What's on in the North East - Halloween 2016

What's on in the North East - Halloween 2016 - 36 ways to celebrate Halloween in the North East

Halloween just seems to get bigger and better every year and there is SO much going on in our region that we really are spoilt for choice. Here are 36 suggestions for how to celebrate this October:-

Halloween Weekend at Woodhorn: Terrible Tales & Birds of Prey

Gary Cordingly will be telling his spooky tales from Northumberland's past at various points throughout the weekend plus there will be birds of prey displays and a pumpkin trail for children.

Where: Woodhorn
When: Sat 29th & Sun 30th October
Cost: Storytelling & Birds of Prey are FREE, Pumpkin trail costs £1 per child. Entry to Woodhorn is FREE but you do need to pay £3.50 per car for parking.
Tickets/Info: Woodhorn Website

Halloween Evenings at Beamish Museum

Halloween evenings at Beamish will give you a fright you'll never forget. There will be all sorts of creatures walking amongst the shadows and only the bravest will knock on the doors to wish the Beamish residents a Happy Halloween.

Where: Beamish Museum,
When: 24th, 25th, 28th, 29th, 31st October | 6:30pm - 9:30pm
Cost: From £9
Tickets/Info: Beamish Website

All Hallows' Walk at Auckland Castle

Join a 40 minute Halloween trail around the castle's grounds. There will be lots of live pop-up theatre, tales and local fables. Bring a torch and wrap up warm. 

Where: Auckland Castle
When: Fri 28th & Sat 29th October | 5:30pm - 8pm
Cost: From £4
Tickets/Info: Auckland Castle Website

What's on in the North East - Halloween 2016 - All Hallows' Walk Auckland Castle

Halloween at the Seaton Delaval Hall

Bring your pumpkins and best costumes along for a day of spooky fun. There'll be pumpkin carving and spooky storytelling from the Seaton Delaval Hall Ghoul! 

Where: Seaton Delaval Hall
When: Sun 30th October | 11am - 5pm
Cost: Entry charges apply, activities are included in admission.

Harry Potter's Halloween Party at Newcastle Marriott

The Marriott's Grandstand Suite will be transformed into the Great Hall where you'll dine on a Harry Potter-themed afternoon tea, attend potion class, play quidditch and more. All to the backdrop of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone on the big screen. 

Where: Newcastle Marriott Hotel, Gosforth Park
When: 26th October | 12noon - 3pm
Cost: From £10
Tickets/Info: See Facebook event and call 0191 236 4111 for tickets

The Little Customs House of Horrors and Wendy the Witch | Customs House South Shields

The Little Customs House of Horrors is a family Halloween party with a difference. There will be fancy dress, food, drink and lots of fun and games. In a separate event, Wendy the Witch is back for another theatrical performance with The Mummy's Curse - a musical tale for families. 

Where: Customs House South Shields
When: House of Horrors | Sun 30th Oct & Wendy the Witch | Sun 30th & Mon 31st Oct (various times)
Cost: From £7.50
Tickets/Info: Customs House Website

Tanfield Ghost train

The Tanfield Railway has to be the ultimate Ghost train. There is a zombie decontamination zone, witches brew for sale, a spider tent, a criminal crown, a zombie outbreak on the train, an electric chair, singing pumpkins, trick or treat, wand making and much more.

Where: Tanfield Railway
When: 29th & 30th October (various times)
Cost: £12 per person
Tickets/Info: Tanfield Railway Website

What's on in the North East - Halloween 2016 - Tanfield Ghost Train

Children's Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Pumpkin at Wynyard Hall

Little ones are in for a real pumpkin experience with pumpkin carving, themed stories, arts & crafts followed by homemade pumpkin soup served with crusty bread. 

Where: Wynyard Hall
When: Thurs 27th Oct
Cost: £15 per child (accompanying adults are free)
Tickets/Info: Wynyard Hall Website

What's on in the North East - Halloween 2016 - Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Pumpkin at Wynyard Hall

Spooky Night at the Museum

Join the museum for a special after-hours Halloween party. There'll be a devilish disco, freaky feel boxes, bewitching tales, bugs n stuff and much more. 

Where: Discovery Museum, Newcastle
When: Friday 28th October | 5-7pm
Cost: From £1
Tickets/Info: Discovery Museum Website

Keel Row Halloween Party

Join Sharon and the team for their annual Halloween get together. There'll be a spooky disco, party games and even a FREE buffet. 

Where: Keel Row Pub, Seaton Delaval
When: Sat 29th Oct | 6pm - 11pm
Cost: FREE
Tickets/Info: Pick up your free tickets from the bar. See Facebook event for further info. 

What's on in the North East - Halloween 2016 - Halloween party at Keel Row Pub
Image Credit : Keel Row Pub

Magical Myths & monstrous monsters at Arbeia Roman Fort

Go on a monster hunt around the fort, listen to spooky stories and on Friday, create some creepy crafts. 

Where: Arbeia Roman Fort
When: Monday 24th - Friday 28th October | 10am-2pm
Cost: FREE (donations welcome)
Tickets/Info: Arbeia Roman Fort Website

Cobweb Ball at Wallsend Memorial Hall

Join Hopscotch Entertainment for their popular Cobweb Ball. There will be fun and games, Halloween characters, prizes, music, dancing, wrap the mummy, food, drink, party bags plus character performances. 

Where: Wallsend Memorial Hall
When: Sunday 30th October  | 2pm - 4pm
Cost: £10 per child 

What's on in the North East - Halloween 2016 - Hopscotch Cobweb ball

Batty About Halloween at Northumberlandia

Spend the morning creating Halloween crafts. Everything is provided including pumpkins. 

Where: Northumberlandia
When: 28th October | 9:30am - 11am
Cost: £5 per child 

The Vampire Rabbit (part of the Juice Festival)

The story of the Vampire Rabbit will be told through circus, puppetry, storytelling, digital technology and live music. 

Where: The Mining Institute
When: 25th - 27th October | 2pm
Cost: From £3
Tickets/Info: Juice Festival Website

Halloween Spooktacular at Castle Mania, Amble

Your ticket includes 2 hours play on the play frames, trick or treat hide and seek, games and a party bag. 

Where: Castle Mania, Amble
When: 30th October | 4pm - 6pm
Cost: From £5.50
Tickets/Info: Facebook Event

Halloween Fun at Souter Lighthouse

Join Professor Grim in his science lab for creepy crafts, a spooky trail and eerie indoor activities. 

Where: Souter Lighthouse
When: 28th & 29th October | 11am - 4pm 
Cost: Free with admission

Frightwater Valley

We LOVE Frightwater Valley and had a fab time at this event a few years ago. There's a Live Scare Maze, Trick or Treat doors, a Scare Train and the ultimate finale at 6:15pm. This is on top of all the fabulous rides, attractions, birds of prey centre and angry birds play areas. 

Where: Lightwater Valley
When: 27th - 30th October
Cost: £12.50 early booking offer (enter FRIGHTWATEREB at checkout - valid for first 500 people)

What's on in the North East - Halloween 2016 - Frightwater Valley
Image Credit | Lightwater Valley

Pumpkin Carving at Alnwick Garden

Head to the Crafty Cottage and help the resident witches create your very own pumpkin. 

Where: Crafty Cottage at Alnwick Garden
When: 26th - 30th October | 11am - 3pm
Cost: Free with garden admission
Tickets/Info: Alnwick Garden Website

What's on in the North East - Halloween 2016 - Pumpkin carving at Alnwick Garden

The Dark Garden at Alnwick Garden

The Dark Garden is a brand new outdoor experience for children and their families who are brave enough to experience ghosts, spirits and creatures of the night who will make you jump. The dark garden is dramatic, scary and memorable with performers, darkness and light, drifting smoke and evil smells. Hand holding is allowed! 

Where: Alnwick Garden
When: 25th - 30th October | 6:15pm - 9:30pm
Cost: From £7 
Tickets/Info: Alnwick Garden Website

What's on in the North East - Halloween 2016 - The Dark Garden at Alnwick Garden

Halloween at Alnwick Castle

Join a medieval alchemist, take part in Halloween crafts, listen to ghost stories and complete the Knight's quest in this 1000 year old castle. There will be regular broomstick training too. 

Where: Alnwick Castle 
When: 22nd - 30th Oct (various times)
Cost: Free with castle admission
Tickets/Info: Alnwick Castle Website

What's on in the North East - Halloween 2016 - Halloween at Alnwick Castle

Half Term Hocus Pocus at Preston Park

There is A LOT going on at Preston Park this Halloween including magic school, owl displays and broomstick training plus the North East's very own Diagon Alley. 

Where: Preston Park and Museum
When: 22nd - 30th October (various times/dates)
Cost: Free with museum admission (£5 per family)
Tickets/Info: Preston Park Website

How high can your witch fly & All Things Spidery | Cragside

Experiment with air powered rockets and see how high your witch can fly plus make your very own spider and web to take home. 

Where: Cragside House & Gardens
When: How high can your witch fly | 27th Oct 11am-3pm & All things spidery 28th Oct 1pm
Cost: Free with admission
Tickets/Info: Cragside Website

Halloween Specials at Aln Valley Railway

Join Northumberland's standard gauge heritage railway for lots of ghoulish fun.

Where: Aln Valley Railway
When: 29th October
Cost: TBC
Tickets/Info: Aln Valley Railway Website

Gruesome Gibside | Pumpkin carving and parade

Get creepy and creative carving your own pumpkin then join Gibside's resident witch for eerie tales and a pumpkin parade at 3pm.

Where: Gibside
When: 24th & 25th October
Cost: Regular admission + £4 per child
Tickets/Info: Gibside Website

Fright Night at Gibside

Pop along to Gibside in your scariest costume for a night of family-friendly spooktacular fun. There will be food stalls, local ales and wine for the grown ups and a mini play area plus spooky activities for the kids. Dogs are welcome too. 

Where: Gibside
When: 29th October | 6pm - 9pm
Cost: FREE entry
Tickets/Info : Gibside Website

Halloween fun at the National Glass Centre | Sunderland

There is a full calendar of events taking place at Sunderland Glass Centre this year including 'Make a Glass Pumpkin', 'Ghoulish Glass Painting', 'Trick or Treat Plate' 'Clay Monsters' and 'Jam Jar Lanterns'.

Where: National Glass Centre | Sunderland
When: 22nd - 31st October
Cost: Various
Tickets/Info: National Glass Centre Website 

The Phantom Pirates of Percy Main at Stephenson Railway Museum

Join Stephenson Railway for a day packed with pirate games, scary stories and pirate crafts. There will be spooky heritage train rides running throughout the day too. 

Where: Stephenson Railway Museum
When: 30th October 11am - 3pm
Cost: FREE entry (there is a small charge for train rides)

Make Me a Monster at Baltic

Families can delve into the world of materials and create their own costumes to take home with them. Make paws, claws, spikes and everything in between and learn how to move like a monster too. 

Where: Baltic, Gateshead Quays.
When: 28th - 30th October | various times from 10:30am
Cost: £4.95 per child
Tickets/Info: Baltic Website

Light Your Way at Ormesby Hall

Head to Ormesby Hall and create your very own lantern for Halloween. Craft materials and battery candle supplied. 

Where: Ormesby Hall
When: 25th October | 12noon - 4pm
Cost: £1 plus regular admission
Tickets/Info: Ormesby Hall Website

Pumpkin Patch at Brockbushes Farm

Take a tractor ride around the farm, join in some spooky Halloween fun and choose your own pumpkin. 

Where: Brockbushes Farm Shop & Tearoom
When: 22nd - 30th October
Cost: £6.50 per child (accompanying adult is free)
Tickets/Info: Brockbushes website

Day of the Dead Family Celebrations | ¡Vamos! Newcastle

In collaboration with the Juice Festival, Day of the Dead is a fantastic family alternative to Halloween. There will be live music, performances, colourful costumes, crafts, street food, face painting and more. 

Where: ¡Vamos! Social, Market Street | Newcastle 
When: 29th October 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm
Cost: £6 per ticket
Tickets/Info: ¡Vamos! Website

What's on in the North East - Halloween 2016 - Vamos Day of the Dead

Dark Dahl Mash up at Seven Stories

Celebrate 100 years of Dahl with a special Halloween twist. There'll be revolting rhymes and a chance to explore some of the world's most famous 'baddies' from the Grand High Witch to Miss Trunchbull. 

Where: Seven Stories
When: 22nd - 30th October
Cost: Free with admission
Tickets/Info: Seven Stories Website

Halloween at Adventure Valley

There are over 10 Halloween activities to join in with at Adventure Valley including Gooey games, Monster Hunts, a Wheel of Misfortune and Daily Magic Shows.

Where: Adventure Valley
When: 22nd - 30th October | 10am - 5pm
Cost: £9.75

Halloween Happenings at Cherryburn

Head down to Cherryburn and get crafty with the team & create lots of Halloween decorations and accessories. 

Where: Cherryburn
When: 30th October | 11am - 2pm
Cost: Admission + £1
Tickets/Info: Cherryburn Website

Trick or Treat Trail at Dalton Park

Dress up in your scariest costumes and join Dalton Park for their special Trick or Treat Trail which will raise money for the Sick Children's Trust. Follow the pumpkin lanterns on a special family walk full of spooks and sweets. 

Where: Dalton Park
When: 28th October | 11am
Cost: Free entry (however families need to pre-register and raise money for The Sick Children's Trust in the form of sponsorship) 
Tickets/Info: Dalton Park Website

Creatures of the Night | Busting the myths of mummies

Expert curators will be on hand to explain about the latest mummification research, answer questions and dispel myths. 

Where: Great North Museum | Hancock
When: 28th October | 11am - 3pm
Cost: Free

Let me know how you'll be celebrating Halloween this year and don't forget to join our 'North East Days Out' Facebook Group for even more suggestions.

What's on in the North East - Halloween 2016
Events/Timings correct at time of publishing. Please double check details before booking anything.


Enchanted Parks at Saltwell Park 2016 | How and where to buy tickets

We have decided to visit Enchanted Parks at Saltwell Park this year after seeing all of the fabulous photographs across social media in the last few years and reading this post featuring Life in Geordieland's visit last year.

I have been eagerly awaiting an announcement that tickets are on sale so I am VERY excited to be able to tell you that tickets will go on sale at 9am on Tuesday 4th October. Set your alarms or make a note on your calendar if you'd like to get your hands on tickets as I suspect the event will sell out.

Enchanted Parks at Saltwell Park 2016 | How and where to buy tickets

The annual event will see Saltwell Park transformed into a magical, mythical wonderland from Tuesday 6 December - Sunday 11 December. Overwhelming public demand for the event has led to the organisers adding an additional date this year.

Enchanted Parks at Saltwell Park 2016 | How and where to buy tickets

The theme for this year's event has been inspired by the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death and will involve a hidden manuscript in Saltwell Towers unleashing a strange magic over the park as A Winter's Tale comes to life.

How to Buy Tickets to Enchanted Parks at Saltwell Park

Date on Sale: 9am Tuesday 4th October

Where to Buy: enchantedparks.com 

Cost: £8 per adult, £2 per child under 16, under 3's are free

Find out moreLike Enchanted Parks on Facebook and Follow @WinterFestNG on Twitter

Enchanted Park Dates: Tuesday 6th December - Sunday 11th December 2016

This post has not been sponsored in any way - I am just super excited to spread the news. I am hoping to purchase tickets to visit on my birthday (7th December), let me know if you are planning on visiting too.

Enchanted Parks is funded by Arts Council England and Gateshead Council. It is developed and commissioned by NewcastleGateshead Initiative in partnership with Gateshead Council as part of NewcastleGateshead Initiative’s festivals and events programme.
Enchanted Parks is part of Light Up The North; a consortium of seven light festivals taking place across the North of England www.lightupthenorth.com

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland

You wouldn't believe it was mid-September when these photographs were taken. We have been blessed with a very mild start to the autumn. I'm certainly not complaining though and Steve and I took the opportunity to head out for one of our favourite walks around Ladyburn lake at Druridge Bay Country Park in Northumberland. 

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland

Druridge Bay Country Park is a place I have visited many times but I realised I have never actually blogged about it so it was the perfect opportunity to take my camera out and about.

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland

Druridge Bay Country Park offers parking across multiple car parks (£3 per day - first hour is free but you still need a ticket), there is a good visitor centre with toilets (see bottom of this post for opening times), a cafe, play park and plenty of seats and picnic benches . You can swim in the lake and water sports are permitted from April - October (check website for permit details and further info).

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland

After parking our car we walked the 1.5 mile route around the lake. It's a very easy, flat walk and fine for more robust pushchairs I would say. There is the chance to spot lots of wildlife around the lake including swans, ducks, dragon flies and much more.

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - watersports and swans

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - swans on lake

About half way around the lake, you will find some stepping stones. My children adore these and happily hop from one to the next. I'm a little more hesitant but I still made it over without falling in! If stepping stones aren't your thing there is an accessible path behind the lake that adds a couple of extra minutes to your walk. If you can though, you should definitely attempt the stones. The views across the lake are lovely.

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - stepping stones across lake

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - crossing the stepping stones

There are plenty of spaces to enjoy a seat and take in the magnificent views. From park benches to huge picnic tables  - Druridge Bay has it covered.

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - bench with lake view

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland

We visited in September and I have to say - there weren't too many flowers around for me to photograph - I bet this isn't the case in spring though.

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - flowers

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - weeds

We ended our walk with a quick cuppa and a picnic at the Visitor Centre. There are lots of maps and information leaflets here as well as the loos, cafe, a small shop and wildlife information and exhibits.

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - visitor centre and picnic tables

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - picnic tables

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - flask of coffee

There is a small park for children to enjoy and you can just spot further climbing apparatus in the distance. This is the view from the picnic tables:-

 The fun doesn't stop there, if you follow the signs from the main car park you will find Druridge Bay beach just a few steps away. I think Druridge Bay is one of the best beaches in the UK - you'll find mile upon mile of golden sands and it is usually very quiet. We've had the beach to ourselves during our last few visits.

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - Druridge Bay Beach by Mandy Charlton Photographer
Druridge Bay Beach | Credit Mandy Charlton Photography

Need To Know

  • Address : Druridge Bay Country Park, Red Row. Morpeth. NE61 5BX
  • Toilets open 9:30am - 4:30pm
  • Car park gates open during daylight hours. Parking is chargeable from free - £3. 
  • Dog and horse friendly
  • Overnight camping is sometimes allowed with permission (email druridgebay@northumberland.org.uk )
  • No BBQs allowed but there are picnic tables
  • Children's play area
  • Open free public toilets
  • Contact Coquet Shorebase Trust to enquire about watersports 
Cafe opening hours (correct as of April 2021) 

Have you ever visited Druridge Bay? 


Hotel Las Vegas, Bibione | Italy - A Perfect Holiday Choice for Families

Hotel Las Vegas, Bibione | Italy - A Perfect Holiday Choice for Families

The Italian coastline stretches for 4382 miles. Sitting between Venice and Trieste on the Adriatic coast, you'll find the seaside city of Bibione. Known as 'Sun in the heart of Europe', Bibione is famed for it's crystal clear waters and long sandy beaches and as a place that is perfect for families to get away from it all and relax. Here are 6 reasons why a holiday in Bibione could be just right for your next getaway:-

1 - Family-friendly Hotels

Bibione in Italy is home to some lovely hotels which are perfect for families including Hotel Las Vegas. This hotel is just 30 metres from a private beach and offers free bike hire to adults and children, free WiFi, a reading area and TV, entertainment for children at the beach, in the playroom and even during meal times (with qualified staff), a baby menu, high chairs and plastic cutlery, organic food, children's meals and for extra convenience, you'll also find a paediatric pharmacy within the hotel.  All children receive a free gift on arrival and family rooms are very well equipped with cribs, changing tables, night lights, small bath tubs, baby monitors and bottle warmers.

Hotel Las Vegas, Bibione | Italy - A Perfect Holiday Choice for Families - children's mini club on the beach

There is a hotel mini-club where parents can leave their children in very good (and qualified) hands. Children will enjoy fun at the beach, discos, face painting, treasure hunts, magic show and arts and crafts whilst mum and dad have a few hours to relax.

For grown ups there are cocktail parties, live entertainment, dance evenings plus a comprehensive sport and fitness programme.

Erm.....when can I book?

2 - A Perfect Seaside Resort

Bibione beach offers FREE  activities and workshops for kids, the beach has WiFi and is absolutely immaculate (it has held a blue flag for the last 21 years). Beach staff speak English and if you stay at the Hotel Las Vegas, sun loungers and parasols are available at no additional cost.

Hotel Las Vegas, Bibione | Italy - A Perfect Holiday Choice for Families - Private Hotel Beach

3 - Food Glorious Food

Bibione is the white asparagus capital of Italy and local seafood specialities include sardines, mackerel and needlefish. The resort serves much more than local food though with worldwide cuisines and flavours influencing menus. You'll find most restaurants serving delicious handmade pizzas and pasta for kids. Most restaurants offer custom menus for coeliacs too. In the hotel restaurant, there is a 'baby corner', light menu, organic food and everything is freshly prepared by a highly qualified team of chefs. Allergies are very well catered for and there is an extensive cocktail list and wine menu to help you choose that perfect drink to accompany your meal.

Hotel Las Vegas, Bibione | Italy - A Perfect Holiday Choice for Families - restaurant terrace and cocktails

4 - A Cycling Paradise

You don't need a car in Bibione - you can access everywhere by bicycle. Either take your own or hire from the resort (remember cycle hire is free if you stay at Hotel Las Vegas). There are hundreds of cycle routes to choose from and lots are perfect for beginners and children.

Hotel Las Vegas, Bibione | Italy - A Perfect Holiday Choice for Families - cycle route by beach

5 - Explore Northern Italy

If theme parks are your thing, there's lots to keep your family entertained in Bibione.  From Luna Park Adriatico in the centre Bibione to the Zoo of Lignano. Aquasplash and Guilliverlandia are within easy reach of Bibione and Venice, Padua and Treviso are very close by too.

Hotel Las Vegas, Bibione | Italy - A Perfect Holiday Choice for Families - day trip to venice
Explore Venice

6 - Relax in Italy's only Seafront Spa

The Bibione Thermae Spa is the only seafront spa treatment and wellbeing centre in Italy and it's the perfect spot for a little bit of 'me time'. The spa's wellness area includes indoor and outdoor pools, a sauna, salt cabin, herbal bath and rain showers. Water spouts from a lovely 52 degrees from a depth of 500 metres. Children are welcome in some areas and you'll find a wide range of treatments available to book.

Hotel Las Vegas, Bibione | Italy - A Perfect Holiday Choice for Families - Thermae spa

Need To Know

  • Rooms at Hotel Las Vegas are available from 47 euros per room, per night. Rooms are air-conditioned with a balcony, in-room safe, bathroom, LCD TV, fridge and telephone as standard. 

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post. Photographs used with permission .


Tips for helping your children stay happy, healthy & hydrated at school

My children have all settled back into school life and are thankfully enjoying it. I'm a bit of a 'free-range' parent so don't worry excessively but there are times throughout the day when I wonder what they are up to and hope they are ok. It's sometimes scary to think that these little people I have created are venturing out into the big wide world for 6 hours per day without me by their side.

Tips for helping your children stay happy, healthy & hydrated at school - highland spring water

I think as parents, it is our job to ensure our children are prepared for their school day and there are a few simple ways we can do this.

5 ways to help your children stay happy at school

We all worry about whether our children are happy at school and it is usually the first question I ask their teacher at parent's evening! Here are a few ideas that will help to keep a smile on their face:- 

1 - Give them a giggle with a daily joke. I usually write a silly joke on their water bottle before popping it in their lunch box and they always look forward to reading it (If anyone has any good jokes please let me know).

2 - Walk to and from school (and leave your phone at home). Our walk to school takes between 20-30 minutes and it's a time of day I love. My children have 100% of my attention 100% and it's when we have some of our best chats which leave us all feeling happy. Today we ended up talking about the difference between mist and fog, yesterday it was 'where do snails live'. 

3 - Talk to your children about their worries and concerns. Walking to and from school is a good chance to ask your children about their feelings, worries and fears and helps to make talking about feelings a 'normal' thing to do.

4 - Work on having a good relationship with your children's school. Your children's teachers are with them for 6 hours every day and responsible for their care and well-being at school. I think it's vital you have a good relationship with your school and are able to feel comfortable approaching them and making a plan if there are any issues. Parent's evenings, school socials, open afternoons, school assemblies, school fayres, school pick up........they're all a good chance to get to know the adults who probably know your child very well. 

5 - Encourage after-school activities. My children love pursuing their various hobbies and in the past have thoroughly enjoyed a wealth of after-school activities and clubs including coding club, skipping club, steel pan club, football and rugby practice to name but a few. They get to spend some social time with their friends and learn new skills and I think after-school clubs like this do wonders for their confidence. 

Tips for helping your children stay happy, healthy & hydrated at school - highland spring water
A silly daily joke

5 ways to help your children stay healthy at school

I was super shocked to read this report from Sugary Drink Facts that found 33g of sugar in one of the juice drinks my children used to drink regularly! That is more that 8 teaspoons :-( and further research has proven that plenty of fruit and veg helps to improve nutrition in children, reduces obesity, helps their digestive help and helps them to perform better at school. Here are my top tips for helping your children to stay healthy at school:-

1 - Make packed lunches fun. This is Harry and Heidi's first year of switching to packed lunches. Recent research revealed that most kids' packed lunch boxes are still unhealthy and I'm determined not the be one of those statistics. There are some fantastic ideas around for creating healthy but fun ideas. My all time favourite is Eats Amazing but you should also check out Feeding Boys and my very own packed lunch Pinterest board.

2 - Provide your children with water in their lunch box rather than juice. Water is the best way to hydrate your children and contains nothing artificial. I was super shocked to read this report from Sugary Drink Facts that found 33g of sugar in one of the juice drinks my children used to drink regularly! Yikes!!

3 - Get the kids involved in baking healthy treats for the week ahead. Everyone knows that kids are more likely to eat food that they prepare themselves. The weekend is the perfect time to get baking those healthy snacks for the week ahead. We love this Sugar-free banana cake recipe.

4 - Establish a good routine. My children are honestly at their happiest when we stick to our routine and I believe that a good routine followed by a good night's sleep is vital to keeping them healthy. Our basic routine is after school snack/chill time until 4pm followed by 30 minutes homework/reading and then TV time/play with toys/computers until 6:30pm (with dinner squeezed in). This is followed by 1 hour worth of TV in their bedrooms followed by a further 30 minutes reading before lights out at 8pm. It's a routine that works for us and I would highly recommend you find your own routine with your children.

5 - Ensure your children have time to relax. As someone who suffers from stress, I think I worry about my children's mental health a lot more than their physical health. We are a very busy family and for me it's very important to build some time into our day for everyone to relax. Daily reading certainly helps with this but you can also try warm baths, family yoga or teaching your children about mindfulness.

Tips for helping your children stay happy, healthy & hydrated at school - highland spring water
A fun Minion-themed packed lunch with edible eyes from Five Adventurers 

5 ways to help your children stay hydrated at school 

1 - Provide children with an extra bottle of water on their PE days. Our school asks that children are provided with a bottle of water on PE days to sip during and after sport. I have my children's PE days written in my diary so I remember when they need extra.

2 - Get the kids involved with recycling. My three children love learning about the planet and how to take care of it. They keep their empty bottles to put in our recycle bin at home. Every single part of a Highland Spring bottle can be recycled and the kids take pride in knowing they aren't adding to landfill.

3 - Bring a cold bottle of water with you when you collect your children from school. We have established a nice little habit where I greet the kids with a nice, chilled bottle of water to drink as we walk home from school. I think they feel quite grown up drinking from the bottle and this has especially been well-received during the unseasonal warm weather of late.

4 - Children will follow your lead - ensure they see you drinking water at home too. You may remember my post 'You are what you drink' back in January and this REALLY shocked me into seriously cutting back on fizzy drinks myself. I am pleased to say that we have kicked the habit and we never drink fizzy drinks at home - it's always either water (which we keep in the fridge) or coffee now. The kids see us drinking water and just accept it as normal so they follow our lead without question.

5 - Visit websites such as Readymag - Highland Spring’s first e-magazine a head-to-toe guide to happy hydration, where you'll find fun water-based games such as 'bottle skittles' and instructions on how to make a your own 'bottle band'. This encourages children to drink water so they can have fun with their empty bottles.

Tips for helping your children stay happy, healthy & hydrated at school - highland spring water

Let me know if you have any tips that help your children at school. 

Disclosure: I’m working with Highland Spring and BritMums in a paid relationship promoting the #TermTimeEssentials campaign about the importance of hydration to kids. Visit http://highlandspringmagazine.com for more advice and tips.

Happy 10th Birthday Harry

OMG how do I have a 10 year old? People tell you that time flies and your children grow up in the blink of an eye and I'm sorry to say that they really do. It doesn't seem like 2 minutes ago that Steve and I were driving home from the RVI in our little Ford Ka in the pouring rain with a little baby on board. We were petrified!

It makes me laugh when I look back and think of how I used to parent Harry - everything was very much by the book. I was rigid with my schedules and nap times, wouldn't let anyone near him with a mobile phone and bought a whole load of crap I didn't need (bottle warmer and baby bath I'm looking at you). This definitely does change with future children and I honestly couldn't be more laid back now.

I couldn't be prouder of the boy Harry has grown into though. He is super smart, inquisitive and the kind of child that asks questions. I love that. He is definitely growing up though as sometimes he'll share an 'in' joke with Steve and I but it goes over the other the heads of the two.

If there's one thing I'm really keen on doing now, it's encouraging Harry's independence even more. He now mostly walks to and from school by himself, he will pop to the shop for us when needed and does a few basic chores. He helped Steve cook dinner on Saturday night for us all too.

It's hard to know what to buy a 10 year old boy and it was a bit of a struggle. He seems too old for toys but we don't want to buy him expensive electronics he won't use either. In the end we went for a 'green screen' and stands. He has been after one of these for ages as they use them to make movies at school. We've also bought him a few Batman bits and bobs, some clothes, an illusion set and travel chess (as he was just saying the other day we don't actually own a chess board).

We are celebrating with a Battle Zone laser party in a couple of weeks and on he has requested a Domino's Pizza for dinner tonight (I won't complain about that!).

I'll leave you with a few pics of Harry growing up through the years:

Harry's first hold of Heidi

Digging into his favourite food - Calamari

At Longleat

Saying Hello to his new baby brother Jack

Happy Birthday Harry - it is so crazy to think that in 3 year's time you'll be a teenager! 
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