CJ's Funhouse | Cramlington Soft Play Review

I, like many people in Cramlington was gutted when I heard that TJs Jungle was closing. It was where Harry, Dee and Jack had many birthday parties over the years, where we attended friends' birthday parties, somewhere reliable I could take the kids after school for a cheap but nice tea and wear them out without spending a fortune. Basically somewhere with lots of memories for us. 


CJ's Funhouse | Cramlington Softplay Review


But businesses and time moves on and on 26 August 2021, the newly named CJ's Funhouse opened to the public. I visited in September with my nephew (6) and Jack (10). Harry (15) came along too. Not to play - just to have a look and order some infamous chicken nuggets to see if they were the same (spoiler - they were). 
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Northumberland Country Zoo Review (with a pushchair)

This post is by Bethanie from Northumberland Family Diaries and based on a visit in Summer 2021. As always, please check with venue direct for the most up-to-date info especially regarding booking, opening hours and prices. Over to Bethanie....... 

Northumberland Country Zoo Review (with a pushchair) - snow leopard
Credit : Northumberland Country Zoo



We first visited Northumberland Country Zoo around six years ago when our oldest was just two years old. We liked it. It was small, the entry was cheap and they handed you bags of popcorn to feed the traditional farm animals that always seemed pleased to see you. 
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Kirkleatham Owl Centre Review

This post is based on a visit in July 2021. Please always check information with venue direct when making plans as information (especially opening hours and admission) may have changed. 

Kirkleatham Owl Centre Review

We visited Kirkleatham Owl Centre in summer 2021 whilst staying at Saltburn Holiday Lets.


Kirkleatham Owl Centre is in Redcar and part of a wider estate - you can choose to visit all or some of the attractions on offer which are all close together.

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The Best Adventure Playground in the Lake District (Lowther Castle)

This post is based on a visit in August 2021. Always check details with Lowther Castle direct before making plans as information can change over time. 

During our stay with Orchard Hideaways, I asked for recommendations for places to visit and Lowther Castle is somewhere which popped up time and time again. It was only a short drive from where we were staying, so we decided to go for it. Wow! we were blown away with how fantastic the adventure playground was and I cannot wait to share it with you in this post today. 

The Best Adventure Playground in the Lake District (Lowther Castle)

Lowther Castle is located near Penrith in the North Lakes. It is just under 80 miles / a 1 hr 45 minute drive from Newcastle. As far as I can see, there is no direct public transport but taxis are readily available from Penrith (which has good rail and bus connections). It is currently free to park at Lowther Castle. 
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Disney On Ice Newcastle - Additional Show Announced in Newcastle

This is an advert for September 2021. 

Disney On Ice is proving to be the hottest ticket in town with an additional show being added to their run at Newcastle's Utilita Arena on 8 December 2021. 

Disney On Ice Newcastle - Additional Show Announced in Newcastle


Lots of readers have been asking for ideas for magical things to do in December which do not include a visit to Father Christmas and I have to say, I think tickets to see Disney On Ice fit the bill and I cannot wait to see the show myself this December. 
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Weekend Reading (September 2021)


18 September 





Hello and welcome to another week of weekend reading - a bit of a catch up post and chat about the week. 

This week feels like it has been my first proper week of full work in ages and it feels great! I have stuck to my schedule and although it is intense, especially trying to grow two new blogs alongside this one, it has been manageable and I do plan a day off on a Friday / don't generally work in the evenings so I'm not going to complain that I work too hard. 

Steve has been back at the office for two days this week. It's not going to be a regular thing, it was just a one off catch up but it felt so strange being the only person in the house after goodness how long. It feels a little weird to me that this used to be my norm. Steve might actually end up going back to the office. His work are really good and have put forward a range of flexible options. He hasn't decided which one is right for him yet so we will see what happens with that. 

I am actually typing this on Thursday afternoon. Steve has Friday off too this week and we are going to sort our back garden out a bit (a lot of my plants are dying now) and clear some space in our conservatory. Our conservatory has been switched around and used a million different ways over the years. We just can't turn it into a functional space. It is old (I think it was built in the 70s or 80s), damp and the roof leaks. We do need to knock it down and start again but sadly don't have an extra £15k knocking around. 

Anyway, one of the ways we use the space is as storage and we keep our coats and shoes in there. The wardrobes we did have in there are all warped with the damp and we had to get rid of one last year and now the other is on its last legs. So I have ordered another wardrobe to replace them. This one is huge and takes up the whole length of a wall. It is getting delivered on Saturday and I can't wait. I am hoping it will see us another 5 years or so and by that stage, we *may* be ready to looking into upgrading the conservatory. I have looked at the new roofs you can get now which would dramatically improve the space for us but even those are at least £2k and we are saving for a new kitchen first. There is always something isn't there! 

What is going on with Matfen Hall this week! Talk about a PR disaster. For those who missed the news, they cancelled weddings of anyone who was spending less than £20k. Some of these weddings are less than 9 months away and the Bride and Grooms were told in same cases by email that they could keep their date, but they would now need to spend a minimum of £20k. Wow! 

I mean I know the industry has been hard-hit but this comes across as so greedy. I haven't heard of any other venue not honouring contracts like this. The thing is, in the wedding industry, word of mouth is everything and I am certain Matfen Hall will be feeling the consequences of this for many years to come. I mean if I was a bride, there is no way I would consider them now. 

So after a lot of media attention, they back tracked. But I have a feeling it may be too little, too late. 

I worked with Matfen Hall a few times under their old ownership and I know how important providing excellent customer service and repeat business was to them. It feels like this has been lost now which is sad. 

Strictly is back this weekend. I was very late to the party with this one and only started watching in 2019 (thanks to Chris Ramsey being a contestant) but I absolutely love it now. I am 100% team Sara and can't wait to see who she is teamed with. We are going to have a cocktail night whilst watching. This week's theme is Prosecco themed cocktails. No doubt I will share on Instagram stories what we end up making but we are going to attempt our own Pornstar Martinis I think. 

Work has been good this week, I am in the process of setting up an interactive map with all of my blog reviews pinned. You just click on a pin on the map and my review link will pop up. I should be finished in a month or so. I have a lot of blog posts!! But once it's done, I will share it in some of my blog posts and will email a link to anyone who wants one - something to look out for. 

I have also been busy promoting and sharing various Christmas and Halloween events. It's all go now! Bonfire night will be next so let me know if you've spotted any displays taking place.

In the past few years, I have noticed a growing trend of families only wanting to take their children to see Santa once at one of the bigger, more established events, but still book in other festive activities where a visit to Father Christmas is not included. Honestly, if I was an event organiser, I would be trying to plan more events without Santa than with Santa as that seems to be what people are looking for. 

New posts this week: 

What's On for Kids in North East England this Weekend 

30+ Places to take your Dog (tried and tested by readers)

Halloween Events in Newcastle 2021 

Blackfriars Newcastle Set Lunch Menu Review 

CJ's Funhouse Soft Play Review 

Northumberland Country Zoo Review 


You may also like:

20+ Halloween Events for Kids Across North East England

20+ Christmas Events for Kids Across North East England 


It's Harry's 15th birthday on Monday. We have an array of family meals and celebrations planned which I am looking forward to. On his actual birthday he is ditching us and going out for Nandos with his friends after school. How times change. 




11 September 

 

Hello and welcome to another installment of weekend reading - a little bit of a catch up / chatty post. 

Last weekend we enjoyed a lovely walk around Gibside with Ollie. We absolutely love taking him out and this week, we put our name on a waiting list for a dog of our own at the start of next year. We have wanted our own dog in forever but I really didn't want to rush things. I am so happy we are finally putting plans in place though. 
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Gulliver's Valley Stay & Play Review (Pirate Cabin)

This post is based on our visit in August 2021. Please always double check information with attractions direct when booking as information/details can change over time. 

Gulliver's Valley Stay & Play Review (Pirate Lodge)


We were looking for a one night short break to enjoy with my nephew (aged 5) this August and found many theme parks to be super expensive or for short breaks to have a minimum of 2/3 nights in August. I remembered the Gulliver's Theme Parks and noticing in the past that they offered good value, I checked again and they did have 1 night breaks in August which seemed like excellent value. 
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