Irvins Brasserie - A review

As a self confessed foodie I am embarrassed to admit I have never paid North Shields fish quay a visit. It has always been on our never-ending list of things to do but just something we have never got around to. This weekend we decided to change that.

Parking on the fish quay is plentiful and free and our morning started with a lovely walk along the banks of the Tyne. Our toddler enjoyed looking at the boats, our 7 year old enjoyed peeping inside the various fishmongers and reading what they had for sale that day (he was especially impressed that one of them was selling shark) and our 4 year old enjoyed skipping along in the fresh air.

This sign outside one of the shops made me smile and sums up the atmosphere of the area:-

We were booked to enjoy breakfast at Irvin's brasserie at 10am and were all really looking forward to it. Situated in a grade II listed building on the banks of the Tyne, the setting is stunning.

Inside is light and airy and had a lovely relaxed informal atmosphere. Families are welcomed and well catered for. Staff were very friendly and highchairs are available. We picked a table near the open kitchen and our children loved being able to watch and hear our breakfast's being prepared.

It was great to see owner and founder Graeme Cutthell on site and getting stuck into cooking as well. Graeme has cooked for many celebrities such as Kylie and Mick Jagger and he used to be Andrew Lloyd Webber's personal chef!

The menu at Irvin's features many locally sourced items such as Craster kippers and Robson's smoked salmon which is fantastic to see.

We ordered our food and our drinks arrived promptly. My black coffee was superb and one of the best I have had and hubby loved how his tea was made with proper leaves in a quirky pot.

All of our food was cooked and freshly prepared on ordering. I opted for the fruit salad with vanilla yoghurt and honey granola. It was absolutely delicious and perfect for those wanting a lighter breakfast.

Our two youngest ordered muffin, toast and jam and we were super impressed with the amount and quality of food they received. I especially liked how their breakfast muffins were still warm. Little touches like this are what make the difference. 

Our 7 year old was pleased that his favourite breakfast dish was on the menu and ordered boiled eggs and soldiers which at only £2.95 is a complete bargain. He thoroughly enjoyed it.

Finally my husband ordered a small Full English. He was really impressed with the quality and especially enjoyed the black pudding.

We are pleased to report that his poached egg was perfectly cooked. Something that is hard to find!

We could absolutely not fault Irvin's brasserie. Service was attentive, friendly but un-obtrusive, the ambience was relaxed and the surroundings were beautiful. The food was the star of the show though and I think it is probably the best breakfast we have ever enjoyed as a family. We will definitely be returning very soon and cannot wait to try out their lunch menu.

Breakfast is served 9am-11am Saturday and Sunday. Booking is not required. For opening times, menus and details of live music nights please visit

Disclaimer:- Our meal was complimentary however as always our views are un-biased.


Gross science review

I suspect Gross science will be on a lot of children's Christmas list's this year! Every time the advert appeared on the tv my son would jump around the room in excitement!  Priced at £19.99 we decided to buy him it for his 7th birthday last week.

Gross science promises 12 totally gross activities! When we opened the box, I was slightly disappointed with the content. It certainly does not look like £20 worth!

There are various powders (eg snot powder) and food colouring, a brain mould, a pair of goggles, an instruction book and a few other plastic bits and bobs.

The instruction booklet states the kit should be used under adult supervision at all times. The activities to try are as follows:-

*bouncy poo
*boils and spots

There are also a few gross recipes in the back including stuffed cockroaches! Yuk!

Tonight we decided to make 'snot'. We had to fill one plastic cup with room temperature water and add one scoop of 'snot powder' 

Then we had to transfer the water between 2 cups for 2 minutes in order to turn it into snot!

The result was lots of green gooey snot which my 7 year old absolutely loved! It kept him entertained for a good 30 minutes (probably longer if it hasn't have been bed time)

We hope to complete one activity per week which will take us past Christmas. So despite there initially not looking like their is much in the kit, it has definitely been good value for money as my son absolutely loved it and he will learn something new every week from now until Christmas!


The Handmade burger co. - a review

I am fussy when it comes to burgers. If you mention a burger to me I immediately think poor quality. I will only usually eat a burger if I make them myself and know exactly what is inside. My children however love them so when we were invited to see what The handmade burger co. had to offer, I was intrigued.

We visited the Gateshead branch which is situated in the Qube area of the metrocentre. We received a very warm welcome and were taken through the menu which boasts 40+ homemade burgers by a very knowledgable member of staff. The handmade burger co.'s USP is that their burgers are made daily on site. No waiting for deliveries of frozen pre-made burgers here. They also pride themselves that all of their meat is fully traceable and they regularly meet their suppliers at source which is good to hear.

The menu is substantial and you can chop and change anything you like, meaning the combinations are endless and their should be something to please everyone. I decided to opt for the waiter's recommendation of a BBQ chicken burger with cheese and bacon whilst hubby opted for a beef burger with blue cheese. Sides are charged as an extra - we went for chips, onion rings and homemade coleslaw to share between us.

Children are very well catered for at the handmade burger co. A meal deal is £5.65 which considering all of the food is made fresh on the premises I find to be good value for money. I'd rather pay a little extra knowing my children are eating good quality food rather than some re-formed frozen chicken nuggets that have been chucked in a fryer for 5 minutes!

For £5.65 children can choose a main, side and any soft drink. The portions are generous and again you can add or take away any toppings. If your child would prefer ketchup to mayo - no problem. We opted for the chicken classic, fish finger and cheese burger deal. I am pleased to say that all of the food was delicious (we especially enjoyed the chicken burger - so much so that hubby wants to try the grown ups version of this next time) and I was impressed to see juice as part of this deal that is one of your 5 a day too. 

Children are kept entertained with a small activity pack, crayons and balloons. You can even draw a picture and pop it on the restaurant's wall of fame which was a nice touch.

Our food arrived within 15 minutes and I was super impressed with the quality and quantity. The burger's were packed full of flavour. They are priced between £6-£9 but they are HUGE so this is a fair price. You can opt for a smaller (and cheaper) burger if you have a small appetite. The burgers were rather messy to eat though so you might not want to visit on a first date! It was all part of the fun though and not a problem in the informal, friendly atmosphere.

The burger's were really delicious but surprisingly, the star of the show for me were the sides. The portions are again on the generous side and one portion would definitely serve 2-3 people. The chips are all handmade on the premises and are twice cooked. They really are homemade which is so rare to find in a chain restaurant these days. Chips like these make you want to go back for more.

The onion rings and handmade coleslaw were also top notch.

The handmade burger co. is launching a new menu on 23rd September which will include a variety of desserts including chocolate brownies (a favourite of mine). I'm really not sure I could fit dessert in after these humongous portions though but it is nice to have the option. The new menu will also feature handmade sliders - 3 mini burgers on one plate which is definitely something I will be back to sample and is a lovely way to try a few types of burgers if you can't decide what to order:

It's safe to say that the handmade burger co. has converted me! I have actually been craving their burgers since I left. Next time we are looking for a satisfying meal when out and about with the family, we will definitely be returning. I want to give the lamb and mint burger a try next!

Disclaimer - our meal was complimentary for the purpose of this review however as always I have been un-biased in my opinion.

There's never anytime to straighten my hair

We have decided to return to some of the best holidays we've had and start camping again next year! I first posted this blog in 2009 - it' a good reminder of what to expect.......

Whilst camping last week, I was reminded on my pre-baby self. Every morning there would be a queue of girls in their teens and early twenties waiting to use the one available plug socket in the shower block to blowdry and straighten their hair and to fight over the mirrors to apply their make-up. Rewind 3 years, and I probably would have been standing in that queue but unfortunately now I don't have the luxury of having a spare hour to be able to do this and even if I did have the time there was absolutely no way I could squeeze a hairdryer or pair of straighteners in my car, what with the moses basket, steriliser, airbeds, mini fridge etcetc already threatening to burst the boot open. This left me with mixed feelings.

On one hand, I felt completely un-glamorous in my 4 year old reebok classic trainers, jeans rolled up to my knees (to stop the bottoms getting wet!), my hair scrapped back and no make-up to be seen. I would look at the child-less girls with envy as they looked fab with their made up faces and perfect hair and a new perfectly accessorised outfit every day. (Although some girls did go too far and made me laugh.......white jeans and high heels on a campsite anyone!)

On the other hand, it reminded me of how I dont have to get made up all of the time as my family love me the way I am anyway and it is much more important to me to spend an hour having fun with the family than an hour in front of the mirror now.

Also, I was quite smug as while all these girls girls were fighting over the one socket in the shower block, I knew that I had 3 spare plug sockets in my tent. It's just a shame I needed them to plug kettles (to heat Heidi's bottles), fridges (to store Harry and Heidi's milk) and toasters (for Harry's breakfast) in! Otherwise I'm sure I would've plugged my straighteners in and looked as glamorous as these girls ;-)

Saying goodbye to the toddler years

My middle child Heidi started full-time school today (September 2013). She is happy, confident and ready for it. I had no sad feelings about this transition at all (other than the fact that summer was over!)

Fast forward to September 2015 however and the mood in the Rickelton house will be completely different. My last baby will be off to school!

In the 10 years before this moment, all I will have known is being pregnant or having a toddler by my side! I worry how I will cope when this is no longer the case and it's just me......

I am the person that organises toddler get-togethers, I am the person who meets up with other mums in the park and I am the person my friends ask for advice as usually I have been there and done that. I have made some lovely new friends through my children. I worry that once I no longer have a toddler by my side this will all change and I will have some sort of identity crisis!

I will miss how much a toddler makes you laugh and how much fun they are to be around. Jack doesn't just make me laugh every day, he makes me laugh every hour! 

These feelings have really made me want to make the most of these precious 4 months I have just me and Jacky-boy before he starts nursery in January. Time to start planning some fun!


Back to school resolutions

Kids go Back to school on Tuesday! I am determined to stick to more of a routine this year! These are my back to school resolutions:-

1. I will meal plan every week and use the full potential of my freezer!

Meal planning always saves me money, ensures we eat as a family more often and generally we eat a lot better when I meal plan. My freezer needs a good sort out and I really need to remember to defrost food more often and use it up rather than buying fresh everyday!

2. Read every night before bed

My children read everyday for school anyway but it is usually while I am cooking tea/driving them to school. I really want to make the effort to read with them every night as well but just for fun and really making it part of our routine rather than something we just do when we have time.

3. Prepare uniforms, bags and lunch boxes the night before

I always start off with the best intentions of doing this but then this routine always seems to go out of the door and we end up running around like a headless chicken in the mornings! My hubby now leaves for work at 7:15am so the morning routine will mostly be down to me. Preparing the packed lunches, getting uniform ready and checking book bags for letters/homework the night before saves time and makes sense!

4. 20 minutes homework 3 nights per week

I am a strong believer that Most of what children learn actually comes from their parents. Learning does not have to be boring - there are lots of good online resources and suggestions to help. Hopefully school homework won't be set on a Thursday this year as my eldest has football training so it is already a busy night!

5. Friday fun night

Daddy will be home from work every other Friday in time to pick the kids up from school. On these weeks we will each take it in turns to choose a fun activity - whether it be takeaway and a movie, tea out, bowling or just a walk along the beach with fish n chips! 

On the Friday nights when it's just me and the kids I will plan some sort of free entertainment like a trip to the park or craft activity or baking.

So they're my new resolutions. Lets hope I stick to them! Anyone got any they'd like to add??

© North East Family Fun | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Designed by pipdig