North Tyneside

Summer Activities at Seaton Delaval Hall

Summer Activities at Seaton Delaval Hall

* This is a sponsored post *

We have been National Trust members for a good few years now. Once we had a baby and realised that we'd have a lot more family time to fill, with considerably less money, it seemed to make sense to sign up for an annual membership. Especially as we have so many great National Trust places to visit in the North East. I love that with an annual pass there is always somewhere lovely to visit without needing to spend money. We often take a picnic so it’s always a pretty frugal trip out.

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

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. 

Scran with Santa 2017 - Grottos with grub across the North East

Scran with Santa 2017 - Grottos with grub across the North East

This week Fenwick's breakfasts and teas with Santa went on sale...and went off sale. They sold out in a day. Whilst you might have been too late for those the good news is that this year there are SHEDLOADS (over 30 in fact) of other dining with Santa options. Tonnes of them, still with availability, so if it's not Christmas to you without feasting with Father Christmas then read on and decide if you would like, breakfast, lunch, tea or ice cream with the big man.

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;

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?

Piccolo Music Classes - Now in Gateshead

Piccolo Music Classes - Now in Gateshead

Heads up Gateshead, there is a new pre-school class in town. The team from Piccolo Music have responded to popular demand and now offer classes on the other side of the river, and you can find them every Friday morning at the Winlaton Centre.

Have you been to a Piccolo Music class before? They are different to any other baby groups that I've been to. The class is based around music and movement, and I think the best way to describe it is professional. Professional but relaxed. Confused? Read on, surely I'll make some sense at some point wont I?

Tumbles and Grumbles - Paediatric First Aid Course - North East Wide

Since starting this blog we've had a ball visiting all of the all of the classes and events that we've been lucky enough to invited to. I think today's blog is my most important one to date though, and the one that I'm most grateful that i've had the opportunity to attend. A fortnight ago I went along to a Tumbles and Grumbles baby and child first aid course and it was brilliant. It wasn't until I was sitting in the class contemplating how I would respond if either of my kids were hurt that I realised I literally wouldn't have had a clue about the right thing to to. 

In the blog posts I write about the places we've gone to I try and explain our experiences, but not urge people to go to the place we've visited, or book the event we're talking to as who knows if you'll enjoy a kids activity as much we did. Lets face it toddlers can be awkward little things, you might have a completely different time to us. But for this class I would whole-heartedly recommend it. Whilst still in the class I decided that I'd book my husband to go on it too. If you've done first aid before, or if you are someone who has to read or sit in front of a computer to learn then it won't be for you. But if you are someone like me, who has never had any first aid training and gets the most out of learning by watching, doing and asking questions, then I can't imagine anyone going along and not getting something out of it. 

Little Learners PreSchool Classes

Little Learners PreSchool Classes

Do you take your little ones to any pre-school classes? There are lots of different ones to choose from and it can be hard to find out exactly what you're in store for, so hopefully that is where I can help. I've been visiting a couple of different classes over the last few weeks, and I'll be posting photographs and details about them, so it should help you to decide if any of the classes are right for your baby or toddler. 

First up is Little Learners. I've followed the Little Learners's account on instagram for a while now, so I knew from their photos that messy play was a big part of their sessions. We had wanted to go along to their incredibly popular pre-school festival during the summer but unfortunately already had plans the day it was held, so it wasn't until Halloween that we got to accept their invitation to try them out. 

Scran with Santa - Grottos with grub across the north east

Scran with Santa - Grottos with grub across the north east

Can you believe we have only just had Bonfire night and I've already started banging on about Christmas? It's 7 weeks until the big day, but festive events start from early December so if you are looking for family Christmassy things to do in the North East then it is time to get booking.  

Hot on the heels from the sell out successes that were Halloween parties (where it seemed that any event with a couple of cobwebs in the window were fully booked back in September, leaving us unorganised parents wondering where to take our little pumpkins for their obligatory photos and E numbers) are the Christmas events! 

If anything I think the tinsel is a bigger seller than the Halloween parties. So many festive events are sold out already! Our chances to sing Christmassy power ballads with Chalk, join the Snow Puppies for a party at 7 Stories or take the North Pole Express from Tanfield Railway are gone. The tickets disappeared shortly after they went on sale!

There are still lots of family festive events to choose from though, so keep your eye's peeled for my upcoming posts with loads of suggestions. But what is Christmas without a mince pie? I'm always first in the queue for every buffet I've ever been to, so I'm kicking off the Christmas posts with one devoted to food. Below are the places you can feast with Father Christmas.

Gan on, bring the bairn - Baby and Child Friendly Newcastle

Gan on, bring the bairn - Baby and Child Friendly Newcastle

So far all have my posts have focused on things specifically for kids, places to go with kids, products for kids. But what about ME? Will no one ever think of me? I learned pretty quickly into my parenting career that if I go somewhere kid friendly there is a chance that I might get 2 or 3 minutes peace in between the nappy changes, feeding and playing. But sometimes I don't want to go to a park, sometimes I'd rather eat a cold Ella's Kitchen rather than go to a soft play and sometimes I just need get some of that long list of life admin actually ticked off. 

So this post is still all about the kids (I haven't had a personality transplant and started talking about anything actually interesting) but it's about places that have tried to make parent's lives easier, by welcoming kids. A round up of places in Newcastle that have a USP when it comes to being family friendly. It's not like us poor parents are going to turn up on a charity appeal on daytime sky telly or anything. There are worse fates than being reliant on babysitters to be able to go to the gym, but I really appreciate it when businesses have been considerate to our needs. There must be some money in it too? All the parents I know, will spend as much as they have available to make their lives a little bit easier. There is the pink and grey pound, surely there is money to be made out of parents? What would we be? The suspiciously brown stain, is it poo or is it chocolate, pound? Lets not get into the details of that just yet, but get on with celebrating the places in Newcastle that are great for parents. 

Cristal Yoga - Mum and Baby Postnatal Yoga

Cristal Yoga - Mum and Baby Postnatal Yoga

This week I was asked if I'd like to come along and try a postnatal yoga class with Cristal Yoga. I actually used to be quite fit, I have run the Great North Run twice, and I could mime along to Jillian Michael's Shred DVD as I'd done it so many times. But that was before children. Since having my second baby, I have promised myself time and time again that I'll do an exercise DVD whilst she naps, go for a run on a weekend, or go swimming when the kids are in bed. Well I have broken all of those promises. I will use any excuse not to do it. The rational part of me knows about all of the endorphins, that I'll feel loads better afterwards etc. But the bit of me that wants to sit on the sofa absentmindedly flicking through instagram always seems to win.

In the past when I've actually managed to keep up with a bit of a fitness routine, I've had the most success with classes, as when I book I feel a responsibility to actually turn up. This class is one where you  bring the baby along, so not only can I not use a lack of babysitter as an excuse, but it's also an opportunity to meet up with other mums and have a bit of adult conversation.

Shiremoor Adventure Playground - North Tyneside

Shiremoor Adventure Playground - North Tyneside

I'm back, after a summer of neglecting my blog, I've eventually got around to writing an actual post. We had a great summer, went to lots of places, have thousands of photos clogging up my phone and memory card, loads of ideas for blog posts, but it iss just so hard to find the time to actually sit down and write them. Especially now I am no longer a lady of ... leisure doesn't sound right... more like multiple nappy changes and cold cups of tea, as i'm now back at work! Mr Sprog is on paternity leave, looking after the kids until Christmas, so expect blog posts devoted to craft beer and Fifa to be uploaded soon.

So back in August I finally got around to visiting Shiremoor Adventure Playground. My sister had mentioned it to me a while ago, she had said they had toys, scooters etc, but I couldn't really picture it. Well when I got there it wasn't what I was expecting. There is a certain 'rough around the edges' element to it, and it reminded me of Byker Grove in that it has a youth club feel to it. There is sooooooo much to do, and I think older kids would adore it. As a parent to a toddler and baby I was slightly horrified about how big some of the equipment looked, but I feel the same when I watch kids on skateboards, or free jumping or whatever other fun kids have whilst putting themselves in danger. 

But what is is? Even after visiting i'm not sure I can adequately describe it. A youth club and park? There is a huge wooden frame, a massive sandpit, some terrifying rope swings, an allotment with chickens, a pool table, a basketball court, roller-skates, scooters and on the hot day that I visited there was the biggest paddling pool that i've seen too - but I'm guessing as it took me so long to write this post that won't be there any more. 

What it is though is FREE, which is amazing for what they have on offer. It's also staffed, and you have to sign in, so it shouldn't ever get too busy to the point of it being over-capacity. They are only open at certain hours (specific times at the bottom of this post) - afternoons after school, but during the day on weekends and school holidays. They are also closed until 13th September 2016 due to maintenance. What is also great about it, is that they run some sessions specifically for children with disabilities and their carers. 

Wacky Warehouse at the Wheatsheaf in Woolsington

Wacky Warehouse at the Wheatsheaf in Woolsington

I first visited this play area when one of my friends suggested it. It's not the type of place I would have thought of trying, I usually think of Wacky Warehouses as being within a pub, and as my toddler acts like he's in training for the 2016 Rio hurdles, and darts off as soon as I take my eyes off him, being within a pub   isn't great for us. Too many places to hide. But this play area was local to my friend, so when she suggested it, I was happy to go along. It's actually a self contained play area so not connected to the pub, and when I was there I thought it was actually pretty good for us, small enough so that my two year old could explore all of the play equipment without being too far away, and my very favourite thing about this play area is that it only has one exit. So many of the play areas we go to have multiple exits which means I'm constantly having to check that he hasn't escaped out of one of the other ones. As this one only has one, it means I can feed the baby and and actually manage to half concentrate on a conversation for once, knowing my toddler is still where I left him. 

Getting There and Parking: It's pretty easy to find, and very close to the airport, right next to Callerton Parkway metro station. The car park is accessed by a barrier, but I think this is just there so people doing airport pickups don't use it. The code to the barrier is displayed within the play area, so there is no cost to park. There were loads of parking spaces, and the car park is right next to the entrance. Close enough that I could carry the car seat, and not have to put it down for a breather on my way to the door. That is my new judge of distance, as i'm soooooo unfit after baby number two. Outside of the entrance, are a couple of picnic style tables, and a small park area. I think these belong to the pub, but if the weather was nice I think you could sit outside on your way in or out of the play area and use the park equipment for a while. 

Ridley Park - Blyth

On a freezing cold Saturday in April, we headed out with a few friends to Ridley Park in Blyth. I'd never been to this park before, but my husband had told me it was really impressive. Well he wasn't exaggerating. It was a lovely park, big enough to have a meander through for 15-20 minutes, green space for a kick about, loads of equipment for kids of a pretty wide age range and a cafe to grab a coffee and bit of cake.

Parking: There was a decent sized car park which was almost empty when we visited. I can imagine on a sunny summers day the car park would be heaving pretty early on, but if so there were plenty of spots to leave the care on the road surrounding the park.

The car park - it's opportunities to take glam photos like this that made me want to get into blogging!

The car park - it's opportunities to take glam photos like this that made me want to get into blogging!

Play areas: A short flat walk from the car park led to the main park where there were 3 distinct playing areas. A playground for 10 year olds and under, a junior park for 11 and over and a water feature area.

UPDATE: TWITTER TELLS ME THE WATER FEATURE WILL START ON 28TH MAY 2016 FOR THE SUMMER. The water wasn't on when we visited. The northumberland council website tells me that it's on 'most days' during the summer, from 11-6pm. I can imagine the toddler going nuts for this when it's operational, and as  it was freezing cold it was probably for the best so my toddler was exposed to fewer risk factors for hypothermia. You could see from the placement of water pumps that it would probably be quite dramatic when it was on, but unfortunately without the water sprinkling, my trusty iPhone photographs are a bit bland. The ground was a soft, anti slip material, although I feel like those 6 rocking animals might act like a magnet to excitable kids' heads when they are running around in the water. 

The water area - the silver spots on the ground are presumably where the water comes from in the Summer. 

The water area - the silver spots on the ground are presumably where the water comes from in the Summer. 

The Junior park for under 10s, was really well equipped with a few pieces which were different from the usual swings or roundabouts that you see in most parks. Below are photographs of all of the equipment in this section of the park. Including climbing pieces, slides, and water and sand features. The water feature, which was a tap with a series of tubes, turbines and mills for the water to travel through, wasn't on when we visited. Perhaps this is something else which is only operational during the summer months? Our toddler didn't seem to mind though and still had a play on it. 

Climbing equipment.

Climbing equipment.

The water feature

The water feature

Slide

Slide

The junior park was particularly well equipped with swings. There were 6 of the older kid style, 2 for little children, and then a big basket type swing which would fit a couple of kids in at the same time. 

The junior park was particularly well equipped with swings. There were 6 of the older kid style, 2 for little children, and then a big basket type swing which would fit a couple of kids in at the same time. 

The sandpit was designed like a ship. 

The sandpit was designed like a ship. 

One of the things which set Ridley Park apart from the other parks that I've been to before was the area for over 11s. The equipment in this section was frighteningly big. The type of park which is great when you are 11, then as soon as you have kids and lose your sense of humour and ability to see any fun in taking risks, it is quite terrifying. Mainly the climbing apparatus. I don't think my photos show just how high some of it went. 

This is the one. The one that I'll be hoping my kids don't spot when they are big enough to climb it. It was really high. 

This is the one. The one that I'll be hoping my kids don't spot when they are big enough to climb it. It was really high. 

As well as the play areas there were lots of grassy patches which you could spend a while walking around, have a picnic or play games on. 

Cafe: There was a really sweet cafe in the centre of the park, with places to sit both inside and out. I spotted at least two high chairs for the little people, and dogs were welcome inside too. The cafe supplied some games equipment (which in the interests of full disclosure I must point out some of it was tired, like when Eddie Izzard completed 50 marathons tired, a couple of the balls looked like they had been salvaged from a dog's mouth, but there was enough equipment in good enough state to have a kick about with) like balls, hula hoops, and a mini kids slide. I thought this was a really nice touch, and we had a good time chasing around one of the balls each time our toddler kicked it in the opposite direction to us. For the size of the cafe it had a very big menu, not just offering coffee and cakes, but full meals. We saw a few people tucking into baked potatoes and paninis and they looked really good. We treated ourselves to a millionaires shortbread and hot chocolate whilst I fed the baby, and they were lovely. Slightly disappointingly they'd added synthetic tasting chocolate sauce when decorating our plate which distracted a little bit from the rich, slightly bitter taste of the chocolate on the shortbread. Millionaires shortbread is one of my favourites, and this was definitely a really good one, and tasted home made. I'm sure it was, as we saw them bring out big trays of freshly cooked scones from the oven. The only downside to this cafe was that if you needed the loo, you needed to go outside and brave the elements, as the only ones available were the parks toilets. 

Spot the toddler hand. On this occasion I managed to intercept before he came into contact with the sweet goods. I think that leaves the total at Toddler 7 - me 1. 

Spot the toddler hand. On this occasion I managed to intercept before he came into contact with the sweet goods. I think that leaves the total at Toddler 7 - me 1. 

Baby Rosa enjoying the cafe. 

Baby Rosa enjoying the cafe. 

Toilets: Now for the weird bit of the review. With a baby and toddler needing their nappy changing, what feels like every 15 minutes, the toilets are pretty important to me. Important enough to take photos of, it seems. These pics were taken on my iPhone, but I think even a top of the range SLR couldn't save these pics from how grim they are. Probably my only negative part of the review of this park, but there were only one sets of toilets open. So two female toilets, and absolutely nowhere within them to change a baby. The green porta-cabin building were toilets too, but these were all locked up. Perhaps there were baby change within the disabled toilet? But I had asked within the cafe if there were any baby change in the park and they didn't know, so I'm not sure whether there are any baby change places in the park. Thankfully on our trip there were no tell-tale smells indicating an immediate nappy change required, so both the toddler and baby just had to wait until we got home. 

Would I recommend it? Absolutely, it was a perfect park for the colder weather, lots to entertain the little ones, bits of games equipment for us to use, and a lovely cafe for a cake. We'll definitely go back in the summer so that we can see the water area in action. We live about a half an hour drive away, but I think that if we were heading out for a day it would be worth making the trip to Ridley park for the great play spaces. 

 

Have you been to Ridley Park? What did you think? Did you find any baby change facilities? Have I missed anything out of this review? Leave me a comment below. 

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