Saturday, 11 February 2017

Nethermined 2017 - Our Review

*Disclosure: We were provided with complimentary tickets*

So today we visited the unofficial Minecraft event - Nethermined. This is the third year this event has been running, but this was the first time we have been.
Freyja just loves all things Minecraft at the moment, so this was perfect for her. We have had this arranged for weeks, and have managed to keep it a surprise until this morning! Freyja's face was a picture when she found out where we were going! 

A super excited Freyja on our way to Nethermined

When we got there, we spent some time looking round the various merchandise stalls. The room was filled with lots of Minecraft and gaming merchandise - key rings, t-shirts, wristbands, soft toys and more! 
Mini Figure Madness were there with a range of Minecraft merchandise as well as other gaming related goodies!

The atmosphere was awesome - the whole place was filled with children and adults alike that love Minecraft! Seeing all the kids dressed in their Minecraft clothing and carrying diamond swords or soft toys was just super cute! 
After a little wander around the stalls, we decided to stop and watch the Youtubers do a live gaming session. Freyja's face lit up when she saw people playing her very favourite game on a huge screen! 
After the gaming session, the Youtubers came off the stage and children were given the opportunity to have photographs taken with them and have their merchandise signed - Freyja got her diamond sword signed by The Turkey Dinosaur and JackSucksAtLife.


Signed diamond sword by some of the Youtubers!

Next we joined a queue so Freyja could have a turn on the PC version of Minecraft. At first I wasn't sure how she would get on with the PC version as she plays the Playstation version at home, but Ryan was on hand to help and there were members of staff floating between the children asking if they needed any help. Once Ryan showed her how to move around, she got the hang of it and she said it was even better than the Playstation version! She said there are options on there that aren't on the Playstation version.
I thought this was really well ran - groups of 20 people were taken to the PCs to have a 20 minute turn. This helped the queue to go down really quickly, and children were given a good amount of time to play. If only I could get Freyja off Minecraft as easy at home!! 
Ryan also had his beady eyes on the hard drives - they we're Minecraft themed! These were available to buy from one of the stalls downstairs.
I learnt a very important rule of Minecraft today - 'The first rule of Minecraft is never dig straight down!' Apparently it isn't conducive the game at all!

We had a great day, thank you Nethermined! 

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Pancake Day ideas your kids will love

I remember loving Pancake Day as a child! My Mam or Dad would be standing in the kitchen for ages flipping pancakes over a hot pan for ages for me and my brothers and out friends! We used to have them with a sprinkling of sugar and lemon, or chocolate spread. Yummy!

Just in case pancakes weren't delicious enough, I've been thinking of ways to make them even more yummy! Some healthy, some not, because life is all about balance and a little bit of what you fancy does you good!
So with Pancake Day coming up (28th February), I've been thinking of recipes and serving suggestions your kids will love!

Start with a simple pancake recipe, and then get as creative as you want! Here's a couple of simple pancake recipes:

Simple pancake recipe (makes 12)

Method: Mix dry ingredients together, then in a seprate bowl mix wet ingredients together. Gradually add wet ingrediets to dry until smooth and thick.

  • 100g plain flour
  • 2 large egg
  • 300ml milk
  • 1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil, plus a little extra for frying

Chocolate pancakes recipe (makes 12)

Method: Mix dry ingredients together, then in a seprate bowl mix wet ingredients together. Gradually add wet ingrediets to dry until smooth and thick.

  • 100g plain flour
  • 30g good quality cocoa
  • 2 large eggs
  • 300ml milk
  • 50g caster sugar
  • ½tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 30g butter, melted

Now for the fun part! You can really add whatever you fancy! But here are a few ideas:
  • Nutella and banana pancakes
  • Silly fruit face pancakes
  • Simple lemon and sugar pancakes
  • Pancakes served with ice cream and sprinkles
  • Blueberries, raspberries, natural yogurt and honey with pancake rolls
  • Strawberry Jam pancake rolls
  • Banana and toffee sauce pancakes
Let me know if you have anymore recipes you use, or different ideas for toppings! 


Thursday, 19 January 2017

Our 10 favourite places to visit in the North East

Living in Northumberland definitely has it's perks. There are so many lovely places to visit that are right on our doorstep or just a short journey away.
What I love most about it is the beautiful coastline, and the vast amount of heritage. There are more castles and ruins than any other county in England. If the walls of the castles could talk, just imagine the stories they could tell!

In no particular order; here are our 10 favourite places in the North East.

1. Blyth Beach

No matter what the weather is like, we love a little trip to Blyth Beach. Not only is there a fish and chip shop, Coastline, but there is also an ice cream parlour, Ciccarelli, that sells the best ice cream in the world! They sell so many different flavours of ice cream that it's so hard to choose!
There's also a park and a large grass area with picnic benches - perfect spot to sit and eat your treats and let the kids burn off some energy. It's a lovely place to spend a sunny day down on the beach, or for a nice stroll to blow away the cobwebs when it's not!

2. Northumberlandia
Freyja "I'm jumping on the her boobs Mam!"

Northumberlandia, the lady of the North, is a large land sculpture of a reclining woman. With several footpaths all around the sculpture, there is a route for all abilities. There are lots of view points around the sculpture too, so you can see it at different angels. We can never have a trip here without Freyja pointing out her boobies! Ah the joys of little people :D

3. Seven stories

We love it here. Imagine walking inside a book and watching as it comes to life - that's how I'd describe it! There are several floors, with the exhibition usually spread out across two floors. There is always opportunity to dress up which Freyja loves! Our favourite floor is definitely the attic - in here you can sit and listen to one of the story tellers read you a story. They are all really enthusiastic and really bring the story to life so it's perfect for little ones.
The current exhibitions are Beatrix Potter and Michael Morpurgo. Check their website for more information.

4. Plessey Woods

I used to visit here a lot as a child. My Mam would often bring us here for a picnic and a splodge in the water! It's changed recently with the addition of an art trail. There's lots of things to spot - I'd advise walking back through it again because you are bound to spot something you missed the first time!
It's a perfect place for a picnic followed by a walk through the woods - and to let the kids blow off some steam. There's a park and a cafe at the entrance too.

5. Alnwick Garden
Photo credit: North East Family Fun

Photo credit: North East Family Fun

Photo credit: Nelly's Cupcakes

The first time I visited Alnwick Garden I just fell in love with it. It's so pretty! And there is so much for the kids to do! There are lots of water features, great for little people to explore! You can walk up the sides of the cascade, and if you're brave enough, you can run across the fountain bridge! Will you make it across without getting wet?! 
We've been to several events here and it's so hard to pick a favourite. It's always well organised and has a great atmosphere! 
We've visited here in the summer and in the winter and always have a great time. The garden looks stunning in the summer when all the leaves colour the trees. And in the winter it looks magical when it's all lit up when it starts to get dark. It's such a magical place!
You can check their website to check what's on and for ticket information.

6. Seahouses

Good old Farne Gift Shop!
This is another place I used to visit a lot when I was little and I have great memories of days we spent here! 
We would play crazy golf, eat fish and chips and ice cream, have a boat trip around the Farne Islands, play on the 2p machines, and last, but by no means least... you can't go to Seahouses without buying something from the Farne Gift Shop! My Grandad often tells me this story of when me and my brother were little. He said we would both me given £5 to go and spend it in the shop. My brother would go in and buy one item for £5. But not me, I'd come out with a big full! Pens, pencils, rubbers, rulers, notepads, stickers and absolutely anything with a dolphin on! Seahouses is another place that I've fallen in love with and it will always have a special place in my heart.

7. Great North Museum

We love visiting here, especially as Freyja is getting older. At the moment she is like a sponge and remembers facts really well. This museum is free entry, but donations are welcomed. 
There's lots of exhibitions to look at on the way around. Freyja always has some new facts that she's learnt from her visit! 
I think our favourite exhibition is the Hadrian's wall model. There are interactive boards which give you lots of information about how and when it was built.
You can check their website to check what's on before you go.

8. Ridley Park

This is another perfect spot for a picnic and to let the kids have a run around. There are two parks, one for younger children and one for older children. There's a massive grass area, with a water play area in the middle. Don't forget some pennies because there is always an ice cream man there! 
When I was little, there always used to be Bill and Ben (the flowerpot men?), sitting in a flower bed within the park. Last time I was there, we did see them sitting inside one of the buildings, apparently they are being restored. It would be great to see them sitting back in their flower bed!
There's a small cafe inside what used to be a bowling hut, called Mister Ridley's. They sell hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, cakes, and ice cream just to name a few. It's lovely! 

9. Amble Links Beach

I first discovered this place about 3 years ago. Me and my Mam took Freyja. She had loads of fun splashing in the water, collecting shells and building sand castles. What I like most about this place is that it is quite small and quaint, and the water isn't deep at all. You can walk off into the distance and still just be knee deep in water! It looks funny to watch from a distance! It's got a relaxing feel about it.
I've heard that there is a lovely ice cream shop not far from here, called Spurelli, and a selection of retail pods in the harbour village. Inside these you will find a selection of handmade items made my local artists and crafters. I'll definitely be checking these out on our next trip. 

10. Crook Hall and Gardens

We first discovered this place last year. We booked tickets for their Peter Pan event because Freyja loves the story so much. The gardens are so beautiful, it looks like something from a fairy tale! 
They have some great events coming up this year, including Alice in Wonderland and Mary Poppins. You can check their website for more information. 

What would be in your 10 favourite places? As ever feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, I love reading them xxx

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Why Minecraft is great for kids

A few months ago, Freyja discovered a new love for the well known, well loved game - Minecraft. With a huge geek for a Dad, it was only a matter of time before she got into video games!

Just in case you are unfamiliar with the game, it is basically a virtual land, where gamers can create their own world! They can use building blocks to create structures - houses, farms, roller coasters - you name it, you can build it! Imagine a never ending box of Lego and that's pretty much what it's like!
There are also lots of other items to choose from, which can be used to customise their virtual world or add bizarre and random elements to their game! Items available range from beds and carpets, to trap doors and cauldrons! It's safe to say that with Minecraft - anything goes! And their imagination can just run wild!
The freedom this game offers is what I think makes this game so popular with little gamers!

It is of course important not to have too much screen time, but it's all about balance. As long as playing on computer games isn't the only thing our kids do, I don't see the harm. After all, we now live in a very technology based world and it's hard to avoid!

Why Minecraft is great for kids:

1. There are lots of ways to play. You can build structures, decorate them, collect items, make items, find animals and keep them as pets. Because it's so versatile it's great for all kids and they way they love to play.

2. "I like it because it's one of the few games that my 6,7 and 10 year old can play and enjoy together." - North East Family Fun

3. Because the game is so versatile, there are lots of opportunities to use for children to use their imagination. More of that please!

4. "I like it as it makes my Boys (7 & 9) think, make plans, and solve problems whilst having fun." - My Boys Club

5. There are parts of the game where they might be trying to work out how they can build something, how can they make something move - problem solving while having fun can only be a good thing!

6. There are no rules to follow - so you can make them up as you go along. They can literally create their own game!

7. It encourages kids to be creative and get their little thinking caps on!

8. It's suitable for kids of all ages really - as soon as they are old enough to use the control pad they can play I think. The game has an age rating of 7+ because of the use of weapons against enemies, but it is in no way graphic. And if you want, you can change the game to 'peaceful mode' and your child won't see the enemies at all.

9. Apart from the game itself, there are many Minecraft related toys and games available. Lego sets, card games, soft toys, plastic figures, blind bags and more. That's if you can tear them away from the game!

10. You can also play 2 player mode, which encourages your children to work together as a team.

11. "I was speaking to an architect recently, telling him my son wanted to be an architect when he grows up. The first thing he said was 'Get him into Minecraft'! He already is, by the way! It' a brilliant tool for creativity and developing ideas, and understanding some physics, mechanics and geology too." - Family Makes

Next month, there is a Minecraft themed event called Nethermined
on in Newcastle. This is the third year the event is running, and has been very popular, so it's defnitly worth checking out if you have little people that love Minecraft! Check out their Facebook page or their website for full details and to book tickets!

I enlisted the help of our very own Minecraft experts today - Freyja, and her big brother and sister Ryan and Zoe. They worked together and made a poster of what they love about Minecraft! For their hardwork, they were rewarded with sweets from the shop! :)
Here's what they had to say:

  • Freyja (5) - "I love building houses, and I love building vehicles"
  • Ryan (11) - "The reason I love Minecraft is because I like making stuff and weapons and killing zombies skeletons, and also feeding wolves"
  • Zoe (10) "I like playing with my sister building houses, and I like the cute little wolves"

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

It's not just a stick...

Last week during our walk back from school, Freyja found a stick.
She came running over to me, full of excitement, and handed it to me. Now, this stick has been in our house for a week, and has been many things since it arrived:

  • A magic wand
  • A sword
  • A walking stick
  • A fishing rod
  • A tool for digging treasure

I love Freyja's imagination, she jumps right into her play and gets really engrossed in what she is playing! I love this about her! She has been this way since being really little. Even before she could talk, she would play with a farm set, putting all the animals in their house, putting 'mammy' and 'baby' animals together, making animal noises - too cute! Or playing with a doll, and rocking it to sleep in her own rocker.
As she is getting older and has a bigger vocabulary, she is able to express herself more! (Especially when she is being a diva! Tiny Beyonce!)

Whatever your child gives you or talks to you about, listen closely. They are sharing something with you that is important to them. (I'll try to remember this the next time Freyja is being feral in Aldi!) 
If we listen to them now, that is what they will remember. And when they are older, they will tell us the bigger, more girzzly stuff.
I always want Freyja to remember that whatever is important to her, is important to me. And that no matter what I am doing - washing dishes, cooking tea or anything else, I was always there and ready to listen and accept anything she has to tell or show me - even if it is a stick! 

"It's not just a stick - it's a magic wand to cast a spell.

It's not just a stick - it's a sword to scare away a baddy

It's not just a stick - it's a walking stick for an elderly teddy

It's not just a stick - it's a fishing rod to catch some fishys

It's not just a stick - it's a special tool to dig for pirate treasure

It's not just a stick - it's a glimpse into your child's imagination, and who they are, and there's nothing more beautiful than that."