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Since I became a mammy, I have tried to find lots of fun activities, days out, events and holidays for my family. I love being busy and visiting new places and I hope you will enjoy reading them. My blog is jam packed with reviews of places we have been, maybe I get help you with a little inspiration.  We are lucky enough to travel quite a bit so the blog features lots of places in the North East and beyond.

Friday, 29 November 2013

All Things Wicked

I am back!!!! Been very quiet whilst the computer was out of action, all sorted now and a few things to write about.

Last year we started a new Christmas/birthday tradition. My mam and I decided to take my daughter, Eva, on the train to London.  This years trip was much anticipated and Eva was so excited to go on the train and to stay in a hotel!

So, to get a good price and also the most out of our visit, we got the 6am train! Nice and early start for us getting into Kings Cross at 9.10. We were staying at the Thistle Euston, we got an absolutely amazing deal which I still cannot believe!  £107 for a triple room! Seems the moral of the story is, check London hotel availability at 3am, you may pick up a bargain! Checked into the hotel and our room was already available which was fantastic.  Our room was an executive triple room and was really spacious, it was really clean and had a lovely seating area. Getting Eva out of the room was a feat in itself!

We got to the tube station which was only about 5 minutes walk and got a day tube pass (children up to age 10 are free to travel on tube as long as accompanied by a fare paying adult).  We got off at Covent Garden and had a lovely walk around and some breakfast.  The whole area was beautifully decorated and there was a gorgeous smell of mulled wine wafting about. Perfect to get you in that festive spirit.  We also met one of Eva's idols, Yoda!! An added bonus ! Plus there was a Disney Store, what more could a little girl want? Apart from a chocolate milkshake which the rather wonderful waiter in  http://www.maxwells.co.uk/ arranged for her, even though they don't normally serve them at breakfast time! I apologise as his name escapes me, but he did come from Dumfries and Galloway and had visited Newcastle for a stag night! ;0)



We slowly made our way the short distance to Leicester Square and decided on a whim to visit one of the discount ticket booths to see what they had to offer.  Eva had seen a poster advertising Wicked and being a massive fan of the Wizard of Oz, the decision was made.  We got a good deal on the tickets, nearly half price, for the afternoon matinee.

I won't spoil the plot for you if you haven't seen the show. What I will say is that my four year old daughter sat entranced for nearly 3 hours and didn't moan or complain once! The story is fabulous, not just full of wonderful dancing and songs, the actual story is brilliantly written and keeps you completely enthralled.  The costumes and sets are full of colour and sparkle.  The cast were amazing and the actress playing Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West), Willemijn Verkaik, was absolutely outstanding.  We all just loved it, the Wizard of Oz film holds a special place in all of our hearts and the show, albeit a story in it's own right, links in nicely to the film and explains one or two things.  If you get the chance, I urge you to see Wicked, I guarantee you will not be disappointed!  http://www.wickedthemusical.co.uk



Apologies for the quality of some of the pics, we only had a disposable camera to use!

The London trip is to be continued ............ next stop Harrods!!!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Christmas time, Mistletoe and Wine!!

As much as a lot of us try to deny (not me, I am like Buddy the Elf) the festive season is fast approaching!! Only 55 days left http://www.xmasclock.com/!  I spend lots of time researching things and deciding what to do with the kids over Christmas.  Last year we took far too much on, tried to do too much and by the time Christmas Eve came, the kids were all 'Santa'd' out.

This year we still have an action packed schedule, including a treat for Mammy, just taking it a bit easier.

It is lovely for us as Eva's birthday is at the beginning of December and this usually marks the start of the celebrations.  However, last year, we started a new tradition. Myself, Eva and my mam all took a trip to London and we are repeating this year! We are all so excited! We have a very early train booked on the Saturday and plan to upgrade ourselves to first class (£15 per adult if you do it on the train, top tip!).  We have a hotel booked quite close to Euston station, I got a fantastic deal on the Thistle Euston. Lets hope it lives up to its billing!

We got an executive room half price! You have to shop about a lot for good deals in London but they are out there!

We chose to go late in November as the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland will be on and it is magnificent.  I will do a full review once we have come back but here is a few pictures.  They also had one of the most gorgeous Santa's I have ever seen.  It is just wonderful and even better as night begins to fall and all the twinkling lights come on.  If you get the chance, go, it is amazing, a little bit pricey, but no dearer than say the Hoppings used to be, bit of planning in advance and you can enjoy.  It was massive, I could rave on but I will keep that for later!! haha!

Also on our list is a show in the West End.  What we would love to see is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but as we are not buying in advance and planning to visit the TKTS booth in Leicester Square, we will see what they have to offer.  We want to have a wander round the beautifully decorated Covent Garden and have a look at Buckingham Palace.  We are only there Saturday and Sunday but if you plan in advance you can get tons done.

The main reason for visiting is to visit a very special man in a very special store!! The main man himself, Father Christmas.  Again, I will not give too many details as I will review when we return, but last year I was reduced to tears! 

Apart from our festive London trip we have some wonderful things planned.  A Christmas Princess Pamper Party, Tea with Santa at Brockbushes and a trip to see Santa's Naughty Little Elf in South Shields.  We are also hoping to squeeze in a panto at the Theatre Royal somewhere in there too!!

This year is extra nice as Mammy gets some treats!!! A day trip on the train to Edinburgh's beautiful Christmas Markets and a Christmas night out at the beautiful Alnwick Castle!!!

It really is the most wonderful time of the year!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Mammy Flynn's Wish List

I am always on the look out for new and different activities for us to do, unfortunately, time and more importantly money!, always seem to run out for us.  I have got a list which I am desperate for us to complete before the children grow up, I am determined to get through most, if not all of them. I want my babies to have the best possible childhood that we can give them, they are young for such a short length of time, I want it to be as magical and carefree as it can be. So here is some of my rather ambitious list!!

1. Most of all I want to take them to Orlando, Florida.  I am lucky enough to have been twice with my parents and brother when I was 16 and 18, a long long time ago now!! It was the most amazing place and all I can picture now is my kids faces and the joy it would bring them.  I could actually cry when I think of what they would be like there! Bit mad but that is the truth

2. New York. Again, I am really lucky to have been to this wonderful city twice, once on our honeymoon and once with the parents and bro, before and after 9/11.  It truly is like no place on earth and is just as you expect to find it in the movies.  I want to go at Christmas time so we can go ice skating and see the wonderful Rockefeller Christmas Tree.  I want to go to Macy's with them to see Santa Claus (Miracle on 34th Street), I want to explore FAO Schwartz with them, the Barbie department alone is a sight to behold.  Most of all, I want them to experience the hustle and bustle of Noo Yawk streets, hop on a subway, ride in a yellow cab, eat in a diner, wander through Central Park and see the pigeon lady! ( Home Alone 2) I just want them to go to New York City, the greatest city in the world! (after the toon of course)

3. Kielder Winter Wonderland.  I have heard nothing but great things about here, I have also been told that the kids probably need to be about 5 years old to fully appreciate it and at £35 a person, we will wait a few years to go there.

4.  Peppa Pig World.  My two, especially Luca, adore this crazy, annoying little pig!! I have had friends that have visited and say its a must, we need to visit while they still love all things Peppa!

5. Thomasland, same as above, Luca loves Thomas and he loves trains.  This is another place I want to visit at Christmastime as I am told it is magical.

6. Italy. Just Italy in general!! Italy is where my husband and I shared our very first holiday and we have since been back and we just are in love with the country, one of the reasons we gave our son his name is because of the love we have for the place.  We have visited Florence, Venice, Verona, Rome, Bologna, Lake Garda, Siena & San Giminigano.  I have run out of superlatives to describe Italy.  I want to take Luca to Lucca! The plan is, for when they are older, is to get a flight into a city, any city, and then just jump on the train.  The Italian train system is far superior to ours - and cheaper.  We will book hotels as we go and plan to spend about 3 weeks touring round.  I most definitely want to visit Sorrento and surrounding areas.  We have, in the past, booked to go to Sorrento about 3 times but for whatever reason we have never got there. I WILL get there, one day!!!

7.  Northern France/Belguim.  Both my husband and I share a passion for history, hubby more so with the world wars, in particular the First World War.  When I was a teenager, I went on a school trip to the battlefields of the First World War. We visited the Somme and Ypres amongst other places and we both believe that our children should know as much as we can teach them of this most important piece of history.  We want to take them to Normandy and to the beaches of the D-Day landings, we want them to understand the sacrifices that have been made in history 'Lest We Forget'

I am sure the list will go on and on, but at the moment, this is all I can think of! Will add to it when I can think of more!

Sizergh Castle,Kendal

We were recently in Cumbria visiting the South Lakes Wildlife Park.  We are members of the National Trust and I had noticed that we had passed a sign for Sizergh Castle so we decided to drop in on the way home.  It was a beautifully sunny day, too nice to be stuck in the car!

We arrived about half 2 and the car park seemed busy so I was a bit concerned that it would be overcrowded, but it wasn't, it was perfect inside.  We made a bee-line for the cafe, Nana and Daddy both needed a caffeine intake and kids wanted ice-cream.

Luca decided after choosing ice-cream that he would rather have had Eva's Calippo!!

After our little refreshment break we wandered out into the castle grounds.

On this occasion, we decided not to go inside the castle, the kids needed to stretch their legs and Luca is at the age where he just wants to run about.

It is a beautiful building, Eva thought it was like a fairytale castle.  We will return at a later date to explore the inside of the castle, when Luca is a bit older.

The gardens are fabulous, lots of little nooks and crannies to explore and the flowers are just beautiful.  The kids were really pleased to find some little games on the lawn, skittles, so we all had a little game. Eva is very competitive and not a very good loser! 

We spent a good hour wandering around the gardens, smelling the flowers and reading the different plant names.  It was lovely and peaceful, until my two started running about chasing, yet again, The Gruffalo!

If you are ever in the area and looked for some tranquility away from the hustle and bustle of the Lake District tourist trap, give Sizergh a try, it may be small, but it's perfectly formed!

Post School Time Beamish

Just before my daughter and her little pals embarked on their next adventure into Reception class and Nursery, we decided to take them on a trip to Beamish. We waited for a school day hoping it to be quieter, it was! We were right, it was also terribly rainy! Didn't worry the kids however.  So, 4 mammies, 5 children and a couple of buggies descended on County Durham! Beamish is fabulous for children, again another fantastic day out that we have on our north eastern doorstep.

First stop - the tram!! Kids love the tram, it was lovely to see their little faces in amazement as we took the short trip into the town

Tram Fun!

The edwardian town has loads of things to occupy and excite young minds, the queue for the sweetie shop was just massive so we decided to have a look in the garage first.  Luca loved being in there and looking at the cars and accessories.  The 'garage owner' was lovely and talked to the children and was more than happy to answer all their questions and ask them questions of his own. I find that with all the staff/guides at Beamish, they are so enthusiastic about their jobs, you really feel that you have gone back in time.  After spending sometime in the garage we went over to the Masonic Lodge, a recent-ish addition to the town.  The kids had great fun in here, there is a big hall inside which they ran about in, there was only a couple of things we had to refrain them from jumping on!.  Next time we visit, the latest addition to the town, a bakers will be open, cannot wait to sample the goods.

Next stop was the Fish and Chip shop!! This again is a fairly new addition to Beamish, a very popular addition it seems as there was a long queue.  The smell was delightful as we stood and waited for our lunch, deep coal fire fried in beef dripping, the traditional way.  Maybe not the healthiest option but certainly a yummy choice! They are served wrapped in newspaper and we enjoyed them very much sitting huddled in the lovely dining room as the rain lashed down outside.


After lunch, we made a mad dash in the rain! over to the Pit Village.  The colliery cottages are faithfully recreated from the early 1900's and show us how life was for the families living there.  We had a good explore in the houses and even got to try our hand at 'proggy' mat making.

One of the funniest parts of the day was the discover of the outside 'netty'! The children found it hilarious and even more so when one of the ladies from the cottages came out and challenged them to pull the best 'straining' face!! 

Ice creams next from the van at the end of the houses and more running about chasing and running away from 'The Gruffalo'! (really just a poor lady picking up litter!)

We finally got to go into the sweetie shop, again sheltering from the rain, where the kids picked some yummy treats for them and their daddy.

We had a fantastic day at Beamish and the best bit is, that for the admission price of £17.50 per adult, we get a whole 12 months unlimited use, children under 5 get in for free.  Throughout the year, Beamish put on a variety of events including Halloween, Bonfire and Christmas events (some of which you need to pay for and are not included in your Unlimited Pass). These events are well renowned and we hope to visit them all at some point.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Story Heaven! Our trip to Seven Stories

We are a family of book lovers, my children love their stories and always have at least one before bed every night.  We are so very lucky to have Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children's Books right here in Newcastle upon Tyne.  We have visited it several times, we like to go each time there is a new exhibition.  I mean to get a family pass as they have tons of events on throughout the year that I would love to take the kids to, that is on the list for next year!


My daughter started school in September, a week behind the other children, so we decided to take advantage of her last few days of freedom and chose to make a trip to Seven Stories on one of them.  Through the week when the schools are open, it is lovely and quiet there so perfect for a visit with a toddler.  The new exhibition that has just opened is Mystery, Magic and Midnight Feasts - Enid Blyton.  This is just manna from heaven from me as I grew up surrounded by Enid Blyton books full of adventures and wonderful characters.  I was more excited than the kids!!

Eva in the Magic Faraway Tree
The exhibition is fabulous, it has enough to keep both children and adults interested. They have a Magic Faraway Tree for the children to play in while the adults browse the pages of Enid Blyton's diaries and see original artwork from her books.  There is lots to look and and absorb including films of Enid herself.

Luca in Toyland
We took a trip to Toyland with Noddy and had fun dressing up as Noddy and Big Ears and riding in Noddy's car.  Lots of lovely pictures of the characters adorn the walls and give the children lots of things to look at.

Next up was a visit to Mallory Towers, these were some of my very favourite stories when I was younger, I loved reading of the adventures of Darrell and her pals.  Eva dressed up as a Mallory Towers girl and I have to say she looked beautiful!
As the name suggests, there are 7 storey's to the building and each floor is full of exciting things to do.  The very top of the centre is the Artists Attic which is where they host a lot of their story telling events.  There is a lovely big chair as the centre piece surrounded with seats for everyone to listen.  They have loads of dressing up clothes up here too with all sorts of characters, including one of our favourites, the Gruffalo! There is a small stage here complete with curtains for performances!! My children did a beautiful rendition of Twinkle Twinkle and it brought a tear to my eye!

Artists Attic
The bottom floor contains The Creation Station and it is always full of craft activities, relating to the various exhibits at the time, it was closed today for us as there was a school visit in but they had set up a table in the Artists Attic with various things on for us to make and colour in.

I think this must be about the 5th time we have visited Seven Stories and we enjoyed it as much as the first time we went.  It is fantastic and interactive, no worrying about the kids touching stuff they are not meant to! The staff are lovely and friendly and and the exhibitions change quite regularly.  The newest one is 'Tiger, Mog and Pink Rabbit' to celebrate Judith Kerr's 90th birthday.  We plan to make at least one more trip this year to attend one of the many Christmas events they have planned, not sure which one yet as there are many!  Probably  http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/whats-on/events/117503/mornings-with-maisy, as this sounds good for both my kids.

Keep up the good work Seven Stories!! 

A Ghoulish Halloween at Belsay Hall

So Halloween is a firm favourite in our house, well at least with 3 out of the 4 of us, Luca is 2 and a half and he is a bit wary of it!! Big sister Eva likes to scare him, she finds it hilarious.  We have tons planned for this week. We kicked it off yesterday with a trip to Belsay Hall for their Victorian Spooky Week.  http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/belsay-hall-castle-and-gardens/

Belsay is approximately half an hours drive from us along the lovely A696.  Gorgeous drive on a nice day.

We got there about 1:30 after a pit stop along the way for wellies for Luca and got a lovely friendly greeting by the lady on admissions.  She gave the children their 'spooky treasure trail' sheets and told us where to go for the various activities  (I have only been to Belsay Hall once and that was pre-children for their lovely Christmas fair)

My two love treasure hunts of any kind so the Spooky Trail was a big hit, running around the house spotting the ghouls and ghosts!

They also were offering craft activities and the children got the chance to make an origami bat and a spider from pipe cleaners.  There was a lady on hand to help us and the kids had great fun, I was impressed with their creations even if I did have to help the little one a bit!

We carried on with our treasure trail.  There was some extra activities in the shape of 'Talks with a Gravedigger' and a 'Ghost Hunt'.  We started to listen in to them both but they were aimed at kids slightly older than my two and they were a little bit scared.  For older kids and adults though the guide was very knowledgeable and would have been good fun, nice to see something a bit different offered.

We decided to have a walk around the lovely gardens and took the opportunity to 'splash in muddy puddle's' just as well we had bought those wellies!!

We found all 5 clues on our trail and so went back to the admissions desk to claim our prize, a lovely certificate for each child with their names on them! The children each got a small treat from the gift shop, Eva chose a rat!?(named Rachel!) and Luca got a yo-yo.

As a treat we popped into the tea rooms.  Nana (my mam) got a hot beef stottie at £5.25, I got a delicious blackcurrent cheesecake at £2.10 and the kids got a lunchbox containing ham sandwich, crisps, orange juice, a chocolate biscuit and an apple for £4.00.  A little bit higher priced that I am used to paying but the beef and the ham were absolutely gorgeous and everyone enjoyed their food.

We had a lovely day at Belsay and would go back as they have lots of special events on throughout the year, it is quite pricey to get in at  £7.90 per adult, but children under 5 are free.

Hello Everyone

I have taken inspiration and guidance from a fellow mammy blogger and decided to start my own.  For those of you who know me, I like to keep my family and myself busy with all variety of things.  I am always looking out for different things to do/places to go and I often organise various events for friends and family.  I hope you will join me and my family on our adventures and I hope to inspire you all!