Wednesday, 30 November 2016

November Days

This month I've mostly been excited about Christmas, although desperately trying to stop myself. Every year I make the same mistake and get excited far too early, I don't think I'll ever change though!

Here's what happened in November that didn't make the blog.

A Thoughtful Gift 

My lovely friend Lisa couldn't make our wedding as she was on holiday in the US. Little did I know that on my wedding day she was hunting round New York to find me a special present. On her return she gave me this gorgeous Henri Bendel makeup bag with my new initials on. It was so thoughtful of her and one of the nicest presents I've ever been given. I was so touched.

Henri Bendel Makeup bag




Pumpkin Pie

A few months ago I wrote an Autmm Bucket List which included an ode to pumpkins and how much I wanted to try pumpkin pie. It's a treat that I've realised isn't too easy to find. So I was buzzing when we stopped off at Daniel Farm after an Autumnal walk at Gibside and I discoverd a menu full of pumpkin treats. I had already ordered spiced pumpkin soup for lunch before I realised that there was a pumpkin pie displayed on the counter. So a double pumpkin lunch for me! The pie was worth the wait and I loved it!

Daniel Farm Pumpkin Pie

Autumn Fashion

I love fashion at this time of year but have had to try pretty hard to keep myself out of the shops this season as I just don't have the spare cash to be splashing out on new clothes. Unfortunately the weekly food shop means that Tesco is somewhere that I can't avoid and they have some amazing Autumn fashion in store. This bomber jacket was something that I just couldn't resist and before I knew it it was in the trolley.

Tesco Bomber Jacket


Lunch Dates

None of my best friends work in the city centre which can make week day lunches a little lonely so I was over the moon when my friend Sam popped into Toon for a Friday lunch date this month. We headed to Las Iguanas on the Quayside and had a great hour of gossip and eating (probably our favourite activities). We've vowed to make this a more regular occurrence in the new year and something tells me that's a New Years Resolution I'll actually be able to keep!

Las Iguanas Newcastle Quayside




Holmeside 

The best way to explore somewhere is to find a local to be your tour guide. My friend Sarah recently took me on a little jaunt round Sunderland. It was a pretty miserable day so we spent quite a while hiding in Holmeside, a great little independent coffee shop with bags of personality. Needing to warm up we both went for a hot chocolate and wow was it dreamy! A definite Winter must next time you're in Sunderland.

Holmeside Coffee Sunderland


Our Wedding Film

We received our full length wedding film from Top Table Films this month and it was even better than we imagined. I am so thankful that my sisters convinced me to get a videographer for the day as we now have a really wonderful everlasting memory of our wedding. As well as the full ceremony and speeches we also have loads of brilliant clips of family and friends  set to some of our favourite music. We've noticed so many things that we never saw on the day - my absolute highlight is our friends messing about on the dance floor whilst we're doing our first dance, we were completely oblivious on the day. I've watched the film a ridiculous amount of times already and I'm so excited to show it to family and friends over Christmas.

Top Table Films Wedding Videographer


Marshmallow Fireside

Any candle lover knows that Bath and Body Works in the US do the best candles for Autumn/Winter but with most of us unable to get our hands on them this dupe is pretty much the perfect alternative. The two wick Essence candles at B&M are only £2.99 each and are amazing! I was so excited to find this Marshmallow Fireside scent at the Metrocentre store and you would not believe how long it's lasting us and how great the smell is. It really does makes our whole house smell of toasting marshmallows. I've since become obsessed with hunting out new scents to try, with no online shop available half of the fun is stalking round stores trying to find new candles to try.

B & M Candle


Winter at the Biscuit Factory 

I love the new exhibition launches at the Biscuit Factory and the Winter Event this month was my favourite so far. With Fizz and Roast Chestnuts welcoming guests it wasn't long before I was feeling very festive. It was great to see all of the new exhibitions and a special appearance by local choir, Voice of the Town gave me goosebumps and made me seriously wish I could sing cos wow I wanted to join! I also had a good nose round the shop which had some great gift ideas for Christmas, especially in their beautiful little shed of books.

Biscuit Factory


A Winter Wedding at Alnwick Garden

I've been wanting to go to a North East wedding for the longest time and this month my dreams finally came true when Simon's friend Rich invited us to his wedding at the picture perfect Alnwick Garden. I wore my showstopper skirt from the new Coast Store at the Metrocentre which was perfect for a Winter wedding. The ceremony was beautiful with plenty of tears and laughter -and the usual speeches were replaced by a really fun quiz that really got the party started. Such a perfect day!

Winter Wedding Guest


For more adventures from New Girl in Toon make sure you follow me on Instagram - I post a new photo every day.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Intu Eldon Square: Grey's Quarter - Cocktails at TGI Fridays

The most noticeable restaurant of all the new eateries in Eldon Square Grey's Quarter has to be TGI Fridays. Its giant sign in the window lights up Monument below like a beacon to burger lovers.

I'm sure we've all enjoyed many a "ooops I've eaten far too much" evenings out at TGI Fridays, it is, after all, a restaurant that's been in the UK since the 1980s. However, the new TGI Fridays in Eldon Square is actually offering its customers something a little different with a brand new concept restaurant, the first of its kind in the UK.

Curious? I certainly was! So, with a long overdue date night needed, Simon and I popped along to the VIP opening for a nose and some much needed cocktails.



The new look TGI Fridays offers diners a reason to visit at any time of the day which means bottomless Prosecco Brunch served between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm on weekends (yes please!), a value lunch menu, takeout options for those "on the go" and of course, a new look main menu for those wanting a proper night out on the Toon.

Probably the biggest change though is the huge new lounge and bar multifunctional area which is a fantastic addition to Eldon Square. There are comfy sofas to chill on, plenty of power sockets and free WiFi for laptop work, communal areas to grab a coffee with friends and a little stage for live music and DJ sets.



 We grabbed some comfy seats at the bar, a prime spot for people watching, chatting to the barmen and, of course, a clever way to ensure that our glasses were never empty.

Our night began with a Cherry Stag for me (Jim Beam Black Cherry infused bourbon shaken with Amaretto, cherry brandy and a dash of lemon juice) and a Lynchburg Lemonade (Jack Daniels, triple sec, sweet & sour and Schweppes lemonade) for Simon.



Please tell me it's not just me, but I always feel a little glamorous when I'm perched on a stool at a bar. It never fails to make me feel like I've stepped into a movie. It seems the opulent looking bar at the new TGIs makes you feel important even when you're dressed head to toe in Primark.

Second round and I went for the Raspberry Flower (Absolut Raspberri Vodka, elderflower, chilled apple and cranberry juices) which was a really light and refreshing cocktail. I almost forgot I was drinking alcohol, it tasted like a delicious fruit squash.  Simon opted for the Paradise Punch (Southern Comfort, Amaretto, grenadine and SKYY Vodka with pineapple, orange and lime juices) which I described as holiday in a glass.



As we enjoyed our drinks a few tasters from the new look main menu appeared. A selection of "can't get anywhere else" TGI Friday originals aimed to push the boundaries and delight diners. I have to admit that when the Bacon Lollipops covered in chocolate sauce and marshmallows  appeared I was a little confused, but Simon seemed to enjoy them. The Popcorn Shrimp and Muchos Nachos however were right up my street.



Last orders and I went for the Walk in the Tropics (Malibu, Lambs Navy rum, Amaretto and grenadine with lime, orange and pineapple juices) whilst Simon returned to his favourite of the night, the Lynchburg Lemonade.



I have to admit that TGI Fridays has always been somewhere that I've associated with burgers but they are a great destination for cocktails. In fact, many of the cocktails you see in bars across the world were first created at TGI Fridays and they have 500 cocktails on their menu.



 As I marvelled at the awesome juggling tricks demonstrated by the bartender in front of us (there were glass bottles spinning all over the place and he even caught a full bottle on his arm!) Simon, my resident movie geek, informed me that the classic 80s film Cocktail was actually filmed at the very first TGI Fridays. If their cocktails are good enough for Tom Cruise they're certainly good enough for me!



With Simon muttering that he might quite like to revisit the new TGI Fridays for his birthday next month (I think it was the Birthday Cake Shake he spotted on the menu that did it!) I don't think it'll be long before we return and this time we'll be trying out the food!

TGIs invited us to their VIP evening and treated us to complimentary cocktails. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Christmas Day Lunch in Newcastle

Sometimes the stress of slaving over a hot stove on Christmas Day can get a bit much, even for the most confident of chefs. If you've been thinking about having Christmas Day Lunch in Newcastle this year I've done all of the hard work for you so all you need to do is pick up the phone and book yourself a table!

Here's a little look at some of the restaurants and hotels in Newcastle serving up lunch on Christmas Day this year.

Jesmond Dene House

Surely the very best Christmas Day lunch in Newcastle, it is my dream to one day book us a table for Christmas Day at Jesmond Dene House. The beautiful boutique hotel with its lit fires, traditional decorations and cosy atmosphere is the perfect place for you to spend the day with your loved ones.

Whilst not the cheapest on offer, the food at Jesmond Dene House is always superb so you're guaranteed to have a Christmas Day lunch to remember. Dine in the Great Hall or Restaurant and indulge in a welcome glass of champagne and canapés before enjoying a four course lunch of Northumberland Game Terrine, Traditional Turkey Ballantine and Cranberry and Sherry Trifle whilst enjoying live seasonal music. If you have the room there's mince pies to finish and I've even heard whisper that the man in red might be dropping by!

£135 per adult and £40 per child, check out the full menu here.  To book call 0191 212 6060



Pleased To Meet You 

Join Pleased to Meet You for a four course feast on Christmas Day. The bar will be throwing open its doors on the big day where you can expect a welcome glass of prosecco before settling down to cream of Parsnip Soup, Traditional Butter Roasted Turkey with all the trimmings, Milk Chocolate Mousse with Poached Clementines and finish with tea and coffee served with mince pies and handmade chocolates.

Being in the city centre you can enjoy a Christmas Day stroll through the city after your food, it's quite lovely walking through when all the shops are shut and there are only a few people about.

One of the cheaper Christmas Day menus in Town, £65 for adults and £35 for children, check out the full menu here. To book call 0191 340 5137

Marco Pierre White

Enjoy champagne and canapés on arrival followed by a three course Christmas Day lunch at Marco Pierre White. With a choice of five dishes per course, my top picks are Lobster Terrine followed by 28 day ages Northumbrian beef fillet and finishing nicely with Traditional Christmas pudding with lashings of brandy sauce.

£85.50 per person, check out the full menu here.  To book call 0191 300 9222.

Chez Mal Brasserie, The Malmaison 

Christmas Day lunch on the Newcastle Quayside, how good does that sound? Chez Mal Brasserie at the Malmaison Hotel are serving Christmas Day lunch this year with Roast Turkey Breast and Classic Christmas Pudding both appearing on the menu. Your meal will end with coffee and chocolate truffles and if you're not quite ready to roll home after all that then grab yourself a comfy booth in the bar and enjoy one of the hotel's fancy cocktails. If you can't treat yourself on Christmas Day then when can you?

£89.95 per person, check out the full menu here.  To book call 0191 245 0593





Hilton Gateshead

The Hilton Gateshead are putting on a Christmas Day spread this year in their Windows on the Tyne restaurant. Take in the perfect views of the Tyne Bridge as you enjoy your arrival Champagne cocktail and canapés before sitting down for a four course menu. Crispy brie parcels, Roast fillet of hake and a trio of desserts are just some of the dishes you can enjoy before tucking into the final cheese course. Coffee and tea with petite fours will finish off your lunch and entertainment will be provided by Charles Gordon who will be playing the Christmas classics and the children will receive a gift.

£90.00 per adult and £45 per child, check out the full menu here. To book call 0191 490 9727

The Vermont

At the time of writing, there's not a lot of information available about Christmas Day lunch at the Vermont, it's all a bit of a mystery. Kir Royale and canapés on arrival are promised as well as a four course festive lunch.

£79.95 per adult and £34.95 for children. There's no menu available online at the moment. To book call 0191 233 1010 and if you find out what the menu is please do let me know!



Six at the Baltic

Six is one of my favourite restaurants in Newcastle and spending Christmas Day with that beautiful view across the River Tyne would make your celebrations pretty special. Six are serving a three course Christmas Day Lunch with Treacle Cured Salmon, Thyme Butter Roast Turkey and Sticky Toffee Pudding all appearing on the menu.

A Christmas Day family selfie on the Millennium Bridge is a must and you'll probably need a nice brisk walk along the Tyne after all that food.

£74.95 per adult and £34.96 per child, check out the full menu here.  To book call 0191 440 4948

Bonbar

The cheapest Christmas Day Lunch in Newcastle, we actually went here for Christmas Day Lunch ourselves in 2015.

Bonbar are serving a traditional family lunch starting with a Prosecco reception. Enjoy Roast Butternut squash Soup, hand carved turkey and amaretti Christmas pudding before treating yourself to a mince pie. A special appearance by Santa finishes the meal with a gift for every child.

£57.50 per adult and £25 for children, check out the full menu here.  To book call 0191 232 8695



Hotel Du Vin

Hotel Du Vin is one of the most beautiful hotels in Newcastle and I should imagine it looks even more special on Christmas Day. The hotel will be serving up a three course meal with my top picks being Lobster Theermidor Tart to start followed by Roasted Turkey Ballotine and finishing with Baked Alaska Yule Log. The meal finishes with tea, coffee, mince pies and clementines - a feast that Santa himself would be proud of.

£99.00 per person, check out the full menu here.  To book call 0191 389 8628

Browns

Leading the way with the amount of courses, Browns promise a five course affair including Spiced parsnip and apple soup, roast breast of turkey, warm apple tart, a cheeseboard and (if you can fit it in) mince pies and chocolate truffles. Being half way up a pretty steep hill there's the fun option of rolling down to the Quayside after your food which could be useful after all that food.

One of the cheaper menus in Newcastle, adults are £64.95 and children are £29.95 check out the full menu here.  To book call 0191 261 8210

Is anyone planning on having Christmas Day Lunch in Newcastle this year?  Let me know where you're planning to visit.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Christmas at the new Coast Store, Metrocentre

Ahhhh I have nothing to wear! I'm sure that is a sentence we've all said in the run up to Christmas, usually whilst pulling every item of clothing out of our wardrobes. Well don't worry, the new Coast store at the Intu Metrocentre has finally opened its doors, just in time for the Christmas party season!



Coast have opened up a luxury store, the first of its kind in the country, in the Platinum Mall at Intu Metrocentre. With rails upon rails of beautiful clothes, you'll find one of the widest collections in the UK. Limited Edition, Bridesmaids and Resort collection are all in store as well as a number of Exclusive styles not available anywhere else in the UK alongside statement jewellery, party shoes, clutch bags and luxury candles.



Along with some friends, I was invited to the new store a few hours before it officially opened to the public for an exclusive shopping experience and a little look to see what fashion loving ladies in the North East can expect from the new concept store.

Greeted into store with some breakfast and fizz from Carluccios, who have recently opened opposite Coast, I tucked into croissants, pastries and muffins whilst catching up with friends over flutes of fizz.



The Winter Season at Coast has arrived in a flurry of luxurious velvet, delicate lace, dramatic patterns and vibrant colours - making it the perfect collection for Christmas and New Year parties.

I eagerly explored the rails, sweeping up arms full of outfits to try on. With so many beautiful pieces in store loads caught my eye and I made my way into the changing rooms with embellished dresses, fancy jumpsuits and dramatic skirts.

 If the shop floor hadn't already impressed me the changing room certainly would. The huge space is decked out with massive mirrors and comfy seats and the thick curtains splitting up the room makes it a great space for a personal shopping experience or a dress shop with bridesmaids. Running in and out of the changing rooms with my friends was a lot of fun and the staff were all on hand to fetch us different sizes and give us great advice to style our new finds.



Unfortunately I don't have any fancy Christmas parties to attend this year, but Simon and I are going to a wedding at Alnwick Garden on Saturday which I desperately need an outfit for. With nothing Winter wedding appropriate in my wardrobe I was keen to find something beautiful that would make me feel amazing.



 It wasn't long before I had fallen in love with the Exeter Jacquard skirt (£179 - currently on sale for £119), as styled by the gorgeous Olivia Palermo as part of Coast's new AW16 range. Perfectly fitted round my waist before dramatically flaring out, the vibrant floral print makes it quite the showstopper. Flouncing around the changing room in it I could picture myself swooping up and down the stairs at Alnwick Garden feeling like a movie star.


Exeter Jacquard Skirt as styled by Olivia Palermo for Coast Stores

Me and the skirt were meant to be and I can't wait to wear it to the wedding next weekend - keep your eye on my Instagram for a photo of me wearing it! What a successful first trip to the new Coast Store at the Metrocentre!

As we all left the store, excitedly chatting between ourselves we made a pact to organise a night out in January - after all, such beautiful clothes need to be seen!




Coast Stores invited me to their store opening and gifted me with my outfit. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Monday, 21 November 2016

Intu Eldon Square: Grey's Quarter - Giraffe World Kitchen

Another day, another visit to Eldon Square's Grey's Quarter to check out a new restaurant. With new doors opening every time I stroll through I'm beginning to think my mission to work my way round every restaurant before Christmas may be a bit of a tall order. Lat week it was the turn of Giraffe World Kitchen, a restaurant that I'm very familiar with.

Giraffe is probably a restaurant that most people in the North East don't know much about as the Eldon Square branch is the first to open in Newcastle. I remember Giraffe when it first appeared in London. I became so obsessed with their brunch offerings that I made it my mission to visit every Giraffe in London which I think probably makes me one of their earliest and biggest fans.



 If you were to challenge me now to work my way round all of the Giraffe restaurants I think I'd struggle as there are 52 Giraffe restaurants in the UK, the latest being Giraffe World Kitchen in Eldon Square.  I took the lovely Kelly along as my dining partner, and was excited to hear that it was her first ever experience of Giraffe.

The menu at Giraffe is varied, showcasing the best flavours from around the world, it's a great place to visit when you just can't decide what kind of food you fancy. There really is something for everyone on their menu.



Treated to one of the best tables in the house we had a great little booth at the back of the restaurant with a huge window looking down on the street below. Perfect for a little people watching, although not for food photography so please excuse the dark photos!

Going all out I began my meal with Prawn Saganaki (£6.25) - King Prawns cooked in garlic chilli, white wine & tomato sauce, sprinkled with crumbled feta and served with bread.

Up until a few months ago I would have avoided all dishes containing chilli but having a new appreciation for light spicy flavours I decided to take a gamble in the hope that it wouldn't have too much of a kick for me. The Saganaki had a great heat, not too spicy and a great compliment to the fantastic King Prawns.



I'm very impressed that I managed to resist the temptation of the Burger Menu (there are five to choose from and they all look lush!) and instead turned my attention to the World Plates menu. I ordered the Blackened Salmon (£14.50) - Salmon fillet rubbed in spices and served with brown rice & kidney beans, corn on the cob and mango salad.

A different choice to what I'd usually pick out, I decided to go for something that would hopefully showcase Giraffe World Kitchen's flavours. The salmon was perfectly prepared with a lovely pink middle and the spices made it extra delicious, especially mixed with the mango salmon. I wasn't as keen on the brown rice which was a bit gritty compared to the fluffy white rice that I'm used to but this was very much down to my personal taste.



I finished my meal off with White Chocolate & Passionfruit Cheesecake (£5.50) which looked stunning and tasted just as good. I love the flavour combinations of white chocolate and passionfruit and it was a dessert that I could definitely see myself ordering each time I visit.



 We both really enjoyed our meals and I am so happy that Giraffe finally have a home in the North East. I recommend that you all go and try it out.

We received a complimentary meal for two people for the purposes of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Christmas in the North East - The Ultimate Guide

It's November, which in our house means that you're officially allowed to get excited about Christmas. Whilst I'm pretty organised when it comes to Christmas shopping, the one thing I fail at every year is planning festive fun for the diary - I always leave it too late! So this year I've spent hours researching all of the best Christmas activities in the North East to put together a Christmas in the North East Ultimate Guide to help you guys plan some Christmas fun and hopefully remind me to do the same.

All of the links below will take you directly to where you need to be to find out  more information.

Grab yourself a festive mug of hot chocolate, this is going to be a long one!

Christmas Hot Chocolate



Beamish

Every year I say that we'll visit Beamish at Christmas time, and every year we don't! I'm already too late to get a ticket to one of their famous Christmas Evenings but luckily there's still plenty of other activities happening during the festive season including ice-skating and the post Christmas Twelfth Night Celebrations. Christmas at Beamish sounds truly magical.

The Parlour at Blagdon 

Our beautiful wedding venue, The Parlour at Blagdon have plenty going on this Christmas time including the Christmas Supper Club, and five Christmas Party Nights throughout December. Having danced the evening away at our wedding a few months ago I know only too well that the Parlour throw an amazing party and their food is amazing.

Choose your own Christmas Tree

When I was a child we always had a real Christmas Tree at home, I vividly remember my poor Dad having to frantically chop away at the tree each year in an attempt to get it to fit the house. Nothing beats a real Christmas Tree to decorate your home and Raby Castle in County Durham have freshly cut Nordman Firs and Norway Spruces for sale from 1 December. Why not make a real family event out of it by picking out the tree together, followed by hot chocolate from the tea room and shopping for new Christmas decorations in the Gift Shop.

Hadrian's Tipi

The most talked about pop-up in Newcastle this Christmas has to be Hadrian's Tipi. The oversized tipi outside Central Station offers continental food and mulled wine. Snuggle up on a faux fur rug by the fire pit with your loved ones for a huge dose of festive cheer.

Christmas in the North East - The Ultimate Guide Hadrians Tipi


Hot Chocolate at Laneway

Forget the festive cups and support local this Christmas with a festive hot drink from newcomers Laneway. The beautiful coffee shop on High Bridge have Dark, Milk or White Hot Chocolate on the menu. Made with melted chocolate buttons - their drinks are truly indulgent and the perfect festive treat. We will definitely be making a plan to give one a go.

Jesmond Dene House

I love Jesmond Dene House at Christmas time, it is beautiful! There's loads going on this Christmas including Christmas Day Lunch (far better than slaving over a hot stove on Christmas Day I'm sure you'll agree), Christmas Party Nights in the Old Hall and beautiful Festive Afternoon Tea with seasonal live music. If you prefer the simpler things in life curl in front of the fire with a glass of wine and your loved one for a chilled out festive evening.

Christmas in the North East - The Ultimate Guide Jesmond Dene House


Christmas by Candlelight at Gibside 

Join the North East Concert Band in the Gibside Chapel on 6 December for an evening of traditional and contemporary festive tunes at their candlelit concert. Tickets are £14.00 and with mulled wine and mince pies served in the interval I can think of no better way to get into the Christmas mood - just  make sure you don't sit near me, I'm an awful singer!

Fat Hippo Festive Feasting 

No one does seasonal menus quite like Fat Hippo who have two Christmas burgers available through December. Sink your teeth into Chuck Berry (beef, pulled turkey thigh, cranberry jelly, sweet cure bacon, sprout slaw topped with camembert fritter and served with chipolata gravy) or the Nutcracker (root veg hash and chestnut and sage stuffing) - so good!

The Paradise Tree at Alnwick Garden

Following the success of last year's A Christmas Tale, Alnwick Garden's interactive light show is back this year with the Paradise Tree.  It's on 16 December - 23 December and tickets are £12 for adults and £7 for children. If it's anything like last year you can expect a fantastic immersive experience involving the most beautiful lights and sounds.

Christmas in the North East - The Ultimate Guide Alnwick Garden



The Santa Dash

Running at Christmas?! I'm sure some of you are thinking I'm a little mad right now but for those of you still feeling inspired by the Great North Run sign up to the Santa Dash at Gibside.  The 5k race round the beautiful National Trust parkland at Gibside takes place on 11 December and is a great way to justify those extra mince pies.  Entry costs £10 for adults and £5 for children and there's a prize for the best dressed and fastest santas.

Christmas Markets

There are plenty of Christmas Markets happening around the North East this year, far too many for me to mention so check out this really handy guide from North East Family Fun for a huge list of Christmas Markets in the North East. Why not work your way round a few? You can never eat too many giant hot dogs right?!

Fenwicks at Christmas

I love Fenwicks at Christmas and it plays a huge part in my festive celebrations every year. Create your own Christmas Hamper in the Food Hall, visit the famous window display and head up to the Christmas Department for loads of gift inspiration. Once your legs feel tired treat yourself to a huge slab of cake at the Beatrix Potter Mrs Tiggy-Winkle's pop-up cafe.

Christmas in the North East - The Ultimate Guide Fenwicks


Christmas by Twilight at Wallington

National Trust always have the best activities over Christmas and there's plenty to choose from at Wallington Hall. Christmas by Twilight gives you the opportunity to visit Wallington after dark to see the house lit by candlelight and decorated for Christmas as well as enjoy festive music in the Central Hall and do some festive crafting.

Christmas Elizabethan Banquet at Lumley Castle

There is so much happening at Lumley Castle this Christmas including festive afternoon tea, party nights, breakfast santa and, my personal favourite, the Christmas Elizabethan Banquet. Taking place over 8 dates in December the Christmas Elizabethan Banquet is the perfect night out with a twist. Tickets cost from £29 per person and include a four course meal, goblets of mead and wine as well as brilliant live entertainment. Simon and I had our first experience of the Lumley Castle Banquets a few months ago and it was the most fun night out we've had this year!

The Botanist Roof Terrace

Enjoy some apres ski without leaving Newcastle with the Botanist's Winter Wonderland roof terrace. Snuggle up under cosy blankets with your other half or gossip with mates over steaming hot cups of spiced cider at Newcastle's prettiest bar. The roof terrace has been transformed with beautiful fairy lights and a festive menu to beat all others. 

Christmas in the North East - The Ultimate Guide Botanist Roof Terrace


Christmas at the South Causey Inn

There's plenty happening at the South Causey this Christmas including Christmas Markets, Santa Sundays, a Christmas Choir Night and a Tarzan and Jane themed Tarzan Night Ladies Night.  In fact there's so much happening you could pretty much move into the South Causey Inn for the whole of December to fulfil all of your Christmas needs.

Party Nights at Gusto

Party Nights at Gusto are always a great night and this Christmas you can choose from George Michael, Andy Usher or a swing night with Glen R. For £35 per person you can enjoy a 3 course Christmas meal and live entertainment from the comfort of the most beautiful restaurant on the Quayside. 

Festive Fizz Trail

Last Christmas I put together this Festive Fizz Trail and I can't wait to retrace my steps this year. If you love bubbles as much as me then follow my guide to the best night festive night out in Newcastle's classiest bars. You can never have too much Prosecco in December!

Christmas in the North East - The Ultimate Guide


Bucks Fizz Brunch at the Biscuit Factory

Visiting the Factory Kitchen for Supper Club was one of the highlights of our year so the idea of a Christmas Eve Bucks Fizz Brunch sounds like heaven. For £9.50 per person you can enjoy poached eggs or brioche french toast served with a glass of bucks fizz and some yuletide music. For any last minute gift purchases there are some great ideas in the Biscuit Factory gifts shop.

Christmas Afternoon Tea at the Garage Spa

For a truly relaxing Christmas indulge in the Christmas Afternoon Tea at the Garage Spa. From £49.00 per person you can enjoy full use of the spa facilities for 4 hours followed by a mini facial or express manicure before heading to the Morritt Hotel next door for Festive afternoon tea.

Christmas in the North East - The Ultimate Guide The Garage Spa


I really hope that my Ultimate Guide to Christmas in the North East has given you some inspiration for this year's festivities.

Let me know what you're planning to book!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

The Cherry Tree, Jesmond

The Cherry Tree in Jesmond is somewhere that I've walked past so many times and often commented to Simon that we should pop in, so don't ask me how I've gone so long without actually visiting.

When news reached me that the popular restaurant had recently undergone some changes with the arrival of head chef Farhad Rakani and a new menu I thought it was about time I visited. So I made a catch up plan with my friend Farzana and we booked a table.

You'll find the Cherry Tree in my favourite leafy Newcastle suburb, Jesmond. It's pretty hard to miss on a Winter's evening with its beautiful fairy lit "cherry tree" welcoming in diners from the cold. As soon as we stepped in we were greeted with friendly smiles as our coats were hung up and we were shown to our table.

 We were very lucky with our choice to dine on a Tuesday night as we were treated to live music as we dined with a performance by international singer Coco Rouzier. Performing with a live band, Coco opened with a soulful performance of "Favourite Things" from my all time favourite musical, the Sound of Music and then put on the most amazing jazz set which gave me goosebumps. With no additional cover charge for the performance and a guaranteed table for the entire evening, I'd recommend checking out the Cherry Tree live music evenings.



Turning our attention to the food, we ordered from the Evening Menu, served between 5:00 pm and 10:00 pm Monday to Thursdays and 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm on Friday, it's £18.50 for two courses or £24.00 for three.

I started my meal with the Black Pudding topped with Poached Egg. It was absolutely delicious and I loved every mouthful.


For the main event I ordered the 6oz Bistro Rump Steak served with tomato, mushrooms, fries topped with an onion ring with a generous jug of peppercorn sauce on the side.

Being a huge fan of Steak I ordered mine rare and was so happy by how easily my knife cut into the meat and how deliciously pink it was inside. With so much food to work my way through I was in heaven enjoying my perfectly prepared steak and crispy chips whilst enjoying the fantastic music. What a treat!



Looking round at our fellow diners (because I'm nosy like that) I was so impressed by the presentation of each dish that came out of the kitchen. Every plate that went past looked so beautiful and smelt amazing. Add to that the wonderful attentive service that each person was receiving and this was pretty much the nicest dining experience that I've had in a while.

Despite being full to bursting we were committed to dessert as soon as we saw what was on offer. I opted for Lemon Cheese Cake topped with fresh fruit and was very happy with the generous portion that appeared in front of me.

I took my time, really savouring each delicious mouthful and my only complaint is that it didn't last forever. That was some cheesecake!

I really loved how The Cherry Tree found the perfect balance of fancy and friendly, it's so hard to find a restaurant that manages to pull off high end dining in such a relaxed atmosphere.

Has anyone else been to The Cherry Tree?

We received a complimentary meal for two people for the purposes of this review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Hadrian's Tipi, Central Station Newcastle

Newcastle has well and truly embraced Christmas over the last week and the arrival of Hadrian's Tipi at Central Station has given me the green light to go Christmas crazy.



I'm sure you've all noticed the large tipi that's popped up outside Newcastle's train station and have maybe been wondering what on earth is going on.  Well allow me to introduce you to Hadrian's Tipi, the ultimate bar for Christmas.

I was lucky enough to be invited along to the VIP preview night a day ahead of the Tipi's opening to the public to see what's going on inside Newcastle's largest festive pop-up.



Stepping foot inside the large tipi I was immediately transported to AD122 when the Roman Emperor Hadrian was travelling round the region.  Think wooden benches, furry throws and a massive fire pit - just what you need on a cold Winter's evening.

The place was buzzing with crowds of people enjoying their first look at the tipi. Luckily it's pretty huge inside and although the seats are limited it wasn't too difficult to find a corner to stand in. If you're going to visit and fancy a snuggly faux fur covered seat I'd aim to go during the day - something tells me Hadrian's Tipi is going to be packed out in the evenings and if you're anything like me you will get seat envy of all those with prime spots round the fire pit.



Decorated with beautiful lanterns and festive foliage, Hadrian's Tipi definitely gets you into the spirt of Christmas and with a programme of live entertainment planned for the weeks ahead it's a great starting point for Christmas celebrations.

Hadrians Tipi Central Station Newcastle Lanterns


 Of course, a large part of Christmas is the food and drink and Hadrian's Tipi will appeal to anyone who loves the kind of delicious treats you get at Christmas Markets.

Served from a fairy lit hut outside, you can expect a large selection of giant sausages imported from Germany as well as local meat treats from Northumberland, all cooked on a traditional charcoal swing grill.

If, like me, you're more into your sweet treats then there are also hot donuts with sugary dipping sauces on offer.

The bar is well stocked with Gluhwein, mulled cider as well as draught and bottled beers from the Wylam Brewery.  If you visit during the day you can indulge in bacon sandwiches and hot chocolate.

Hadrian's Tipi Central Station Newcastle Food


One thing that surprised me was how toasty it was in the tipi. Going in bundled up in a jumper and huge Winter coat it wasn't long before I was feeling a little too hot standing near the fire, so make sure you are dressed in layers when you visit. It gets pretty warm, especially when full to capacity.



Hadrian's Tipi is in Newcastle until New Years Day so there's plenty of time to make a plan with friends. Entry to the tipi is free of charge and it's open from 8:00 am to 1:00 am every day (apart from Christmas Day!)

Let me know what you think if you make it down.