Thank You to the Forgotten Key Workers




Steve has worked for the same telecommunications company for 15 years now (who I will be keeping confidential in this post so please don't ask who they are).

His company provides lots of benefits such as a good pension, flexible working, an employee share scheme, almost 8 weeks holiday, employee loans, monthly shopping vouchers, wine club, the opportunity to spend one paid day per year volunteering in the community, access to private health care, annual travel insurance for the family, the opportunity to donate some of your salary to a charity of your choice (which is matched) & more.

He is part of a fab team who have good crack and socialise together outside of work too.
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How to Bake Easter Cookies in the Slow Cooker


I first spotted the idea for a slow cooker cookie over on the Delish Facebook page. It looked so super easy and kind of reminded me of Millies Cookies. We decided to give it a go with an Easter twist.


How to Bake Easter Cookies in the Slow Cooker


The recipe really is super easy, pretty adaptable and takes no time at all. Plus your kitchen will smell of freshly baked cookies all afternoon. What's not to love?

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Make Your Own Gnocchi With Kids


With the current pasta shortages, this week I had the bright idea of making gnocchi which for those who don't know are kind of potato dumplings which are treated like pasta. You would normally serve with pasta sauce or flavoured butter. 

Make Your Own Gnocchi With Kids

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Easy Easter Mini Cheesecakes Recipe


Easy Easter Mini Cheesecakes Recipe

This is a super easy baked cheesecake recipe that can be adapted to include different toppings. I like that it produces individual cheesecakes which are much easier to store / divide between the family. You can pop them in lunch boxes too.
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Restaurants in Northumberland & North Tyneside Offering Takeaway


A few people have asked for a list of local restaurants offering delivery at the moment. I have limited the list to Northumberland and North Tyneside for now as I needed to make a cut off somewhere  - hopefully other bloggers can cover other areas of the North East too.


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40+ Rainy Day Educational Activities for Kids Aged 9-12



40+ Rainy Day Educational Activities for Kids Aged 9-12

Following on from our popular Homeschool diaries, I have decided to list the educational resources we enjoy using so it is a lot easier to read and access. I will update this list as the weeks go on - let me know if you have any ideas of your own to add. 
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Home Educating? Yes or No?


With the schools closing next week, I have seen a lot of chat on Social Media about whether it is best to home educate or not. I am sharing a few of my thoughts and would love to hear your thoughts too.


Home Educating? Yes or No?
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35+ Ways to have fun & relax with tweens at home


35+ Ways to have fun & relax with tweens at home

Looking for ways to create a sense of calm and have fun with tweens at home? Check out these suggestions and save them for later. Let me know if you have any ideas too. If you like this post, make sure you check out our home school diaries here for educational ideas too.
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A Guide to Strawberry Picking at Brocksbushes


Strawberry Picking Season at Brocksbushes Farm near Hexham runs from June - October (approximately). It is important to check the NEWS section of the Brocksbushes website for exact opening dates before setting off as they can vary and sometimes they need to close the fields for short periods from time to time.

A Guide to Strawberry Picking at Brocksbushes in Northumberland
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20+ UK Days Out for Children who Love Trains


Top 10 train themed days out across North East England

Following on from the success of 20+ UK Days Out for Kids who Love Dinosaurs,  I am back with a round-up of the best days out featuring trains.

The first suggestions focus on train-themed days out across North East England before they move onto days out across the whole of the UK towards the end of the post.

Let me know if you have a favourite.
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The Home School Diaries - March 2020

As mentioned in a few of my posts already, I do not feel like you need to home school at all if it does not work for you. It works for us though. Our family needs structure and I am lucky that my job allows me to do this too. Here is what we have been up to today.....

Friday 20 March - Our last update 


So this is going to be my last home school update. Lots of different reasons really - I don't want to upset the actual home school community by acting like I am an expert when there are people much better qualified than I am to share stuff like this. 
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30+ Places To Take Your Toddler Across North East England


Take it from me, the older your children grow, the more expensive days out will be. It is also true what they say, the pre-school years really do fly by. I have put together some of the best places to take your toddler before they start school. Let me know if you have any suggestions to add to the list too.

30+ Places To Take Your Toddler Across North East England Before They Start School


For more ideas for days out across North East England, why not join our  UK Days Out Facebook Page here. It is FREE to join and a lovely community full or recommendations and advice. 
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Morwick Dairy Ice Cream Parlour (near Amble)


Morwick Dairy Ice Cream Parlour is located in a fairly rural spot near Amble. It is open daily from February throughout Spring and Summer from 11am - 5pm and a lovely spot if you fancy a drive out into the country for an ice cream and some country air.


Morwick Dairy Ice Cream Parlour (near Amble)

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DIY Hot Dogs Theme Park Hack


We purchased Merlin Annual Passes (using their pay-monthly offer) in 2019 and as a result, have visited a lot of theme parks in the past year or so.

DIY Hot Dogs Theme Park Hack

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Worrying About the Impact of Coronavirus on Work


Now obviously, there are more serious consequences to the recent Coronavirus outbreak than my financial security and I really feel for those vulnerable members of society who have it a billion times worse than I do but with the recent Coronavirus outbreak, I can't help but worry about the impact it is going to have on my job.

Worrying About the Impact of Coronavirus on Blogging Work

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9 Reasons Why Mortal Fools Should Be On Your Radar

This is an advert - all words are my own.

I was recently introduced to Mortal Fools - a local theatre company that started life in a village hall in Northumberland back in 2012 and is now an award-winning charity facilitating wonderful work with and for young people across North East England and beyond.

9 Reasons Why Mortal Fools Should Be On Your Radar

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Our Road Trip to York with Smart Breakdown

*This is an advert. All photos in the car were taken when the vehicle was safely parked and the engine was turned off. 








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Planning a Weekend in Snowdonia


Each year, we tick a few places from our UK bucket list. It is a brilliant way to plan your travels and something I would highly recommend. In 2015 we made the long trip down to Stonehenge,  2016 was all about hunting for the Loch Ness Monster and in 2017 we visited the real Wayne ManorCardiff Bay and spent Christmas in a Cottage which is something I had always wanted to do.

Planning a Weekend in Snowdonia

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20+ UK Days Out for Kids who Love Dinosaurs


20+ UK Days Out for Kids who Love Dinosaurs

It feels like every child goes through a phase of being obsessed with Dinosaurs. Some (like my Jack) don't grow out of it. I am sure he is going to grow up to be a Palaeontologist.

We have visited lots of dinosaur exhibitions and themed days out over the years, both here in the North East and further afield. I thought it was about time I shared them together in one post. Let me know if I have missed your favourite.
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10 Reasons to Visit Locomotion Shildon


Locomotion is a railway museum in Shildon, County Durham celebrating the world's first railway town. It is free to visit (donations welcome) and open daily from 10am - 4pm. There is a large free car park and the attraction is accessible by public transport (just a 3 minute walk from Shildon train station and served by the Arriva Bus #1 from Darlington and #5 from Bishop Auckland).

10 Reasons to Visit Locomotion Shildon
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The Three Lochs Forest Drive - A Good Spot for Wild Camping with Kids

We completed the Three Lochs Forest Drive in the Summer of 2019. It is one of those experiences which has really stuck with us and definitely one of our favourite adventures from the past few years. If you love nature, spectacular scenery and the great outdoors, you must add this trip to your bucket list.


The Three Lochs Forest Drive - A Good Spot for Wild Camping with Kids

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FREE Slime & Craft Workshops at Hobbycraft


Hobbycraft stores up and down the country offer a selection of free and low-cost craft workshops for children across the school holidays. We popped to Hobbycraft Silverlink (aka Newcastle) to check out their FREE Slime Workshop during February Half Term and I have to say, I was really impressed.

 
FREE Slime & Craft Workshops at Hobbycraft

Scroll to the bottom of this page for details of upcoming FREE and low-cost Mothers Day and Easter Workshops and links to book. 
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Kids Eat Free at Porky's - A Review

Prices & menu correct as of February 2020. This review is based on Porkys Bebside.


Porkys is a smokehouse and pizzeria in North East England. They have two locations - Bebside and Low Fell and are a fab place to visit when you are looking for a cheap and cheerful family meal. 

Kids Eat Free at Porky's - A Review
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How to find the Giant Spoon in Cramlington, Northumberland


If you fancy a super short walk with the kids, I can highly recommend looking for the Giant Spoon in Cramlington, Northumberland. Scroll to the bottom of this post for exact directions and a postcode.


How to find the Giant Spoon in Cramlington, Northumberland
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Planning a Summer Road Trip to France from Northumberland

Disclosure - AD -  Votre Vacances is providing our accommodation and Puy du Fou is hosting our trip. All other costs have been covered by ourselves. 

We fell in love with Vendee during our trip to France in Summer 2018. The weather was gorgeous but it wasn't too hot which suited us redheads just fine, the roads are super easy to drive on, there is loads to do and France really is home to the best food and wine in the world.

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The Best Sea Life Aquariums in the UK

Over the years we have visited most of the UK's Sea Life Aquariums (which are operated by Merlin Entertainment). Sea Life Aquariums are usually educational, interesting for all ages from babies to pensioners and indoors so perfect for all weathers.




Over the past year, we have mostly used our pay-monthly merlin annual pass to cover the cost of our admission. It is always worth looking around for offers before you buy tickets as there is nearly always a kids go free or 2 for 1 deal around. Past deals have involved tokens from McDonalds, Walkers & Cadburys. Check out Money Saving Expert for deals before you book.

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Howick Hall Snowdrop Walk & Sensory Garden


Howick Hall Gardens & Arboretum has been the Ancestral home of the Earls Grey since 1319. Located in Northumberland between Craster and Alnwick, they begin the year with a Snowdrop festival and it is one of the best places in Northumberland to spot these beautiful flowers.

Scroll to the bottom of this post for directions, opening times and admission.


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How to Apply for a FREE Blue Peter Badge and Start Saving Money on Days Out

The Blue Peter Badge Scheme can save you lots of money on both local and national days out. The Blue Peter Badge scheme is open to children aged 6-15 years and if you're lucky to receive one, your children will be entitled to FREE entry to over 200 UK attractions until their 16th birthday.

How to Apply for a FREE Blue Peter Badge and Start Saving Money on Days Out


Applying for a badge doesn't seem too difficult either and I'm going to set the kids the challenge of applying for their own badge in the holidays. Applications take around 10 weeks to process, so if you're looking to enjoy a few discounted days out this summer, I'd apply ASAP.


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The Snow Queen by Scottish Ballet

Ad - we have press tickets

The Scottish Ballet's 50th anniversary year comes to a close with the world premiere of The Snow Queen. The ballet will be performed at Newcastle Theatre Royal from 12 - 15 February 2020 and tickets are available from £15.50. Tickets are available here. 


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How to Spend 5 Hours in Florence


Florence is somewhere we have always wanted to visit. During our stay in Tuscany over October Half Term in 2019, we were able to finally visit this Italian city. 

How to spend 5 hours in Florence - market flower stall

Our closest train station was Arezzo - we parked here and bought our train tickets online via Train Italia (although our tickets were never checked). The trains were pretty easy to get to grips with in Italy.
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20+ ways to save money during the school holidays

School Holidays can be an expensive time for parents, I have popped together a few ways we save money / make our £ go further. Let me know your ideas in the comments too.


20+ ways to save money during the school holidays

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10 Reasons to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Newcastle

We first visited the Chinese New Year Celebrations in Newcastle in January 2020. I cannot believe we have not visited before! I would highly recommend keeping an eye out for celebrations in future years as we had the best day.

10 Reasons to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Newcastle


Keep an eye on the Edmund Ng Choy Lee Fut Kung Fu Lion & Dragon Club for date announcements and parade timings nearer the time (they usually take place at the end of January/beginning of February).

The main events and celebrations take place between 11am - 4pm.
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Cheap Day Trips from Newcastle by Bus with National Holidays


This post contains affiliate links

I recently noticed that National Holidays have started offering day trips by bus from Newcastle. Some of these look like brilliant value and are a perfect option for families who do not drive (or don't want the hassle of driving).  Here is a quick round-up of some of the best deals.

Cheap Day Trips from Newcastle by Bus with National Holidays



This is just a small selection of the day trips offered by National Holidays - click here to see the full selection. 
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A Guide to Visiting Bolam Lake, Northumberland


Bolam Lake is a wonderful, accessible walk in Northumberland. Located near Belsay Hall and 9 miles west of Morpeth, the route around the lake is suitable for both pushchairs and wheelchairs.

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Buy a 3 Month Art Pass for just £15


Today I am sharing a fantastic deal I stumbled upon with the 3 Month Art Pass deal. Purchase this pass for just £15 before 31 January and you will be entitled to unlimited free entry to 100s of UK museums, galleries and attractions including many here in the North East.


Buy a 3 Month Art Pass for just £15
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A Parent's Guide to the HPV Vaccine for Year 8 Students

Disclosure: This is an advertisement feature with Public Health England. This post has been approved by Public Health England but I am not a medical professional - visit www.nhs.uk/hpv or seek your GP's advice for more information.

IMAGE ONE: Feature image - A Parent's Guide to the HPV Vaccine for Year 8 Students



Harry is aged 13 and in Year 8 of Secondary school. He has settled in really well and generally found Year 8 to be a lot easier than Year 7. I think the first year of Secondary School is a big transition and now he is in his second year, he has definitely found his stride and has a lovely group of friends.
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The Best Value Annual Passes for North East England

Buying an annual pass can save you lots of money on days out across the year. I always think they\re a fantastic idea for birthdays or Christmas gifts as they really are the gift that keeps on giving!

They are also a great investment to make at the start of the year as you can use them throughout every school holiday if needed (in most cases).

The Best Value Annual Passes for North East England


It also means that once you've paid the one-off cost, your day out is free (or super cheap) and it's nice to know you have the option to enjoy a day out when you're skint and need to get the kids out of the house.



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A Guide to Visiting Northumberlandia


Northumberlandia is close to where we live in Cramlington and somewhere we visit a couple of times each year. It is a fantastic FREE place to visit so when I realised that the last time I mentioned it on my blog was 6 years ago when Jack was just two years old (click here to see that post), I thought it was about time I shared more info.

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Choosing the Best Center Parcs Holiday in the Netherlands

Last year we travelled to the Netherlands over May Half Term. We travelled via DFDS ferry from Newcastle-Amsterdam with our own car for the first time.

The crossing cost around £500 return for the 5 of us including our car and I loved it so much that I think we will probably make the same kind of trip every May and make it a bit of a tradition.

Choosing the Best Center Parcs Holiday in the Netherlands
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NEW Gangsta Granny Ride & Rooms at Alton Towers


Did you hear the news? The World of David Walliams will arrive at Alton Towers this Spring. A few attractions are planned including a new ride dedicated to everyone's favourite Gangsta.

NEW Gangsta Granny Ride  & Rooms at Alton Towers

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Top Tips for Finding Cheap School Holiday Flights Online

I have found some bargain flights in my time - £10 flights to Poland in February Half Term, flights to Italy for £50 return during October Half Term and flights to France in the Summer Holidays for £60 return.  I am often asked where I find these flight deals so today I thought I would share a few top tips for keeping the cost down.

Scroll to the bottom of this post for 7 Easter Holiday flights for less than £50 per person.

Top Tips for Finding Cheap School Holiday Flights Online


My main tip is to use Skyscanner and to remain flexible. I seriously cannot believe how many people still book holidays without checking Skyscanner first.

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10 North East Hidden Gems to Visit this Year

I love nothing more than discovering a hidden gem on our doorstep and luckily for us, the North East has many to choose from. I have put together 10 of my favourites (with a little help from my friends) - perfect if you are looking for somewhere new to visit this year.


10 North East Hidden Gems to Visit this Year

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Planning a Trip to Cornwall - Ideas & Top Tips


A few people have asked for links to my Cornwall posts recently so I thought it would be useful to pop all of my posts together in one post. Simply click on the blue links to read more in-depth reviews/for more information.

Planning a Trip to Cornwall - Ideas & Top Tips

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