Wild at Kielder

Wild at Kielder

Earlier in the year we visited Kielder Water and Forest Park to follow their Gruffalo Spotter's trail,  where an augmented reality app for a phone or tablet brings the characters from The Gruffalo to life on your screen. We are planning to return again soon, but this time we'll be on the hunt for the real versions! 

This year Kielder have launched Wild at Kielder which is a campaign to encourage families to explore the park and highlights all of the wild and wonderful animals, birds, insects and plants that call Kielder Forest and Water home. 

Ocean Beach Pleasure Park - South Shields

Ocean Beach Pleasure Park - South Shields

So this weekend is The Hoppings!  Did I ever bore you lot with how I met my husband when we were both working in Metroland? I shall save that old chestnut for another post, but having worked at a theme park (with the 'fastest scariest indoor rollercoaster in europe' i'll have you know) for two years I've always get a bit nostalgic about fun fairs. And when I start to see the photographs from the Hoppings then I always want to go. My husband is a bit less nostalgic (should I be offended?) and is pretty adamant that the busy-ness of the Hoppings with two toddlers would be no fun, and the rational side of me agrees it'll be better to wait a few more years. 

Parents of the North - Jayne and Co

Parents of the North - Jayne and Co

Welcome to our brand new series! I'm really excited about this one! One of my favourite things since starting this blog is getting to know other local mams, and through the wonders of social media seeing their updates, where they have visited and often discovering new places. So Parents of the North is my way to showcase some of that. There will be a new post every fortnight, and will feature mams and dads who are up for telling us a bit about their life with kids in the North East. If you fancy featuring then please get in touch via the contact us page.

Splash Pads, paddling pools and outdoor swimming - water play in the north east

Okay, so we might not get many hot days, but when the sun is shining there is nothing quite like playing in water for kids. In the North East we are really lucky to have a quite a few options for where to cool down when it warms up. Lets face it though, we could have a cold and wet summer and most kids would still love to play in a splash pad or take a dip in a paddling pool. Read on for some ideas about where to head and information about opening hours. 

Daisy Baby Tinies Classes Competition - Jesmond

Daisy Baby Tinies Classes Competition - Jesmond

The Daisy Foundation offer a one stop shop for pregnancy and birth classes, Local mum Jenny is bringing the classes to Jesmond, and to celebrate we are offering one lucky reader a complimentary 6 week course on the Daisy Baby Tinies class. 

#NewcastlewithKids - April

#NewcastlewithKids - April

Hello, this is the second in my series of nosing on instagram pics and where people have been taking their kids in the past few weeks. I run the #newcastlewithkids and #northeastwithkids hashtags - use these on your photos and I'll pop over and give you a like, comment and might even ask if it's okay to include your photos in an upcoming blog post. They are great hashtags to find a bit of inspiration about where to visit with kids too. Don't forget to use them over the Easter Weekend and whilst you are over there, don't be shy, give me a follow too. 

Five Theatre Shows for Pre-Schoolers

Five Theatre Shows for Pre-Schoolers

Just a quickie for me today. This posts doesn't have all of my usual random musings, but instead is a roundup post of a the pre-school theatre options on offer over the next few months. There aren't many big shows which are suitable for pre-schoolers, but after seeing Stickman, The Scarecrow Wedding and The Hungry Caterpillar all advertised recently I thought I'd pull together all of the offerings from local theatres so they were in one place. I've loved looking at all of the trailers, some of the staging looks fab.

Lets Play Big - Washington

Lets Play Big - Washington

Last week we visited Lets Play Big in Washington the brand new children's role play centre. I love these centres, they always seem a bit less hectic than soft play, and considering I'm often outnumbered by toddlers I appreciate that. 

The FREE Thomas the Tank Engine PlayStation comes to the North East

The FREE Thomas the Tank Engine PlayStation comes to the North East

My toddlers LOVE Thomas and Friends and I consider the fact that I can sing the (quite complicated) theme tune in full, one of my specialist skills. If your kids are Thomas super-fans then they are in luck as the Thomas Playstation is on a UK tour and there are 2 stops in the North East.  

The Playstation is a mobile play space with 8 stations of different activities, including;

#newcastlewithkids - February

#newcastlewithkids - February

Hello, February is over! In the blink of an eye. I'm so looking forward to the lighter nights in March. Summer is just around the corner... right? As always there are a whole host of events for kids, or places to visit, and this post might give you a few ideas. If you'd like my handpicked picks delivered to your email inbox every fortnight, then you can sign up for it here: Bubele. 

Another great place for ideas is Instagram - even soft plays look more appealing through a filter! I was surprised that there wasn't a hashtag which brought together all of things that you can do with kids in the North East, so I started my own. Check out #newcastlewithkids for some ideas about places to visit, and if you are on instagram then (a) follow me and (b) use the tag #newcastlewithkids on any photos you are uploading of the places you've taken the kids. Include anywhere in the North East anywhere that is travelling distance from Newcastle. 

Our real holiday mood board - #markwarnermum

Our real holiday mood board - #markwarnermum

Is it just me or does it feel like we are approaching spring? In the North East we are not famed for our sunny climes, but we seemed to escape the wrath of Storm Doris, the nights are starting to get a bit brighter, and one day last week I contemplated (and swiftly came to my senses) not wearing a coat. With the worst of winter behind us, I start to think of summer and pine for summer holidays. I adore going away, evening meals eaten outside, the light from those weird anti mosquito candles, sangria from plastic bottles that usually only pour out orange juice. The holiday conversations, talking about rubbish, shared memories and plans for the following day. I love it all. I mean I love the image that I have in my head. In my head I think that my kids are tucked up in bed at 7pm, or playing quietly, safely and without much need for adult supervision. In reality some of our holiday moments have involved one parent trying to coax a child to go to sleep whilst the other keeps food warm watching something on those weird channels that you only ever watch on holiday (Portugal 2014 was the year we discovered the Real Crime Channel). Lets face it holidays with kids are not the same as the ones we enjoyed before them.

Gruffalo Spotters at Kielder Water and Forest Park

Gruffalo Spotters at Kielder Water and Forest Park

Ever since we saw the video showcasing the Gruffalo Spotter activities on offer at forests up and down the country we've been looking forward to trying it out. We visited Kielder Water and Forest Park last year, when they had the Stickman trail on and we'd really enjoyed it, but as our kids were too young for the crafts and games which had come in the activity pack it had been more the getting dirty and running around that they had liked. This year the Forestry Commission has gone all out though, on Gruffalo augmented reality, which should entertain everyone from toddlers to mams and dads. 

Half Term Fun at Alnwick Playhouse

Half Term Fun at Alnwick Playhouse

If you have pre-schoolers then half terms can be a bit difficult. Lots of toddler groups or baby classes take a break during school holidays, and soft play centres or museums are often much busier as the older kids are off. If you are looking for some pre-school events during half term then you should check out Alnwick Playhouse. Their childrens program, Creative Cocoon is brilliant. There are lots of quirky shows, and a regular playgroup which looks so sweet. I wish that I lived closer as I would visit much more often.

Winter Farm Trips - free days out

Winter Farm Trips - free days out

This week one of my readers got in touch to ask for some suggestions for a winter's day out. Their toddler is turning two at the end of January, they had wanted to visit a farm, but found that lots of the bigger farm attractions are closed until the February half term. 

So I had a scout about and there are a few options still open if you have a child obsessed with Old McDonald, or just fancy a getting some fresh air and letting the kids have a run around outside. The best bit? Most of today's suggestions are free, or you just need to spend the price of a cup of coffee in a tea room. 

BILL QUAY FARM (FREE)

South Tyneside

Bill Quay Farm is lovely. It's pretty small. The type of place that we visit pretty regularly but only ever stay about 45 minutes. There are sheep, pigs, cows,  geese, goats, chickens in barns and fields outside. Some of them are obviously used to visitors as they'll come right up to you and there are signs up letting you know which of the animals you can touch in their pens. There is also a small animal room where you can see things like chinchillas and hamsters etc in cages. There is a cafe, but this is now closed until summer. The farm is a registered charity, and whilst they are free to visit they always appreciate donations. If you are looking to make a day of it, then it's pretty close to Role Play in Hebburn, a fab kids play centre that I always recommend. You can read about our visit there on this blog post

The Cinder Path, Brewers Fayre - South Shields

The Cinder Path, Brewers Fayre - South Shields

On Christmas Eve we went out for a nice meal with loads of our friends, and our assorted brood of toddlers. It was a family event in a bar that I love, there were activities for the kids and they even got to meet Santa. It should have been great. But it really, really wasn't. Toddlers and grown up venues don't mix. Well ours don't, if it's just our feral rabble, and you can enjoy a cocktail and a thrice cooked chip in the company of your toddler without  having to peel them off stages, pen them in at tables and breaking out in the parenting sweats, then stop reading this post. Go and make the most of your sociable and well-behaved toddlers before it all goes wrong. Although it might not for you, in which case I'm ......happy for you (and also a touch jealous!) 

For us the nice bars, even when they put on family events are just a bit too much work at the moment. It isn't fun trying to stop my two year old from doing what he wants to do, which is run around generally create havoc. So where does that leave us. Well eating at home a lot of the time, and then when we want to eat out, foraying into the world of kids' restaurants. So when we were invited to the opening of The Cinder Path, the new Brewers Fayre in South Shields we were keen to try it out. I'm not sure that I've ever been to a Brewers Fayre before, to me they fit well and truly into the realm of family dining and until recently - as described above - I was still fighting my destiny and trying to stick with our usual haunts. But now that I have kids I find myself doing a whole host of things I didn't envisage when I saw those little lines on the pregnancy test, including wiping my offsprings' noses with my hand (I know its minging - I apologise for what I've become) so I was up for giving family restaurants a try.

Baby-friendly exercise class timetable for In and around Newcastle

Baby-friendly exercise class timetable for In and around Newcastle

Happy New Year! I hope you had a fab Christmas and New Year, ours was wild. We were up until 4am! Lets not dwell on the fact I'd gone to bed at 11:30pm, and it was a crying baby, as opposed to a dancing all night which had me up that late. If you are anything like me then you'll be feeling a bit sluggish from overindulging on the kid's selection boxes and Christmas leftovers. I'm desperate to do a bit of exercise, I'm even itching to go out for a run. A phenomenon which lasts about 36 hours from New Years Day, only to disappear again for another year.

If you are looking to exercise, but have an entourage of a small person and their many many 'essentials' with you at all times, then don't worry. The North East has loads of brilliant options, there are actually 30 classes on each week across Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside where you can exercise without needing childcare. Many of them run by fellow mums, for parents to exercise without needing any childcare. The ones run by the councils are even FREE! I included some of them in my Gan on Bring the Bairn post about parent-friendly local companies, but since then have heard about loads more, and as it's the New Year thought it would be a good time to pull them all together in one place. Just by writing this post I'll get fitter won't I? That's how it works?

South Lakes Safari Zoo

South Lakes Safari Zoo

Super quick post today as I wanted to get something up whilst South Lakes Safari Zoo was still offering FREE entry. That's right totally free! I know, I thought it might be too good to be true, or be some catch somewhere but there really wasn't. 

I'd spotted on Facebook that South Lakes Safari Zoo was offering free admission until the end of December and thought it would make a nice day out for my baby's first birthday. I've never been before and have always been put off by the long drive, but spurred on by the great reviews I'd heard about it in Family Explorers Facebook group  (brilliant for getting ideas about places to visit) I thought we'd give it a go during our Christmas break.

Ice Skating at Woodhorn Museum - Ashington

Ice Skating at Woodhorn Museum - Ashington

Merry Sprogmas Advent Calendar Day 4 is all about our trip to the outdoor ice skating rink at Woodhorn Museum in Ashington. I'd visited the museum last year when it was hosting the poppy exhibition, and I often feature Woodhorn in the fortnightly 'What's On' newsletters that I write for Bubele parenting app, as they have some brilliant family events and trails. This was the first time that I'd visited in the winter, whilst their Christmas festivities were on. 

Proper Belta Pressies - North East Christmas Gift Guide

Proper Belta Pressies - North East Christmas Gift Guide

I think I've made no secret of the fact that I love the North East and all that it has to offer. As well as the brilliant coastline, quayside, restaurants, days out and family bloggers (haha), I love that we have so many amazing independent businesses that sell unique, quirky and cool stuff, with lots of it being made right here in the North East. To coincide with small business Saturday, I've pulled together this Christmas gift guide where I've picked out some of the best presents and Christmas treats for everyone in the family, all from local brands.