So before I lose my littlest dude to full time school (big sad face here) we are determined to make the most of our summer together. It has been gorgeous this week to get out in the sunshine and this weather is perfect for me as it is not too hot. Whilst I love sunny weather, I hate the heat.
What I thought I would do is put together a little guide to our favourite parks. It is our plan to visit as many as we can over the next few months, weather permitting of course.
Or to give it its formal title, Richardson Dees Park. This is our favourite park, it is wonderful and it has been the centre of a massive regeneration, which was very much needed. There has been millions spent on it and the results are astonishing. There is a fabulous play park with all sorts of play equipment for children of all ages, we have spent many happy hours here over the last couple of years. There is a little lake with ducks to walk around, a beautiful restored Victorian bandstand (the centre for some wondeful storytelling sessions we have attended) and if you go to the Verandah Cafe, there are a couple of little guides you can pick up free of charge. One is a Plant Hunter which takes you through the Wallsend Hall Grounds across the road, exploring the plants. Upon completion of your findings you will receive a reward from the cafe.
The other is a little storybook telling you all you need to know about the parks Ginkgo Trolls which are wooden sculptures carved into trees at various points.
There are tons of activities on at the park during the whole year, I am sure you will find something your family will enjoy,
Springfield Park, Forest Hall
This park is on our doorstep and again is a place we have visited many times. The play park is usually quite quiet and is again perfect for my kids (aged 3 and 6). Again, lots of lovely space around it to have a run about or kick a football. There are also tennis courts here. The council put on many events here through the year, a lot of them free. At Christmas, Luca and I attended a really nice session which involved decorating the trees in the park for Christmas. We dressed them in sparkling tinsel and baubles and the result was really sweet. The warden running the session (I think he was called Alan) was fabulous with the kids and we will return again this year.
The Rising Sun, Wallsend
Probably a place many of you have been too, the actual play park itself is a little too big for my kids but I love it for having a nature walk and exploring the wildlife around there. The cafe does some delicious cakes also! Try and check out the annual Teddy Bears Picnic that they have on in August. It is a fabulous day and it is definitely a big crowd pleaser. They have events such as den building, camp fire cooking and lots and lots of bike sessions. These events tend to be for slightly older children and as I haven't been to any of them yet I am unable to comment. I have had friends review their Christmas activities and they have always been given top ten marks. The details of all future events can be found on the North Tyneside parks Facebook page.
Northumberland Park, North Shields/Tynemouth
Yesterday we visited this park for the very first time. It is another park which is being regenerated and again, what a cracking job is being made of it. It has recently only re-opened in February and is a wonderful park. There appears still to be work to be done, the play area looks like it will be worked on soon but it is a nice area still. The grounds are lovely, there is again a lake with ducks in, always a plus for toddlers to watch! It is a really pretty place, it was lovely and quiet and we had a really nice walk about. There is a pavilion/cafe there but not sure it is open yet as it was closed when we were there. It reminded me of Peasholm Park in Scarborough for some reason.
Saltwell Park, Gateshead
Another firm favourite. 55 acres to explore which is just aswell seeing as over 2 million of us visit this place every year. It has a large lake with boats you can hire if your feeling energetic, or if you are lucky to visit on a warm day, plenty of secluded places you can find for a snooze. There is even a designated dog area for doggies to run free! Saltwell Towers is magnificent and houses a visitor centre and cafe, although to be perfectly honest, I find the food pricey here. A great excuse for a picnic as you could easily spend all day here, getting lost in the maze, wandering around The Rose Garden or checking out Pets Corner. Of course they have a play park, I like this one as it is split into two areas for smaller children and the older children which is nice as it means kids of all ages don't need to worry about the smaller/bigger kids. Every winter the Enchanted Parks event sells out, we have yet to catch it, determined to this year! The park is transformed into a magical wonderland after dark.
Ridley Park, Blyth
Nearly there with my round up! I hadn't realised how many parks there were to write about until I started! Ridley Park is smashing, not too far away from the lovely Blyth Beach and it is not too big a park. It has the added advantage of a really cool water feature in the summer months but check in advance if it is on if you plan to visit for it... just in case.
The play area is again split into two halves for the younger kids and the older ones, I think this is a brilliant idea. A fairly recent addition is Mister Ridleys which is a vintage style cafe set in the heart of the park. We have yet to visit under its new ownership but so far, have only heard good reports. It is on the list for a sunny day!
Last but not least is.....
Carlisle Park, Morpeth
This is a multi award winning park and is picturesquely set on the banks of the River Wansbeck which is useful as you can hire a boat and sail to your hearts content! There is the formal William Turner garden as well as the obligatory play park which is actually really good. The only downside to this park is that it gets incredibly busy. My advice is to get there early for a few hours before the hoards ascend! The main selling point of this part (to a child anyway) is the paddling pool which is open in the summer months. Don't forget your swimsuits and towels as there is no way you will be able to keep the kids out! Try to have a leisurely stroll away from the park along the river, Morpeth is a beautiful town and this is a good way to see a slice of it.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my not to little guide to some of the parks we are lucky to have surrounding us and this is just the tip of the iceberg. I would love to hear your favourite parks and your recommendations.