Welcome back! I hope you are all well. Today's Parents of the North features Kathryn who runs Brilliantly Social - a North East social media management company, and Studio Paradiso - who provide painting holidays in Tuscany. She is also the owner of two very brilliant bairns. I asked Kathryn to tell us what she loves about the family friendly North East, as her instagram page (@brilliantlysocial) is jam packed with days out and kid friendly activities. She is also a huge fan of colour so it's a seriously pretty feed to follow. If you enjoy this feature then check out our previous posts here for loads of great ideas. If you fancy featuring then please get in touch via the contact us page.
I hope you enjoy this piece, I love Kathryn's writing, she often makes me laugh on social media and it's no different in this post. As someone who has never lived outside of an NE postcode, I'm fascinated when I hear of people relocating here, I loved finding out about Kathryn's time in Ireland and how the North East differs for raising children. I'm also now yearning for a trip to Italy after reading about Kathryn's idyllic time in Italy. For anyone interested in making work work around your family this is a great read.
Tell us about You...
We are The Delaney's! Two kids, Joe aged 4 & Lola, 8 and two ageing parents.
We live in sunny Gosforth! Not always sunny but a lovely place to live. We walk to school, hang out in Gosforth Central Park ( pretty much daily if the weather is good) and we're a five minute bus ride from the centre of town. Perfect. Before that we lived in Donegal in the North West coast of Ireland in a cottage beside the sea. However, I'm actually from South London. I fell in love with an Irishman & followed my heart out of London at the grand old age of 28... But after six years of living the rural lifestyle, growing my own vegetables & picking mussels, I craved the city life! This intensified after Lola was born as there was really very little to do. There were no baby groups, no parks, no swimming pool, no cafes, no shops... I was very isolated & although we had mile upon mile of beautiful golden beaches & stunning scenery, it wasn't enough. So we swapped Donegal for Newcastle. Best decision I ever made. I had family here & I knew returning to London would be too extreme so this was a happy medium. I got my city kicks & my sea faring husband got to live near the coast (although he still proclaims it's too cold to surf!)
Are you a 'mum' or a 'mam'?
I am most definitely a Mum, sometimes Mama, but have an aversion to being called Mammy due to the six years spent in rural Ireland.
I recently became a Social Media Manager after training with Digital Mum's & I now manage a local businesses social media accounts. I'm freelance & offer social media management to small businesses. Now that I've finished the pretty intense training I'm able to set my own pace & plan my week to fit around the kids. Sometimes this works better than others! My husband & I also run Painting Holidays in Tuscany a few weeks of the year so I manage all the social, website, admin & bookings for that too, as well as running my own Social accounts with Brilliantly Social. I'm basically on my phone all day!!!
But we do get to spend about four weeks of the year in Italy running Studio Paradiso so it makes it all worthwhile. The kids love it there & both have been going since they were babies, it's a home from home for us all. We're based in the mountains & have a wonderful garden & pool which the kids spend most of the day in but we're also only about 40mins away from the beach. Plus, we never go to Tuscany without a trip to Lucca & a cycle around it's wonderful walls. The kids really get into the Italian way of life... A gelato a day keeps the grumpiness at bay!
How did you start Brilliantly Social?
Brilliantly Social started out as Brilliant Bairns. A three month long campaign for the Digital Mum's course celebrating all that is brilliant for Bairns & their folk, with a strong emphasis on arts & crafts in the North East. From this the #northeastcreatives hashtag was born, prompting massive engagement from all North East Creatives & #welovenortheast...Because we do.
Tell us about your week?
My week's a bit all over the place! I am a fulltime Mum but Joe is at Nursery 2.5 days a week, at the end of the week, and I work from home so it's always a bit of a struggle at the beginning of the week to work & play. We tend to stay local so that I can get some work done in the morning & then we'll head out, usually to the park, around lunchtime. If it's nice we'll have a picnic. If it's bad weather we may just stay in painting, making & baking. Or if it's a Tuesday & the weather isn't great, we like heading to The Gate to avail of the cheap tickets Tuesday deal at The Empire (Now run by Cineworld) & maybe grab a spot of lunch. I try to avoid softplays as I hate them! I really don't think they should be able to get away with serving bad coffee to desperate parents! It's a basic right. How hard is it to have good coffee, good food, good tunes, nice vibe!? They get it wrong everytime.
Lola was born in Ireland. I was petrified. They don't offer your first scan until 18 weeks as if they find any abnormalities, there's nothing they can do about it as a termination is illegal. I wasn't having that! Because I was still registered in London I started my pregnancy journey there and received my twelve week scan. Eventually I had to make the decision about where I would give birth & it wasn't feasible to choose London. So Lola was born in Donegal & although I was petrified as we lived an hour away from the hospital on mountainous roads. She arrived safely. There were no NCT classes available so I did it all myself. I actually got a great DVD that I'd read about in a pregnancy magazine & it was a week by week journey. What was really great was that it was of a real NCT group in Battersea, South London so I totally felt at home.
Joe was a different story & was born in a birthing pool at the birthing centre at the RVI within 30mins of me arriving! He shot out like a bullet. I can't recommend a birthing ball enough! I was on that thing morning, noon & night leading up to his birth. I also attended the Antenatal Yoga classes through the Birthing Centre which were great!! As Joe was my second I didn't feel the need for NCT seeing as I'd done it all myself the first time around.
My friends in Newcastle are generally ones met through school or in the park! When we first moved here six years ago we knew nobody (except family) & it was strange. I did feel like Billy No Mates & started to accost people at the swings!! Once Lola started nursery, a year later, it became far easier to meet people. Most of my best friends are still in London so I tend to jump on a train every few months for a catch up. Most have kids but they're ranging in all ages so quite a lot of the time I leave mine at home & go & have some fun!!
WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR THE NORTH EAST WITH KIDS?
There is just so much to do with the kids here! We're totally spoilt for choice. I honestly believe it is the best place to bring up kids ( as The Independent proclaims), Quite often we'll just jump in the car & drive up the coast to Alnmouth or beyond or head out to Tynemouth Market on a Sunday & Longsands. We like heading into town too & going to the Baltic or the Hancock Museum.
Of course the kids love anything that bounces so on a special day out we might head to the giant air pillows at Adventure Valley for a family day out, have some farm fun at Whitehouse Farm or you'll often find us on the bouncy castle at Saltwell Park at the weekend & running round the maze. Joe is obsessed with fun fairs so South Shields is always a great day out. The beach & park are brilliant! So are the fish & chips & to finish it all off you have the pleasure beach. It's a brilliant day out & one that I think is highly underrated. Its got it all & its not too expensive either!
We also love The National Trust & head to Gibside & Wallington quite often, especially around Christmas time. I've only recently discovered Alnwick Garden, of course I knew it was there, but finally made the effort to visit the week that the blossom was in full bloom. Beautiful! And the kids had such a great time as it was really warm so the water features worked a treat! A great day out... beautiful too! Plus, we're an hour and a half by train from Edinburgh & all it has to offer!
What would you do on a child-free day?
Drink Gin! In an ideal world I would have a massage, a lovely lunch, followed by an afternoon film at The Tyneside, then cocktails & a meal out at the House of Tides & then maybe book myself into Hotel Du Vin for the night. In the real world... a bottle of pinot, a bag of chips from Gosforth Chippy & Netflix.
I follow Sprog on the Tyne of course! North East Family Fun & Nomipalony. I also enjoy Mother Pukka's Instagram feed, Mrs Hayward & Hurrah For Gin gets a chuckle from me. I kinda dip in & out from parenting blogs though as I do feel it's a bit saturated. There's only so much one can take when listening to other people's parenting woes... I've got my own thanks! The local ones are much more my thing as they give great tips on where to go, current deals & useful info which is relevant to my life.
Another week, another huge thank you from me. Huge thanks to Kathryn for this great post. I am loving all of Kathryn's suggestions. I remember seeing her Alnwick Garden photos from April time, and being gutted that I'd missed visited when the Cherry blossom was in bloom, I'm definitely going next year. I haven't been to Adventure Valley with my two either so adding that to the bucket list.
We hope you are enjoying this new series. If you have any burning questions then please feel free to get in touch, also let us know if you would like to feature and tell us all about your North East with kids tips. See you in a fortnights time for the next one.