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


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.


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!

Blackberry recipes and crafts!

I’m sure they’re early this year, they’ve inspired me to blog about blackberry recipes and crafts this weekend, this mumslist is all rolled into one, real life, blog life and inspiration brought together by berries! Though not quite ready for a mass picking they’re definately on their way to being ripe.

Blackberry recipes and crafts

Joss has been enjoying the Bill Quay Blackberries on our daily walk for about a week now, a little tart still but she will eat them anyway, sharing the odd one with Toby dog along the way! This pic was before pink stained fingers

Joss with berries Blackberry recipes and crafts

Lately we’ve been turning to her Usborne A First Book of Nature to read about the changes in the seasons so we looked at the Blackberry Picking pages today. It’s a great book and a lovely way to frame chat around the activities we’ve been doing lately.

I have been making these little crochet face scrubbies to take off my favourite cleanser, it’s a really stubborn one to remove but a gorgeous treat for the skin. If you’d like to make your own I used this pattern (very simple for beginners!) with some lovely berry coloured cotton yarn, they wash really well and scrub off all the cleanser without a need for a face scrub, so thrifty too!

crochet round face scrubbies Blackberry recipes and crafts

And finally, a recipe from the book which inspired our pudding!

Blackberry recipes and crafts


We also had a treat this week in the form of the Back to School with Dr Martens blogging event in their Newcastle store, comfy, stylish and long lasting we had a great morning out and these are on our Autumn shopping list!

dr martens for toddlers

Newcastle Community Green Festival And Our Farm

The Newcastle Community Green Festival has been part of my life for years now, I always look forward to it. It started in 1995 and in 1998 took on life as a two day festival of music, food and environmental and ethical activities and chatter in the beautiful Leazes Park.

We headed out today and the heavens opened, man it poured, but hey this is the North’s Glasto and mud is the order of the day! Before we left we visited the Farm at the top of the street, I guess this photo should have warned of the shape of things to come!



So, not letting rain stop us (we’re a resilient wee family) off we went!


Not many pics owing to the weather, but these give a flavour!


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Postcards from the City: UK Cityscapes

Postcards from the City, UK Cityscapes is a project being developed by local-to-me photographer Mandy Charlton; Mandy plans to document and photograph all 69 cities of the United Kingdom and inspire them to make bold moves in their lives. No project like this has been undertaken, whilst you will find lists of UK cities and regional tourist information no one person has produced a book featuring all 69 cities of the United Kingdom.

Mandy is undertaking a Crowdfunding route to financing the project “this initial funding will get me to many of the cities and as art is produced city by city I forsee that interest will continue to grow which will enable me to continue this to fruition. At the end of the project there will be a glorious photo book produced with all of the 69 cityscapes in accompanied by some of the adventures I’ve happened upon along the way.”

As you know, I often blog about mental health, Mandy blogs about her own mental health and reason for undertaking this project here – I think she’s taking an incredible step with this project both for herself and as an inspiration to others, in making a donation to Mind, and as well in documenting our great country; I love how she’s captured Newcastle, get involved to bring her to your city next!


A birthday week

Real Life

It’s been a birthday kinda week this week, Joss turned two and we spent time with our extended families over the long weekend. A lot of cake was eaten, including these gorgeous cake pops that my parents made for Joss to share with her friends at our childminder’s house.

Then on the big day itself her Daddy and I took the day off and headed down to the Coast, probably our favourite place to be, a spot of sun, sea air and icecream! We found a birthday crab, exciting!





This week has also been crazy busy, I did two radio shows, not bad for someone who is terrified of public speaking, but the message was an important one, pre and postnatal mental health should be talked about, and we’re starting to do that in Newcastle, I just didn’t expect to do that with such a big audience!


Blog Life

Two weeks ago I started keeping a blog diary/notebook, it’s a beaut but the content has become important too!


I’ve started to keep a list of media contacts, short term ideas and longer term plans for the blog. Why am I being so organised? Well managing work and juggling home life leaves very little space for those random ideas that pop into my head to find a spot to stick, so this is it! Do you write notes and blog ideas? Any tips for keeping it together?


How’s this magazine spread for mad styling skills!? I kept coming back to this in Red Magazine, it’s inspired a post I’m blogging tomorrow about styling in blog photos.


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Talking about depression

Talking about depression or mental health is really tough, the first time you talk about it emotions can take over, or fear of judgement can stop you. If you feel strong enough to keep talking eventually you start to care less about what people think and then the first time someone says they’ve felt the same or they understand it starts to click; the more people who open up the less we feel ashamed.

If I know I’m struggling I often think of Mr Chartwell, Rebecca Hunt’s brilliantly conceived of metaphor for Churchill’s depression, creeping Black Pat. She captures the weightyness so well:

‘I understand that we share a wicked union, and I know the goblin bell which summons you comes from a tomb in my heart. And I will honour my principles, labouring against the shadows you herald. I don’t blench from my burden, but -’ here he let out a deep breath, laying the glasses down gently – ‘it’s so demanding; it leaves me so very tired. It would be some small comfort to me if I could ask how long I must endure this visit. Please, when do you leave?’

“It’s hard to explain. With Churchill we know each other’s movements, so we have a routine, I guess. I like to be there when he wakes up in the morning. Sometimes I drape across his chest. That slows him down for a bit. And then I like to lie around in the corner of the room, crying out like I have terrible injuries. Sometimes I’ll burst out at him from behind some furniture and bark in his face. During meals I’ll squat near his plate and breathe over his food. I might lean on him too when he’s standing up, or hang off him in some way. I also make an effort to block out the sunlight whenever I can.”

See, heavy, painful, emotional.

I had this poster up in my old office, that stat 1 in 4 is an important one, it would be nice to see the ‘many more’ reduced.


This week I took another step in ‘talking about it’ – specifically my experience of postnatal depression and anxiety.

First off Hannah from Mumsdays blogged my two part birth story, then I was interviewed for BBC Radio Newcastle talking about PND and how men are affected (podcast here, I’m 37 minutes in) and the next day Metro Radio called me to ask me to give another interview which goes out tomorrow about the Support Group I’m setting up affilated with PANDAS foundation.

It wasn’t easy for someone who doesn’t really enjoy public speaking to open up so publicly about my experiences, hearing myself saying ‘I experienced postnatal depression’ and ‘I struggled with early motherhood’ was tough but if it helps just one other person to come to our support group or open up about how they’re feeling then that’s been a conversation worth having.

If you want to start to talk about PND and want somewhere to practice before you do it ‘in real life’ then the weekly #pndchat on twitter could be a really good starting point.

You will get mixed reactions, people might not know what to say, but voicing your feelings is an amazing step towards taking back some power, let’s keep the conversation going!

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Mumslist: the Easter buddy came to town

Real Life

Last week was Easter and a really lovely family time that extended into Joss and I having a lovely afternoon out on Tuesday too. New shoes for her and a treat or two for me! She loves her sparkly shoes so much that she keeps stopping to take another look!


Joss was pleased that the ‘Easter buddy ‘ remembered her!


Today also saw the Great Cloth Diaper Change so we headed to Newcastle along with 25 (may have been more!?) littleys to take part in the international world record bid, aiming to get as many people as possible changing a cloth nappy, we caught up with some friends, met some new folk and created a work of art too! It’s Real Nappy Week next week so I’ll be blogging some cloth bum tips again.

(Photo by Mandy Charlton Photography event in Newcastle organised by Grow Up Green)


Work life is getting interesting, I have a jointly written paper that’s being published next week and I’m exploring blogging research findings for other outlets too, so work and home are taking some interesting converging routes, more on that in the next few weeks

Blogging Life

I’ve published a post this week that has really pushed me in terms of honesty and writing, but I’m glad I finally pressed publish on my birth story part 2 and although its focus on a very bad time in my life made it hard to write sharing it is a big part of my recovery. I also really enjoyed writing a bit of a forward plan for my blog to pin down the direction I want to go in, and this post about bloggers using research skills to generate content has been crazy busy in terms of hits!

I am pleased to have a few review posts coming up, and I’ve finally sat down and written out a day by day list of the linkys that I like to enter so I don’t forget to join in, and have put aside an hour a week to reply to comments and do some wider blog reading around parental mental health and wellbeing.


An oldie but goodie I’m trying my hand at Flylady’s cleaning routines again after reading this post

I’m exploring Vines as a canny way to include a short burst of video into my blogging, I’m not really up for vlogging but this is a good compromise for those moments where Joss is singing etc, so far so good!

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Maternal mental health and moving on mumslist

Real Life

Spring is here and isn’t it grand!?

This week has seen a lot of sling action, getting out and about and enjoying the sun. It was a different sort of work week for me, two days of media training but the chance to pick the brains of the experts about blogging and tweeting too, this has given me a new strategy that I’ll talk about in a bit. I also finished my two week wardrobe challenge, and now have a capsule wardrobe of just 30 items, scary but freeing too!

So maternal mental health, this week I blogged about two big issues, bottle nursing, which I think doesn’t get the coverage it deserves and was probably my toughest blog post yet, and I also wrote a piece trying to unpack and ask some questions about mother’s guilt, working and the media.

All this is building up to a big piece of news and some more posts around maternal mental health. This week I became affiliated with PANDAS Pre and Postnatal Depression Advice and Support.


In short I am setting up their first North East group, the Newcastle Upon Tyne PANDAS Support Group. I feel really well of late, I have enjoyed several months anxiety free and have been feeling strong for a while now. I want to bridge a big gap between formal mental health services and community services, there is very little available to new mums anyway following the cuts and being lonely and frightened with dependents can be a very dark place. I approached a group of friends some of which I’ve met some I have yet to meet looking for others who can help me get set up, I was blown away by their honesty and sadly by their numbers, but we all want to offer our support to other parents and that makes me feel so proud of them, and of how far we have come on our own journeys. I look forward to sharing experiences, offering support and maybe making some friends along the way too.


Blog life

Two new things, 1) to devote an evening a week to building up content on a range of ideas and 2) to blog daily where possible about topical issues in the media linking into twitter and facebook feeds on ‘big issues’ around parenthood, politics and media. I did this with my post on maternal guilt, it came out of Mumsnet stats that were released that day and I tweeted my response and linked into discussions on Facebook which drove more traffic. I would also like to see my Tots100 score continue to increase, currently at 549 I have worked hard to get to this position and would love to understand more behind the metrics too.



We’ve been yardening again so I’m about to blog another How Does Your Garden Grow but also found inspiration here:

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Polarn O. Pyret Comes to Fenwick Newcastle

Yesterday Joss and I visited the latest UK Polarn O. Pyret (PO.P) concession to hit the UK, here in Fenwick Department Store in Newcastle.

Having previously bought PO.P online or been lucky to get bits sent from overseas I’m delighted to have this Swedish brand on our doorstep. PO.P make fun clothes that kids can play in, and that grow with them. She’s been wearing a pair of their block colour leggings for months now so we know they last!

When we arrived in store we perused the concession and got some great advice from the staff on sizing and layering up for cooler spring weather, they were friendly and had great brand knowledge. We had a look at some of the latest stock, and as it was 25% off for the first weekend stocked up on a few bits and bobs, it was hard to choose as the new colours and stripes are right up our street!


Functional and bright, it was this stock that I really liked:


These are our purchases:


We loved the blogger pack we were given too, sweet, the party pack will come in handy for a certain someone’s 2nd Birthday!


And finally in action, down on the farm and off-road, functional kids wear at its best, warm, adaptable and comfy with no compromise on style!



Finally, as this blog takes an eco focus, look out for PO.P ECO branding instore and online for organic cotton, it’s beautiful and there’s loads of choice!

Disclaimer: I did not receive payment for this post, I really like the brand and would recommend it, it’s one we’ve worn before!

Magic, storytelling and play at The Hancock’s Magic Worlds exhibition

The Great North (or Hancock) Museum is hands down Joss’ favourite day out. In Newcastle’s city centre its a haven from the shops, “goin a see a dinosaurs” is a frequently used phrase in this house and we’re there most weeks, sometimes multiple times a week!

When I heard about the Magic Worlds exhibition we had to go on the first day!

It didn’t disappoint, a V&A Museum of Childhood visiting exhibition with the Hancock until the summer there is bags to see and do, today we focused on fairy tales and must go back to see more of the magic and play!

As a lover of fairy tales I’m keen to share this interest with Joss, I found the displays really sparked my crafty imagination and the Alice in Wonderland play area is amazing and we couldn’t drag her away from the Mad Hatters Tea Party!

The staging is amazing, woodland, elven, witch, fairytale and magic with a sweet little reading area, some great examples of patchwork cushioning and intricate wood cut trees, dark spaces and magic mirrors and loads of puppets, including Sooty himself and a scary Hansel and Gretel witch!

I can’t wait to go back and explore some more with Joss, an awe inspiring day out!