2019 - A Summer Holiday to Remember

I set up my blog to help families enjoy days out together and record our own memories and experiences. We've had such a busy summer this year and I know I'll want to look back on the fun we had in years to come so apologies that this post is a bit of an indulgent post. This is the 4th summer I've been a work-at-home parent with the kids full time in the summer holidays and the first time I feel like I've finally got the juggle of work and fun just right. There's been a perfect mix of childcare sessions, family time and days out home too.

We have worked with some of the attractions and brands mentioned in this post but nobody has paid or asked to be included in this post. 

Week One - Steve's Birthday & Loch Lomond

Steve's birthday weekend always falls on the first week of the summer holidays. We usually do something just us two - a kind of celebration that we made it to the end of another school year and a much-needed break for us both now. The last few weeks of term are always manic for us (when I say us, I mean me - Steve is none the wiser). This year we booked an overnight spa break at Ramside Hall. I'd visited the spa here with the girls earlier in the year and knew Steve would love it. The spa here can get busy but it has a luxurious feel with various spa pools and thermal suites and a wonderful outdoor hot tub/pool. I was right - he loved it and we spent the best afternoon here. We dined in the Rib Room (which you can read about here) and I think our meal here was the best we've had this year. SO good! I love Ramside Hall and I'm considering joining their spa in January - watch this space!

Steve's Birthday Meal at The Rib Room, Ramside Hall 
Visiting Loch Lomond 
Harestanes Park, Jedburgh

We picked the kids up and travelled straight up to Loch Lomond for a short break at Cameron Lodges. Our stay here was everything we wanted it to be and more. We took a private cruise along the loch, explored the three loch forest drive (and felt as if we had the place to ourselves), took a distillery tour and enjoyed a beautiful meal at The Boat House which was just perfect. On our drive back from Scotland we stopped off at Harestanes Park in Jedburgh. It's completely free and one of the best parks we've ever visited.

Week Two - A Durham Wedding, Glamping in Surrey, Brighton & Theme Parks Galore

I have been fully self-employed for over 4 years now and if experience has taught me anything, its that I need to take breaks in order to stop myself from burning out, relax and have fun. This week was my holiday. We have Merlin Annual Passes so planned a trip to Thorpe Park, Chessington and LEGOLAND. We had an absolute blast and although expensive, visiting theme parks is a brilliant way to spend time with older tweens and teens. You can read about our week exploring the Southern Merlin theme parks here. I also managed to squeeze in a day trip to Brighton during this break. I've always wanted to visit and it did not disappoint. You can read more about our trip to Brighton here. This was also the week we celebrated my good friend Katie Jane's wedding. It was honestly the best wedding I've ever been to! From singing waiters to a cake made of cheese and a fabulous 80s band. I loved being part of Katie's special day. We stayed at Hotel Indigo Durham which I was really impressed with and would recommend as a city centre hotel.

Katie Jane's wedding

Brighton Beach

Week Three - Juggling Work, Childcare & Play

Steve returned to work this week and I had SO much work to catch up on so the juggle of work, childcare and fun was real. On Monday we visited Bamburgh Castle & Seahouses which is one of my favourite days out. Harry stayed at home for this trip as he did for around half of our days out this summer - he is getting to the age where he doesn't always want to be going out and about and I respect that. We met Marley the Pony and took part in the Castle trail which was brilliant. Check out more photos from that day over on Facebook here.

Marley the Pony at Bamburgh Castle 

Later in the week, I booked H & J into a Little Biscuits Art Class at The Biscuit Factory. They LOVED this and I was super thankful of the chance to catch up on emails in the Biscuit Factory Cafe. The food here is lovely.

The Biscuit Factory

Heidi and Jack also took part in a Fun Little Foodies cookery class - I can't recommend these highly enough. They made doughnuts and vegetable samosas. Once they're at school and have their timetables, I'm going to look at enrolling them permanently.

Fun Little Foodies 

Cirque du Hilarious

One day Harry could not say no to is Cirque du Hilarious. We are all huge fans of the show and caught up with Danny and Mick at Brocksbushes. I took my 3-year-old nephew Evan along too and he had such a great time. I've never seen him laugh so much.

Roseberry Topping

We ended the week with a stay at The King's Head Inn at the foot of Roseberry Topping. This is such a lovely pub and the staff here were brilliant. We conquered Roseberry Topping and took a whistle-stop tour of Teesside with trips to Guisborough Forest, RSPB Saltholme and Air Trail Tees Barrage.

Air Trails Tees Barrage

Week Four - Staying local and a trip to Wigan 

This week's childcare was courtesy of Seven Stories. I enrolled H, H and J in Sense Explorers which was a collaboration with Newcastle University. I thought Harry might enjoy this as it was all about designing changes to improve the local area BUT when we got there his face told me otherwise. So Jack and Heidi took part while Harry and I enjoyed some drinks in Kiln which was actually lovely. We also all had lunch at the Cluny on this day which was brill - going out for lunch with three kids is a whole lot easier now they are older. I'd highly recommend the food here, I love it.

Tea and Reading at Kiln

The rest of the week was spent enjoying local days out with trips to the cinema, library (to take part in their reading challenge) and swimming. We're so lucky living in Cramlington that we have all of these fantastic facilities on our doorstep.

The week ended with a weekend in Wigan to stay with one of my oldest friends. It's the first time we've all stayed with Jo but it was brilliant. We played Pointless, had a BBQ in the garden, Heidi was OBSESSED with the cats and we went to Ninja Warrior in Wigan which the kids loved. There was a bar too so we could enjoy a pint while the kids took part in the various challenges. Look out for a blog post featuring Ninja Warrior soon!

Week Five - The Lakes, Ouseburn and Child-free Afternoon Tea

We paid the Lake District a visit this week. I am forever saying I should make the effort to visit more often as it's less than 2 hours away so I'm pleased we made the effort. We had the best value Sunday Lunch at Windermere Jetty - £10 for 2 courses and it was all homemade. Absolutely delicious! I love driving around the Lakes, it's so scenic and the random sheep in the middle of the road not having a care in the world always make me smile.

Sunday Lunch at Windermere Jetty 

On Monday, I'd booked Heidi and Jack into a FREE day at Ouseburn Farm which was honestly fantastic. Part of Newcastle's Best Summer Ever initiative, the day included 5 hours on the farm and lunch and refreshments. I can't believe it was free! The kids took goats for a walk, learned how to safely catch chickens, scratched some pigs, made straw lollipops to feed the cows, planted new seeds, watered the vegetables - they honestly had the best day. It was a drop-off event too and I managed to catch up on my housework.

Ouseburn Farm

I've made a pact to celebrate my friends birthdays properly this year rather than just send a quick text. For Michelle's birthday, the girls got together for Afternoon Tea at The Parlour. It was gorgeous and incredible value - I'd definitely recommend. Kids can go to the cinema unaccompanied from age 8 at our local Vue so I dropped H&J off to see Ugly Dolls, hot-footed it over to The Parlour to enjoy time with the girls and was back in time for the film finishing. It was a juggle but I'm chuffed it paid off! I might use the cinema as a babysitter more often. It was on a Tuesday and we used Meerkat Movies so was only £2.50 each.

The Rooftop Terrace at IQ Collingwood
The kids' grandparents have a holiday caravan at Cresswell Towers and the kids spent three nights here at the end of week five. Steve and I headed to the Theatre Royal to see Les Miserables which was just incredible. Even Steve loved it! Then I spent a few days going back to uni and reliving my freshers week as a student for a collaboration with IQ Student Accommodation. It is CRAZY how much things have changed in the last 15-20 years. My accommodation had it's own private cinema, rooftop terrace and games room!

Week Six - Our busiest week yet! 

Week six kicked off with a weekend exploring Durham's Heritage Coast - this was an area I haven't really explored much of but OMG I absolutely loved it. The beaches aren't really for sunbathing but they're just fantastic for walks and collecting sea glass / making up stories about the area's history. Blast Beach is a real gem and I'd urge you to visit. We also paid Hamsterley Forest a visit with a Night Safari. It's been a few years since we last visited and it's even better than even with lots of play equipment for kids and of course the Gruffalo hidden in the woods. The night safari was really interesting and we spotted bats, hedgehogs, owls and dangerous mushrooms!

Blast Beach, Durham Heritage Coast 

We spent a few days in Newcastle this week too. It was brilliant to see our local city buzzing! We took advantage of Screen on the Green which is a free outdoor cinema which pops up in the summer. We watched Wonder Land with a takeaway from Nandos which was fab. We also spotted a few Elmers and have ticked off 10 in total now.  On Saturday night, we headed into town rather than staying in the watch TV and had a fancy dinner with the kids - Steve and I shared a sharing platter of Ribeye and it was just divine! Definitely going to make the effort to go out on a Saturday night with the kids more often. It's nice to get dressed up for a change. Let me know if you have any restaurant recommendations for us.

NE1 Screen on the Green
We also made the most of the long summer nights with a Friday night trip to Whitley Bay for fish and chips, ice cream and a play in the park after picking Steve up from work. We didn't get back until after dark and I am loving being able to have nights out with the kids now they are older. We also had a LUSH family BBQ at my mams house.

BBQ at my mams

BBQ at my mams
Long summer nights in Whitley Bay
Berwick Caravan Park

This week was actually pretty busy as we also squeezed in a day trip to Berwick where we visited Mark and Evan at Haven Berwick. We spent the day there and I was so impressed! The kids played in the park, on the beach and we had ice creams. It was lovely. We left Heidi there for a few days (she visited Asgard and the seals at Eyemouth while they were there) and Steve and I ended the summer holidays glamping with the boys at Beadnell in Shepherd's Retreats. I love this area of Northumberland and it's full of gems including Beadnell beach, Box Pizza and Seahouses. We were sad to leave! You can watch Harry's video from our weekend glamping below.

Wow! What a summer. I'm surprised I managed to squeeze any work in at all if I'm honest. It was definitely one to remember. I am ready for back to school and a fresh start in September though. Time to get planning October Half Term and Christmas now.....

For more days out ideas (or if you'd like to share your own recommendations), why not join my UK Days Out Facebook group? It's FREE! You can join here. 

Let me know your summer holiday highlights in the comments x 



  1. What an amazing summer :-). I've loved following, and thanks for your informative summer guide that has saved so much time. Thanks also for the Elmer ferry tip. We've two birthdays in December and just got booked :-)

  2. This has been such an amazing summer for you guys! I have absolutely loved following along with your adventures and admire how much great stuff you fit in as a family as well as working so hard! X

  3. What an absolutely fantastic summer Sam, and definitely the perfect mix of fun with the kids, time with Steve, work and lazy days at home. I always love following your adventures and seeing what you all get up to. Now I think you just need to sleep for the whole of September x

  4. It looks and sounds like you have the most amazing summer! The fun trips, days out and all the yummy food!


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