Thursday, 23 February 2017

A Guide to Healthy Eating and Fitness in the North East

I'm sure many of us made New Years Resolutions that involved some element of healthy eating and fitness regime. As someone who battled obesity and lost 9 stone, I know only too well what a struggle it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. So I've put together this helpful little guide to Healthy Eating and Fitness in the North East - I really hope that it inspires you!

Naked Deli

Healthy eating has never tasted so good. Naked Deli in Gosforth and Heaton serve up a huge menu of delicious clean food including fantastic brunches, filling lunches and even sweet treats. The dishes are so tasty that it doesn't feel like you're eating healthily at all! If you can't easily get to one of their restaurants there's no excuse as they also have a takeout store inside Fenwick's Food Hall in Newcastle.

Healthy Eating and Fitness in the North East - Naked Deli


Katie Bulmer Cooke Fitness

You may remember Katie Bulmer Cooke from BBC's The Apprentice, I'm sure I'm not the only person in the North East who was rooting for her to win! Lord Sugar's loss is definitely our gain as Katie Bulmer Cooke is getting the North East fit with her Fitness Classes, Group Personal Training and her Real Results programme which helps you achieve your goals through diet and exercise. Check out her website for loads of inspiration and advice.

parkrun

You'll find parkrun across the country and they have a fantastic presence in Newcastle and beyond. Organising free 5k timed runs every Saturday morning at 9:00 am, they are the perfect workout whether you're a keen runner or gentle jogger. There's a wide range of courses in the region ranging from the very flat Town Moor to the more picturesque Saltwell Park. It doesn't matter how fit you are or how fast you go, parkrun is for all abilities and you will find yourself chatting to people from all walks of life.

Healthy Eating and Fitness in the North East


Super Natural Café

Super Natural Café in Newcastle serves solely Vegan and Vegetarian food including plenty of delicious treats for those watching what they eat. Being very mindful of the food that they serve, Super Natural Cafe is a great spot to grab lunch with a friend, safe in the knowledge that you know exactly what you're eating. You'll find plenty of tasty dishes packed full of veggies and if you feel like a naughtier cheeky treat there are also some very tasty cakes on offer.

These Girls Can Run

These Girls Can Run is an inspirational group that come with my personal recommendation as I'm actually a member myself. Encouraging ladies in the North East to put on their running shoes and pound the pavements the group is for beginners who want to achieve their running goals. Even if your experience is limited to running for the bus this group is so incredibly supportive you'll be running 5k in no time. Word of warning, joining this group is addictive and before you know it you'll be calling yourself a runner and living in Start Fitness!

Healthy Eating and Fitness in the North East


The Happy Organic

Supporting the local organic farms, The Happy Organic in Sunderland source the finest seasonal produce ensuring traceability from farm to fork. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their food is happy, tasty and healthy - just what your insides need. Eating the Happy Organic way doesn't have to stop inside the cafe as they also sell takeout and veg boxes for home.

Skinnypigs

Desperate to kick start your fitness routine but don't know where to start? North East fitness fanatics Skinnypigs have women's fitness classes all over Newcastle, Sunderland, Durham, Middlesbrough and South Tyneside. Designed to "make you look better naked", they offer effective classes and nutrition plans and your first session is free!

Keeping fit at Gibside

Gibside is one of our most cherished National Trust sites but did you know that they have a great range of fitness activities throughout the year? You'll find parkrun there every Saturday Nordic walking classes and Get Active health walks - with such beautiful countryside to enjoy, getting fit at Gibside doesn't feel like exercise at all!

Healthy Eating and Fitness in the North East- Gibside


Grab and Go at Ugot

Newcastle train station might not be the first place you think of for healthy food on the go, but Ugot in Central Station provides a healthier alternative for the hungry commuter. Serving honest food, fast you'll find plenty of healthy snacks and lunches perfect for your train journey.

Northern Juice

New kids on the block Northern Juice have recently opened on my favourite street in Newcastle, High Bridge. Serving fresh fruit and veg juices they guarantee raw goodness with no added extras - giving you that much needed natural vitamin boost to get you through your day.

Walking in the North East

Of course exercising doesn't have to involve joining a group or spending any money. We have miles and miles of beautiful walks all over the North East to encourage a healthy lifestyle. Whether it's marching up the hill from the Quayside to town, strolling the stunning coastal paths of Northumberland or trecking along Hadrian's Wall - walking is an easy activity that can be enjoyed at any level for great health benefits.

Healthy Eating and Fitness in the North East


I'd love to hear how you keep yourself fit and healthy in the North East!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Party at Home with Mrs Dellow's Delights North East Afternoon Tea Delivery Service

As I'm sure you all know, I am the self proclaimed Queen of Afternoon Tea in the North East. I've enjoyed finger sandwiches in posh hotels and slabs of cake in the countryside, but one thing I haven't done is throw my own afternoon tea party at home. I love the idea of enjoying a fancy afternoon tea in my house but being absolutely useless at baking I've always assumed I'd never be able to do it. So imagine my excitement when I discovered Mrs Dellow's Delights - a North East based family run company who can deliver afternoon tea to your home.

Party at Home with Mrs Dellow's Delights North East Afternoon Tea Delivery Service

Pinch me now, I must be dreaming? An afternoon tea delivery service based in the North East?!

Any excuse to start my birthday a month early, I decided to invite my ladies Katie and Sam over for an early birthday afternoon tea party at home. Mrs Dellow's Delights are a great idea for special occasions - baby showers, birthday parties, engagement soirees - their mobile afternoon tea is ideal. They deliver afternoon tea to any location you fancy, set up beautiful vintage crockery for you to use and then when you're done come and take it all away again leaving you with no washing up.

In an attempt to be the perfect hostess I decided to set the scene for our afternoon tea by clearing some space in our lounge, making sure I had plenty of comfy seats on hand and hanging up my special wedding bunting that I've been dying to use ever since our big day. Who needs to head out to a tea room when you have your own pastel coloured bunting?

Special mention to my husband who thought it would be funny to change my "LOVE" sign in the background to read "VOLE" - anyone want him? He's free to a good home!

Party at Home with Mrs Dellow's Delights North East Afternoon Tea Delivery Service


After the "Vole incident" Simon was banished upstairs to play on his Xbox, leaving the ladies to settle down to an afternoon of gossip and cake - safe in the knowledge that if we overindulged we'd be able to undo our top buttons without embarrassment. Oh the joys of afternoon tea at home!

Mrs Dellow's Delightful Afternoon Tea Delivery Service offers four different afternoon teas to serve every appetite and budget. From the modest Bronze Menu for £9.95 per person to The Bubbly One for £16.50 per person which involves more food and, of course, the all important glass of Prosecco. A list of sandwiches fillings is available before you order meaning that you get to pick exactly what you have as part of your afternoon tea.

Party at Home with Mrs Dellow's Delights North East Afternoon Tea Delivery Service
Mrs Dellow's Delights arrived to set up the afternoon tea bang on time and after a few minutes I couldn't recognise my coffee table as it was transformed into the perfect afternoon tea display. They had thought of everything - beautiful cake stands, mismatch vintage china, a sugar bowl, a little jug of milk and our table was even decorated with a vase of daffodils - such a wonderful added touch.

Cozying up with my favourite ladies it didn't take us long to really enjoy the benefits of having an afternoon tea party at home. Free to be as loud as we fancied, stuff as many sandwiches as we could manage without the need for table manners and, my personal favourite, slathering my scone in jam and cream whilst wearing slippers.

Party at Home with Mrs Dellow's Delights North East Afternoon Tea Delivery Service

Our afternoon started with a full on attack of the sandwich tier. No fear for fussy sandwich eaters we'd banished our least favourite fillings which resulted in a delicious feast just for us. Fresh squishy bread overflowing with generous fillings, we had a never ending supply of triangle sandwiches on a mixture of white and wholemeal bread. We worked our way through Wensleydale & Carrot Chutney, Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese, Egg & Cress and Mature Cheddar with tangy pickle.

Mrs Dellow's Delights provided us with a selection of tea and coffee for our feast, presented in the cutest jars, all we had to do was keep the kettle full to refresh our cups. Bottomless cups of tea all round! I particularly appreciated the lose leaf Yorkshire Tea, the best afternoon teas are always served with proper tea.

Party at Home with Mrs Dellow's Delights North East Afternoon Tea Delivery Service
We each had a cheese scone and fruit scone and they were huge.  I couldn't quite manage both mine (needing to save room for that all important cake) so had half a cheese slathered in butter followed by half a fruit scone that I covered in an embarrassing amount of jam and cream. Why do I always have to be so greedy when I'm presented with the jam and cream?

Mrs Dellow's Delights North East Afternoon Tea Delivery Service - Scones


The all important cake tier was something very special. All homemade by Mrs Dellow we were treated to huge slabs of moist Lemon Drizzle Cake filled with an indulgent lemon buttercream, Super Squidgy Chocolate Cake bursting with fresh cream and topped with milk chocolate and (my personal favourite) White Chocolate Cheesecake with fresh raspberries.

Wow!

Some of the best homemade cake I have ever had, each mouthful was heaven.

Mrs Dellow's Delights North East Afternoon Tea Delivery Service - Lemon Drizzle Cake
I hate to say it but Mrs Dellow's Delights afternoon tea completely defeated us! Yep, the North East cake eating champion failed! The portions were so generous there was no way we could finish it between the three of us, which meant we all got rather lovely goodie bags to save for the next day. Result!

Mrs Dellow's Delights North East Afternoon Tea Delivery Service - Super Squidgy Chocolate Cake

The best part about the afternoon was that after eating all that food all I wanted to do was have a little kip, which I could absolutely do as I didn't have to worry about any clearing up.  Mrs Dellow's Delights turned up afterwards to clear the whole lot up and take it all away - they were in and out so fast with so little fuss that when I crashed out on the sofa a few moments later I was left wondering if it had all been a rather amazing dream?

I honestly can't recommend Mrs Dellow's Delights mobile afternoon tea enough - it's a brilliant concept, an absolute bargain and the food is delicious!  To book your own Mrs Dellow's Delights Afternoon Tea Party give them a call on 07961 825 556 or drop them an e-mail at contact@mrsdellow.com.

Mrs Dellow's treated us to a complimentary afternoon tea for review purposes, all opinions are our own - these guys are amazing!

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Winter Walking at Wallington, National Trust

Whilst I'm not a huge fan of the Winter, I love those beautiful days that remind us why it can be great. When there's a clear blue sky, a crisp chill in the air and a beautiful beaming sun I love to get out for a Winter walk to blow away the cobwebs. Care to join us for some Winter walking at Wallington?

Winter Walking at Wallington, National Trust


For Christmas Simon's Mum bought us a joint membership to the National Trust and it was easily my favourite present. Every time I say that Simon likes to remind me of the beautiful Jo Malone candle he bought me as a surprise! I obviously loved that too, but it's the National Trust membership that has me excited. You know you love a present when you're sitting in a pub ignoring your husband because you're too busy happily flicking through the National Trust guide planning adventures.

Winter Walking at Wallington, National Trust
Seeing how happy I was Simon promised that we could go on a National Trust adventure as soon as we got a nice clear day. Being completely cheeky I asked him if we were limited to the North East and after being told that we definitely couldn't go exploring sites in Cornwall I happily chose our very first trip as members to Wallington in the beautiful Northumberland countryside.

Winter Walking at Wallington, National Trust


As we clambered our way out of our car on a beautiful sunny day in January, I was so thankful that I'd decided to bring my wellies. Every path was either glistening with sheets of ice or thick with mud. I wouldn't have lasted two seconds in the boots I'd originally planned to wear.

Note to self - still need to buy some walking boots!

Winter Walking at Wallington, National Trust


Wallington was completely packed with families enjoying the Winter sunshine. Simon never really understands why I love to head outdoors in the freezing cold, but judging by the amount of families out and about that day it seems I'm not the only person in the North East who appreciates a Winter walk in the sun.

Winter Walking at Wallington, National Trust


Winter Walking at Wallington, National Trust

Once I'd finished prancing about on the wet lawn appreciating the beautiful views of the Northumberland countryside and taking far too many photographs for Instagram, it was time to decide on our plan of action!

There's a great selection of beautiful walks at Wallington but for our first visit we decided to stick to the main grounds of the Estate and not wander too far. We were in the mood for a potter rather than a hike.

Winter Walking at Wallington, National Trust


We decided to ditch all maps and plans and just go where our feet decided to take us. It wasn't long before the noisy playground had faded into the distance and we were more or less alone wandering round the beautiful woodlands of Wallington. Although it was freezing it felt so good to be strolling out in the fresh air!

Winter Walking at Wallington, National Trust

Winter Walking at Wallington, National Trust


Winter Walking at Wallington, National Trust


Just as our toes had begun to feel a little numb from the cold (note to self, buy thick socks when purchasing walking boots) we stumbled across the bird hide and eagerly made our way inside for a bit of shelter and hopefully some good wildlife. Anyone whose been reading New Girl in Toon for a while may remember our holiday to Center Parcs a few years ago where Simon and I spent over 2 hours sitting in a bird hide. We just love them!

Winter Walking at Wallington, National Trust


Before our adventure I'd read a little about how Wallington are working with Red Squirrels North England to save the red squirrel population. I never expected to see any on our trip, but as we took a seat in the hide alongside the other wildlife spotters we were thrilled to be treated to a visit from a red squirrel only a few moments later.

Wallington, National Trust - Red Squirrel
With a massive amount of lens envy sitting with so many wildlife photographers and their amazing cameras, we enjoyed a good 5 minute red squirrel spot as he happily helped himself to nuts and munched on them just a few metres away from us.

I feel so lucky that we live in a part of the country where red squirrels are slowly becoming more common, since moving north I've been very fortunate to see a fair few red squirrels and it always feel so special.

Wallington, National Trust


We decided to treat ourselves to a cup of coffee to warm our hands on as we headed back to the car so stopped off at the Clock Tower Cafe. Queuing up for our drink don't ask me how we managed to resit all of the tempting cakes on display, the amazing looking sticky toffee cake looked particularly good!

Wallington, National Trust


Wallington, National Trust


As we returned to the car I stopped to peruse the National Trust map by the entrance gate. One down, 499 to go I told my husband happily as I started planning our next adventures. He was pretty quiet, I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm joking!

Let me know where we should go next folks! I plan on making full use of our membership this year!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

La Yuan Newcastle Menu Review

Writing New Girl in Toon has introduced me to restaurants, cuisines and experiences that I probably never would have experienced before the blog and for that I am very grateful. My most recent foodie adventure was to Sichuan restaurant, La Yuan in Newcastle to review their menu.

Like me, you're probably pretty partial to sweet and sour chicken on a Friday night from your local Chinese takeaway, but La Yuan offer something completely different and will make you question whether you really know much about Chinese food at all. La Yuan serve up Chinese food from the Sichuan province of China - famous for its bold flavours, it's a real taste experience.

La Yuan Newcastle


After many years of sticking within my comfort zone when eating out, recently I've enjoyed discovering new type of cuisines and experiencing different flavours - I've managed to slowly build up my tolerance to spice and am adventurous enough to try most things on a menu. So, as you can imagine, I was very excited to try out La Yuan.

You'll find La Yuan on Gallowgate, the perfect central location in Newcastle a stone's throw from Eldon Square and a few steps from St James Park. During our visit there was a lovely buzzy atmosphere, with groups of friends enjoying tables full of food. It really is a great spot for a "mate date" and I loved the simplistic feeling of the decor which almost felt cafe like and gave La Yuan a wonderful laid back feeling.

La Yuan Newcastle


If, like me, you are pretty new to Chinese cuisine, La Yuan is a great place to head as the menu is small and perfectly formed and the lovely waitresses are keen to help you out with menu choices. I was very happy that the menu came with a "chilli sign guide" for those not liking their food too hot and the staff were great at answering my questions and accommodating my nut allergy.

Our lovely waitress gave us a brief introduction to the menu and explained that many diners love to order a mixture of cold and hot dishes to share. I absolutely love shared dining, nothing makes me happier than sharing with a friend - for me its the ultimate social experience.

My friend Sarah was my date for the evening, she's one of my favourite dining partners as we both have very similar tastes in food and we aren't afraid to roll up our sleeves and dig in. She is the perfect friend to share food with!

La Yuan Newcastle Menu Review


We decided to order two large hot dishes and two sides to share - taking a sneaky look at the tables around us we could see that the bowls of food looked pretty huge so we knew that this would be a good amount of food for us both.

First up the Beef with Shia Mushroom (£12.00) - diced beef fried with Shia mushrooms. The dish was packed with strong flavour and the mushrooms provided a beautiful earthy taste that kept us going back for more. We were very thankful we had nice big spoons so we could scoop plenty of delicious food onto our plates. I've honestly never tasted a dish so beautiful - I can't wait to go back and order it again.

La Yuan Newcastle Menu Review


For our second hot dish we ordered the Yu Shiang Pork (£10.00) - finely sliced pork, flash fried with wood ear mushrooms, red pepper and bamboo shoots. The pork was so deliciously tender and, again, the dish was packed with flavour. I couldn't get enough and was so thankful for the generous portion.

La Yuan Newcastle Menu Review

There were loads of rice options on the menu so it took us a while to decide which one to go for but we decided on the Vegetable Fried Rice (£6.00). Served in a never ending bowl I couldn't believe how much rice we had. It didn't matter how much we dug at it, it was never empty! The perfect accompaniment to our meaty hot dishes.

La Yuan Newcastle Menu Review


Wanting to try something slightly different we also ordered Steamed King Scallops with Garlic and Rice Noodles (£3.00 each) - neither of us had ever tried Scallops and when they appeared in front of us we were so excited to give them a go. Beautifully presented in giant shells they were plump, juicy and so delicious.

La Yuan Newcastle Menu Review


I'm afraid to say that our delicious feast defeated us!  I was definitely far greedier than Sarah when it came to digging my spoon in, but despite my efforts we couldn't quite polish the lot off.  We reluctantly had to call it quits and leant back in our chairs enjoying that happy feeling you only get from eating a truly satisfying meal.

As we left we noticed a rather intriguing looking tea tray complete with a cute little ceramic frog sitting on the counter so couldn't resist asking what it was. The tray is part of La Yuan's Chinese Tea Ceremony which you can enjoy after your meal or in the afternoon as an alternative to afternoon tea. Showcasing some of China's best teas in a beautiful traditional ceremony, I'll definitely be ordering it on my next visit.

La Yuan Newcastle Chinese Tea Ceremony


We left La Yuan with very happy tummies and excited to have found such a gem in the centre of Newcastle. I need to take Simon ASAP - it's too good to keep it to myself!

We received complimentary meals for the purposes of this review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Thursday, 9 February 2017

The best places and ideas in the North East for a wedding proposal

With Valentines Day approaching I'm sure there are a few people out there who are thinking about popping the big question with a romantic gesture fit for the occasion. But where are the best places in the North East for a wedding proposal and how do you go about it?

Being a huge romantic (and wedding obsessed!) I thought I'd help you guys out with a few ideas!

The best places and ideas in the North East for a wedding proposal
 Photo by Katie Byram Photography 

Top of Newcastle Castle

With a breathtaking view of Newcastle as your backdrop, Newcastle Castle has to be one of the most romantic places in the North East for a wedding proposal. Potter round the Medieval Castle before leading your love up the 99 stairs to the roof where you'll find your picture perfect location (and, if you time it right, hopefully some privacy!) Just be very careful not to drop the ring!

The best places and ideas in the North East for a wedding proposal - Newcastle Castle


Grainger Market Carpet Picnic 

If you want your proposal to be a private affair for two then a carpet picnic  in the comfort of your home would be the perfect way to pop the question. With fresh bread from the French Oven, cheese from Matthew's Cheese Shop, Pet Lamb cupcakes and, of course, a bottle of wine from La Casa Delicatessen there are plenty of goodies at Grainger Market to put on a tasty spread. Lay out a rug in your lounge, bring out your fancy crockery and you have the perfect start to a romantic proposal.

Weekend away at Jesmond Dene House

For the ultimate dream proposal, whisk your other half away for a surprise weekend at Jesmond Dene House. The beautiful hotel is the perfect balance of comfort and luxury with beautiful suites, delicious afternoon tea and fine wines served by the fire. If a pretty backdrop proposal is what you're after take a stroll through Jesmond Dene where the stunning waterfall will provide you with the perfect location before you return to the hotel for a night of indulgence.

The best places and ideas in the North East for a wedding proposal - Jesmond Dene House

Personalised cheesecake

Fancy giving your love a proposal to remember? How about asking "will you marry me" with cheesecake? Simply Cheesecake make full sized cheesecakes to order in a huge variety of flavours - they're deliciously naughty and creamy! You can order your cheesecake with a message iced on the top, Simon got me a "Happy Birthday" cheesecake for my birthday and it was definitely one of his finest moments! Just imagine your partner's face when they see your surprise proposal on their favourite dessert!

Bench at Bamburgh

Did you know that we have an award winning bench in the region? There's a beautiful little spot overlooking Bamburgh Castle where you'll find a bench offering fantastic views. The short up hill climb makes it easy to access yet not too busy and I can honestly think of nowhere as beautiful for a proposal. It's a dream location!

The best places and ideas in the North East for a wedding proposal - Bamburgh




Angel of the North

Countless couples have got engaged in the shadow of the Angel of the North, but with it being such an icon of the North East it's easy to see why. Whilst it can be pretty busy during the day, you can enjoy some peace and quiet with epic pink skies if you time your trip well.

Glitterburst Balloons

You might not immediately associate balloons with romance, but believe me they can be so romantic! Glitterburst Balloons create the most stunning giant balloons and have a huge passion for beautiful and original creations. Decorate your bedroom with feather filled balloons or hide a message inside a beautiful confetti filled balloon - this is the perfect idea for a truly unique and creative proposal.

The best places and ideas in the North East for a wedding proposal - Glitterburst Balloons








Walking blankets, mugs of coffee

We are very spoilt in the North East and have miles and miles of beautiful walks. Whether you're a lover of woodlands, coastline or countryside it's easy to find somewhere special for a stroll. Pack some snuggly blankets, a flask of coffee and that all important ring box for a proposal full of romance and adventure. Some of my favourite walks in the area include the South Shields to Sunderland coastal path and Whitley Bay to Seaton Sluice offering great views of St Mary's Lighthouse.

The best places and ideas in the North East for a wedding proposal



 Photo by Katie Byram Photography 

For anyone already married or engaged, I'd love to hear your proposal story and if I've missed out any beautiful places in the North East for a wedding proposal, let me know!

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

10 Fun Date Ideas in the North East for Valentines

As if I need to remind you, next week is Valentine's Day! For those of you that are feeling a little stuck on what to buy your loved one, I am here to save the day! Forget overpriced chocolates and wilting flowers - why not treat your other half to a special day to remember with my fun date ideas in the North East for Valentinefs.

Stay overnight at the Grange Bed and Breakfast

Treat your loved one to an overnight staycation at the Grange Bed and Breakfast in Northumberland. The cosy Grade II listed house is the perfect luxury treat and a great way to pamper your Prince or Princess. Snuggle up in the cosy guest lounge, walk the beautiful grounds and take some time out to relax in the peace and quiet. The Grange even offer special packages to include champagne, chocolates and flowers - far better than a panic dash to the garage for a last minute purchase!

Fun Date Ideas in the North East for Valentines - Grange Bed and Breakfast


Tyneside Cinema

Sometimes the simple date nights are the best and I can think of nothing better than enjoying a film at the Tyneside Cinema with my husband. Unlike the large cinema chains in Newcastle, the Tyneside is comfy, cosy and the perfect location for a romantic date night. On Valentine's Day the cinema will be showing "When Harry Met Sally", the North East's Most Romantic Film, as voted by you! Date night at the Tyneside doesn't just finish with a movie - make sure you check out the delicious Tyneside Bar and Cafe for post film food and don't forget Vicolo next door for a cocktail or two.

Walking at National Trust

Have I mentioned how much I love National Trust? Since getting our couple's membership for Christmas I just can't get enough. With miles and miles of beautiful countryside to explore we are very blessed in the North East to have some great places to visit. Walk hand in hand with your loved one and enjoy some Winter sunshine followed by the obligatory tea and cake in the café! The perfect fun date idea for Valentines!

Fun Date Ideas in the North East for Valentines - National Trust


Enjoy a bottle of wine from the Pip Stop

For the couple who think that Valentines Day is all a bit silly and so don't really want to make a fuss, how about spending an evening at home with your love watching your favourite movies and sharing a bottle of wine? Begin your evening with a visit to the Pip Stop in Co. Durham where you'll find a huge range of beers and wines sold from a 1950s converted garage. If you're looking for a special bottle to mark the occasion, there's plenty of help on hand so you can enjoy picking out a new favourite.

Two Spoons at Beaches and Cream

Being a big lover of food and someone who doesn't like to share it, asking for a dessert with two spoons is, in my eyes, the ultimate declaration of love. Take a beautiful romantic coastal walk from North Shields Fish Quay to Cullercoats and finish your afternoon off with a huge ice-cream sundae with two spoons from our favourite spot, Beaches and Cream. Although ice-cream wont exactly warm you up after a winter walk, they are so delicious it has to be done! When it comes to fun date ideas for Valentines, anything involving sharing food is a winner.

Fun Date Ideas in the North East for Valentines - Beaches and Cream




Make a mess at Fat Hippo 

I LOVE how Fat Hippo embrace special occasions and this Valentines they have created a special one-off Asian inspired menu! The highlight is their Valentines Burger "When a Baaanh Loves a Woman" (Brilliant!) - Sweet Chilli Jam Fried Chicken, Cheese, Pink Onions, Asian Slaw and Banh Mi Mayo. For the couple who love to roll their sleeves up and get messy - Fat Hippo is the place to be.

Lane 7

Lane 7 is the ultimate date experience for a Valentines of fun with your partner. There's something for everyone and it's an absolute playground for couples that love to spend their time being a little competitive with each other. Enjoy some bowling or go to battle over Mini Golf before finishing your date off with some delicious food and drinks in the restaurant.

Fun Date Ideas in the North East for Valentines - Lane 7


Recreate your first date

Call me a soppy old romantic but I love this idea! If you were lucky enough to enjoy your first date in the North East then why no recreate it this Valentine's Day? Simon and I had our first date in London however I still remember our first Newcastle date and love the idea of doing it all again. For us that would mean dinner at The Big Mussel on the Quayside followed by a silly amount of cocktails at The Vineyard.

Book a special restaurant

Anyone else got a huge list of "special restaurants" that they save for the perfect occasion? If you're anything like me you never actually get them ticked off so why not make a start this Valentine's Day? Maybe you fancy finally trying House of Tides or Peace & Loaf? Or checking out newbie restaurant Dobson and Parnell, or perhaps taking in those beautiful views at Chaophraya? Valentine's Day gives you a great excuse!

Overnight at Lumley Castle

I'm not sure there's anywhere in the North East that screams fairy tale romance quite like Lumley Castle. The turrets, towers, magical wardrobes and four poster beds make this a dream staycation for Valentines. You can enjoy a special romantic candlelit dinner with a Valentines Menu, Bed and Breakfast from £89.50 per person. If my husband treated me to a surprise like this I'd be over the moon!

Fun Date Ideas in the North East for Valentines - Lumley Castle

How are you celebrating Valentine's Day this year? If you know of any gems I'm forgetting make sure you share in the comments below. I'd love some more fun date ideas in the North East!

For even more ideas check out my post from last year on The Most Romantic Dates in the North East and if you have any great ideas yourself be sure to share!

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Dobson and Parnell, Newcastle - Review of the Set Menu

When I heard about Dobson and Parnell opening on the Newcastle Quayside I was beyond excited. The Quayside has come alive with delicious new restaurants over the last year or so and having glanced at the menu outside every time I stroll past, Dobson and Parnell is one of the jewels in its crown.

Andy Hook - owner of two of my favourite North East restaurants, Blackfriars in Newcastle and Hinnies on Whitely Bay seafront, opened Dobson and Parnell at the end of last year - serving up refined British and European cuisine from the beautiful Victorian Grade II listed building.

Named after local architects John Dobson (famed for his work on the Grainger Market, and Central Station) and William Parnell (creator of the Tyne Theatre), the new restaurant is stunning and features hanging lights, stripped back brickwork and timber walls - giving the beautiful classic Victorian interiors a modern feel.

Dobson and Parnell, Newcastle


The menus at Dobson and Parnell change several times a week to ensure fresh produce and seasonal dishes with food coming from nearby farms and markets, in fact our menu changed as we were sat at the table which I loved. Being able to enjoy dishes that are so creative and ever changing is a real treat for the passionate foodie.

We dined from the Set Menu, served between 12:00 pm - 2:30 pm and 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm from Tuesday - Saturday. Dining in the early evening our meal cost £25 for three courses but you can also enjoy the same menu at lunchtimes for £21 for three courses.

Each course offered three delicious dishes which had my belly growling in anticipation. I changed my mind several times before eventually placing my order. As we waited for our food to arrive we settled down and enjoyed the wonderful atmosphere.  Dobson and Parnell has a peaceful and relaxing feel with very attentive and friendly staff.

Dobson and Parnell, Newcastle


I started off the evening with Smoked  Ham and Chive Terrine served with pickles and pumpernickel. The dish looked almost too beautiful too eat, just look at all those vibrant colours!

Luckily I was only staring at it for a couple of minutes, as good as it looked I couldn't resist digging my fork in.  Wow! Such a great start to my meal, it was packed with flavour and an exciting promise of what was to come.

Dobson and Parnell, Newcastle - Review of the Set Menu

My meal continued with Pan Fried Black Cod served with smoked mussel liquor, frumenty, pickled lemon and wakame seaweed. It was my first try of wakame seaweed and I loved the subtle sweet flavour that worked so well with the cod and frumenty.

As each course arrived our lovely waiters talked us through each dish, telling us where our food had come from and a little about how it had been prepared and served. Added touches like this make Dobson and Parnell truly special and I loved that everyone there loves food as much as me.

Dobson and Parnell, Newcastle - Review of the Set Menu

Then came my favourite course - dessert! I was so happy to see Yorkshire Rhubarb & Ricotta and White Chocolate Parfait served with Whey Fudge on the menu. I've been obsessed with rhubarb ever since I was a little girl - my Grandma grew it in her garden and would serve it stewed with ice-cream, it's something that every time I have it, I'm transported to my childhood.

I'm so glad that I ordered it as it was one of the best desserts I've ever had. Completely lost in all of the delicious sweet flavours it was one of those dishes I wanted to last forever - I'll be thinking about that dish for a long time to come!

Dobson and Parnell, Newcastle - Review of the Set Menu


As well as the Set Menu, Dobson and Parnell offer lots of other tempting deals including 3 courses and glass of fizz for £24 served Tuesday to Saturdays and a business lunch menu with 3 courses, a 250 ml glass of wine and coffee for £30.

If you like the look of the set menu then you can enjoy two 3 courses meals for the price of one available at lunchtimes and in the evening before 7:00 pm Tuesday to Friday before 13 February

For foodies like me, make sure you join the Food Club where you'll receive exclusive offers each month from Dobson and Parnell, Blackfriars and Hinnies.

We loved our first trip to Dobson and Parnell and with so many great offers available I don't think it'll be long before we return!

We received complimentary meals for the purposes of this review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.