Jungle Jacks Soft Play Review (Eldon Square Newcastle)

Thanks to our writer Jennifer for this post and photos. 

Jungle Jacks Soft Play Review  (Eldon Square Newcastle)

We recently visited the newly re-opened Jungle Jacks; a spacious, city centre jungle themed soft play, suitable for little monkeys aged 0-8. Many of you may remember this popular central Newcastle venue, which unfortunately fell casualty to Covid two years ago. 

Having been a big miss, it’s reopening on Monday 14th Feb was a very welcome Valentine's treat for many of the North East’s youngest residents.


Restaurant Hjem & The Hadrian Hotel Review

 This post is based on our visit in June 2021. Please visit the venue's website and social media for the most up-to-date information when making plans. 

Restaurant Hjem & The Hadrian Hotel Review

Restaurant Hjem was awared a Michelin star and included in the 2021 (& 2022) Michelin Guide. They are the first restaurant in Northumberland to receive a coveted star (now joined with Restaurant Pine). This is huge news for our region and while I don't always agree that the best food can be found in Michelin starred restaurants, they generally do provide an unforgettable experience so it seemed like the perfect place for me to book as a special treat for Steve's 40th birthday. 

How to Access FREE Walking & Cycling Maps

This is an advert for February 2022. Any shares beyond this date have not been asked / paid for.  

You may remember I featured Go Smarter, Go Active last summer when I shared 15 Walking & Cycling Routes Across North East England. This post included set itineraries and specific instructions for days out where you can walk or cycle across the region which have been put together and shared on the Go Smarter, Go Active website. It's a fab resource and one I definitely recommend checking out once you've finished this post. 

How to Access FREE Walking & Cycling Maps

Today I would like to share another aspect of the Go Smarter, Go Active campaign. They have put together a comprehensive and interactive map covering County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland featuring every walking and cycling route across the North East. 

Animal Farm at Newcastle Theatre Royal

 Ad - We were provided with press tickets but not asked/paid to share this blog post and the theatre has had no input. 

Harry is studying GCSE Drama at the moment and has aspirations to become a screenwriter / director one day. We have always loved going to the theatre together and jumped back in the saddle tonight with a trip to Newcastle Theatre Royal to see Animal Farm. 

Seven Stories Is Now FREE To Visit | An Updated Guide To Visiting

This is an advert based on a visit in February Half Term 2022. Any future shares of this post have not been asked or paid for. 

As always, please double check information with Seven Stories direct before visiting as the information in this post may have changed. Please pay particular attention to opening hours. 

I visited with Harry (Yr 10), Dee (Yr 8) and Jack (Yr 6). 

Seven Stories Is Now FREE To Visit  | An Updated Guide To Visiting

How to Walk to Sycamore Gap with Kids

Thanks to Bethanie from Girl About Northumberland for this post. Photo credits are a mix of Bethanie's and my own. Over to Bethanie.......

The county of Northumberland is steeped in history. From the iconic castles to the mining colliery at Woodhorn, there is so much to learn visiting these places and Hadrian’s Wall is no exception. Here I share with you what it is like walking to Sycamore Gap (part of Hadrian’s Wall) with kids.


Bailiffgate Museum Review (Alnwick)

Thanks to Bethanie from Girl About Northumberland for this review of Bailiffgate Museum in Alnwick. Image credits: Girl About Northumberland + Stacey Herberson (taken from a previous North East Family Fun review of the museum). Over to Bethanie: 

Bailiffgate Museum Review (Alnwick)

Did you know that Alnwick has its very own museum? Located just down the road from Alnwick Castle, Bailiffgate Museum shares the history of Alnwick and its District areas.

Krazy Kingdom Durham Soft Play Review

Thanks to Gaia from Toon Lunch Club for this review of Krazy Kingdom Soft Play in Durham. This post is based on a visit in January 2022. Please check with venue direct when making plans / visiting as information and prices can change over time. Over to Gaia.......
Krazy Kingdom Durham Soft Play Review


Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Spa Review

I have visited the spa at Whinfell Forest twice now, once as a non-resident visiting as a 'day guest' and more recently when we were staying at Center Parcs in January 2022 (which is when this post is based on). I love the spa here and if you are looking for a wide range of spa experiences, I really do think it is one of the best spas in the North.  

Please always check details with venue direct when booking for the most up-to-date information. 

Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Spa Review


North East Soft Play & Role Play Cafe Reviews

Prices and offers can vary. Last checked April 2024. Please always double check opening times, whether pre-booking is required and info via the venue's official social media and websites before heading out. Soft plays often reach capacity quickly when the weather isn't so great.  

North East Soft Play Reviews


Sunday Lunch at Nest on Chillingham Road ~ A Review

This post is based on our visit in Winter 2021. Please visit the Nest's website for up to date menus, opening hours, pricing and information (and of course to book!). 

Sunday Lunch at Nest on Chillingham Road ~ A Review  - roast beef

Honestly I really think Heaton is the place to be when it comes to some of the best places to grab a place to eat in Newcastle at the minute. There are SO many good options. Today's post is all about Nest on Chillingham Road. They opened in the Summer of 2021 and have been a bit of a 'must visit' destination ever since. 

They are only a small place and tables book up months in advance so if you fancy visiting in spring/summer, make sure you book asap. At the moment they offer a tasting menu in the evenings (including a vegetarian option), deli boards during the day and Sunday Lunch on Sundays. I visited on a Sunday with Steve, Jack and Harry. 

They are currently open Thursday - Sunday and there is an option to hire the venue for exclusive use too. 

Nest is somewhere we were made to feel welcome with kids and on our Sunday afternoon visit, most tables were family groups and about half had younger kids with them. Highchairs are available. 

Sunday Lunch at Nest on Chillingham Road ~ A Review   location map

Nest is located on Chillingham Road which is well served by buses and Metro. There is plenty of parking available in the surrounding streets. We always managed to get parked without any problems. 

Sunday Lunch at Nest on Chillingham Road ~ A Review - exterior

The interior is modern and the vibe is nice and relaxed. It feels like a warm neighbourhood restaurant where everyone is made to feel welcome. 

Sunday Lunch at Nest on Chillingham Road ~ A Review  - interior

At time of print, Sunday lunch is served between 12noon-5pm and is £20 for 2 courses or £25 for 3 courses. Considering the quality and service, I think this is an excellent price and exceptional value. It is pretty much en-par with our local Beefeater price wise (if not cheaper!) and I know which I would prefer. 

Sunday Lunch at Nest on Chillingham Road ~ A Review  - menu

My boys all have big appetites and we all dined from the main Sunday menu. For younger children, half portions are available or there is a dedicated children's menu available on a Sunday (see below for a sample menu). A bargain at 3 courses for £6.95. 

The menu is a little tricky to read - starters are homemade flatbreads with hummus & carrot sticks or homemade tomato soup, mains are fish goujons, proper chips and peas/roast chicken, buttered mash and carrots/pulled ham and doddington's cheese pasta and dessert is doddington fudge ice cream with toffee sauce or marshmallows, strawberries and chocolate fondue. 

To start it was salt and pepper squid with lime aioli. Perfectly cooked and no complaints from anyone. We also tried the sticky pork cheeks with apple salad and crispy cracking. Divine! and it was a dish that left us wanting more which is the sign of a good starter. Clean plates all round. 

Sunday Lunch at Nest on Chillingham Road ~ A Review  - calamari starter

Sunday Lunch at Nest on Chillingham Road ~ A Review  - pork cheek and apple salad starter

The kitchen is semi-open and you can watch the chefs in action sending dishes out on the pass. The staff all seem so relaxed around each other and this translates over to the atmosphere. Sometimes kitchens / front of house staff can have a bit of a jarring relationship and it all seems a bit stressful but the opposite is true here. 

The problem with an open pass is that you can't keep your eyes off it and every dish that left looked so good and I was praying it was ours. The wait wasn't too long though and the service was pretty prompt (with room for a little breather between courses). 

We all ordered the roast beef and it was served pink with a selection of roasted vegetables, perfect mash, lovely roast potatoes, yorkshire pudding and unxious gravy. Extra portions of seasonal veg, cauliflower cheese and extra gravy accompanied the main at no additional cost. 

I don't have a bad word to say about the roasts here. Every single element was done so well and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. Going off the constant rave reviews Nest receives, I am guessing it is somewhere reliable where it just gets things right time and time again. Their menus do change with the seasons and many of their ingredients are sourced locally.  

Sunday Lunch at Nest on Chillingham Road ~ A Review  - cauliflower cheese

After seeing so many photos of their beautiful desserts on social media, I knew I wasn't going to skip this course and wow it was worth saving some room for. The desserts here are just gorgeous both in terms of taste and presentation and you won't want to miss out. 

Sunday Lunch at Nest on Chillingham Road ~ A Review  - brownie dessert

Sunday Lunch at Nest on Chillingham Road ~ A Review  - cheesecake dessert

If you are looking for a guaranteed high standard of sunday lunch which is reasonably priced and accessible by both car and public transport, I highly recommend Nest. The only downside is that you do have to book up well in advance. They do sometimes have cancellations at the last minute and share on their Instagram stories when they do so it's worth following them here

Find out more, book and view current menus here: https://www.nestinthenorth.com/


National Lottery Days Out £25 Voucher - A Step by Step Guide

There have been a few posts about the National Lottery Days Out deal in the past few months in our FB group and I must admit, I have put off writing this post as it is a fairly complicated system. However I have just tried it for myself and it wasn't too bad so I thought writing a guide might help. 

This post was first published in 2021 and has been updated for July 2023. 

Adventure Valley 

Always check deal t&cs with websites / venues direct when booking. This post is for guidance only. 

What's the deal? 

National Lottery are giving their players a £25 voucher towards a day out in Great Britain. Hundreds of top attractions are taking part.

You need a lottery ticket (online or physical) purchased on or after 1 January 2023. Any National Lotter Game is valid (so it includes Euromillions, Set for Life and Instant Win Games). 

Key T&Cs 

  • You can claim one voucher per person, per game. You must be aged over 18 to take part in this promotion but you can use this promotion to buy a family ticket (including under 18s). An email address can only be used once to claim a voucher
  • You must redeem your voucher within 7 days of claiming (but you can book for a future date, for example, redeem a voucher today and book a day out for next month) 
  • Bookings must be completed before 30 September 2023 (you can book for a date beyond this but must book before 30 September) 
  • The full £25 voucher must be used in one transaction and you may need to pay / forfeit any difference 
  • Keep hold of your ticket - you may need it when you visit the venue
  • You can view all of the T&Cs / FAQs at the bottom of this link 

How to Claim Your Voucher Code 

We play Lotto online and simply logged into our account, clicked on the 'my account' section, clicked on our games and viewed our tickets. The 19 digit ticket number is clearly displayed under 'ticket number'. 

If you have a physical ticket, the 19 digit ticket number is at the top of the ticket. 

Visit https://www.visitbritainshop.com/gb/en/nationallotterydaysout and enter your ticket number and email address to claim your £25 voucher. My voucher was emailed to me instantly. 

Our Lotto account is in my husband's name but I was able to use one of the tickets with my email address and another with Steve's email address but I needed to redeem them both seperately as it is one voucher per transaction. 

Remember, once you have your voucher code, you need to book a day out within 7 days (the date you visit can be beyond this though) and before 30 September. 

There are full instructions on where to find your voucher code for various different games here: Find Your National Lottery Reference Number Here  

How to Book Your Day Out 

Book your day out via the Visit Britain website here. I have to say, it's not the easiest website to navigate but there are different sections depending on your location etc.... I found it easier to just type keywords such as 'Zoo' or 'Newcastle' into the search bar. 

Once you have found the attraction you'd like to visit, use the drop down menu to select how many adults and children would like to visit and then the time and date. Remember, your voucher is for £25 and you will need to pay any difference.

I booked Northumberland Zoo for 1 adult and 1 child for myself (I had to pay £2.25 difference) and then booked it again for 1 adult and 1 child for my husband (again paying £2.25 difference). Depending on where you book, you may not need to pay anything or you may not need to pay anything if your day out total is less than £25. 

I booked for Easter 2022. 

I did do a test run and tried to book for a child only to make it less than £25. You could try doing this with multiple vouchers / different email addresses and booking everyone in individually. Eg use a grandparent's email address/ lotto ticket to pay for a child's day out.

I am not sure if this would be against t&cs though - I can't seem to see anything online. It did seem to let you do this though. For me, I didn't mind paying the £2 difference for ease. 

When you click through to the payment stage, click pay by card but before you enter your card details scroll to the bottom and enter the voucher code you have been emailed. This should then give a £25 discount on your transaction. Remember, it is only one voucher per transaction so most families will need to go through this process more than once to get tickets for everyone. 

Then simply enter your payment details and email address and your attraction tickets will be emailed to you. 

My Northumberland Zoo ticket was emailed to me like a normal ticket and has the date / time etc.....plus a barcode to scan on arrival. It does mention you should take your Lotto ticket just incase. We will just log in to our Lotto account if we are asked. 

Where Can I Visit in the North East? 

This list isn't the full list of attractions but here are some highlights with links to the direct page to book: 

Chesters Roman Fort 

National Lottery Days Out £25 Voucher - A Step by Step Guide  - chesters roman fort

Housesteads Roman Fort 

Belsay Hall Castle & Gardens  - sadly not part of the 2023 promotion 

National Lottery Days Out £25 Voucher - A Step by Step Guide  - belsay hall

Newcastle Castle  - sadly not part of the 2023 promotion 

National Lottery Days Out £25 Voucher - A Step by Step Guide  - newcastle castle
Click here to read our Newcastle Castle Review 

Northumberland Zoo  - sadly not part of the 2023 promotion 

National Lottery Days Out £25 Voucher - A Step by Step Guide  - northumberland zoo
Click here to read our Northumberland Zoo Review 

Adventure Valley 

National Lottery Days Out £25 Voucher - A Step by Step Guide  - adventure valley
Click here to read our Adventure Valley Review 

Washington Wetlands Centre  - sadly not part of the 2023 promotion 

Day Trip Ideas 

Gulliver's World / Land / Valley  - sadly not part of the 2023 promotion

National Lottery Days Out £25 Voucher - A Step by Step Guide  - gullivers valley
Read our review of Gullivers Valley here 

LEGOLAND Discovery Manchester  - sadly not part of the 2034 promotion (SEA LIFE next door is also available) 

National Lottery Days Out £25 Voucher - A Step by Step Guide  - LEGOLAND Discovery
Read our review of LEGOLAND Manchester here 

Alton Towers 

National Lottery Days Out £25 Voucher - A Step by Step Guide  - Alton Towers
Read our review of Alton Towers here 

Blackpool - loads of attractions including Blackpool Zoo, Ballroom, Madame Tussauds, Blackpool Tower, Blackpool Circus, Peter Rabbit Experience, SEA LIFE

Read our guide to visiting the Blackpool Attractions here 

Yorkshire Wildlife Park 

National Lottery Days Out £25 Voucher - A Step by Step Guide  - Yorkshire Wildlife Park
Read our review of Yorkshire Wildlife Park here 

York - lots of attractions including the York Pass (valid for lots of attractions), City Cruise, Hop on Hop Off Bus 

Scarborough - Scarborough SEA LIFE, Scarborough Castle. 

Read our guide to Scarborough North Bay here 

Edinburgh Zoo  - sadly not part of the 2023 promotion 

Whitby Abbey  - sadly not part of the 2023 promotion 

National Lottery Days Out £25 Voucher - A Step by Step Guide  - Whitby Abbey
Read our guide to Whitby Abbey here 

This list is definitely not inclusive - there are LOADS of attractions all across the country to choose from, especially in London. See here for more guides and inspiration or simply use the search bar on the Visit Britain website linked above. 

Any Questions? 

It is definitely not the easiest way to book a day out but definitely worth it as there are huge savings to be made. I don't work for Lotto and have no affiliation. I won't be able to help with queries beyond my own experience. You can see a list of FAQs at the bottom of this page  or you can view t&cs here

If you still need help, you can email TNLDaysOut@VisitBritain.com or use this contact form


Silverlink Biodiversity Park Giant Sundial & Nature Walk


Silverlink Biodiversity Park Nature Walk & Giant Sundial

The Silverlink Biodiversity Park & Sundial is a bit of a hidden gem but a lovely spot for a walk with kids amongst nature. This former rubbish tip was developed into a country park in 1996 and declared a nature reserve in 2005. 


50+ Free Days Out Across North East England

You don't need to spend a fortune, or indeed anything at all to enjoy a fantastic day out. This post will share a list of more than 50 places you can enjoy a free day out across North East England - that's practically one day out per week for a full year. 

The criteria to make this list is that the attraction must offer free admission as standard. Parking and travel costs are excluded from this. Many places do rely on donations and if you can, donations will always be welcome. 

The Jack & Jill Tearoom at Scaling Dam

The Jack & Jill at Scaling Dam had been on my list of places to visit in forever. The food and cakes on their Facebook page always look so tempting. We finally made it there in summer 2021 when we were staying at nearby Saltburn. 

The Jack & Jill Tearoom at Scaling Dam

If you are looking for somewhere to stop off on the way to North Yorkshire or beyond (we stopped off en-route to Yorkshire Wildlife Park), the Jack & Jill is a billion times better than a service station. It is directly off the A171 road which takes you across the North Yorkshire Moors.

11 Reasons to Visit Angus

This is an advert published in February 2022 based on a visit in January 2022. Please pop over to the Visit Angus website for the most up-to-date information. 

11 Reasons to Visit Angus  - Arbroath harbour

You will find Angus on the East Coast of Scotland, around a 3.5 hour drive North of Newcastle. The region features a real mix of landscapes from rolling hills and glens to sandy white beaches and world-renowned nature reserves. 

Angus is known for it's history, championship golf courses, the famous Arbroath Smokie and stunning coastline. It's a perfect base for a short break for those looking for a real mix of activities, relaxation, wildlife, good food and things to do. 

What's On for Kids & Teens this February | North East England

Welcome to our guide to what's on in February. Please always double check with venues direct for last minute closures and the most up-to-date info before booking and heading out. Some of the places mentioned here may be temporarily closed due to staffing / storm damage etc...... 


Castle Mania Soft Play Review (Amble)

Thanks to Bethanie from Girl About Northumberland for this Castle Mania Soft Play Review. 

Whether you like it or not, chances are if you are a parent soft plays are going to become part of your new normal. A soft play we like to visit is Castle Mania in Amble. Here’s why… 

Castle Mania Soft Play Review (Amble)  - ball pool
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