Eating out with kids in Newcastle

Very excited to have a guest post up over on the Tots100 site about Eating Out with Kids in Newcastle

Eating Out with Kids in Newcastle

Eating out with kids in Newcastle

BEST FOR PASTA

Serving up great Sardinian pasta with amazing customer service Panis Cafe is our gold standard venue for family food in Newcastle. The welcoming staff genuinely love kids, my two year old daughter Joss always gets a great reception and last time we popped in they remembered her order! The decor is a really interesting one for children too, a bit like a cave with decorative mouldings and lighting – it’s a real talking point! (We recommend trying the Malloreddus cun Sartizzu, coloured pasta with Italian sausage in a tasty tomato and garlic sauce. It’s a great one for kids to dig into, full of flavour and the bright pasta colours add an unusual twist.) Service is swift, ideal if you’re dining with little ones.

Best for kids’ activities

For a really special dining experience As You Like It offers a weekly Kids Club with characters and storytelling every Saturday and Sunday between 12 – 4pm. Pirates and princesses abound and the kids’ menu is pretty special too: £6.95 for starter, main, dessert and a drink. The small person’s Sunday roast is a hit here and the portion sizes are spot on. This is a great venue for a kids’ birthday party or for a special treat after a day out.

Best for a buzzing atmosphere

If you’re looking to add a bit of zing to your children’s palates head to Zapatista Burrito Bar. The food here is fast, healthy and tasty – and it’s served in a buzzing environment. Portions are big so we often share a burrito but there’s a good kids range too. It can get really busy here so, if the weather’s good, we sometimes head back out to sit on the grass outside Newcastle’s Civic Centre as the takeaway service is brilliant. The sweet shredded pork is to die for and if you’re feeling brave and not sharing with a tot try the chipotle sauce – smoking hot!

Best for culture

Newcastle’s museums are brilliantly varied, educational and child-friendly. Our favourite is the Hancock (also known as the Great North Museum). Once you’ve explored the natural science, archaeological and cultural exhibits head downstairs to the Street Cafe. This is somewhere we often stop for a simple sandwich lunch before heading back out to play on days where I’ve not managed to make a packed lunch.

BEST FOR ICE-CREAM

Who doesn’t love an ice-cream? If we fancy a treat we often head to one of the three Mark Toney venues in town. If staying for lunch you can get a child-sized portion of any adult meal and the home cooking is good too. But the real reason we pop in is for the phenomenal ices! The ice-cream parlour decor adds to the traditional feel, the knickerbocker glory is a big hit with us.

Best for a brilliant cuppa

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay and play whilst you have a good brew The Basement Coffee House is a hidden secret in the centre of town. Huge squishy sofas, a fab selection of drinks, paninis, bakes and snacks and a smashing playroom at the back for tots – this is a great place to meet with friends and chill out. The service could not be friendlier and, as the coffee shop belongs to Cornerstone Church which runs a lot of youth activities, it’s also project that does a lot of good too.

Best for cake

Afternoon tea in the city centre is a fave of ours and Tea on the Green is the place to come for mouth-watering cakes, tasty sandwich combos and a truly great cuppa (the scones are amazing too!). A family-run and welcoming gem in the city, the vintage china is pretty special and adds to the experience – as does the loose leaf tea.

Best for quality ingredients

Finally, Bill Quay Farm Cafe over the river in Gateshead deserves a special mention. The Farm was recently voted top North East outdoor play venue and the cafe does a cracking range of local food, varied specials and home baking. Our favourites are the soups and curries, like this World Cup Special – so good they don’t last long! If you’re lucky, you can pick up some fresh farm eggs or some Bill Quay sausages to cook at home too!

8 tips for life as a no car family with kids

Can you really do family life as a no car household? We live life as a no car family and get by just fine, but there are some things to think about and some things I wish I’d known about along the way to starting our family.

Here’s our lowdown to life as a no car family with kid!

8 tips for life as a no car family

1) Choose the right pram or buggy / pushchair for public transport

We chose our Silvercross Surf because it’s really nippy for public transport, with narrow back wheels and great all terrain turning it was a must for us, a pram needs to fit into tight spaces on buses and metros when you’re a car free family and ours is a breeze to push, I do a lot of walking so a nice easy steer is essential. The suspension allows for greater volumes of ‘stuff’ to be carried too. Downside? Really small space underneath for shopping, see solution in tip three!

2) Good coats and shoes are vital

Toddlers walk reallllly slowly! Consequently the whole family really needs decent coats and shoes, you can’t dash about with a toddler so you need to be well prepared for the weather, my toddler loves the rain, me, not so much, so I need a good raincoat to keep me dry so I don’t get as bothered by the downpour!

3) Make shopping easier with better storage

I invested in a great pram friendly shopping net that lets me use all thes space under the pram saving me having to shop daily, it’s not always easy to get it home but this way I can carry more than I’d manage just under the pram and it spreads the weight to avoid a dangerous shopping bag buggy tip that we’ve all seen happen and fretted over.

4) Plan ahead

So you can’t just nip to the shops for an extra pack of nappies/wipes/food whatever… When you can’t get out as easily as you might if you had a car you do need to plan ahead a little but it’s not a big deal if you get in the habit of list making and thinking ahead.

5) Make the most of gym-free exercise

No really, getting out and about in the fresh air without the luxury of a car is great exercise!

6) Relax your schedule

You just can’t do as much when you can’t hop here and there by car, but it’s actually quite nice to enjoy life at a toddler pace. So Joss and I only manage to get out for one activity each day? So what? She likes to nap at home in the afternoons and I like to cook, everyone wins and there’s none of that rushing about. I won’t lie and say some days we do miss out on things, another toddler group, softplay or we can’t ‘pop’ to the shops or swimming pool, but it’s all she’s ever known and she loves public transport!

7) Take a break mama/dada

I only learned this recently, yes you want to get the 2pm bus home and you’re tired but don’t rush about. I have learned to take the time to stop for a break before we head back, it’s not light work pushing a pram the 20 minutes home so Joss and I often stop to enjoy a drink or a sit down on a bench somewhere to just catch our breath before we head off again, lesson learned, I’ve got the energy to chase her about when we get home instead of flopping down knackered!

8) Consider carrying them

And finally, you could do worse than consider a sling as a public transport using / walk everywhere parent! Our baby carrier is so well used and has grown with her, it’s invaluable for days out without a car!

What about you? Do you have a car? Do you sometimes leave it home to enjoy a ride on the bus or train, or to walk? What are your tips?

Working away from your family

Home life

Being a parent working away from your family is really tough but you can get through it. This mumslist is brought from Sunningdale Park where I spent three days with work this week.

Sunningdale Park is an ex-civil service college, it’s stunning, has really well established trees, bunnies on the lawn, a gorgeous lake, but it’s missing something; my family!

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Here’s my five tips for working away from your family:

1) Take them with you!

Consider whether you could take your family with you/have them visit – Hannah from Mumsdays travelled to Brighton with her husband and son recently so they could spend their free time outside of work together, this is a great idea if it can work practically for you

2) Quality time

If you have to leave them behind give yourself some quality family time before you go, Joss and I took a trip to our favourite museum and shared some really special reading and cuddle time before I went, and Daddy and I took some time to have a date night too, it meant I felt ready to go

3) Dump the guilt

I had to go on this trip, it was a big annual awayday and all staff have to attend, feeling guilty about going doesn’t help anyone and doesn’t make leaving easier, remember you’re paid to do it and plan in more of that quality family time for your return

4) Think team

Try to make life easier for those who are at home, they’ll thank you for it! I try to get ahead of the washing and get a decent shop in so that it makes life easier for my woring husband, he could have done this himself, sure, but we work better as a partnership and I wanted to leave him a step ahead so they could enjoy their quality time together on evenings after work, and so he could rest up a bit more when bedtimes arrived

5) Try to enjoy it and share your experiences

I don’t want to be the parent who brings something back from trips to make up for being away, instead I want to share my experiences with them and so I do try to enjoy a bit of downtime when I’m away, it’s something I do maybe three times a year but that still feels like a lot when you have a toddler at home that you really miss. Last time I travelled to London I took Joss’ favourite (OK not favourite, that would be silly!) toy with me and photographed him in and around the Big Smoke!

I can’t say it gets any easier to say goodbye but the return I got last night was so warm and welcoming that I appreciated my little family all the more!

What about you – Do you work away? Does your partner? How do you get by?

Blog life and Inspiration

Quiet times as work busied up this week, but I’m getting back on it with a great post about my trip to Liberty of London, fabric love coming up soon! Here’s some inspiration in the meantime!

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(Source: Liberty London’s Facebook page)

Mums' Days

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I dream in citrine, where blog props find new homes

This weeks Mumslist comes to you from Etsy, namely my new store!

Real Life

OK, there’s not much on there yet but I finally set up an Etsy store. I Dream in Citrine does two things, it allows me to feel better about the vintage treasures I’ve accumulated over the years and it helps me move them on to new owners as blog photo props, now I just need to put some time into stocking it!

I dream in citrine

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/idreamincitrine

Blog life

I’ve had to accept that between now and September I can’t blog daily, and I’m OK with that. I’m hitting a critical point in my working year and that can take over into home life if I’m not careful, so I need to free up a bit of diary space to see friends and arrange playdates and may need to use the odd spare hour for reading instead of blogging. Popular posts continue to be my crafty ones, including these washi tape ones

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Inspiration

I’m browsing/reading the Calm Things blog at the moment; I’m in a busy place so I need calming influences in my life!

Mums' Days

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Toddler Octopus Craft and Fuschia Flowers in an Octopus’ Garden

Joss and I took out crafting outdoors with a playdate this week, she and a friend made handprints which we cut out and made into fish with buttons for eyes, with some tissue paper and card (and washi tape, standard) we made an octopus for each of them.

under the sea toddler craft

While they were busy with toddler octopus craft I snapped a few of my yarden favourites, vibrant fuschias.

fuschia flowers fuschia flowers

toddler octopus

Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?

Fresh Lemon Balm Tea Recipe

Fresh lemon balm tea recipe

My fresh lemon balm tea recipe was a happy accident in the end, in the beginning it was a very very strange accident.

We bought a huge bunch of herb seeds in May and Joss and I planted them up. One pot ‘Melissa Officinalis’ did nothing at all. We planted everything outside and forgot about it, until a few weeks ago when Daddy declared that a patch of mint had now sprouted.

Ah, that must be the melissa I said (what do I know about plants?!) and so we enjoyed a rather odd mint sauce with our potatoes.

I was starving so didn’t mention the odd taste.

It’s not mint. Melissa Officinalis is lemon balm, hence our lemon sauce with our potatoes, not tasty.

What is rather tasty is this tea, and it’s lovely lemon scent makes it a really relaxing and refreshing summer drink, lovely enjoyed cool with ice too. Part of the mint family it’s also good for the digestive system, and is anti-viral so if you’re under the weather could give you a nice pick me up, and lets face it, tea is always a tonic!
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Taking Baby for their First Haircut and Other Adventures

Real life

What a change in the weather, back to grey skies and rain but it’s been a lovely week nevertheless. Last weekend started with a child-free day to myself, a rare treat and time for a haircut and spot of shopping. The weekend saw the arrival of mr sunshine and the building of a garden bench, then we had a lovely Tuesday seeing Hannah and Reuben from Mumsdays in the morning and a first haircut for Jossy too.

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At the Hancock

I was delighted to be handed her first curl for our tots memory book, it completes her book and though I feel sad that we’re drawing a close on the ‘baby’ months this little girl is a joy to be around!

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The hairdresser was brilliant with Joss, I recommend going somewhere you go yourself, I love our stylists at my local salon, friendly and bubbly they really put Joss at ease, they asked her about her day and talked to her like she was a grown up which she loves, then when she was relaxed she had a quick trim to get her used to the experience, there were no tears, no need for distractions and a lot of smiles!

Blog life

In blogland I had a really popular post on making a summer garland this week, if you’d like to make one yourself details are here!

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Inspiration

I also lost a few hours this week on a bit of a bloggy jaunt which started with this beautiful book, following some of the blogs it mentions somehow led me to find the blog Junkaholique for which I am very grateful, what a treasure-trove of inspiration and loveliness!

homemade

Mums' Days

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Cake Angels Ice Cream Cone Cupcake Review

Goodies

The lovely folk at Cake Angels sent us an exciting parcel this week, look at all those sprinkles, a cake lovers dream! Ice cream cone cupcake anyone? I was intrigued!

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How to

These cupcakes were so simple to make, just add water to the mix, fill the ice cream cones, and bake for 20 minutes. When they came out we let them cool, topped them with butter icing using the icing sugar from the pack, and then the fun part, decorations!

Sprinkles everywhere and a sticky child who really loved the vibrant colours! A stroke of luck that we had icecream themed cups from Polarn O Pyret’s party pack!

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The proof is in the tasting of course, the cakes were light and airy and the chocolate flavour came through well, Joss loves icecream cones so that they stayed crispy was a big plus for her, and they were so simple for us to make together that I’d definately pick up another pack for a fun afternoon together!

What do you think?

Good enough to eat?

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Thanks Cake Angels, we really enjoyed our treat!

Disclaimer: I received these goodies for the purposes of review, all views are my own.

Family Fever

Natural Cleaning Products Part One

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There are some eco-brands that I use for home cleaning, but as it’s the season of spring cleaning I thought I’d share some eco-ideas that have multi-uses and reduce the need for lots of different products using lots of packaging. This is a mini series so part one covers vinegar, lemon, bicarb and salt and part two will be back with borax and more!

Natural Cleaning

Vinegar – cuts through grease and limescale

Fill your kettle with a cup of distilled white vinegar and leave overnight to tackle limescale, rinse thoroughly the next day.

A mix of equal quantities of white vinegar and water make an effective floor cleaner

You can clean your windows with white vinegar and rub dry with a newspaper scrunched up to get rid of any marks

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Lemons are your friend!

They give a really fresh smell when you integrate them into your cleaning regime

When we moved in to our flat the taps were limescaley and nothing shifted it, I cut a lemon in two and jammed each half over the end of the tap and left for two hours, when I came back the scale just rubbed away!

Lemon juice cleans stains from cutting boards rub the juice full strength onto the stain and let sit until the stain fades, then rinse and dry

You can clean hard water marks on glass shower doors with half a lemon

Bicarbonate of soda

Make a paste with a tablespoon of bicarb and water and pop it on a cloth to clean your sink, sparkling!

Repeat this to make a cleaning paste for pots and pans, to remove stains from cups and clean tarnished silver

A cup of bicarb in your fridge absorbs fridge odours

To clean grout make up a paste of 2 parts bicarb, one part vinegar or lemon juice (this will fizz!) apply the paste with a toothbrush, leave for 10 minutes and then rinse

Dampen the floor of your oven, sprinkle with bicarb and dampen again. Leave the mixture overnight then remove with a cloth and rinse with warm water

Table salt

Salt doesn’t scratch so it’s great for glassware, add some salt to a stain for extra abrasion and scrub

Pour salt mixed with hot water down your kitchen sink every few weeks to deodorize and keep grease from building up

A great one for coffee lovers, add salt and ice cubes to your stained coffee pot, swirl around for a minute and rinse, it scrubs away those stains!

 

Helen Stephens’ Betsy Makes A Splash Review

“My name is Betsy and I have a mummy, a daddy and a Rufus”

Egmont UK sent us the most glorious book to review; Besty Makes a Splash! by Helen Stephens. A sign of a good book is that I can’t photograph the cover for little hands!

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Helen Stephens has written and illustrated lots of books for babies, toddlers and older children, remember Michael Morpurgo’s JoJo the Melon Donkey? Helen illustrated it!

I just looked up her beautiful website too, you know some illustrators just appeal to you? Well for me her work just ‘sings’ – she captures expressions beautifully!

WP_004869 This is just one of the books in a lovely series about Betsy, they’re all about first experiences, swimming and school, visiting the doctor, and with more to follow in 2015 it’s clear these books are aimed at preschoolers getting to grips with new things, seeking reassurance and dealing with lots of emotions.

Joss often says to me ‘I’m not sure’ when we’re doing something new so it was lovely to read Betsy saying ‘I wasn’t sure’ about jumping into the pool!

She soon sees that swimming is fun and of course she doesn’t want to leave.

Joss is really pondering this page whilst I was getting my work bag ready today!

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Look how brilliantly Helen captures this moment that we’ve all experienced, bet they’ll be stood their for half an hour popping 10p pieces in!

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With a soft padded tactile cover and well spaced text, lots to look at and spot on each page and a new experience to chat about I see the Betsy series growing with Joss; one for us to read together and chat about as well as for her to pore over!

Disclaimer: We received a copy of this book for review purposes, all views are my own