Baby bargains this weekend for Tiny Lives

13 Mar


“Get kitted out for a new arrival for under £100″

Preparing for the arrival of a baby can be a costly business. I remember before my first daughter was born, sitting flicking through parenting magazines and finding myself convinced that she would need to travel around in a pram that, when I thought about it, was actually more expensive than our car… In the end we were fortunate to be given a second-hand pram from a friend, which did the job just as well I’m sure.

A spot of bargain hunting at Nearly New sales can be the perfect opportunity to kit out your nursery for the fraction of the price of buying on the high street or online  – and many are raising money for good causes too.

This week I was speaking to mum-of-three Marina Dodgson, who runs the Baby & Toddler Nearly New Sales in aid of the Tiny Lives Trust and I thought I’d ask her for a few tips on buying second hand. Marina first started the sales after deciding she wanted to try and give something back to the staff on the Special Care Baby Unit at the RVI in Newcastle, where her son Joseph received life-saving care after he was born.

Now four years on, the sales have raised an incredible £40,000 for the charity which supports the work of the unit by providing equipment, specialist staff, support to families and funding research into premature birth.

So here is what Marina had to say:

“It depends to some extent what people bring along on the day but typical prices are:

  • buggies from £15
  • cots (excluding mattresses) from £10
  • prams from £30
  • moses baskets from £10
  • clothes from 50p, many many items for under £2.50
  • nursery bedding from £1

“There is always an element of ‘pot luck’, but I would say you could more or less get kitted out for a new arrival for under £100 if you arrived early and spent wisely. We have also sold quality cots and branded prams at over the £100 mark, but these are still bargains given their original retail price.

“The toys are always a big pull too and we have a wide range including top branded ones for a fraction of the high street cost.”

A survey by netmums is said to have found that the “average mum” spends around £1,000 preparing for baby. I can’t say whether that is true, but there can be a fair bit of pressure placed on first time parents to buy things you perhaps don’t really need or that second hand is second best.  By the time my youngest daughter arrived it didn’t seem to matter if a pram or toy was a little rough around the edges as the new look soon came off most things pretty quickly anyway. It’s also great to know your money is also going to support such a fantastic local charity.

The Tiny Lives Baby & Toddler Nearly New Sale will take place from 10am-1pm this Saturday (March 14) at Trinity Church, Gosforth High Street.

A few of the many quality items that are already waiting to be sold can be seen on the group’s facebook page – they have also set up an ebay shop too.

For more information visit: or find them on facebook


A winter walk on the beach at Alnmouth

16 Feb

With a car park right on the the beach, this almost felt like cheating. The village and its brightly coloured houses and the boats in the estuary are great for a walk around too.


Plessey Woods

15 Feb

There’s over 100 acres of woodland, meadow and riverside to explore in Plessey Woods. No signs of otters or kingfishers on this trip, but plenty of good sticks and water to poke…


Woodhorn Museum

15 Feb

I love Woodhorn, I really do.  A fascinating and fun trip through mining history, banner displays, the Pitman Painters exhibition, arts and crafts and even a ride on a miniature railway to a feed ducks on a lake, it’s a great day out with the kids…. and apart from the parking it’s free! My kids love walking through the Coal Town – and never seem to tire of opening and closing the door to the outside loo (you’ll see why…) They love the noises and sounds and the interactive nature of the museum that brings it alive. And if that wasn’t enough they have touring exhibitions too like the brilliant Retronaut photographs dubbed “Victorian selfies” and the recently arrived Brick Planet lego display.

Kirkley Hall

15 Feb

From leaping lemurs to secret doors… make sure you don’t just say hello to the animals and take a walk around the beautiful Zoological Gardens too… Think we even found the Magic Faraway Tree


Sunday dinner and feeding the ducks in Felton

15 Feb

Despite being dragged out into the great outdoors in all weathers since they were just a few weeks old, mention the word “walk” to my kids and the response is something like eurrrrghhhh.

Once they are out of course they love it – so I just have to find other words to lure them to my chosen destination such as tree-climbing, river-paddling, stick-poking or duck-feeding so they forget about the walking element… or as a last resort mention of a picnic or ice cream usually works.

So it was armed with bagfuls of bread that we headed to the highly recommended Northumberland Arms in Felton for Sunday lunch followed by a trip to feed the ducks.

As it was the other half’s birthday, I was hoping for a meal that was a little bit special and from the moment we walked in and sat on our table with a sofa by the wood-burning stove, it definitely felt like a bit of a treat. The pub is a top class venue, stylishly decorated and welcoming to families. The food came quickly, beautifully presented and well worthy of its fine reputation.

A perfect Sunday lunch for me is always followed by a gentle stroll and Felton really is the idyllic village that the pub’s website claims. It was a misty February day but the view down the river Coquet was stunning. We turned right out of the pub and walked  along the river bank a short way, and sure enough tracked down some hungry ducks, before returning and passing over the bridge and finding a second gathering on the other side equally as peckish.

I was just beginning to feel that I’d burned off a few mouthfuls of yorkshire pud- when I then found myself at the Running Fox bakery and ended up returning to the car with two huge slices of cake and a loaf of artisan bread…. oops.

And so having enjoyed a delicious meal, a nice pint, a walk (duck-feeding) and no meltdowns my mission was complete.  A lovely family day out.


Half-term wish list

12 Feb IMG_20140607_154322

With a teacher training day tomorrow, it’s feeling like half term already…. be great to hear what everyone’s got planned. Here’s a few things on my wish-list:

wpid-img_20150118_142315.jpgThe new Brick Planet exhibition at Woodhorn plus a whizz round the wonderful (free) museum and a ride on the mini railway. Woodhorn Museum




wpid-img_20150215_151850.jpgAfternoon tea at The Running Fox at Felton and a walk by the river. Heard great things about this place! Running Fox




IMG_20140607_154322My kids love exploring Belsay Hall and walking through the quarry to the castle. Belsay Hall





Laing Art GalleryFree inspiration and one of my favourite cafes. My four year old loves walking round choosing her favourite paintings. There’s a children’s room too. Laing Art Gallery


wpid-img_20141031_214925.jpgKirkley Hall Zoological GardensWhilst I love seeing the leaping Lemurs, don’t forget about the vast gardens too, beautiful to walk through. Kirkley Hall





Plessey WoodsFree muddy fun galore. Plessey Woods





Beamish: About time I took my kids to see the North’s number one visitor attraction and Francis Street where their great-gran was born Beamish


druridge Walk on the beach and shell collecting at Cresswell and a hot chocolate in The Drift Cafe


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