A family of 5 with a zest for life

A luxury overnight stay at Jesmond Dene House Hotel, Newcastle

Last month we were lucky enough to stay at the gorgeous Jesmond Dene House as we joined our friends in celebrating their fairytale wedding at the hotel. We are no strangers to the hotel and in the past have enjoyed a fantastic fine dining experience to celebrate my mum's 50th birthday in hotel restaurant, afternoon tea with Jack (and Sweep) in the comfortable lounge and even an overnight stay to celebrate our anniversary a few years ago. It's fair to say Jesmond Dene House is definitely one of our favourite spots in Newcastle and I couldn't wait to spend the night once again.

As we wouldn't be spending too long in our bedroom we opted for a classic room which is the smallest type of room the hotel offers but still cozy and comfortable with lots of extra treats.

Our bathroom was beautiful with a super powerful shower, luxury Arran Aromatics toiletries, soft towels and fluffy bathrobes and slippers. Perfect for a lazy morning!

The tea and coffee in our room was far more than a kettle and a couple of teabags - the selection was AMAZING! We were spoilt for choice when we woke up in the morning with freshly ground coffee, a huge selection of teas to try and fresh milk delivered instantly to our door.

Our bedroom was very comfortable and we enjoyed a wonderful night's sleep after dancing the night away with the wedding party in the Great Hall downstairs. One of the things I love most about Jesmond Dene House is their fantastic breakfasts which use fresh and local ingredients and can be delivered right to your room! Definitely one of the best breakfasts we've ever eaten and perfect for the morning after the night before.

With a late check out time of 12noon it was wonderful to be able to relax, watch some tv, read the complimentary magazines and enjoy our bowl of fruit in absolute peace and quiet - I'm sure most parents will agree, this was a real treat indeed.

We couldn't leave Jesmond Dene without a quick stroll through the adjoining woods and park before heading home and back to reality after our peaceful retreat. 

Midweek Bed and Breakfast is available at Jesmond Dene House from just £140 for 2 adults including full breakfast, time to relax with the papers, a late noon check out, free wi-fi and parking. 

Visit Jesmond Dene House to find out more. 


Cleaning Tips from ‘Old Fashioned’ Housewives

It may not be spring any more but that doesn’t mean you can’t give your house a good cleaning to get rid of dust, dirt, clutter and to reduce the presence of nasty bacteria which can trigger allergies. 

For a good classic cleaning regime you may wish to consider calling in the professionals at Molly Maid domestic cleaning services, who will come into your home and battle all of that nasty grime and unsightly mess so that you don’t have to. Some of the cleaners use many old style traditional cleaning methods, which prove that the ‘old fashioned’ way might well be the best way. Here are some of these classic tips that you can use to spruce up your home:


It is common belief amongst housewives, then and now, that newspapers give windows the best shine possible. To achieve this classic result, first clean your windows using warm water, washing up liquid and a few drops of white vinegar. Once completed, polish the surface with newspaper and you will be left with windows that shine brightly and let a lot more sunlight into the room.

Kitchen Cupboards

Our kitchen countertops and cupboards can accumulate a great deal of grease and grime over time. According to Daily Mail the best way to battle these stains is to use two parts water, one part distilled white vinegar and some lemon juice. Use a cloth and begin scrubbing from top to bottom. This cuts through the grease and will leave your kitchen looking fresher than ever.


Cleaning brass is most effectively achieved by using salt and a dose of white vinegar as the main solution. This super-duo team injects shine back into dull brass that has faded in lustre over time. Scrub gently and use circular motions so that the result will look seamless.

Fresh Fridge

Have you ever opened the door of your fridge and caught the whiff of something stale and for lack of a better word, smelly? A natural deodoriser that housewives have been using for decades is a scooped out lemon shell filled with salt. Place this at the furthest corner of your fridge and you will have an instantly fresher atmosphere.


Cleaning inside the microwave can be a little tricky, especially if food residue has accumulated on the interior walls. Fill a cup with water and heat it inside the microwave for a few short minutes. This will leave food residue loosening up so it’s easier to clean, thanks to the rising steam from the heated water.

Tea Stains

Tea stains are regular household stains. To clean this away from the inside of a cup or mug, rub bicarbonate of soda and then rinse with clean water. The tea stain should lift easily without much force.


A lot of these cleaning tips will require the use of a dishcloth, but these can act as incubators for breeding germs and bacteria. According to the BBC, an average dishcloth contains a million times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Wash them in the washing machine often and renew them on a regular basis.

Do you have any old fashioned tips that work for you?

A visit from the tooth fairy - how much is too much?

Last week Heidi (aged 6) lost her very first tooth. It had been wobbly for weeks and she was desperate for it to fall out. In the end it was hanging on by the tiniest thread and she took the rather extreme method of asking her brother to punch her in the face!! Crazy but it worked! Might I add the kids were upstairs and supposed to be in bed sleeping when this happened.

I know the tooth fairy sometimes pays extra for a first tooth and have heard stories of some children receiving £20 (I kid you not!). Heidi wasn't so lucky though but in the morning was still delighted to find a shiny £1 coin under her pillow.

I was interested to read this research from Sunlife which states that a typical tooth is worth £1 to the tooth fairy! Phew! Although based on where we live, the tooth fairy may have been feeling the pinch last week as the North East's usual going rate is £1.70 (don't tell Heidi this).

The research also discovered that surprisingly London kids get the least from the tooth fairy - I would have expected more from our capital! Where as children in Northern Ireland and Scotland seem to receive the most. 

I try not to get caught up in what other parents do and just concentrate on us but I have to admit, I would love to hear how much the tooth fairy pays where you live?


Breakfast and Beamish with Sunderland Marriott Hotel

We are currently in the unfortunate position where Steve works until 8pm on a Friday and I work 12 hours on a Sunday. This doesn't stop us going on little adventures over the weekend and we always try and make every minute of the weekend count. We have been full of busy this week and Steve has been working extra long hours and we've all missed some time together. We decided to book the Sunderland Marriott Beamish package which included an overnight stay at the Marriott, breakfast and tickets to Beamish. Although it was only for one evening, as the hotel is on the sea front in felt like a proper little holiday.

We arrived when Steve finished work at about 8:20pm on Friday night. The staff were ever so friendly asking us about our journey and plans for the weekend.  Our room had been set up for 5 people with two double beds and a single bed plus a sofa, chair and large family bathroom. It was warm and welcoming and perfect for us.

I had already eaten with the children but as Steve had just finished work he was starving and ordered a burger and a couple of pepsi's from room service. Both were very good and quickly delivered.

I had thought ahead an planned a little midnight (or 9pm) feast for the children. Whenever we stay in hotel's I always do this as a special treat and the children really appreciate it.

Before long it was time to draw the curtains, read our books and settle down for a very good night's sleep. Our beds all had individual reading lights which were useful when our youngest went to sleep.

I had hoped for a lie in the next day but I don't know what happens to your body clock when you're a parent - as always I woke at 7am. It was nice knowing that we had a 12noon check out and breakfast was served until 11am though as we could enjoy a lazy morning snuggling up watching cartoons. We loved our view as we opened our curtains too.

We headed down to the restaurant for breakfast and couldn't resist a snap in the beautiful hotel reception. 

Breakfast was everything you would expect from a 4 star hotel. There was a selection of cereal, fruit, yoghurt, cheese, hams, juices, cooked items and pastries for guests to help themselves to. Service was with a smile and I LOVED the extra touch of the children being brought their own pot of hot chocolate for our table. Lovely!

The hotel restaurant is overlooking the beach so of course we had to head outside for a walk along the promenade before checking out.

We had been given our tickets to Beamish at check in. It is worth noting that these special tickets admit you for one day only and are not the same as the annual pass you would buy at Beamish. We LOVE Beamish. You can see in our previous reviews from Summer 2014 and Christmas 2013 which were completely different to our trip this time that there is always so much to see and do. Beamish is about a 30 minute drive from the Sunderland Marriott.

Beamish is a living museum and recreates how people lived in the 1820's and 1900's and 1940's. It is more of an experience than a museum as you get to walk around towns and villages as they once were, chat to real people in character, smell the unique scent of a Victorian dentist and traditional bakers and even taste some traditional cinder toffee as it is being made. The first experience for most people though is to jump aboard one of the trams which is exactly what we did. 

Our first stop was the 1900's town which takes you back to life in the North East just before the first world war.

I won a coconut on the coconut stall.

The sweet shop and bakers in the town are fantastic - not only can you see various treats being made using traditional methods, you can also sample pieces yourself and then buy the finished product from the traditional shops. We couldn't resist treating ourselves to some fudge.

 Next up was the steam railway - as with the trams and buses,  your ride is included with your admission and everyone enjoyed the short trip along the tracks.

We then caught the vintage bus to the 1940's farm which is set around the time of the Second World War.

We stopped for drinks from the farm cafe and to sample our Beamish fudge we had bought from the sweet shop before checking out the farmhouse and animals. As an extra special treat there was a folk band playing in the farmyard during our visit.

Next up was the 1900's pit village and colliery. I think this may be my favourite part of Beamish. I love wandering in and out of the houses - you really get a sense of what life was like and you walk down the back lanes and marvel at the garden patches. I always enjoy the old school house too where you can play traditional games and take part in a 1900's lesson.

There was a lot more we could have experienced - we have yet to try the famous Beamish fish and chips and we didn't go down the mine or visit 1820's Pockerley on this occasion - we will save that for next time!

We ended our day the way we had started - with a ride on the tram which was definitely our children's favourite part of the trip.

We had a lovely weekend and I cannot recommend the Breakfast and Beamish package enough. The offer runs until 30/11/2015 and costs from £139 per room including Bed, Breakfast and tickets to Beamish for 2 people. 

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