Rising Sun Country Park

The Rising Sun country park is the sort of place you might miss if you didn't know it was there. The entrance is between the Stonebrook pub and Asda Benton on Whitley Road.

There is a large free car park and as soon as you step out of your car you feel as if you are in the middle of the countryside and not just 2 minutes away from a large supermarket!


At the visitor centre there is lots going on with a woodland play park for children, plenty of space for a picnic, BBQ's, a cafe selling homemade goods and doddington dairy ice cream to take away and an artificial mini stream where children can paddle.

The park also offers many fantastic walks - you can get maps from the visitor centre or follow the well labelled signposts.


We followed the trail to the farm which is just over a mile. Looking out for the elusive rising sun stag on our way! (We didn't see him today - but did spot plenty of horses)



The farm is free to have a look around, there is a section with small animals such as chickens and rabbits.


Then a small bridge leads to larger farm animals such as horses, donkeys and pigs.


We were lucky that the pigs came really close today and we counted 7 teeny piglets which were very cute.

The farm also has a farm shop which sells products from the farm. You can't get more locally sourced than from here.


What I can't get over is that Farm parks are now charging as much as £10 per person to enter yet this place is FREE! 

The rising sun country park hosts many fantastic events throughout the year from late night bat walks to hog roasts and teddy bears picnics. Check out their website to keep up to date with events. It is a fantastic place to get away from it all for free.



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Lightwater valley:- A review

Normally I won't even take my 3 to a soft play centre in the school holidays for fear of it being too busy! The thought of taking a 2 year old, 4 year old and 6 year old to a theme park in August just filled me with dread! I had visions of queuing for hours, crowds of people and miles of walking/whining children. However, I really could not have been more wrong! When we were invited to visit lightwater valley and check out their new angry birds play zone, I was very pleasantly surprised!


Lightwater valley is closer than you think. From our house in South East Northumberland it only took 1hr 20 mins in the car. Car parking is free and there were no queues at the ticket booths and we were greeted by an angry bird! A great start!


The kids wanted to try out the angry birds zone first of all and conveniently it is located right by the entrance. I was very impressed with this area - lots going on for all ages. Giant touch screen computer games on the walls, counting games on the floor compete with talking angry birds, TNT climbing frames and every type of play equipment you can imagine with fantastic theming throughout (even the bins were angry bird themed). The kids had an absolute whale of a time and could have spent hours here. If they hadn't have spotted the indoor angry birds play zone, I would have had trouble dragging them away!


The indoor part of the angry birds zone is space themed, in darkness and lit up with UV lights. My 2 year old was screaming and jumping with excitement. I think it's the happiest I've ever seen him! There is a small cafe inside too to grab a cuppa while the kids play.


After we spent about an hour in Angry bird land it was time to try out some rides. My daughter was disappointed she was just too little to ride the carousel however soon cheered up when we found some more suitable rides next door. I was amazed that this was August and there was absolutely no queuing for anything! I liked the fact that little ones could go on rides either with or without a grown up.


After trying out some rides we decided to take the train around the park. This is a good way to get your bearings. The park is really compact (which is why I didn't once hear the kids moan they were tired) and the train ride took about 15 mins. There were places to leave pushchairs at the station and it was lovely to be able to all enjoy some rides together.


We had spied the big wheel from our train ride so that was our next stop - again I was really pleased that we could all get on the ride together. The views over the park were spectacular.


We would normally take a picnic on a day trip like today however I just hadn't got round to making one! (Plus our cupboards were bare after bank holiday weekend). Plenty of people had took a picnic though and there were lots of picnic areas around the park. It is definitely what I would recommend. We decided to try the conservatory restaurant. Prices were what you would expect from a theme park. There were long queues to be served though :-( Very strange that there were no queues for rides but there were for food I thought! Anyway, when our food arrived it was delicious and £25 for 5 meals including drinks certainly wasn't as bad as it could have been!

After our re-fuel we enjoyed more rides (especially in the pirate themed area). I was really pleased with the selection of rides available for younger guests to enjoy.

The kids were eager to try out a roller coaster so we headed over to the caterpillar which can be enjoyed by all ages. Everybody loved it, especially daddy! 


Then in was nice to chill out for 10 minutes while the kids played in the sandpit.


My 2 year old LOVES tractors so we were really pleased to find that you could drive your own tractor around a real life farm. 


I was really keen for us to get as much value out of our day as possible so we decided to watch the birds of prey show at 4pm. You can walk around and admire the many birds at anytime and the shows are on twice a day. The bird handler was very knowledgable and engaging however the birds were the star of the show. They were spectacular!



We couldn't leave lightwater valley without visiting the angry birds gift shop. It was very expensive and we ended up spending £20 on a cuddly toy, a ball and some stationery. The kids deserved a treat though! There were lots of reasonably priced gift shops throughout the park if you are on a budget including an 'everything's £1' cart and overall I didn't find prices too high (eg candy floss was £1, coffee and a muffin £2.95)


I am so pleased we paid lightwater valley a visit. It was a fantastic stress-free way to end the summer holidays and nothing at all what I expected visiting a theme park with young children to be like. On the way out we were offered vouchers to visit again in September/October/November for only £12 each which is something we definitely plan on doing. We all can't wait to visit again.


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Review:- The Walls End preview night

We were invited to attend a preview evening for the much anticipated new Hungry horse pub aptly named 'The Walls End' tonight, ahead of it's full opening on Wednesday 28th August. We jumped at the chance as it is near where some of our family live and close to our workplace. Plus the play area looked fab. 


From the outset it is clear that this is a very family friendly pub - my children were given balloons and activity packs straight away and we were told about the brand new play area outside. That kept them happy! 


The interior is original and very much linked to the local area and our history  - we spied local heroes from Sting to Shearer all being included in the decor. You don't feel like you are in a chain pub at all - the decor is very unique.


Part of the pub that will particularly appeal to sports fans is the booth's towards the rear of the pub which all have their own private tv screen showing the footy. These booth's are likely to be very popular with the locals and are an inspired addition!


Back to the menu! My husband ordered the steak and ribs combo, I ordered smothered chicken and the kids all ordered chicken nuggets, chips and corn on the cob. (I love it when you can choose a veg as a side at no extra cost). Service was very friendly and efficient and our food arrived in no time. 


My hubby's  steak and ribs combo was HUGE and his steak was not overcooked which happens all too often. 


My smothered chicken was also huge. I liked how you got peas, onion rings and tomato all included. No trying to charge you for extras here!


The children's meals were sent out in a basket. The chicken nuggets were good quality and my children all enjoyed their meal. (Small children's meal pictured) In fact none if us had any complaints at all.


Hungry horse pub's offer a variety of different meal deals. I particularly think the kids eat for £1 on a Mon or Tues or £3.50 to include a dessert and drink (with any adult main course purchased) is fantastic value. Will definitely keep this offer in mind for a mid week after school treat. 


After our meal, we decided to check out the play area. There were lots if seats outside organised in different areas which were lovely and the kids thoroughly enjoyed playing on the new play equipment. My 2 year old, 4 year old and  6 year old all enjoyed it. The play area is fully enclosed and very safe 


Pubs with decent play areas that also serve good value meals are few and far between. For us, The Walls End ticks all of the boxes and we will be back!


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Our visit to Warkworth castle

We have driven past Warkworth castle many times and had it on our list of places to visit but just never got around to it! This week, we have been staying at Cresswell and Warkworth is only 9 miles away so we decided to pay a visit.


Warkworth castle was thought to have been built in the 12th Century and I think you'll agree, it is simply stunning. The castle has not been renovated and is very rustic, which I think is part if the appeal.


Car parking is charged at £3 - however this is reimbursed on paying your entrance fee. The entrance fee is fantastic value at only £6 per adult, £3.50 per child and under 5's are free. Your ticket is valid all day and you can come and go as you please. The staff are really very friendly and helpful and I was very pleased to see that dogs on leads are not forgotten and are indeed welcome to join in the fun.


My kids loved exploring the castle and it was lovely to see their imagination working overtime as we imagined who would be working and living in various parts of the castle.




They were literally running from room to room and genuinely very excitable! There were turrets, dungeons, great halls and dark corners to explore. We took our toy swords along with us and enjoyed a few 'battles' in the castle grounds.


I am an absolute sucker for a castle window with a view and Warkworth castle did not disappoint. There were fantastic views of the countryside, Northumbrian coast and even the Farne Islands could be seen. The views were simply beautiful.



On the day of our visit, there was a special clash of the kingdoms event happening. There was a different activity on every hour - we watched the weaponry display from the top of the castle. 


Later on we enjoyed listening to the tale of the battle Flodden. The story teller was amusing, engaging and involved the crowd. I actually learned something too!



There are plenty of open spaces to enjoy a picnic within the grounds (as many people were) and it was lovely to do this whilst the kids enjoyed running around the grounds pretending to be knights.


All in all, Warkworth castle was a fantastic day out. It was refreshing to let the kids run around a castle freely without constantly asking them not to touch anything or be careful. We enjoyed it so much that we signed up to be English heritage members there and then. We are looking forward to seeing what else they have to offer.

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A trip to Alnwick garden in the summer holidays!

Now we LOVE Alnwick garden and have visited every year since it opened. It is a fabulously different North East attraction and always has something new to explore.


Today's visit was the busiest it's ever been! The walk from the car park followed by the queue to get our tickets verified took about 40 minutes! Not ideal when you have 3 small children with you! They were good as gold though and entertained/amused by the buskers and stalls outside the ticket stands.

Once we were inside the garden, I remembered that it was certainly worth the wait. The central cascade with various dancing water shows is simply stunning. Although there were a lot of visitors, it did not seem overcrowded. We picked a spot on the grass to set up camp and enjoyed our picnic whilst watching the ever changing central water cascade.


The kids were very eager to put their swimming gear on. So after a quick change we headed to the water garden which has different water features which the children can play in spread throughout. Halfway through we found ourselves in the middle of a water fight which are arranged at various times throughout the school holidays. It's always a good idea to pack a change of clothes as the kids really do get soaked!


Next it was time to enter the bamboo labyrinth! This is part if the garden I hadn't visited before and I've got to say after we were trapped in the maze at Longleat I wasn't looking forward to it! The kids insisted though and although slightly challenging, I don't think anybody would end up trapped in here! Phew!


After we escaped the labyrinth we quietly wandered around the rose garden and up to the top ornamental garden. These areas are very tranquil and peaceful and have a completely different atmosphere to the lower parts of the garden. They are  my favourite parts of the garden though and I hope I get to visit them one day child-free so I can really take my time to explore.

The view from the top of the garden is worth the walk. It's beautiful.


Now it was time to walk down past he fountains and the kids were squealing with laughter as they tried to avoid the water jets which can catch you at any time! 

This week was bee week at Alnwick garden so we took advantage of the free bee themed crafts that were on offer. We spent over an hour together as a family making an insect garland which was lovely. 


Finally, a visit to Alnwick garden would not be complete without a trip to the famous treehouse. If you ever get the chance, the food here is amazing! (As is the atmosphere). Sadly we didn't dine today and instead had fun on the 'Indiana Jones' style bridges and enjoyed the views.

There was a lot of the garden we didn't get a chance to do/see today and it is certainly worthwhile buying an annual pass. They also had a 'pop-up' vintage Afternoon tea marquee which looked lovely, a children's bee theatre, bee talks and demonstrations and of course the deadly poison garden tours on offer but time just seemed to run away with us!




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