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.


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

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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Tasty Tuesdays on

The Gruffalo's Child trail - Hamsterley Forest, Durham

I do not know of any family who doesn't love The Gruffalo. When we heard he was making an appearance in some deep dark woods (aka Hamsterley Forest in Durham) near us, we all couldn't wait to visit.

After parking our car we picked up our trail packs from the Forest cafe - lovely forest bags in which to collect pinecones, leaves, twigs and other forest treasures. A Gruffalo nature spotters sheet, activity leaflet and pencil are also included. These only cost £2 and are definitely worth it.

The trail is extremely well signposted (just look for The Gruffalo signs) and took us about 90 minutes to complete including a good play in the play area approximately half way along the trail. Start at the Forest Cafe.

Every so often you will come across a special 'Gruffalo activity sign'. These were lots of fun and even the grown ups joined in - we ended up barking like a fox, spinning around like a seed and hunting for slug slime - lots of fun and definitely kept us entertained.

You also have to keep your eyes peeled for characters from The Gruffalo and make a note of the letter they are holding to make a word at the end of the trail.

Hamsterley forest is gorgeous, dog friendly and accessible for buggies and prams - the whole family can come along and nobody needs to stay at home.

We were very excited when we spotted The Gruffalo himself - he is very realistic and does indeed have a poisonous wart at the end of his nose and purple prickles all over his back!

We stopped half way through the trail to play at the adventure play area - if you have very small children who aren't good walkers I would maybe suggest this is where your trail ends. There are picnic tables for grown ups and our children loved the play equipment.

While Harry and Heidi were playing, Jack and daddy plodged over the river onto an island and I took the opportunity to practice my close up photography skills taking pictures of some of the 'forest treasure' our children had found.

Then it was time to continue our walk along the trail - taking part in more Gruffalo activity boards and ticking off more finds on our spotters sheet.

I don't know why but I expected the trail to run in a circle and we would finish at the start - it didn't! Make sure you pick up a map from the visitor centre or, as we did, walk back the way you came to the start.

By this point, our eight year old did start whining that he was cold, hungry and thirsty - In hindsight I probably should have packed us some drinks and snacks. Not to worry though, we were soon back in the warmth of the cafe where we ordered picnic boxes for the children and cake and hot chocolates for the grown ups. Food was very reasonably priced and I loved how there was a separate room for those dining with dogs!

Hints and Tips

  • The Gruffalo's Child trail continues until 28th February 
  • Make sure you wear wellies and wrap up warm
  • The cafe is open 11am-4pm on weekends only
  • The toilet block is undergoing refurbishment (hopefully open by February half term) so the only toilets available are portable toilets in the car park
  • The information point where you can collect leaflets and maps is open daily 9am-5pm
  • Car parking is charged at £3 per car per day, entry to the forest and trail is FREE
  • Gruffalo activity bags are available to purchase for £2 from the cafe
We had a fantastic afternoon and loved the first part of the trail, the gruffalo sculpture and the adventure playground. I was not overly impressed with the trail after the adventure playground though, especially as you have to double back on yourself to get back to the car. If you have children who tire easy, maybe give this section a miss and end your trail at the playground. If they love walking though (and spotting cows) certainly give this section a go too. Either way, Hamsterley Forest is certainly worth a visit. 

Postcode:- DL13 3NL

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