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A Snowy Trip to Beamish

15 Dec

wp-1450026393246.jpg Our toes may be numb but what a lovely day we had in the snow at Beamish. While I think the unexpected snowfall and the trip to the traditional sweetshop may have been pretty influential – according to my daughter this was “the best time I’ve had while I’ve been six…”

wp-1450026413441.jpgMy gran was born in one of the Francis Street terraces, which were moved to the Beamish “Pit Village” from Hetton-le-Hole. Sadly my daughters didn’t get chance to visit with her, as she passed away last year. But we thought her birthday, this weekend, would be a nice way to keep her memory alive.


And it did just that as, as soon as you step out through the entrance at Beamish, you enter into times past, wandering in and out of homes, shops and community buildings, all wonderfully recreated and helping my children to imagine what life was like for their great gran when she was a young child too.


The site is vast and the kids loved the trams to take you from place to place.










It was a bit breezy on the open top mind!













This was our first trip, but thanks to the ticket lasting a year it was nice to feel you didn’t have to cram everything into one day to get your money’s worth.


Armed with my guidebook I have already started swatting up on my history and the remarkable collections on display all ready for our return visit.



A family ticket for 2 adults and 2 children costs £48.50. If we go four times in a year that works out as £3 each a visit, which I think is pretty good value for money.


To find out more and plan your trip visit Beamish



Half-term wish list

12 Feb

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


A few Festive things to do this weekend (with the mother-in-law)

25 Nov

With the mother-in-law flying in from Ireland at the weekend  for the annual pre-Christmas visit I’ve been on the look out for some festive family days out.  I’ve now found far too many things I’d like to do, so I thought I’d write a kind of Christmas wish-list:


Alnwick Garden: I would have loved to have been there for the switch on of the beautiful lights display and I’d still like to see the fountains illuminated in the dark – a real work of art that brings the gardens to life in the early evenings. There are also lots of special events including Christmas markets and children’s theatre.

There is a 5% discount if book tickets online


Enchanted Parks – The Stargazer of Saltwell:  Keeping on the subject of illuminations – there are only a few tickets left for this dazzling after-dark spectacular of light and performance. There’s also the wonderful story of how it was a little lonely star-gazing girl called Estella who inspired her dad to build the magical Saltwell Towers.


Beamish: I still can’t believe I haven’t taken my kids to Beamish yet, officially the top large tourist attraction in the region, no less. Christmas seems the perfect time to sort it out: Edwardian traditions – an ice rink – tram rides – sounds a day to remember.  HALF PRICE ADMISSION – every Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday


Wallington Hall

Listening to Mrs Claus reading stories by the fire followed by the carol singing in the hall was one of my favourite festive day trips last year. There are THREE children’s playgrounds in the extensive grounds too,  (yes three) including a zip wire and a train, so you can’t really go wrong.

There’s a code for 25% off membership in November here


Northern Stage

After spending three quarters of last year’s panto hiding from Captain Hook/ Jo Mangle in the corridor of Whitely Bay Playhouse with my three-year-old daughter, The Christmas Grump specially created for younger children sounds a much safer option.


Newton-by-the Sea

I love getting wrapped up in the winter and heading to the beach. And at Newton-by-the-Sea you not only have a beautiful walk to Craster (voted one of the top 10 in the UK)  but  a pub on hand at The Ship Inn or a just up the road The Joiners’ Arms. Sign up to the Joiners Arms Newsletter and you get a £10 voucher too.


National Glass Centre, Sunderland

This is for older ones, but I like the sound of starting a Christmas tradition and blowing your own glass bauble



This grand finale to the Christmas Fayre with a wintery spectacle of fire and ice,  Snow Queen, human Catherine Wheels and bonfire sounds amazing. We loved the Santa Special ride on the railway last year – in fact the mother-in-law came with us then too and as I recall was very taken with the charming Mr Claus!

Entry to Woodhorn is free, but parking is £3.50 – a bargain. And there’s even a free parking ride service. A visit to Santa’s Grotto is £7.50 a child, including present.

Santa Specials run on weekends in December


Christmas Cracker Whitehouse Farm

If I go to one grotto this year I think I’d like it to be this one. There’s so much for children here too: animal petting, trator rides, trampolines, playgrounds, soft play…. A great day out.

Free child with an adult voucher


10 things to do in the North East with kids this weekend

28 Jun

1. Pick your own fruit at Brockbushes Farm – it’s strawberry and gooseberry season and gooseberries are said to make great wine too? There’s also a farm shop and tea room.

2. Family friendly fun galore at the Heaton Festival: circus skills, animal petting, balloon shapes, hog roasts and much more

3. Take a pedalo for a trip on the lake at Saltwell Park, Gateshead

4. Enjoy a peaceful walk and feed the swans at Bolam Lake, free apart from the parking

5. The kids driving you up the wall? try Rock Stars Kids Session at Climb Newcastle from age 3 +

6. The society wedding is over, now this weekend the water pistols are out at Alnwick Garden for Splash Alnwick

7. Take a seat at the Tyneside Cinema’s Children’s Film Club for All Stars

8. There’s farm fun galore at Adventure Valley, Durham

9. Park in Wylam and cycle by the Tyne along the perfectly flat Wylam Waggonway past George Stephenson’s birthplace. The 4 mile route to the Tyne Riverside Country Park, plus play area, is great for family cycling

10. Explore the rugged wilderness of Cragside: walks through the craggy woods and a great playpark too.

10 things to do in the North East with kids this weekend

21 Jun

1. Head to South Shields for the unique Foghorn Requiem on Saturday at 12.30pm performed from an armada of local vessels, the Souter Foghorn and onshore musicians as part of the Festival of the North East.

2. Enrol in Seven Stories Viking School to learn skills including dragon training and all that it takes to become a hero inspired by the How To Train Your Dragon series.

3. Get creative in Newcastle’s trendiest area the Ouseburn where local artists will be showcasing their work over an interactive weekend.

4.Not sure how the cheese sandwiches would go down, but join in the Medieval picnic at Northumberland Park, North Shields on
Saturday,June 22,11am – 3pm for a day of family fun,music and entertainment.

5. Visit the award winning Killhope lead mining museum, and catch the Drama in the Dale: The Bonny Moor Hen which is being performed this weekend.

6. For the first year The famous Hoppings will take place at Sunderland’s Herrington Park. There is also the new Great Toon Fair in Newcastle.

7. It’s the Age of the Dinosaur at Centre for Life with seven animatronic dinosaurs and more than 60 specimens from the Natural History Museum collections, including real dinosaur bones and fossil specimens.

8. Design your own handmade pottery and then reward yourself with a pancake at Pots and Pancakes, North Shields.

9. Go for a walk or the beave could even camp in Plessey woods near Morpeth. Campfire Cooking, Shelter Building, BBQ and more. £25 per tent inc.

10. There’s still time to catch the puffins nesting on the Farne islands.

10 things to do with kids this weekend in Tyneside, Durham and Northumberland

10 May

With the mother-in-law visiting this weekend I have been researching a few trips to show off the North East. Here a few ideas I came up with.

1. I’m drooling already thinking about the Tynemouth Food Festival
2. Reptile weekend at Kirkley Hall Zoo
3. See the cherry blossom in bloom at Alnwick Garden
4. In honour of National Donkey Week half price rides for 50p at Hall Hill Farm
5. Join the Colliery Carnival at Beamish Museum to mark the opening of the new exhibition: the Hetton Silver Band Hall.
6. Relive your childhood memories at the Enid Blyton exhibition at Seven Stories
7. Take a train ride on the Tanfield Railway – the world’s oldest no less
8. Make your own Georgian Mask at Seaton Delaval Hall
9. Check out some natural and roman history at The Great North Museum
10. Test your map reading skills on a Treasure Hunt at Wallington Hall

Step back in time at Tanfield Railway

7 Apr

Discovered I harboured an inner trainspotter today when we made our first trip on the Tanfield Railway – the oldest in the world no less! The children were amazed to find a train that actually went chugga chugga choo choo and it really was like stepping back in time.

We parked in the main car park at Andrews House and took the train from the station all the way along the route, which is quite short (about three miles each way.) Sitting in the “buffet” car we were even able to munch our picnic in between the obligatory waving at passers by and hanging our heads out of the window. There are lots of short stops along the way and we got out at Causey Arch, where we only had chance for a short walk over the bridge (again a record breaker as it is the world’s oldest railway bridge), but where you can stop for longer and enjoy lots of woodland walks before getting the train back again.

We then walked down to Europe’s oldest working engine shed at Marley Hill, where volunteers are busy on restoration projects and where the geek in me really did emerge and I was fascinated by the old engines, some by Robert Stephenson and the children loved climbing in and out of the old Victorian carriages. It really brings home what feats of engineering have taken place in the region.

There is a cafe at Andrews House for refreshments as well as toilet facilities and picnic benches.

The passenger service runs every Sunday. A family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) is £23 and under 5s are free. It may seem pricey, but when you remember all this is only possible because of dedicated volunteers, it is well worth it. For more information visit

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