A family of 5 with a zest for life

What to do in Felton, Northumberland - 5 reasons to visit with kids

Welcome back to my new series exploring the towns and villages of Northumberland. Last time we paid my hometown of Cramlington a visit and today it's one of my favourite spots in Northumberland - Felton.

What to do in Felton, Northumberland - 5 reasons to visit with kids

Felton is a village in Northumberland situated halfway between Morpeth and Alnwick. It's population is just under 1000. Felton is a close community and famous visitors include Oliver Cromwell who is said to have stayed in Felton on his way to the Battle of Dunbar. Felton has an average house price of £247,156 and is a fab place to dream house shop. Here are 5 reasons to visit Felton with kids:


1 - Enjoy a kids picnic at The Running Fox

What to do in Felton, Northumberland - 5 reasons to visit with kids

The Running Fox is a fantastic bakery/tearoom in the heart of the village. They offer a wonderful children's menu which includes 'The Picnic Fox'. Children can choose a sandwich, any slice of cake from the counter, a bag of crisps and a glass of milk or juice for only £5. Bargain!

2 - Feed the happiest ducks in the world

You can feed to ducks on the River Coquet outside of The Running Fox via a wooden walkway. We've always found the ducks to be super happy here and they always come and say hello.

3 - Enjoy family Sunday lunch at The Northumberland Arms

The Northumberland Arms is one of our favourite country pubs and the perfect place to get together with the family for Sunday lunch. The atmosphere is always warm and welcoming and the food is spot on.

4 - Take a walk around Swarland Wood (2 miles away)

Swarland Wood is just 2 miles away from Felton. You'll find a variety or trees, walking routes and paths plus wild flowers to enjoy. Perfect for a stroll after a Running Fox cake! Find out more here


5 - Northumberland Country Zoo

Not technically Felton, but Northumberland Country Zoo is right on Felton's doorstep so it had to be included. The zoo is home to farm animals, exotic species, mammals, birds, reptiles and more. Watch out for the cheeky armadillos! Entry is super reasonable too. Check out our review here.

So there you have my mini guide of what to do with the kids when visiting Felton. It really is a lovely village and worth popping by for a few hours. Let me know if you fancy visiting or if it's one of your favourites.

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What to do in Felton, Northumberland - 5 reasons to visit with kids


The Badger, Ponteland | Sunday Lunch & Children's Menu Review

*This is a collaborative post

The Badger in Ponteland has had a little spruce up and we were invited along to sample a family Sunday lunch last weekend. The Badger was already on our ever-growing list of places to try for Sunday lunch after reading this review by Here Come The Hoopers a few months ago so the invitation was very timely.

The Badger, Ponteland | Sunday Lunch & Children's Menu Review

The Badger is part of the Vintage Inns chain (The Snowy Owl and The Falcon's Nest are others you may recognise) but I always feel like Vintage Inn pubs never feel as if you are visiting a chain - there's no identikit layout, menu or set routine with service, it all very much feels unique and every pub has it's own charm. The pub is just outside of Ponteland next door to Dobbies Garden Centre and super convenient for the airport. We arrived in time for our 1pm reservation and found that the car park was completely full - The Badger certainly is popular and I'd definitely recommend booking a table if you can. So we parked at Dobbies next door (where we did also visit to pick up some pet food) and walked over to the pub.

I LOVE that The Badger is dog-friendly. There's a bowl of water by the door along with a basket full of dog blankets you can borrow for the duration of your stay. I know The Adventures of Fenton and Holly Bobbins would appreciate these touches.

The Badger is everything you'd like from a country pub. Exposed stone walls, candles, country fabrics, art featuring various local wildlife, lots of nooks and areas and of course, a lovely roaring fire. Built in the 1700s, the building is full of history and charm. It's perfect. We ordered our drinks and the kids settled down with the complimentary children's activity booklet which is packed with jokes, puzzles and anecdotes.

Fireplace goals..........

The children's menu is super easy to navigate - £5 for a main course, £6 for Sunday lunch and £1 for pudding. You won't find any complicated pricing structures here. Heidi and Harry ordered tomato pasta which was served steaming hot with plenty of sauce and two pieces of garlic pizza bread. They enjoyed the dish and once it had cooled a little, it didn't touch the sides.

Jack asked for his favourite fish and chips and was disappointed that they weren't available due to stock issues. He settled for sausages instead and is actually pleased he did as he declared them to be 'lush'. The next day he told my mam that badger sausages were his new favourite. She didn't know what to think! haha! I was obviously not allowed to taste them and try for myself but they looked to be good quality.

I think the kids are missing out by not choosing to eat Sunday lunch when it's offered. There's no way Steve and I would ever select an alternative but there are plenty of options to choose from at The Badger. Should we go for the Roast Trio for Two, the Roast Beef Duo which includes Short Rib of Beef or perhaps we could squeeze in one last Turkey Dinner??? Sunday lunches are served with a homemade Yorkshire Pudding, fluffled Roast Potatoes, Honey & Thyme Roasted Carrots, Pasnips, Seasonal Greens and as much gravy as you'd like. There are alternatives too if you're not in the mood for a roast and they have an allegen menu available on request (which I noticed the staff took the time to go through with customers when they weren't sure of something). In the end we opted for the Roast Trio for two which was served as a giant platter of meat and potatoes and an oversized dish of vegetables for us to share. 

We both decided that the roast potatoes and yorkshires were absolutely spot on - perfectly cooked and very moreish too. The carrots had no hint of honey or thyme to them so I'm wondering if they were missed on this occasion/ I would have liked to have seen some of those caramelised crispy bits you normally get when roasting with honey but they were still nice all the same. 

The real star of the dish was the meat. There were four generous slices of each type for us to share. The thick slices of herb crusted pork loin with lemon and thyme were lovely and flavoursome, the beef was served a tiny bit rare so nice and tender and the turkey was perfect too - not at all dry and I actually think it was my favourite meat on the plate. We were also treated to a pig in blanket each too. Can't believe I've already had my first pig in blanket of the year! haha! 

The portions were generous and our plates were loaded with food but there wasn't so much food that we ended up feeling too full or bloated - it was just the right amount for a couple with a normal appetite I would say. There wasn't anything left on our plates as it was all delicious.

One thing that really sets The Badger apart is the wonderful service we received. We were served by Anne who was kept super busy with a full service but still had time to chat with all of the customers around us. She asked our plans for the rest of the day, played Peppa Pig with the toddler on the table next to us, helped an elderly lady with her coat, managed to keep the fire going AND serve food and take orders all at the same time. If I was going to run my own pub, Anne is exactly the type of person I'd like to have working for me. She's a star. Extra gravy was not too much trouble, in fact nothing was.

There was a brief rest between courses and with the children's desserts costing just £1 it would be rude not to take them up on this deal. Pretty good marketing if you ask me as of course, Steve and I had to order one too. We wouldn't normally order dessert after Sunday lunch as it's just not needed but on this occasion, we agreed to split a slice of Apple Pie which is served with ice cream and custard (I think it was £5.95).

The children enjoyed their warm chocolate brownies and ice cream sundaes and our dessert was just the right amount between the two of us. I couldn't be sure if it was homemade/bought in - it was borderline! Still nice though and a nice way to end our meal.

Our total bill was £61 for the 5 of us. This is for 2 courses and one round of drinks (including a large glass of Merlot for me). I think this offers excellent value and we all said we'd definitely be back soon. Jack can't wait to try some more Badger sausages! Haha! (to clarify - they are Pork sausages, not actual Badger). After our meal, we had a potter around Dobbies Garden centre which is obviously what Sundays are made for once you hit a certain age. If the weather was a little warmer I'm sure we'd have enjoyed a walk around Ponteland Park too.

Have you paid The Badger a visit recently? Are you tempted? 

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The Badger, Ponteland | Sunday Lunch & Children's Menu Review


How to find a reliable babysitter in Northumberland

*This is a collaborative post 

It's no secret that Steve and I are fond of a date night or two. I've written quite a bit in the past about how I think couples who play together, stay together and really believe that making time for each other is super important and should be a priority. 

How to find a reliable babysitter in Northumberland

I remember back when Harry was first born and people were falling over themselves to look after him - everyone wants to spend time with the first born baby in the family and finding a babysitter back then wasn't too difficult at all. But fast-forward to 2018 and things are a little different. Three children who love nothing more than to fight with each other isn't *quite* so appealing and our babysitting offers are few and far between now. In fact, I don't remember the last time somebody offered to babysit for us without us begging asking first. Both of our parents lead their own lives and my mam now works 40+ hours per week as a Senior carer so I always feel bad asking them to look after our kids so we can go out and it's always pretty much the last resort. 

I wish I knew a family in my hometown with older teens or young adults who would be able to help but I don't. My niece did help out in the past but she doesn't live close by and it would always mean that Steve couldn't have a drink on date night as he would have to drive her home at the end of the night which is a bit rubbish. So that leaves us in a bit of a quandary! 

Childcare.co.uk  - The easy way to find local childcare 

Childcare.co.uk is probably a site you have heard of before. I've certainly used it in the past to search for local childminders and childcare and it's how I found a nursery for Heidi and Harry when they were younger. The site is super easy to use and you can search by childcare type and location and then browse the results completely free of charge. Every childcare provider has their own profile, rating and there's an option to send a message too with their paid-for service. It's been a while since I last used the service and it seems that there have been a few new additions (or perhaps I just didn't notice them last time) to the site. You can now search for and contact the following in your local area: 
  • Babysitters 
  • Childminders
  • Nannies
  • Au Pairs
  • Nurseries
  • Private Midwives
  • Nursery Nurses 
  • Maternity Nurses
  • Private Tutors
I love the range of childcare providers that are available. Just as a little side note, it's good to know that I can search for a local tutor using this service and it's something I'll definitely consider when the kids are studying for their GCSEs. I was the first to have children out of my friends and don't really have anyone I can ask for recommendations so I'm thankful a site like this exists.

Back to my original point though, and Childcare.co.uk is an ideal place to search for babysitters if like me, you are keen to enjoy more nights out this year but don't really have anyone you can ask to babysit on a regular basis. 

Using Childcare.co.uk to search for local babysitters

It's quick, easy and free to create a parent profile (I signed in with Facebook and it was pretty much done). The search process is so easy, simply use the drop downs to select what you're looking for. I love that there are sub-categories too so for me, I searched for evening babysitters in Cramlington. There's an option for hotel babysitters too which is perfect if you're looking for a babysitter during a staycation or UK break. 

Cramlington is a pretty small place with an estimated population of 30,000 so I was surprised to see a total of 29 results available for evening babysitters. It's easy to browse through the options available and then click on a profile that catches your eye.

The childcare provider's profile provides you with a lot of information including: 
  • Summary
  • Ofsted registration details
  • First aid qualifications
  • Childcare qualifications
  • DBS check
  • About me
  • Experience
  • Hours available 
  • Fees 
  • Local schools
  • Reviews

You will find a range of providers using the website from students wishing to earn some extra cash to professional childminders with qualifications and lots of experience. Personally, I'd always use somebody who is registered with Ofsted and is qualified and I'd ask for references too. If you're unsure where to start with all of this, Childcare.co.uk has produced a helpful guide explaining exactly what you should be looking for and how to check official documents. 

After using Childcare.co.uk, I've discovered that the average fee I can expect to pay for a qualified babysitter is £8-£10 (slightly less for students). So a 3-hour stint would cost us £24 - £30 which isn't too expensive if I'm honest and something we certainly would not mind paying for a professional service. My mam has already agreed to watch the kids for one night next month (we're off to Dabbawal and The Stand) but as she's jetting off to Thailand for 3 weeks in March, I've decided to give a babysitter I've found through Childcare.co.uk a try then. I feel confident with the one I've selected and have checked qualifications and references. Plus I think you know in your heart when it feels right!  I'll report back on how it goes! 

Have you used Childcare.co.uk or do you have any hints for what to look for in a babysitter? I'd love to hear your thoughts and tips. 

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How to find a reliable babysitter in Northumberland


A Very British Hygge | How to use your Conservatory throughout winter

*This is a collaborative post

I don't know about you but I feel like this winter has been the greyest and darkest in a long time. I swear I actually don't remember the last time I saw the sunshine and I miss it! I think I've spent more time on holiday websites searching for holiday deals than anything else recently. If only I had a spare couple of grand eh! 

A Very British Hygge | How to use your Conservatory throughout winter

A winter holiday is out of the question at the moment so I've been investigating ways to feel happier and more content here in the UK during the winter months. My first thought was that it was time to embrace the season and get my Hygge on. Hygge is a well known Danish concept based around finding joy in small pleasures, slowing down and finding warmth and comfort when it's miserable and cold outside. Sounds perfect for this time of year! 

Introducing 'A Very British Hygge'

When I think of Hygge, I immediately think of twinkly lights, hot chocolate, snuggly blankets and fluffy socks. This can be your Hygge but today I'm going to talk about the kind of Hygge I have found works for me.

"It's time to let in the sun"

A conservatory is not necessarily the first place you'd think of when trying to apply Hygge to your life but after taking inspiration from Everest and "A Very British Hygge", I've discovered that actually, a conservatory is the perfect place to embrace the Danish concept. 

4 ways to achieve Hygge in your conservatory

1 - Declutter

If you follow my Instagram stories, you'll know that I have a love/hate relationship with my conservatory. Because it's at the back of our house and we can close the door and forget about it, it does tend to become a place where all of our junk piles up and we end up not using the room at all. Hygge teaches us that less mess is less stress and this is true! I spent some time decluttering our conservatory at the weekend and already I feel so much more relaxed when I sit in there or look through from the kitchen to see somewhere that is clean, tidy and 'Lagom' which means just the right amount in Swedish. It's important not to have something that's cold and clinical and I think that the warm fabrics on the table stop this from happening. I just need to add a bunch of fresh flowers I think and then it will be perfect. 

2 - Turn off the big light 

You are aiming to achieve an intimate and warm environment that can be difficult to achieve with one big light. Instead, A Very British Hygge tells us to use softer lights, candles and lamps to add focus to specific areas. I bought these fairy lights and a lamp from IKEA at low cost and now light candles when I'm sitting in my conservatory through the day. I definitely feel Hygge in there now! 

3 - Let in the sun

It's important to remember that Hygge does not necessarily mean dark and cosy. Over the last few months if I've been sitting in my living room, I ALWAYS have to have the main light on as it's just so dark. If I step into my conservatory though, this is not the case as it is flooded with natural light which automatically lifts my mood. Scientific studies have shown that sunlight makes you feel happier and can release hormones, give you more energy, help ease pains and lower cholesterol. 

'Let the sunshine in, and then hygge will follow'

4 - Use your conservatory socially in winter too

Hygge becomes a necessity for Danes in the winter time. The outside is so cold and it's a time to be good to yourself. I love their view of seeing January as a time to enjoy yourself rather than making yourself feel more miserable. No detoxing, no dry January, no diet - just a time to feel good and sociable. Organising regular games nights in your conservatory is such a fun way to achieve this and feel good about yourself. Pour that glass of wine, light your candles and be sociable. Spend time having fun with your loved ones on a regular basis and Hygge will follow. Our conservatory is home to a big extendable dining table and it looks it's best when it's full of people having fun. Most modern conservatories are well insulated and nice and warm - we have a couple of radiators in ours too to ensure it's nice and comfortable. Board games under the stars is definitely a perfect way to enjoy British Hygge 

If like me, you aren't jetting off to anywhere warm soon, I hope I've inspired you to try some of these alternative Hygge concepts and use your conservatory more in the winter months. Let me know if you have any thoughts and check out more ideas to enjoy Hygge in the UK this winter here

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A Very British Hygge | How to use your Conservatory throughout winter

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