We love exploring the different sites along Hadrian’s Wall – it really captures the 5yo’s imagination, and we’re so lucky to have so many amazing kid-friendly sites on our doorstep! Plus, he is always especially happy to investigate a Roman-sword-stocked gift shop. Over the Easter holidays we decided to venture a bit further afield for a few days to explore some parts of the wall we hadn’t been to before. After a month stuck in the house together in March with a seemingly never-ending case of family Covid, the fresh air and open fields were definitely calling!
We don’t drive, so getting around rural areas can sometimes be a bit tricky. The Tyne Valley railway line from Newcastle stops at several useful points for getting out to explore the Roman past in Northumberland. A good stretch of the Wall also has its very own bus service, the AD122 (get it!? The Emperor Hadrian ordered the building of the wall in AD122!) which is especially handy if you’re not quite ready for a mammoth hike between sites or you have a small person in tow. It runs daily between April and October, and the timetable is fairly regular. We got the 3 Day Travel Pass so we could hop on and off when needed, which made things really easy. And naturally the 5yo quickly became best friends with the bus driver.
Another great feature of the AD122 bus route is that it stops right by the entrance of Herding Hill Farm, a beautiful family-friendly camping spot. The 5yo was keen to go camping, so as a slight compromise on lugging around a tent we booked ourselves in here for a couple of nights in one of their glamping pods. It was LOVELY! It is only a couple of stops outside of Haltwhistle but it feels pleasantly remote and has beautiful views over the hills. The site itself was amazing: really child-friendly (the lovely lady at reception asked the 5yo to check us in, which he was extremely pleased about!) with plenty of amenities including a shop and a shower/kitchen block with family bathroom. But perhaps most importantly of all, Herding Hill has a petting farm and a ROMAN FORT play-park! Okay, okay, so the latter might have been one of the main reasons I booked it.. 100% worth it!
After a brief (!) hiatus catching up with all the excitement that came along with the world tentatively re-opening, we’re back – and we’re still making Trojan horses. Half-term seemed like a good opportunity to finally try out our Baker Ross Trojan Horse 3D Woodcraft kit. Their individual pack comes with enough pieces for two horses: all wood, all pre-cut, ready to paint and assemble!
The pieces are neatly cut with no jagged edges, and easy to paint. We used the kids’ paint pots from The Works and the colour showed up great! They also dried pretty quickly which made it easy enough to get both sides covered without making too much of a mess. I opted for boring brown, while the 5yo chose something a bit jazzier!
After a long summer break of pottering around castles, forts, forests, and museums we’re both just about settled back into our routines – H has started school and I’m back teaching on campus. We’ve been reading lots of Greek myth retellings lately, some a bit.. gorier.. than others (!), so I was really pleasantly surprised when we happened upon Leo and the Gorgon’s Curse by Joe Todd-Stanton. This is the fourth title in the Brownstone’s Mythical Collection but stands alone as its own story – so if, like us, you haven’t read any of the others, it will still definitely make sense!
We’ve been exploring lots of Roman forts here lately, so it definitely seemed like time to balance out all our Greek and Egyptian books with some more Romans! We’ve read about Pompeii before a few times before and it immediately captured H’s imagination, so I was really excited when I spied Escape from Pompeiiby Christina Balit.
I’ve always loved visiting museums. I spent endless school holidays pottering around North Down Museum (Bangor Heritage Centre back in those days..), trekking around the Folk and Transport Museum, admiring all things Egyptian at the Ulster Museum, or even getting on the boat to the New World at the Ulster American Folk Park. One of the things I love about Newcastle is the variety of museums and galleries within easy reach – and we have missed them all so much! When the Great North Museum: Hancock reopened a couple of weeks back, H and I couldn’t wait to visit and see for ourselves some of the objects we’ve been reading about these past few months. We had such a fun time, and he asked to go back again pretty much immediately – which I happily agreed to! I’ve been pretty buried under marking lately, so being able to finally get out and about a bit more has been a really welcome change.