Tag Archives: picnic

Alnmouth Beach

28 Feb

Check out the kite skills:

We are pretty spoilt for beaches here in the North East. From the vast expanse of Druridge Bay, to secluded spots like Sugar Sands or the all-action Tynemouth Longsands.

But one of my favourite all-rounders is Alnmouth. Parking practically on the beach almost feels like cheating, and is especially handy when it’s just me and the kids. I can keep nipping back to the car for the kite, ball, blanket, buckets, spades, rug, picnic, change of clothes, and the rest of the paraphernalia you bring to set up camp for the day.

Gazing out across the white sand and sea, you get that desert island feeling – but just a few minutes walk and you are in Alnmouth – with ice cream parlours, pubs, fish and chips and the glamourous but handy toilet facilities!

The walk round to the village takes you past fishing boats and keep going you will come to a lovely play park.

Or walk to the left and there is a great walk along the beach, up over the sand dunes and back to the car park.

Visit Alnmouth

Random fact: not one for the kids perhaps but Alnmouth is home to the UK’s most haunted hotel…

Read about The Schooner Hotel and its resident spirits here

 

 

 

 

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Charlotte’s Day Trip to Whitby

27 Dec

Charlotte’s holiday homework is to keep a diary, so she’s been helping me out on the blog this week. We tried to find out some facts I never knew about Whitby, including snakes and monkey puzzle trees…

 

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Whitby facts:

  • A monastery was built in AD657 by King Oswy of Northumbria. It became one of the most important religious centres in the Anglo-Saxon world under the Abbess Hild. She ruled over both men and women in a double monastery called Streaneshalch.
  • It is said that sea birds flying over the ruins of the abbey tip their wings in honour of Hilda while the presence of ammonite fossils on the shore at Whitby is explained as the remains of a plaque of snakes which Hilda turned to stone.
  • Whitby Abbey was the inspiration for a famous scary book called Dracula by Bram Stoker that was written 1897. Lots of people come to Whitby at Halloween.
  • Some people say there are 199 steps, some say 198 and others 200. so they say you have to try and count them for yourself!

 

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Things we want to try next time we go back:

  • Mummy would like a necklace made of Jet

Jet Shop W. Hamond says: Unlike most gemstones, Whitby Jet is actually fossilised wood, similar to our present day Monkey Puzzle or Araucaria Tree, which has been compressed over millions of years.

The colour of Whitby Jet is unique; its blackness is so intense that the expression ‘as black as jet’ has been a commonly used phrase for hundreds of years.

Queen Victoria had a necklace made of Whitby Jet

Read more about it here: Whitby Jet

  • Katherine and I want to bring our buckets and spades and go down to the beach and ride on a donkey in the summer.

Other facts we found out about Whitby:

  • By 1795 Whitby had become a major whaling port. The most successful year was 1814 when eight ships caught 172 whales.
  • The famous explorer Captain Cook learned how to be a sailor in Whitby and his ship the HMS Endeavor that he sailed to Australia and New Zealand was built in Whitby.

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.

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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.

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

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It was a bit breezy on the open top mind!

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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

 

Cragside and the Labyrinth

30 Sep

Cragside is so vast, we are always finding new areas of the estate to explore. Spotted this good place for a breather before we got lost in the Labyrinth… enjoy the surprise if you find the middle!

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Cragside House & Gardens

Little Scientists at The Centre for Life

28 Jul

An amazing day at The Centre for Life. My daughters six and four absolutely loved the new Experiment Zone. Having not studied science for almost three decades, the thought of how I was going to be able to help them “extract DNA” left me a little nervous! But the instructions were so clear and easy to follow, that literally a four-year-old could do it.
There are a wide range of experiments to choose from and we’ll definitely be back to try out another. Inspiring stuff.

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There is so much to do, that you really could spend a whole day inside. We love the Little Bear film in the planetarium about the constellations. The play area upstairs can keep them entertained for an hour alone, and they never seem to get sick of the activities in the explorer zone.
My children are a little young to appreciate the Game On exhibition, but the range on show is fantastic, a real journey through gaming history. Spotting the Speak and Spell and Donkey Kong did however make me feel on the old side!
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There is a cafe and restaurant, but also a picnic area too, which I think is great so you are welcome to bring your own food too.
A top quality place for a family day out time and time again.

http://www.life.org.uk/whats-on/experiment-zone#.VbehIGRVhBc

Family bouldering at Shaftoe

18 Jul

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Northumberland has so many natural playgrounds. We headed to Shaftoe crags for a family bouldering session.
Great for parents to have a play as well as the kids for a change!

Despite being only a short drive from Newcastle, there is something about the crags of Northumberland that makes me feel I have ventured into another world or far into the past. And the children enjoyed hearing how the rocks have their own names such as Devil’s Punchbowl and Piper’s Chair.

Parking:

From Belsay on the A696, head for Bolam Lake. Go past the lake car park on the right to a crossroads, turn left along an unmetalled road past a row of cottages. Park by the wall on the moor just over the cattle grid.

To the crags:

Follow the wall up the hill until you go through the gate, then turn left and follow the path along the wall that takes you down in amongst the rocks.

Scowling dwarfs and ancient stones: a walk at Simonside

12 Jul

Despite being carted up hills and even the odd mountain since they were bairns in backpacks, mention the word “walk” to my kids (six and four) and the response is something like eurghhharrrgh and “why?”

So I have to get a bit more creative to lure them out to where I want to go and think “will be good for them really.”

And this week my creativity involved some stories about the ancient scowling dwarfs said to roam the hills of Simonside dressed in lambskin and a moss hat – and basically bribery of an amazing picnic once you got to the top…

But the odd whine and whinge from my own “scowling dwarfs” was definitely worth it as wow, there is some view and it is not every day you get to eat your lunch next to rock carvings said to be 4,000 years old.

For anyone not familiar with the history of Simonside, near Rothbury, Countryfile sums it up pretty well here:

“The fell sandstones of the Simonside Hills were deposited from a river delta some 330 million years ago. Weathering

and erosion have led to their dominant aspect, which makes them recognisable throughout the county. Their spiritual significance to the Bronze Age people, 5000 years ago, is evident in the burial tombs and rock carvings that adorn the slopes and summits.”

The main car park, just a few minutes drive from Rothbury, has a map of the  area. We followed the red route  (pictured below)  and it was very well signposted and easy to follow. But a shorter route which may be better for younger children is available here along with lots of extra info about the area.

http://www.northumberlandnationalpark.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/simonsidefamily-adult-lo.pdf

Points of interest:

Little Church Rock This isolated outcrop of fell sandstone is hidden within the forest. Its name may be a reference to the rock’s use as a gathering place. There is a set of cup marks in the stone on the lower right side of the rock which are thought to be man-made and could be over 4,000 years old.

The Simonside Dwarfs also known as Brownmen, Bogles and Duergar are a race of ugly dwarfs. Their leader was said to be known as Roarie. They are said to mostly appear at night, when they prey on lost travellers by showing a light to draw the traveller nearer, and then tricking them into a bog or luring them over the edge of a precipice. Read more about these little critters here:

http://faeryfolklorist.blogspot.co.uk/2009/05/duergars-of-simonside.html

 

 

 

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