Yesterday we visited the Maker Faire at the Life Science Centre in Newcastle. The event was held over two days -(Saturday 23 – Sunday 24 April 2016) and brought together over 300 inventors, crafters, DIYers and coders from around the world who wanted to wow the general public with their futuristic gadgets, ingenious designs and fancy robots.Makers-Faire-Life-Science-Centre-Newcastle-front

Makers-Faire-DroneOnce we’d collected our wrist bands from the main entrance we headed outside to the front of the Life Science Centre. We were greeted by low flying drones buzzing round our heads and a bubble master creating absolutely huge bubbles.  The little man was instantly impressed, as was his Daddy who was just as keen to create his own bubble masterpiece. Maker-Faire-Life-Science-Centre-Newcastle-bubbles



Maker-Faire-Lords-of-LightningOne of my favourite parts of the event was the electrifying display from The Lords of Lightning. Two men dressed in chain mail suits who dueled whilst allowing millions of volts of electricity pass between them – an absolutely epic display, which I imagine would have looked even better at dusk. Maker-Faire-giant-drawing-machinesThe stalls inside were just as impressive. There was a great range of things to look at, gasp at and things to get involved in and make, even for our toddler. Maker-Faire-making-feltWe made felt from individual wool strands that we sprayed and rubbed together and a badge that the little man colored in himself and made by pulling down a lever. It was great that kids could get involved and touch things without the fear of being told off. Maker-Faire-making-badges

Maker-Faire-coloured-carMaker-Faire-coloured-blocksThere were displays and exhibits all over the Life Science Centre. Everywhere you turned there were machines, gadgets and brightly coloured ‘things’. Maker-Faire-robotAfter some initial hesitation,  little man loved this Edward Scissorhands -esque robot with his detailed costume and huge gun. Maker-Faire-exhibitions

Maker-Faire-propsWe found each  maker we spoke too, keen to talk and explain their story and the ideas behind their work. It was really interesting to hear more about their thought process as well as being able to see the finished product. Maker-Faire-taxidermyThere were so many different things too see, from wooden crafts, to tiny computers created using Raspberry Pi to the rather unexpected, but very busy taxidermy station. There was something for all ages to explore and enjoy.

I thought it was a fantastic way of engaging and inspiring the younger generation to get involved with technology and science and encouraging them to be brave and creative.

We had a fantastic day and we’ll definitely be back when Maker Faire UK returns to Newcastle.

You can check out some of our favourite parts of the day by watching the YouTube video below.

*I was provided with entry tickets in return for a review*


North East hidden gems – Saltwell Park

I love Newcastle, it’s a great city to visit, with fantastic shopping opportunities, tasty restaurants, lots of lively bars, and a great range of hotels! but sometimes it’s nice to get out of the city a little and head for something a little calmer and a little greener.

One of our favourite places to visit is Saltwell Park, we discovered it around 2 years ago and it’s become our fail safe place to go. Whether we want to go for a walk, a cup of coffee, visit the animals or walk round the lake, we always enjoy it. It’s a bit of a hidden gem though, many of my friends, even though they’re local, haven’t heard of the place.

Saltwell Park is a ten minute drive from our home, set in a leafy part of Gateshead. It’s tucked away from the main road, and despite the fact it’s massive, it hides quite easily! It has plenty of free parking both around the park on the road, and in a car park joined to the park

As well as the rather grand Saltwell Towers, the park is home to a small animal corner, a beautiful lake where you can hire boats during the summer and even a small train that runs round parts of the park.

We love to go for walks round the beautiful grounds, calling into the cafe inside Saltwell Towers for a hot cuppa or picnicking on the grass in the warmer weather. 
The little man loves playing in the play park, the sandpit is his favourite bit, we usually bring half of it home in his shoes!
I love that Saltwell Park has a lovely range of play equipment for kids of all ages. It’s split into sections for different ages and there’s even an outdoor gym area, suitable for older kids and adults. 
There’s always plenty of places for food and drink at Saltwell Park. If you don’t fancy eating inside Saltwell Towers, there are always fast food vans selling coffee, hot food and ice creams where you can pick something quick up.
Saltwell Park is perfect for treasure hunting and squirrel watching. We love collecting leaves to take home to craft with and the little man loves chasing and shouting at the squirrels and birds. 
Not only is Saltwell Park a beautiful place to spend time, Autumn and Winter mean some fantastic events take place. November brings a huge firework display and December brings the Enchanted Parks and the winter festival where the park becomes a winter wonderland. 

Saltwell Park is definitely out favourite outdoor area in the North East. There’s plenty to do, you can have a completely free day out it if you wish and they park is very beautiful and clean. It’s definitely worth a visit,

Post in collaboration with Talented Talkers and Travelodge 


What to do in the Lake District

Today I’m sharing a lovely post from Sally who has written some fabulous ideas about things to do in the Lake District. We absolutely love the Lakes and go regularly, it was like my second home when I was growing up. So, over to Sally for some wonderful ideas for things to do.

Hi I’m Sally from LifeLoving and Cat has kindly offered me to share my trip to the Lake District with you on her wonderful blog. I write at covering a range of topics, but mainly blogging about travel, days out and food.

I’m a firm believer that you only get one life, so you should be making the most of it. Whether that’s travelling, cooking, delving into new experiences, spending quality time with friends and family or just doing whatever it is you love. I live by the motto ‘ketchup tomorrow, relish today’.

You can find me on Facebook and Twitter or follow my adventures through photos on my Instagram. Thanks for stopping by and thank to Cat for hosting me.

There’s so much to see and do in the Lake District, you could stay there for weeks and not see all that this wonderful area has to offer. It’s a nature lover’s paradise. So if you are armed with your walking shoes and your waterproof jacket you are ready to explore the region that holds so much natural beauty. We visited in March and here’s some of the highlights.

Tarn Hows and Coniston Water
Tarn Hows is one of the more rewarding beauty spots in the Lake District. It’s an area with a charming one and a half mile walk around it, so its particular suitable for those with very young children or in a wheelchair. But for those looking for a longer adventure, you can walk or cycle from nearby Coniston Water. Coniston Water is the third largest of the lakes in the district. It’s also the setting of one of my favourite childhood stories, Swallows and Amazons. Between March and November, a Victorian Steam Yacht Gondola offers visitors a chance to take in the amazing views whilst reclining on an opulent, renovated classic. From Coniston Water, you can hire boats, electric bikes and conventional bikes, so you can get out and about and see the scenery for yourself.

Kendal is a town most famous for its Mint Cake. For those of you that don’t know, Kendal Mint Cake isn’t a cake at all. It’s a high energy glucose-based sweet which is popular with walkers and climbers. Kendal is located about 8 miles away from the very famous Lake Windermere and is really picturesque. The town has lovely little independent shops and the river Kent runs right through the heart of it. It’s perfect for a stroll down the river. We went when Kendal was hosting its annual food festival. The festival was really well organised and not only did it have an impressive array of food stalls offering almost anything you’d want to buy, but it had lots of workshops and talks running throughout the weekend. Covering everything from fruit and veg to the local brews. Next year’s festival runs over the weekend of the 12th and 13th March, so if you are looking to take a break to the Lake District in March, perhaps plan so you can be in Kendal one of those days.

There’s an awful lot to do at Lake Windermere. You’d needn’t be bored here. Of course you can enjoy the views of England’s largest lakes and explore the surrounding areas, but there’s much more here too. There’s an aquarium, a scenic railway and of course the famous World of Beatrix Potter.
The flagship store of Lakeland is located next to Windermere train station. For more outdoorsy activities, there’s boating, abseiling, climbing, balloon flights, horse-riding, cycling and more…. I’m getting tired thinking about it all. It should definitely be up there on your list of places to spend a day or two.

Whitewater Hotel Spa Day
The weather in the Lake District can be a bit hit and miss, so we booked a spa day for one of the days we believed to be one of the worse days, weather-wise. We booked in for full use of the facilities, an hour long treatment and an afternoon tea at the Whitewater Hotel in Lakeland Village, Backbarrow. The facilities at the spa are really good, including an outdoor Jacuzzi which overlooks the river Kent. The treatments we had were so well executed and were really relaxing. I had an hour long facial and my other half had a hot stone massage. We really enjoyed them. After our spa day, we had our afternoon tea in the Dolly Blue bar. The bar is named this as the hotel used to be a factory that manufactured the Dolly Blue pigment, which was used to brighten whites. The afternoon tea was wonderful. We sat on a table for two, overlooking the river and the sandwiches and cakes were delicious.

The market town of Ulverston is most famous for being the birth place of Stan Laurel and the town houses a Laurel and Hardy museum. It’s also known as being a festival town, playing host to over 25 different festivals per year, so perhaps if you are planning a visit, check out their festival calendar. They also have a weekly market (on a Thursday) as well as number of small independent shops and local eateries. We chose a very rainy day to visit and spent most of our time dashing in and out of places avoiding being completely soaked through. We did stop at a place called The Mill for lunch. The food was lovely. Home cooked, warming dishes, which was what we needed as we were pretty soggy and the service was impeccable. The Mill houses the remains of a former working mill, which is the centre-piece to the restaurant. Definitely worth a visit. Also, if you are visiting on a slightly less rainy day than we did, there’s a pleasant two and a half mile long walk alongside the canal.

There are plenty of places to visit in the Lake District. What would you add to the list above?


Barnes Park, Sunderland
Barnes Park, Sunderland
We seem to have come across quite a few new parks this summer. We’ve found lots of new hidden gems, some of which are almost on our doorsteps. My most recent find is Barnes Park in Sunderland
Initially opened way back in 1909 the park is around 2 miles in length and home to a great selection of family friendly activities. 
There are plenty of picnic locations around the park. We ate at one of the benches but a blanket on the grass would be just as nice. I love how much open space there is, there are beautiful walks among the trees and along the edge of the duck pond and it’s a great route for dog walkers and joggers. 
The park has a Victorian bandstand that’s used by local theatre companies to hold productions, one of the most recent being Twelfth Night. I suspect it’d be a rather beautiful and unique location to watch a performance, especially on a warm summer evening. 
As well as the pretty scenery, the park is home to a well kept range of children’s play equipment suitable for both toddlers and older kids. The little man thoroughly enjoyed playing in the sand that surrounds the park, and there are even a couple of buckets and spades that have been left behind by some kind soul. 
Very close to the play area there’s a small cafe with outside seating. We only called in for a cold drink to take away so I can’t comment on the food or hot drinks but there were plenty of people queueing and sat outside so it looked promising. 
The park also has bowling greens, tennis courts and a very tranquil sensory garden where you can sit and enjoy the peace, or chase after your excitable child like I did!
We ended up spending over three hours wandering through the park. I hadn’t realised how nice it was before our visit and we really didn’t want to leave. We walked around most of it, played in the park, fed the ducks and watched the bee’s in the sensory garden so when we finally left, the little man was absolutely worn out. 
We loved our visit to Barnes Park and we’ll be returning soon. It’s such a nice spot to spend the day and if you take a picnic you can have a completely free day out. Parking is free and it costs nothing to spend time in the park. When the little man is older it will be the perfect place for adventuring and hiding in the tree’s. 

A visit to Lightwater Valley
Hubby and I had visited Lightwater Valley pre little man but we couldn’t really remember too much about it. Last week we decided on an impromptu visit and a day out in the sunshine. Located just outside Ripon, Lightwater Valley is around an hour and 20 minutes from our home in Durham. It’s a theme park suitable for families and offers a range of rides suitable for any adrenaline level!
The park is well sign posted once you’re in the general area and there’s plenty of parking available with car park marshalls on hand to direct your vehicle. The park wasn’t as busy as I’d expect, despite the fact we were visiting right in the middle of the school holidays.
A standard ticket for guests measuring over 1 metre and allows entry onto all rides costs £19.60 if you book online in advance. Under 1 metre tickets cost £5 and under 2’s are free which was a very pleasant surprise when we were queueing at the entrance desks. Lightwater Valley also offer a range of discounts for senior citizens, carers and emergency services staff, had I remembered to take my ID badge!
Lightwater Valley dinosaur crazy golf

The entrance to the park is home to a Jurassic themed crazy golf. You can access the crazy golf without paying to enter the park and if you’re visiting the park you get a discounted rate if you decide to visit. The little man was too young to play but he looked shouting and pointing at the interactive dinosaurs.

Lightwater Valley rides

There’s a good range of rides in the park, ranging from relaxing family friendly swan pedal boats on the lake to the adrenaline inducing ‘Ultimate’.

We didn’t go on any of the larger rides during out visit, we opted to go on the more family friendly ones or one of us taking the little man on age appropriate rides whilst the other took photo’s.

Lightwater Valley Eagle Creek farm tractors
Eagle Creek farm at Lightwater Valley
The little man almost couldn’t handle the excitement when he realised he’d be riding in a tractor at Eagle Creek farm, so much so, we rode if 3 times during out visit. 
Lightwater Valley Eagle Creek Farm

Lightwater Valley

Lightwater Valley boating lake and swan pedal boats
Lightwater Valley express train

We loved the Lightwater Express train which runs round the majority of the park, stopping at certain stations to allow you to disembark or join the train. It’s perfect for tired legs and you can even transport push chairs in a special carriage.

Lightwater Valley with child riding the teacups
ride silhouette at Lightwater Valley
father and son on the rides at Lightwater Valley
metal spider sculpture at Lightwater Valley
Near the entrance to the park there’s a great falconry area. It’s home to a good range of birds of prey, snakes, lizards and even some rabbits. We all enjoyed wandering through it and found it a very calm and relaxing location compared to the hustle and bustle of the park itself. 
lizards at Lightwater Valley
I would return to the park, but maybe in a year or two when the little man is a little older so he has the option of going on some of the bigger rides. I would also recommend taking a picnic with you as although the prices weren’t too inflated we struggled to find healthy choices for the little man. 

What we liked
The good range of rides for children the little man’s age
Lack of queues
Plenty of clean toilets with baby change facilities dotted around the park
The Lightwater Valley falconary centre
There’s plenty of grass and seating if you’ve taken a picnic
The reasonable prices

What we didn’t like
The food options were limited. I would have liked to see some healthier options available
A minimum spend of £5 is required on all card machines/shops and food outlets around the park
We found quite a lot of the staff we spoke to quite unhelpful and not particularly polite

The little mans favourite rides –
Eagles Creek farm tractors
Lightwater Express train