During the last weekend in February I would usually be found exploring a European city, drinking wine by day and cocktails by night.
Every year I’ve been lucky enough to escape to a different (usually colder) climate and enjoy a well earned rest to celebrate ending one year and beginning the next chapter somewhere new. And this year was no exception.
Baby’s first plane ride?
Originally we’d planned to head to Amsterdam. Heavily pregnant, I’d researched hotels with lift access (essential in those tiny but tall town houses) the easy airport train to city route and luggage allowances with a mini me.
“We’ll book it when he arrives though, you know, just in case.”
And what a good job that was. After experiencing the amount of bags required for our impromptu trip to Scotland the month before, fitting that mass of luggage into a suitcase and transporting it from place to place was just NOT going to happen.
So this year, we jumped in the car and visited the North East of England’s instead.
Having family in Newcastle meant we’d of course been before, but we were eager to see more. Which led us to Durham and Tynemouth.
South of Newcastle is the pretty university city of Durham.
With its cobbled streets, picturesque green landscape and Romanesque architecture it was easy to forget we were exploring our home turf rather than somewhere further afield.
As pretty as the slim, uphill, cobbled streets were, they are NOT made for pushing a pram. So we abandoned our plan of a riverside stroll for a visit to Durham Cathedral and enjoyed some of the Fire and Ice festivities that were on display over this particular weekend.
The cathedral is free to access (although a £3 donation is suggested) and is spectacularly beautiful. The Rose Window is especially stunning, as is the outdoor spaces.
The restaurant and gift shop which are located below the cathedral are a great spot for a coffee (and baby feed 🙈) and the afternoon tea looked pretty epic!
With the freakishly warm weather upon us, we decided to spend our second day up North at the coast. Tynemouth is to the north east of Newcastle city centre but can be accessed with 25 minutes by their super efficient metro network.
A wander round the weekly market, a bag of chips on the seafront followed by ice cream in the Priory ruins wasn’t a typical February day, but having the sun on our backs did just the trick to get us in the mood for Spring.
Tynemouth was definitely more pram friendly than Durham, but the mass crowds headed to the seashore did make getting out and about trickier than we are used to.
A place to lay your head
Reassured from the Scotland trip, we stuck to what we know and booked 3 nights at the Premier Inn Washington, in-between Durham and Newcastle. Large rooms, provided travel cots and all you can eat late breakfasts with the added bonus of friendly staff. It’s not the most glamorous of hotel getaways, but having somewhere familiar really helped to ease the anxiety of being away from home.
In Durham, the handy park and ride was a ten minute drive from the hotel. Costing £2 per person (but free for under 16s) the buses arrive every 10 minutes and take you directly to Market Square. We did have to wait for 3 buses to manage to get one with pram space on our return journey, but, with very little parking available, it was still the easiest option.
Over in Tynemouth the metro system is quick, easy and pram friendly. It’s very similar to the London Underground with some carriages adopting the bench style seating leading to lots of pram space.
Baby friendly eating
A birthday isn’t a birthday unless you eat something scrummy. With baby in tow it was tricky to find somewhere family friendly in a city we were unfamiliar with.
San Lorenzo was a godsend. We booked mere hours before dining, but they still went to the trouble to create a wide space with plenty of room for a pram, in the quieter area of the restaurant. The staff went above and beyond to make a fuss over all three of us and couldn’t of been more attentive. We honestly left feeling like part of the family and gutted it wasn’t our local.
And the food? It was sensational. I opted for the Goats Cheese and Red Onion Flatbread to start with the risotto to follow. Both were easily some of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten, and the moderate price was an added bonus.
In Durham itself there’s plenty of gorgeous places to be fed and watered. But with a big pram on a busy Saturday we couldn’t get in for love nor money.
So maybe next time we’ll head further a field and tackle a 5 day break. I don’t think I’m prepared for a plane ride until we are out of the mammoth bottle sterilising routine, but once he’s eating properly I’m sure we’ll be ready for a spot of sunshine and swimming!
Where are you heading on your next family holiday?