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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.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Park Life

So before I lose my littlest dude to full time school (big sad face here) we are determined to make the most of our summer together.  It has been gorgeous this week to get out in the sunshine and this weather is perfect for me as it is not too hot.  Whilst I love sunny weather, I hate the heat.

What I thought I would do is put together a little guide to our favourite parks.  It is our plan to visit as many as we can over the next few months, weather permitting of course.

Wallsend Park

Or to give it its formal title, Richardson Dees Park.  This is our favourite park, it is wonderful and it has been the centre of a massive regeneration, which was very much needed.  There has been millions spent on it and the results are astonishing.  There is a fabulous play park with all sorts of play equipment for children of all ages, we have spent many happy hours here over the last couple of years.  There is a little lake with ducks to walk around, a beautiful restored Victorian bandstand (the centre for some wondeful storytelling sessions we have attended) and if you go to the Verandah Cafe, there are a couple of little guides you can pick up free of charge.  One is a Plant Hunter which takes you through the Wallsend Hall Grounds across the road, exploring the plants.  Upon completion of your findings you will receive a reward from the cafe.  


The other is a little storybook telling you all you need to know about the parks Ginkgo Trolls which are wooden sculptures carved into trees at various points.


There are tons of activities on at the park during the whole year, I am sure you will find something your family will enjoy,   

Wallsend Parks


Springfield Park, Forest Hall

This park is on our doorstep and again is a place we have visited many times.  The play park is usually quite quiet and is again perfect for my kids (aged 3 and 6).  Again, lots of lovely space around it to have a run about or kick a football.  There are also tennis courts here.  The council put on many events here through the year, a lot of them free.  At Christmas, Luca and I attended a really nice session which involved decorating the trees in the park for Christmas.  We dressed them in sparkling tinsel and baubles and the result was really sweet.  The warden running the session (I think he was called Alan) was fabulous with the kids and we will return again this year.

     

The Rising Sun, Wallsend


Probably a place many of you have been too, the actual play park itself is a little too big for my kids but I love it for having a nature walk and exploring the wildlife around there.  The cafe does some delicious cakes also!  Try and check out the annual Teddy Bears Picnic that they have on in August.  It is a fabulous day and it is definitely a big crowd pleaser.  They have events such as den building, camp fire cooking and lots and lots of bike sessions.  These events tend to be for slightly older children and as I haven't been to any of them yet I am unable to comment.  I have had friends review their Christmas activities and they have always been given top ten marks.  The details of all future events can be found on the North Tyneside parks Facebook page.

Northumberland Park, North Shields/Tynemouth

Yesterday we visited this park for the very first time.  It is another park which is being regenerated and again, what a cracking job is being made of it.  It has recently only re-opened in February and is a wonderful park.  There appears still to be work to be done, the play area looks like it will be worked on soon but it is a nice area still.  The grounds are lovely, there is again a lake with ducks in, always a plus for toddlers to watch! It is a really pretty place, it was lovely and quiet and we had a really nice walk about.  There is a pavilion/cafe there but not sure it is open yet as it was closed when we were there.  It reminded me of Peasholm Park in Scarborough for some reason. 

Saltwell Park, Gateshead

Another firm favourite.  55 acres to explore which is just aswell seeing as over 2 million of us visit this place every year. It has a large lake with boats you can hire if your feeling energetic, or if you are lucky to visit on a warm day, plenty of secluded places you can find for a snooze.  There is even a designated dog area for doggies to run free!  Saltwell Towers is magnificent and houses a visitor centre and cafe, although to be perfectly honest, I find the food pricey here.  A great excuse for a picnic as you could easily spend all day here, getting lost in the maze, wandering around The Rose Garden or checking out Pets Corner.  Of course they have a play park, I like this one as it is split into two areas for smaller children and the older children which is nice as it means kids of all ages don't need to worry about the smaller/bigger kids. Every winter the Enchanted Parks event sells out, we have yet to catch it, determined to this year! The park is transformed into a magical wonderland after dark.

Ridley Park, Blyth

Nearly there with my round up! I hadn't realised how many parks there were to write about until I started! Ridley Park is smashing, not too far away from the lovely Blyth Beach and it is not too big a park.  It has the added advantage of a really cool water feature in the summer months but check in advance if it is on if you plan to visit for it... just in case.










The play area is again split into two halves for the younger kids and the older ones, I think this is a brilliant idea.  A fairly recent addition is Mister Ridleys which is a vintage style cafe set in the heart of the park. We have yet to visit under its new ownership but so far, have only heard good reports.  It is on the list for a sunny day!

Last but not least is.....

Carlisle Park, Morpeth

This is a multi award winning park and is picturesquely set on the banks of the River Wansbeck which is useful as you can hire a boat and sail to your hearts content! There is the formal William Turner garden as well as the obligatory play park which is actually really good. The only downside to this park is that it gets incredibly busy.  My advice is to get there early for a few hours before the hoards ascend!  The main selling point of this part (to a child anyway) is the paddling pool which is open in the summer months.  Don't forget your swimsuits and towels as there is no way you will be able to keep the kids out!  Try to have a leisurely stroll away from the park along the river, Morpeth is a beautiful town and this is a good way to see a slice of it.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my not to little guide to some of the parks we are lucky to have surrounding us and this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I would love to hear your favourite parks and your recommendations.

Monday, 13 April 2015

CBeebies Live - Mr Tumble's Circus

For the past few years we have taken Eva to see CBeebies Live whenever it has been in Newcastle.  Luca has always been too young we felt.  This year, for one reason or another, we didn't buy tickets but I was sad that we would miss it.  Then lo and behold, a miracle occurred.  A friend of mine messaged me to say her cousin had won tickets and couldn't go, would we like them! Wow! Of course! The children were over the moon, Luca is a massive Mr Tumble fan.  I have to admit that Mr Tumble will always have a special place in my heart.  I love him for the memories I have of Eva from a teeny tot singing 'Hello hello how are you' and also for Luca and his 'doiiii'.  I am sure parents of Tumble fans get what I am trying to say here :0)

This years theme was Mr Tumbles Circus and the show starred CBeebies favourites Andy, Gem (from Swashbuckle) and Kat.


Our tickets were waiting at the box office for us and we were pleased to see we had fabulous seats.



It was a fabulous show, filled with all our favourite characters from all of Justin's shows, Something Special, Justin's House and Gigglebiz.  There were acrobats, fireworks and plenty of audience participation.  My favourite part of the show, as in the other CBeebies shows we have seen, is the children's reaction to when Mr Tumble comes on.  They go crazy! he is like god to them and they adore him and I, as I have previously said, adore him for this reason! May sound daft but the man has the Midas touch and the teeny ones are his biggest fans.









Thank you Justin and friends for another wonderful memory.  The show was fantastic, keep doing what you are doing, your fans will always love you.


Thursday, 9 April 2015

Beautiful Bolam Lake

I have to admit to not being a fan of big crowds and noise.  I don't like to be in busy places so I hate shopping and I especially hate soft play centres during school holidays!

Whilst the kids are off, it is lovely to get out in this glorious weather and enjoy some fresh air.  One of my favourite haunts is Bolam Lake, not far from Belsay and approximately 9 miles from Morpeth in Northumberland.  I love everything about it, I love the drive along the beautiful A696, especially on a sunny day like today.  It took us about 35 minutes leisurely drive.

I am also pleased to note that since 1st April, the car parks at Bolam Lake are all free of charge, great way of encouraging visitors.  

We hit the lake at a great time, about 10.30 this morning and it was lovely and quiet, we saw barely anyone as we strolled around the lake watching the swans and geese performing for us.  It was fabulous to be away from the crowds and enjoy the peace.






There are plenty of benches all around the lake for you to sit and enjoy your beautiful surroundings, or enjoy a cuppa from a flask.



We always start from the Low House Wood car park and walk right around the lake coming to the Pheasant field at the end which is perfect for a picnic.  There was a family there today with a portable barbecue and the smell was intoxicating!  There are plenty of felled logs to climb on here and we even found a den to play in.

A bit further on you have the Visitor Centre with cafe, shop and toilets.  It is open at weekends, Bank Holidays and school holidays from Easter to November.  Please check outside of these dates for availability.

All in all, a lovely, sunny day out.  We have visited Bolam Lake in all weathers and it is just as beautiful in the winter.  Go along and check for yourself, not too many of you though, we don't want to spoil it ;0)



Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The Bodyguard

Last year when it was announced that The Bodyguard would be coming in to town, I NEEDED to see it! I have always been a massive fan of Whitney Houston and amongst millions of others, was devastated by her untimely death.
I knew it had a lot of Whitney songs in it and that was the main selling point to be honest.  I really loved the film when it came out early 1990's but have to admit to not having seen it for years (I saw it with friends at the very old Cannon cinema in West Monkseaton and cried like a baby!)

We booked for the Saturday following the opening on Thursday at what is fast becoming our second home, Theatre Royal Newcastle,  at the time I was a little unsure about Alexandra Burke playing Rachel Marron, after all, who could fill Whitney's shoes.  I had read a lot of reviews who said she was amazing it so was really looking forward to seeing how she did.

From the start with the spectacular opening of Queen of the Night, Alexandra absolutely smashed it.  Her voice is fantastic and she had no problem with hitting each note perfectly.  The entire cast were perfection from the incredibly handsome Stuart Reid as Frank Farmer and the wonderful Melissa James as Nicki, Rachel's sister.  Melissa had an outstanding voice also, she was fantastic.

The show is jam packed with Whitney's hits and I admit that I cried a lot when Rachel sang The Greatest Love of All.  

I won't spoil it for you, even if you have seen the film, you are still in for some surprises.  Remember to take along your dancing shoes if you are lucky enough to have a ticket for the show.  Our show was a sell out but at the time of writing I think there are still a few left.  If I had the chance I would watch it all over again.  Probably one of the best shows I have ever seen, when the end came we didn't want it to stop! There was a standing ovation for the cast and it couldn't even be spoilt by the drunken 'ladies' surrounding us.

Apologies for the lack of photographs, we were too busy singing/crying/watching the performance :0)

Whitney  - I will Always Love You, hope you are happy wherever you are xxx

(please note that Alexandra is not performing at midweek or Saturday matinees, Rachel is played by Zoe Birkett at these shows)

Monday, 6 April 2015

Egg Hunting at Seaton Delaval Hall

As a child, we used to drive past Seaton Delaval Hall and I often longed to go inside and explore.  We would make up ghost stories about it as there was local rumours about The White Lady who was said to be a serving girl that fell in love with one of Captain Delaval's sons.  He was sent away to war and never returned so it was said that the poor serving girl died of a broken heart.  She has been seen looking out of a window, toward the sea waiting for her love to return,


Until recently, the Hall has been a private residence with a fascinating history, in 2009 it was acquired  by The National Trust after extensive fund raising.  I was overjoyed with the news as it finally meant I could get in an explore. The actual Hall itself has undergone some wonderful renovations and I am so pleased to see this beautiful place finally getting the love and attention it deserves.  It was featured on Robson Green's More Tales of Northumberland recently. try and catch it if you can.  Read about the ongoing conservation work here.


Each year since it opened to the public we have visited a number of times, but especially for the annual Easter Egg Hunt.  The hunt is fabulous here, it will probably take you about an hour or so to find all the clues but none of it is strenuous and generally buggy friendly.  It is a lovely stroll through the extensive grounds and gardens of this wonderful place and is perfect for my children. aged 3 and 6.  However, there were children of all ages running about as it is a nice safe place for them to explore and they cannot get far.  There are lots of nooks and crannies to explore as well as a really cool playground made out of trees and chopped down logs.  The hunt is £1.50 per entry and on  completion the children get a Cadburys Easter egg.






We spent a lovely few hours wandering around in the glorious sunshine.  The children had great fun completing their challenge and even more fun eating their prizes!


I would advise however, that you take your own food with you, there is a very small cafe selling drinks, sandwiches and ice creams but it gets very crowded.  The lady in there told me there are plans to add a large cafe next year which will be a welcome addition.  All of the staff at Seaton Delaval Hall are wonderful, nothing is too much trouble and they are more than happy to help, even making extra sandwiches for the children after Luca asked so nicely!

The egg hunts are continuing today, pop along if you have no plans, you will enjoy it! It is EGGsellent :0)