Thali Tray Date Night


Over the past few months, Steve and I have been enjoying little date nights at home. With no babysitters or inclination to visit a restaurant, you have to do what you have to do. We started off weekly but now I would say we plan something for just us every couple of weeks. 



Sometimes we cook and other times we order from one of our favourite restaurants. I love how many places have adapted to provide an at-home service and I am so thankful for this. One such place is Thali Tray in Ouseburn
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30+ of the Best Cycle Routes for Kids around North East England


Over the years,  I have been asked a lot for ideas where families can ride their bikes with kids. I am not an expert in this - we just ride our bikes along the cycle path near our house or at the coast.

It is something I have been asked more and more during the past few weeks though so I decided to ask my readers for suggestions for their favourite routes so I could put them all together in one list for others to use. I hope you find this resource helpful. 

30+ of the Best Cycle Routes for Kids around North East England

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Life Lately (June 2020)



Welcome to another little catch up. Here is what has been going on this month...... 



Heidi is back at school 

The biggest change for us this month is that Heidi is back at school now. She is in Year 6 and transitioning to a new school this year. We weighed up the pros and cons and decided it was best for Heidi to return. She attends school two days per week in a small class of 8 with her teacher and absolutely loves it. 

Heidi has really enjoyed being back with her friends and is enjoying some fun activities at school such as designing a fairground, coding a ferris wheel, making pin art, school games and making space doughnuts. Honestly when I dropped her off on the first day I was so nervous, it was worse than the first day of school in reception but she was beaming when I picked her up later that day and it was the happiest I have seen her in days. 
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15 of the Best Parks & Playgrounds in North East England



15 of the Best Parks & Playgrounds in North East England


Please note, due to COVID 19, some of the facilities (especially water play areas/cafes/toilets) may be closed. Check details with venue direct for up to date info before setting off. In England, parks are permitted to open from 4 July but not all will open on that date.  Always check venues direct for up-to-date details before setting off. 

Please respect the local area, observe social distancing, use alcohol hand gel / wash hands regularly (especially before eating), leave no trace, park responsibly and if somewhere is busy on arrival, consider leaving and returning another time. 

If you have symptoms of Coronavirus, please stay at home and follow NHS advice/guidelines. 
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Dinosaur Crazy Golf & Dobbies Garden Centre Morpeth


Like many people during lockdown, we have taken to gardening this summer. We have visited Dobbies Morpeth (aka Heighley Gate) a few times over the years but it had been well over a year since our last visit. 

Dinosaur Crazy Golf & Dobbies Garden Centre Morpeth


The garden centre is just off the A1 - exit onto the A697 towards Coldstream and it is less than half a mile up the road on your left (use postcode NE61 3DA). There is a huge free car park for customers. 
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A Pizza Picnic from Di Meos Ouseburn


Ouseburn is my favourite part of Newcastle. I just love the vibes in this area of Newcastle plus it is home to some of my favourite restaurants, pubs and places to visit

A Pizza Picnic from Di Meos Ouseburn


Back in February Half Term, we were going to visit Di Meos for Pizza and ice cream after a street art trail but the queue was too long, there were no spare seats and it was freezing cold so we popped to Gingerinos instead (which by the way is fantastic and I would also highly recommend) . 

As Steve's payday treat this month though, I was craving a trip to Ouseburn and this time was a little more organised and phoned ahead to pre-order our pizza at Di Meos. 
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Strawberry Picking in North East England - What to Expect this Summer


We love visiting Brocksbushes Farm near Hexham to pick strawberries and are honestly over the moon that we have still been able to enjoy this tradition this summer. 


Strawberry Picking at Brocksbushes

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The Best Places to Paddle in Streams across North East England


A few weeks ago, I published a post sharing safety advice against the dangers of swimming in reservoirs (you can read the full post here). Please do not swim/paddle at the likes of Kielder / Derwent Waterside Park. There are lots of hidden dangers. 

The Best Places to Paddle in Streams across North East England


However, paddling in streams is a kind of rite of passage in childhood I think. Obviously, you still need to remain vigilant - young children can drown in a teeny amount of water and depths can change suddenly. Children should never be left unsupervised. 
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Bedlington Country Park Riverside Walk & Stepping Stones


This week we enjoyed another super local walk to us (less than 3 miles away) with a trip to Bedlington Country Park. We brought the kids here a few times when they were little to paddle in the river, play in the park and jump across the stepping stones and it is somewhere I would hang out with my friends quite a lot when we were younger. It is a lovely walk/area and usually a lot less busier than nearby Plessey Woods. 

  
Bedlington Country Park Riverside Walk & Stepping Stones



We parked in Attlee Park Car Park (postcode NE22 5RX) at the bottom of Bedlington Bank. It is free (no ticket required) and there are plenty of spaces. If you wish to skip the woodland walk and head straight to the stepping stones/play park,  use Humford Mill Car Park (NE22 5RT). 
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20+ North East Restaurants Offering Take Away Kids Meals


I love that more and more restaurants have started opening up again and now offer a takeaway service. I have to say though, I have been disappointed with the lack of children's menus available. If we order a takeaway, it is generally on a Saturday night and a treat for the whole family, including kids to enjoy. 



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10 Reasons to Never Visit Northumberland


 Northumberland is a terrible place to visit and you definitely should not come here. There is nothing to see or do and I would hate for you to waste a journey here. 

10 Reasons to Never Visit Northumberland
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Top Tips for Visiting Local Reservoirs & Waterside Parks this Summer

This is an advertisement with Northumbrian Water. Details correct as of 6 June 2020. Visit  www.watersideparksuk.com  for updated information regarding site opening (which can change) and up-to-date visitor advice. Please follow current Government guidelines regarding social distancing. 

Top Tips for Visiting Local Reservoirs & Waterside Parks this Summer


There are several Northumbrian Water Waterside Parks & Reservoirs located across North East England and their beautiful locations make for a wonderful day out or location for exercise and walking.  Kielder & Derwent Waterside Park are two of our favourite spots in the whole of the North East.
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A Guide to Saving Money with Plum

This post is not an advert, I am recommending Plum as a normal customer. If you sign up via my referral link, I will receive a little bonus. I am obviously not a Finacial Advisor, join Plum at your own risk. 

A Guide to Saving Money with Plum



I first signed up to Plum after reading this post by Honestly Helen back in January. I am not the best at saving, and an automated system like this seemed like the perfect way for us to save a bit of cash.  So far I have managed to save over £200 (although I have withdrawn some of that when I needed some emergency cash). At the moment, I currently have £180 sitting in my Plum account. 
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A Little Catch Up On Life Lately | May 2020

 

Another month in lockdown.......

Here are some thoughts and ramblings from the month gone by. I cannot believe it is June tomorrow! 

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Queen Elizabeth II Country Park Walk


An easy pushchair and dog-friendly circular walk in Northumberland. 

Queen Elizabeth II Country Park Walk



The Queen Elizabeth II Country Park is located next to Woodhorn Museum  just off the A189 between Blyth and Ashington. There is ample free parking (use postcode NE63 9AT) and the area is a lovely spot for a family walk. 
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Finding Joy in your Local Area & Community


As I type this, the UK has been in some kind of lockdown for around 10 weeks. We have not experienced full lockdown like some countries and being able to explore our local area has been an option for those who are not self-isolating/shielding throughout the entire time. 

Finding Joy in your Local Area & Community


As somebody who is always out and about, I thought I may struggle with just staying local but actually, the opposite has been true. Lockdown has definitely provided me with a new appreciation of our immediate local area and now that I could go a little further, I am a little hesitant to at the moment and exploring places that are just a short drive/walk for us at quieter times is something we will be taking advantage of for a while yet. 
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East Cramlington Nature Reserve Trail


We decided to explore somewhere on our doorstep this week - East Cramlington Nature Reserve. We have visited a few times in the past when the kids were teeny and I used to sometimes visit with my friend when I was younger but it has been a good few years since our last visit. 

East Cramlington Nature Reserve Trail



There is a small free car park at the entrance along the B1326 from Cramlington to Seaton Delaval. If you are travelling from Cramlington hospital towards Seaton Delaval it is just before you get to the bend in the road. Use postcode NE23 6XF and continue driving along the road past Astor Court Care Home - the car park is on the left just before the bend. 
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9 Places You Can Visit Where Public Toilets Are Open


It is a personal choice whether you feel it is appropriate to use a public loo at this time. As always, I advise researching and reading scientific advice rather than what random strangers are saying on social media and making your own properly informed decisions.

9 Places You Can Visit Where Public Toilets Are Open


It is worth noting that because there are so few places available with open toilets, you may find these areas busier than normal and some places may have to close early when they are at capacity (check their social media for updates).
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Our May Half Term Plans (2020)


School is out for the week for us today and with the likelihood that Heidi is returning back to school on a reduced timetable soon, we want to make the most of it.



We usually go away for May Half Term and were due to spend the week at Center Parcs in the Netherlands this year. I am sure that trip will still happen at a later date. Steve still has the week off work so it is nice that we are all going to be together.
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Can we stop with the lockdown food shaming?


The UK Government recently eased lockdown restrictions. We can now go outside for unlimited exercise and leisure provided we stick with social distancing rules.



As set out by Government plans, many hospitality businesses may be looking to re-open in July. Some businesses like McDonald's could have made a couple of changes and stayed open this whole time if they had wanted to.
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Our First Trip to the Beach During the Pandemic


I will be the first to admit that I wasn't keen to rush out after lockdown restrictions were eased earlier this month.



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Fish & Chips from Colmans Seafood Temple : A Review


Colmans Seafood Temple is somewhere I have wanted to visit for ages. We were finally able to make the trip on a sunny Sunday in February when working on a different campaign with the Tyne Tunnel (who kindly organised/covered the cost of our meal). 

Fish & Chips from Colmans Seafood Temple : A Review

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North East Father's Day Gift Ideas (Delivered)


North East Father's Day Gift Ideas (Delivered)


Father's Day in the UK falls on Sunday 21 June this year. Who knows what the next month holds but for me personally, I will not be spending any time browsing physical shops for gifts any time soon.

I have been researching various gift ideas which can be ordered online and thought others may find this round-up handy. Let me know if you have any other ideas too.

As a side note, nobody has paid/ asked to be included in this post (although I may have worked with a couple of the brands mentioned in the past). This list is made up of my own personal recommendations and businesses friends / family have recommended/tried in the past too.

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Teachers Are Heroes


I have so much respect for our teachers. We all remember those special teachers at school who we connected with. They inspired us, listened to us, showed us another way and encouraged our passions. Teachers are the biggest supporters, advocates and role models for our children and I do not know what I would do without them.


Teachers Are Heroes


I cannot begin to imagine how tough trying to teach during Coronavirus must be. It is hard enough for me at home and I kind of have nothing better to do and only have three students to deal with.
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Why I Won't Be Rushing To Enjoy A Day Out

In England, lockdown measures have been relaxed slightly today and our Prime Minister has encouraged us to enjoy as much time as we like outdoors for exercise or recreation.



There is no time limit and we can now travel to beaches, beauty spots and parks by car / on foot / bike with no time restrictions. This is providing they are open of course, many councils have chosen to stagger the opening of their car parks / have not opened them at all / have asked the public to stay at home for now.
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Holiday Memories : Making Pretzels at Home


Welcome to another post from our Holiday Memories series.  Today I take us back to Florida in the summer of 2017 where I tasted the best ever Pretzels at Busch Gardens.


Holiday Memories : Making Pretzels at Home


Now I know Pretzels are German (and I have yet to experience a true German Pretzel) but Americans really know how to make a brilliant Pretzel too and for me, they were a real taste sensation.
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15+ Things To Do In South Shields

Disclosure - I have worked with some of the attractions mentioned in this post in the past but nobody has asked/paid to be included in this round-up. 

We absolutely love South Shields. It is around a 25 minute drive from our home in Northumberland and as we drive through the tunnel, it always feels like a proper day out.
15+ Things To Do In South Shields - dodgems at ocean beach

I still remember my first visit to South Shields - it was a day trip organised by our local Sure Start Centre (RIP) when the kids were under 5. I took my mam and we had such a good day out - I could not believe all of this traditional fun was right here on our doorstep.
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14 Things I Hate About Facebook


A bit of light entertainment to enjoy during lockdown. This post is a little tongue in cheek and to be honest, I am probably guilty of most of these myself at some point. Let me know your biggest Facebook bugbear.




14 Things I Hate About Facebook 


1 - People who ask to make a post in a private group shareable 

OMG the whole point of a private Facebook is that it is private - you cannot share info outside of the group or make a post which has been published directly into the group shareable. Can people stop asking......


2 - When people do not use the FB search function

We are all in those FB groups where the same questions are asked time and time again. Where delivers Chinese is my personal fave. There is a search function in FB groups - save us all a lot of hassle/repetition and use it.


3 - Unsolicited advertising on my Facebook posts 

If I am in the wrong mood, this drives me mad. I am super strict about adverts and who I work with on Social Media and when businesses try to take advantage of my audience and start advertising and posting their own links as comments on my posts without asking,  I find it to be the height of rudeness.


4 - Friend requests & MLM scheme invites 

When somebody friend requests you then 2 minutes later you receive a DM from them with an unbelievable way to make cash. No thanks.


5 - People who share fake news 

This is SO dangerous and really annoying. Check your sources people and only share news from verified sources.


6 - People who share fake giveaways 

I cannot believe people fall for this to be honest. Fake Facebook pages to run fake giveaways and harvest your data has been a scam for years yet people still fall for it. Before entering a giveaway, check out the page and check they are legit.


7 - Naked photos of kids

I just do not understand why people would put naked photos of their kids on the internet for all to see.


8 - Asking unnecessary questions 

A business can take time to post an informative post yet are inundated with ridiculous questions which they have usually already answered in their post.

A prime example is - Tonight, we are delivering to Blyth, Cramlington and Morpeth, here is our menu, call 01670 000 000 to order. I can guarantee this type of post will receive countless people asking in the comments if they deliver to Blyth. READ THE POST BEFORE YOU COMMENT PEOPLE.


9 - Checking into hospital with no further info 

Vague-booking at it's worst!


10 - Not sharing from original source (or at least referencing them)

This always happens with popular posts or memes. Rather than sharing from original source and crediting the creator, people will upload their own version and try and make it look like it was their idea.

This happens with popular quotes and memes all of the time. It would be lovely if we could all start giving credit where credit is due.


11 - Not disclosing freebies properly

More of a blogger thing but as a consumer, it frustrates me too. I want to know if you are working with someone and are not sharing a plate of food / outfit / make up off your own back up front. Have some respect for your audience and always let us know rather than trying to hide it.


12 - Facebook lurkers

We all know someone like this - never, ever posts on Facebook but when you see them in real life, they seem to have studied your Facebook posts and know exactly what you have been up to.


13 - Forgetting to be social 

Facebook is supposed to be fun and social. Remember when people uploaded blurry photos from nights out or a silly little status. I feel like this kind of fun and frivolity has been lost a bit over the years now and many people seem to use Facebook for their own personal agenda only.


14 - Following...... 

When people type FOLLOWING on a post. OMG this does nothing really. Why not hit the three buttons at the corner of a post and save it to come back to instead? Much more useful.


Ah I feel better now that I have that off my chest. I am guessing we are all guilty of at least one of these at some point (I know I am). Let me know which is your biggest bugbear too. 
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Podcast Reviews & Recommendations : May 2020


As mentioned in previous posts, I have started listening to podcasts during lockdown and I am loving the escapism they have provided. Popping my headphones on whilst doing the dishes / washing has never been so appealing.




As a fairly new podcast listener, I am always on the lookout for new podcasts to subscribe to so please recommend any you think I will like. I will update this post weekly with mini reviews and what I have been listening to throughout the week.
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Holiday Memories : Recreating a Moroccan Riad Experience at Home


Welcome to my brand new mini-series. Holiday Memories will take a trip down memory lane as I reminisce about some of my favourite travel experiences. I will then aim to recreate a little part of the trip at home (with probably varying results). I hope you like it.


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Nelson's at the Park, Swarland

A lovely cafe by a fantastic play park serving delicious homemade food.
Nelson's at the Park is an absolutely gorgeous cafe overlooking Swarland village park serving delicious homemade food. 

Nelson's at the Park, Swarland - Review


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15+ Easy Star Wars Activities to Enjoy at Home (No Printer Required)


15+ Easy Star Wars Activities to Enjoy at Home (No Printer Required)


My kids are obsessed with Star Wars. They suggested the idea of a Star Wars themed day at home for May 4th. Their idea was to binge-watch Star Wars movies on Disney+ all day but I wanted to make it a little more fun / educational so at the last minute, I researched a few easy activities we could do at home.
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8 Easy Ways to Have Fun in your Garden this Summer

This is an advertising feature. Whilst enjoying your garden, please follow current Government guidelines re: social distancing. 

I have never been a keen gardener. We usually cut the grass, plant new flowers in Spring and that's about it. However, during this extended period at home, I have really discovered a new appreciation for our garden and as the sun has been shining, we have thoroughly enjoyed and been thankful for our outdoor space.

8 Easy Ways to Have Fun in your Garden this Summer
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How to Celebrate VE Day at Home


The 8th May marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day - the day that the guns fell silent and WWII ended in Europe. Millions of people took to the streets on this day in 1945 to celebrate, reflect and mourn their loved ones.


How to Celebrate VE Day at Home


VE Day 75 is a 3-day celebration taking place across Bank Holiday Weekend ( 8 - 10 May ). It is a chance for us to reflect, commemorate and remember the celebrations from 75 years ago.
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A Little Catch Up On Life Lately | April 2020

We self-isolated for a period before official lockdown started so we have been in lockdown for over a 6 weeks now. I really want to record this strange period in our lives and thought I would give a little update on life lately.


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A Few Podcast Recommendations


I have never been someone who listens to podcasts. I just feel like I ever had the time for that kind of self-indulgence which is a ridiculous thing to say as of course I had the time, I just chose not to prioritise listening to podcasts.


A Few Podcast Recommendations


There is one exception to the rule of course - Steve and I have listened to Shagged, Married, Annoyed religiously together every Friday night. I LOVE Rosie and Chris who just live a few miles from us and their banter about married life with kids in the North East is super relatable.
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How To Batch Cook Mac n Cheese For Your Freezer

I am all about the comfort food right now and as I have plenty of time on my hands, I have really been getting into batch cooking.


How To Batch Cook Mac n Cheese For Your Freezer

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North East Food Box Delivery Services : Reviews & Recommendations


During this lockdown period, the Government has advised us to stay at home as much as possible. We have not been to a Supermarket in over a month now and instead, have relied upon food boxes / delivery schemes plus our corner shop.

North East Food Box Delivery Services : Reviews & Recommendations


This has worked really well for us and I like that we are supporting local businesses in this way. After lockdown, I hope we can continue.

I thought I would put together a list and mini reviews of the places we have tried so far. Let me know if you have any others to add to the list.

Make sure you follow my North East Family Fun Facebook page here for more recommendations.


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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


 This post was originally published before the Coronavirus pandemic. 

 Covid 19 update: The fruit picking fields are not open at the moment. When they open, you will not be able to turn up and will need to pre-book a time slot.  Please  sign up to the Brocksbushes newsletter here to be alerted when booking slots are available. 

When they do re-open, things may be a little different from when they featured in this post. 

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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