A UK Travel, Food & Family Lifestyle Blog

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

La Yuan Newcastle Menu Review | Tasty & Authentic Sichuan Cuisine

*This is a collaborative post

I actually can't remember the last time we visited a Chinese restaurant in Newcastle. I think it was probably as long as 7 years ago. The all-you-can-eat buffets on Stowell Street just don't float my boat. We have a pretty good Cantonese restaurant in my hometown of Cramlington (Mandarin Bay - check it out) and I've never had any reason to visit anywhere else. Until now that is. 

La Yuan Newcastle Menu Review | Tasty & Authentic Sichuan Cuisine  - the best Chinese restaurant in town?

I will hold my hands up and say that I'm not particularly educated when it comes to Chinese cuisine and have not tried anything beyond the pretty safe options usually served up to us Brits - think Crispy Shredded Chicken in Cantonese Sauce, Salt and Pepper Squid or Lemon Chicken. Not particularly inspiring and I have a sneaky suspicion you won't find my go-to dishes being served up on the actual streets of China. 

As I was researching this post, I discovered that Chinese cuisine is actually split into eight different types - Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Sichuan and Zhejiang. Who knew? I was pretty excited to receive an invitation to try the specialist Sichuan cuisine at newly opened La Yuan last week and really hoped to be offered something different from the 80+ Chinese restaurants already in our city. 

La Yuan is super easy to find on Gallowgate - it is opposite Sainsburys Local and a couple of doors down from Bealim House, just before you enter the main area of Chinatown. It is very conveniently located with Eldon Square, Tyneside Cinema, Theatre Royal, Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Northern Stage and St James' Park all being less than a 10 minute walk away. 

La Yuan Newcastle Menu Review | Tasty & Authentic Sichuan Cuisine  - restaurant map and directions

The decor is simple and it feels more like a cafe than a restaurant. Don't let this put you off though. As we stepped inside we were greeted like friends, our coats were taken and our lovely waitress Rachel helped us pick the best table to take photographs (extra points for this). The table next to use was filled with a large group of Chinese students who were celebrating a special occasion and were full of praise for La Yuan - always a good sign when the local community have given the place the thumbs up. 

La Yuan Newcastle Menu Review | Tasty & Authentic Sichuan Cuisine  - restaurant interior

La Yuan Newcastle Menu Review | Tasty & Authentic Sichuan Cuisine  - place setting

The menu at La Yuan is a far cry from anything else in our region. There are a selection of cold and hot dishes, all freshly prepared and focused around the flavours of Sichuan cuisine. The menu is modern and a clever blend of sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Don't be scared when you visit and don't recognise any of the dishes - the staff are simply superb. Rachel asked us (and every other table dining) if we had any dietary requirements or needed any explanation/help in deciding what to order. The atmosphere is nice and relaxed and you absolutely don't feel silly asking questions about the food on offer.

We went with a Trio of Appetisers (Duck liver, pickled radish, mixed veg - £6) and Sichaun Steamed Oysters to start (£2.50 each). Both of these dishes were the perfect start to our meal. Whenever we've ordered oysters in Newcastle before, they've always been served raw and it was a nice change to try them served in this way. The flavours were really delicate and left a nice warming feel to your mouth without being mega spicy and stripping your taste buds. If you're squemish about the idea of eating oysters - these ones are a very good place to start.

The Trio of Appetisers were just as good. I'm not keen on duck's liver (check out Steve's review to hear what he thought) but the pickled radish was actually addictive and the perfect palette cleanser. I want to learn how to make this myself now.

La Yuan Newcastle Menu Review | Tasty & Authentic Sichuan Cuisine  - Oysters

La Yuan Newcastle Menu Review | Tasty & Authentic Sichuan Cuisine  - Trio of appetisers

Onto the mains and I went with Hung Shiao Pork Belly. I am a sucker for belly pork - what can I say. I loved how this version was slow cooked and beautifully tender and packed with aromatic spices. Delicious indeed. When Steve's dish arrived I wish I had been a little more adventurous with my choice - although it was nice and a very good version of the dish, I have eaten slow cooked Belly Pork so many times and wish I had tried something new. Next time!

La Yuan Newcastle Menu Review | Tasty & Authentic Sichuan Cuisine - Hung So Slow cooked Belly Pork

Steve's dish of Shuei Ju Beef was the real star of our meal. Priced at £12.50, the portion was huge. I enjoyed stealing a few spoonfuls of this so much that I already know I'm going to order it next time. The blend of spices was superb and although I've read a few reviews saying it is fairly spicy, I like my dishes hot and it was perfect for me. It was warming and comforting and very moreish. Honestly if I was at home I would have been mopping all of the juices up with a slice of bread it was so good. If you like aromatic dishes on the spicy side, give this dish a try.

La Yuan Newcastle Menu Review | Tasty & Authentic Sichuan Cuisine  | Shieo Ju Beef

Our final dish was 2 King Scallops with Garlic and Rice Noodles. I don't think I've ever eaten scallops served like this but they were excellent - plump, not over-cooked and beautifully presented. The scallops were allowed to speak for themselves and weren't heavily spiced which is always the best way I think.

La Yuan Newcastle Menu Review | Tasty & Authentic Sichuan Cuisine  | Scallops and rice noodles


On reflection, I think next time we will stick with the trio of appetisers, a couple of oysters, 2 mains and a couple of bowls of rice between us. This is more than enough food for 2-3 people and at around £37 is superb value.

Our meal at La Yuan is the first time I have experienced something truly different in a long time. If you're bored of the options already served up in Newcastle, you must give La Yuan a try.

Disclosure : We received a complimentary meal at La Yuan in return for an honest review. 


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La Yuan Newcastle Menu Review | Tasty & Authentic Sichuan Cuisine - possibly the best Chinese restaurant in town

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Monday, 30 January 2017

Ebookadabra Review | 100's of well-loved children's stories in one app

*This is a collaborative post

Harry (aged 10) is such a bookworm and will happily spend hours with his nose in a book. I just wish the same could be said for his younger brother and sister. We have a rule where the kids must read in bed for 30 minutes before lights out but most nights I'm pretty sure Heidi (7) and Jack (6) prefer to mess around. They do read their school books without any complaints and Heidi enjoys reading First News with us at the weekend but I still feel like I need to do more to encourage them both to read for pleasure.

Ebookadabra Review | A reading app for children aged 3-7 with stories from Disney, Harper Collins, Bloomsbury and more

Like most children their age, Jack and Heidi love it when I let them play on my iPad. So when eBookadabra got in touch and asked if we'd like to review their service, I was intrigued and did think that it would encourage Heidi and Jack to read a bit more so I signed up to a 3 month trial.

Ebookadabra Review | A reading app for children aged 3-7 with stories from Disney, Harper Collins, Bloomsbury and more

Ebookadabra is a reading app aimed at children aged 3-7 years. It's not just 'another reading app' though - this one is a partnership between the likes of Disney, Harper Collins, Parragon and a range of leading publishers. You know when you have top names like this on board, you are in good hands. The app is still in the early stages but I have to say I have been impressed so far (as have the kids). In the coming months I have been told to expect hundreds of new books and features, but for now, here's what we thought of the app as it stands.

eBookadabra - How to use


The app is super simple to set up. Simply download eBookadabra from the App Store here for just 99p per month (normal price is £5.99 per month so I'd grab this deal whilst you can). You can set up a profile for up to four children across unlimited devices so it's very good value if you're a parent of multiple kids. We have 2 iPads and 2 old iPhones that the kids use in the house and I like that Jack and Heidi can access eBookadabra from any of these devices.

Ebookadabra Review | A reading app for children aged 3-7 with stories from Disney, Harper Collins, Bloomsbury and more

Heidi was able to set up the app with minimal supervision and selected a profile background and picture. I like that she was asked to draw her name too - nice touch. You know what kids are like - they're pretty intuitive and Heidi and Jack were both able to flick through the books and activities without any supervision. 

Ebookadabra Review | A reading app for children aged 3-7 with stories from Disney, Harper Collins, Bloomsbury and more

Children select a book to read through the hundreds available. You can read the stories yourself or switch to an audio book and listen to the book as you follow the words and turn the pages. There are lots of fab features in the app including an innovative search tool for children to find books they may like and I LOVE that each profile can download up to 15 books to read offline - this is an absolute lifesaver for car travel and I imagine it's a handy feature when flying too. Take a look at the Ebookadabra video below which will give you a flavour of what to expect: 



eBookadabra - Books available now


Top publishers such as Disney, Harper Collins and Bloomsbury are on board and the books have been optimised to be used with an electronic device. The illustrations are good and the words are easy to read. There are HUNDREDS of titles to choose from but our favourites have been: 

Films & TV - Stories based around Frozen, Finding Nemo, Up, Brave, The Lion King, Madagascar, Monsters Inc, Cars, Postman Pat, Toy Story, Shrek & more.

Aliens & Monsters - Dragon Jelly, How to Train Your Dragon, Home, Monster Max's Shark Spaghetti & more.

Classic Tales - All of our favourites including The Three Little Pigs, Rapunzel, Snow White & more.

Fairy Princess - Doc McStuffins, Perfect Princess Wish, Cinderella, A Little Princess & more.

There are adventure stories, dinosaur stories, rhyming stories, animal stories, stories about witches and wizards and loads more. Your children will never get bored! 



Ebookadabra Review | A reading app for children aged 3-7 with stories from Disney, Harper Collins, Bloomsbury and more


eBookadabra - Extra activities & reading rewards


Another feature I like about eBookadabra is that it actually does encourage reading. Not only do the kids love 'playing' with the iPad but they are also rewarded with educational games that are only unlocked once they finish reading a story. This is a fab incentive and so far Harry and Jack have enjoyed magic colouring, dot to dots, crosswords and collecting stickers. In the words of Heidi  'this is so much fun'.

Ebookadabra Review | A reading app for children aged 3-7 with stories from Disney, Harper Collins, Bloomsbury and more


eBookadabra - Cost & how to download


This app is still in it's early stages and because of this, if you download it now, you'll be eligible for an introductory offer of 99p per month for as long as you stay subscribed. The normal price is £5.99 per month so this feels like a massive bargain to me. You can download from itunes here.

The app is available on iOS iPad and iPhone with software versions 8,9 and 10 and will be available on Android soon.

You won't be tied into any contract and if you wish to cancel at any time simply head to the App Store - Subscriptions - Turn off auto renewal. 

eBookadabra - Our opinion


We have been so impressed with eBookadabra. The kids have enjoyed using it and it's the first time I've noticed Jack take any sort of interest in reading other than what he 'has' to do. I don't feel guilty about this kind of screen time and although for me it doesn't replace reading a proper book at bedtime, it is an excellent way to compliment and encourage their reading. The real selling point of this app is that it is filled with books kids actually want to read - there's no 'Kip goes to the Park' here.

Heidi and Jack will use the app for 30 minutes at a time before I tell them it's time to turn it off - we've been using this for a few weeks now and so far they have not complained they have been bored or don't want to read.

A key feature I love is being able to use this app offline. We often travel and spend a lot of time in the car/staying at places with no WiFi - apps that don't require connectivity, always help in these situations.

As the app is in it's early stages, I did expect some glitches but in the whole time we've been using it, it has only crashed once (which is more than can be said for my Facebook app at the moment).

We highly recommend Ebookadabra for children aged 3-7 years. You can find out more over on the Ebookadabra website here. 

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Ebookadabra Review | A reading app for children aged 3-7 with stories from Disney, Harper Collins, Bloomsbury and more

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Friday, 27 January 2017

Brick History & North East Landmarks | New Lego Exhibitions at Life Science Centre, Newcastle | A Review

*This is a collaborative post

Newcastle's Life Science Centre is one of our favourite indoor places to visit in our city. It is fantastic for little ones (we recommend checking out their pre-school days) but also an excellent day out for older children who can often be tricky to entertain. Harry, Heidi and Jack are always very excited when I mention we are going to visit. 


The centre features regularly changing exhibits and over the years we've enjoyed everything from Doctor Who to Animals Inside Out. This season, Life hosts two very special Lego exhibitions - Brick History and North East Lego Landmarks. Both exhibitions continue until 14th May.

The Lego exhibitions had only been open for a couple of weeks on the day of our visit. We arrived mid-morning and the queue was huge (for those who know Life, it was all the way downstairs to the packed lunch area) and it took around 10-15 minutes for us to get to to the front. I was worried that this was going to impact on our visit and that perhaps we wouldn't be able to get up close to the models. I didn't need to worry though as the actual exhibitions weren't too busy at all. I guess this is because there is so much to do around the centre so the areas never seem over-crowded.

Brick History Lego Exhibition at Life Science Centre, Newcastle


'Brick History is a journey into over 50 of the most pivotal moments in world history - recreated in Lego bricks.'

Brick History & North East Landmarks | New Lego Exhibitions at Life Science Centre, Newcastle | A Review - the first talkie

I really didn't know what to expect from this exhibition and wondered if it might be a little bit boring. I mean it's just a few Lego models isn't it? I did think that the kids might dash around and not be particularly bothered but OMG I was completely wrong. We all LOVED this exhibition. We carefully visited every model and marvelled at the detail and technique involved in creating each piece.

The topics covered were so varied too - from the extinction of Dinosaurs to Slavery and the invention of the mobile phone. Every model we looked at raised questions and discussion from our children which is exactly what you want when visiting a Science centre. Take a look at our video below and you can clearly see how much fun the kids are having:



There is lots of space to view the models. We visited at peak time on a Saturday and could see everything without any issue. There was never any pressure to move on or move out of the way. In the centre of the exhibition is a giant Lego and Duplo table where children can create their own Lego models and there's even a display case for them to keep them safe when they're done which is a nice touch. Here are a few of our favourite models from the exhibition - there are over 50 to see and this is just a tiny sample:

Brick History & North East Landmarks | New Lego Exhibitions at Life Science Centre, Newcastle | A Review

Brick History & North East Landmarks | New Lego Exhibitions at Life Science Centre, Newcastle | A Review - a spinning lego globe

Brick History & North East Landmarks | New Lego Exhibitions at Life Science Centre, Newcastle | A Review - the small pox vaccine

Brick History & North East Landmarks | New Lego Exhibitions at Life Science Centre, Newcastle | A Review - transport

Brick History & North East Landmarks | New Lego Exhibitions at Life Science Centre, Newcastle | A Review - underground railroad

Brick History & North East Landmarks | New Lego Exhibitions at Life Science Centre, Newcastle | A Review - Castle at war

Brick History & North East Landmarks | New Lego Exhibitions at Life Science Centre, Newcastle | A Review - dinosaur extinction

Brick History & North East Landmarks | New Lego Exhibitions at Life Science Centre, Newcastle | A Review - Viking boat


North East Landmarks Lego Exhibition at Life Science Centre, Newcastle


Towards the back of Brick History, you'll find a special area dedicated to North East Landmarks which has been created by local Lego builder Steve Mayes. I loved walking around this exhibition and we had fun spotting all of our favourite North East landmarks. Our favourites were probably the Baltic, the Angel of the North and how Tynemouth Pool could look when it's restored. Steve is a talented guy! Here are a few of our favourite photos from the exhibition: 

Brick History & North East Landmarks | New Lego Exhibitions at Life Science Centre, Newcastle | A Review - A Lego Baltic Mill

Brick History & North East Landmarks | New Lego Exhibitions at Life Science Centre, Newcastle | A Review - A Lego Transporter Bridge

Brick History & North East Landmarks | New Lego Exhibitions at Life Science Centre, Newcastle | A Review - A Lego St James Park

Brick History & North East Landmarks | New Lego Exhibitions at Life Science Centre, Newcastle | A Review - A Lego Tyne Bridge


Everything else at Life Science Centre (you can spend a full day here)


Life Science Centre is open from 10am-6pm (11am-6pm on a Sunday) and you can easily spend a full day here. There is so much for children of all ages (and their grown ups) to enjoy and it's all hands on fun and learning (but shhhh don't tell the kids that). From the Brain Zone that lets you understand what's going on inside your brain to a 4D motion ride, young explorers zone, science theatre, the North East's biggest planetarium and much more. Our favourite area is the experiment zone (over 7s only) where you get the chance to wear a lab coat and conduct real life experiments. If you visit before 26th February, you can take a spin on Life's outdoor ice rink too (extra charges apply).

Brick History & North East Landmarks | New Lego Exhibitions at Life Science Centre, Newcastle | A Review - Experiment Zone

Food at Life Science Centre, Newcastle


We nearly always dine in the cafe as it is such good value. During this visit, I ordered toad in the hole and a mini one for Jack, Heidi and Harry ordered a 5 piece lunch box and Steve went for a freshly made sandwich, crisps and a chocolate bar (naughty). Along with drinks, our total lunch bill was just £25 - incredible! If you'd prefer to bring a packed lunch, there are lockers and an area downstairs where you can tuck in. Perfect for families on a budget.

Admission to Life Science Centre, Newcastle


Everything at Life Science Centre is included with admission (excluding food, drinks and ice skating) and you can buy a day ticket and come and go as you please throughout the day. The Discovery Museum and Lane 7 are very close by if you fancy combining your visit with another North East attraction. Tickets are simply purchased at reception on the day of your visit.

Family Day Ticket : £25
Adult Day Ticket : £10
Child Day Ticket (5-17 years) : £7
Child Day Ticket (4 years and under) :  £3
Concessions : £9

In my opinion, an annual pass is definitely worth considering. The Lego exhibition is being replaced with DinoJaws in May which is the chance to come face to face with realistic, moving dinosaurs and there are lots of special events planned throughout the year including chocolate heaven at Easter. An annual pass costs £85 for a family of 4 (under 4's are free and other options are available).

If you didn't watch our video tour above, here's another chance to join us on a guided tour around the Lego exhibitions:



We think that a visit to the Lego exhibitions, and the Life Science Centre as a whole is definitely worth a trip. If you fancy a little bit of fun, Here Come The Hoopers spotted a surprise in the North East Landmarks which adds an extra bit of extra interest. The Lego exhibitions continue until 14th May 2017 so catch them while you can!


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Thursday, 26 January 2017

What's On in the North East for Kids | 28th & 29th January

Welcome to our weekly guide to what's on for children and families in the North East. Make sure you like our North East Family Fun Facebook Page for more ideas and check out our February Half Term Giveaways below:



What's On in the North East for Kids and Families this weekend | 28th & 29th January


27th - 28th January | Circus of Horrors | Tyne Theatre & Opera House

Older teens will be amazed by the Circus of Horrors which visits Newcastle this weekend. Find out more and book here. 


28th - 29th January | Please Mr Antony | Seven Stories

Mind your manners as Seven Stories makes way for author and illustrator of Please Mr Panda, Steve Antony in a weekend long studio takeover. There will be themed activities and the chance to draw alongside Steve. Free event (normal admission applies) and no booking required. Find out more here. 


28th January | Rhyme Time for Under 5's | Leam Lane Library

Join Leam Lame Library for their special event featuring rhyming stories for under 5's. Find out more and book here



28th January | The Swan Princess | Arts Centre

With performances at 2pm and 7:30pm, this is another chance to watch a favourite panto with the family. Tickets are just £5 - find out more and book here.


29th January | Chinese New Year Celebrations

On Sunday 29th January, Stowell Street and Bath Lane will come to life with dragon and lion dancers, fire crackers and children's entertainment including a Chinese market and fairground. Find out more here. 


Still looking for inspiration? Check out these posts for a few more ideas: 


Let me know what you're up to this weekend. 



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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Kids Love Dinosaurs? Check Out 'So you think you know about Dinosaurs' at Tyne Theatre & Opera House this February Half Term


*This is a collaborative post

'So you think you know about Dinosaurs' is a brand new family show for 2017. Heading to the Tyne Theatre & Opera House in Newcastle at 2pm on Monday 20th February 2017 (half term for most), it's your chance to find out all you ever wanted to know about dinosaurs.......and more.

Kids Love Dinosaurs? Check Out 'So you think you know about Dinosaurs' at Tyne Theatre & Opera House in Newcastle with TV Scientist Ben Garrod this February Half Term. Plus your chance to win tickets!

Come along and test your dinosaur knowledge with none other than Ben Garrod (the TV scientist in 'Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur'). With the help of TV footage and photographs from his own dinosaur digs, Ben will share lots of Dinosaur facts.

That's not all though - this show is fully interactive and there will be an assistant in the audience who will allow children to share their own dinosaur knowledge and ask Ben any burning dinosaur questions.

My three children are obsessed with dinosaurs. I mean obsessed! I don't ever recall learning about dinosaurs at school myself but it's a topic they cover in depth during reception year at my children's school. They can reel off the names and dinosaur facts that I've never heard of and I'm pretty sure they know all of the words to Jurassic Park. We have tickets and I think this is a unique opportunity for them to really further their knowledge and anything that is educational gets the thumbs up from me! I know that this a show they are all going to thoroughly enjoy and take a lot from and it's going to be a fantastic way for us to start half term.

Kids Love Dinosaurs? Check Out 'So you think you know about Dinosaurs' at Tyne Theatre & Opera House in Newcastle with TV Scientist Ben Garrod this February Half Term. Plus your chance to win tickets!

Did Dinosaurs eat their own families? Was every T-Rex a carnivore? Why did Allosaurus headbutt it's prey to death? These are just a few of the questions that will be answered during the 2 hour show (including interval).

Tickets are available from £12.50 via the Tyne Theatre & Opera House website here, in person at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House Box Office (check opening hours) or by calling 0844 249 1000.

Ticket Giveaway


For your chance to win a family ticket (1 adult, 3 children or 2 adults, 2 children) to see 'So you think you are Dinosaurs' at Newcastle's Tyne Theatre & Opera House at 2pm on 20th February 2017, simply head over to this Facebook Post and leave a comment with your favourite dinosaur fact. One winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.

Terms & Conditions : To enter you must comment on this Facebook Post with a Dinosaur Fact. One entry per person. Giveaway closes at midnight on Sunday 5th February and a winner will be selected at random from all valid entries and notified via Facebook within 48 hours of the giveaway ending. There is no cash alternative. Refunds are not available. Prize is non-transferable. Prize is for one family ticket (valid for 2 adults, 2 children or 1 adult, 3 children) to see the performance. Travel and extras are not included. 

More Family Fun at Tyne Theatre & Opera House this Easter


If you're a planner like me (yes I have just been making plans for Christmas - haha), you might like to get in early and check out Naomi's Wild & Scary Show which will be visiting Tyne Theatre and Opera House on Monday 17th April. Children's TV Presenter Naomi Wilkinson will be joined on stage by 'Animal Mark' and some of his scariest creatures. I think tickets to this show will make a lovely alternative to Easter Eggs. You can find out more here.

Kids Love Dinosaurs? Check Out 'So you think you know about Dinosaurs' at Tyne Theatre & Opera House in Newcastle with TV Scientist Ben Garrod this February Half Term. Plus your chance to win tickets!

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The Robert Burns Museum & Burns Cottage, Ayr | A Hands On Scottish Attraction for the Whole Family

The Robert Burns Museum is located in Alloway, Ayrshire in Scotland. Split across two sites, it really is a lovely place to spend the day and inspire some creativity in younger ones.

The Robert Burns Museum & Burns Cottage, Ayr | Prices, Location and visiting this Scottish attraction near Ayr with kids

Entry to the museum and cottage is £9 for adults and free for children or FREE if you are National Trust/National Trust for Scotland members.

I explained to our children before we visited who Robert Burns was - I reminded them how they had celebrated Burns night at school and at home every January, the importance of haggis (and reminded them of when they'd tried it for lunch) and how we sing 'Auld Lang Syne' every New Year's Eve.

Robert Burns Museum


We decided to visit the museum first (your admission gives you admission to both the museum and cottage/birthplace which are located a few minutes drive from each other) and we received a warm welcome.  I have to say there was a lot to see and do for all ages and abilities and the museum is one of the best historical museum's I have been in for children. Every exhibition was matched with an interactive and interesting activity for the children to try.

The Robert Burns Museum & Burns Cottage, Ayr | Prices, Location and What to Expect from your visit.  - interactive display
Investigating some 'burning issues'

The Robert Burns Museum & Burns Cottage, Ayr | Prices, Location and What to Expect from your visit.  - writing love poems
Writing our own love poems to tie to the love tree

The Robert Burns Museum & Burns Cottage, Ayr | Prices, Location and What to Expect from your visit.  - interactive games
Playing a set of interactive games together including 'shoot the haggis'

The Robert Burns Museum & Burns Cottage, Ayr | Prices, Location and What to Expect from your visit.  - shadow portraits
Creating shadow portraits

Burns Cottage


After a lovely hour or so spent at the museum, we hopped in the car and travelled the few minutes up the road to Burns Cottage. The cottage is smaller than the museum and it's only a few rooms but walking around really gives you the sense of what inspired Burns writing and how he lived. You can even read his report card from school.

The Robert Burns Museum & Burns Cottage, Ayr | Prices, Location and What to Expect from your visit.  - outside Burns cottage

The Robert Burns Museum & Burns Cottage, Ayr | Prices, Location and What to Expect from your visit.  - Robert Burns Report card

The cottage gardens are beautiful and I wish the weather had have been on our side so we could have enjoyed them properly.

The Robert Burns Museum & Burns Cottage, Ayr | Prices, Location and What to Expect from your visit.  - cottage gardens

If you visit the West Coast of Scotland, a visit to the Robert Burns Museum really is a must in my eyes. There is something for the whole family to take away and I really hope our trip has inspired my little writers of the future.

If you're looking for information on how to cook Haggis, check out this Haggis recipe by Big Stevie Cool. 

I'm linking up this post with the Pigeon Pair & Me #CulturedKids

www.burnsmuseum.org.uk

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The Robert Burns Museum & Burns Cottage, Ayr | Prices, Location and visiting this Scottish attraction near Ayr with kids





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Discovery Museum Newcastle | Play + Invent Events | A Review

*This is a collaborative post

I have a confession - until last weekend, we had not visited the Discovery Museum! Yikes! The museum always receives good write ups and reviews and my children have visited a few times with grandparents/school and I'm not sure why we haven't made the trip ourselves.

Discovery Museum Newcastle | Play + Invent Events | A Review


This changed last weekend when we were invited along to one of their Play + Invent events that are brand new for 2017. After spending a fun-filled morning at nearby Life Science Centre, we didn't have too much time to explore the Discovery Museum in full before the event started. We were extremely impressed with what we did see though and already have a date in our diary to fully explore the museum. 

We had pre-booked our tickets online and there was a special check in desk set up for us to receive a hand stamp that would allow us entry into the Great Hall. What a beautiful room this is. 

Discovery Museum Newcastle | Play + Invent Events | A Review | The Great Hall

All of the Play + Invent events have a different theme but are all based around inventing, designing and creating. We visited 'Robot Lab' which was delivered by local favourites CHALK.

Tickets to this event were only £5 per child and £1 per adult so didn't break the bank. As we stepped into the Great Hall, it certainly felt like a premium event. I loved the thoughtful touches such as coat rails on arrival, a bar set up in the corner, lots of chairs and cushions for babies to play with, robot-themed music and lots of attention to detail in the room decor - it really set the scene for the afternoon.

Discovery Museum Newcastle | Play + Invent Events | A Review | Robot Decor

Discovery Museum Newcastle | Play + Invent Events | A Review | Robot Model

The main aim of Robot Lab was to create our own robot. Rather than creating 3 separate bots, we decided to work together to create 'Rickel-bot'. We had a fantastic time working together and it really was a team effort. The event was busy but there were ample materials and equipment for us to use - more than enough to go around which often isn't the case at events like this.

Discovery Museum Newcastle | Play + Invent Events | A Review | Model making

Discovery Museum Newcastle | Play + Invent Events | A Review | Model making

Discovery Museum Newcastle | Play + Invent Events | A Review | Craft materials

With the help of sticky tape, lots of PVA glue, cardboard boxes, tubes, plastic lids, wool, a glue gun and more, 'Rickel-bot' started to take shape.........

Discovery Museum Newcastle | Play + Invent Events | A Review | Our robot model

Discovery Museum Newcastle | Play + Invent Events | A Review | Robot model making

I think he's adorable! With the main part of our robot almost complete, we decided to split into two teams. Harry was keen to head to the circuit building zone (ideal for older children) and headed there with his dad to create our robot his very own lights and I headed to the Robot bubble disco in the corner and the hexbug area with Jack and Heidi who I have to say, loved the freedom of being allowed to scribble on the floor!

Discovery Museum Newcastle | Play + Invent Events | A Review | Hex bug drawing

Discovery Museum Newcastle | Play + Invent Events | A Review | Sunglasses drawing


Discovery Museum Newcastle | Play + Invent Events | A Review | hex bug floor drawing

Discovery Museum Newcastle | Play + Invent Events | A Review | floor drawing

Discovery Museum Newcastle | Play + Invent Events | A Review | hex bug pens

Steve and Harry really enjoyed creating a circuit board together - it was fairly challenging and took them two attempts and a little help from the staff but they got there in the end.

Discovery Museum Newcastle | Play + Invent Events | A Review | circuit building

Discovery Museum Newcastle | Play + Invent Events | A Review | our circuit

Discovery Museum Newcastle | Play + Invent Events | A Review | finished robot model

Building robots is thirsty work! I headed to the bar (5 drinks for £6.60 so not too expensive) and we chilled out in the seating area watching Robots on the overhead screen and discussing our plans for Rickel-bot. Jack and Heidi were happy playing with a robot maze in the corner (although I did have to separate them a few times for not taking turns and fighting).

Discovery Museum Newcastle | Play + Invent Events | A Review | robot maze

We could have made our own Robot Viser next but Jack was starting to get restless as we'd been out of the house for the full day and he's the sort of child who needs lots of down time. If I had just been with Heidi and Harry we would have made the viser but as Jack was starting to act up, we decided to skip this and head home. We had been at the event for almost 2 hours and although we didn't try all of the activities, we had still had a fantastic time and thought the event offered extremely good value for money.

Discovery Museum Newcastle | Play + Invent Events | A Review

My three children are aged between 6-10 and all have different likes and dislikes. What I loved about Play + Invent was that they all thoroughly enjoyed themselves. There were different age-appropriate activities and enough to entertain us all. Steve and I had fun too (in fact a lot of the parents we spotted were creating some superb robots with their kids - some had serious skills!). The event was well organised with enough resources and friendly, helpful staff. I honestly cannot think of a single negative from the day.


Future Play + Invent Events at Discovery Museum, Newcastle 


Sunday 12th February | The Big Brick Build


This event is just £3 per child and £1 per adult. It is your chance to let your imagination run wild and recreate Newcastle in Lego with a twist - maybe Grey's Monument will grow arms or the Baltic will be on wheels? Each family will be allocated a plot to work together and recreate part of our city. Book tickets here. 


Saturday 18th February | Unusual Outfitters


This event is suitable for children aged 7-11 years and their family. Tickets are £5 per child and £1 per adult. Bring along an item of clothing and enhance it using the materials required. Using electronics, soldering irons and sewing machines, no previous experience is required and the team will help you learn new skills and customise your clothing. Book tickets here.


Saturday 11th March | Codebreaking


This event is suitable for children aged 7-11 years and their family. Tickets are £5 per child and include one free adult. Using simple, vintage computer hardware, you will learn how to crack the codes of WW II. Book tickets here.


Saturday 18th & Sunday 19th March | Gigantic Cardboard Inventing


This event is £3 per child and £1 per accompanying adult and is your chance to create a giant model using cardboard boxes and recycled junk. All materials are provided. Book tickets here. 


Tiny Sparks - a FREE fortnightly event for children aged 2-4 years


Tickets to this event must be pre-booked and children must be accompanied by an adult. The event is FREE and the chance for little ones to find out about great scientists through song, play and craft. Book tickets here.

I could not recommend Play + Invent enough and certainly suggest you check an event out for yourself. Let me know which event takes your fancy.

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Discovery Museum Newcastle | Play + Invent Events | A Review

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