How to Create a DIY S'mores Station

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Grazing tables are all the rage at the moment and I spotted a few versions on offer over Bonfire night which looked brilliant. I know a lot of effort goes into these and I don't begrudge their pricing but for me personally, I can't bring myself to pay circa £40 for something I could create myself (not exactly on the same scale) for a fraction of the price. 

A S'mores station is a brilliant idea for a winter's evening when you fancy doing something a little different. The kids love it, they taste great and it is a good alternative to another night in front of the TV.

30+ Things to look forward to in December

Hot on the heels of 30 Things to look forward to in November, I thought I would share some lovely things we can look forward to this month. 

First of all, The Snowman and The Snowdog Trail continues across North Tyneside. Download the app to raise money for St Oswalds and see how many you can spot. Find out more here. 

Our streets and windows will be filled with Christmas lights this month. I love looking at all of the displays, especially in the dark. 

Dear Diary : Christmas in England during a Pandemic

A little bit of a different post but I wanted to record normal family life and our Christmas during the Coronavirus Pandemic in 2020. At this point in time, Steve and I are in our late 30s living in Cramlington, Northumberland with our children Harry (14), Heidi (11) and Jack (9). We have been living with Coronavirus restrictions for 8 months now. 

I am usually super busy from mid-November to mid-December attending various Christmas events, pantos and markets. This year is going to be pretty different for us. I will be updating this post and re-sharing regularly with little snippets of what we've been up to. 


Lost Found and Told : Modern Fairy Tales for Northumberland

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You may remember that last year, we watched November Club perform 'A Night of New Fairytales' in a community centre in Blyth. It was a brilliant evening with traditional fairy tales being given a modern (and Northumberland) twist. It was nice to watch a theatrical performance and recognise the places mentioned, the accents spoken and to have the North East at the very centre of the story (you can read my full review from that evening here). 

Lost Found and Told : Modern Fairy Tales for Northumberland

Times have been tough for local theatre during the pandemic and November Club are no different. They are a registered charity with their prime purpose being to engage local communities and create original performances about people and places. 

They really are fantastic and have won awards for their work so I am delighted that they have been able to pivot (apologies for using the cliché word of the moment) and have been able bring their work and creativity into our homes instead. 


30+ FREE & Fun Walking Trails for Kids across North East England

Walking with kids is always easier with an incentive or something for them to do along the way so today I thought I would share 30+ free and fun walking trails across North East England. They all involve sculptures to find / a route to follow with things to find and are completely free. 

30+ FREE & Fun Walking Trails for Kids across North East England

The Snowman™ and The Snowdog Trail (North Tyneside) : All You Need To Know

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The Snowman™ and The Snowdog Trail (North Tyneside)

The Snowman™and The Snowdog Trail takes place across North Tyneside from 14 November 2020 - the end of January 2021. These trails are always super popular, a brilliant way to get some fresh air and exercise with the kids and raise some money for St Oswalds and support local businesses in the process. 

The trail is completely free to take part and you can enjoy at your leisure. There are 20 life-size sculptures dotted across North Tyneside. 

Although the trail is free, I highly recommend downloading The Snowman™and The Snowdog app to help you with your quest. It is 99p with funds raised going directly to St Oswalds - a charitable hospice based in the North East who provide outstanding, expert and specialist care to children and adults with life limiting conditions. 

The app features an interactive map and sculpture locations, a checklist where you can keep an eye on how many sculptures you have found and other interactive features. 

At the moment, you can download  
The Snowman™and The Snowdog app from the Apple Store or the Google Play store. 

The Snowman™sculpture designs are based around the 12 days of Christmas which is a lovely festive twist.

The Snowman™and The Snowdog - Safety First

Please remember to follow current Government guidelines, especially regarding travel and follow social distancing. Selfies are of course allowed, but this year, it is more important than ever that you don't touch the sculptures. I expect the trail will be popular, especially during November, and if you are planning on visiting a sculpture (within guidelines), I would recommend picking a quieter time of day to start off with. 

Remember there is plenty of time and the trail will be here until the end of January. My personal plan is to tick a few from our list if we are already in the area for something essential and then spend a few days visiting the sculptures in December and January if restrictions allow as part of a wider day out. There is no rush. The trail is fully outdoors so make sure you dress for the weather. 

I recommend downloading the app now so you can see where the sculptures are and start making plans. I know lots of families are looking for things to do around the festive period and it feels like this trail is perfect timing and will give lots of families a much needed lift and focus at the end of the year. 

The Snowman™ and The Snowdog Trail App 

As mentioned earlier, I highly recommend downloading The Snowman™and The Snowdog app. It is available now from the app/play store. It costs 99p will funds raised going directly to support St Oswalds and their important work in the community.  

The app is brilliant and has worked well for us with no glitches. There are various features but the main element is the interactive map which shows you the exact location of each sculpture and can provide directions. Our closest is 'Six Geese a Laying' and less than 4 miles away. Remember, the trail officially begins on 14 November. 

Once you have found a sculpture, you can click to find out more and that you have seen it - the app will keep track of how many sculptures you have left to find for you. 

You can also browse by sculpture and click on each image to learn more and discover their location. 

I am most excited to find Ginger the Snowdog in Whitley Bay - he looks lovely. 

Supporting Local Businesses & For the Love of The North 

There is no denying that this year has been a tough one for our local businesses and when/if restrictions allow, combining the trail with a little bit of local Christmas shopping / buying a hot drink from a local cafe or picking up a local takeaway on the way home is a lovely way to extend your day and give back to the community. 

As an extra special treat, For the Love of the North at Spanish City will be selling limited edition prints and Christmas cards based on local artist Lisa Kirkbride Design's Partridge in a Pear Tree. You can find this Snowman™ just outside of their store on Spanish City Plaza and 25% of sales will be donated to St Oswalds. 

Credit : For the Love of the North 

If you are able to, please download the app and help support St Oswalds this Christmas whilst having fun with the family. Take a little peek at the sculptures in the app and let me know which one is your favourite. I cannot wait to see them in real life and will update this post with a few photos when we do. 

The trail is inspired by The Snowmanand The Snowdog short animated film released in 2012 and the sequel to Raymond Briggs’ worldwide and much-loved hit The Snowman. In it, a young boy builds a snowman and creates a Snowdog with the remaining snow. At midnight both of his creations come to life.

This initiative is organised by North Tyneside Council and Wild in Art and is supported by the North of Tyne Combined Authority.

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The Snowman™ and The Snowdog Trail (North Tyneside)  : All You Need To Know


How to make your own hot chocolate stirrers

Today I am sharing a super easy gift idea or treat you can prepare in advance or get the kids involved with making.

We love a warm mug of Hot Chocolate and in recent years have bought hot chocolate stirrers as a special treat. They are lovely but they are usually priced around the £2-£3.50 mark each so with 5 of us, it can work out expensive. I decided to try making my own at a fraction of the cost. 

How to make your own hot chocolate stirrers


North East Boiler Cover with Gas Angel Heating : Our Honest Review

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We have spent more time at home in 2020 than ever before. Usually we are travelling all over but this year, our priorities have been forced to change. Spending more time at home has meant we have had the time and inclination to complete those niggling jobs and actually take better care of our home. I have never been a homebird but I do think this has changed this year and for the first time in my life, I am proud of our home and actually love spending time here. 

North East Boiler Cover with Gas Angel Heating : Our Honest Review


10 Outdoor Winter Evening Walks with Lighting Across North East England

A reader asked me for suggestions for places to visit for a walk in the winter evenings which are well-lit. I didn't really have many ideas so posed the question to my Facebook followers instead. Below are their suggestions, please let me know if you have any other ideas to add to the list. 

10 Outdoor Winter Walks with Lighting Across North East England

Walking in the evening is likely to be a lot less busy than during the day and is a good time to exercise and grab some fresh air if you are worried about crowded places but please do take care. 

7 Outdoor Spaces to Enjoy in Newcastle Upon Tyne

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Newcastle Upon Tyne is a vibrant city with lots to offer both visitors and locals. When restrictions allow, it is a wonderful place to visit for families, couples and friends with lots to see and do and a lovely Northern welcome is guaranteed. 

Jesmond Dene Waterfall


Lakeland Dry Soon 3 Tier Heated Airer with Cover - Honest Review

We paid for this product ourselves. The links in this post are affiliate/referral links. 

Lakeland Dry Soon 3 Tier Heated Airer with Cover - Honest Review

Why did we buy the Lakeland Dry Soon 3 Tier Heated Airer? 

At the start of the month, our tumble dryer set on fire. There is thankfully no lasting damage but it was a big fright. The reason for the fire was 'wear and tear' at the back of the drum. Our dryer was 2-3 years old and was used daily. This could happen to us again and I am not ready to use another tumble dryer just yet. Maybe in the future, but not yet. 


30 Things to Look Forward to in November

I thought I would share a few simple things we can look forward to this month. Let me know if you have any plans. 

If you like this post, don't forget to check out my 30 Ways to Have a Magical Christmas at Home post too. 

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