Spending May Half Term in Holland (on a budget)

Disclosure: We have paid for this trip ourselves with the exception of our accommodation at Duinrell which has been provided by Eurocamp. This post contains affiliate links.

Spending May Half Term in Holland (on a budget)


We're spending May Half Term exploring Holland with the kids. We're trying to do the trip on a bit of a budget. I'll be sharing daily tips and what we've been up to over on my Facebook page and Instagram stories across half term so if you're interested, please make sure you're following along.
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Holiday Ideas for Families with Tweens

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Over the years, our holidays have gradually changed. When the kids were toddlers and I needed a lot of pairs of eyes, we favoured big family holidays - usually a package deal where everything was taken care of or a big villa/apartments with the grandparents coming along for the journey too.

Holiday Ideas for Families with Tweens
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St Michael's Mount | The Best National Trust Castle in Cornwall


St Michael's Mount  | The Best National Trust Castle in Cornwall

St Michael's Mount reminds me of our own Holy Island. Like it's Northumberland counterpart, the island is cut off from the mainland twice per day, is full of history and there's a bit of a climb up to the island's castle. Holy Island is one of my favourite places in the world and I knew that I had to visit St Michael's Mount during our trip to Cornwall and see how the two compared. 
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Must-have Family Travel Essentials for Long Haul Holidays with Tweens

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Travelling long-haul with children of any age can be a little daunting so today I am sharing a few essentials which will help to ensure a smooth and hopefully stress-free trip. Let me know if you'd add any to the list. 
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Our Guide to Visiting Spain with Kids

I sometimes feel like Spain gets a bit of a bad reputation when it comes to discussing holiday plans but it is probably our favourite place to visit in the world. I love the laid back vibe, the wonderful cities, beautiful beaches, friendly people and of course the tapas and sangria. This post shares some of our favourite places and recommendations for places to visit in Spain with kids. Let me know in the comments if you have anywhere to add. 

Our Guide to Visiting Spain with Kids
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Theatre with Teens : Noughts and Crosses Review

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Theatre with Teens : Noughts and Crosses Review

Harry turns 13 soon and has asked if he can start coming along to more grown-up theatre productions. This was music to my ears and I'm delighted to have a new theatre buddy. Harry is very academic but also seems to have a real passion for theatre. He's always writing scripts for his own plays, creating little movies and has taken part in drama workshops at school as part of his extra-curricular activities. It's often tough trying to grab one on one time with the kids, especially as they grow older and into teenagers so I'm pleased that going to the theatre together is going to be our new thing. 
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The Seasider Open Top Bus Tour | Tickets, Prices, Timetables & Where To Visit

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The Seasider is an open-top bus (operated by Stagecoach) running along the North Tyneside coast between Whitley Bay and North Shields Ferry Terminal across weekends and school holidays from now until September. If you're looking for a family day out in North East England, I can highly recommend a trip on this bus as a starting point. I love, love, love visiting the North Tyneside Coast but trying to get parked here on a sunny weekend can be an absolute nightmare (plus the area is known for its enthusiastic parking wardens - you have been warned) and as much as I love visiting the area, I try avoid on sunny days due to parking stress.

The Seasider Open Top Bus Tour Whitley Bay | Tickets, Prices, Timetables & Where To Visit

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5 Party Ideas for Tweens in North East England

Disclosure - I have worked with some of the businesses in this post in the past but they have not asked or paid to be included in this post.

5 Party Ideas for Tweens in North East England

I don't book a birthday party for H, H and J every year but over the years we have tried a few different options between us so today I thought I would do a little round-up and share some of our favourite party experiences for tweens and hopefully give you a few ideas. Let me know your ideas in the comments too.
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What's On For Kids & Families Across North East England - May 2019 (including Half Term)


What's On For Kids & Families Across North East England - May 2019 (including Half Term)

Hello May! Love, love, love this month as we have not one, but two bank holiday weekends plus half term too. As always, there's lots going on. Make sure you join our North East Days Out Facebook group for more ideas and recommendations by other local parents. As always, this guide is published well in advance so please always double check event details before setting off.
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Visiting Alton Towers with Children who are 1.3m Tall - Itinerary & Tips

The last time I visited Alton Towers was over 10 years ago. I'm not really sure why but I think it's probably the expense. As a family of 5, it's not exactly a cheap day out and we've always favoured less expensive parks like Lightwater Valley which are both cheaper and closer. We've just invested in Merlin Annual Passes though so can visit Alton Towers as often as we want to this year. Exciting! We made our first visit over Easter and picked up lots of tips for visiting with kids who are too big for CBeebies Land buy not quite 1.4m tall which is the height restriction for most of the thrill rides here. My children are aged 8, 10 and 12.

Visiting Alton Towers with Children who are 1.3m Tall - Itinerary & Tips
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How to Host a Unicorn Birthday Party

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How to Host a Unicorn Birthday Party

Heidi is a girl of many sides. She loves playing outside, climbing, adventure and sport yet also loves to play with her soft toys, sit and complete an art and craft project or draw. I love that she has so many varied interests so when it came to picking a party theme for her 10th birthday, we were spoilt for choice. Like many 10-year-olds, she loves unicorns and we went all out with a Unicorn themed birthday for her. It's one we certainly won't forget in a while. 
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Disney On Ice Newcastle 2019 - How To Buy Discounted Pre-Sale Tickets


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Disney On Ice Newcastle 2019 - How To Buy Pre-Sale Tickets


“It was all started by a mouse.”- Walt Disney
 

Grab your Mickey ears and get ready for the celebration of the century!

Skating into Newcastle's Utilita Arena from 2-6 October 2019
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The Best Picnic Spots in Northumberland for Families with Young Children



Guest post by Bethanie from Northumberland Family Diaries

The Best Picnic Spots in Northumberland for Families with Young Children

As a family, we love to include a picnic in our trips out. There are many reasons for this: convenience, it is free and you know the kids will eat their lunch as you have packed it! We have tried and tested a few different spots across Northumberland now. Here are the best picnic spots in Northumberland for young children:
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A Review of Darwin Forest & The Peak District with Tweens

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This Easter, we spent the most glorious long weekend in the Peak District with our three children (aged 8, 10 and 12). Our base for our trip was Darwin Forest, a countryside retreat close to Bakewell and Matlock Bath. We have stayed at Darwin Forest in the past (read about our cosy stay during a snow storm last winter here) and this time I was pleased that the weather was more on our side so we could get out and explore more of what the Peak District has to offer families with tweens. We stayed in a Skyline View Lodge from Friday-Monday. There are lots of different types of lodges available at Darwin Forest (many are dog-friendly too) and at time of publishing, short breaks are available from £365 (check out their late deals here).

A Review of Darwin Forest & The Peak District with Tweens
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Are You Saving Enough For Your Child's Future?

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With three children (who only get more expensive as they grow older) to take care of, saving for their future is something that can easily be put on the back burner. It feels like I'm forever putting my hand in my pocket to pay for new school shoes, trips out, clothes and of course, never-ending snacks and saving to help with their house deposit can often be put off for another day.
Are You Saving Enough For Your Child's Future?
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Mega Milkshakes at The Boat Shack, Derwent Reservoir

Mega Milkshakes at The Boat Shack, Derwent Reservoir

So many of you have mentioned that we must visit The Boat Shack in the past year or so. Known for their epic milkshakes and hot chocolates, the Boat Shack is now award-winning and somewhere lots of people in the North East have a soft spot for and mention as one of their favourite family days out in North East England. Located on the banks of Derwent Reservoir near Pow Hill Country Park, the Boat Shack has stunning views and is a lovely place to visit when you fancy some countryside air. 
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Cheeseburn Sculpture Gardens Review | Opening Dates & Top Tips for Visiting


Cheeseburn is a unique venue featuring contemporary art in Northumberland. It's FREE to visit (advised donation of £5 per adult) and a fantastic day out in North East England for the whole family. You can walk around the estate's beautiful gardens, admire the plants and flowers and check out some pretty cool sculptures too. Cheeseburn is only open over selected weekends throughout the year, so make sure you plan your visit in advance. 

Cheeseburn Sculpture Gardens Review | Opening Dates & Top Tips for Visiting
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What to pack in your bag for a day at a theme park

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We've just invested in Merlin Annual Passes and plan to really make the most of them so expect lots of theme park reviews and tips from us this year. Theme parks can be expensive places so I'm determined to get organised and plan everything in advance so we don't end up buying last minute drinks or overpriced sunscreen from the gift shops. Here's what I plan to pack in our theme park day trip bags this year - let me know if you have any suggestions too.

What to pack in your bag for a day at a theme park
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Coral Island | A Child-friendly Night Out in Blackpool

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We love visiting Blackpool and I think we've probably visited with the kids around 6 times in total. Now that they're a little older, they don't go to sleep until we do and trying to find something to entertain us all in the evening without breaking the bank can be a little bit of a challenge. Long gone are the days of putting them to bed at 6pm!

Coral Island | A Child-friendly Night Out in Blackpool
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A Guide To What's New At Whitehouse Farm Centre

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We love Whitehouse Farm and have visited every year for the past 15 years. It's conveniently located (just off A1 near Morpeth) and there is always so much to do whatever the weather. Whitehouse Farm is 100% one of the best family days out in North East England.

A Guide To What's New At Whitehouse Farm Centre
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Rothbury Riverside Walk, Picnic Spots & Playground


Rothbury Riverside Walk, Picnic Spots & Playground

If you're looking for an easy dog and pushchair friendly family day out in North East England, I can highly recommend the Riverside Walk in Rothbury, Northumberland. Parking is FREE, there are public loos nearby, the river banks are filled with wildlife and there are lots of picnic tables and benches along the way plus a play park which is especially suited to toddlers and Under 7s.
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Bang on Books Review - Personalised Adventure Stories for Kids (made in Newcastle)

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I often wonder about the whole nature vs nurture debate. I like to think that I raise Harry, Heidi and Jack in pretty much the same way yet they have all turned out to be three completely different children.

Bang on Books Review - Personalised Adventure Stories for Kids (made in Newcastle) - choose your little hero
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'Hunt the Double Yolker' with HARIBO for your chance to WIN 1 in 20 Forest Holidays

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Have you spotted the Limited-Edition HARIBO Starmix available this Easter? They're all part of a special Easter challenge designed to bring some 'eggcitement' to the Easter holidays.

'Hunt the Double Yolker' with HARIBO for your chance to WIN 1 in 20 Forest Holidays
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Signing Up For A Pay Monthly Merlin Annual Pass - All You Need To Know


I have considered joining the Merlin Annual Pass Club for years now but there's always been some excuse and I've never taken the plunge. Then towards the end of last year, they allowed you to spread the cost and pay monthly rather than having to find £800+ to buy 5 passes up front and my interest was piqued even further.

Signing Up For A Pay Monthly Merlin Annual Pass - All You Need To Know
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A Chilled Weekend Break with Friends & Tweens in North Yorkshire


A Chilled Weekend Break with Friends & Tweens in North Yorkshire



The lovely Cat and Alan from Here Come the Hoopers invited us to stay with them for a short break in their family holiday home in Burniston near Scarborough in North Yorkshire. You may remember we stayed last year and enjoyed a treasure trail around Scarborough, lunch at Scarborough Seafood Social and ice cream by the beach (read about that trip here). It's lovely going away with friends with kids of the same age as ours as they all get on well and play nicely together. As they're older we can let them head to the park by the cottage for an hour by themselves when 5 kids all gets a bit too much too.
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MG ZS 1.5 Excite Review | A New Compact SUV for less than £13,000

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MG ZS 1.5 Excite Review | A New Compact SUV for less than £13,000

We bought our first ever new car last October. When looking for a car, we were after something which was spacious, safe and economical to run. We were also on a budget and didn't really want to spend a lot, especially as this was the first time we were making such a big purchase. During my research, I was torn between a brand new Dacia Logan or a used Zafira (which was the same as our previous car). In the end, we opted for the Dacia. The reason I am telling you all of this is because MG cars didn't even cross my mind and I didn't stumble upon them during my research either. In my mind, MG made cars that were sporty and small and I thought they were pretty expensive too so I was pretty shocked when Vic Young got in touch to tell me about the MG ZS Excite. This SUV is actually less expensive than what we paid for our Dacia. I am shocked! I hope this post will help others who are looking for a fantastic value family car. 
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The Best Themed Hotels for Families in the UK

We've bought Merlin Annual Passes this year (using their pay monthly scheme) and with no 'big' summer holiday planned, staying in theme parks is going to feature high on our agenda. We definitely won't make it around all of these rooms (unless we win the lottery) and it's worth noting that these rooms can be pretty expensive but if you keep your eyes peeled, there are often good deals about, especially during off-peak dates and I think staying in a room like this would be a real treat. Let me know your favourite theme park hotels for older kids and if you have any room recommendations for us.

The Best Themed Hotels for Families in the UK
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5 of the Best Family Picnic Spots in North East England


5 of the Best Family Picnic Spots in North East England   #EnglishTourismWeek19

I love a good picnic and we are spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful picnic spots in North East England. I really struggled to narrow it down to just 5 if I'm honest but I'm happy with my final list. I'm going to make an effort to visit each of these spots for a picnic this year. Anyone else up for the challenge?
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Sunday Lunch, Playgrounds & Birds of Prey at Walworth Castle, Darlington

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Sunday Lunch, Playgrounds & Birds of Prey at Walworth Castle, Darlington

Walworth Castle is a 12th Century Castle in Darlington just 5 miles from the A1 and such a lovely spot for a family day out in North East England. Set in 18 acres of beautiful countryside, you feel as if you are in the middle of nowhere yet it's super easy to get to. We primarily visited for Sunday Lunch in the newly refurbished 1189 Bar & Kitchen but were really impressed with how much more Walworth Castle had to offer families. If you're looking for somewhere a little different to enjoy a fantastic value Sunday lunch and spend a full afternoon with the family, read on....
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What's On for Kids in North East England | April and Easter Holidays 2019


Welcome to my bumper guide to what's on across North East England for kids this April and over the Easter Holidays. As always, please double check details before heading out as events can change and this guide is written well in advance. Disclosure: I have worked with many of the attractions mentioned in this post in the past but have not been paid/received any incentive to include them in this post.

What's On for Kids in North East England | April and Easter Holidays 2019
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10 of the Best Family Festivals within a 3 Hour Drive of Newcastle

I love, love, love spending a weekend at a festival with the kids. Some of them can be pricey but when you consider how much you'd spend on camping and individual gig tickets, I think they usually work out to be pretty good value for money. Festivals are usually a very laid back affair and allow a little relaxation, a chance for the grown-ups to enjoy a tipple or two, time to laugh, time to dance and really let your hair down. Over the last few years, more and more festivals have popped up closer to home and today I'm sharing 10 festivals which are less than a 3-hour drive from Newcastle. Prices quoted do not include booking fees and as always, please double check all details before booking as things can change.

10 of the Best Family Festivals within a 3 Hour Drive of Newcastle


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Actually, My Tweens Are Not Addicted To Their Xbox (+ giveaway)

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Actually, My Tweens Are Not Addicted To Their Xbox  - i-eX gaming chair for tweens from Bean Bag Bazaar

My tweens love their Xbox but sometimes when it comes to gaming, I feel as if the media are guilty of tarring all kids with the same (negative) brush. I've read countless articles over the years saying that tweens and teens are addicted to their games consoles, that they're incapable of socialising now as they're always glued to their screens and that Xbox addiction is out of control........ As someone who has first hand experience of kids and games consoles, I can guarantee that this is not always the case and I'd love to see some balance out there and credit given to tweens and teens who love to game but also know that there's more to life than Xbox.
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A Morning in Padstow : What to do with Kids


A Morning in Padstow : What to do with Kids

Steve and I live for cookery shows. If you pop to our house it's very likely we'll have one on in the background. Not that we ever cook any of the recipes we watch being made on TV of course but it's nice to get some inspiration. Nothing beats embracing slow living and watching Saturday Kitchen in the morning with a coffee to start your weekend. Because of this, we've watched hundreds of Rick Stein shows and Padstow is somewhere we've watched appear on our screens as a must-visit foodie destination time and time again. We've probably wanted to visit for around 10 years and this February, we finally had the chance during our half term trip to Cornwall. 
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20 of the Best Places to Stay near Flamingo Land

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Flamingo Land Theme Park & Zoo is a fantastic day out in North Yorkshire. There's loads to do for all ages from extreme rides like Velocity and family rides like Splash Battle to activities for little ones including HMS Bouncy and the zoo which is home to sea lions, giraffes, farm animals, meerkats, lions, hippos and more. It really is a full day out and sometimes, the thought of driving home after a full day out is too much. So in this post, I've put together 20+ options for places to stay near Flamingo Land. There's something for everyone from budget camping and hotels to pubs with rooms and even a luxury treehouse. You can find out more about Flamingo Land here. Let me know if you have any recommendations for places to stay. 
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5 Days Out for Tweens and Teens at The Gate, Newcastle

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In my late teens and early 20s, The Gate was the place to be. Most of our nights out started here and I think Mood was one of my favourite bars in Newcastle. In fact, I am pretty sure it was in Mood that Steve and I first drunkenly raised the idea of starting a family together.

5 Days Out for Tweens and Teens at The Gate, Newcastle
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The Sands Resort Cornwall Review | A Family Hotel with Kids Club near Newquay

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The Sands Resort Cornwall Review | A Family Hotel with Kids Club near Newquay

The Sands Resort in Newquay, Cornwall is a popular accommodation choice for families with little kids. There's an abundance of activities and facilities on offer here and it feels like The Sands has everything covered from easy pushchair hire to baby listening facilities and it's own soft play areas. You can read more about staying at The Sands Resort with younger children over on my friend Emma's blog here. I could not find many reviews featuring families with older children though and I was keen to put the hotel through their paces and discover what was on offer during our stay with tweens. We stayed for 2 nights over February Half Term 2019.
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A Half Day Tour of Stratford-Upon-Avon with Kids (on a budget)

During our February Half Term trip to Cornwall, we stopped off at Stratford-Upon-Avon overnight to break the journey up. I was keen to visit the town on a budget as wanted to save the majority of our cash for our trip to Cornwall.

A Quick Guide to Visiting Stratford-Upon-Avon with Kids (on a budget)


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Sleeping In A Recycled Shipping Container At The Eden Project - Our Experience

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Staying in a Recycled Shipping Container at The Eden Project - YHA Eden Project Review

I planned our recent trip to Cornwall around visiting the Eden Project. It's somewhere I've wanted to visit for years and it did not disappoint (check out my 10 reasons to visit here). I've worked with YHA on a couple of occasions in the past and they invited me along to review YHA Eden Project a few years ago but it was a bit of a long way to travel for one night. So when I was planning my trip, I got back in touch and we organised a night in one of their recycled shipping containers.
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Tips for Visiting Chester Zoo from Newcastle

Chester Zoo is somewhere I've always wanted to visit. I've heard so many good things and it was number one on my list of places to visit last October Half Term. I booked tickets and monorail tickets in advance which set us back just over £100 for the 5 of us. Not the cheapest of days out so I crossed my fingers that it was worth it.

Tips for Visiting Chester Zoo from Newcastle


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What's On for Kids | North East England - March 2019


What's On for Kids | North East England - March 2019

Welcome to my monthly guide featuring what's on across North East England for children and families this month. Please remember to always check details before heading out as these guides are written in advance and events can change. I love March and I'm looking forward to lots of springtime adventures.
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Waterside Cornwall Review | Self-Catering Lodges Near The Eden Project

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Waterside Cornwall Review | Self-Catering Lodges Near The Eden Project

We started our February Half Term trip to Cornwall in the best possible way with a short stay at Waterside Cornwall. You'll find Waterside just off A30 outside of Bodmin and it's an ideal base for exploring Cornwall including the Eden Project (7 miles), the Lost Gardens of Heligan (15 miles), St Austell, Fowey and Mevagissey. Out of all of the places we stayed, Waterside was definitely the most central. Prices for a 3 bedroom lodge (sleeping up to 8) are available from £78 per lodge per night which I think is super reasonable. You can also pay a supplement and stay in a lodge with a hot tub and if there are less of you in the party, smaller lodges are available from £43 per lodge per night.
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10 Reasons to Visit the Eden Project in Winter

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The Eden Project is somewhere which has been on my list of places to visit for years. I remember driving past the quarry site when I was on holiday in Cornwall as a child and the project was in its very early phases of development and I'm delighted that I was finally able to visit with my own children this February Half Term.

10 Reasons to Visit the Eden Project in Winter

First impressions of the Eden Project are that it's huge. Kind of like a mini town. There are multiple car parks and it's so vast that there's a complimentary shuttle bus from the car park to the entrance (not needed on the way down but will save you climbing the hill on the way back). Despite its size, the Eden Project did not feel busy or overcrowded and although we visited in school holidays, I am guessing it's quieter in the winter months than summer.
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Northumberland in Bloom | My favourite gardens to visit with kids

I am showing my age here but these days I absolutely love strolling around a garden. I am going to be brutally honest here and say I actually prefer visiting gardens without the kids so I can actually spend time admiring the plants, flowers and wildlife but I do still like to bring the kids along to these kinds of days out too as gardens are always a nice place for a family walk with plenty to look at. My top tip would be to bring the kids there own camera and set them a specific challenge (eg take a photo of flowers from every colour in the rainbow). This will keep them out of mischief. We're super lucky in Northumberland to have many beautiful gardens on our doorstep and today I'm sharing some of my favourites with you. Let me know if you have any other recommendations for us to visit over in my North East Days Out Reviews and Recommendations Facebook group.

Northumberland in Bloom | My favourite gardens to visit with kids
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Lush Newcastle | Children's Birthday Party Review

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Did you know that Lush in Newcastle's intu Eldon Square offer children's birthday parties? Until last month I had no idea and after receiving a few messages after sharing photos across Social Media, I decided to post more information. Prices and details are correct as of Feb 2019.

Lush Newcastle |  Children's Birthday Party Review
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Gateshead ALive - 10 Events For Tweens, Teens & Little Ones This Spring

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I've said this a few times before but I absolutely love the diverse range of events Gateshead Alive put on throughout the year. Their events are always free or low-cost and there's something for everyone from messy-play parties to the chance to try animation for older kids and dance camps for tweens and teens. Here's my guide to this Spring's highlights, make sure you check out the Gateshead ALive Facebook page for full event listings and more ideas.
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5 of the Best Family Activity Holidays in Scotland

I absolutely adore Scotland and it's a place I'd love to explore more of in the next few years. So far I've only made it to Edinburgh, Dundee, Loch Ness and Glasgow and I know there is so much more to explore and discover. I think an excellent way to do this with older kids is to try a family activity holiday and today I am sharing 5 of the best I've found. Let me know if you fancy trying one of these breaks with your family:

5 of the Best Family Activity Holidays in Scotland
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5 Reasons to Visit the Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing Exhibition at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens with Kids

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5 Reasons to Visit the Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing Exhibition at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens with Kids

Have you heard the news? Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens is hosting 12 of Leonardo da Vinci's drawings in a special exhibition available from now until 6 May. Tickets are just £2.50 per adult (under 16s go free but still need a ticket) and should be pre-booked with a time-slot in advance online to avoid disappointment (the exhibition has sold out over the last two weekends). 
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War Horse On Tour | Sunderland Empire 2019

We were provided with press night tickets in order to write this review. Post includes affiliate links.

War Horse | Sunderland Empire 2019


War Horse is a production I've heard a lot about over the last few years. After playing in London's West End for 8 record-breaking years and around the world to over 7 million people to rave reviews, I am delighted that this piece of theatre is heading to Sunderland Empire as part of it's UK tour. It takes something special for us to travel all the way to Sunderland from Northumberland but War Horse was more than worth the journey.
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Rainy Day Trip Idea : National Science & Media Museum in Bradford

Rainy Day Trip Idea : National Science & Media Museum in Bradford

The National Science & Media Museum is around a 2 hour 15 minute (easy) drive from Newcastle. It's FREE to visit and ideal for a day trip. We popped in on our way home from Blackpool last October Half Term and really enjoyed our trip. I'd definitely recommend a visit.
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Are You A Roadside Hero?

Written in collaboration with Bethany Taylor
As a family, we've covered a lot of miles driving around the UK and although we have a new Dacia Logan now, our previous cars weren't exactly reliable and we've experienced our fair share of breakdowns over the years.

Are you a roadside hero?
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