Hello, the Parents of the North feature is back, after a brief hiatus whilst I was on holiday in deepest darkest Hertfordshire. Today's features is from Sarah, who not only runs her own online store full of kids clothes and toys, but she is the owner of one of the most stylish kids in the North East. Sarah is mum to the gorgeous Coco who looks picture perfect everywhere she goes, and is the perfect walking model for Curlystiltskin, which is Sarah's store. I have followed both Sarah's personal account @cocoandliquorice and @curlystiltskin for a while now, and she is always off somewhere interesting, so was high on my list of people ask to feature in this series. As expected she didn't disappoint and her post is full of ideas for places to explore. I particularly liked her honest response to the question about child-free time.
If you are looking for any kids clothing or quirky and interesting toys then do check out Curlystiltskin. The clothes are super cute and it is the perfect place to shop for a gift. I love the selection of story books based on the lives of some of the most important women in history such as Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart and Marie Curie.
Who are your tribe?
My tribe consists of our Leader - Moi, Sarah (Mama and Papa Bear) age *ahem* 38 Coco (Baby Bear) age 2 and 360 days and Liquorice (Bunny Bear) age 3.
I live in County Durham and I have lived here most of my life except the incredible 9 months I spent in Sierra Leone and the 4 years I lived in Dubai, UAE. The specific area in which we live is extremely family orientated. We live a stones throw away from Coco's nursery school and soon to be infant / primary / comprehensive school. The local amenities include the public library, leisure centre and the incredible Riverside Park. I really couldn't wish to live in a better area. I don't drive so having the railway station on our doorstep means that we aren't limited to the places we can visit any time we want to. The Riverside Park is a particular favourite of Coco's especially now the splash sad is open every day during the summer holidays, and she has actually made some very good friends in the playground, as have I.
Curlystiltskin is an online children's boutique selling clothing, books, toys and FUN!
I have always worked in the Retail Industry and whilst it never occurred to me to launch my own business before I had Coco, afterwards it just seemed like the most sensible thing to do. I have the necessary knowledge and experience to handle the operational side of things, but it is of course finding the time to do this which is the biggest challenge. Sometimes I wonder if I should have waited until Coco started school but I involve her as much as I can whilst teaching her about about responsibility and hard work.
As I don't drive when Coco was a baby I had to rely on groups that were within walking distance as I didn't really want to venture too far at first. Thankfully there were so many excellent clubs and playgroups to attend from the Salvation Army to the local parish centre and of course the Sure Start sensory room was a big hit. I have to be honest, during this time as it was more about Coco and I bonding, and my encouraging her to interact with other children rather than an effort to make friends for myself. It wasn't until she started Nursery aged 1.5 years that I met a small circle of mothers that I still socialise with today.
WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR THE NORTH EAST WITH KIDS?
Beamish Museum has to be an all time favourite both for me and for Coco. Because we have a "Friends of Beamish" pass which we renew annually, we can spend as much or as as little time as we want there because we can return anytime for no extra cost. We have been known on several occasions to simply visit just to ride around on the trams!
Coco has never really been a fan of the old soft play she would much rather be running along a beach or "climbing" trees. I have to say I am also not very keen on the accidents that always occur at these places. I love to be outdoors and Coco definitely agrees with me on this. Roker Beach is only a short drive away and has won several awards for its cleanliness, I only wish the dog walkers would obey the zoning signs!
We visit the Toby Carvery at Washington every week and have done since Coco was formerly known as Bump. The staff are super friendly, they always have a discount / promotion running and unlike most other eateries, Coco eats for free (albeit from my plate...!) On the ultra rare occasion I do go out for dinner, I go to my local Lebanese Restaurant - it is superb. Extremely authentic and always reminds me of my time in Dubai.
What would you do on a child-free day?
I have made many connections online both personal and business related. I have a very small circle of "real" friends, one of which is also a mother but I do believe there is a necessity to engage with other mums even if it is only through social media. The level of support I have received was completely unexpected and I always support other mums who have their own businesses by shopping small and supporting local businesses.
Massive thanks from me to Sarah for a great read. I am always so touched when people take the time out to share their time and stories on these posts. I have heard great things about Roker beach recently, and Sarah's post has prompted me to make sure that I visit sometime this summer. I also haven't taken my two to the Farne Islands yet, but reading this feature has reminded me of how lovely it is, so I will be following Sarah's recommendation and trying to visit very soon.
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.