If you’re a regular reader of Life in Geordieland or you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I’m a proud Auntie to gorgeous twins who live nearly 150 miles away in Lancashire (where I’m originally from). I’m in my absolute element when they come to visit me in the North East because it means we can tick some more things off the never ending list of family days out that I’ve been compiling in my head ever since they were born!
Their most recent trip to see me was during the Easter holidays when my parents brought them up for a long weekend. My usually quiet and tidy home was suddenly filled with the sound of laughter and the clutter of toys for three whole days… it was brilliant!
As much as I love having everyone in the house and playing the hostess with the mostest, it can soon feel a little cramped. So when I suggested a trip to the park I think everyone was as eager as I was to get out in the fresh air!
South Marine Park in South Shields is one of the North East’s finest! It’s just a stone’s throw from the sea front and has everything you need for the perfect family day out. There’s an art trail featuring ten impressive sculptures that reflect the heritage of the park plus plenty of wide open spaces, perfect for kicking a football around. The beautifully restored Victorian bandstand is one of my favourite features, it offers panoramic views of the pretty park and beyond.
The boating lake is also a popular attraction and on a previous visit with my boyfriend we hired a pedalo which I would highly recommend, you can read about that here!
One thing I’ve still not experienced though is a bite to eat at Minchella’s, the coffee shop and ice-cream parlour that overlooks the boating lake. I had a quick peek inside and the modern, welcoming cafe was bustling with people who all looked to be thoroughly enjoying their lunch, I’ll definitely be making a pit stop there next time!
The kids favourite part of the park was the playground! There’s actually two situated next to each other, one of which seems to be have been designed for older children with huge climbing frames and rope challenges. We didn’t venture in that one but stuck to the more toddler friendly area which had plenty of things to keep Jack and Emily entertained and several benches so their Grandparents and I could keep on eye on them without being their shadows!
The swings and diggers seemed to be the most popular, that was of course until the unmistakeable hoot of the minature steam train made their ears prick up!
The look on Jack and Emily’s faces (and my Mum and Dad’s tbh) was one of sheer delight as they saw the little train pull in to it’s station! Lakeshore Railroad has been in operation since the 70’s and it’s still going strong, bringing smiles to the faces of thousands of people every year! It’s £1.50pp to jump on board and be taken on a journey around the park but as this was the only thing we spent money on during our time in the park it felt like good value for money.
The track is about a third of a mile long and meanders through trees and over level crossings along the way. There’s a least one big shot of steam that comes from the front of the train on each journey (which made us all jump!) and we as we waved frantically at passers by, it was lovely to see so many people smiling and waving back at us!
As we disembarked, Jack noticed the roar of a rollercoaster just beyond the trees but I had to disappoint him and and his sister by telling them we wouldn’t be able to go to Ocean Beach Pleasure Park that day as I’d made other plans, but I’m sure it’s somewhere I’ll take them to when they’re a little older.
Remembering how much they’d enjoyed their panto experience during their December visit, I did my research and found out that the Customs House in South Shields had a special show on that promised to teach young theatre fans the importance of a hug.
It was a 60 minute one man show in which Australian author Steven Lee brought to life his story ‘How the Koala learnt to Hug’. The heartwarming tale was accompanied by lots of catchy songs that were easy enough for four year old Jack and Emily to sing along to and they loved joining in with the interactive ‘magic tricks’ too. A wonderful time was had by all!
Steven Lee’s fabulous new book ‘Don’t Dribble on the Dragon’ has also been adapted for the stage and will make it’s World premier at the Customs House on 5th June. I’ve heard it’s going to be a magical, musical adventure, all about growing up and the importance of family. Book now for a feel good family outing!
After our visit to Customs House we were all ready for something to eat and I could tell my Mum and Dad were gasping for a brew so I did what any decent daughter and auntie would do in this situation… I treated the family to a fish and chip supper at the award winning Colmans!
This North East favourite had made headline news the week before as people queued for over an hour to eat there on Good Friday. Luckily we managed to park for free directly opposite the restaurant and were shown to a table at soon as we arrived. The service and quality at Colmans never disappoints and although I’m often tempted by many of the seafood dishes on the specials board, I can never resist the classic cod and chips.
My Dad ordered cod and chips too (£8.25), Mum went for haddock and chips (£8.95) and Jack and Emily got fish and chips from the Kid’s Menu (£3.95 including a drink).
Needless to say we all went home with happy tummies and happy memories after our fun filled family day out in South Shields!
I’d love to hear about your family adventures in the North East, as there’s always room on our list for more!