Thursday 31 October 2013

Let's Bowl at Lane 7

Last year, when I was still just a visitor to Newcastle I was trying to organise a surprise day out for Simon's birthday.  He'd mentioned that he loved bowling so I decided to do a little research.  I was a bit shocked when I discovered that there wasn't really anywhere in Newcastle that we could go.  We ended up having to book a bowling alley in London.

Fast forward 10 months and this week Newcastle welcomes its first ever "boutique" bowling alley, Lane 7.  I've been very intrigued about this project from the start so was very excited when those of us who have stalked Lane 7 from the beginning got the opportunity to attend pre-launch parties and experience some food and fun before the doors were thrown open to the public.

Lane 7 is a two floor re-styled warehouse on St James Boulevard and let me tell you, it looks amazing.   Think big open spaces, lots of exposed brick and beautiful polished wood.  It really is a whole lot better than your average bowling alley.

We were booked in to bowl at 7:00 pm which meant we were one of the very first through the doors, made extra special by the fact that we got to put our feet into bowling shoes that had never been worn before.   We were shown to Lane 2 and settled down at our very own "Lane 2" area to peruse the drinks menu.  As we were feeling the American vibe we decided on milkshakes.  They were lovely, but a little bit on the small side.

The less said about bowling the better, I was as usual completely rubbish and took very little care in how I threw my bowling ball down the lane.   Unfortunately Simon used to bowl in a bowling league and therefore pays attention to what he's doing and as always he wiped the floor with me.

Straight after bowling we were shown into the dining area next to the lanes.  Forever thinking about our tummies we were very excited to try the food.  We were asked to pick a main each followed by a dessert to share which would be  Chef's choice.  Simon opted for the pulled pork burger and  I had the sausage burger, wanting the full experience we decided to half each burger and share our meals. 

Now I know I get excited about food quite a lot on my blog, but I really can't emphasise enough how gorgeous the food at Lane 7 is, they were quite frankly the most delicious burgers I have ever tasted - they were stuffed full of the most amazing flavours.   I highly recommend the pulled pork, it quite literally melted in my mouth.   Next was the dessert, I was secretly hoping that Chef would treat us to a Mississippi Mud Pie but we were equally as pleased to receive the Lemon Meringue.  WOW!  It was so perfectly creamy and the ice-cream it came with ... mmmmmmmmmmm!  

No meal is complete without a sneaky night cap so we moved to the bar to sample some drinks.  The bar is huge and feels effortlessly cool with loads of places to plonk your bum and have a good chat with friends.

We finished our evening off with a little snoop upstairs where we discovered another four bowling lanes, a huge collection of pool tables, some ping pong and the exciting promise of a karaoke room.

Thank you so much for treating us to such a lovely night Lane 7 ... we will most definitely be spreading the word and will be back again soon.




Monday 28 October 2013

Berry Orange

This weekend I headed back to my home city, Norwich, to see my family.  Shamefully I hadn't been to visit for 7 months and it was my first trip since moving to the  North East.

In my defence - Newcastle to Norwich is a bit of a journey, it takes 5 hours by train and involves an hour long wait in Peterborough.  We braved it this time but have since decided that in the future we'll hire a car.  It's far more cost effective and much faster.

The reason for the visit was a family get together over lunch to celebrate my Grandma's 90th birthday.  It was the first time in over a decade that she had all 8 of her Grandchildren together and it was so lovely that we all made it to Norfolk to celebrate with her.  She truly is a wonderful lady and it's so amazing that she has reached such an incredible age and is still enjoying life.

I knew that I wanted to buy some new clothes to wear at the lunch and decided on a lovely bright outfit that truly embraced Autumn.  This entire outfit came from New  Look and  I love it.

I've really been struggling to take good photographs for my blog since the days have got darker and we really don't have any good space at our flat to take photographs outside.   So it was lovely to be back at my parent's house and find myself a nice quiet corner and a pretty setting. 


Wednesday 23 October 2013

Treating Mum

I am so excited at the thought of spending my first birthday in Newcastle next year, but for now  I have the joy of organising birthday treats for others.   Simon's Mum recently turned 60 and as lack of funds made it difficult for us to get to her to share her day we decided to invite her up to Newcastle to treat her to some North East hospitality.

Having spied the cookie monster cocktail on my blog a few months ago she made it very clear that this visit she wanted to sample some cocktails so our first birthday treat was a trip to Jalou which is very handily next door to the station and is lovely and peaceful in the early evening.  They have recently launched a new cocktail menu and there are now so many drinks that I'd like to try it was difficult to make a decision.  In the end I went for Rhubarb and Custard which was so lovely.  Simon's Mum had a Marshmallow Martini which came with toasted marshmallows.

The following day we knew exactly where we wanted to take her, as she'd never had a proper afternoon tea before we thought she might love the proper indulgence that is the Jesmond Dene House afternoon tea.   One of my first ever blog posts was about Jesmond Dene House (here)
and it is somewhere that we absolutely love going.  It's a beautiful location and feels very special yet friendly and warm at the same time.   We always have our afternoon tea in the cosy bar area and like to request "our table".

We finished the birthday weekend with .... yes you guessed it more food!   It's been ages since we'd had a Sunday Roast and it seemed like the perfect time to indulge. 

After spending a lot of time researching every Sunday lunch menu in Newcastle we decided on Pitcher and Piano.  Anyone who's never been to Newcastle may wonder what's so exciting about a chain restaurant but the Pitcher and Piano in Newcastle is special, it's on the Quayside with amazing views across the Tyne - in the Summer its almost impossible to get a seat outside after work as it's the place to be on a sunny evening.  I'd never been inside before but was impressed with the lovely furnishings and cosy atmosphere.  I parked myself on a huge gorgeous arm chair by the fire and enjoyed a delicious roast beef dinner.  I now have two P&P related wants ... 1. to attend a party on the roof bar (does anyone want to throw me one?) and 2. to go there for dinner after work once the clocks have changed and it's dark and wintery - the lights in the trees outside make me feel so Christmassy.


Tuesday 22 October 2013

Monday Smiles

Take a look at my Tyne sunset photo, so mad to think that I took this just as I left work.  In another few weeks it'll be getting dark in the afternoon and then we really are on the countdown to Christmas.  EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!

This weekend has been a bit of a foodie fest, Simon's Mum came up to the North East to celebrate her special 60th birthday and we treated her in our favourite way, by spoiling her with yummy food and drink.  I'll be sharing more about that later on this week so for now I tease you with a Starbucks caramel hot chocolate which I had on Friday.  I'm definitely more of a Costa girl (with the exception of Christmas time when eggnog lattes in red cups tempts me to switch sides) but as we had a little wait for Simon's Mum we ventured in and I found myself loving my hot chocolate and wanting to go back some time to try a Duffin.

The Elephant Parade has arrived in toon.  I was pretty excited by this when I first heard the news.  I was living in London when the elephants paraded into the capital and had the most amazing time hunting them all down, I walked miles and discovered new areas that I'd never ventured into before.  Unfortunately this time  I've been left a little disappointed as the elephants are only in Eldon Square so no exploring for me.  Still, they brighten the mall up and it was nice to see them again as I stormed through the shopping centre on my lunchtime errands.

I'm not sure I've mentioned our future dog in this blog yet so it may be about time I introduced you to Malcolm.  My family have always been cat people and I've never really spent much time around dogs, however when my friend Paul moved into a house with two loveable Chihuahuas I began to appreciate little dogs a lot more.  Simon is adamant that he does not want a Chihuahua but after discussing various different breeds of dogs we've both agreed that we'd like to get a miniature dachshund just as soon as we've bought our own place, we've already decided we'll be calling him Mal and I honestly can't wait to finally meet and take care of him.


Tuesday 15 October 2013

Monday Smiles

Summer is officially over, I know this for sure because we've had the heating on in the flat for the first time, there are lots of bugs going round the office and I've bought my first Christmas present.  Also, after swearing I'd never ever buy one, I ventured into Primark this week and bought myself a onesie.  I've never seen the appeal before but since losing so much weight I find myself getting cold a lot easier so suddenly a onesie seemed a necessity.  I really love giraffes so as soon as I saw that I could dress up as one I couldn't resist.  I didn't tell Simon I was getting one so he came home from work on Friday to find a giraffe hanging about in his flat.  So funny!

We went to our first gig together since I moved this week.  Simon has a bit of a crush on Ellie Goulding so I bought him a ticket to see her at the 02 Academy as a treat a while ago.  I didn't really know too much about her, although love some of her recent dance tunes, I really enjoyed going to see someone blind, I just sat quietly and listened to her voice and some of her songs were truly beautiful.  I've now bought her new album and she has herself a new fan.   We have now booked our next concert, to see the Wanted at the arena next March.  I feel very lucky to have a wonderful boyfriend who's prepared to go and see a boy band with me, poor guy probably doesn't know what he's let himself in for.

After a couple of weeks of hunting it looks like I've found my perfect Winter lunchtime hangout.  I popped over the river to the Sage as I'd never been inside the building before and it's the perfect place.  It has places to buy coffee, plenty of comfy seats and beautiful views.  Sold!

Jamie's Italian is coming to Newcastle!  Exciting!  We shall be adding it to our never ending list of places we want to try.

 and here begins another week!


Friday 11 October 2013

Peacock Pennies

I do like to find myself a bargain!

I've always been a bit of a fan of Peacocks, there was quite a big one in Norwich and I loved it as an alternative to Primark.  Unfortunately it's become a bit of a mission to find one in recent years with  many stores shutting down.    Lucky for me there's one near my new home in Gateshead so I popped there recently to see if I could find myself any good deals.

This dress and leather jacket are great for the transition from Summer to Autumn.   They also have some really lovely Winter clothes at the moment and I have my eye on quite a few jumpers.

Next time you happen to stumble across a Peacocks why not take a little look inside.  You never know what you may find.


Sunday 6 October 2013

City Escape

I am a very lucky lady and have lived in three of the most beautiful cities in the UK.   I spent the first 27 years of my life in Norwich, then went on a "finding myself" journey in my late 20s and moved to London  before settling here in Newcastle.  I love each city so much, all three hold a special place in my heart.

I hadn't been back to London since I relocated five months ago so was very excited this weekend about returning to the place I called home for five years.  I will admit I did a little bit of a gallop as I came off the train at Kings X and sped down to the Underground.  There have been times I've really missed the big city and it felt so good to be back.

I had a lovely weekend catching up with family and friends and although we spent a bit of time in central  London - seeing Rush at the O2 and having a look at the recently redeveloped Leicester  Square the loveliest part of the weekend was spending time in South West London away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds.

London has some truly beautiful parts, little pockets of peace and quiet well away from the tourists with vast green open space, gorgeous little pubs and cafes and plenty of fresh air.

The weather was beautiful and we spent an enjoyable time strolling round Wandsworth Common.  For the first time this year it felt like Autumn had arrived and it was perfect.  We had a lovely time watching the ducks on the pond, kicking about in the leaves and then filled our bellies with tasty burgers with BBQ pulled pork at The Hope.

Let me know your favourite hidden London gems!


Friday 4 October 2013

Romance is the icing, but love is the cake

Moving on from my lovely holiday I thought it was about time to get my head out of the clouds and replace my feet firmly on the soil of the North East and what better way to do that than enjoying one of my favourite hobbies, afternoon tea.  Can I really call afternoon tea a hobby?  Yes I think I can!
The Great British Cupcakery opened many months ago close to the Quayside, it's a very short walk from my office so I stumbled across it pre-opening and from a very quick look through the window (I am a nosy neighbour!) I knew it was right up my street.  Since then I've had the very difficult task of keeping myself away during lunch hours as I wanted my first visit to be with Simon.
I was very excited to discover that Travel Zoo were offering a local deal on the afternoon tea at the Parlour so with no hesitation I claimed the offer and on Saturday we finally got ourselves into gear and booked a table.
If I was going to open my own tea room it would look just like GBC, the crisp white interior and shabby chic furniture is right up my street and the massive tables make it an ideal location for afternoon tea with a large group of friends.  GBC offer their space to book your own vintage tea party and it would be a fantastic place to have a gathering.
The afternoon tea was so delicious, the cakes were huge and very satisfying.  We had to take some of our tea home as it completely defeated us.  That's not something that happens very often so a sign of a very good and filling afternoon tea.
The bottom layer of sandwiches consisted of tuna and cucumber, cheese and pickled chutney (Simon's personal favourite) carved ham and egg mayonnaise with cress.    It was nice to have such classic sandwiches on an afternoon tea.  I've been to many afternoon teas where overly fancy sandwiches have lead to people needing to play swapsies.   No problems here, we both munched every sandwich put in front of us.
The next layer was the all important scone, at most afternoon teas you get two but at GBC they provide you with the largest scones I have ever seen so you really do only need the one.  The scone also arrived ready filled with a huge dollop of jam and cream which I liked - no need to be polite to Simon when helping myself to the cream.
The most important tier is, of course, the ones containing the cakes.  We had a lovely varied selection, a mini chocolate ├ęclair, a treacle tart and the all important cupcake which was strawberry cheesecake.  It was worth the wait - beautiful soft sponge and a really delicious strawberry icing and filling. I know I'll be wanting to head there again soon to try some of their other cupcakes.
So, yet another fantastic afternoon tea to add to our list and, who knows, maybe a potential place to win my lunchtime Winter hideaway challenge.
I'd really recommend you get yourself down there for a treat, they offer a cream tea for £3.95 per person and afternoon tea for £19.95 per person (advanced booking required) or if you can't quite manage all that food then just pop in for a cupcake cake or a slice of something lovely.  It's also worth mentioning that they make cakes to order including really beautiful wedding cakes


Tuesday 1 October 2013

Monday Smiles

Apologies .. I'm about to rant!

Yes, I know that Monday Smiles is supposed to be lots of nice little things that have happened in the past week to make us all smile and realise that life is actually pretty awesome but sometimes a rant is good for the soul no?

Ever since we returned from holiday we've been having major issues with our washing machine (I didn't promise it would be an interesting rant did I?).  The clothes, especially towels and thick jumpers, have started to really pong when they're drying.  I've spent a lot of the week trying lots of different ways to dry our laundry but I think we now have to admit it's a fault with the machine.  It is so frustrating, especially with the cooler weather arriving, I'll be very upset if I don't get to wear my new Autumn wardrobe because it's all stuck in the laundry bin. 

It feels like Autumn has truly arrived this week and I had some very enjoyable shopping trips when pay day arrived on Friday, however I am now banned from any more clothes purchasing until next pay day as I feel I may have overdone it (especially in New Look).  The cooler weather has meant that some of my new boots have finally got their debut outings and yesterday I wore my beautiful new suede ankle boots. I may have been slightly hobbling by the end of the day but they looked fantastic.

The weather has pretty much been warm and sunny ever since I arrived in Newcastle so I'm now really looking forward to experiencing the cooler weather in my new home.  The sudden drop in temperature has however left me a bit stumped on how to spend my lunch hours during the week.  Suddenly sitting on the Quayside with a trashy magazine isn't going to work.  I've made the decision to start going on a bit more of an explore at lunchtimes to try and find the perfect place for me to hide away in the Winter months the main criteria being comfy seats, nice atmosphere and good coffee.  I've started my mission with my first visit to The Hub, a lovely little space that gives the cyclists of Newcastle somewhere to meet whilst enjoying some coffee and cake.  It's a definite contender for my Winter hideaway place.  If anyone has any other suggestions of good warm places to hide near the Quayside please do let me know!

We've enjoyed a quiet weekend at home this week and on Saturday finally visited the GB Cupcakery for afternoon tea, there's a little sneaky peak photo below but look out for a proper post of our experience later in the week.

... and I leave you with my final thought ... onsies! I've never ever joined the craze and never thought I'd want one, until this cute doggy one appeared in Primark.  I kind of want it!

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