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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 July 2015

Summer Fun - Week Two

Week 2 already! Jeepers! And it's nearly August? A little round up of what's going down :0) Again, this is just a small snippet of what is happening, a lot of these events are running throughout the summer so plenty of chances to get along and enjoy.


Saturday 25th July

Today, we have the Annual Summer Dog Oscars in Richardson Dee's Park, Wallsend.  This is a free event organised by the Friends of Wallsend Park. There is a small charge to enter your dog into the competitions.  Alongside the dog show there will be an array of pet stalls full of treats for your furry friends.

The free Childrens Film Club at North Shields Library today is Brave, one of my favourites, 11am, Contact North Shields Library for more details, 0191 6435270

The lovely Sage is hosting a number of family Summer activities, today's event is Summer Slumber.  £2.50 per child.  Turn up in your pyjama's for a slumber party with a difference! Suitable for the under 7's and will involve songs, games and dancing.

Washington Wetlands Centre have a Family Fun Day on today with the amazing Emma Enchanted bringing along Alice and the Mad Hatter for some singing and story telling, they will be there from 1 - 4 but there are activities all day from 11am.  Admission into the centre applies, event is free.

Sunday 26th July

Seals at St Marys is a lovely talk today at St Marys Lighthouse about, obviously, seals and the conservation of them. A free event at 1.30 - 3.30, contact the Lighthouse for more details.

The famous Sing-a-long-a-Frozen is on today at Playhouse in Whitley Bay.  An interactive screening of the super duper smash hit film.  There will be singing princesses and complete with your prop bag you can fully participate in Elsa and Anna's adventures.

Monday 27th July

The lovely Ouseburn Farm have great events on each day during the holidays.  On a Monday they have Farmers Club where you can learn how to take care of some of the larger farm animals as well as getting up close to some furry friends.  Each event at Ouseburn is free and they have a lovely little cafe too.

We love Bede's World, its such a lovely place to while away a few hours exploring Saxon Britain.  These holidays they have Seven weeks of Summer Fun with a different theme each week.  This week is Amazing Anglo-Saxon Animals. There will be crafts and lots of learning to be done :0) Entry fee into the museum applies.

Tuesday 28th July

Great North Museum Hancock have a free pottery event on today from 11-3.  Drop in and see how pottery is made, even have a try at making a thumb pot yourself out of clay.

Little Sparklers are putting on a free event at Monkseaton Library today at 3pm.  Aimed at the under 6's, there will be stories, songs and lots of fun! Contact Monkseaton on 0191 6432072

The Rising Sun Country Park have another lovely event on today, this time it's Campfire Cooking.  Aimed at children aged 7 -14, you can join the wardens to make a campfire and cook your own lunch. £10 er child includes food. 10.30 - 2.30

Playhouse Playtime this week at Playhouse Whitley Bay is with the wonderful Mister Twister. You will probably have seen Mister Twister perform at some point, he is extremely popular and the kids are guaranteed a great show. Contact the Playhouse for more details.

Wednesday 29th July

Two Nature Walk and Mini-beast Hunts today, One in Marden Quarry (meet in the car park) at 10.30 - 12noon.  The second at Churchill Playing Fields, next to the Pavilion, 2pm - 3.30pm.  £1.50 per person at each event.

Get Active Family Fun Day at Howdon Community Centre.  All sorts of activities here today, a free event with games,challenges, music, dance. Lots of things to do.  11am - 2pm

As part of The Sage's Family Summer activities, they are holding a Teddy Bears Picnic at Gateshead Old Town Hall.   £3 per person, don't forget to bring along Teddy and join in the fun.

The Splat Centre in Whitley Bay are holding a disco today with the help of a couple of famous mice! All sorts of fun going down including face painting and games.  £3 per child, contact Splat for more details.

Valley Farm has something very chilly going on today.  The Frozen sisters are visiting and hosting a dinner party. Tickets are £7.50 and must be booked in advance. 3pm - 4.30, contact Valley Farm in Gateshead for more details.

Thursday 30th July

Chesters Roman Fort have a fabulous event running this week, Archaeology Detectives.  It is great fun, we went along last year and had a lovely day. Read all about it here.  Admission is required into the fort but all activities once inside are free of charge.

Friday 31st July

Another Active Family Fun Day today, this time Richardson Dee's Park. Same details as Wednesday, 11am - 2pm

Record Breakers is on at Wallsend Library today.  2pm  an hour of games and challenges to see if you have what it takes to be a Record Breaker :0)  Aimed at children aged 6+, free event but must be booked in advance, contact Wallsend Library 0191 6432075

Childrens Films this weekend 25th and 26th July (and throughout the week at some cinemas)

Tyneside Cinema have a wonderful scheme running every weekday of the school holidays from 9am.   The Egg and Soldiers club is where you can get half price kids meals (with the purchase of one adult meal) and also enjoy scrumptious fresh juices and milkshakes.  You can watch classic family films and cartoons for FREE and there are also toys and games available. 

Vue Cramlington - Two by Two 10am, £1.99 per ticket
Odeon Silverlink - Cinderella 10am and Penguins of Madagascar 10.30am £2.50 per ticket
Odeon Metrocentre - Cinderella 10am and Two by Two 10.15am, £2.50 per ticket
Empire Newcastle - Penguins of Madagascar  10.30 and Tinkerbell and the Never Beast 10.30, Tickets £1.25 each
Cineworld Boldon - Home, Paddington and SpongeBob, all 10am, £1.75 per ticket
JamJar Whitley Bay - Home, £4 per ticket, 1pm (Saturday)


All details are correct at the time of writing, but please check with the venue on the day before making any travel arrangements. Have a great 2nd week!

Playhouse Playtime

On Tuesday we went along to the lovely Playhouse Whitley Bay to attend the first of the Playhouse Playtime events.  The Playhouse has teamed up with lots of lovely local entertainers to put on weekly events throughout the summer holidays.

Our event was with Marty from Circurama who provide fabulous circus skills workshops to children.

We didn't have a clue what to expect when we turned up but there was plenty of staff on hand to help out.  

To start with, we were split into two groups, we were in the first group which meant we got to go first to meet some cool critters.  Creatures up Close brought along some of their less furry friends and the kids got a chance to handle and stroke them. My favourite had to be Sumo the Giant Tortoise, fabulous!  Luca was even brave enough to hold the tarantula! A definite sign of how far this little boy has come in a year, I was so proud.







After our half an hour with the animals, we went over to the craft/games corner.  There were giant games like Connect 4 and building bricks alongside lots of craft activities.  We made frogs, bats and even a pom pom spider.

It was now time for the main event, circus skills and for that we had to go into the main auditorium.  The kids went up onto the stage, which they loved, Eva especially as she has now decided she will be in a famous pop group along with her best friends.

Marty from Circurama was absolutely fantastic! He was funny, engaging and very daft which of course my kids loved.  There were 25 kids on that stage and he made sure they all got involved and made to feel special.  He did a demonstration at the start of all sorts of tricks, including unicycling and then let the kids loose on the equipment.  They spun plates, twirled ribbons, played with flower sticks, even the wheels of doom :0).  At the end, all the kids took part in a performance, each child had a trick to perform and they all did brilliantly.  You could see by the smiles on their faces that they had a fabulous time.

To end the event, we went back into the foyer and the children were provided with a drink and a piece of fruit whilst they had a rest and recovered from all their antics.


Eventually the time came to leave, the whole event lasted approximately 3 hours which I thought was amazing value for money and the treats didn't end there.  On departure, the children were given a large balloon along with a goody bag containing all sorts including a magic wand.



Thank you to Marty and the Playhouse for a wonderful morning.  I am hoping that pennies allowing, we get back to see Mister Twister later on in August.  We highly recommend Playhouse Playtime.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Invasion - at Woodhorn

You may have noticed by now, my kids love characters! Be it princess, superhero, cartoon, whatever, they have heroes and a lot of them.

I noticed Invasion at Woodhorn advertised a few weeks ago and having missed it last year we were determined to get there this year.  Even more so when we discovered the Avengers and various Star Wars dudes would be there.  My daughter Eva, thanks to her Daddy, absolutely loves Star Wars and is desperate to meet Princess Leia, we could but hope ....  Also, my friend Andy announced he would be there in two characters, The Doctor and also Spiderman so the decision was made.

Woodhorn is roughly 30 minute drive from us, we have been before for the Annual Miners Picnic and they always put on a great day.  The museum is well worth a visit,it is full of local history, something we should all know of and be proud of.

The only charge for the day was for car parking £3.50 per car which I don't think is too bad. We arrived just before 11 and there was a bit of a queue but it quickly went down.  We were given a programme of events and it was literally a minutes walk into the museum.

Who could have guessed, the first person we saw was Princess Leia! Eva could not believe her eyes, we had to rush on past for now though as we were going to see the Avengers Training Academy.

The kids were really pleased to see two Avengers that they haven't met before The Black Widow and Hawkeye.  Even Loki made an appearance until Black Widow and the Avenger squad sorted him out, great fun.  There was time at the end of the Academy to get photos for everyone and the characters were fabulous, everyone we met throughout the day was more than happy to take time and pose for us, so friendly and kind.





The whole event was really well organised,   There was all kinds of cosplayers there, some we didn't recognise amongst firm favourites and lesser known characters.  It was brilliant to see lots of Star Wars there aswell as many from Batman and his adventures.

 



We took part in a Vampire Hunt with the Ghostbusters and caught Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  We met The Doctor, Ursula the Sea Witch and Luca's buddy SpiderMan.





We went along to see the Star Wars crew as they trained up new Jedi's and Eva's eyes nearly popped out of her head when this guy walked in


Is it ok for a 6 year old to have Darth Vader as a hero?



 





Last event of our day was the Villains talk with Joker, The Riddler and a few more of Batman's enemies.  It was really funny, the Joker was brilliant with the kids and was a complete natural.  All manner of baddies joined in the fun, until Batman came along to save the day!




What a fantastic day we had, as I mentioned before, all the characters looked great and were so lovely.  Took time out of their day to get photos and high fives and they really made my children's experience so magical.  Thank you to the organisers and to everyone who took part.

See you all again next year, can we make a request for Thor? !


Seven Stories has re-opened!

We are well documented massive fans of Seven Stories so when a Golden Ticket to their re-opening arrived on our doormat we were over the moon! We were invited to a special preview day before the Grand Re-Opening today, 19th July 2015.





We arrived at 10 am  in time to see Chief Executive Kate Edwards cutting the Golden ribbon to allow us all to flood into the building.  Seven Stories has been closed since April and has undergone a £750,000 revamp to celebrate it's 10th birthday. 

My children love going to Seven Stories, we all feel so comfortable and it is such a friendly and warm environment you cannot fail to enjoy.  We headed straight downstairs to the first floor and the Studio. This area is dedicated to art and crafts and at the moment is inspired by The Pirate Cruncher by Jonny Duddle.  There are all sorts of crafty things to do, we made a treasure chest, a treasure map, drew some undersea creatures and had fun dressing up.  It is much better set out now with lots of different work stations so you have lots of room.




Our next stop was the Attic which is right at the top of the building.  It has been magically transformed into Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter books and complete with lots of twinkling fairy lights it is a beautiful area.  We were waiting for a performance of Sssh Shelby has a Plan so whilst we were waiting we took advantage of the dressing up corner to become some of our favourite characters.


The performance was brilliant, full of fun and very interactive.  The kids loved it and had lots of laughs.  That is one of the things I love about Seven Stories, the staff are truly amazing.  Always happy, always eager and always more than willing to help, they truly are a credit to the Centre.

There are three brand new exhibitions open now. Painting with Rainbows, Rhyme around the World and a Bear Called Paddington.  We explored all the exhibitions and as usual they are thoughtfully put together with lots of interaction and ways to make children think about things.  I won't go into too much detail here, you will need to explore for yourself. I will however leave you with some photographs,  The quality isn't the best, you are unable to use flash photography in the galleries so you don't damage the artwork and my camera isn't top notch but they do show you what a fun time we had (before my daughter had a little accident and we had to pop off to the RVI!, no worries she is fine)










Seven Stories re-opens to the public today and as always has a full programme of events to keep you all occupied throughout the summer. Why not pop along and see for yourself



Friday, 17 July 2015

Summer Fun! - Week One



As promised, here is the first instalment of my Summer Holiday Guide.  I have tried my best to include as many cheap, if not free, events as I can but there are some included that I personally recommend that may cost that bit more but are more than worth considering.  As always, the details are correct at the time of writing but please check with the venue before making any journey

Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start!

Saturday 18th July

Whitley Bay library is hosting one of it's free Children's Film Clubs.  There are loads of different movies being shown all over North Tyneside libraries throughout the summer and they are all free.  At 11.30 there is The Awesome Lego Movie and then 2:30 Tintin

The Rising Sun Countryside park also has lots of events throughout the summer.  Today's event is a really fun Stone Art Workshop.  This is suitable at children aged 9+ and you can use your talents to make your own Aboriginal style creation. 1 - 2.30pm £7.50 per adult and £5 per child. 

Wallsend's Richardson Dee's park is hosting Bandstand Live.  This is a montly Summer music festival showcasing a range of live music, local bands and artists. 11am - 3pm, free

Sunday 19th July

Woodhorn Colliery are hosting Invasion 6. 10am - 4pm  A fabulous free day out for lovers of all things Sci-Fi.  There are Avengers aplenty and my friend Andy is even making an appearance as Doctor Who and Spiderman! Say hello if you see him.   (car parking charge applies)

Pop down to Blyth for their Open Day and Regatta. 11am - 4pm.  You can expect lots of sea faring fun and maybe even become a trainee deckhand!

As part of Whitley Bay's Under the Dome celebration, Sunday sees the launch of Tale Spinning at the Station Master's Garden just next to Whitley Bay Metro Station.  All sorts of story telling fun to be had there. 10am - 1pm, free.

Also in Whitley Bay is the annual Sand Castle competition, just near the Rendezvous Cafe.  Starting at 10am, judging will commence at 12:30 noon.  Some of the creations have to be seen to be believed! Entry to the competition is free but please bring your own bucket and spade.  Rumour has it that there will be some fabulous characters wandering about provided by Hopscotch Entertainment.  There will also be live music, face painting and good old fashioned shuggy boats.

Tynemouth RNLI Day is on at the Lowlights car park on North Shields fish quay. All sorts of fun and the Quay Motorcycle Club will be there with their 10th annual bike rally.

Monday 20th July

Join the Wallquest Family Picnic at Segedunum Roman Fort in Wallsend for a day full of archaeological fun.  11am - 3pm.  Entry to the museum is £5.95 for adults, children under 16 are free. Bring along a picnic to enjoy.

Tuesday 21st July

Rising Sun Country Park have den building today.  £2.50 per child aged 5 and over.  You will get a chance to explore the woods and build your own den.  Contact the Centre for more details

Benton Quarry Park have a Nature and Mini-Beast hunt on, 11am - 12.30pm or 2pm - 3.30pm.  £1.50 per child contact 07976 307347 or alan.thurgood@northtyneside.gov.uk to book

Whitley Bay Playhouse have some fabulous events on this summer, a different one each week.  Tuesdays event is Circurama which is a circus skills workshop suitable for children aged 5 and above.  The children will learn all manner of circus tricks and then at the end will perform them to an adoring crowd (ie you, the parents!). Tickets for this are £10 per child at 10am

Wednesday 22nd July

Kirkley Hall Zoo have one of their fabulous Pirates and Princesses days on today.  Go along dressed in fancy dress for a chance to win prizes.  The wonderful Captain Raggy Beard will be on hand all day to lead the fun in story telling, treasure hunts and games. 10am - 4pm Zoo entrance applies

As usual, Alnwick Castle have an action packed programme of events these holidays.  On Wednesday they have an extra special visitor, Raphael Falconry who are bound to amaze with their stunning displays.  There is also Broomstick training and medieval crafts throughout the day.  All activities are free but there is the usual entry fee to the Castle

Richardson Dees park in Wallsend have Nature Explorers on today.  2pm - 4pm £3 per child and you can look out for bugs, bees, butterflies and birds on a guided walk around the park.  Contact Wallsend Parks

Active North Tyneside are holding lots of family Summer fun days these holidays.  All activities are free and there will be games challenges, music, dance all sorts going on.  Todays event is at the Rising Sun in Wallsend.

Every Wednesday The Laing Art Gallery hold fabulous family Big Wednesday events.  This weeks event is all about Willy Wonka! Free entrance into the gallery but there is a small charge of £2.50 per child to join in the event.

Thursday 23rd July

Startastic Tots will be at Tynemouth Station today with a fun, educational dance class for the under 5's.  Free event but limited places to first come first served.  10am - 10.45am and 11.15 - 12noon

There is a Burney Bear session at Hadrian Leisure Centre today.  Todays session is bouncy castle and games.  £3.60 with ease card £5.60 without. Aimed at ages 4 - 7, 10am - 12noon

As part of the Marine Festival, The Great North Museum are welcoming some special guests. Join Captain Hook, Jake and The Pirate Fairy in some seafaring fun. Free drop in event from 11am - 3pm

Friday 24th July

Active North Tyneside's Summer Fun day today will be at Springfield Park in Forest Hall.  (see Wednesday for more details)

Tyemouth Station today sees Glooptastic bringing a fun and creative messy play session for under 5's.  Again free event but limited places to first come first served.  10am - 10.45 and 11.15 - 12noon


The Kids Club films for the 18th and 19th July are


Odeon Silverlink  -  Penguins of Madagascar, 10.00am Tickets are £2.50 each

Odeon Metrocentre  -  Two by Two, 10.30 am Tickets are £2.50 each

Vue Cramlington   -  Home, 10.40am Tickets are £1.99 each

Empire Newcastle  -  Penguins of Madagascar and Boxtrolls, both 10.30 am Tickets are £1.25

Cineworld Boldon  -  Home, 10.00am, The Spongebob Movie, 10.00am and Tinkerbell and the Never beast, 10am  Tickets are £1.75 each

Also throughout this week Rob and his wonderful Jaminals will be making various appearances at Miss Tina's in Washington on Monday - 9.30am, Attic Studios in Jarrow on Tuesday - 9.30am, St Johns Hall Hebburn on Thursday - 9.30am and The Splat Centre, Whitley Bay on Friday - 10.15.  Classes are £4 per child and I can personally highly recommend them as we have been going since January and are extremely sad to be leaving.

This list is just a snippet of what is going on this week, we are so very lucky to have access to such wonderful places in the North East.  There are also events on every day at the North Tyneside Leisure Centres.  Enjoy your first week!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Fun with Thomas at Drayton Manor

As a belated treat for Luca's 4th birthday, we decided to take a little trip down to Drayton Manor in Staffordshire.  Having heard nothing but good things about it we were really looking forward to it. As per usual, the Flynn family booked a room at the Premier Inn, this time Tamworth Central as it is only 3 miles from the park.  It turns out it was a brilliant location as it was very easy to find and right next to a huge shopping park which contained a couple of supermarkets, quite a number of restaurants and lots of shops.  We also booked quite well in advance and got a great room rate.


Breakfast, as is always our experience, was delicious at the attached Beefeater Ladybridge pub and I really like the special offer they do, for every adult dining, you get up to 2 children free for breakfast, a real money saver.




It was probably 6-7 minutes drive to Drayton Manor from our hotel, it was very simple, basically a straight road off the roundabout and it is signposted.  There is no way you could miss it!  I had pre-booked our tickets so we could go straight in.  What I will mention here is that there is a £3 car parking charge which you have to pay on admission, I think this is a little bit naughty to be honest as you are a captive audience and already paying quite a bit of money to get it.

It was a lovely summer day and we had luckily seemed to pick a day when it was fairly quiet.  Our first port of call was the main park as the kids spotted the carousel, we always have to go on a carousel when we see them. I think Eva has visions of galloping off through the countryside a la Mary Poppins!

We had a wander around the main part of the park for a while and took in a 4d show of Yogi Bear the Movie.  It was brilliant, in fact we enjoyed it so much we went back into see it at the end of the day!


The main area of the park is massive.  There are lots of rides of all kinds in here although they are mainly geared up to the older kids as they all have height restrictions.  We got on a few however, a lovely steamboat ride, the Big Wheel and a brilliant Cable Car ride which took us right over the whole park and gave us a real birds eye view.  There is also a zoo (although we didn't have time to visit) and a little dinosaur adventure which was fun.






We had delayed the inevitable for long enough now! It was time to visit the Number One Engine.  Thomasland is immediately after the entrance gates on the left hand side and it is wonderful.  


As expected, all the rides are fine for toddlers, although they do have to meet a minimum height restriction (I think it was 1.0 metres).  I wouldn't really recommend taking a trip unless your kids are at least aged 3 I would say, that way no disappointed faces plus they will get the most out of it from that age.  The whole park is very flat and extremely buggy friendly and despite it being big, it is very easy to walk around and find your way.

Thomasland has been brilliantly done with a lot of thought gone into the rides.  It reminded me very much of Peppa Pig World, a variation on a theme I suppose.  A nice size, loads of rides and lots and lots of photo opportunities!

We covered the majority of the rides, one of our favourites of course was Flynn's Fire and Rescue








There are rides dedicated to many well known characters and if you are lucky, like us, you will get a trip on the main man himself!

We also found that food prices were fairly reasonable too, there are family meal deals at a lot of the restaurants.  We paid about £22 for a family meal from the Burger Kitchen, including drinks and it was really tasty.  There is also a large family restaurant at the entrance to the park if you fancy trying that.  We had a really wonderful day at Drayton Manor, staff were very friendly, the whole park was absolutely spotless and there was more than enough to occupy us.  We were there from opening until they were literally kicking people out! I would advise to buy your tickets in advance, not only are they guaranteed to be cheaper, you avoid any unnecessary queues.  Also, the gift shops are good value too, I didn't notice any over inflated prices as you might expect and we managed to get a few little gifts for the kids without breaking the bank.

Thanks Thomas and friends for a lovely day!