South Tyneside

Our Family Adventure with Metro

Our Family Adventure with Metro

This is a collaborative post.

Tyne and Wear Metro recently got in touch to tell us about their new booklet 'Metro's little book of things to see' which is a guide for famililes on some of the brilliant places to visit along the metro line. The booklet is free of charge and available from any of the nexus travelshops. As well as detailing loads of places that families might like to visit, it is has metro related actvities for kids to try out, such as wordsearches, spot the difference and quizzes. Our favourite game was the #metromission which was a list of things to look out for whilst on family days out, scoring points for each item checked off. It is a really nice little guide and one that I would recommend you pick up if you are going to be out and about with kids on the metro, to add to the fun of getting catching the 'train' and  give the kids something to do to help to pass the time.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

Lets Play Big - Hebburn

Lets Play Big - Hebburn

Well, South Tyneside is fast becoming the toddler activity capital of the North East. After we visited the fab Role Play cafe a couple of weeks ago, we headed back to Hebburn a few days later to look around the new messy play venture in Victoria Industrial Estate - Lets Play Big

Unlike most of the messy play classes that I know of, which operate from community centres or hired rooms, Lets Play Big is based within it's own unit in an industrial estate. It is open 7 days a week, running four sessions a day which makes it perfect for working families. Before I started my current maternity leave, I worked four days a week, and I remember searching online for classes that I could take my toddler to on my day off, and frequently being disappointed when something looked really good, but was only available on a Monday at 10am or something when I was working. It is even better for people who work five days a week, because as far as I know, whilst some classes are branching out into putting on the odd Saturday morning, there isn't anywhere else nearby where they offer this amount of pre-school classes over holiday time and weekends. 

Apart from the brilliant opening hours, Lets Play Big had really gone for it with the variety of tasks and crafts that kids could get involved with. I haven't been to loads of messy play groups, a handful of individual classes and we used to go to baby sensory when my toddler was tiny (obviously neglected second baby hasn't been to any sensory classes, she just gets dragged around to noisy toddler activities, and perhaps that was why she was so excited to be able to play during this visit.) So I can't say that I'm a messy play connoisseur, but I felt like Lets Play Big had put on so many great play stations, that even the most seasoned crafters and gloop-players would really enjoy the sessions. 

Role Play - Hebburn

Role Play - Hebburn

Yesterday we visited the brand new children's play centre in Hebburn. It's brilliant. Really well thought through. My toddler loved it (he cried when we were leaving) and (in my mind the most important bit) parent's can have a cup of tea, a sit down and actually get a bit of a rest. There is definitely a time and place for soft play, sometimes they are just what we are looking for if our toddler needs to work off some energy or if my husband is with us so one of us can go with him, whilst the other looks after the baby. But when you're the owner of a toddler they aren't really a place for a rest, and sometimes I don't want to crawl through a child sized tube, or hurt my feet climbing cargo nets to rescue a strandard little boy (why do cargo nets hurt so much or is that just me being a baby?) So this is where this type of play centre is perfect.

As the name suggests it all designed around role play, with lots of different stations where kids can play with toys and dress up pieces. There has been really good attention to detail and the whole place looks great. It is bright and colourful, and as soon as we walked through the door my toddler was off to explore. It is all based in one large airy room, at the centre of the room are tables and chairs, and the stations are built around the outskirts, this is great as it means that you can always see the kids from the table areas, so you don't have to be on top of them all of the time. It would be a great place to go if you are in charge of more than one child as you can always keep an eye on one of them whilst seeing to another. The baby was spending time with her granny, so wasn't with us this visit, but I noticed they had lots of high chairs, a baby walker and padded play gym for the smallest of visitors to use. It was lovely to have some 1:1 time to properly play with my toddler as we haven't had much of that since the baby came along.