Fun and Free: Top activities included in your Butlin's Break

This year we were lucky enough to be selected as a Butlin's Ambassador. We have always loved Butlin's and have been visiting since our children were very young. One of the things I love the most (and the part I am always telling my friends) is that so much is included in the price you pay which makes it very easy to budget and not have to worry about saving too much spending money. Here are a few of our favourite activities which are all included in your Butlin's break:-

Traditional Fairground and tots fairground


It is amazing as a parent to be able to tell your child they can have as many turns on the dodgems and teacups as they like - no money or tokens change hands, you simply need to join the queue and take a seat. You can ride the indoor and outdoor rides as often as you like and all day long FOR FREE.







Splash Waterworld


The swimming pools at Butlin's are more like waterparks - think lazy rivers, flumes, bubbles pools and toddler areas - always lots to explore and at no additional cost.

Indoor and outdoor play areas


There are free indoor soft play areas where you can sit and watch little ones with a nice cup of coffee and outdoor parks and play areas on every resort. We loved the little tikes zone for our youngest too - a mini indoor carpark full of little tikes cars and scooters. Our eldest enjoyed the free computers and games consoles available in the games room at The Wave Hotel when we stayed at Bognor Regis.





Thanks Daddy Space for this photo

Character shows

Everyone loves The Skyline Gang and their loveable dog rainbow - they put on a show a few times a week. There are also all of your favourite characters - Fireman Sam, Thomas and friends, Angelina Ballerina and Titan the Robot were all enjoyed by our family. Shows are often repeated throughout the week so you don't need to miss out.




Family Shows


There are so many shows at Butlin's that the whole family can enjoy. We particularly loved watching the wrestling (the atmosphere is fab) and pantomime. During October half term we watched Mister Maker and Dick and Dom who were hilarious and watched a few tribute bands in the evening (including One Direction much to my daughter's delight). Diversity and Steven Mulhern are just some of the top acts appearing at Butlin's this year - again, all included in the cost of your break.



Beach

All Butlin's resorts are have direct beach access. Sometimes the Butlin's experience can be a bit full on so when you need to relax, a quick walk on the beach does you the world of good.



Arts and Crafts


There are arts and crafts activities included on every Butlin's break - you often don't need to book and can just turn up. Details of timings will be in the 'what's on guide' you receive on arrival.


Thanks Spirited Puddle Jumper for this photo - Read their full Butlin's Review here


Seasonal Fun


We've spent Halloween at Butlin's and the resort transforms - there are pumpkins everyewhere, spooky puppet shows to watch, halloween balls to attend and scary trails to take part in. Butlin's resorts change their schedule and decorations according to the season and I would love to visit over Christmas one year.





 Football coaching


There is free football coaching for al ages at Butlin's, a great way to burn off some energy in the afternoon.


Thanks Spirited Puddle Jumper for this photo - Check out their full Butlin's Review here


This is just a teeny tiny selection of the fun that's included in your Butlin's break - you can find out more here. There is always so much going on that you could never complain you were bored - there are new activities and shows to watch at every hour throughout the day and evening and as a parent it is a huge relief knowing you won't have to get your purse out every five minutes to pay for them all.


The List
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Breakfast at Tyneside Bar Cafe

Regular readers will know that we are always looking for places in Newcastle that serve a fabulous breakfast. It is a little weekly routine of ours to visit The Grainger Market and stock up on groceries followed by trying somewhere new for a child-free breakfast and some decent coffee. Chloe from New Girl in Toon recommended the Tyneside Bar Cafe (read her fabulous post featuring weekend brunch here) and as soon as we stepped inside I cannot believe I hadn't paid the bar-cafe a visit any earlier.


Conveniently located just 30 seconds away from Grey's Monument, The Tyneside Bar Cafe has a definite arty feel to it, but not in a way that is pretentious or makes you feel like you're not part of something - in fact the opposite is true. There were people from all walks of life enjoying coffee and a paper and the eclectic crowd only added to the relaxed and interesting ambience.


Although a door and a wall separate you from the main cinema you are still very much reminded that the bar cafe is part of the Tyneside cinema. Large red curtains surround one area of the bar which is sometimes used for live performances and free cinema screenings (check out events listings here), you will hear independent movie soundtracks being played in the background and the walls are adorned with cinema screening times and events coming up. I love sitting in a place where there is so much to look at to feed the mind a little.



The breakfast menu is small but features favourites such as crispy bacon sandwiches, freshly baked pastries and even egg and soldiers. We ordered at the bar and our eyes could not help but be drawn to the specials boards. Grilled mackrel, cured beetroot and watercress salad, homemade soup of the day and house BBQ sausage with red root slaw and fries all sound amazing! We have made a mental note to return for lunch with our youngest son soon (they have a kids menu too).

The coffee is organic and fairtrade and provided by a local firm in Durham. Tea is provided by Ringtons (they serve a good selection of fruit and herbal teas too). If I ever find myself in town by myself I imagine it would be lovely to sit in the bar cafe to enjoy a quality cup of coffee with a few bar snacks.  

Our food arrived in good time and we were served by one of the politest people I have ever met. He was lovely (as were all of the staff we encountered) and really made the effort to ensure we had everything we needed. 

Crispy Bacon Sandwich with HP Brown Sauce - £4.75


Avocado and Chilli on Toast with a poached egg £5.50

Our food was absolutely perfect! My bacon sandwich was true to it's word - delicious and crispy and Steve's poached egg on toast was beautiful (as you can see by the pictures). The Tyneside Bar Cafe is a place we'll definitely be re-visiting sooner rather than later. Breakfast is served 8am-11:30am Monday-Friday and a weekend brunch menu is served from 9am on a Saturday and 10am on a Sunday.

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The Gruffalo Trail - Hamsterley Forest, Durham

This post was last updated in April 2021. Please check with venue direct to any changes in facilities/parking etc.... as information may have changed since this post was published. The photos in this post are from various visits across the years. 

The Gruffalo Trail - Hamsterley Forest, Durham


Hamsterley Forest in County Durham is a fantastic day out for the whole family. It is a popular attraction and does get busy so please keep this in mind when planning a trip. There are large car parks on site but occasionally, they do get full to capacity and need to temporarily close. Please check the Hamsterley Forest Facebook Page for updates before setting off. 
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Breakfast at Cafe 21, Fenwick

Now that our youngest child goes to nursery every morning and hubby is back to working 12 hour shifts,  it means that on his days off we get some child-free time together in the mornings. Every two weeks we like to take a trip into Newcastle, pick up some supplies from the Grainger market and try somewhere new for breakfast.

A few weeks ago, I was researching places to try and stumbled upon Cafe 21 at Fenwick's breakfast menu. All it took was one quick look and I was hooked. This was where we were going to visit next.


Cafe 21 at Fenwick is part of the renowned 21 Hospitality Group so we had high hopes for our breakfast. You can find Cafe 21 tucked away in the corner of Fenwick's first floor yet once inside you would not believe you were inside a department store. The interior is stylish and contemporary with an open kitchen and attentive and friendly staff. 

Newcastle was quiet on the day of our visit yet this restaurant was bustling. There was an eclectic mix of business meetings, friends meeting for a catchup and regulars. I loved how the front of house team walked around the room and skilfully knew who to chat to and who to leave alone. Cafe 21 is obviously a regular haunt for many as a lot of customers were greeted like old friends and their families asked after. Lovely!

First up were the drinks - as it is January and we are on a health kick we both ordered a mango and passionfruit smoothie (£3.20). These are made fresh to order and were the perfect way to receive a boost of vitamins. They were nice and thick (too thick to drink with a straw) and really were delicious. I had to order an Americano too - I can't pass up the chance of good coffee and this one certainly hit the spot - strong, rich and intense, just how I like it.


Next up was the food - I had intentions of ordering the homemade granola with berries and yoghurt however I do have this every morning at home and was too tempted by the sound of Cinnamon toast with red berry compote and greek yoghurt (£5.50) so ordered this instead. I was asked if we were ok for time as this was a dish that took a little longer than others due to being finished in the oven. In reality it only probably added another 5 minutes to our wait but it was lovely to be asked.



My dish was certainly worth the wait! When I ordered toast I did not expect this, it was amazing! Lightly spiced on the outside and deliciously soft with an almost creamy texture on the inside I was in bread heaven (let's just forget about the health kick for a while). The berry compote and yoghurt were the perfect accompaniments to my spiced bread and I have to declare this is a pretty perfect breakfast for Winter. 

Hubby ordered Scrambled eggs, smoked Salmon and toasted soda bread (£8.20). Everything was perfectly cooked and well seasoned. No complaints. There are six different egg dishes on the breakfast menu at Cafe 21 Fenwick from Eggs Benedict to Souffle and even boiled eggs with soldiers. Definitely worth a visit if you're a fan of eggs in the morning.


During our visit I was interested to read about afternoon tea at Cafe 21 Fenwick. Priced from £6 for cream tea to £19 for full champagne afternoon tea I'm sure this would be delightful. Confectioner's tea really caught my eye - £16 for two people including fruit scones, plain scones, jam, clotted cream followed by a selection of delicate pastries and cakes all served with your choice of tea. This seems like a bargain to me and I will certainly be booking up during my next girly shopping trip to town.

Cafe 21 Fenwick is certainly recommended by us as a top breakfast spot in Newcastle. 

Do you have any suggestions of where we can visit for breakfast next? I would love to hear your comments.



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Shop local - Beautiful handmade jewellery from Safrolistics

I was introduced to the lovely Safron through Northumberland mumpreneurs. Safron works from her home in the Northumbrian coastal town of Newbiggin where she crafts the most beautiful and unique jewellery. It is not often something will catch my eye, but Safron's jewellery really has captured my attention. Take a look at some of her work:-





This is just a small selection of Safron's work - you can like Safrolistics Jewellery over on facebook to keep up to date with new creations and browse her photo galleries. Safron is also able to custom make some items to order - simply drop her a quick message with your requirements.


I love this quote. I truly believe it makes you a lot happier when you buy something locally. Safron puts a lot of care, thought and attention into her designs and her prices are extremely reasonable. I honestly do not know why anyone would prefer to buy something that has been made for the mass market from a traditional jewellers when you could buy something unique and personal that has been made with care, thought and attention from Safrolistics.

We were gifted this absolutely stunning necklace from Safrolistics to wear to The Botanist VIP launch party. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it and I know it will now become one of my signature pieces. Lots of people commented on my necklace during the party - it really is a stand out piece. I honestly cannot describe how nice it feels to wear something handmade and unique, it makes you feel really special. I have already ordered my next piece of jewellery from Safron and think this may be a regular occurrence!





All jewellery is presented in a lovely box so you can keep it safe.

I think some jewellery from Safrolistics would make the most perfect Valentine's present (hint hint). What better way to celebrate love than with something that has been handmade with love? Safron also produces a range of jewellery for men. You can buy online via Safron's etsy store or through the Safrolistics facebook page. 

Thank you so much Safron for my beautiful necklace, I love it and can't wait to see your new creations very soon.



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My quest to be a better blogger

Blogging is a phenomenon that has really taken off in the last few years and continues to grow at an amazing rate. This is a good thing for someone like me who is always up for the challenge and I enjoy pushing my own blogging boundaries. I take HUGE inspiration from pro-bloggers such as Vicki from Honest mum and really admire women like Fiona from Coombe Mill Blog who despite running her own farm holiday business and looking after her family still manages to write a fantastic blog, run a very successful linky and takes the time to write thoughtful comments on so many blog posts every week. In order for me to get anywhere near the level of these two ladies, I have identified I need to get some of the basics of blogging right and there are areas of blogging I can definitely 'up my game'. 2015 is going to be the year I get systems in place and organise my blog so North East Family Fun has the potential to be the best it can be. Here's how I hope to achieve this:-

1 - Introducing the weekly spreadsheet and checklist


This may be a little 'Monica' and is maybe a little much for some people but I've developed a weekly blogging schedule with a daily checklist. This means every post will definitely be tweeted/posted on facebook/linked to google+/added to an appropriate linky/sharing thread rather than me just tweeting a link or popping on facebook when I had a spare 5 minutes. I've numbered my posts of the week so I'm not always promoting the same post. I'm not going to lie, it feels great to have taken control over my schedule like this and if you're serious about blogging, I would certainly recommend.


A snapshot of Tuesday's checklist

2 - Schedule posts


I know a lot of bloggers schedule posts but I was NEVER that person. I would just type and post straight away. I have recently realised that as a reader, I know when to expect posts from my favourite blogs and that's what I would like to expect my readers to want too. So after much deliberation I have decided to post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday plus my Weekend Reading post on a Sunday morning. I will schedule my posts to publish at around 6:30am every morning. I have been trialling scheduled posts for a few weeks now and it has been life changing! I love being able to quickly pop back and change something and I feel a lot less pressured to write when I have a weeks worth of posts already scheduled.



3 - Organise and properly label photographs prior to uploading


My photographs are pretty well organised however I rarely re-name them. I am going to do this as soon as I download them from my camera onto my laptop - hopefully this will make them easier for me to find at a later date and will be better in terms of SEO when people search google images.

4 - Schedule time for commenting and replying to comments on posts


Last year I was such a bad blogger! I rarely (if ever) replied to a blog comment and only really commented on blogs that were either in linkys or who I would consider a blogging friend. In all honesty I think this is quite rude of me and from the beginning of this year it has changed. I now schedule time in my diary to reply to every comment and have been reading and commenting on a lot more blogs than last year. I am really enjoying this and think it's always appreciated when you pop a comment on a post you've taken the time to read. 

5 - Use twitter lists to their full advantage


I didn't really use twitter lists before now but changed at the start of this year and it has made my life so much easier! No more searching for a particular twitter handle - I just look on the relevant 'list' and it's there. I have a list for 'North East bloggers' and my monthly '#LoveNorthEast' linky so I can easily tweet people who have taken part. If you've never used this function on twitter before, I would highly recommend.



What do you think? I'm hoping I can continue along the path I'm going and keep up with my daily checklist,  scheduling posts and commenting. I would love to hear your tips too.



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Breakfast at The Running Fox Bakery, Felton

The Running Fox bakery in the lovely village of Felton is one of our favourite places to visit when we have some free time. It is a homely little bakery that is extremely popular with locals and beyond. Booking is definitely recommended and their homemade afternoon tea is really something special and worth the trip to Felton for.

Eggy Bread with fruit and honey

We have never had the chance to stop for breakfast but after reading their menu I knew it would be the perfect place to start our day after checking out from our Wigwam holiday in Northumberland.

Sausage Sandwich 

Harry ordered a sausage sarnie (which is available all day). Priced at only £3.50 it was packed full of juicy sausages. The bread is freshly hand baked that morning on-site and was beautifully soft. Harry ended up sharing some of his sausages with his brother as he was too full but they were too good to waste.

Freshly baked croissants

Our two youngest selected a croissant from the menu - freshly baked and served with jam and butter at £1.80 again this is an inexpensive breakfast for a child that they'll enjoy.

Locally sourced Full English

Hubby ordered the Full English which was packed with local bacon, sausages, white and black pudding, mushroom, fried egg, tomato and toast. A fantastic breakfast featuring fresh and local products at only £6.50 is a steal! You can order a smaller portion (the Fox Cub breakfast) for £4.

Sweet eggy bread with honey and berries

I ordered the sweet eggy bread with chainbridge honey and berries (£4.25). The eggy bread was the nicest I have ever tasted. So much better than anything I could make myself at home. Savoury eggy bread costs just £2.50 and I'm going to order this next time - eggy bread and tomato ketchup will really take me back to my childhood!

The staff at The Running Fox are wonderful and are always on hand to check you are ok and ask if you would like a re-fill for you tea or coffee. 

You cannot leave The Running Fox without buying a few treats from the counter to take home. Their homemade pies, quiches and cakes are the best money can buy and always packed full of ingredients and flavour. There really is no scrimping on quality. We selected a few items for lunch and were very kindly given a complimentary mince pie each to take home (before you make assumptions - they didn't know we were blogging). 


There is also a basket of stale bread in a bucket by the door for you to help yourself to and feed the friendly ducks on the River Coquet outside. During one visit, when all of the 'duck bread' had ran out, the staff noticed the disappointed looks on our children's faces and very kindly gave us a loaf from their shelf. This really sums up The Running Fox - they are super friendly and really will go out of their way to make sure you enjoy your time there.

Breakfast is served daily from 9am-11:30am. Booking is highly recommended. 

For reservations call 01670 787090 


                                   
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