasonable £5.95 for a main and a drink. I tried to persuade the kids to order a children's Sunday lunch but they were having none of it and to be honest, I pick my battles and let them order whatever they fancied.

The Northumberland Arms, Felton - kids pizza

The boys ordered pizza and chips. I was disappointed that the pizza was the type you just stick in a microwave and expected something homemade if I'm honest. This is probably me just being a little snobby though as the kids didn't mind at all and wolfed it down. Served with skin on fries and a side of beans, they were super happy and cleared their plates. 

The Northumberland Arms, Felton - kids pizza

Heidi opted for pasta with garlic bread - again, I'm not convinced the sauce ect.... was homemade however this didn't matter to Heidi who thoroughly enjoyed her lunch. The children's meals did not come with any side orders of veg or salad (apart from the boys' beans) so Steve and I convinced them to have a few spoonfuls of our veg in return for a pudding. There was plenty to go around. 

The Northumberland Arms, Felton - kids pasta

The Northumberland Arms, Felton | Desserts 


I am pleased that we skipped starters and left a little room for dessert. Both of our mains were substantial so Steve and I decided to share a 'trio of desserts'. I would highly recommend this dish - especially the cheesecake, it was so morish! I am pleased it was on my side of the plate as I managed to finish about 80% of it before Steve had a look in. Served with local ice cream, it was a lovely end to our meal.

The Northumberland Arms, Felton - trio of desserts

The Northumberland Arms, Felton

The Northumberland Arms, Felton - homemade cheesecake

Harry was pleased to see his favourite sticky toffee pudding on the menu. Served with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream it certainly looked wonderful. Harry refused to let me have a taste though so we'll just have to take his word for it that it was delicious.

The Northumberland Arms, Felton - sticky toffee pudding

Heidi and Jack will always go for ice cream and well - you can't go wrong with ice cream can you? 

The Northumberland Arms, Felton - kids ice cream

If the kids were older I would have let them go and feed the ducks whilst Steve and I enjoyed an after dinner coffee in one of the cosy corners of the pub. We're not quite at that stage yet though so once we'd let our deserts settle we walked over the bridge to the Running Fox bakery to buy a few treats to take home and to help ourselves to some of their free duck bread they have in a basket by the door. 

The Northumberland Arms, Felton - cosy corner

The Northumberland Arms, Felton - Felton bridge

The Northumberland Arms, Felton - Felton wildlife sign

The Northumberland Arms, Felton - feeding the ducks running fox bread

I swear the ducks in Felton are the happiest ducks you'll ever meet. Imagine living on Running Fox bread! They are living the dream. The ducks are always happy to see you and it's a bit of a tradition of ours to pop over and see them every time we're in the area.

The Northumberland Arms, Felton - ducks in felton

The Northumberland Arms, Felton

Although I had a few minor quibbles, for me, The Northumberland Arms is still a solid choice when it comes to a decent Northumberland country pub serving Sunday lunch. The ambience is friendly and cosy, the staff are attentive and the food is mostly home-made, locally sourced and tasty too. Families are made to feel super welcome - most tables had at least one child with them and there were lots of extended families with grandparents ect..... making use of the larger tables too. Highchairs are also available. 

The Northumberland Arms, Felton

We left Felton and The Northumberland Arms knowing that we'll be back over Summer. Felton was looking beautiful in the March sunshine and due to it's location, The Northumberland Arms is the perfect pub to pop into for a bite to eat or a quick drink as you're travelling around Northumberland. The bar area is dog friendly too.





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