A Picnic at Ingram Valley, Northumberland National Park

Ingram Valley in Northumberland National Park is somewhere I have fond memories of visiting as a child. We used to visit every summer and spend the day with friends and family. I loved it. 

A Picnic at Ingram Valley, Northumberland National Park

It's one of those places I've been meaning to take my own children for so long but have never got around to it. I predict it has been around 20-25 years since my last visit and decided we couldn't put it off any longer. We set off on a sunny Saturday in hope of finding this spot I remember so fondly. 


Sambuca Cramlington Happy Hour Menu Review | Will it be a success?

There has been a lot of buzz around Sambuca Cramlington opening up in my hometown. I was planning on visiting on opening night but managed to contain myself and waited a few weeks until they had 'bedded in' to their new surroundings. We turned up on a sunny Monday lunchtime without a reservation and it's fair to say we received exactly what we were expecting - a cheap and cheerful and speedy lunch in nice surroundings. My experience was 100000% better than anything I ever experienced in the Glasshouse and I would say this restaurant certainly has its place in our town.

Sambuca Cramlington Happy Hour Review | Will it be a success?

It's a shame the Glasshouse failed

Like most of Cramlington, I was so excited about the Glasshouse opening in Cramlington. A decent cocktail bar was just what we needed. The refurbishment was gorgeous and the bar and restaurant looked fantastic - it was clear a lot of money had been spent. Which is why it baffles me that higher management and the owners just seemed to abandon the place once it had opened. I visited on three occasions and experienced extremely bad service and a clear lack of leadership including a rather embarrassing 2 hour wait for a sausage and mash when there were only 5 other tables in the restaurant. If the Glasshouse was my baby, I know I'd be running front of house 99% of the time until the staff were up to speed and constantly checking the standards were there. It baffles me that this didn't happen. My experience mirrored most of Cramlington and it all ended in tears with rumours of bailiffs removing stock, services like card payments being withdrawn and staff not being paid and making a big public fuss including putting handwritten notes on the restaurant's windows. Yikes! The whole thing just seems like one huge waste of time and investment which is a shame as it could have been so good and had huge potential.

I waited 2 hours for this dish at The Glasshouse

Sambuca opening in Cramlington is a good thing

I will be honest - I used to be a complete Sambuca snob and turn my nose up at the chain but after I visited the Blyth branch with my mam during her foster carer meet-ups a few years ago, I changed my mind. I'm not exactly a regular customer, nor will I say they serve a decent pizza BUT there is a clear gap in the market for cheap and cheerful happy hour pizzas and pastas for families who are on a budget but still want to go out and enjoy a lively restaurant experience. Cramlington doesn't really have a restaurant like this so I think opening a Sambuca here really will fill a gap and I do think it will be a success.

Sambuca Cramlington Happy Hour Review

I visited at 12noon on a Monday lunchtime. Monday lunchtimes are notoriously quiet in the restaurant trade and I know if we'd have walked past nearby Prezzo, there wouldn't have been a soul inside. Yet Sambuca seemed to fill up pretty quickly and by the time we left at 1:15pm, pretty much every table had been taken. I have to say, we were in shock! How do they fill every seat on a Monday lunchtime?? The clientele seemed to be young couples, older couples, families and friends meeting up. I am guessing the reason Sambuca is so popular is their £5.95 for 3 courses lunchtime special which on the surface, seems like a fantastic deal and I agree, is very tempting.

The restaurant had a very good atmosphere, it was nice and livley with the front of house sporadically shouting out random words in Italian (I think??). The staff were majorly on the ball and our drinks order was taken within a minute of us sitting down and our food arrived quickly. I've heard a few people mention the restaurant can get a little noisy but even when it was full it was fine for us - sometimes there is a live singer performing which judging by a few Facebook comments I've read can be a bit much! I think with Sambuca, you get what you pay for. We were expecting something cheap and cheerful with good service and that's what we received.

The Sambuca happy hour runs from 12noon - 5pm Monday-Friday and 12noon-3pm on Saturdays. For this you can choose potato skins or soup of the day, pizza or pasta (excluding premium toppings) and then coffee or ice cream. Panuccis in Smithy Square serves this same offer for £7.45 so there's no denying Sambuca is cheap as chips.

I ordered potato skins to start. The portion was larger than I expected but the presentation left a lot to be desired. I loved the garlic mayo but was amused to also find a dollop of Marie Rose sauce on my place. Not a natural accompaniment to potato skins - I think BBQ sauce would be a better idea. The skins weren't as crispy as I like them but they were perfectly edible.

My dining companion ordered vegetable soup and again, it wasn't anything special but it wasn't the worst soup in the world either.

Onto our pizzas and I went with my favourite (and some would say boring) Margharita. It was cooked from scratch in house so that's a start and the tomato sauce was lovely. The base was very thin and I've heard rumours that Sambuca use fake cheese on their pizzas - I don't know whether this is the case but it was certainly a bland offering. Although it was bland, I did still actually think it was nice for the price point and it's the kind of pizza that my kids would wolf down in no time. Because it was so thin I expected to leave feeling unsatisfied but I was actually full up and even left a few crusts. For the price, they're never going to use the finest ingredients so don't visit if you're a pizza connoisseur but if you fancy a quick and cheap pizza lunch that will leave you feeling satisfied, it's ideal.

We ended our meals with two Americanos. Again - they weren't the best we've ever tasted but like the rest of our meal, they were adequate and did the job.

£5.95 for all of that - you can't really complain can you?

Does Sambuca Cramlington offer good value?

On the surface, you think you're getting a good deal, but that's all due to clever marketing. In reality, you're actually not getting as good a deal as you think. The mark-up on non-happy hour food is horrendous. A Sirloin Steak was on the menu for £19.99! Now Sambuca and quality don't go hand in hand so I'm guessing their steak isn't coming from an Organic farm or anywhere special. To charge this price when you can order a steak with all the trimmings from the Hungry Horse a few doors done for half this price seems ludicrous to me. I'm guessing they come from a similar standard of supplier. There is also a huge mark-up on drinks. A bottle of Prosecco is £19.99 - I wouldn't pay this price when I can buy one for £9.99 in Wetherspoons around the corner. If you ask for a coke, they'll bring you a large one which at £2.50 is an expensive add-on - unlimited soft drinks are available for £2.20 from Nandos next door.

Speaking of Nandos, I know a lot of people comment that they think it's expensive (I'm not in that school of thought - we love it). A meal there for 2 adults and 3 kids plus drinks will normally set us back £50 and we're left feeling stuffed! There's no children's menu at Sambuca Cramlington (that I could see anyway) so if the five of us ordered 5 x £5.95 happy hour plus 5 x £2.50 soft drinks at Sambuca, the cost would be £42.50 - just £7.50 (or £1.50 each) less than Nandos. When you look at it like this, it's not as good a deal as you first thought. In fact, if we dined at Sambuca outside of Happy Hour, I am pretty sure our total bill for the family would be higher than many places in Cramlington.

Sambuca Cramlington - would I return?

It may seem that this review is fairly negative but do you know what, I will return to Sambuca. Probably time and time again. I'm not likely to visit for date night any time soon but I can certainly see that it has it's place - if we fancy a pizza before the cinema on a Saturday lunchtime or if I'm looking for somewhere to take the kids after school for a treat - Sambuca will tick those boxes. They also run a few drinks promotions in their bar (I noticed an offer for a glass of Prosecco and a slice of cake for £5.75) and as the bar area is really lovely, I can imagine popping in for a drink with the girls or Steve. They also seem to have an ice cream stand with ice creams to take away which I'm sure will be nice to pop in for with the kids when we're visiting the newly refurbished Seven Oaks Park across the road.

I have a feeling it's going to do really well in Cramlington and as one of only a few local businesses in Manor Walks, I wish them every success.

You can find Sambuca Cramlington in Manor Walks next to Frankie & Benny's and Vue Cinema. Here's a link to their current menu or you can view below.

Let me know if you've visited yet and your thoughts.......

Sambuca Cramlington Happy Hour Menu Review | Will it be a success?

Sambuca Cramlington Happy Hour Menu Review | Will it be a success?


10 things that happen to every parent during a UK heatwave

*This is a collaborative post

If there's anything us Brits love doing, it's talking about the weather. With another heatwave predicted this weekend (woohoo), I thought I'd share a few funny anecdotes about what happens to every parent during a British heatwave - brace yourselves!

10 things that happen to every parent during a UK heatwave #heatwave #UK #Parenting

1 - We panic buy a new summer wardrobe 

After spending what seems like an eternity in jeans, jumpers and winter boots, it's a bit of a shock to the system when the sun does decide to make an appearance. I don't know about you, but my children's summer clothes seem to disappear every year and on that first day of sunshine I can be found googling the best Groupon discounts for TK Maxx and stocking up on summer essentials, panic buying summer dresses in Primark and adding multi-packs of shorts and t-shirts to my weekly shop.

2 - It takes an hour to leave the house

Leaving the house during a heatwave with kids around is like a military operation. There's sunscreen to apply 30 minutes before you leave, sunhats to locate, scooters to dig out of the garage and raincoats to pack 'just in case'. It's a wonder we actually ever make it outside.........

3 - Bring out the BBQ from Winter hibernation 

BBQs and heatwaves go hand in hand and it's not unusual for us to invite our friends and family over for a bit of an impromptu get-together. It's only then do we realise that our BBQ has been in hibernation over winter and needs a good clean so we pick up a disposable from the corner shop and use and wonder why we bothered investing hundreds of pounds in a 'proper' BBQ.

4 - We all flock to the coast and soon regret it 

I do this EVERY TIME the sun makes an appearance and instantly regret it. Heading to the beach during a heatwave is good in theory but in practice, you spend the whole time in a traffic jam, will struggle to find a parking space and then when you do get there it's absolutely freezing thanks to the lovely North East Coast breeze.  Next time I suggest a trip to the beach, please remind me that it's much easier (and nicer) to stay inland during a heatwave please.

5 - We spend ages filling the paddling pool after school

Why are paddling pools so deceiving? By the time we get home from school and manage to fill the pool with lukewarm water, the sun has gone in and the kids are no longer interested. I think there should be some kind of legislation imposed on all paddling pools that forces manufacturers to prominently display how long a pool will actually take to fill.

6 - Every meal becomes a picnic and must be eaten outside

One thing I love about heatwaves in the UK is that the kids can eat outside. Every meal is instantly more fun when it turns into an al-fresco picnic. The kids eat more, I don't need to sweep up the crumbs and everyone is happy. It's win-win.

7 - We find joy in hanging the washing on the line

Before becoming a parent, I would have laughed out loud if you'd have suggested hanging the washing on the line would bring me joy. I'm not ashamed to say that now it does and yes, I am one of those people who will probably post a photo of this rare occurrence on Facebook. Anyone else the same?

8 -  Deciding what your baby will wear at bedtime is tough

Why does nobody warn you about this dilemma when you're pregnant? Trying to decide what to dress your baby in for bed during a heatwave has to be one of the toughest parent decisions - do they wear their normal pjs and a vest, just a vest, do they need a lightweight baby sleeping bag? Or no sleeping bag? What about just a sheet? Will they be ok just sleeping in their nappy? What if they kick their blanket off during the night and end up too cold? Is it ok to leave their window open a little? Agh! The questions and worry are endless! If you're struggling with this, I've found this online checker from the Gro Company to be pretty good (although it obviously does not replace official advice).

9 - We start looking for shade after 30 minutes 

We look forward to the sun all winter but as soon as it hits, we can only last 30 minutes and then need to set up camp under a tree.

10 - It's the talk of the playground

During a heatwave, it's all we can talk about. The school gate chatter is filled with 'isn't it a lovely day', 'it's going to get up to the mid-20s later', 'have you got your paddling pool out?', 'oh where did you get those flip-flops?'. Honestly, we are weather-obsessed (but I secretly love it).

Enjoy the heatwave this weekend! We've got to make the most of it. Let me know if any of the things on my list ring true for you. 

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10 things that happen to every parent during a UK heatwave #heatwave #UK #Parenting


The Ultimate Guide to What's On in the North East | May Half Term

We were supposed to be heading to the Netherlands this Half Term but obviously, this will not be happening anymore. Steve still has a week off work and I am keen for us to make the most of it despite us being in the middle of a Global Pandemic.

The Ultimate Guide to What's On in the North East  | May Half Term

I have scoured the internet for the best virtual and stay at home activities to enjoy over May Half Term.  I hope whatever you are up to, you stay safe and are able to enjoy some fun.

Rising Sun Country Park | A Pushchair & Dog-friendly Walk in North Tyneside

Fun fact - the Rising Sun Country Park used to face onto our back garden and it's a place we used to walk through and around a lot when Harry and Heidi were little tots and we lived in Wallsend. 

We don't visit as often as we used to now but it's still a family favourite and a lovely spot for a family walk, cycle, scoot or picnic. The country park is dog-friendly too so a fab place to head out with your four-legged friend. As the park is inland and quite sheltered, it can also be a bit of a sun trap so it's perfect for a sunny day. 

If you're visiting by car, you'll find the entrance just before Asda Benton (postcode NE12 9SS). Just follow the road and you'll find a large, free car park just by the visitor centre (disabled parking is available on site). 

Which is the best resort in Majorca for your family holiday?

This is an advert for May 2028 and includes (ad) affiliate links. 

I've just booked a family holiday to Majorca for later this year and really cannot wait. It's one of the best places to visit in Spain with Kids in my opinion and an island I've visited twice in the past and as with all holidays I book, I spent what seemed like forever researching everything from flight times to which were the best areas for families.

From analysing a list of villas in Spain to reading Tripadvisor reviews and asking friends for recommendations - no stone was left unturned!

I've popped all of this research into a blog post featuring the best family resorts on the island and I hope you find this post useful if you're thinking about heading to Majorca any time soon.

Which is the best resort in Majorca for your family holiday?  #Majorca #Mallorca #FamilyTravel #Balaerics


An Insider's Guide to Visiting Newcastle with Kids | Top Tips and Hidden Gems

Newcastle is my favourite city in the world and the more people I can encourage to visit here, the better I think so today I've put together a bit of an insider's guide and I'm sharing some top tips for visiting our city with kids.

An Insiders Guide to Visiting Newcastle with Kids | Top Tips and Hidden Gems

Free places to hide when it rains 

Newcastle is in the UK so chances are, it may rain during your visit! Luckily, we have lots of places to hide if the heavens do decide to open. First of all, we have a huge covered shopping mall (in the form of intu Eldon Square) which is packed with shops, restaurants, bars and cafes. You'll find the main entrances near Grey's Monument and via Northumberland Street. The Great North Museum is just across the road from Haymarket bus station and you'll find a small soft play area for kids, lots of exhibits including our favourite snake floor and real mummy! If you're near Newcastle Train Station and you need somewhere to hide from the rain, the Discovery Museum is a hop, skip and jump away and will keep you amused for a good few hours and finally, if you're in the Quayside area, I'd recommend the Baltic as a good place to escape the weather. There are changing modern art exhibitions, a cafe and fantastic viewing platforms.

The best baby changing facilities  

Sprog on the Tyne was so impressed with Fenwick's changing area, that she dedicated an entire post to just how good it is (check it out here). With private, lockable feeding rooms with comfortable chairs, changing stations, nappies, bottle warmers, large accessible toilets and more. As far as changing areas go, this really is the creme de la creme. You'll find entrances to Fenwick via Northumberland Street, near Grey's Monument or via intu Eldon Square.

Treats your kids will love 

Newcastle is home to lots of places where you can really treat your kids - my top tips are crepes from Julien at La Petite Creperie in the Grainger Market. Kids LOVE Julien and he may even encourage them to practice their French skills, the crepes are tasty and inexpensive too.

For freakshakes and cakes, a trip to the Great British Cupcakery on the Quayside has to be on the cards. Their Instagram account will have you drooling! Finally, if ice cream is your treat of choice, Mark Toney has been serving ice cream in Newcastle for over 120 years. There are 3 Mark Toney cafes serving delicious ice cream sundaes and other treats in Newcastle and you can order to takeaway too.

The best toy department 

Ok, I'll admit it. Sometimes I bribe my children with the promise of £5 to spend on a new toy when we're out shopping or sometimes, just the mention of simply visiting a toy shop for a spot of window shopping is enough to placate them. Newcastle's best toy shop has to be inside Fenwick (just off Northumberland Street or via intu Eldon Square). Fenwick's toy department is huge and there's a toy for all tastes and interests - look out for the LEGO Darth Vader! For older kids, a trip to the Forbidden Planet Megastore on Grainger Street is also recommended.

Where to stop for coffee with kids

Newcastle City Centre is awash with coffee shops. Our favourite places to visit with the kids include Tyneside Bar Cafe off Northumberland Street and Garden Kitchen in Eldon Garden (part of intu Eldon Square). Both of these coffee shops are nice and welcoming, serve decent coffee and have a basket of toys for kids to help themselves to.  Tyneside Bar Cafe sometimes has free children's cartoons on their big screen (especially during school holiday mornings) and Garden Kitchen serves inexpensive children's lunches on mini picnic tables which are cute.

Where to find a city centre play park 

The best city centre play park is Exhibition Park - you'll find this park just behind the Great North Museum and near the RVI hospital on Claremont road. There are multiple play areas, a cafe/ice cream kiosk, sports courts, a water play area, gardens, a lake, skate parks and there's even a microbrewery if you need something a little stronger.

FREE movies in the summer 

Throughout the summer, Newcastle NE1 erects a giant screen at old Eldon Square (30 seconds from Grey's Monument). This outdoor cinema is completely free and shows a wide range of family films and sporting events. Check out the Get into Newcastle website for updates and listings.

Where to find Primark 

Most teens visiting the city will want to know where to find Primark. You can't miss ours at the top of Northumberland Street! 

Best burgers for kids 

The best burgers for kids in Newcastle are definitely to be found at The Fat Hippo Underground. You'll find this hidden restaurant just beside Newcastle's Theatre Royal off Grey Street and their children's menu is perfect for fussy eaters who can build their own burger.

Where to charge your phone/tablet 

We've all been caught short with a low phone battery and tweens and teens will be happy to know they can charge their phone completely free of charge using the free phone lockers inside intu Eldon Square. You'll also find charging plugs in the seating area near the male changing rooms at Primark (you do need your cable to use these ones though).

You can visit a FREE city farm 

Newcastle has its own city farm. Ouseburn is a Newcastle suburb and can be reached if you walk along the Quayside or catch the Qualylink bus. Ouseburn Farm is home to lots of animals, both indoors and outside and there's a community cafe on site too (donations welcome).

Fun dining for kids

If you're looking for somewhere fun to take the kids to dine in the city centre, I'd highly recommend The Botanist (through the day) or  Georges Great British Kitchen. Both welcome families, offer fun menus for kids and serve their food in quirky plant pots, buckets and spades or wheelbarrows.

It's easy to escape to the beach 

In the warmer months, Newcastle is home to it's very own Quayside Seaside where you'll find fish and chips for sale, deckchairs to people watch, a small play park and buckets and spades. You'll find the Quayside Seaside not far from the white Millenium Bridge.

If you'd like to visit a real beach and experience the North East coast, it's really quick and easy to catch the Metro train to Tynemouth, Cullercoats or Whitley Bay from Newcastle City Centre. Cullercoats is one of my favourite beaches to take the kids - it's a beautiful sheltered bay with its own loos and restaurants/fish and chips available along the prom.

Where to find a city-centre soft play 

If you're looking for a city centre soft play centre, head to Jungle Jacks at intu Eldon Square. Here you'll find soft play, a climbing wall, ten pin bowling and more. Perfect for a quick coffee stop.

How to ride a free mini train 

A free mini train ride on the first Sunday of every month (excluding winter) runs around Exhibition Park behind Wylam Brewery between 11am - 3pm. Kids love this! Donations are welcome.

Where to take the kids for pizza 

Most kids love pizza and for a quick and easy family meal it can't be beaten. I recommend Bella Italia for fantastic value with wonderful staff, Pizza Storm for picky eaters (you can create your own pizza with unlimited toppings for £5.95), Gusto or Babucho if your kids want to physically make their own pizza and deliver it to the chef, the Herb Garden for pizza in beautiful surroundings and Pizza by Slice in the Grainger Market if you need a super quick and cheap fix.

If you enjoyed this post and are looking for more ideas for places to visit across North East England, why not join my FREE North East Days Out Facebook Group? There are almost 2000 members and it's a fun and friendly place to share recommendations for places to visit, post photos from across North East England and ask for advice from other members. You can request to join here.

Do you have any insider tips or favourite places to visit with kids? Let me know in the comments and I'll add them to this guide.

Linking to Mummy Travels and Wander Mum's fab City Tripping Link Up - Check it out here. 

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An Insider's Guide to Visiting Newcastle with Kids | Top Tips and Hidden Gems


10 of the Best Family Campsites to try near Whitby

I love nothing more than a camping trip in the summer. It's an inexpensive way to get some proper r&r with the family, take a digital detox and get some fresh air into your lungs! We love nothing more than a family day out in North Yorkshire.

Hot on the heels of my post featuring 10 places to camp in the North East and North Yorkshire and A Guide to Camping by the Beach in Northumberland, I decided to focus this post on campsites in and around Whitby in North Yorkshire.

Whitby is a 1.5 - 2 hour drive from our home in Northumberland and the perfect distance for a weekend short break I think. There's lots to do in the area from climbing the 199 steps to the abbey to the Dracula experience, eating award-winning fish and chips, plenty of coastal walks, fishing, boat trips or you can simply play on the beach. You can read about our last trip to Whitby here. 

Beacon Farm Ice Cream

Beacon Farm is an Ice Cream Shop and Tea Room just 4 miles from Whitby. This family-run business accepts tents for just £15 per night (up to 4 people - additional people are £2 each). There's the option to include electric hook-up and the site is dog-friendly too - in fact your dog can stay for free! Facilities include a children's play park, an indoor bouncy castle, ice cream parlour on-site, toilet and shower block, pot washing area and mobile phone charging. Find out more and book online here.

Middlewood Farm Park

Middlewood Farm Park is a 5* family-run site just a 10-minute walk from Robin Hoods Bay and a 10-minute drive to Whitby. The site offers panoramic countryside views and a range of facilities including accessible bathrooms, baby changing facilities, an outdoor adventure play area and WiFi. It's just a 5-minute walk to the pub too! Prices are from £14 per night for 2 people - minimum stays apply during peak periods. Electric hook-up is available and dogs are permitted for an additional £2 per night. Find out more and book online here.

Abbey View House

Abbey View House is a small, certified Camping and Caravanning Club site with fantastic reviews. There is room for just 5 caravans and 10 tents so this is a perfect site if you're looking for somewhere a little quieter. Pitches are available from £18 per night for a family of 4 including electric hook-up. Find out more and book online here. 

Hooks House Farm

Hooks House Farm is a 10 minute walk to the village of Ravenscar and Whitby is just a short drive or bus trip away. Hooks House Farm is accessible via public transport so perfect if you want to leave your car on-site. Showers, washrooms and the use of an electric kettle, fridge and freezer are included in with the price. Bookings are available from £8 per adult per night. Electric hook-up is available and dogs are welcome. Advance bookings are allowed for electric-hook up pitches, standard pitches cannot be pre-booked and are available on a first come, first served basis. Find out more and book online here. 

Lythe Caravan and Camping Site

Lythe Caravan and Camping Site is situated in a picturesque village in the North Yorkshire Moors. There's a good pub just up the track and Whitby is just a short drive away. There is space for 15 tents on site and prices start at £20 per night for three people including electric hook-up. You can pay a small supplement for extra people. Find out more and book online here. 

Runswick Bay Caravan and Camping

Runswick Bay is a dog-friendly family-run site just 6 miles North of Whitby. There's a large camping field, access to fridge and freezers, laundry facilities, washing up areas and you can easily walk to Runswick Bay beach. There's a 2 night minimum stay policy and prices start at £13 per adult (including electric hook-up). Dogs are charged at £1.50 per night. Find out more and book online here. 

Folly Hall Farm

Folly Hall Farm is a peaceful place, just off the beaten track near Whitby with glorious countryside views. There are just 15 pitches on site (all with electric hook-up) and there are electric showers, access to fridge freezers and toilet facilities on site. Prices are available from £7.50 per person per night. Find out more and book online here.

York House Caravan Park

York House Caravan Park is set in 4 acres of countryside and is just a short walk to the beach. The site is just half a mile from the old railway line which is used for walking and cycling along the coast. On-site facilities include a shop, laundry, tourist information, ice pack service, spacious bathrooms, large children's play area, dog walking area, BBQ and picnic area and there's a nearby bus stop too. Well-behaved pets are welcome and prices are available from £10 per person per night. Electric hook-up is available at a supplement. Find out more and book online here.

Grouse Hill 

Grouse Hill is directly behind the Flask Inn pub, just a short drive from Whitby. The site overlooks a gorgeous wooded valley and there's a beautiful woodland walk nearby. Prices are from £20 per night including 2 adults, 2 children and one car. Electric hook-up is available and dogs are welcome for an additional £3 per night. Find out more and book online here. 

Serenity Camping 

Serenity Camping is just 7 miles from Whitby (and on the main bus route). The site has a convenient village location with butchers, coffee shops, 2 pubs and a bistro all on the doorstep. The site is in a peaceful location with a brand new family and accessible bathroom, WiFi, phone charging points, campers kitchen, wildlife pond and free range ducks and hens on site. You're welcome to bring your dog and there are many walks from your doorstep plus the beach is just 1 mile away. This site has a peaceful camping policy and there are no ball games allowed. Children must be supervised at all times. Find out more and book online here.

Please note - I have not personally tried and tested these sites, they are simply places I have researched that I think look like a nice place to stay. Please read reviews via Pitchup or similar before booking.

Have you camped near Whitby or stayed at any of the sites I've mentioned? Have I missed a hidden gem? Let me know in the comments. 

Other posts you may like: 

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10 of the Best Family Campsites to try near Whitby


The Cherry Blossom Orchard at The Alnwick Garden

* This article was originally posted in February 2018 and was last updated in April 2023.

The Cherry Orchard at The Alnwick Garden is the largest collection of 'Tai-haku' outside of Japan. Comprising of 329 trees, they all bloom together for up to two weeks around the end of April/beginning of May. We visited on 2 May 2018 and I was absolutely blown away by their beauty. 

If you can, I highly recommend popping down to The Alnwick Garden this year to catch a glimpse for yourself. My photographs really don't do them justice and I can't describe how beautiful they are. 

Keep a close eye on the Alnwick Garden Facebook page from March/April. They'll announce when the blossom is in bloom. There's only a small window of opportunity to visit but it is 100% worth it. I hope you enjoy my photos......

The Cherry Blossom Orchard at The Alnwick Garden

Top Insider Tips for Visiting Orlando with Kids

*This post has been written in collaboration with dealchecker.co.uk

I will be 1000% honest with you when I say that Orlando in Florida really did not seem like the sort of place I'd want to go on holiday. My preconceptions were that it was very expensive and commercialised and the kind of 'forced fun' I try to avoid. But after our trip last year we well and truly caught the Florida bug and we're already planning a return trip in 2020. Orlando can be expensive and it's the kind of holiday that takes A LOT of planning so today I thought I'd share some of my top tips for getting the most out of your holiday. 

Top Insider Tips for Visiting Orlando with Kids

How to save money (before you fly)

  • Don't fly direct - Our direct flights with Virgin last year cost over £1000 each (they were booked at the last minute). Although we enjoyed our direct flights with Virgin and would recommend, we're looking at booking as far in advance as we can next time. I've found that using sites such as Dealchecker and flying indirectly can really help you to save money. I found flights via Dublin for £1800 in total for the 5 of us using this site a few weeks ago which is a massive saving. 
  • Use a savings jar - Taking kids on holiday to Orlando is definitely expensive and we encouraged ours to save as much of their own money as possible for any treats they might like to buy over there. I'd recommend buying each child an unbreakable savings jar as soon as you've decided you're going to book up and encourage them to put any pocket or birthday money in there. It all mounts up! My three managed to save £200+ from April-August by helping out with chores and a few kind donations from grandparents.
  • Buy Orlando merch before you visit - There are some good deals to be had in Orlando (especially the malls and supermarkets) but the theme parks are generally pretty expensive. I'd recommend stocking up on Orlando treats before you travel - Primark is fantastic for Disney and Harry Potter t-shirts and accessories. I highly recommend following my friend Roisin from Disney Find over on Instagram for bargains and new products. 
  • Join the group 'It's Orlando Time' on Facebook. It's free to join and there are lots of insider and 'real-time' tips posted daily. It's also a great place to ask for any planning advice and share your excitement - no question is too big or too small. 

How to save money (once you're in Orlando)

  • Walmart is your friend! Visiting Walmart for us was just like visiting a visitor attraction if I'm honest. They are HUGE and sell everything from breakfast rolls to Harry Potter mugs, swimwear and toys. We bought breakfast and picnic items from Walmart and kept them in our in-room fridge. Breakfast at our hotel was around 50 USD for the 5 of us so shopping for our breakfast at Walmart saved us so much money. On a couple of evenings, we were pretty tired after the theme parks and didn't want to head out for dinner so just made up a picnic tea. Again, this saved us loads of cash. 

  • Visit FREE attractions - there are lots of free attractions in Orlando and it's definitely not all about the theme parks. I highly recommend spending an afternoon/evening at Disney Springs which is free to visit and a lovely place to walk around. As well as shopping and dining options, there's lots of free entertainment from LEGO building in the LEGO shop to free dance shows and rap battles. Old Town Kissimmee is also worth a visit for some free family fun. There's the famous classic and muscle car shows, free family movie nights, karaoke, singers and more. Check out their events calendar here for details.

  • Dining doesn't have to be fancy - Orlando is home to some fantastic restaurants and I think there's a lot of pressure to take in the whole Orlando dining scene but this can work out to be VERY expensive. We actually had a bad experience at what was supposed to be one of the best restaurants in Orlando and some of our best meals that the kids still talk about today were in iHop, Wendys & McDonalds! Maybe book a nice restaurant for one or two nights but honestly, you don't need to do this every night, even if you're a foodie like us. 
  • Take a refillable water bottle - most parks will refill your water bottle free of charge. Buying water in the theme parks is around 2-3 USD for a small bottle so you'll save lots of money if you take your own bottle (plus it's better for the environment). Walking around theme parks is thirsty work and it's really important that the whole family stays properly hydrated - drinking lots of water is the best way to do this. 
  • Think about Uber - most of the theme parks will charge you for parking. Sometimes, it works out cheaper to order an Uber. We used a mix of driving and Uber and much preferred the option of ordering an Uber as it was hassle-free and meant that Steve could have an alcoholic drink with lunch. You can get a journey estimate using the app before you book which will help you work out whether it's worth doing or not. 

Top Tips for getting the best out of your Orlando holiday

  • Plan a theme park visit for your first day - yes you may be tired, but you'll probably be up at 4am  due to jet lag and you'll be excited to get started. Make the most of your first few days when you're likely to naturally wake earlier and book the biggest theme parks for these days - this way you can get there for opening, queue for the bigger rides first and really pack as much as you can into these days. 

  • Pool time in the evenings - most hotel pools will stay open late and I'd recommend booking a villa with a pool where possible. Kids love being able to relax in the pool after a busy day, even if it's just for 30 minutes or so. 
  • Pack at least 2 swimsuits - with daily swimming and waterpark visits, I think it's best to pack two sets of swimwear per person, especially if you're staying for more than one week. 
  • Check out Pinterest for printables - Pinterest is fantastic for adding a little bit of magic to your holiday at low cost. There's everything on there from themed envelopes to leave your housekeeping tips in, to masks, games for the plane and journal/scrapbook templates. I'd definitely recommend starting a Florida Pinterest Board asap. 

  • You can visit theme parks every day - I often read advice that it's impossible and too tiring to visit a theme park every day of your holiday but I think with the right planning, you most definitely can, especially if you're only staying for one week. We visited theme parks 5 days in a row and survived. We definitely could have made it 7 days in a row if necessary. I'd recommend adding a couple of waterparks into the mix which are a lot more relaxing than a traditional theme park and offer more of a chance to relax. 
  • Plan your day around show times - you're going to be on your feet a lot in Florida and breaks are super important. I recommend planning your day around and shows and rides that are indoors as the air conditioning and shade will be much appreciated! The shows in the parks are of a very high standard and not to be missed. 

  • All day dining can work well - a couple of the parks offer all-inclusive wristbands. We did this at Aquatica and it was great being able to help ourselves to as many drinks, snacks and food as we wanted. We squeezed in breakfast, lunch and an early dinner on this day so really made the most of it and for us, it offered very good value. I probably wouldn't do this at every park but it's good to throw a couple of all-inclusive days into your week as it feels very indulgent and is a treat not having to worry about the cost of food and drinks. 

Things to do in Florida for kids and grown ups

Planning a trip to Florida can be really overwhelming and it's super tough trying to decide where to visit. It would be impossible to do it all in one trip and I'd say don't worry if you can't do it all as it's very likely you'll want to plan a return trip. The folk over at Dealchecker have put together their top suggestions for places to visit which is a fab place to start with your planning:

Top Insider Tips for Visiting Orlando with Kids

I'd love to hear if you have any top tips for visiting Orlando or if you have plans to visit in the next few years. 

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Top Insider Tips for Visiting Orlando with Kids

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