Our Youtube Journey so far

Did you know that Youtube is the world's second largest search engine? I don't know about you but my children watch more youtube than actual tv these days and I think this trend is here to stay. That is why I have started making short youtube videos - they are only a few minutes long but hopefully allow you to experience more than simple words and photographs on a page. You can subscribe to our youtube channel here:-  Subscribe to North East Family Fun

You may have also noticed that every Monday I have been publishing a travel youtube linky where people can link up their travel and days out videos - I have loved watching everyone's videos so far and hope you have too. From next week I will be changing this to a monthly link up so there will always be a place to link up your videos.

I shoot all of my videos from my iPhone 6 and edit using iMovie on my Macbook Pro with free music downloaded from Youtube. I have also just purchased a go pro camera and hope to start experimenting this week! Here are our Youtube Video highlights so far. If you enjoy them, don't forget to hit subscribe! 

Video One - Free Spineless Exhibition at Great North Museum, Newcastle

Video Two - The highlights from our long weekend in Blackpool

Video Three - A family trip to The Lakes Distillery

Video Four  - Sunderland Airshow with DFDS Seaways

Video Five - Our day at Edinburgh Zoo

Video Six - Waterside View Cottage, Alnmouth

Which video is your favourite? Subscribe to our Youtube Channel here:- www.youtube.com/user/Northeastfamilyfun

Using nursery furniture to create invitations to play

I can't believe Jack starts school next week! It seems just two minutes ago he was a baby that relied on me for everything and now all of a sudden he is going to have to be a lot more independent! When a child enters a classroom for the first time, I'm sure it will seem like an incredibly daunting experience. However with a little careful thought, schools and nurseries can turn their teaching space from a worrying adult-dominated place to one that is warm, accessible and ripe with possibilities.

I've been looking into the Montessori method of schooling and have to say it sounds like the perfect way to settle young children into the classroom. Jack will have a brand new teacher and a brand new classroom as he starts school next week and I will be interested to see if our school employs any Montessori methods.

Dr Maria Montessori dedicated her career to revolutionising the way children are taught in classrooms. She believed that the classroom should be a place full of friends, where children feel included. The way furniture is laid out is crucial to achieving this – as The Montessori St. Nicholas Charity points out: “The layout of the classroom encourages exploration, communication and the development of relationships on all levels. Everything reflects a dedication to quality, beauty and to the children's abilities to do things for themselves.”

A first port of call might be a classroom supplier’s website – Hope Education or similar – so you can get an idea of everything you might need to equip your space. Then decide which themes and areas you’d like children to experience, and make your choices according to Dr Montessori’s principles.

Furniture should reflect nature. It should be naturally finished as much as possible, rather than painted or coloured. This will help create a calm, open atmosphere in the room. A child is heavily influenced by his or her environment for sensory development, so keep art and wall displays localised to particular areas. 

Furniture should also be kept to a minimum, wherever possible. A feeling of openness in a room will encourage young children to communicate, to wander over and see what others are up to. And it goes without saying that furniture should be scaled to its young users’ sizes. That way a feeling of independence will grow, as children will be able to pull out chairs and reach shelves and cupboards without asking grown-ups for help.  

Colour impacts a child’s mood: muted, nature-inspired greens, blues and creams are often found in nursery classrooms where sustained play is common. Bright oranges, reds and harsh strip lighting, on the other hand, are rarely found in such places. Splashes of colour ought to come from children’s art, toys and own clothes.

Finally, everything should have a place. Toys, art equipment and books should be easily accessible – and just as easy to clear away. Once more, this helps children to get into a helpful routine of play-then-tidy-up, eventually without an adult even needing to ask. Children will also feel that the room has been made for them; when they know where all their favourite things are, they feel more at home and more eager to initiate play sessions.

And don’t be afraid to add or remove items or furniture according to your class’s preferences. A new room layout can inspire new ways to play in children, so the occasional change-around can be a really positive thing. The flipside to this is that too much change too often could unsettle young children, so it’s a careful balance. 

Need a detailed round up of the Montessori method? Check out this video on tes.co.uk.

YHA Sherwood Forest - A review

This Summer we decided to travel to Stonehenge and back in 2 days. This was a 700+ mile round trip for us from Northumberland! Some say we are mad - however we ended up having a fabulous time (minus a few squabbles in the car and maybe a few frustrated tears from me when the Sat Nav took us into a farmers field!). We were introduced to the YHA concept when I discovered YHA Cholderton which is only a few miles away from Stonehenge and turned out to be the perfect place for our family to stay the evening before our visit. I was looking for somewhere budget friendly to stay in the Midlands for one night on our return journey and decided to book a Youth Hostel again - this time in Sherwood forest which was about 2.5 hours South of our home in Northumberland.

Our experience at YHA Sherwood Forest was just as good but completely different to that of YHA Cholderton. Cholderton is an affiliate Youth Hostel where as Sherwood Forest is a modern, purpose built Youth Hostel for the association. Located on the outskirts of Sherwood Forest, I think it would make a perfect base for a cycling or walking holiday or simply a family base to enjoy some of the fantastic facilities in the area.


All beds are now made up for arrival at Youth Hostels in the YHA - we had a room for five people which included a double bed for the grown ups and a decent en-suite bathroom. It honestly felt more like a hotel room than a hostel. The rooms were named around Robin Hood characters too which I thought was a nice little touch. The absolute best part however was that we had a door direct from our bedroom onto our own private outdoor terrace. We could come and go as we pleased without using the main entrance and had our own bench where we could sit and watch the children play with others on the grass. Perfect and just what we needed after hours in the car.


We arrived after dinner had been served so decided to pop into the nearby village and pick up a Chinese takeaway. We helped ourselves to plates and cutlery from the communal kitchen and more or less had the dining room to ourselves. There was a bar in the dining room which was open until 10pm too and a couple of cold beers certainly hit the spot!

The indoor facilities were very good with free wifi available in the upstairs lounge, giant connect 4 and jenga plus board games, books and tv.

Out and About

You are on the outskirts of Sherwood forest and it does get VERY dark which is something I really appreciated. We sat on our terrace when the children were sleeping and spotted a toad and a hedgehog! I can't believe how dark it was at 9pm!

Across the road from the hostel you will find lots of forest trails and a children's fairground too. The Sherwood Forest steam railway and Superworm trail are also only a few miles away.


We wanted to get an early get away in the morning so decided to book breakfast in the dining room for the bargain price of £5.25 per adult and £2.99 per child. This was a real bargain - we could help oursleves to cooked items, fresh fruit, croissants fresh from the oven, yoghurts, cereal, toast, tea, coffee and fruit juices. Although I wouldn't go as far as to say breakfast was a taste sensation, it was en-par with wetherspoons/brewers fayre and really set us all up for the journey home. Next time we stay in a Youth Hostel, I will definitely be adding breakfast onto our package as it was more than worth the £20 we paid. You can of course cook/prepare your own breakfast too in the well equipped kitchen but for £5.25 - I much prefer someone doing it for me!

Early morning snuggles!

Overall, we LOVED YHA Sherwood Forest and will certainly stop here again as we travel up and down the Country. In our eyes, it had all of the facilities and convenience of a hotel room, plus a lot more (family games, communal kitchen, lounge, private terrace, bar......). Prices start at just £15 per person per night for a bed in a single sex shared room, or from £69 per room for a private family room for 5 people with a double bed and en-suite like ours. 

You can find out more and book here:- www.yha.org.uk/hostel/sherwood-forest

My Travel Monkey

Our ultimate guide to staying in Tynemouth

Tynemouth is one of those places I would love to live and at the beginning of the Summer Holidays I was able to realise that dream when we stayed at Longsands Lodge with Cottages in Northumberland. Our 5 bedroom house was a hop, skip and a jump away from the main front street so we had lots of opportunities to road to see all the area had to offer.

The Priory Pub in the heart of the village has always been a firm favourite for drinks (and I love that it's dog friendly). We stopped for lunch as loved their homemade fish and chips for only £5.95.

Gareth James Chocolatier is an independent chocolate shop in Tynemouth. They make THE BEST chocolate brownies and you cannot visit without buying one to take home.

Dill and Bear is highly regarded coffee shop in Tynemouth - small but perfectly formed it is a wonderful place to stop for a morning coffee.

Lui's Bistro is one of our favourite place to stop for tapas with the kids. They have some fantastic deals, especially during happy hour (four tapas and a bottle of wine for £21 is a favourite).

Lola Jeans children's cutlery

Lola Jeans Buffalo Wings

Lola Jeans is hidden under a small archway in Tynemouth and is probably one of the bars we visit the most. We always order their steak platter, spicy buffalo wings and homemade chips as recommended to us by Sally when we stayed at the beautiful Martineau Guest House. Love that they have Disney Films on through the day too.

Marshalls Fish and Chip shop is like stepping back in time - everything you'd expect from an established fish and chip takeaway and restaurant - recommended to take out and enjoy on the beach.

The Gibralter Rock in Tynemouth has a reputation for it's fantastic 2 for £10 Carvery meals which we featured on the blog a few years ago. Still a firm favourite, we have been back time and time again when we fancy a proper Roast dinner.


We enjoyed a lovely 'date night' at Gulshan's Indian Restaurant in Tynemouth during our last trip. We dined from the Thursday night banquet night which features popadoms and dips, a starter, main course, rice and coffee for only £12.95. Service was a little slow as they were busy but the food was spot on and we will be returning soon.

There is a wonderful market in Tynemouth station every Saturday and Sunday featuring local antiques, crafts and food. Nothing like a good browse and picking up some bargains!

The Victoria Restaurant in The Grand Hotel is the place to book if you fancy a fine dining experience. We loved our last visit featuring Monkfish tails and English Sparkling Wine.

Ora Tynemouth is the place to be on a Thursday night - 4 tapas and 2 glasses of wine for £20 plus live music in a stylish wine bar - perfect for date night.

You won't be able to miss Tynemouth Priory as it stands proudly above King Edward's Bay - it is really worth popping inside too with lots of hidden areas and bunkers to explore.

King Edwards Bay and Tynemouth Longsands are your closest beaches and they are both gorgeous with Longsands stretching for miles and King Edwards Bay feeling more like a little undiscovered cove. A trip to Crusoes on the beach is a must - they serve around 15 varieties of Sausage Sandwiches!

Tynemouth Village really does have it all and is a wonderful place to stay for a staycation or to recommend to friends and family who are coming to the region to visit. I'd love to hear where you'd recommend in Tynemouth.


Kids Days Out Reviews

Our £250 Honeymoon at Dacre Lakeside Park, Yorkshire

Today I'm going go back in time to November 2006 and tell you a little about our honeymoon. We were new parents and very young (I was only 22 when we were married). Money was very tight so we shopped around for a budget honeymoon. Luckily, as it was November, there were lots of deals to be had and we finally decided on a few nights away in a lovely log cabin on the side of Dacre Lake. I was NOT handy with a camera back then - in fact I'm pretty sure these photographs were taken from a disposable camera! The photo's on Dacre Park website are so much more professional! Our honeymoon only cost £250 for a few nights (including hot tub) and was a real bargain. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way!

Love's young dream!

Gorgeous verandah and hot tub overlooking the lake.

Check out the 'state of the art' TV.

We didn't really do too much apart from a few walks around the lakes and a trip to York where we enjoyed lunch at Betty's and climbed Clifford's Tower. We went shopping at M&S for lots of yummy food and enjoyed lots of Champagne we had been given for our wedding. It was so nice to just relax for a few nights after the hectic wedding and having a baby! Harry was only 7 weeks old but I felt comfortable enough leaving him with my mum for a few nights - and when we returned she had worked her magic and he was sleeping through the night. Perfect!!

I would love to return to Dacre Lakeside Park one day - and who knows, we may even take the kids this time.


The North East Blogger Awards 2015

I can't believe a year has passed since the North East Blogger Awards 2014. Winning North East Blogger of the year was honestly so unexpected and I was on a complete high for weeks and months afterwards (in fact I think I still am??) as this post written shortly after winning shows.

Winning the award really made me consider blogging as a career and gave me the final push I needed to reason with myself that I could actually do this! A few months later I registered as self employed and have never looked back. I've worked on high profile campaigns ranging from #BlackpoolsBack and DFDS Seaways to days out with npower and The Calvert Trust. I have travelled all over the Country with my family enjoying amazing opportunities and I honestly don't believe I would be in the position I am today if it wasn't for the North East Blogger Awards. It's not easy making a career from blogging and it takes a lot of dedication and sheer hard work but it is amazing being able to work flexibly around my children doing something I am 100% passionate about and I think I must pinch myself at least twice every day.

Another achievement I am extremely proud of is running the North East Network of Brilliant Bloggers with Karen who blogs over at Adventures of a MonkeyFooted Mummy. If I hadn't have won a North East Blogger Award I doubt I would have had the confidence to do this but we now have over 250 members and it is so rewarding being able to facilitate a supportive group which holds lively discussions and debates and shares advice and knowledge in the way we do. We even held our first NEbloggers picnic at the beginning of August and are planning more meet ups in the future.

Clearly, the North East Blogger Awards were career changing for me last year and I was absolutely delighted to be asked to sit on the judging panel this year. O PR would like a blogger's input and I will happily step into that persons shoes. I know first hand the work that goes into creating a blog post and promise to read and consider every single nomination carefully. As there are 250+ members in our blogger's network (and more North East bloggers that aren't) this is going to be a difficult task but it really is such an honour and I promise to remain completely impartial.

How to Nominate - Key Facts

  • There are 11 categories to choose from, you can enter as many or little categories as you like, just make sure you read the rules of entry first.

  • A shortlist will be announced mid-October with the winner being announced on the evening (10th November 2015 at Bonbar - tickets on sale soon. All welcome - it is set to be a wonderful evening celebrating all of our region's bloggers).

Tips for entering

  • You only need to be nominated once for your blog to be considered, however I would personally write a post explaining the awards to my readers and let them know how to vote for their favourite bloggers (a bit like this one I published last year). Many of your readers may love to nominate your blog but they can't do that unless they know about the awards.

  • You can download a 'nominate me' pin from the North East Blogger Award website to help spread the word and make sure you use #Nebloggerawards to join in the conversation on social media.

  • You might feel shy or embarrassed about putting yourself forward for North East Blogger of the year. There are specific criteria you must fill if you wish to be considered.

Personally I think ALL bloggers should put themselves forward for this award. Most of us will have been to Intu Metrocentre in the last 6 months and if not, it's only up the road. The opportunities I've received from simply having 'North East Blogger of the Year' in my profile far outweigh any embarrassment I may have felt about entering. My advice is to give it a go - if you think about it you have nothing to loose but everything to gain. Even the smallest blogs are eligible to win this award if they fill the criteria - now is the time to have confidence in yourself and just go for it!

Follow the NEbloggerawards

Please email all enquiries to : nebloggerawards@opr.co.uk

Remember, nominations will close on 25th September 2015 and the ceremony will be held at Bonbar in Newcastle on Tuesday 10th November - I hope to see a lot of you there.

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