Fenwicks Window and Newcastle Continental Market 2014

Visiting Fenwicks window and the continental market in town during the last week in November is a little tradition of ours that really kicks off Christmas celebrations (you can remind yourself of last year's window here).

This year's window is themed around Alice in Wonderland. Here are our photos:-

Everyone enjoyed the window but I do hope it return's to a more Christmassy theme next year!

After the window, we always visit the continental market around Grey's monument. This year it was bigger and better than ever - we loved it, especially as they had a churro stall!

Next up on our Christmas calendar is a Festive feast at Frankie and Bennys tonight, putting the tree up and the arrival of elf on the shelf on Monday. Exciting!

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Me add three

Our perfect family holiday

We are a pretty adaptable family and have enjoyed all types of holiday from 5* all inclusive resorts to wild glamping on the coast of Northumberland. The location of our holiday doesn't really matter to us  (although I am partial to sunshine) - we will always make the most of our time together and have fun wherever we are.

We do however think that our perfect family holiday always contains five key ingredients - Good food, a chance to explore new cultures, time together as a family, time together as a couple and the chance to have fun trying something new.

We've been looking at old photographs and have re-lived lots of happy holiday memories based on these five key ingredients and would love to share them with you in this post. Let me know what you think.

1 - Good Food

Good food is hugely important to us as a family - it doesn't have to be expensive or fancy as long as it is fresh and tasty. Some of our happiest holiday memories have been created sitting around a table of delicious, local food and everyone digging in. 

Family meals are the time we all re-group and get the chance to re-connect and share what we've been up. We also have a soft spot for romantic meals for two on holiday which are the perfect way to relax and enjoy some grown up chat.

Chocolate brownie in a fancy restaurant

A Sunday lunch feast

Oysters during a date night for two

A visit to a Japanese restaurant

The time we all went for afternoon tea - so many cakes!!

Making our own pizzas
A snap of hubby on a recent date night

2 - The chance the explore new cultures

We aren't the sort of family who like to stay in our resort for the whole holiday - we will always plan at least one afternoon where we can venture out and visit the local sights. It is really important to us as a parents to introduce our children to as many different cultures as possible and we have been lucky that our children have always embraced experiencing new sights, sounds and tastes with us.

Heidi walking down Las Ramblas aged one

Posing outside La Sagrada Familla

Exploring the local food markets in Turkey

Looking out to Sea at Sitges

Some much needed Orange Juice in Marrakech

3 - Time together as a family

I work weekends and my husband works shifts so our time together as a family is really important to us - we love our family days out and creating new memories going on new adventures but equally if there is a park or beach around we'll use our imaginations to create our own adventures too.

Enjoying a walk by the sea in Spain

Taking part in craft club on a family holiday

The best way to cool down together in the summer

Playing together in the park - whatever the weather

Rockpooling and pirate fun on the Yorkshire coast

Working together to make one giant sand castle

4 - Time together as a couple

Having three children that are close in age can really test any relationship. We love our children dearly and our family days together are precious but it is very important for us to spend time investing in our marriage as well. We believe that happy parents=happy children and regular 'date nights' really are one of the reasons we are still happy after many years together.

We always make time to enjoy a date night just for us every couple of weeks - this could be a meal out, cooking for each other and watching a dvd or maybe a trip to the cinema or trying something completely new. We always try and make time for each other on holiday too whether this be using a kids club, taking grandparents with us to help with babysitting or simply putting the children to bed early one night and sharing a bottle of wine on the balcony.

Our trip to Glastonbury

Trying out the ice bar

Date night in Portugal

A night at Gidleigh Park

5 - Having fun trying something new

Our family lives by the ethos that 'you only live once'. We are given one life and really do want to live it to the full. We will honestly give anything a go once and our family and friends will often roll their eyes when we tell them about our next venture or idea (the latest one being camping in the UK in December!) but who cares what they think? We will throw ourselves into everything we try and will turn any new experience into lots of fun and create lots of memories whilst doing so.

Staying on a farm and learning to look after chickens

Getting very wet during a speedboat ride

Dancing in the mud when we went to a local music festival together

Preparing to take part in a battle against real life Vikings

Trying our hand at Moroccan cooking

Learning to trust a friend as we tried a blindfolded woodland trail

Staying in a wigwam and learning how to build a fire

So these are what we think are the key ingredients to a perfect family holiday. Do you agree? I would love to hear what you think.


A day out in South Shields

South Shields is a place I have only started visiting in the last few years. It is such a great place to visit for families on a budget and a place we will probably go more often now that I have discovered all that it has to offer.

We parked our car next to Ocean Beach pleasure ground which was a very reasonable £3 per day (and can be transferred to other Council car parks).

Our morning was spent in the lovely South Marine park which is just across the road from the sea front. It is a large park and the type of park you can spend all day. There are large grassy areas to enjoy picnics or ball games, a large boating lake where you can feed the ducks or hire a boat and a special art trail to follow which features 10 sculptures reflecting the park's heritage.

There are two fun playparks next to each other which are aimed at pre-schoolers and older children.

Our 3 year old loves this park and in particular the sand area where he can move equipment to dig and move sand.

Whilst our older children love the challenge of climbing to the top of this net.

There is a cute miniature railway that travels around the park and it only costs £1.20 per person per journey. We could not resist a ride and loved our little journey around the lake.

There is a nice cafe by the lake in this park too with lots of outdoor seating where you can enjoy a drink/snack whilst enjoying the view. 

When you are ready for a change, South Shields has a lovely promenade to walk along (or if your children are anything like mine they will prefer to climb everything in sight along the way)

En-route there are skate parks, basket ball courts and mini golf to enjoy or you can just take in the view. Once you get past the dunes, the beach is lovely and sheltered and always popular with families. You can also walk the other way along the prom (towards North Shields) where you will see fantastic views of Tynemouth priory and there are some rock pools on this part of the beach to explore.

A trip to the seaside is not complete without some fish and chips and you are spoilt for choice in South Shields (home of award winning Coleman's). We bought some right in the sea front from inside Ocean Beach and they really hit the spot.

We spent our afternoon at Ocean Beach Pleasure ground (you can read about our visit here) which offers fantastic value for money. It is easy to budget as you do not pay for rides in cash but simply buy tokens from machines or kiosks around the park. Most of the rides for little children were 3 tokens each and lasted a good length of time. Here were our favourites:-

We ended our day sharing a bag of freshly made doughnuts from one of the fairground stalls. It was just too hard to resist as their smell is just so enticing!

We enjoyed a fantastic day at South Shields. There is just so much to do and we found everything to offer such fantastic value for money. 

Have you been to South Shields? Where are your favourite spots? 
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