Download a FREE and fun walking trail around Newcastle Upon Tyne with Crumbs

*This is a collaborative post

Did you know that May is National Walking Month? Walking is one of our favourite activities. It's good for our health, free and gives us the chance to spend some quality time together.

Download a FREE and fun walking trail around Newcastle Upon Tyne with Crumbs

This year, Westfield Health have joined forces with Living Streets and created various FREE Crumbs City Trails across 12 cities in the UK. The idea is to encourage individuals and teams to get out and about during their lunch hour or at any point during the day and complete a walking trail around their city. Trails can be downloaded from the app and google play store (free of charge). Trails last at least 20 minutes and involve stopping to look at points of interest and solve clues.

Trying the Crumbs Newcastle City Walking Trail

I work from home but I often have meetings in Newcastle. I decided to try out the Newcastle City Walking Trail after a meeting last week. There are two FREE trails to choose from in Newcastle. I decided to try the Newcastle Quayside trail first. 

Download a FREE and fun walking trail around Newcastle Upon Tyne with Crumbs

You simply need to search 'near you' and the trails near you will be listed. Then click on 'start trail' to begin. There is lots of information provided before you start including what you'll see, if there are any restrrictions, how long the trail will take and how many calories you will burn.

Download a FREE and fun walking trail around Newcastle Upon Tyne with Crumbs

The Newcastle Quayside Trail begins at the iconic Baltic for Contemporary Art........

Download a FREE and fun walking trail around Newcastle Upon Tyne with Crumbs

As you begin the trail there are 20 clues to solve. You simply click through the app, answering questions around the sites you are seeing around you.

I love that as you answer the questions you are given little snippets of information about the city you live in. 

I did not know that the Millennium Bridge cost 22 million pounds! Wow! 

As you follow the trail, you have the opportunity to collect 5 Gems. Each gem is a photo of something that can be seen along the trail. If you think you've found a gem, hit 'claim' when you're near it and you also score various points as you answer questions correctly. 

Westfield health are encouraging workplaces to sign teams up to their walking lunch campaign. Simply register online here and encourage members to get out and about and enjoy city trails with Crumbs. The most active participants will receive prizes including vouchers, fitness trackers and £1000 towards a health and wellbeing initiative in your workplace.

I really enjoyed the Newcastle Quayside trail and actually learned a thing or two about my favourite city too. Free trails are available in the following cities:
  • London
  • Paris
  • Cardiff
  • Edinburgh
  • Newcastle
  • Sheffield
  • Bristol
  • Leeds
  • Leicester
  • Glasgow
  • Birmingham
  • Manchester
  • Nottingham
  • Bradford

I did not take the kids with me on this occasion but I know they'd enjoy the trail and solving the clues so I am planning on bringing the kids along with me when I try the Newcastle Central Station Trail. Perhaps we'll give it a go on Bank Holiday Monday. 

Reasons to download the FREE Crumbs App today

  • It's FREE to use
  • It's a fun way to get to know your city
  • You can use the app to explore and get to know other cities you are visiting
  • Sign up to Westfield Health's Walking Lunch challenge for your chance to win some fantastic prizes
  • You can pause the app at any time and complete the trail in shorter sections if time is of the essence
  • Taking a 20 minute lunchtime walk can improve your health and wellbeing
  • It's fun to participate and get out and about with colleagues, friends and family
  • Join in with the wider community using #WalkingLunch on Twitter and Instagram

Here's Carol Vorderman to tell you more: 

Follow the #WalkingLunch hashtag on Twitter and Instagram and use it to share your own photos and trails. 

Let me know if you'll be signing up and trying out a Crumbs City Trail this May. 

The best new restaurant in Whitley Bay - Evan's Bistro | Evening and Children's Menu Review

I will start this post with a bit of a rambling disclaimer. If I have been paid to write something or received a complimentary meal/compensation in any form, you will see a '*This is a collaborative post' label at the beginning of the post. Technically, this is not a collaborative post as I did pay for our meal at Evan's Bistro, however I do think you should know that Evan's Bistro in Whitley Bay has a special place in my heart. My brother Mark is a director and the restaurant's executive chef and as his big sister I am hugely proud of him. Just because he is my brother though, I'm not going to give him an easy time. I am actually Mark's biggest critic and he hates cooking for me as he knows how judgmental I am. There is no point in me writing a false-positive review as it will just lead to disappointed customers and complaints which won't do anyone any favours in the long run. As he's my brother, if my experience had been rubbish I just wouldn't have written anything at all. Luckily though, it was all good so let's can crack on.......

The best new restaurant in Whitley Bay - Evan's Bistro | Evening and Children's Menu Review

You will find Evan's Bistro just by Whitley Bay Metro Station (in the old Tiger Bill's building - 201 - 203 Whitley Road, Whitley Bay. NE26 2SY). It's quite a large restaurant (around 85 covers) and has a modern/hipster feel to it with chalk boards, exposed bricks and booth style seating. It is very much a work in progress and it's fair to say that as this is their first restaurant, they are still finding their feet and I expect menus/opening times may be tweaked in the first few months so please check before heading over.

Evan's Bistro Whitley Bay | Opening Hours

  • Closed Mondays
  • Tuesday - Saturday | 11am - 3pm | Coffee, lunch and sandwiches (last orders 2:30pm) 
  • Tuesday - Saturday | 5:30pm - 10:30pm | Bistro Menu (last orders 10pm)
  • Sunday Lunch | 12noon - 4pm | Sunday lunch set menu priced at £9.50 for one course or £12 for two courses (last orders 2pm)

You can don't need to book at the moment and just need to pop in but if you're a large table you can call 0191 252 6532 to reserve a table.

You can view menus online here. There are also various specials which change regularly.

The best new restaurant in Whitley Bay - Evan's Bistro | Evening and Children's Menu Review  - executive chef Mark Spratt

The best new restaurant in Whitley Bay - Evan's Bistro | Evening and Children's Menu Review

I wouldn't say I've been involved with the opening or anything but as the chef's sister I have been a sounding board at times for some of Evan's Bistro's plans and I love the passion that the team have. They really want to create something special and are constantly self-evaluating, holding team planning meetings and looking for fresh ideas. Not all restaurants do this and if you follow Evan's Bistro on Facebook, you'll have noticed that they are a family-run business who are all super passionate about what they do.

One of the areas they are especially passionate about, is their wine and beer list. They have taken a lot of time to source the best wines, lagers and ales and stock from a local brewery. The staff have taken part in training and are happy to recommend. Steve was recommended this organic lager which he really enjoyed whilst I played it safe and ordered Sauvignon Blanc. Wine prices are reasonable and priced from £4.05 a glass.

The best new restaurant in Whitley Bay - Evan's Bistro | Evening and Children's Menu Review  - organic lager

Heidi and Jack were very excited when their juice arrived in this special lightbulb glass - definitely a talking point (and yeah that I didn't need to fret about spillages). They decided it was a potion bottle and that drinking it would turn give them special magic powers.

The best new restaurant in Whitley Bay - Evan's Bistro | Evening and Children's Menu Review  - kids juice in lightbulbs

The best new restaurant in Whitley Bay - Evan's Bistro | Evening and Children's Menu Review


Evan's Bistro Whitley Bay | Children's Menu Review

I always chat with Mark about how I am always disappointed when restaurants serve beautifully home-cooked grown-up meals but don't put the same amount of attention into the kid's meals. If a restaurant serves frozen chicken nuggets and chips, I always think I could just make that at home. If however they go the extra mile and cook homemade chicken and chips, I am always impressed and likely to go back time and time again. Mark shares my ethos and I know he will always put as much thought into the kids meals as the main menu - no turkey twizlers here! 

The best new restaurant in Whitley Bay - Evan's Bistro | Evening and Children's Menu Review  - kids tomato pasta

Heidi ordered her favourite pasta in tomato sauce which priced at £4.55 is very good value. Heidi cleared her bowl. She is turning into a bit of a diva though and as we eat out a lot, she complained that there was no Parmesan for her pasta! She's only 8 and I can't believe she has such demands. Anyway....I'm sure there will be parmesan waiting for her on our next visit.

The best new restaurant in Whitley Bay - Evan's Bistro | Evening and Children's Menu Review  - homemade chicken nuggets and chips

Harry and Jack ordered chicken nuggets and chips - both freshly prepared and made in-house. Both boys think that Uncle Mark makes the best chicken nuggets ever - even better than McDonalds apparently. I have to agree that you can see the quality.

The best new restaurant in Whitley Bay - Evan's Bistro | Evening and Children's Menu Review  - homemade chicken nuggets

Evan's Bistro have employed local, young front of house staff and I think for a lot of them, it's their first job (yeah to Evan's Bistro for giving them an opportunity). Although nervous (I don't think it helps that I had taken my camera along and was photographing everything in site), the staff are very sweet and happy to help - they kept our drinks topped up and checked back on us at the right times.

The best new restaurant in Whitley Bay - Evan's Bistro | Evening and Children's Menu Review  - booth seating

Evan's Bistro Whitley Bay | Evening Menu Review 

I am heading back to Evan's Bistro next weekend for date night and I'll be trying out more of the menu then but on this occasion, as the sun was shining and we were by the sea I went for fish, chips and mushy peas (£10.45). A classic done well. I honestly could not fault this dish at all but I did have to share my fish with Steve and the kids as I can never manage a full fish by myself.

The best new restaurant in Whitley Bay - Evan's Bistro | Evening and Children's Menu Review  - fish and chips

Steve ordered the oven roasted pink duck breast on braised red cabbage and honeyed figs £13.15) and I had proper food envy! I did manage to steal some and the duck and it was perfectly cooked with crispy skin and pink meat. Steve did say that he wished he had ordered a side dish with this so if you're going to order the duck, keep that in mind. I would 100% recommend you give it a try.

The best new restaurant in Whitley Bay - Evan's Bistro | Evening and Children's Menu Review  - roast duck

We were all pretty full up after our mains and if it was any other day I wouldn't have ordered dessert but as it was Heidi's birthday and I wanted to try as much as possible, we decided to treat ourselves. Another reason I am super proud of Mark is that he makes all of his desserts himself. I wish I had his skills! Heidi and Jack ordered a homemade chocolate brownie which was served warm and tasted incredible. Way better than anything you can buy in the shops.

The best new restaurant in Whitley Bay - Evan's Bistro | Evening and Children's Menu Review  - chocolate brownie

The best new restaurant in Whitley Bay - Evan's Bistro | Evening and Children's Menu Review

Steve ordered the toasted hazelnut cheesecake which was also incredible. The portion was massive and I think next time, Steve and I will order this to share. Not much can beat homemade cheesecake! Trust me when I say, you need to try the desserts at Evan's Bistro. YUM!

The best new restaurant in Whitley Bay - Evan's Bistro | Evening and Children's Menu Review  - homemade cheesecake

Harry ordered his favourite - homemade sticky toffee pudding. You guessed it - also fantastic. The portion was also a good size and I honestly don't know where Harry puts it all.

The best new restaurant in Whitley Bay - Evan's Bistro | Evening and Children's Menu Review  - homemade sticky toffee pudding

I probably would have ordered Sticky Toffee Pudding if Harry didn't, but as he was trying that I went for Lemon Posset which is another of my favourites. Served with homemade shortbread and chantilly cream, it wasn't as heavy as the other desserts and I'd recommend this option if you're pretty full up but would still like something sweet to end your meal.

The best new restaurant in Whitley Bay - Evan's Bistro | Evening and Children's Menu Review  - homemade lemon posett

Of course, as it was Heidi's birthday, we treated her to a birthday cake too (although we brought this home as there is no way we could squeeze in any more food).

The best new restaurant in Whitley Bay - Evan's Bistro | Evening and Children's Menu Review

I am just so proud of Mark and the whole team at Evan's Bistro. We are a tough family to please but they definitely achieved it.

Just to mention - Evan's Bistro aim to be as inclusive as possible - they have Vegan options on their menu (more available on request), are fully accessible and have installed a changing bed that can hold up to 20 stone in their disabled bathroom. Another reason for me to be super proud of them :D


White Sands, Rum Cocktails & Vintage Cars | Our Child-Free Holiday to Cuba

Earlier this month we ticked a place from our holiday bucket list with a child-free holiday to Cuba. Steve has always wanted to visit Havana and this was the main reason for our trip but we also wanted somewhere we could relax without the kids (it was a special 10th wedding anniversary trip). We picked Blau Varadero as it's an all inclusive 4* resort for adults only. If you are looking to combine beach life and culture, Varadero is a good option as it's the closest 'resort' to Havana and can be reached in just 2 hours.

Varadero isn't the real Cuba and most people say it's the most commercial part of the county. This part of the country been developed specifically with tourism in mind. We were fine with this though as we wanted luxury/relaxation and good amenities that a resort like Varadero can offer. I wouldn't really recommend visiting Varadero without combining it with a trip to Havana though - in fact it would be rude not to!

Before you visit Cuba, you need to apply for a tourist card. Sometimes these are included as part of your package but not always so double check! You also need to complete a form detailing every bit of electrical equipment you are taking into the country from your iPhone and cameras to hair straighteners along with their value. You'll be given this form on the plane.

The hotels in Varadero are a quick 30 minute transfer from Varadero airport and the first thing you notice is the huge birds circling up above and the mix of immaculate classic cars on the road with a couple of newer cars too.

We arrived at our hotel at around 8:30pm local time (1:30am UK time) and despite our best intentions of having an early night, we dumped our cases in our room and decided to take ourselves on a self-guided orientation tour around the various hotel bars. Starting with the beach bar, then the pool bar then the lobby bar and piano bar. We sampled 11 different drinks within 3 hours and when I fell over after ordering another rum and coke at the pool bar, I realised the measures were large and the drinks were strong. We headed to bed at around 11pm (4am UK time).

We awoke the next morning to brilliant sunshine and no hangovers. Yeah! I was delighted to find a Prosecco bar set up with breakfast and it actually tasted ok. That's how we started every day - with a glass of Prosecco and a breakfast feast. Well apart from the day I was too hungover to face any alcohol at all. Sad times!

Mornings would be spent by the pool or on the beach. We had grand plans to join in with lots of activities from beach Yoga to archery but in the end I just liked to watch the yoga whilst drinking a cocktail and reading my book and by the time archery started at 3pm we felt like we were far too under the influence to be handling weapons! I don't make time to read at home and always give preference to watching Netflix instead. After every holiday I vow I'll change my ways and read more often and sometimes it lasts a while. Fingers crossed it does this time as I just love the feeling of being lost in a book. I read three during the week - my first was Marian Keyes 'Making it up as I go along' which was recommended by my friend Nyomi. It is a collection of short stories covering everything from a MAC nail varnish obsession to feeling trapped in a Morrocan 'retreat'. It's a nice book to dip in and out of and give you a giggle. The second was Big Little Lies as recommended by my friend Cat and it was such a page turner. I read it from start to finish in one day. I can't wait to watch the series now! I definitely recommend as a holiday read. I didn't expect to read more than two books so had to pick my third from the book swap in my hotel. I went with the Yorkshire Pudding Club which was ok - just a typical chic-lit type book that's very easy to read.

The pool bar made the best Pina Colada Slush drinks which we aways ordered with extra rum and they were our daytime drinks of choice. We would enjoy a couple every morning and afternoon. The staff at Blau were outstanding and so friendly. They get to know what you like to drink and when and would often bring us a fresh drink over without asking (or loitering for a tip). I've stayed at a fair few 4/5* all inclusive resorts before and the service and Blau was the best we've received anywhere. The staff really got to know you and would ask about your day, mention if you enjoyed your trip if you were out for the day and they were so on the ball. Good staff make the world of difference I think.

It wasn't all about the drinking though. We loved our daily walks along the beach, enjoyed fruit kebabs from a fruit stall by the pool and swimming too.

We'd normally take lunch by the pool where an open air restaurant served a delicious buffet next to the poolside BBQ. Calamari was my favourite and Steve's go-to meal was grilled chicken with rice. The best thing about this restaurant was the Caribbean band that played. There is a lot of live music in Cuba but these guys were the best. With their steel drums and maracas, they had people up dancing and there was a real atmosphere of fun. I said to Steve that restaurants with live music need to more of a thing back in the UK. There was one waiter who would join the band every day and belt out a song to the delight of the crowd. He had the most fantastic voice and was just so happy! He always received huge cheers and a standing ovation and then simply went back to waiting tables (with a few high fives from the crowd). I always enjoyed 2 large glasses of chilled white wine with lunch which unusually for all inclusive was very drinkable and not the usual vinegar-tasting crap you are served. Our regular waiter would always have them ready for me.

After a day drinking in the sun, we'd normally head back to our room at 4pm ish ready to head out at 7pm for pre-dinner drinks. There were a range of bars to choose from with the main one being the lobby bar. Although beautiful, we found it to be a bit busy here and preferred the piano bar that was right outside of our room. Every evening a very talented pianist would play tunes from the Beatles to Elton John and even a bit of Mariah Carey! I loved it. It's all table service here and we enjoyed many a cocktail here. Steve and I made it our mission to work our way through the whole cocktail list and we did want to try every spirit too but the list was so extensive (7 types of rum for example) and the measures were so large that we sickened ourselves! I was brave and tried my first ever Bloody Mary. I'm still not sure if I like it or not!

Our favourite evening restaurant was the international a la carte restaurant. The setting was beautiful with silver service and elegant surroundings. There was a modern string quartet playing too which really set the scene and helped to make the evening extra special. People warned us that the food in Cuba was not that great and we had low expectations but in our experience, the food was fine - often better than fine in fact. Steve enjoyed a wonderful steak and I had the most incredible slow cooked lamb that evening. I just wish we could have visited this restaurant more than once.

My least favourite restaurant was the Mexican restaurant. Again, the setting was lovely and there was a Mariachi band playing, however the service was SO slow (45 minutes before my order was taken) and the food wasn't really authentically Mexican - more like salad and chicken placed in a tortilla wrap. The result of slow service was that I ended up very drunk on this evening. On top of the champagne, cocktails and wine I'd drank through the day, I had a whole bottle of wine and after dinner drinks here. When I was in our room I fell over climbing into bed. Oooops! The next day was the morning I couldn't face any food or drink at breakfast. Sad times! No regrets though.

I organised a trip to Havana with a private guide in a '56 Chevvy through Havana Memories. The idea of going on a coach trip and being taken on a cliche tourist trip just wasn't for me. I wanted to be able to chat to our guide and find out about life in Cuba plus I wanted to work to my own itinerary. Hiring a private guide is 1000000% recommended. Our guide Jorge was simply fabulous. He brought his DSLR along and asked if we had a spare memory card so he could take photos for us. We travelled through the city of Mantanzas, to the highest point in Cuba and then around the streets of Havana. We were the only tourists to board the ferry that crosses the bay with the locals, ducked into hidden bars where Jorge knew a live band were playing and managed to see all of the sites. We honestly loved it. Jorge and our driver were real characters and Steve and I couldn't help but smile as they took us down little side streets so they could pop into a pharmacy to collect their wife's blood test results or when Jorge told us to go ahead alone for 5 minutes so he could browse the new fabrics for sale from his favourite store (he used them for photo backdrops I kid you not). We even visited a small town on our way home so our driver could post a letter. All of these little quirks really made our trip to Havana for us and because we were visiting with real Cubans going about their normal daily lives, along with visiting the main sites, we really felt like we got to know the city. I'll be posting a full review of our Havana tour soon - it's a post you don't want to miss!

We also visited downtown Varadero ourselves which although is supposedly 'built for tourists' was still fascinating. We caught the little train that stopped outside our hotel and first stopped at Plaza Americas for a spot of shopping - you can buy rum in Cuba for as little as £1.50 per bottle! Then we travelled to the main part of the town. As we waited for our little train, two men did try and sell us cigars. We know not to accept anything from street sellers and have been hassled to death by people in the past (especially in Mexico) but as soon as we said no to these blokes they left us be which was refreshing! We were highly amused as we watched them collecting their various stashes which they stored everywhere from the trees in the nearby golf course to the bus stop roof.

Downtown Varadero is home to restaurants, bars and lots of market stalls. There are market areas plus some people have turned their home into a business. We watched one lady selling cold beers from a hatch in her front room and another group of lads who had turned their front yard into a car washing station. Most of the goods for sale were mass produced and not the real deal but they were cheap as chips. We bought 3 Cuban prints for our bedroom, 2 Cuban fridge magnets, 3 hand carved wooden pencils with funny head toppers and 2 bracelets for around £11.

All too soon our week was over. We made a conscious decision not to buy any WiFi from our hotel during our trip as the internet is notoriously slow in Cuba and who wants to spend their holiday waiting for Facebook to load? Not me! A week was just the right amount of time for us to spend in Cuba and we both agreed that we'd love to return. Next time, we want to stay in a Casa in Havana for one night followed by a stay at the International Hotel Havana for one night (although it is super expensive, we fell in love during our visit with Jorge) before ending our trip relaxing in Varadero.

I remember when Steve and I travelled to Cancun for Spring break when I was aged 21. There was an older couple staying at our hotel who used to spend their full day drinking. We used to roll our eyes and wonder how they could face it in the mornings. We realised on this holiday that we have turned into that couple! haha! I bet some of the younger adults were rolling their eyes at us this time. It did us good though and we had the best laughs.

Let me know if you fancy visiting Cuba. If you want a country where you'll feel safe with the most lovely people that combines history and relaxation, I would definitely recommend.

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White Sands, Rum Cocktails & Vintage Cars | Our Child-Free Holiday to Cuba


Heidi turns 8

Heidi turns 8 today and I couldn't be more proud of the independent young lady she is. In her 8th year of life, Heidi is dabbling with being a Vegetarian. I would probably call her a flexitarian at the moment. She goes through phases of saying she doesn't want to eat meat at all but then she does still often eat chicken and fish (plus hot dogs!) and will still ask for chicken nuggets when we visit McDonalds for example. I do have a feeling that she'll probably turn fully vegetarian in the next few years and will support her whatever she decides. I think at age 8, you are still very much getting to know your own mind and empowering kids to make their own life choices/learn their own way is important.

Heidi is most definitely a people pleaser and very affectionate. She loves snuggling up and watching movies and will do anything you ask. She likes helping out and will lay the table/do the dishes ect.... without any fuss. After school, you'll either find Heidi with a pad of paper, pencils, scissors and glue either crafting or drawing or playing outside on her roller boots which is her favourite hobby (and she's quite good).

To celebrate Heidi's birthday we have booked a table at my brother's new restaurant Evan's Bistro - I'll share some photos over on my Facebook page tonight.  On Sunday we are off to Whitehouse farm with the family as a sort of birthday gathering so that will be nice.

Heidi is bright and capable and works in the year above's class for maths. She tries really hard and is super happy at school. She has a nice group of friends and enjoys playing with her dolls and mini figures. She'll happily entertain herself for hours.

Heidi does look like butter wouldn't melt but she's not all a bed of roses. She is a good liar and I'll never forget the time earlier in the year that she used a lipstick to draw spots all over her body and pretend she was too poorly for school. I can't believe I fell for it! Good job Steve was at home and sussed her out otherwise I'd be looking very red-faced at the doctors!

I call Heidi 'Little Miss' and she loves her clothes and make-up - her favourite thing to do is enjoy a girls night in with me where we'll do each other's hair and make-up. She is also very adventurous and will be the first to volunteer to climb a tree when a ball gets stuck or ride a rollercoaster. She is much braver than her brothers and I would not want to mess with Heidi and Jack in the playground! Heidi's teachers always point out that although she can be quiet, she definitely won't let anyone push her around or do anything she doesn't want to do.

Favourite food: Pasta with tomato sauce
Favourite sweets: Skittles
Favourite TV show: Spongebob
Favourite toy: Soft toys/roller boots/baby Annabelle
Favourite movie: Trolls
Best friend: Lexi

Happy 8th Birthday Heidi! I can't wait to see what this year has in store for you. 

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