North East Family Fun

A family of 5 with a zest for life

Half of British Parents have given up trying to get their kids to eat five a day

*This is a paid collaboration with Beko

Everyone wants the very best for their children and we all know it's important that we encourage our kids to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg per day but often, it can be a real struggle.

Encouraging children to eat more fruit and veg with #EatLikeAPro and Beko

During the week, Harry, Heidi and Jack usually enjoy a piece of fruit during their morning break at school, another portion or two with their packed lunch or school dinner and then again with their evening meal. I would say they do manage to eat pretty healthily through the week when I'm usually at my most-organised.


The weekends are a different story though. I'm a little more relaxed about what they eat and as they are at home, the dreaded 'can I have a snack?' will be asked on a regular basis throughout the day. Add to the mix that we often order a Saturday night takeaway and eat out over the weekend and I would say that we definitely could do better. Not eating the healthiest of diets over a weekend (and not just a one-off - this is normal behaviour for us) is something I've been conscious of for a while so when Beko invited us to join in with their #EatLikeAPro campaign, it was something I was keen to get involved with. I really struggle with consistency so with the help of this campaign, I'll be sharing a few ideas that I hope will encourage us all to #EatLikeAPro and achieve our five a day every day of the week over the next couple of months.

Every year, statistics show children are eating worse: less fresh vegetables, fruit and fish and more fat and sugar - World Health Organisation 

Encouraging not only our children but the whole family to eat healthy food on a consistent basis is a challenge and I'm sure there are many other families in the same boat as us. This is why Beko has commissioned research across 2000 parents (with children aged up to 10) to discover exactly what our children are eating.



Half of British Parents have given up trying to get their kids to eat five a day 

Beko's findings aren't really surprising to me if I'm honest. Key findings such as 41% of parents abandon attempts to encourage their children to eat fruit and veg because they just want them to eat full stop, 1 in 5 parents giving up because they're tired or in a rush and 85% of parents taking the time to explain how important a healthy diet is yet only half thinking these wise words actually have an impact ring true with me and all of these issues have been discussed in my circle of friends over the years too so I know I'm not alone in this. 



Children in North East England eat the most fruit and veg every day

Beko's findings aren't all doom and gloom and I'm pleased to see that children in North East England eat the most fruit and veg on a daily basis with 22.7% managing at least 5 portions every single day. Almost half of kids in the North East eat 5 portions of fruit and veg on a regular basis which I guess is the category our family falls into. However, 47.5% of parents still struggle at meal times and over 1/3 of families say they need more exciting recipes to include fruit and veg (yes please!)


Need inspiration? Check out these healthy family recipes 


Beko's #EatLikeAPro campaign is a global initiative aimed at helping parents like myself feed our children more healthy food. They have teamed up with FC Barcelona to discover what the top players in the world eat every day to perform at their best. The aim is to make healthy food fun and exciting and with the use of Beko's wide range of appliances featuring smart technology, healthy food can be delivered at its best.

Fruit & Veg Plate Faces - a simple idea to try at home 

This weekend, I've taken inspiration from the Beko #EatLikeAPro microsite which is packed with healthy family recipes, ideas and inspiration and along with the kids, we created some fun fruit and veg plate faces as our mid-morning snack. There are lots of plate face ideas here (the giraffe made from noodles is my personal favourite) but I just let the kids create their own masterpiece with a range of fruit and veg.


My children rarely eat raw vegetables so it was fab to see them using raw carrot sticks to mimic their gorgeous red hair and get creative with green eyebrows (thanks to sugar snap peas). As they were involved in choosing what was on their plate, they happily ate it all when they were done too.

Encouraging children to eat more fruit and veg with #EatLikeAPro and Beko


For me, it was important to offer the option of vegetables and salad rather than just fruit as I know they'd pick strawberries forever if they were given the chance and are always less likely to eat their veg. I also wanted to create a variety of colours so their plates were full of various vitamins and goodness. Beko's findings discovered that Brussel sprouts, cabbage and mushrooms were children's least favourite veg - maybe next time I'll sneak a couple of those in and see what their reaction is.


What do you think of our faces? If you try creating your own plate face this weekend or over half term, I'd love to see your creations - you can Tweet me your photos or send a message via my Facebook page. I hope we've inspired you to take part :-)

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Encouraging children to eat more fruit and veg with #EatLikeAPro and Beko


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Sambuca Cramlington Happy Hour Menu Review | Will it be a success?


There has been a lot of buzz around Sambuca Cramlington opening up in my hometown. I was planning on visiting on opening night but managed to contain myself and waited a few weeks until they had 'bedded in' to their new surroundings. We turned up on a sunny Monday lunchtime without a reservation and it's fair to say we received exactly what we were expecting - a cheap and cheerful and speedy lunch in nice surroundings. My experience was 100000% better than anything I ever experienced in the Glasshouse and I would say this restaurant certainly has its place in our town.

Sambuca Cramlington Happy Hour Review | Will it be a success?


It's a shame the Glasshouse failed

Like most of Cramlington, I was so excited about the Glasshouse opening in Cramlington. A decent cocktail bar was just what we needed. The refurbishment was gorgeous and the bar and restaurant looked fantastic - it was clear a lot of money had been spent. Which is why it baffles me that higher management and the owners just seemed to abandon the place once it had opened. I visited on three occasions and experienced extremely bad service and a clear lack of leadership including a rather embarrassing 2 hour wait for a sausage and mash when there were only 5 other tables in the restaurant. If the Glasshouse was my baby, I know I'd be running front of house 99% of the time until the staff were up to speed and constantly checking the standards were there. It baffles me that this didn't happen. My experience mirrored most of Cramlington and it all ended in tears with rumours of bailiffs removing stock, services like card payments being withdrawn and staff not being paid and making a big public fuss including putting handwritten notes on the restaurant's windows. Yikes! The whole thing just seems like one huge waste of time and investment which is a shame as it could have been so good and had huge potential.

I waited 2 hours for this dish at The Glasshouse

Sambuca opening in Cramlington is a good thing

I will be honest - I used to be a complete Sambuca snob and turn my nose up at the chain but after I visited the Blyth branch with my mam during her foster carer meet-ups a few years ago, I changed my mind. I'm not exactly a regular customer, nor will I say they serve a decent pizza BUT there is a clear gap in the market for cheap and cheerful happy hour pizzas and pastas for families who are on a budget but still want to go out and enjoy a lively restaurant experience. Cramlington doesn't really have a restaurant like this so I think opening a Sambuca here really will fill a gap and I do think it will be a success.



Sambuca Cramlington Happy Hour Review

I visited at 12noon on a Monday lunchtime. Monday lunchtimes are notoriously quiet in the restaurant trade and I know if we'd have walked past nearby Prezzo, there wouldn't have been a soul inside. Yet Sambuca seemed to fill up pretty quickly and by the time we left at 1:15pm, pretty much every table had been taken. I have to say, we were in shock! How do they fill every seat on a Monday lunchtime?? The clientele seemed to be young couples, older couples, families and friends meeting up. I am guessing the reason Sambuca is so popular is their £5.95 for 3 courses lunchtime special which on the surface, seems like a fantastic deal and I agree, is very tempting.


The restaurant had a very good atmosphere, it was nice and livley with the front of house sporadically shouting out random words in Italian (I think??). The staff were majorly on the ball and our drinks order was taken within a minute of us sitting down and our food arrived quickly. I've heard a few people mention the restaurant can get a little noisy but even when it was full it was fine for us - sometimes there is a live singer performing which judging by a few Facebook comments I've read can be a bit much! I think with Sambuca, you get what you pay for. We were expecting something cheap and cheerful with good service and that's what we received.

The Sambuca happy hour runs from 12noon - 5pm Monday-Friday and 12noon-3pm on Saturdays. For this you can choose potato skins or soup of the day, pizza or pasta (excluding premium toppings) and then coffee or ice cream. Panuccis in Smithy Square serves this same offer for £7.45 so there's no denying Sambuca is cheap as chips.


I ordered potato skins to start. The portion was larger than I expected but the presentation left a lot to be desired. I loved the garlic mayo but was amused to also find a dollop of Marie Rose sauce on my place. Not a natural accompaniment to potato skins - I think BBQ sauce would be a better idea. The skins weren't as crispy as I like them but they were perfectly edible.


My dining companion ordered vegetable soup and again, it wasn't anything special but it wasn't the worst soup in the world either.


Onto our pizzas and I went with my favourite (and some would say boring) Margharita. It was cooked from scratch in house so that's a start and the tomato sauce was lovely. The base was very thin and I've heard rumours that Sambuca use fake cheese on their pizzas - I don't know whether this is the case but it was certainly a bland offering. Although it was bland, I did still actually think it was nice for the price point and it's the kind of pizza that my kids would wolf down in no time. Because it was so thin I expected to leave feeling unsatisfied but I was actually full up and even left a few crusts. For the price, they're never going to use the finest ingredients so don't visit if you're a pizza connoisseur but if you fancy a quick and cheap pizza lunch that will leave you feeling satisfied, it's ideal.



We ended our meals with two Americanos. Again - they weren't the best we've ever tasted but like the rest of our meal, they were adequate and did the job.


£5.95 for all of that - you can't really complain can you?

Does Sambuca Cramlington offer good value?

On the surface, you think you're getting a good deal, but that's all due to clever marketing. In reality, you're actually not getting as good a deal as you think. The mark-up on non-happy hour food is horrendous. A Sirloin Steak was on the menu for £19.99! Now Sambuca and quality don't go hand in hand so I'm guessing their steak isn't coming from an Organic farm or anywhere special. To charge this price when you can order a steak with all the trimmings from the Hungry Horse a few doors done for half this price seems ludicrous to me. I'm guessing they come from a similar standard of supplier. There is also a huge mark-up on drinks. A bottle of Prosecco is £19.99 - I wouldn't pay this price when I can buy one for £9.99 in Wetherspoons around the corner. If you ask for a coke, they'll bring you a large one which at £2.50 is an expensive add-on - unlimited soft drinks are available for £2.20 from Nandos next door.


Speaking of Nandos, I know a lot of people comment that they think it's expensive (I'm not in that school of thought - we love it). A meal there for 2 adults and 3 kids plus drinks will normally set us back £50 and we're left feeling stuffed! There's no children's menu at Sambuca Cramlington (that I could see anyway) so if the five of us ordered 5 x £5.95 happy hour plus 5 x £2.50 soft drinks at Sambuca, the cost would be £42.50 - just £7.50 (or £1.50 each) less than Nandos. When you look at it like this, it's not as good a deal as you first thought. In fact, if we dined at Sambuca outside of Happy Hour, I am pretty sure our total bill for the family would be higher than many places in Cramlington.


Sambuca Cramlington - would I return?

It may seem that this review is fairly negative but do you know what, I will return to Sambuca. Probably time and time again. I'm not likely to visit for date night any time soon but I can certainly see that it has it's place - if we fancy a pizza before the cinema on a Saturday lunchtime or if I'm looking for somewhere to take the kids after school for a treat - Sambuca will tick those boxes. They also run a few drinks promotions in their bar (I noticed an offer for a glass of Prosecco and a slice of cake for £5.75) and as the bar area is really lovely, I can imagine popping in for a drink with the girls or Steve. They also seem to have an ice cream stand with ice creams to take away which I'm sure will be nice to pop in for with the kids when we're visiting the newly refurbished Seven Oaks Park across the road.


I have a feeling it's going to do really well in Cramlington and as one of only a few local businesses in Manor Walks, I wish them every success.

You can find Sambuca Cramlington in Manor Walks next to Frankie & Benny's and Vue Cinema. Here's a link to their current menu or you can view below.

Let me know if you've visited yet and your thoughts.......

Sambuca Cramlington Happy Hour Menu Review | Will it be a success?

Sambuca Cramlington Happy Hour Menu Review | Will it be a success?

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10 things that happen to every parent during a UK heatwave

*This is a collaborative post

If there's anything us Brits love doing, it's talking about the weather. With another heatwave predicted this weekend (woohoo), I thought I'd share a few funny anecdotes about what happens to every parent during a British heatwave - brace yourselves!

10 things that happen to every parent during a UK heatwave #heatwave #UK #Parenting


1 - We panic buy a new summer wardrobe 


After spending what seems like an eternity in jeans, jumpers and winter boots, it's a bit of a shock to the system when the sun does decide to make an appearance. I don't know about you, but my children's summer clothes seem to disappear every year and on that first day of sunshine I can be found googling the best Groupon discounts for TK Maxx and stocking up on summer essentials, panic buying summer dresses in Primark and adding multi-packs of shorts and t-shirts to my weekly shop.

2 - It takes an hour to leave the house

Leaving the house during a heatwave with kids around is like a military operation. There's sunscreen to apply 30 minutes before you leave, sunhats to locate, scooters to dig out of the garage and raincoats to pack 'just in case'. It's a wonder we actually ever make it outside.........


3 - Bring out the BBQ from Winter hibernation 

BBQs and heatwaves go hand in hand and it's not unusual for us to invite our friends and family over for a bit of an impromptu get-together. It's only then do we realise that our BBQ has been in hibernation over winter and needs a good clean so we pick up a disposable from the corner shop and use and wonder why we bothered investing hundreds of pounds in a 'proper' BBQ.

4 - We all flock to the coast and soon regret it 

I do this EVERY TIME the sun makes an appearance and instantly regret it. Heading to the beach during a heatwave is good in theory but in practice, you spend the whole time in a traffic jam, will struggle to find a parking space and then when you do get there it's absolutely freezing thanks to the lovely North East Coast breeze.  Next time I suggest a trip to the beach, please remind me that it's much easier (and nicer) to stay inland during a heatwave please.

5 - We spend ages filling the paddling pool after school

Why are paddling pools so deceiving? By the time we get home from school and manage to fill the pool with lukewarm water, the sun has gone in and the kids are no longer interested. I think there should be some kind of legislation imposed on all paddling pools that forces manufacturers to prominently display how long a pool will actually take to fill.

6 - Every meal becomes a picnic and must be eaten outside

One thing I love about heatwaves in the UK is that the kids can eat outside. Every meal is instantly more fun when it turns into an al-fresco picnic. The kids eat more, I don't need to sweep up the crumbs and everyone is happy. It's win-win.



7 - We find joy in hanging the washing on the line

Before becoming a parent, I would have laughed out loud if you'd have suggested hanging the washing on the line would bring me joy. I'm not ashamed to say that now it does and yes, I am one of those people who will probably post a photo of this rare occurrence on Facebook. Anyone else the same?

8 -  Deciding what your baby will wear at bedtime is tough

Why does nobody warn you about this dilemma when you're pregnant? Trying to decide what to dress your baby in for bed during a heatwave has to be one of the toughest parent decisions - do they wear their normal pjs and a vest, just a vest, do they need a lightweight baby sleeping bag? Or no sleeping bag? What about just a sheet? Will they be ok just sleeping in their nappy? What if they kick their blanket off during the night and end up too cold? Is it ok to leave their window open a little? Agh! The questions and worry are endless! If you're struggling with this, I've found this online checker from the Gro Company to be pretty good (although it obviously does not replace official advice).

9 - We start looking for shade after 30 minutes 

We look forward to the sun all winter but as soon as it hits, we can only last 30 minutes and then need to set up camp under a tree.

10 - It's the talk of the playground

During a heatwave, it's all we can talk about. The school gate chatter is filled with 'isn't it a lovely day', 'it's going to get up to the mid-20s later', 'have you got your paddling pool out?', 'oh where did you get those flip-flops?'. Honestly, we are weather-obsessed (but I secretly love it).

Enjoy the heatwave this weekend! We've got to make the most of it. Let me know if any of the things on my list ring true for you. 

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10 things that happen to every parent during a UK heatwave #heatwave #UK #Parenting



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The Ultimate Guide to What's on in the North East for Kids | May Half Term


I don't know about you but I am SO excited for May Half Term. The prospect of (hopefully) sunshine and no school runs is the kind of thing I look forward to these days. We actually have ZERO plans for Half Term this year. Steve is working the full week and the boys have just finished their SATs so I didn't want to pack too much in. We're going to have a chilled week and just plan some impromptu days out on the day - it's exciting not knowing where the week will take us! I'll share what we're up to in my North East Days Out Facebook group so make sure you click here to join. Most of our days out will be via public transport as Steve will be using our car for work. Let me know your plans or if you'd like me to add your event in the comments.

The Ultimate Guide to What's on in the North East for Kids | May Half Term

Here are a few general ideas to keep the kids entertained, scroll down for ideas relating to specific dates. Please remember that times etc... can change and some events may need to be pre-booked. Always double check details before heading out.

Events happening across the week


The Ultimate Guide to What's on in the North East for Kids | May Half Term

Whitley Bay is fast becoming one of my favourite towns. It's full of lots of lovely independent restaurants who have joined forces to bring local people some fantastic dining offers across the week. You can find the full list of restaurants taking part over on Facebook here -   details of new offers are posted regularly. I highly recommend visiting Evan's Bistro (who are taking part in this offer Tuesday-Saturday). They have a toy area for kids, board games to play and their menu for this week just looks incredible. I can't believe it's just £12 for three courses. Take a peek at their special food and drink menu here. Children's meals are just £4.95 for a main, 2 sides, a drink and ice cream.

26 May - 1 June : Wild West Week at Whitehouse Farm - find out more here
26 May - 3 June : Animal Antics at Alnwick Garden - find out more here
26 May - 3 June : Stick Week at Gibside - find out more here
26 May - 3 June : Ultimate STEM Challenge at Cragside - find out more here
26 May - 3 June : Kayaking and canoeing at Cragside - find out more here
28 May - 3 June : Half Term Fun at Delaval Hall - find out more here
28 May - 1 June : Half Term at Cherryburn - find out more here


  • Woodhorn are running their Little Leeks sessions and kids Pitman Painters tours - find out more here
  • Great Nort Museum (Hancock) is closed from 21 May - 21 June


Recommended and reviewed: Places to visit over May Half Term


Try the FREE Highway Rat Trail at Kielder - review & info here
Enjoy a FREE Sculpture Trail around Thornley Woodland Centre- review & info here
Try the FREE Plessey Woods Art Trail - review & info here
Visit Ouseburn Farm (also FREE) - review & info here
Spend the day at Alnwick Garden - review & info here
Visit Beamish by bus - review & info here
Take a trip to Blyth Beach - review & info here
Visit Butterfly World & Preston Park - review & info here
Walk around Druridge Bay Country Park - review & info here
Take a trip to the Farne Islands - review & info here




If you're always looking for new places to take the kids or would like to share a few local gems with other North East Parents, why not join my FREE North East Days Out Facebook group? There are almost 2000 local members and it's a fab place to share photos and recommendations or ask for ideas for places to visit around the North East. You can join here.

The Ultimate Guide to What's on in the North East for Kids | May Half Term


Saturday 26 May




Sunday 27 May




Monday 28 May




Tuesday 29 May




Wednesday 30 May




Thursday 31 May




Friday 1 June




Saturday 2 June




Sunday 3 June



I say this everytime but we really are spoilt living in the North East - there is SO much do see and do. Let me know which events take your fancy and don't forget to share photos from your days our over in my North East Days Out Facebook group. 
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Rising Sun Country Park | A Pushchair & Dog-friendly Walk in North Tyneside


Fun fact - the Rising Sun Country Park used to face onto our back garden and it's a place we used to walk through and around a lot when Harry and Heidi were little tots and we lived in Wallsend. We don't visit as often as we used to now but it's still a family favourite and a lovely spot for a family walk, cycle, scoot or picnic. The country park is dog-friendly too so a fab place to head out with your four-legged friend. As the park is inland and quite sheltered, it can also be a bit of a sun trap so it's perfect for a sunny day. 


If you're visiting by car, you'll find the entrance just before Asda Benton (postcode NE12 9SS). Just follow the road and you'll find a large, free car park just by the visitor centre (disabled parking is available on sie). You can catch the bus to Asda Benton and easily walk there too. The countryside centre and car park is open every day of the year (the area around the countryside centre is closed between Christmas and new year). The visitor centre closes at around 4:30pm on a weekend and 7/8pm on weekdays. Check opening times here. 

Rising Sun Country Park | Child & Dog-friendly Walks 


One of the reasons we love the Rising Sun Country Park is that it's home to lots of easy walking routes which are all very well signposted with maps available from the centre, maps signposted around the park and lots of colour-coded route signs. You can choose a walk around Swallow pond where you can admire the wildlife through bird hides, woodland walks where you can pond dip from the special viewing platform, climb up the pit heap if you're feeling energetic or if like us, you just fancy an easy stroll to the community farm from the visitor centre (this route is completely flat and around 1.5 - 2 miles in total).


The paths are covered in small pebbles in places but Heidi managed with her scooter just fine and it wouldn't be any trouble for a pushchair or bike.

The walks take you past fields of horses, flowers and other wildlife and if you're lucky, you may spot the Rising Sun stag.






Rising Sun Community Farm 

The Rising Sun Community Farm is in the centre of the country park and very easy to reach on foot from the countryside visitor centre, even for little legs. It's FREE to visit and there always seems to be something different to see every time you visit - sometimes there can be loads of animals, other times hardly any but that kind of adds to the excitement and as it's free, we can't really complain. 


During our visit in April, there were so many geese waddling around the farm. They are so funny to watch!



We also spotted calves, rabbits, chickens, donkeys, horses and Shetland ponies. There were also goats and sheep in the outer fields but we couldn't see any pigs on this occasion. The Rising Sun Farm is a working farm and a good opportunity for children to learn where their food comes from. They often run events using the produce from the farm for a feast.




You can sometimes buy vegetables and duck eggs from the farm shop or stall with honesty box but this was closed today. The current crops seem to be blooming though.







Rising Sun Country Park | Visitor Centre, Park & Cafe 


The Rising Sun Country Park Visitor Centre is the main hub of the country park and is honestly such a good spot to take the kids for a run around after school on a sunny day. There are so many facilities including: 
  • Children's sheltered play area
  • Water play area (currently out of order - no word on when this will be resolved)
  • Sandpit
  • Cafe
  • Picnic areas
  • BBQ areas
  • Toilet facilities 
  • Exhibition centre
  • Venue hire
  • Walking routes and info


The cafe is really good and serves homemade breakfasts, sandwiches, soups, cakes and tray bakes alongside snacks, ice creams and drinks. The prices are very reasonable and if you can grab a table on the outdoor terrace, there are gorgeous views of the pond and countryside from the slightly elevated position.








We spent around 2 hours at the Rising Sun Country Park during our last visit but it's the kind of place you could easily spend all day. It's a lovely spot for a day out with friends and we'll definitely be visiting many more times over the year. It's a true North Tyneside gem!

If you enjoyed this post and are looking for more ideas for places to visit across North East England, why not join my FREE North East Days Out Facebook Group? There are almost 2000 members and it's a fun and friendly place to share recommendations for places to visit, post photos from across North East England and ask for advice from other members. You can request to join here.



Let me know if you love the Rising Sun Country Park as much as we do or if you're planning on visiting this summer. 

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Rising Sun Country Park | A Pushchair & Dog-friendly Walk in North Tyneside




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