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Since I became a mammy, I have tried to find lots of fun activities, days out, events and holidays for my family. I love being busy and visiting new places and I hope you will enjoy reading them. My blog is jam packed with reviews of places we have been, maybe I get help you with a little inspiration.  We are lucky enough to travel quite a bit so the blog features lots of places in the North East and beyond.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

A Super Adventure

Most of the parties that we have, usually involve princesses, today we went to a fabulous event organised by Hopscotch Entertainment and this time it was all about the superheroes.  I was really pleased to get the chance to take Luca to something to meet his heroes for a change and it did not disappoint.  About a week before the event, the children received their personal invitations through the post with details of their 'Superhero Squad Supreme Mission' on.  I thought this was a lovely touch and they both held their invites with pride as we queued up outside The Mem (Wallsend Memorial Hall).

'The Mem' is a beautiful old building dating back to 1928 and it was built as a memorial to the shipworkers who lost their lives in the First World War.  It's future had been in doubt for a while but I am so pleased to see that it has been renovated and is being used again by the people of Wallsend and surrounding areas.  My husband's mother used to go to dances there when she was a young girl, the ballroom is amazing.

We entered the ballroom and our names were ticked off the list, first task to complete was to make a Communicator. which was fun and really got the children into the mood.  Once everyone had arrived, Stephen took charge of the event and did an amazing job keeping all the kids interested and involved.  It was now time to meet the Superheroes and start the mission.

The first hero was Superman.  It was great to hear the children's excitement as he entered the room and took them on their first challenge which was to design their very own superhero and decide what powers he had. 

With that mission successfully completed, the children were given a superhero mask and it was time for the next challenge, Captain America.  His mission involved throwing shields at a target, fabulous, the children really enjoyed that and put lots of effort into it.

A firm favourite with both the kids and mammies was Batman, he was next with his challenge and that was a really fun obstacle course.  The three heroes provided the children with lots of help and encouragement and of course lots of hi-fives.

Next up was the obvious favourite, Spiderman, he leapt into the room and the kids shrieked with delight! There was even more enjoyment when they realised Spiderman was there to 're-fuel' them with their packed lunch!

Whilst the children were enjoying their food, all the heroes circulated the room stopping to talk to each child and make sure that any photographs that were wanted were taken.  Also, Stephen took this opportunity to come round to make sure all was ok and tell the children what was to happen next.  Unfortunately, Spiderman was called off on an emergency so had to dash off and it was then time for the 5th hero - Iron Man, again clearly a crowd favourite.

Iron Man's challenge was a superhero parade where the kids had to do the poses of each of the heroes, this was really funny as the children took it quite seriously and completely joined in.  The last hero to join the squad was Optimus Prime, he was pretty cool!

At the end of the event it was time for the presentation, the children had all joined the 'Superhero Squad' and were all given a certificate and medal along with a balloon and goody bag.

I was really impressed at how well it was ran and all the thought that had gone into the challenges and activities.  Bravo Hopscotch, a fantastic job and we are looking forward to the next mission.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Avast Me Hearties, a party with Captain Jack

A part of my repertoire is organising parties and events for my children and their friends, I absolutely love it.  It is hard work and can be quite stressful as my events are usually for about 50 kids, but the looks on their faces when they are enjoying themselves makes everything completely worth it.

My most recent party was a pirate party.  The last couple I have organised have involved princesses and I was starting to think that my little boy was missing out.  We went to Souter Lighthouse Pirate Day last year and there was a pirate there, Captain Jack to be exact, along with his trusty sidekick Will.  They were brilliant and really looked/acted the part so when I thought about putting a pirate party together, Captain Jack was top of my list.  

I chose a date in the summer holidays, I thought it would be a good way for the kids to all meet up as 6 weeks is a long time away from your friends when you are 5.  My favourite venue was available and so the plan swung into action.

The day arrived and we arrived at the venue to set up.  With the parties being for so many children, I tend to keep it fairly simple, I have learnt over the years that too many aspects and too much going on just complicates things and makes me too stressed!!  

Captain Jack and Will arrived complete with pirate games and following them, lots of fabulous little pirates all dressed up arrived.  They all looked wonderful and it was straight into the games.  

The games were fabulous, very imaginative but fairly simple too, due to the childrens age Jack kept the games easy to understand.  They played corners using different pirate flags, that was great fun.  Also played pass the banana which was a great game, hilarious.  Limbo time! the children absolutely loved this and were great sports, I really enjoyed watching them try to limbo and coming up with all sorts of ingenious ways to do it.  

Following limbo dancing, it was time for balloon sword fighting

Then it was time to get the parents involved! Some very sporting parents (including me) were nominated by their giggling offspring to join in and take the challenge, some got wet, some didn't, all in all it was wonderful!

Before the photo opportunities, Captain Jack got the children to take part in one more thing, shout like a pirate.  Again the kids took part with great gusto and massive smiles on their faces.

If you are thinking of having a pirate party and need a party, Captain Jack is your man.  He can tailor the games to suit and will adapt to whatever you need.  I highly recommend him.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

A Vintage Mermaid Party

For those of you that know us, you may have noticed a slight princess obsession with my 5 year old daughter Eva. Thanks to the unbelievable Emma Enchanted we have been lucky enough to meet most of Eva's beloved princesses (check her out if you have a little girl, no-one can be bettered in my opinion).



Imagine my delight, when I entered a competition to win a princess party and Eva won! We were over the moon, we won a party for 15 children to be held in June.  She could choose her princess and the one that had eluded us so far was The Mermaid Princess, so that was who she chose.  Now onto the search to find a venue, my house is not big enough for 15 excitable princesses plus a Mermaid!  I checked a few venues but I wanted somewhere special, somewhere a bit different.  I had been to The Vintage Powder Room before and it is beautiful so I contacted Lou to see if it would be possible.  She was amazing and offered me a great deal and even agreed to close the Tea Room to the public so we could have full use.  Again, I used the wonderful Lila's Party for my decorations and place cards and she provided a bespoke service and produced the most beautiful things for me.

The day of the party dawned and we arrived at the tea room to find it all beautifully set up and even got a hand off Michael with my decorations.  They also did not mind me strategically re-arranging their entire room so the princesses could dance.  Michael and Lou could not be more friendly and accommodating, they have a great array of party packages for young and old alike and they also have an amazing beautician who can do vintage style make-overs, that is next on my list.

Our beautful Mermaid Princess arrived and the children were in awe.  They sang and danced together, enjoyed a story and had a fabulous time.  Of course there was the obligatory photo shoot with each princess getting their turn.

After our Mermaid left, it was time for tea, Lou had provided the most delicious spread for the girls complete with pink lemonade in champagne glasses.  It went down very well and the girls loved being 'grown up'.

We had the most lovely time at The Vintage Tea Rooms and with the lovely Emma Enchanted, a little girls perfect day, thank you to all of you

Tea with Peter Rabbit

I love Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit - and I love the Lake District, so when I saw that The World of Beatrix Potter offer Tea Parties with Peter, I jumped at the chance and booked it.  We took Eva to Beatrix Potter World when she was tiny, she was enthralled by the beautiful characters and it was lovely to see her running about the attraction and enjoying herself.  

We decided to do this trip in a day so did not book any accommodation this time, it is about 2 hours or so to get there from Killingworth so very manageable.  By pure luck, we managed to get a parking space in the car park right next to the attraction, good timing for once.  Our tea party was at 12 noon and the queue inside was horrendous.  Luckily, as we had pre-booked, we were able to skip the wait and go straight into the party.  The most adorable Peter Rabbit was waiting to greet us upon arrival, I instantly fell in love! He gave all the children cuddles and high fives and posed for photographs.

Then it was to our table, we were on Mrs Tiggy-Winkle (my favourite) and we found it all set up with our name card.  On the children's places there was a little wrapped gift, a sticker and a balloon tied to the chair.  Lovely touches that I wasn't expecting.  The gift was the Peter Rabbit book which was wonderful, the children were really pleased.  There was also Peter Rabbit ears to colour in and coloured pencils provided.

The food was gorgeous, plenty of sandwiches in ham, cheese and tuna, home-made sausage rolls, bowls of crisps, cheese and pineapple and grapes, fairy-cakes topped with a strawberry and delicious scones filled with strawberry jam. Unlimited juice, tea and water was provided.   Even between the four of us we could not manage everything, I did manage the scones however.

Beatrix Potter herself wandered around the tables meeting the children and chatting, quite an honour to meet such a legend!  She invited the children to listen to a story once we had finished our tea and we did just that.

Storytime was excellent, Beatrix was fabulous and there was lots of interaction with the children, a gorgeous rabbit puppet, lots of singing and throughout the story of Peter Rabbit, the children were asked to  join in with questions and lots of actions.  The adults were not forgotten, Ms Potter was fantastic.  At the end of the story, the star of the show came back for more cuddles and more photographs, I even got a cuddle and Daddy a few high-fives!

After the party had finished, we were then invited to go through into the museum, again by-passing the queue and were able to amble round at our own pace.  All of the characters from the stories are here and there are interactive computer screens dotted about giving more information on the animals and how their stories came about.

My, how she has grown

There is also an outdoor space, Mr McGregors' garden which is filled with lots of fruit and vegetables and they use the produce in their tea room.  An activity booklet is provided filled with lots of things for the children to spot and complete as they go round the museum.

The lovely garden

The gift shop at the end is fabulous and has all manner of things Peter Rabbit and friends related, my kids chose a talking Peter Rabbit and a talking Lily Bobtail, reasonably priced too, no dearer than say that of Fenwicks.

We had a fantastic time at the tea party and in the museum.  It is a wonderful idea and really accentuates your visit.  The tea party itself is 2 hours long and then time in the attraction is at your leisure.  Unfortunately the tea parties for 2014 are now all sold out, keep an eye on their page for 2015 dates and grab one if you can.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

A Day Out with Thomas at Kirklees

This weekend's fun involved a trip to Yorkshire and a really useful engine.  I saw an advert on TV months ago for A Day Out with Thomas and I thought it would be something both my children, especially my son, would really enjoy.  So the research began, they have various venues up and down the country, so I checked which dates would be best suited and read up.  I finally decided that Kirklees Light Railway, which is just outside of Huddersfield, about an hour and a half drive from us, perfect. We took along our good friends and godchildren for company.  As usual, we stayed in a Premier Inn, this time just outside of Wakefield and got a family room for £29!  The hotel was less than 10 minutes from the railway and straight off the M1.

We had booked onto the 11:30 train so headed off and arrived about 11am.  Kirklees is lovely, upon approach I was instantly impressed.  There was a large train carriage on our left which is where children's parties are held, I think it would be an amazing place for a party.  Inside the train carriage was facepainting and just outside, the three most adorable donkeys waiting to provide rides for the children.

Now onto our train ride.  We went through onto the platform, it is a gorgeous little place complete with a ticket office and lovely cafe area.  The Fat Controller (or Sir Topham Hatt as he is known these days) was on hand to help people out and to wave the train off on its journey.  The Thomas the Tank Engine songs were played into the carriages and our train, which according to the children was Hiro. I am none the wiser!

The train travels from Clayton West along to Shelley which is approximately 20 minutes and the scenery is beautiful, we even travelled through a long dark tunnel complete with whistle which the kids loved!  At Shelley station there is a large picnic area if you wanted to bring  your own food.  There is a nice tearoom with very reasonable prices and as part of the Thomas event, there was a gorgeous smelling barbecue selling burgers and hot dogs.  There was Toby truck here and we went for a ride up and down the platform.  We spent some time getting tattoos and colouring in various Thomas pictures, dressing up and playing with the wooden train sets.  After a run about on the train themed playground, it was time to head back to Clayton West.  The trains depart every 30 minutes and were exactly on time.  

Back at Clayton West there was masses to do, first port of call was the face painting.   There was a bit of a queue but there were three extremely talented ladies painting so it did not take too long to go down.  The facepainters were brilliant and even accommodated Luca's request for Hiro on his face!


We had a bite to eat in the cafe, again was reasonably priced, a lunchbox for the children which contained a sandwich, crisps, a drink and a piece of fruit was £3.  The Fat Controller came into rally the troops as poor Thomas had lost his whistle and out onto the platform to rescue him we did go.  Sir Topham Hatt (I will give him his full title) was really fun, exactly as you would expect him to be and made us all laugh.  We sorted out Thomas' whistle and then the children helped to fill his engine with buckets of water.  These little touches really added to the experience and I thought they were excellent.

Once we had filled up Thomas' engine, we went along to see Sir Topham Hatt for a photo opportunity, the children were also presented with certificates for attending and Sir Hatt signed them, again a really lovely touch.

More donkey rides followed, they were beautiful and so patient and gentle, as was their handler, my two had two rides and would have stayed for more if I had let them!  A quick visit to the gift shop and a quick bounce on the bouncy castle and it was time to leave.

Absolutely brilliant day at Kirklees, very well run, lots of activities to keep the children amused and it was not too busy which gave plenty of time to enjoy everything.  I noticed they have a lot of themed days, including Santa trains which I would love to try one Christmas.  They even have Driver Experience Courses where you can learn to drive a steam train.  Everyone at Kirklees provided a fabulous service, they were great with the children and the driver of Thomas even showed the children how he works by shovelling the coal into the fire.  I highly recommend a Day Out with Thomas and I highly recommend Kirklees Light Railway, we will be back to try another event.