As part of a year long celebration of Roald Dahl’s 100th Birthday Tatton Park is rounding off the celebrations and saving the best until last with it’s Christmas spectacular! To help get the celebrations off to a great start we are giving away one family ticket to Tatton Park which admits two adults and up to 3 children. See the bottom of the post for entry details.

tattoo park mansion

This festive season, experience Christmas in the most magical way as Tatton Park’s Mansion takes inspiration from Roald Dahl’s greatest stories. For a limited time only from Monday 21 November, enter a festive world where his extraordinary story telling weaves itself through the grand staterooms and in to the bustling servants’ quarters.

As part of a year-long programme of events to celebrate 100 years since the beloved author’s birth, visitors will be able to access over 13 different rooms in the Mansion – with each room being inspired by a different Roald Dahl tale.

tattoo park mansion

Step inside the grand entrance and enter the purple and gold-coloured world of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Inside the yellow drawing room, The Witches take over – with a large bubbling cauldron and a broomstick tree. Listen out and you might hear a very special witches themed Christmas carol.

Mr Fox and all of his woodland friends are feasting in the dining room – expect a Christmas dinner scene like no other! Visitors can accompany The BFG as he visits Buckingham Palace in the drawing and music rooms – and meet bookworm Matilda in the library (and watch out for the dreaded Chokey in the Housekeeper’s room).

The Twits, Danny The Champion of the World and George’s Marvellous Medicine also have their own special areas – and woven throughout the Mansion is ‘Ode to Mother Christmas,’ a poem composed by Dahl in 1988 for Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Visitors can also enjoy the Roald Dahl Biography and front covers from around the world displays in the exhibition room, live festive music and family activities. Tatton staff inspired by Roald Dahl’s Mother Christmas will be on hand to give out treats and delicacies including a festive treat for all to try.

Tatton is working with three different design agencies, Springbank, Joseph Massie and Flyby to create this magical transformation.

Carolyn Latham, Tatton Park Mansion and Collections Manager, says: “We’re so very excited about this year’s Christmas attraction. The Roald Dahl theme has given us so much to explore and we were spoilt for choice when it came to selecting the scenes.

“From the Mr Fox family seated around a table enjoying the Christmas feast to an oversized BFG wearing a Christmas hat and slippers (which visitors can walk underneath), it will be an adventure of discovery with plenty of surprises around the corner.”

The Christmas Mansion will be open from 11am until 4pm (last entry 3pm) on the following dates:
Monday 21 November – Sunday 4 December
Friday 9 – Sunday 11 December
Friday 16 – Sunday 18 December

Tickets for the Christmas are priced at £9.50 for adults and £5.50 for children (exclusive of car entry, priced at £6). Price also applies to NT members.
For more information visit, www.tattonpark.org.uk/Christmas

More Festive Fun at Tatton Park

In addition to Roald Dahl’s Gloriumptious Mansion, there are lots of other festive goings-on for all the family at Tatton Park:

Lantern Parade

On Friday 25 November a charming lantern parade will make its way through the park to welcome Father Christmas as he arrives at Tatton Park with his elves. Visitors can buy a lovely lantern on the night or bring their own, to guide Father Christmas, his reindeer and sleigh. The shops and restaurants will be open to guests and children can post their Christmas lists in a special post box. Free car entry after 5pm. Lantern Parade at 6.30pm

Father Christmas at the Farm

Father Christmas and his reindeer will be spending weekends down at the Farm with all his farmyard friends. You will get chance to meet two of his real reindeers Prancer and Dancer who are in training ready for the big night on Christmas Eve. There is a real nativity with resident donkeys Frosty and Huw, live music and Christmas storytelling each day. There is also Aunty Mary by the fireside in the cottage making salt dough decorations for you to take home. There will be children’s entertainers, face painting and not forgetting the hugely popular Reindeer trail, so join us for all the festive fun on the Farm.
All children will receive a gift from Santa to take home.
Father Christmas at the farm is open from 11am until 4pm ( last entry 3pm) on Nov 26 & 27, Dec, 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 & 18. Adult and child tickets £6 (including your gift), car entry £6. Price also applies to NT members.

Stableyard Carols

The festive Stableyard will be welcoming Kind Edward’s Musical Society and Choir on Sunday 18 December at 3pm. Guests are invited to sing their favourite carols with friends and family and enjoy warming winter treats in the restaurant.

Christmas Shopping Weekend

For those in search of a Christmas market, a wide range of artisan suppliers offering special gifts, stocking fillers and festive essentials, will be onsite on Friday 25 November (11.30am until 6pm), Saturday 26, and Sunday 27 November (10am until 4pm). Free admission in the Tenant’s Hall.

Christmas Dining

The Stables restaurant and the Gardener’s Cottage will be calling in the best locally sourced ingredients, including products reared at Tatton Park, to bring a fine selection of homemade festive food and drink. Pre-booking is recommended and can be done via gardenerscottage@cheshireeast.gov.uk.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Terms and conditions:

The prize is one family ticket admission to Tatton Park including admission to the mansion, farm and gardens. The ticket covers two adults and up to three children. There is no cash alternative.

Belles Tea Party Cart

This week we were kindly sent a new toy for the boys to test. For those of you who have read my posts before you’ll know I don’t believe in gender specific toys. Belles tea party cart could potentially fall into the toys for girls category but I think my boys have proved that to be wrong!

belles tea cart

This summer we were very lucky to spend time at Walt Disney World. In the run up to our holiday we watched lots of family Disney films. Since Flixster has been little he’s had the nickname chip (given to him by the nursery ladies who said he was cute!) They have never seen his menacing side he he! But he knows who chip is, and he knows the famous song from Beauty and the Beast – Be Our Guest. We were also lucky enough to eat in the beasts castle dining room whilst we were away. So the boys are very familiar with Belle, Mrs Potts and Chip.

Belle Tea Party Cart

The Toy – A Tour

The cart comes boxed and not built however it is really easy to put together, you don’t need any tools, it simply clicks into place. If this is to be a Christmas gift it might be worth setting up first then wrapping as there are some cable ties that need cutting in the package and I know how frustrating it can be on Christmas day to be doing these. In addition to the trolley, Belles Tea Party Cart comes with two teacups (one of which is Chip) Mrs Potts ( the teapot), two spoons and an invitation.

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The teapot and teacups fit onto the inner pink circle on the top of the cart. Flixster was obsessed about putting the teapot, cups and spoon on the bottom level of the trolley. I have no idea why, but as you’ll see in most of the photos I took during play those items are on the bottom!

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Once we’d put it together the boys were away with it. Especially Flixster (who’s 2) he absolutely loved it. Most of all he loved that when you press the button on the front of the cart the teapot and teacups spin round whilst the ‘Be Our Guest Song’ plays. As a result of him discovering this we have heard it many many times since! I think the song being played whilst the teapot spins was his favourite feature of Belles Tea Cart. The cart comes with batteries already installed. Be sure to flick the switch underneath to play the full song not just the demo.

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Playtime

The tea cart was just the right height for him to push around the room and serve everyone tea. The detail on Belles Tea Party Cart is most noteworthy. The stickers which come already attached to the cart (thank goodness as I can never ever get them straight) picture the characters from Beauty and the Beast.

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Toy Test Verdict

We’ve had the cart a little over a week now and it’s been played with every day by Flixster. He absolutely loves it! I’d say this toy test was an absolute hit. I’ve enjoyed watching him use the cart and his imagination to serve tea many times over. He loved pretending to drink and serve everyone else.

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(See the teapot and cups underneath!)

 

He ever wanted to take chip to bed the other night, I’m not sure he’d make a good cuddle companion though!

Belles Tea Party Cart can be purchased from a variety of retailers in the UK and would make a fabulous gift for any Beauty and the Beast fan.

 

St Helens Pantomime – Wizard of Oz

Yesterday we were invited to the opening show of the St Helens Pantomime at Theatre Royal for half term. This year its ‘The Wizard of Oz’.

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The pantomime stars Cheryl Fergison (Eastenders) as the Wicked Witch of the West opposite Clair Simmo (Radio City 2) Glinda. The cast work very hard to bring the performance together cosequently the show is seamless as a result of everyones hard work.  This St Helens pantomime runs from October 22nd to October 30th and the tickets start from just £10, which is a great price for a few hours of family style entertainment.

I took my eldest and his lovely friend from next door they are 5 and 4 years old.

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The St Helens pantomime has all the elements any classic panto should do, booing and cheering, a black light section, corny jokes, a hilarious song. Finally a song where characters get taken away and of course a water blaster!

St helens pantomime

The boys were in stitches with laughter as a result of some of the slapstick comedy. All the characters were portrayed really well and Dorothy played by Charlotte Gallagher was excellent. We had a great time!

In conclusion if you’re looking for some good wholesome family fun this half term then head on down to St Helens and watch Wizard of Oz!

St Helens Pantomime this Christmas

However if you’re already busy this half term be sure to check out the Christmas Pantomime. Judging by previous years its going to be awesome. This Christmas its Aladdin with an all star cast staring the one and only Amy Childs (TOWIE) as Slave of the Ring. Harry Derbridge (TOWIE) will play the hilarious PC Noddle. It’s sure set to be a family event not to miss! Tickets are available to buy online or from the box office at the Theatre Royal St Helens.

 

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Homemade Burgers with the Num Noms

This weekend inspired by the new Num Noms series, we were sent the Brunch Bunch and the Diner set to inspire a little weekend cook up. Daddy didn’t need asking twice to get into the kitchen as he loves cooking and couldn’t wait to get started making home made burgers with the boy! It’s an easy thing to do yet tastes lovely and always a hit in our house. If you haven’t seen Num Noms before they are small food items made to play with that all come with their own smell. You can stack them up and create your own scents combining your favourites.

Ingredients

500g Quality minced beef

2 Garlic Cloves

Pinch of Salt and Pepper

Burger buns of your choosing (we like Brioche)

Salad for garnish – whatever you like, lettuce, tomato, pickles etc

Fried onions and mushrooms for topping

Sliced cheese to top the burger

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Method

Break up the mince in a large bowl and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Crush the garlic cloves and combine with the mince, making sure to stir it all round. With clean hands form the mince into rough burger shapes (we made 4) and then cook according to taste. Be sure to rewash hands after they are on the grill.

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num noms

We always use an electric grill for cooking meats as it’s the healthy choice because the fat can run off. So while they were cooking the boy helped with the toppings.

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Frying up the onions and mushroom topping

Once cooked add a slice of cheese to top the burger and leave on the grill for a further minute to melt. Then add your burger to a bun, top with the salad you like and enjoy! Easy peasy!

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The verdict?

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Yummy yummy! Or maybe we should say Nummy Nommy!

 

 

Googly Eyes – Game Review

Thanks to University Games for sending us a sample of their latest release Googly Eyes to test out this week! Here’s what we thought it –

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Googly eyes

 

The game is called Googly Eyes by University Games. Its a team game for 4 to 16 players who form up to four separate teams. As we had 4 players (2 adults and 2 children) we made two teams with a grown up on each.

The aim of the Googly Eyes game is to be the first team to get to the finish on the board, but the fun you have on the way is hilarious!

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Each turn involves one person on the team having to draw something and the team members guessing what it is correctly before the time is up. However its not a simple as drawing, you have to wear funny glasses with differing levels of hilarious distorting lenses according to difficulty. The harder the lenses is to see through the more time you have to draw the picture and the team to guess.

There are three different lenses to pop in the Googly eyes frames , easy, medium and hard.

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Game Summary

Things we loved about the game:

It was funny to play, and we did laugh…a lot!

I can see it being a hit in the Christmas season if you get a group of adults together who are enjoying the Christmas spirit (and a little mulled wine!)

It brought the teams together

There are lots and lots of different cards for variety so it’s unlikely in the course of a game or two you’ll ever get the same thing to draw again

It’s an easy game to understand you don’t have to keep referring back to the rules

The game says ages 7 and above but the 5 year olds had no trouble (if they like drawing that is) even if they can’t read the game card words (which ours could) then an adult could help them with that part

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In trying to write a balanced review the only thing I could think might be a slight negative is you have to keep changing the lenses in the glasses which can sometimes be tricky if they don’t click in first time then can fall out when you draw, once you’ve got the knack of it though its not so bad. Also sometimes the timer is incredibly short (15 seconds) so when we were playing with the young ones we allowed a little more time for them!

When I was in my 20’s pre-children and pre-mortgage I used to spend most weekend evenings out and about in Manchester. I loved it, theres so many different areas and vibes. However there was never anything like the night out I experienced on Friday! I can’t recommend it enough to make a change to your usual night out or with a group of friends, it really is fab!

Can you BREAKOUT…?


Breakout Manchester

If you’ve never heard of it before Breakout is an escape room. For those of you who remember the crystal maze, its like that but with your friends and for a whole hour!

When I was first asked to go and experience a breakout room and write about it I did wonder how I would write about it if we didn’t get out……

But now I know, even if you don’t get out they let you out….phewwwww

On arrival we made sure to get there 10 minutes before as we had been instructed to for our briefing! We were going in the room called Facility X!

The secretion goes a little bit like this:

You arrive at an unknown location for a once in a lifetime opportunity; a conference held by the critically acclaimed, Dr. Andrews. His work is widely known throughout the research circles, but he has remained hidden in the shadows for years. What you don’t know, is that Dr. Andrews has gone mad, creating a string of tests that have gone disastrously wrong. He has brought you here for his final experiment. You have one hour to escape his maze of tricks and games, before a deadly virus kills you all.

Right ok we thought, what could we be facing?

Breakout Manchester

If you thought that was a picture inside the room, sorry it’s not! This was just to entertain us while we waited for everyone to arrive!

The anticipation built and before long we were ready to go.

Breakout Manchester

We were told bits and pieces about the room, mainly that we can touch and explore everything unless it had a do not touch sticker on. This was for things that were not part of the game i.e. live plugs!

I am not here to spoil it for anyone who wants to play Facility X so sorry if you came looking for clues!

Each room has a clock which counts down the hour for you from being locked in (and don’t worry there is always an escape button if you need to leave so you can if you have to, but obviously thats cheating!) There is someone from the behind the scenes team always watching you via the cameras but they can’t hear you. Every so often if they think you need help they will pop up a cryptic clue on the screen.

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The room fits 5 so I took a snap of the team in action…sorry still no clues! But you can see we still had 30 minutes 44 seconds to go!

Breakout manchester

Do these look like happy faces?

Breakout manchester

Thats because they were happy faces that we escaped! With just 3 minutes to spare we actually cracked all the clues and escaped the room, we were on a massive high! We could not believe it! We did it! We will now call ourselves the A team!


Breakout Manchester

To celebrate our brain power we headed off for cocktails.

We had an amazing time at Breakout, it really surpassed my expectations as a night out! I’d love to give you some clues but it would spoil the fun. We all brought different strengths to the game, had a laugh working together to get out and were elated that we made it out before the hour (just!)

Breakout prices vary but the more players you have the less it costs per person. Breakout now have two sites in Manchester so be sure to check which one you are playing at after you have booked. You don’t want to arrive late and feel flustered thats for sure. Bring your brains and find a great team to go with. We are already planning out next night out there, to a different room of course! Check out Breakout Manchester for more information.

Thanks to Breakout Manchester for inviting us to try the room!

 

 

Bunny Jump – Game Review

This week we were excited to be asked to take the Bunny Jump game from University Games for a test hop!

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My boys love simple games and especially the eldest. As any mum of a 4 year old knows they often get enthusiastic about the thought of playing a game but by the time it’s set up and you’ve explained the rules they have lost interest and gone to do something else. This is a big pro for Bunny Jump, the set up time is seconds. Even the first time you open the box, theres no complicated instructions, nothing to put together, just straight out of the box and off you go.

The other great thing about Bunny Jump is that you don’t need batteries! Hurray no batteries to replace, no sifting around in the bottom of ‘that’ kitchen draw (everyone has one, full of random stuff) for a tiny little screwdriver to open the battery compartment! It seems so rare these days to have a toy that doesn’t need batteries or charging frequently so that for me is a great big thumbs up!

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The boy was very excited to be playing a new game, and its’ just so simple to play. The recommended age is 5 years old and upwards but I let both my boys play supervised by one of us and they are 4 and 2. There can be up to 4 players for each round.

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The aim of the game be the person with the most carrots in their basket. The game starts with all 12 carrots buried in the ground and bunny sat on the top of the hill. Each player takes it in turns to spin the spinner and remove the number of carrots shown, unless its a miss a turn!  Everyone takes it in turns to spin and do what the spinner says until the bunny jumps in the air! When bunny jumps everyone need to try and catch it, if anyone does catch it then that person gets two bonus carrots, those two carrots can make the difference between being the winner or not!

Now so far in all our games none of us have managed to catch the bunny, even my camera can’t capture it in action as proved here when I tried to catch the bunny jumping!

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So in order to try and show you I’ve had to mock up the next photograph!

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But that is about how high the bunny jumps, however when your not expecting it and you don’t know which way its going the reality of actually catching it is very different, especially for a 4 year old!

Overall we have loved playing Bunny Jump as it’s easy to set up quickly, requires no batteries and games are short which engages little minds, it’s something that can easily be put away to so a game or two before the school run is very do able! Thumbs up to Bunny Jump form us!

Bunny Jump is available to buy from lots of toys shops including Argos and Amazon.

 

 

Traditional boys toys consist of cars, construction and weapons. Walk down the aisles of the toy store and there will always be a sea of blue and a sea of pink. Where did these colours come from? Originally who decided that these will be boy and girl colours?

I’ve always been an advocate of gentle parenting, I try my best to use positive language around my boys, trying very hard to give them boundaries by talking them through things they can do rather than things they can’t. My boys are chalk and cheese with their personalities, the eldest is very emotional, gentle, a worrier. The youngest so far has seemed much more confident, nowhere near as risk averse, I’d go as far as to say he’s a bit of a risk taker. He’s never seemed to attach to anything toy wise until very recently when he’s started understanding the concept of ‘mine’. A new word in his vocabulary has meant that he’s been going to bed with a whole host of random house items that he considers to be his. Last night we had a bed full of items which we later (once he was asleep) sneak into remove, things that included a kitchen spatula, a book, a metal car and his toothbrush which was not leaving his tight little hand no matter what! And as I fancied an easy bedtime I thought the best course of action was to just go back later and retrieve them.

So when we were asked if we’d like to take part in ‘National Baby Day’ on May 2nd and give some more traditional girls toys a try I thought it might be something my youngest would love and I wasn’t wrong. I have never censored the toys they have to play with I’m not at all bothered if they don’t want to play with boys toys, two of the most played with items in our house is a pink tea set and the wooden kitchen. The tea set was the choice of my eldest when he was two years old, since then they have both enjoyed playing with it. This tea set was clearly aimed at the girl market with its vivid pink and purple cups, tea-pot, spoons and sugar bowl.

The other day we were excited to receive a ‘My Little Baby Born’ (Supersoft) and stroller by Zapf to test out which aren’t traditionally thought to be boys toys.

Along with ‘mine’ he also knows the word ‘open’. I hardly had chance to open the wrapping before he was pulling at the packaging to get the baby out. We set the stroller up very quickly in just one click and he was away!

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The doll itself is 32cm tall and is aimed at ages 1+
Baby born zapf

It comes with a dummy attached to a ribbon which is then attached to it’s outfit so that it can’t come off, and given the amount of tugging and pulling both the boys have done with it I can safely say it’s stuck on there! From the moment he wrapped his arms around the baby to give it a cuddle he hasn’t let it go. Baby has gone everywhere, in or out of the stroller.

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He’s not bothered that it’s pink, or that it’s aimed at girls, all he’s bothered about is that baby is with him all the time! Baby has even gone to bed tonight!

Now I know the stroller is only meant for dolls but when you walk out of the room and walk back in a few moments later to find the 2 year old sat in the stroller giving loving cuddles to the baby I couldn’t bear to tell him it was wrong!

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I want my boys to grow into caring adults, if they chose to have children are gentle parents, who are loving and kind, with patience and understanding. I don’t believe in the gender stereotypes and I hope I can teach them that they are free to choose anything in life that interests them and that they enjoy. The dude absolutely loves the doll and stroller from Zapf and I’m grateful for now that he’s enjoying something that he can call his own……..’mine!’

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Another sunny day, another walk with baby!

St Helens Theatre Royal – Peter Pan – Easter Pantomime

This afternoon we were invited down to see a fabulous performance of Peter Pan starring Ray Quinn at St Helens Theatre Royal, and what a treat we were in for!

Peter Pan Pantomime St Helens

The boy and I set off to the theatre full of anticipation for a family afternoon out and we weren’t disappointed the Easter pantomime was made up of all the elements any great pantomime should be! There was boo’ing at Captain Hook, singing along, shouts of ‘He’s behind you!’ and dancing in the aisles!

Peter Pan St Helens

Ray Quinn (X-factor and Dancing on Ice) is the star of the show with his great portrayal of the magical boy himself Peter Pan! Nobody is left disappointed by his flying high magical entrance! He stars along side Claire Simmo (Radio City) as Tinkerbell. Liam Mellor who plays Smee and wrote the pantomime had the audience in stitches with his jokes suitable for children and adults alike. The boy particularly enjoyed the visual slap stick comedy with Captain Hook, Mr and Mrs Smee.

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I’d not been to St Helens before but the theatre itself was really easy to find and there was lots of parking locally as it’s right in the town centre. What a fabulous Easter holidays trip out suitable for all the family! The show runs from now until Sunday 17th April and tickets can be purchased from St Helens Theatre box office or online at www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com

St Helens Theatre Royal

 

 

We were recently invited to spend a couple of nights away as a family courtesy of Travelodge. It couldn’t have come at a better time. With the stress of moving house we were all more than ready to take a break from the boxes piling up around us making us feel quite penned in. Our chosen city was Gateshead, neither of us had been before and after some research and some fabulous tips kindly given by Lindsay from NewcastleFamilyLife we made a plan, packed a bag and set off.  We left straight after school on the Friday evening, the journey was not to bad, with a stop at a lovely services for tea we had arrived by 7:30pm to check in.

Arriving at Travelodge

The hotel (Travelodge Gateshead) was very close to the giant metro centre and is easily reached by car. There was lots of available parking so we parked up and headed in.  Upon arrival I was a little nervous about our stay.The lobby was full of people who were already enjoying drinks and waiting for taxis, it was pretty noisy and I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so full of people who were heading for nights out, as it wasn’t in a city centre. Never the less the boy was super excited to be staying in a hotel so we went up to find our room. We had been given a room on the third floor at the very end of the corridor. This was good because it meant we wouldn’t have people banging past the room at all hours of the morning and waking up the children. The room itself was as expected, basic but lovely and clean. I’m not sure there’s anything that turns my stomach more than a dirty hotel room.

Travelodge

Travelodge – The room

The bathroom was sparkling as were the units, the floor was spotless and the beds looked cosy. I had requested a family room with a bed for the boy and a cot for Flixster. It was just perfect. The cot had even been put up and made, which doesn’t always happen when you request one at other hotels. The staff had also thoughtfully put down an extra layer on the cot base to make it soft. The boys got to work exploring every nook and cranny of the room, but we didn’t stay up long as it was already past their bedtime and we wanted to get out exploring in the morning without cranky children! But of course they were both excited to be somewhere new.

Travelodge

The report from the boy was that his bed was very cosy!

The boys settled quickly because they were tired, so hubby and I read in bed for a bit before hitting the sack ourselves (these 5am wake-ups get to you after a while!)

Flixster sleeps with white noise on so we had that running next to his cot, this thankfully masked most of the noise in the night-time. I heard a few banging doors and some shouting but not enough to wake the children, I’m just a light sleeper.

Exploring the North East – Angel of the North and Beamish

The next morning as usual the boys were up early and raring to go. The hotel had given us a printed sheet of information upon arrival so I knew that the breakfast options were a choice between two different types of breakfast box. As we had two mornings there we decided to try one each day. I left this mornings choice to the boy who accompanied me downstairs at 6am to pick up  4 of the ‘Good Morning’ boxes which we took back to the room.

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travelodge

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Can you tell they were watching television!

They had a rumblers pot (which was cornflakes and milk) a muffin, a nutri-grain bar, a bottle of orange juice, a packet of sugar (which I guess was for the cornflakes if required) and a mento. I thought the mento was a nice touch, especially if you’re in a rush and have already left the hotel, it’s nice to freshen your breath!  The boxes were a massive hit with the boys, the eldest loves packed lunches and so to him to start the day with one was a treat. I think he mainly likes the pick and mix choices. He can be put in charge of his own food choices which he loves!

Travelodge breakfast box

Can you tell they were watching television!?

Can you tell they were watching television!?

I love a full hotel buffet breakfast but with children this is almost impossible as someone at the table is always popping up and down to fetch things and you just don’t get to enjoy it. Plus as anyone with little ones will know as soon as they have finished they want to get down so these boxes were ideal for us. They could eat in the comfort of the room, get down to walk around whenever they wanted and we knew they were safe so we could enjoy ours. The only thing that was lacking for us as grown ups was a really nice coffee. A massive bonus would have been a real coffee machine in the lobby, however we made an instant and enjoyed that with our boxes.

Once we were finished we tidied up and headed out of the day, it was still early so we had lots of time. Our first stop Starbucks (which is super close to the travelodge and a drive thru!) for our coffee hit. Don’t judge us we are sleep deprived coffee loving parents! It also warmed us up as even just the walk to the car across the car park from the travelodge had proved to us it would be a bitterly cold day, it had lightly snowed over night so wooly hats, scarves and gloves it would be today!

Our second stop was the Angel of the North, something I’ve always wanted to see. I was not disappointed. It wasn’t far to the Angel and as we got there we discovered that there was some free parking close by which was handy for us. The ice was thick in the car park though so with steady step we made our way over to get close to her. Is ‘her’ the right way to describe the Angel of the North?

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The skies were bright blue as we arrived which made for some beautiful shots but just during the time we spent there (which wasn’t long due to the biting cold) the grey snow filled clouds quickly gathered which made half the photos look like another day completely. The moody sky came in so quickly! I was glad we’ve been though and seen it in real life. I couldn’t come all that way and not touch the angel to make a wish. I’m not sure if it’s what other people do but to me it seemed like the right thing to do at that time. So wish made we headed back to the car with numb hands and freezing faces!

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Our third and final stop for the day was a museum called Beamish, again it was really close by and its something that holds childhood memories for me.

IMG_1863I last went to Beamish when I was about 7 years old and I always remember it. We were on our first ever family holiday to a caravan on the North East coast, my parents took us. I loved it, I don’t remember much about it except remembering it was a great day out, so I was excited to return as an adult.

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We weren’t disappointed, I had read on the website before hand that there would be some festive activities going on. We got to meet Father Christmas which was the first time this year for the boys. I think the boys favourite thing was getting to feed the reindeer. Hubby enjoyed the coal fuelled beef dripping authentic fish and chips. Beamish is advertised as an outdoor museum which tells the story and recreates life in the North East in the 1820’s, 1900’s and 1940’s. It is set out as separate village areas of different era’s. There is transport around the various areas although if you take a buggy you will need to fold it up. As Flixster was pretty tired, getting him in and out of the buggy all the time wasn’t going to be great for him so one of us walked while the other got the transport (tram, bus etc) around the various areas. It is easy to walk around but the transport was a novelty which the boys loved.

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We went over to the 1900’s town first on recommendation of one of the drivers. We knew we wouldn’t see everything is one day so chose to just see a few things. The good thing was that the tickets we bought are valid for 1 year so we will be going back to explore the rest next year without a doubt.

I loved the town, I loved the festive touches.

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The brass band started playing carols in the park bandstand as we were there which was fabulous. I would have loved more time to explore the village but the boys weren’t for looking in detail like I wanted to so I just enjoyed what I did get to see.

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The stop for lunch as I already mentioned was a hit with everyone, everyone gobbled it down and it was a very popular stop with lots of visitors that day.

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The afternoon was spent exploring the mine area and going to find Father Christmas, I think this with the reindeer food was a massive hit with the boy. I thought he’d be shy once we arrived at the big man himself but he sat on my knee and confidently asked about how he knew we were moving – Father Christmas played along beautifully!

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That’s the cones of reindeer food in his hand, I love the excitement in his face and the apprehension in Flixsters, who you’ll note had taken off his socks and shoes as usual!

After a quick trip to the gift shop we were soon making our way back towards Travelodge to warm back up and get some rest. On the way back we decided to head to the Metro Centre for some tea since it was so close to the Travelodge and Travelodge Gateshead didn’t have any meal facilities. The great thing about Travelodge Gateshead is that it is so close to lots of restraints, not only is the metro centre within a few minutes drive there are also a couple of restraints within walking distance. As it had been my birthday on the Friday we went to Pizza Express to celebrate a day late. We know how family friendly Pizza Express is and once again we enjoyed a great meal with good service.

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A quick look around a few shops followed before getting back into the car to go back for bedtime.

Sunday morning was again an early rise for the boys (I’m very used to it) and this morning we tried the other breakfast box but this time we took it to the car to eat on the journey as moving day was now only 48 hours away and we had SO much to do.  I spoke with the lovely friendly lady on the desk as we checked out from Travelodge as she was asking how our stay had been, she explained as we were chatting that sometimes at the weekend the hotel can be a little louder but they try their very best to separate family groups from people who may be out for a good night out so that everyone is happy. It had certainly worked for us, being on the end had stopped a lot of traffic passing by our room. She said that during the week it tends to be contractors who stay and so for families with younger children a weekday stay is probably a better option. For us that’s not possible but despite this we had a good stay at Travelodge.

The way home took longer as part of our route was closed for routine work,  on one hand this was frustrating as our journey length was much increased, however the journey was beautiful and we took in some fantastic scenery in the lakes which were covered in snow. We even stopped at a tiny village to take in the scenery.

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When we got home, reality really bit, it was now only 36 hours to moving day and we had a lot to do, it was all hands to the pump. Well more like one of us had to coral the children whilst the other attempted to throw some things in a box! We will defiantly be returning to Gateshead and Beamish, we loved it and the two nights away was just what we needed!

For this post we were invited to stay at Travelodge Gateshead and explore the north west area.