Thursday, 22 February 2018

Brunch at Flat White Kitchen, Durham

I honestly don't know why I'm writing this blog post. I'm pretty sure that everybody in the North East knows about how great the brunch is at Flat White Kitchen in Durham, you hardly need me to tell you about it. Probably the most photographed breakfast in the region, if you've not heard of it you've possibly been living under a rock.

But for the small amount of people who are yet to visit Flat White Kitchen (I can hardly judge when I've only just made it there myself!), I thought I'd share my recent brunch visit, just to show you why it's won over hoards of breakfast fans since opening its doors in 2016.

Flat White Kitchen is the kind of place where you need to turn up early to be able to get yourself a table. From the minute their doors swing open the place is heaving with eager foodies and instagram lovers, all wanting to indulge in mountains of eggs and pancakes whilst taking photos of their food.

Brunch at Flat White Kitchen, Durham




So I found myself power walking the cold streets of Durham on Saturday morning with my brunch loving friend Sarah, desperately trying to get ourselves to Flat White Kitchen for their doors opening at 9:00 am. We got there at 9:05 am and just missed out on the last table (that's how popular their breakfasts are!) We were lucky to be the first in the queue for available seats, meaning a warm wait indoors (perfectly positioned in front of the cake counter!) - 10 minutes later and we would have joined the masses already lining the streets waiting for a table.

In no time at all a table was ready for us and we made our way upstairs to the cutest little room full of potted plants, exposed brick, wooden tables and fresh Spring flowers, it's no surprise that Flat White is one of the most popular Instagram spots in the North East.  A doll's house of hidden rooms and cute corners I had to stop myself running around with my camera taking photographs of everything (even the toilet with its beautiful stone walls and candles was begging for a photo!)

Flat White Kitchen, Durham
Important things first we needed hot drinks to warm our hands and knowing that Flat White Kitchen use the very best local suppliers (Ringtons and Ouseburn Coffee Co) I knew I was going to be in for a treat. I opted for a Latte which was perfect presented with latte art displayed on the top of my cup. It was delicious and went down a treat, my only complaint was that it was so small!  A couple of sips and it was gone!  When I'm sleepy and cold on a Saturday morning I need a bucket full of coffee not a thimble full!

Flat White Kitchen, Durham - Coffee
Sarah opted for a Chai Latte that was served in a lovely mug that I instantly wanted to sneak away into my  handbag! I couldn't resist sticking my nose in for a good sniff (I am such a lovely friend), there's just something so comforting about the delicious smell of chai and cinnamon on a cold Winter's morning.

Flat White Kitchen, Durham - Chai Latte
Turning our attention to the breakfast menu and I realised pretty quickly that tough decisions were going to need to be made. There were so many dishes I wanted to try I was quite tempted to just settle myself down for the morning and work my way through, they wouldn't want our table back any time soon would they?

I was so tempted by the delicious sounding French Toast with Roasted Plums, Almonds and Mascarpone and the Baked Eggs with Local Chorizo and Tomato Ragout on Ciabatta sounded divine, but the dishes that really caught my attention were the famous Flat White Kitchen pancake stacks!

Flat White Kitchen, Durham - Menu


I opted for the Buttermilk Pancakes served with Mango Compote and Whipped Coconut Cream (for those not allergic to nuts it also comes with Pistachio & Lime Sherbert) (£9.95).  Full of weekend naughtiness I ordered the full stack and I knew it was the right decision as soon as my breakfast arrived in front of me.

Flat White Kitchen, Durham - Pancake Stack
Oh wow! I should have worn stretchy pants!

The ultimate pancake stack of my dreams, they were thick and fluffy and absolutely covered in delicious sticky Mango Compote. Why can't every breakfast be this good?

Sarah decided to join my pancake club and ordered herself the Buttermilk Pancakes and Maple Syrup with Bacon (£10.90). Committing to the full stack she tackled her pancake mountain like a pro!

Flat White Kitchen, Durham - Pancakes


We realised pretty quickly that any plans we'd had to enjoy cake later in the afternoon (oh how silly we were!) were going to be cancelled. Flat White Kitchen pancake stacks are very indulgent and incredibly filling and definitely keep you going for the whole day.

As we made our way back out, carefully nursing our pancake bellies, there was a sizeable queue already snaking its way down Saddler Street and after our pancake feasting I knew exactly why! Flat White Kitchen really do serve up one of the best brunches in the North East.

Find Flat White Kitchen at:

40 Saddler Street
Durham
DH1 3NU

https://flatwhitekitchen.com/

07936 449 291


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Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Horton Grange Country House Hotel, Northumberland - A Winter Staycation

By the end of January I was fed up of looking through the empty pages of our diary and decided we needed to make an immediate plan to cheer ourselves up. Remembering that we had a voucher for a staycation hanging about, it seemed like the ideal time to book ourselves into somewhere beautiful and relaxing. Not wanting to travel too far we decided on Horton Grange, a country house hotel in Northumberland a few miles from Newcastle.

We have visited Horton Grange once before when Simon treated me to a birthday meal there but it was our first time staying over and we were keen to see what the hotel had to offer for a Winter staycation.

Horton Grange Country House Hotel - A Winter Staycation


Horton Grange Country House Hotel is a privately owned Grade II listed building with nine ensuite bedrooms, a restaurant serving up delicious meals and a lounge complete with open fires and the all important afternoon tea menus!

We checked in on a very wet Saturday afternoon, scurrying from the car with our luggage at top speed to avoid a soaking, it was, without a doubt, the perfect kind of weather for a staycation. Nothing beats shutting yourself away in a beautiful hotel where you can stay cosy and dry whilst watching the rain out of the window - am I right?

Horton Grange Country House Hotel


We were shown to our room by the very lovely Deputy General Manager, Mo who helpfully picked up my bag and carried it up the stairs, despite my protests (I always worry people will judge my heavy luggage for a one night stay!). 

Staying in the Winter definitely paid off as the hotel was relatively quiet which meant an upgrade to the Alnwick room, a beautiful Executive room that we later discovered is often used as the bridal suite.

Horton Grange Country House Hotel - The Alnwick Room
As soon as the door swung open I was mesmerised by the beautiful features in our room. The dark wooden wardrobe reminded me of the antique furniture that my Grandparents used to have in their home and the ornate mirror and intricate carvings on the headboard of the bed all took my breath away as I explored our home for the night.

The bed was the most beautiful feature with its stunning headboard and shaggy cushions (I immediately decided that I must get shaggy cushions for our sofas at home!), it took all of our willpower not to just throw our luggage on the floor and jump straight in for a nap.

Horton Grange Country House Hotel - Executive Room
As Simon settled down on the comfy chair for some laptop time I was appreciating the little North East touches to our room including locally produced Ringtons tea bags and biscuits (my favourite) and a great selection of local magazines (anyone else addicted to Appetite magazine?) Just as I settled down with an issue of Living North there was a knock on the door and we were presented with a complimentary food platter of fruit and chocolates and some glasses of fizz. What a lovely surprise and such a nice gesture!

Horton Grange Country House Hotel - Staycation


Horton Grange Hotel
After a few hours chilling we decided to head downstairs for a little explore and found our way into the lounge that was filled with huge squishy sofas and open fires - the perfect little Winter escape. A couple of people had already settled themselves down for the afternoon, quietly chatting and enjoying an afternoon tea.  Just as we began to get food envy we were surprised to discover that Horton Grange were treating us to an afternoon tea of our own.

We had quite a shock, and were immediately glad that we'd worn stretchy pants and hadn't eaten too much during the day - an unexpected afternoon tea was quite the treat! We settled ourselves down on a sofa and started chatting afternoon teas with some lovely ladies next to us. We shared our favourite spots and enjoyed discussing the best scones in the North East - they were very keen to let us know that the Horton Grange afternoon tea was one of the best they had tried so we knew we were in for a treat.

Horton Grange Country House Hotel - Afternoon Tea


With dinner booked only a few hours later we decided we'd better pace ourselves and slowly tackled the sandwiches (the mini cream cheese bagel was divine!) before moving up to the scones, deciding immediately that we'd best not eat three each or we'd never make it to our evening meal!

What a treat getting three scones on an afternoon tea! Perfect if you can never quite decide which you like the best, at Horton Grange you get a cheese, plain and fruit with your choice of butter, jam and cream. It took a lot of willpower not to eat every crumb, they tasted so good.

Horton Grange Country House Hotel - Afternoon Tea Cakes
The top tier was as pretty as a picture with plenty of colour and delicious looking treats all homemade by the kitchen. Mini carrot and walnut cakes and fruit tartlets, macarons and chocolate choux buns, there was something for every taste and we made sure to try a bite of each before having to admit defeat.

Afternoon Tea at Horton Grange costs £16.95 per person which is a bit of a bargain and if you really fancy pushing the boat out they also offer Prosecco or Champagne as an accompaniment or Gentlemans Afternoon Tea for that important Mr in your life.

As you can imagine we were pretty full after all that food so we headed back upstairs for a little nap. Having a room to retire to after afternoon tea is such a treat and made us wonder if we should always book a room for the night when we're indulging in a cake stand. We had a perfect 2 hour nap and woke up feeling refreshed and just about ready for round two - dinner!

Horton Grange Country House Hotel - Afternoon Tea Stand
We made our way down to the small hotel bar and enjoyed a gin and tonic each (so happy to discover that Horton Grange have our favourite gin, Edinburgh Rhubarb and Ginger) whilst taking a look at the evening menu. Knowing we'd never be able to fit in a Starter we headed straight for the Main Courses where I struggled to make a decision because the restaurant were serving up so many of my favourite foods. How on earth was I supposed to choose between Steamed Seabass with Chilli and Ginger Noodles, Roast Butternut Squash and Wild Mushroom Linguine and Pan Roasted Duck Breast?

In the end I opted for the Duck Breast (£21.50) which came served with Barley Stew, Butternut Squash Puree and Red Pepper Coulis and Simon opted for Roast Rump of Lamb (£22.95) which came with Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, Fine Beans, Tender Stem Broccoli and Red Wine Jus.

We made our way to our table and settled down for the evening. The restaurant was very quiet with only one other couple in the room and with no music playing it was a little awkward to start with, we were whispering our conversations! Luckily just as we polished off the bread basket the music came on and we instantly relaxed, it's amazing how much a little bit of music can change the atmosphere in a room.

Our only disappointment during our meal came at the very start with the bread at our table being a little dry and the cold hard butter impossible to spread on it. I was a little sad as I do love a bread basket (it's the only time I allow myself to truly indulge!). Luckily the appearance of our main course dishes more than made up for it.

Horton Grange Country House Hotel - Restaurant


My Duck Breast was beautifully presented and was cooked to perfection. I'd asked for my meat pink and my knife slid through the meat so effortlessly, I was enjoying every mouthful

Simon's Lamb was equally delicious and despite my bulging belly I managed to enjoy a forkful of meat and a tiny bit of the Rosemary roasted potatoes. I'd never order lamb when I'm out as I always worry that the meat will be tough but the dish at Horton Grange was spot on.

Horton Grange Country House Hotel - Evening Meal


Despite having only indulged in afternoon tea a few hours earlier we both managed to leave our plates completely clean. We both loved our meal and couldn't believe that we've never really heard anyone say how great the food is at Horton Grange - maybe it's a very well kept secret?

When it came to desserts my nut allergy meant I had to sit at the sidelines and watch as Simon ordered the Vanilla Parfait with Peanut Brittle and Honeycomb (£5.95). Despite being pretty full he decided that he could probably manage something light.

Horton Grange Country House Hotel - Dessert


Just as I was thinking to myself that I was quite thankful that the desserts weren't suitable for me, our waiter appeared with a special dessert that he'd created just for me guaranteed to be nut free. A beautiful plate of fruit, honeycomb and chocolate I was so touched by this lovely gesture.

We fell into bed that night with very fully tummies and the overindulgence meant that we were fast asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow and we didn't stir until morning - bliss!

Our room felt extra cosy when we woke in the morning and it was such a struggle to pull ourselves out of bed, I think if it hadn't been for the promise of breakfast we'd probably still be there now! We enjoyed lovely hot showers although I was a little disappointed by the complimentary toiletries available in the room. We had a small shower gel and some shampoo and that was it - I hadn't packed any moisturiser as I usually just slather myself in whatever is available in the hotel room.

Horton Grange


Breakfast was served in the restaurant and we were invited to help ourselves to as much as we wanted from a table laden with continental goodies including jugs of fruit juice, cereals and mini pastries. Despite knowing we were going to be ordering a cooked breakfast we couldn't resist grabbing a couple of cinnamon swirls and danish pastries each. They looked too good to leave behind!

The Cooked Breakfast selection offered a great range of dishes including The Horton Grange Breakfast (the most fully loaded English Breakfast I've ever seen), Eggs Benedict, Porridge and Toasted Teacakes. I was so tempted by the Drop Scones which came with a choice of Honey, Fruit Compote or Lemon Butter but in the end decided that I should be sensible and go for something light.

I was a little worried I was being a complete pain when I asked if I could create my own breakfast but the chef was only too happy to oblige my craving for salmon, scrambled egg and a couple of round of toast.

Horton Grange Country House Hotel - Breakfast


Throughout our stay we were so impressed by how lovely the staff at Horton Grange were, every guest was well looked after and everyone in the hotel was so happy and friendly - it felt like a real home away from home and we can't wait to return soon. With a full range of events throughout the year I think we know where we'll be heading next time we're having a date night!

Horton Grange Country House Hotel Northumberland


Find Horton Grange at:

http://hortongrange.co.uk/

Berwick Hill Road
Ponteland
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE13 6BU

01661 860 686

We paid for own accommodation and evening meal.  Horton Grange surprised us with a complimentary afternoon tea when we checked in (they must've heard we're huge fans!)
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Friday, 16 February 2018

Why my Husband will never love Adventures

Something a bit silly for you today to celebrate Valentines Week!

My husband and I are so similar in some ways - we agree on the important things in life, both love movies and are somewhat socially awkward, we are the perfect team! However, there is one thing that we will always disagree on and that's adventures!

I love nothing more than grabbing my camera, jumping in the car and heading out into the countryside for an explore. Long walks, seaside views, beautiful flowers - being out in the sunshine makes my heart sing and never fails to put a smile on my face. My husband however would much rather stay at home and spend his downtime indoors chilling out and switching off. Obviously married life is about compromise and we try and do a bit of both to keep us happy, but I have to say when it comes to adventures poor Simon is pushed way out of his comfort zone.

My husband is a walking, talking disaster zone when we go on day trips, and here are just some of the reasons why he will never love adventures.



The Sun

Whilst the sun makes most of us happy it turns my husband into the Hulk. He hates low Winter sun that gets in his eyes when he's driving and hates having to change his glasses when it's sunny. No matter how much sunblock he puts on he will always end the day with angry red sunburn. Simon and the sun are not friends!

The Insects

One of my funniest memories of Simon on an adventure was during a 6 mile walk round Gibside when a fly insisted on following him for the entire hike. I have no idea why, but no matter how much he ran away from it, how many times he shouted at it or flicked it away it came back and it stayed with him all day. The angrier he got, the more I laughed ... I am so mean!

The Puddles

If there's a puddle to be found you can guarantee that Simon will put his foot in it. I'll usually be skipping off ahead somewhere when I'll suddenly hear a "Oh crap" behind me, only to turn round and see my poor husband with his foot stuck in some kind of muddy hole. It'll inevitably soak through his shoes, make his feet soggy and he'll spend the rest of the day squelching behind me with a scowl on his face.




The Road Trips

If Simon could limit the journey time of our adventures he'd probably cap it at 20 minutes, he is not a big fan of going on long car trips. So I usually have to trick him into going places, like the time I somehow managed to get him to drive to Scotland and see some snowdrops (still not sure if he's forgiven me for that!) I also have a knack of taking us to places down tiny country roads (where we will inevitably get stuck in some mud) or taking us to places with limited car parking spaces.

The Animals

Although Simon loves animals he does seem to attract the wrong kind of attention when we're out on adventures - like the time that he got chased by a lamb at Wallington after I befriended it and it decided Simon was its Mam. He is forever telling me off for getting too close to things and I have to admit that most of the time when I ignore him it's him that ends up getting chased or attacked!



I'm pretty sure that my adventures annoy the hell out of him and it's pretty amazing he still continues to let me take charge of our weekend plans. Who knows what messes I'll get him into this year!
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Thursday, 15 February 2018

My Instagram Husband

Behind every great Instagram addict there is, without a doubt, a reluctant Instagram Husband. Whether it's your best friend, long suffering girlfriend or your tech phobe Mum, it's pretty impossible to survive on Instagram without your assistant to help you out.

My Instagram Husband is my real life husband and if ever there were grounds for divorce I'm pretty sure putting up with being my photography assistant is probably one of them. Behind every one of my perfectly arranged Instagram photos there is a story of frustration, arguments and tears. My poor Instagram Husband has been through it all, so today, to celebrate Valentines Week I thought I'd share some funny stories behind some of my most popular photographs.

I think you'll all agree that my Instagram Husband is an unsung hero!

My Instagram HusbandThe Photograph 

A lazy Saturday morning at the garden centre enjoying a little potter about followed by a delicious scone with jam and cream.


The Reality

Having purchased my scone I ran with my tray across the tea room to get back to the table to allow plenty of time to arrange everything to make "the perfect Instagram shot". Unfortunately perfection is not usually created that fast so poor Instagram Husband (and Instagram Mother in Law!) had to wait patiently holding their heavy trays while I took photos of my scone. I didn't want them ruining my background by taking a seat!

The Photograph 

Feeling excited for Summer after discovering the amazing new holiday pieces in Primark.  


The Reality

Deciding the display in Primark wasn't quite right for my photograph I decided to rearrange the store a little. That lovely bag? Yep it was originally on a different display. I have never seen my Instagram Husband move so fast. He was mortified and immediately left me to it!

The Photograph 

Not in the mood for cooking so popped out for a quick and easy Maccy Ds - the hassle free tea of champions!


The Reality 

I'm sure I don't have to explain to you how embarrassing it is trying to enjoy your Big Mac while your wife is creating the perfect McDonalds flat lay on the table. Normal people don't really Instagram their fast food but unfortunately I'm not normal! Probably one of the most embarrassing photographs I have ever created for Instagram, my poor Instagram Husband wanted to hide under the table.

The Photograph 

Beautiful day out on the North East coast enjoying some well deserved ice cream from one of our favourite little shops.


The Reality 

Left my Instagram Husband in the queue for his ice cream as I needed to run super speed to somewhere photogenic to snap my cone before it started to melt down my head. Cue a very literal melt down when the photo went wrong because the lighting was too harsh. In my my mad dash to the sand my flake fell out.

The Photograph 

Sunday strolls in sunny Whitley Bay - sharing our nice chilled out afternoon on the North East coast.


The Reality  

Desperate to show off my amazing new Primark jacket I marched up and down this path at least 20 times making my Instagram Husband take endless photographs for me. Wanting to get the perfect shot of the flamingo and St Mary's Lighthouse it took us a lot of shots to get this one and I'm very surprised my Instagram Husband didn't chuck my phone in the sea!

The Photograph 

Loving my new River Island bag, the perfect Valentino dupe for Summer.


The Reality 

Instagram Husband trying to drive the car while I'm taking endless photographs of my lap attempting to capture the perfect picture as we're driving round roundabouts and battling motorways. He really needed me to help with directions but I was too busy loving the amazing natural lighting to hear him.

The Photograph

After a meeting to plan my wedding I can't wait to share my beautiful feather filled balloon.




The Reality 

Got so annoyed at my Instagram Husband when he couldn't read my mind and understand exactly what shot I wanted. Half of my body, no face and balloon in shot - how hard can it be? Impossible to explain, I almost made him stand and hold the damn thing just to get the photograph that I wanted.

Photograph 

Being the smug couple wandering through the beautiful pink blossoms with our wedding photographer celebrating our engagement.


The Reality 

Made wedding photographer and Instagram Husband wait whilst I took photos of my own feet in the pretty blossom because I couldn't waste the opportunity for an Instagram shot. Perhaps took a little longer than I should and forgot for a moment that getting married and practicing our photographs was a little more important than my Instagram.

So next time you're liking one of my Instagram photos, spare a little thought for my poor Instagram Husband.

I hope this post gave you a bit of a chuckle, if you're an Instagram Diva like me make sure you let me know some of the demands you've made of your Instagram Husband!
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Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Northern things my Husband's taught me

Northern things my husband's taught me!  For my Geordie friends I should probably rename this but, without starting the whole "Manchester isn't in the North" debate again, this title had a nice ring to it so we're sticking with it!

Being a southerner married to a man from Manchester provides endless giggles for me and my husband. Despite having been with Simon for many years, I still find myself questioning his weird words and odd sayings. Sometimes I honestly don't have a clue what he's talking about and life is like one big Peter Kay sketch or an episode of Corrie!

So today, for a bit of fun, I thought I'd share with you, northern things my husband's taught me! 

Not wanting to go all Game of Thrones on you, but falling in love with a man from the North definitely changed me.

Northern things my husband's taught me


Pass the Pot Towel Love!

Eh? What on earth is a pot towel? For those of us not well versed in Mancunian, apparently in Manchester dishes are called pots, therefore a tea towel becomes a pot towel! I kinda love it and now in our house we "wash the pots" after our meals, it's a northern thing that I've definitely got on board with.

I'm Sweating Cobs!

Pretty sure he got this one from Peter Kay and I'm yet to work out if real life people actually say this? When I first met Simon he always used to claim he was "sweating cobs" every time he got a little hot. He doesn't really say it so much now but only because I love it so much it's become my saying, I've stolen it off him and I just can't get enough.

When is a Roll a Barm?

It's quite puzzling how many different words there are for a bread roll! Simon calls them "barms" which I love, especially as no one up here understands what on earth he's asking for! In an effort to make myself feel a little bit more northern I now like to call them barms too although it doesn't sound so great in my southern accent.

Northern things my husband's taught me

A Chippy Tea

Chippy teas don't really exist where I'm from but in the north they're a way of life and I now truly appreciate how special it is on a Friday night to treat ourselves to a bag of chips, covered in gravy of course! The rumour is true, you really can't get gravy in chip shops down south!

Extra Gravy

Whilst we're on the subject of gravy my husband has taught me that up north everything is far better with gravy. If your plate isn't completely swimming then something has gone very wrong. One of my favourite northern moments was when I was having dinner with Simon and his Mum and they both poured an entire jug of gravy over a slice of bread.  Wow!

Northern Families

I LOVE Simon's family and am so happy that I now get to call them my own. They are so kind and warm and welcomed me with open arms from the second I walked into their lives. It's true that people in the north are friendly and I feel very lucky that I'm now surrounded by my northern family.

Northern things my husband's taught me


If any of you are a southerner living in the north I'd love to hear your stories!

All photos in this post were taken by our wedding photographer Katie Bryam (http://katiebyram.com/) Please do not use any of these images without her permission. 

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Monday, 12 February 2018

10 Romantic Dates in the North East for Valentine's Day

It's become somewhat of a tradition for me to put together a little guide every February and share the most romantic dates in the North East for Valentine's Day. Despite not really celebrating the day ourselves (we'll more than likely just be snuggled up on the sofa at home with a takeaway) I know that some people love to go all out.

So for those of you that love to be showered in romance, here are a few places in the North East that scream romance!

10 Romantic Dates in the North East for Valentines Day


Copyright Katie Byram Photography

Enjoy a Carpet Picnic

Picnics are so romantic but obviously February isn't the best time to be rolling about in the grass with your love (brrrr!) so how about planning a picnic for two in your lounge? Close the curtains, light some candles, spread a blanket out on the floor and impress your date with a carpet of delicious scran. I recommend treating yourself to some fancy "picky bits" from the Fenwick's Food Hall which will make your carpet picnic one to remember.

Cocktail Night at The Botanist

There really is something for everyone at The Botanist and if your other half prefers downing the pints to sipping on cocktails then The Botanist is the perfect place to head for your Valentine's date. Their Botany and Beer menu offers great cocktails for your beer loving partner, leaving you free to guzzle your way through as many Botanist Pornstars as you can manage.

Romantic Dates for Valentines Day - The Botanist



Candlelit Romance at Cote Brasserie

The way to my heart is definitely through my belly and nothing screams romance more than an evening of delicious French food. Newly opened restaurant Cote Brasserie is in the heart of Newcastle and is the perfect way to wine and dine with your love. Their special Saint-Valentin menu looks so good!

A Weekend Away at The Lord Crewe Arms

The Lord Crewe Arms became one of my biggest obsessions last year and for good reason, it is one of the most romantic places we have ever stayed. Escape to the Northumbrian moors and snuggle up in your cosy room for two before sneaking off to the Crypt bar for some fizz followed by platefuls of delicious food created by chef Simon Hicks.

Romantic Dates for Valentines Day - Lord Crewe Arms


Indulge in a His n Hers Spa Day at Rockliffe Hall

We've enjoyed many spa days in the North East but the one that really stands out for us is Rockliffe Hall. The luxury 5 star hotel just outside Darlington is the perfect spot for couples wanting to enjoy a romantic day together, there are plenty of packages to choose from so make sure you make a day of it and enjoy some food too, the experience is worth doing properly!

Adventure to High Force Waterfall

There's something quite romantic about a waterfall, maybe it's because they're not something you come across too often. We enjoyed a lovely hike to High Force Waterfall last year and getting lost in the North Pennines is a pretty romantic way to spend the day. With plenty of peaceful spots for a sit down, you're guaranteed plenty of alone time out in the countryside.

Romantic Dates for Valentines Day - High Force Waterfall
Watch the Sunrise at the Coast

Although dragging yourself out of bed to go and sit outside in the freezing cold may seem like a bit of a mission, the sunrises that we see here in the North East make it truly worth it. If you're feeling extra brave and very romantic take your date to the coast where you can snuggle up in blankets with a flask of something hot and enjoy the beautiful pink and orange skies (before heading off for a slap up breakfast of course!).

Enjoy Oysters and Champagne at Saltwater Fish Company

I have to admit I do find it hard to believe that Oysters are the food of love because personally I'm not a fan. But if you fancy treating yourself to some Oysters and Champagne this Valentines head to The Saltwater Fish Company in Fenwick's Food Hall for the ultimate afternoon of romance (don't worry there's plenty of other delicious dishes to try if Oysters aren't your thing)

Romantic Dates for Valentines Day - Saltwater Fish Company
Sail on a Swan at Saltwell Park

The swans at Saltwell Park will always feel very romantic to me as it's one of the first dates that Simon and I ever had in the North East. Giddy with our new romance we had an amazing time sailing around on the lake, trying not to collide with any ducks, taking selfies and getting to know each other. The perfect idea for a first Valentine's Day together.

Sit on top of the World at Roseberry Topping 

Believe me nothing brings you closer to your love that struggling your way up Roseberry Topping! Although not the most challenging hike in the world, those of us who aren't experienced hikers certainly need a little bit of team work to combat the top of the hill. The view from the top is breathtaking and very romantic, chatting about life, love and the world is all that more special from the peak of Roseberry Topping!

Romantic Dates for Valentines Day - Roseberry Topping


For further inspiration you can check out my previous Valentines guides here and here.

What are you planning this Valentine's Day?
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Thursday, 8 February 2018

Pancake Day at Monsieur Crepe Cafe, Heaton - Menu Review

Occasions like Pancake Day are the best as they offer a great excuse to try somewhere new. Monsieur Crepe Cafe in Heaton has been on my "must visit" list ever since it opened its doors at the end of 2016 so when I was researching places to try on Pancake Day in the North East I knew I had to plan a pancake date.

Pancake Day at Monsieur Crepe Cafe, Heaton - Menu Review


We arrived on a Saturday morning to a cafe full of people, always a great sign of good food but a little worrying when you've just made a special journey for pancakes. Having been hit with the most delicious smells as soon as we'd swung open the door I was panicking that we'd be turned away to walk the streets with empty bellies.

I needn't have worried. Monsieur Crepe Cafe is the kind of place where every customer is made to feel important. We were greeted by warm smiles and friendly faces and within moments a space had been found for us. During our visit we were amazed at the amount of people who came flooding through the door and despite being so busy each person was seated within minutes. The Monsieur Crepe Cafe have managed to achieve something truly amazing - they run a very tight and organised ship yet you never feel rushed or unwelcome.

Pancake Day Monsieur Crepe Cafe, Heaton


Settling down at our table I took a moment to admire the beautiful cafe with its reclaimed wooden tables and twinkling fairy lights before my eyes were drawn to the counter of delicious looking cakes. I made a mental note to return for afternoon tea on our next visit.

We eagerly studied the menu and were amazed at the amount of choice. Monsieur Crepe Cafe offer the most impressive range of crepes and pancake stacks, if you're looking for somewhere to head on Pancake Day this really does have to be the one - there were so many dishes we were wanting to try we were struggling to make a choice.

Monsieur Crepe Cafe, Heaton


Some of the crepes that caught my eye included Poached Apple & Salted Caramel, Peach & White Chocolate and Chocolate, Crunchie & Marshmallow. Safe to say there are plenty that I want to try so I don't think it'll be long before we're returning to try some more (I feel a new obsession coming on!) I'm also very curious about the Sunday Roast Crepe - a full Sunday lunch with all the trimmings served in a crepe? Yes please!

So what did I go for in the end? Banana, Ginger Crumb and Salted Caramel (£3.95) and it tasted just as good as it sounds. The crepe was perfect, the right level of thickness without being too stodgy, the salted caramel sauce was heavenly and wow did it taste good with the ginger crumb.

Monsieur Crepe, Heaton


Simon decided to go for one of the American Pancake Stacks that features as part of the all day breakfast menu. Given the choice of a two or three pancake stack he went for three, if you're going to indulge you may as well do it properly.  He chose the Banana & Salted Caramel (£3.25) and when the dish was put in front of him his jaw dropped to the floor. I don't think he was expecting such a huge portion. The pancakes were thick, the toppings were generous and my pancake obsessed husband couldn't finish his plate! Yes the Monsieur Crepe Cafe defeated Simon - amazing!

Monsieur Crepe, Heaton - Pancake Stack


As we headed to the till to pay our bill I found myself desperately wanting to tell this little place how awesome they are but I couldn't quite find the words. It's not often somewhere leaves me feeling quite so lost for words but believe me Monsieur Crepe Cafe are truly special and it's amazing local businesses like this that make me so happy that I live in the North East.

The best part? They take table bookings! So make sure you get yourself booked in for Pancake Day as soon as possible because something tells me they are going to be very busy.

Find Monsieur Crepe Cafe at:

7-9 Newton Place
High Heaton
NE7 7HD

0191 281 4522

http://www.monsieurcrepe.co.uk/
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Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Pancake Day at The Pancake Kitchen, Seaham Harbour - Menu Review

Next week it's Pancake Day, one of the most important days in the year I'm sure you'll agree! To celebrate I'm dedicating the blog this week to pancakes and have a couple of recommendations to share with you all starting with The Pancake Kitchen in Seaham Harbour.

Sitting by the beautiful Seaham Marina in County Durham, The Pancake Kitchen is quite a find! If pancakes are your thing then you'll be really impressed by their huge menu dedicated to all things pancake with over 15 savoury and sweet pancakes to choose from (there are also things available to non pancake lovers ... but who doesn't love pancakes?!)

The Pancake Kitchen, Seaham Harbour
Despite visiting over lunchtime Simon and I decided to ignore the savoury and dive head first into the sweet options, I mean if you can't have a plate covered in cream and toffee for lunch on a Saturday then when can you?

Forever annoying ourselves by wanting the same dish we managed to narrow it down to our favourite two and ordered one each with the promise that we could sample each others pancakes without arguments (life tip - it's always best to set the rules out before the food arrives!)

We agreed that I'd have the Honeycomb Surprise (£4.95) Huge chunks of homemade cinder coffee with toffee sauce, whipped cream and vanilla ice-cream. I definitely think I won, just look at how amazing the Honeycomb looks and there were even more hidden away inside my pancake.

The Pancake Kitchen, Seaham Harbour - Honeycomb Surprise


Hoping it might count towards one of his five a day, Simon opted for the Dutch Apple (£4.95) - a pancake stuffed full with apple and sultanas in homemade toffee sauce topped with whipped cream, vanilla ice-cream and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

Our pancakes were delicious, made even better by the wonderful atmosphere in the tiny restaurant. It was buzzing with people and the staff were happily flitting around chatting to customers. They are very dog friendly and we enjoyed seeing all of the furry customers who appeared during our visit. Everyone was making a lot of fuss over two gorgeous wire haired dacshund and we left wishing we could have a dog of our own!

Pancake Kitchen, Seaham Harbour


Of course, after consuming all of those calories it's only right to have a little plod outside and luckily Seaham Harbour is a beautiful little spot for some refreshing sea air.  It may have been a little chilly out in the Winter breeze but I really love the coastline at this time of year. We were very lucky to be blessed with clear blue skies tinted with a tiny bit of pink and the most beautiful fluffy white clouds, I could have stood there for hours admiring the views!

The Pancake Kitchen, Seaham Harbour


If you can't be bothered to peel pancakes off your ceiling next week then get yourself down to The Pancake Kitchen and let them rustle you up something delicious!

Find the Pancake Kitchen at:

Unit 3 Waterside
Seaham Harbour
SR7 7EE

0191 447 8450

https://www.facebook.com/thepancakekitchen/
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