Sunday, 18 December 2016

Christmas Nights at Beamish | A Review


Christmas Nights at Beamish | A Review
Credit | Lady from a Tramp

There aren't many places that are more magical at this time of year than Beamish at night. Lady from a Tramp takes us on a guided tour. Read their review here.
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An Enchanted Christmas at Hardwick Hall - A Review


An Enchanted Christmas at Hardwick Hall - A Review
Credit : Super Mummy Sectrets
An Enchanted Christmas at Hardwick Hall is a 4+ hour day out packed with festive fun. Super Mummy Secrets tells us more. Check out their review here.

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An Enchanted Christmas at Hardwick Hall - A Review

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Santa's Naughty Elf and the Frozen Christmas at Customs House, South Shields - A Review


Santa's Naughty Elf and the Frozen Christmas at Customs House, South Shields - A Review
Credit - Adventures of a Monkey Footed Mummy
Santa's Naughty Elf is always a hit with younger children. Karen and her family thoroughly enjoyed this year's performance. Read their review here.
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20 FREE Christmas Days Out in the North East this December


20 FREE Christmas Days Out in the North East this December
Credit | My Boys Club
Christmas can be an expensive time of year. Luckily for us, Debbie from My Boys Club has put together 20 free days out to enjoy in the North East this Christmas:-

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Saturday, 17 December 2016

15 Christmas Events in the North East this December


15 Christmas Events in the North East this December
Credit  : Life
If you're looking for something to keep you occupied or get you into the festive spirit this Christmas, Life in Geordieland has a few suggestions for you. Check out their guide to Christmas events in the North East here. 
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Winter Wonderland Christmas Lights at Wynyard Hall



The gardens at Wynyard Hall have been transformed this festive season into a magical winter lights show. Read the full review here. 
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Which is the best 'Santa Train' in the North East? Tanfield Railway or Polar Express?


Which is the best 'Santa Train' in the North East? Tanfield Railway North Pole Express or Polar Express?
Credit | Nomipalony

Which is the best 'Santa Train'? The North Pole Express with Tanfield Railway or the Polar Express? Nomipalony tells all! Read the full comparison and review here. 

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Which is the best 'Santa Train' in the North East? Tanfield Railway or Polar Express?

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Buying a Real Christmas Tree from Hamsterley Forest, Durham


Buying a Real Christmas Tree from Hamsterley Forest, Durham

Our guide to choosing a real Christmas tree at Hamsterley Forest in Durham. Includes prices and all you need to know. Read the full article here. 
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Beauty and the Beast by Newcastle Panto Co at Tyne Theatre | A Review


Beauty and the Beast by Newcastle Panto Co at Tyne Theatre | A Review

Newcastle Panto Company won't be returning to the Tyne Theatre and Opera House next year so catch them whilst you can! Review here. 

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Jack and the Beanstalk at The Custom's House, South Shields - A Review


Jack and the Beanstalk at The Custom's House, South Shields - A Review

Jack and the Beanstalk is a traditional panto for the whole family complete with pokemon and the pineapple pen song! (ask the kids). Read a full review here. 
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An Elf's Christmas Wish (for under 5's) at the Gala Theatre, Durham - A Review


An Elf's Christmas Wish (for under 5's) at the Gala Theatre, Durham - A Review

An Elf's Christmas Wish is a performance with live music, action and storytelling especially for the under 5's at the Gala Theatre Durham. Read a full review here. 
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Visiting Santa Claus at Preston Park's Christmas Bazaar


Visiting Santa Claus at Preston Park's Christmas Bazaar

Read all about visiting Santa Claus at Preston Park's Christmas Bazaar which includes donkey rides and traditional crafts. Full review here. 
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Visiting the FREE Santa's Grotto at intu Metocentre


Visiting the FREE Santa's Grotto at intu Metocentre

You don't need to pay a fortune to visit Father Christmas, in fact a visit at intu Metrocentre in 2016 is FREE! Read a review of the full experience here. 
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Aladdin Pantomime starring Shane Lynch at Whitley Bay Playhouse | A Review


Aladdin Pantomime starring Shane Lynch at Whitley Bay Playhouse | A Review

Shane Lynch stars in this year's Blue Genie panto at Whitley Bay Playhouse. Expect flying carpets, lots of local mentions and of course the famous ghostbuster song. Read the full review here.  
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Friday, 9 December 2016

Christmas at Wynyard Hall | A Preview

*This is a collaborative post

It's always nice to have something to look forward to at Christmas time for both grown ups and children and as soon as the kids break up from school next Friday (yep the school's break up on 16th December in Northumberland!), we'll be heading to Wynyard Hall on the outskirts of Durham to enjoy some festive fun. 

Christmas at Wynyard Hall - A guide to what's on in December including Festive Afternoon Tea and a Winter Wonderland Christmas Light Show in the gardens.

There is a lot going on at Wynyard Hall this year and as somewhere we haven't visited before, I'm really looking forward to discovering more. We're booked in for festive afternoon tea in the hall which priced at just £22.50 per person seems like it's going to be good value for money. I hope it includes turkey sandwiches and mince pies! Yum.

Christmas at Wynyard Hall - A guide to what's on in December including Festive Afternoon Tea and a Winter Wonderland Christmas Light Show in the gardens.  - visit Father Christmas

If afternoon tea isn't your thing, there are a number of festive dining options available at Wynyard Hall including family festive lunches and dinner.

Christmas at Wynyard Hall - A guide to what's on in December including Festive Afternoon Tea and a Winter Wonderland Christmas Light Show in the gardens.  - Visit Father Christmas

We're really excited to see Wynyard's Winter Wonderland Christmas Light Show after reading about it over on Here Come the Hoopers. How stunning does this swan look! I can't wait to meet the Ice Queen and watch the kids have another chat with Father Christmas. Entry to this event in Wynyard Gardens is £25 for a family of four and you can book online here.

Christmas at Wynyard Hall - A guide to what's on in December including Festive Afternoon Tea and a Winter Wonderland Christmas Light Show in the gardens.  - Swan lights

There's also the chance to enjoy some Christmas shopping and you'll find plenty of handmade and local gifts for sale in the Wynyard shop.

Christmas at Wynyard Hall - A guide to what's on in December including Festive Afternoon Tea and a Winter Wonderland Christmas Light Show in the gardens.  - Ice Queen

I have my eye on Christmas Carols in the Chapel. Priced from £6 including mulled wine and mince pies, I can't think of a better way to get into the Christmas spirit. I bet it's a magical way to spend Christmas Eve.

Christmas at Wynyard Hall - A guide to what's on in December including Festive Afternoon Tea and a Winter Wonderland Christmas Light Show in the gardens.  - Ice Queen


Let me know if you've visited Wynyard Hall at Christmas time. 
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Monday, 5 December 2016

Woodhorn Museum | The Best Skating Rink for Small Children & Toddlers in the North East


Woodhorn Museum | The Best Skating Rink for Small Children & Toddlers in the North East
Skating at Woodhorn | Credit - Sprog on the Tyne
Sprog on the Tyne visited Woodhorn Museum and Colliery in Ashington to test out their skating rink this Christmas. Made from synthetic ice and with penguin aids provided, Sprog on the Tyne rate this rink as one of the best in the North East for toddlers and small children. You can check out their full review here. 
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Monday, 28 November 2016

A Guide to What's On and How to Plan a Perfect Christmas break in Durham


A Guide to What's On and How to Plan a Perfect Christmas break in Durham
Photo Credit | Visit Durham
From a real ice rink at Beamish to make your own decorations at Durham's Oriental Museum, Christmas markets and Father Christmas visits. There is lots going on in Durham this festive season. Check out this guest post by Debbie from My Boys Club for Visit Durham which includes all the dates and information you need to plan a perfect festive break.
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Where is serving Christmas Day Lunch 2016 in Newcastle?


Where is serving Christmas Day Lunch 2016 in Newcastle?
Jesmond Dene House | Credit New Girl in Toon
If like us you can't stand the thought of spending the best part of Christmas Day in the kitchen and dread the thought of washing up, why not consider dining out instead? New Girl in Toon has put together a fabulous guide of where to book Christmas Day lunch in Newcastle this year. Read New Girl in Toon's Guide to Christmas lunch in Newcastle here. 
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James and the Giant Peach at Northern Stage | A Review


James and the Giant Peach at Northern Stage | A Review
Photo Credit Topher Mcgillis

James and the Giant Peach is Northern Stage's production for children aged 5+ and their families this year and it's a good 'en. So good in fact that I'd compare it to a West End show! Check out our full review here. 
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Jack and the Beanstalk Pantomime at Gala Theatre, Durham - A review


Jack and the Beanstalk Pantomime at Gala Theatre, Durham - A review

Guest blogger Kim Rankin reviews the Gala theatre's panto for 2016. Expect lots of laughs, twists on modern songs and local jokes. Read the full review over on North East Family Fun here.
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Places to go Ice Skating in the North East 2016


Places to go Ice Skating in the North East 2016

There are a fair few places to enjoy ice skating in the North East this year from a real outdoor ice rink at Science at Life to a mini indoor skating rink on a children's farm. Check out this guide featuring opening times, prices and all you need to know by North East Family Fun.
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Thursday, 24 November 2016

Ponteland Repertory Society Pantomime - Aladdin | A Review

Panto season has started this week and for me, it really signifies the start of the festive season. We sent guest reviewer Angela and her family along to watch Aladdin at Ponteland Memorial Hall this week. TIckets are still available for Friday 25th and Saturday 26th November from just £6. Panto doesn't have to be expensive, and visiting a community show like this is a really nice way to support your local community. You can buy tickets online here. Over to Angela.........

Ponteland Repertory Society Pantomime - Aladdin | A Review


There is nothing quite like getting into the Christmas spirit than a trip to the Panto! The Panto in this instance was brought to us by Ponteland Repertory Society at Ponteland Memorial Hall. Andy, myself and our three children - Izzy (10), Zac (5) and Joseph (3) went to see our first Panto of the season - Aladdin!

Although the society has held many productions here, this was the first time we have ever been to this venue to see any of them so we were all very excited! The front of house team were very welcoming upon our arrival and we met the lovely show Director - Carole. Thankfully they had an array of snacks to choose from as we had not had time to get some before we arrived.

This is the first time we have ever seen a Panto of Aladdin which added to our enthusiasm of the night. I am always in awe at the dedication and time that all of the cast of local Amateur Theatre crew and cast put in to these shows and this show was no exception.

The show started with Abanazar surprising us by coming up from behind us singing passionately to ‘Arabian nights’. Abanazar was firm favourite with the audience from the start and was the shows ‘bad guy’ who gets all the boos! He played a great part flawlessly and had a great singing voice to boot!

Wishee Washee and Aladdin were played by two young men, both of whom had a great stage presence and worked tirelessly with the audience throughout encouraging us all to get involved in many ways. Their mum - ‘Widow Twanky’ - was played by Jason Long and was by far the greatest entertainer of the night. He was most certainly our favourite throughout with his comical anecdotes and utterly hilarious jokes! He worked marvellously with the audience encouraging their participation throughout. On his journey to Abanazar’s lair in Egypt he met an untimely but hilarious fall of his scooter (improvised magic carpet?!) into the audience. It's moments like this that that add to the energy and hilarity at Panto (sorry Widow Twankey!!).

The only downfall of the night, which could be down to stage fright or just plain nerves was the singing of the Princess. The high notes certainly needed a lower tone. Her father - The Emperor of China - also forgot his words on a couple of occasions. 

We all had a great time! Joseph has even asked to go again! The costumes were fab, the sets were great and overall everyone played a great part. There was many ‘laugh out loud’ moments that made it that extra bit great! All of the cast and crew have very evidently worked tirelessly to produce such a great show and judging by the audience reactions, it was well received. The salted caramel ice-cream at the Interval was also amazing and I need to buy these ASAP! 

Well done everyone! We look forward to the next show.


Thanks Angela - it sounds like a fantastic night for the whole family. Tickets are availble here.

Disclosure: Angela and her family were provided with press tickets in return for an honest review. 
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Celebrate Christmas at Newcastle Gusto

*This is a collaborative post

Yeah! Christmas has landed in Newcastle. If you haven't already paid the toon a visit at night yet then you simply must. Newcastle Christmas lights are beautiful, Fenwick's window is as magical as ever and the Christmas markets are in full swing. I had such a nice time walking from the haymarket down to the Quayside this week that I almost forgot it was freezing cold and I couldn't feel my fingers! 

Celebrate Christmas at Newcastle Gusto

My destination for the evening was Newcastle Gusto where I was joining Katie Jane Online and New Girl in Toon for the first of the restaurant's Christmas Party Nights.

Celebrate Christmas at Newcastle Gusto

First of all - how lush is the restaurant looking! I love all of the twinkling lights and festive foliage. It really put us in the festive spirit. The booth style seating is perfect for a girly get together or smaller groups of around 6 and the longer tables are ideal for larger gatherings and work nights out.

Celebrate Christmas at Newcastle Gusto  - booth seating

Celebrate Christmas at Newcastle Gusto - restaurant interior

Celebrate Christmas at Newcastle Gusto  - christmas menu

I love all the little details that Gusto Christmas Party Nights offer from their dedicated Christmas menu and Christmas Cocktails (more about those later) to the Christmas Crackers on your table. The jokes inside were actually quite funny too (or maybe it's just because it's been a while). The whole restaurant was here for a good time and we enjoyed some friendly banter with the tables around us as we all wore our obligatory paper hats.

Celebrate Christmas at Newcastle Gusto

Celebrate Christmas at Newcastle Gusto  - Christmas party nights

Celebrate Christmas at Newcastle Gusto  - Christmas meal, cracker joke

Celebrate Christmas at Newcastle Gusto  - Christmas cocktail

Gusto Christmas Party Nights Menu


Celebrate Christmas at Newcastle Gusto  - Christmas meal menu

Gusto's Christmas Party Nights are £35 pp and include a delicious 3 course meal, exceptional live music and a fantastic atmosphere. There are two party nights available throughout December:-
  • Andy Usher Tribute Band | Tuesday 6th December (book here)
  • Glen R does Swing | Tuesday 13th December (book here)

You can also book bar only tickets for just £10 which includes a drink and entry.

Celebrate Christmas at Newcastle Gusto  - Smoked duck salad starter

There is a choice of three starters:
  • Peppered Mackerel Crostini
  • Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
  • Smoked Duck Salad

Celebrate Christmas at Newcastle Gusto  - roasted red pepper soup

Followed by a choice of four mains:
  • Slow cooked beef daube
  • Baked fillet of Salmon
  • Roast Turkey
  • Artichoke Tortellini

All served with roast potatoes, buttered carrots and green beans.

Celebrate Christmas at Newcastle Gusto  - roast turkey

Celebrate Christmas at Newcastle Gusto

Celebrate Christmas at Newcastle Gusto  - Salmon main

Finally there is a choice of three desserts:

  • Apple and Blackberry Crumble
  • Chocolate and Ginger Tart
  • Christmas Mess


Celebrate Christmas at Newcastle Gusto  - apple and blackberry crumble

Celebrate Christmas at Newcastle Gusto  - chocolate and ginger tart

The food at Gusto is always top notch. There were clean plates all round and our server even joked that we had licked them clean! haha! I can't resist ordering turkey if it's on a Christmas menu and I can confidently say that the turkey at Gusto has been the best I've ever eaten in a restaurant. It was succulent without any hint of dryness and served with all the trimmings including homemade Cranberry sauce. Absolutely delicious! I will say I was disappointed that Christmas Pudding wasn't on the menu (another dish I like to eat as much as possible of in December) however the apple and blackberry crumble more than made up for it.

Celebrate Christmas at Newcastle Gusto  - live singer

I am struggling to put into words how fab the atmosphere is during a live music night at Gusto. They always book the very best singers and performers. There is the worry when you see a tribute singer that it might be a bit like watching a mate on the karaoke but the performers at Gusto are nothing like this. It's like an intimate performance from a West End star. We watched Rob Lamberti (a George Michael tribute) and he was fabulous. The whole restaurant was singing along and up dancing. The singers start at around 9pm and reservations are from 7pm so there is plenty of time to enjoy your meal and drinks before the party starts.

Christmas Cocktails at Newcastle Gusto


Celebrate Christmas at Newcastle Gusto - Christmas Prosecco cocktail

I don't know about you but I'm a sucker for a themed cocktail and Gusto have created 6 special tipples for the festive season. These can be enjoyed at anytime throughout the festive season and not just during party nights. I tried the Gingerbread Cocktail and loved it so much I had to order another. I'd definitely recommend. All cocktails are £7.50 each:

White Christmas
Classic Christmas flavours of cinnamon, brandy, port and a touch of cream

Gingerbread Fizz
A concoction of gingerbread, Disaronno & Prosecco topped with a Cherry

Cauld Wine
A mix of wine, spice, apple, lemon and a secret German ingredient

Santa Fe
Tequila, Velvet Falernum, Lime Juice and a little Cranberry Sauce

A Kiss Under the Mistletoe
Ketel One Vodka, Disaronno, Lime Juice, Almond Syrup and Cherry Preserve

Three Wise Men
Tawny Port, Benedictine & Bullet Bourbon stirred slowly and finished with a zest of orange

I want to try them all! I'll definitely be popping into Gusto's bar during our Christmas shopping to sample a few more.

Celebrate Christmas at Newcastle Gusto  - gingerbread cocktail

One of the things that really makes Gusto special is their staff. They are happy, friendly and honestly it feels as if you are chatting to your friend when you talk with them. I loved seeing the staff up and dancing, posing for selfies, taking their own pics......they really are a fantastic team and will look after you very well. If you can't decide what to order, they have a very strong menu knowledge and are always happy to recommend. They haven't been wrong yet!

New Year's Eve & Festive Dining at Newcastle Gusto 


If Gusto's party nights aren't for you or you can't make those dates, there are other ways you can enjoy a visit across the festive season:-

Gusto's New Year's Eve Party - book here
Festive Dining - details here
Or pop into the bar for a Christmas Cocktail at anytime

In case you need the details again, Gusto's Christmas party nights are:

6th December | Andy Usher 3 piece acoustic band - details here
13th December | Glen R does Swing - details here

We had THE best night at Newcastle Gusto. It was so good that we are already planning on returning for New Year's Eve. Let me know if any of their Christmas Cocktails or party nights tickle your fancy.


Disclosure | I am a Gusto Brand Ambassador and received complimentary food & drink in return for this post. As always, all thoughts and words are my own. 


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Friday, 18 November 2016

20 Christmas Events in the North East by New Girl in Toon


20 Christmas Events in the North East for 2016
20 Ways to Celebrate Christmas in the North East - Article & Image Credit |  New Girl in Toon
If you're looking for ways to get into the festive spirit or for a place to visit over the Christmas period in the North East, look no further! New Girl in Toon has put together an epic list of 20 ways to celebrate Christmas in the North East. From where to buy your Christmas tree to the best place for hot chocolate in Newcastle. It's all covered! Read the full festive guide here.


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