Monday 31 March 2014

Afternoon Tea at Cafe Royal

Is there anything better in life than eating cake with someone who loves cake as much as you do?  My friend Kate has been visiting this weekend so cake has featured very heavily in my diet. 

Whenever we're arranging a weekend of activities together we like to get an afternoon tea into our plans.  As we had Friday off work it was the perfect opportunity to try the afternoon tea at Café Royal as it is only served on week days.

Café Royal is a café bistro in the heart of Newcastle that boasts its own bakery producing mouth watering cakes.  There's always lots to choose from and the slices are huge.  I'd visited once before for a slice of something sweet but this was my first try of the afternoon tea.

For a Friday afternoon it was very popular and practically every seat was taken, not great when I can be a bit of a diva about where I sit in restaurants (I like a nice sized table, away from the door and away from any air conditioning unit) but our waitress was really accommodating in finding us the perfect table.

The afternoon tea menu at Café Royal offers something a little different to many others that I've had so it was fun to have something fresh.   The menu sets out exactly what you get rather than just offering you a "selection of cakes".  We really appreciated this as we had the menu to refer to whilst we were making our way through our food.

The food was beautifully presented on a slate cake stand so each part of the afternoon tea really stood out against the dark surface.

The savoury tier consisted of open sandwiches and mini quiches which were all so delicious.  We especially loved the smoked mackerel, horseradish mascarpone and beetroot and would have happily had an entire plate of it.

 Moving onto the scones and we were really excited to have something a little different to the usual plain or sultana scone.  This afternoon tea offered raspberry scones and they were a very welcome and delicious change.
 Lastly the most important part of any afternoon tea, the cakes.  We really couldn't fault them, they were a perfect bite size, full of flavour and a wonderful assortment.
Whilst having afternoon tea in a café isn't quite as comfortable as a hotel, the food was so lovely it was worth sitting on hard chairs in a noisy environment to have it.

Our only small grumble was that unlike other places Café Royal don't offer bottomless tea with its afternoon tea which I really feel is a necessity when you're stuffing lots of cake.  I usually get through a couple of pots and we found that we'd run out by the time we'd got to our scones. 

Café Royal serve afternoon tea week days between 2:30 pm - 5:30 pm at £12.95 for one or £25.00 for two.


Saturday 29 March 2014

Desserts Delivered

Hands up if you love an indulgent takeout?  Hands up if you love cake?   Well then, you've come to the right place.

Here in the North East we are a little bit spoilt and as well as the usual lazy man's food options of Chinese and Pizza we also have something for those that prefer their takeaway with a little more sugar.

Desserts Delivered are a company who deliver cake and sweet treats straight to your doorstep, perfect if you're suddenly craving something gorgeous to go with your wine and don't want to scare the locals by putting your coat on over your My Little Pony PJs and heading to the nearest supermarket.

Desserts Delivered deliver to Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland and are open every evening to cater for your needs when you get the late night munchies.

The menu has a pretty impressive selection of signature cakes, cheesecakes, cupcakes, blondies, brownies, donuts and even ice-cream to choose from.

I'd been wanting to try the service out for a while and with my friend Kate here for a weekend visit it seemed the perfect time to give cake takeout a go.

After a good look through the menu we all decided to go for a slice of signature cake each - Kate chose a red velvet tower cake, Simon opted for the sticky toffee tower cake and I selected the chocolate orange tower.


Each slice cost £3.50 so we easily met the £8.00 minimum delivery spend and then it was just an extra £1.50 on top to get the treats delivered to our door.

We put in the order just after 9:00 pm and waited just under an hour for their arrival.   The cakes were packaged just as you'd expect a takeout to be presented, but it was pretty amazing to open up the polystyrene cases to find yummy looking cakes rather than chicken chow mein.

The slices were very generous and tasted lovely, towards the end we all started to feel a little full up so it was definitely more than enough cake to satisfy our craving.  

I loved my chocolate orange tower, especially because after I'd polished off all the cake I still had a segment of chocolate orange to eat.  

 We'll definitely be using Desserts Delivered again and if you're after something different to order in on an evening in with friends I'd definitely recommend giving it a go. 

Thursday 27 March 2014

Throwback Thursday: Being Ginger

I'm sure that many of us had things we struggled to accept about ourselves growing up and inevitably these were always the things that the kids at school would notice and laugh about.

Growing up ginger is not fun, with only 2% of the world's population having red hair, you are the prime target for bullies.   Kids love picking on people who are different.

As a child my ginger hair frustrated me.   Mostly because being shy it made it harder to blend into the background and I felt I wasn't able to wear red or pink because it "clashed" with my hair (very annoying in the 90s when I wanted to support Man Utd and couldn't wear the home shirt).

Anyone else thinking I'm pretty brave for including such a horrendous 90s school photo?  It's good to have a smile at dodgy old photos.

As a kid with red hair getting insulted is pretty much a daily occurrence, not only at school but also by complete strangers in the street.  I remember someone I'd never met before once just shouting "GING-A" at me from across the road.  As a shy and awkward teenager that was pretty mortifying.

One of my favourite insults was whilst at Sixth Form when, complaining to a "friend" about my ginger hair, she reassured me by telling me "your hair is beautiful, but I wouldn't want it".   Erm ... thanks?!

Looking back now a lot of this bullying was harmless, kids messing about and not realising how horrible they were being.  What I find harder to understand is adults doing it, especially in the media.  Laughing at someone else's expense over something that they can't control just seems very mean to me. I wish people would stop and maybe think about the hurt they could be causing.  

When Girls Aloud first appeared on the scene Nicola Roberts, only 16 at the time, was bullied for being a "moody ginger bitch".   This poor girl who was still a kid was made to hate herself and spent the next few years desperately dying her hair and covering herself in fake tan to hide herself and fit in.  I love that she has now accepted herself the way that she is and has spoken out so strongly to young girls who suffer with their self image.   She has grown into a beautiful and confident young woman.

Like Nicola, the cruel words from others made me hate my red hair, and as soon as I got into my 20s I started colouring it.  Firstly I went really dark just so I could wear lots of pink and red and then a few years later decided to try out blonde.

I'm very happy to say that now I've hit my 30s I've finally accepted my hair and have grown to love it.  For the first time in years I'm not colouring it and am living my life ginger and proud.  It's fantastic to have hair that's different to everyone else, it's the kind of colour that so many ladies desperately try to recreate but unfortunately for them it doesn't come in a bottle.

I can now appreciate how beautiful red hair is, it changes colour depending on the time of year and when it catches the sun it truly becomes something very special. 

I was made to feel unattractive for such a long time but my boyfriend has fancied red heads for years and has really helped me realise how pretty my hair is.  Ask him to name his favourite famous ladies and many of them have red hair.     I don't blame him, there are some beautiful red heads in the media - Felicia Day, Isla Fisher, Deborah Ann Woll, Amy Adams, Christina Hendricks and of course Nicola Roberts ... just some of the ladies flying the flag for red heads and teaching young girls that being ginger can be fabulous.

The biggest fan of my hair will always be my wonderful Grandma who stroked my hair at Christmas and told me how happy she was that it's back ... and I think we all know that Grandmas are very wise and always right!

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Birthday Haul: H&M and Primark

As I've already mentioned I spent my birthday doing two of my favourite activities - eating and shopping. 

Simon was fantastic and literally spent hours walking around after me carrying all my hangers of clothes, waiting outside changing rooms and then carrying all of my shopping bags.  What a star!

I spent a lot of my time in H&M hunting out things from my wish list and looking for bargains in Primark.  I had a bit of birthday cash to spend as well as the Primark vouchers that my sister kindly gave me.
Firstly H&M  where I had a good amount of success hunting down my most wanted.

I found the lovely pink skirt although I'm not sure at the moment what I'm going to wear it with, I need to work that out.

I also found the light blue bag that's been more or less impossible to find.  It's not only sold out online but I've been into various branches of H&M round the country and have never seen it.  Luckily someone must have known it was my birthday because I stumbled across it hiding in the Grey Street store in Newcastle.  I literally gasped with joy and ran to get it before someone else swiped it.  What a find, I'm so happy.

I also found this gorgeous blazer.  I keep promising Simon that I'm not going to buy any more blazers as I have so many, but  I really couldn't resist this one, it was the shiny gold buttons that did it.   The photo doesn't really do the colour justice, it's actually a really lovely caramel colour and a bargain at £29.99.   One thing I will say though, it's a bit of a snug fit so I ended up picking up a size larger to make it comfortable. 

Embracing my new found love of cropped jumpers I also picked up this jumper for £14.99.

Luckily I had a 25% off discount voucher thanks to Glamour magazine so saved myself £26 which I'm really chuffed about.

You can find some of the links in my previous H&M Wish List post, but I'm afraid the rest I can't seem to find on the website.

My second big splurge was in Primark where poor Simon spent so long waiting for me outside the changing room he watched the shop assistants re-do an entire clothing display.  I owe him!

First up is my super bargain dress.  I was a little unsure of it on the hanger as it looked a funny shape and seemed a little too big, to the point where I almost took in a size 8!   Glad I didn't though because the dress fits perfectly in my regular size.    It looks black in the photo but it's actually a gorgeous dark blue colour.   This was reduced from £8 to £3. 

Next up is a swing dress which I'm so happy with.  I really love swing dresses at the moment, probably because they are so lose they give you loads of room to eat cake (one track mind!). I love the colours of this, unfortunately I can't really wear yellow because of my colouring but I can just about get mustard to work.

Moving away from dresses just for a second I found this gorgeous top covered in lots of different coloured butterflies which I can't wait to wear.  I actually tried it on with an amazing skirt which I really loved but was such an unflattering fit on me.  It was a mint green coloured "leather" skirt.  I knew as soon as I picked it up to try on that it wouldn't suit my shape at all.  I'm now desperately trying to find an alternative because I loved the colour so much.

Then lastly another dress that I'm sure you've all seen in Primark lots recently.  They seem to make them in so many different colours and patterns. I bought two last year and really loved them so had to make this my third.   Again it's a really lose fit and is just so comfortable and flattering. 

Sorry I can't remember the price for most of these, I was a little silly and threw my receipt out.

I am really loving both H&M and Primark this Spring, I don't think it'll be my last visit!

Monday 24 March 2014

Gosforth Dreams and the Burgers of Destiny

Firstly for some lovely news that I just have to share.  My little sister got engaged on Friday!   Her boyfriend popped the question two days before her 30th birthday whilst they were away celebrating at Lythe Hill Hotel and Spa in Surrey.  She has the most gorgeous ring in exactly the style that she wanted and she is over the moon.   So looks like I have a very important wedding to attend in Norfolk next year and will be on bridesmaid duty again which I'm really looking forward to.

The weather has been clear and sunny today so we ended up going on a little spontaneous adventure.  I really love unplanned outings but don't often get to enjoy them as I'm one of life's planners.  For some reason I always have to know exactly what I'm doing and like to go out and about armed with maps - I just can't help myself.

We got up early this morning to catch the bus to Newcastle Racecourse for a little look at Living North Live that has been taking place there this weekend.  It's an Event which runs twice a year in Newcastle and York showcasing lots of local food, lifestyle, fashion and beauty businesses.  

Living North Live
Simon and I got there for doors open and headed straight to the food stalls in the marquee.  We had an enjoyable stroll around, talking to people about their produce and giving lots of things a try.  We particularly enjoyed our little taste of "Kitty's Homemade Ginger" who make non alcoholic ginger wine which is absolutely delicious and would be amazing mixed with lemonade in the summer or added to a stir fry.  We also had a lovely chat with the guys from Geordie Banger Company as we were selecting our sausages.  We've been meaning to buy some for such a long time and finally got ourselves into gear to get some today.

Living North Live
After a quick look round the lifestyle stalls and a lust after some rather beautiful garden furniture we caught a bus to Gosforth for a look around.

Gosforth is an area I haven't really visited before, it's a suburb north of Newcastle and wandering around the pretty High Street this afternoon it's become our new fantasy place to buy a house.   Unfortunately the prices of properties in the area are out of our price range but it's fun to dream of a life walking out of our beautiful house for a stroll beside the daffodils into one of the local coffee shops (maybe via the gorgeous Katherines Florists so Simon can pick me up a bunch of flowers) and then on for a brisk walk to the Park whilst having a nosy at the neighbours digging in their allotments.

Head out of the clouds and back to today! 
By this point it was heading towards lunchtime and I suddenly remembered there was a pub in the area that I'd been wanting to try so we decided to make a fun lunch plan.  We had a nice walk from the High Street to Brandling Villa in South Gosforth which is home to the "Burgers of Destiny".

The pub itself is quite dark and cold yet it's very popular which makes a nice atmosphere.  We managed to get in just before the tables started to fill up with friends catching up, families with kids and people out dog walking (the pub is very dog friendly and even has a menu for your canine pal).

What it lacks in décor it more than makes up for with the food.   The menu is so much fun to read, the author is clearly a bit of a comedian and there's also a lot of choice.  The dishes are classic "pub grub" but with a twist, and using food that is sourced locally.

Whilst the main menu looked great, we were there to sample the famous burgers so there was only one menu that we were interested in.

I don't often eat burgers when I'm out, if I'm going to eat a burger I like it to be big and full of flavour, I'm not interested in a boring cheese burger unless it also features some mushrooms and maybe an egg and some onion rings and those kind of burgers can be hard to find.

The Brandling takes the added extras and then pushes it further than you could imagine.  The menu is large and there's something for every taste, a lot for only the brave and some that just make you do a double take.  Each burger has it's own name and the description of each one needs to be read quite carefully just to give your brain some time to process.

Brandling Villa Gosforth

The highlights of the menu include "A Night in with Susan Boyle" (a burger with poached egg, pancetta, baked beans, potato cake and mushrooms),  "The Day Emily Bishop Went Insane" (a burger containing thin slice pork pie, a free range egg and Bramley Apple Sauce) and then, the most talked about tribute to Newcastle's very own Princess, "The Dirty Thoughts of Cheryl Cole" ... you can see from the picture below what that burger contains!

Brandling Villa Gosforth
I wasn't quite brave enough to try a Cheryl so I went for the "London Gentlemen" - a breaded chicken breast with roasted Northumbrian Swiss cheese, wholegrain mustard and a poached egg whilst Simon had the "Porco Rosso" - a beef burger with cheese sauce, pulled pork and crispy fried red onions.

Brandling Villa Gosforth
  Brandling Villa Gosforth
Believe me these burgers are not for the faint hearted and should only be handled by true experts!  I struggled with mine and we all know how much I love my food.  I'd never had a chicken breast in a burger before and it was so delicious but very very filling.  I really loved the fries which were homemade with their skins on and I always appreciate a bit of coleslaw on the side although on top of the burger it was all a little too much.  I had a small bite of Simon's burger as well and it was huge.  The meat portions in these burgers are man sized!

I'm very glad I went as it was a fantastic burger, but unfortunately a little too much for me.  Simon on the other hand has already text his mates telling them all about the place so I think he might well be planning a Lads Burger and Beer Night.

After a day of sunshine, walking and epic burgers I'm now sat here feeling a little full with tired legs and am contemplating whether to have a snooze on the couch.   

It's a good job an afternoon nap is just what Sundays are made for.

Friday 21 March 2014

Birthday OOTD

I love buying dresses and skirts, if I happen to stroll into a clothes shop I'm drawn to them immediately.  I tend to only ever bother looking at trousers if I happen to desperately need a new pair of jeans.

The silly thing is I then spend most of my life living in jeans and so my beautiful dresses and skirts sit in the wardrobe waiting for a special occasion.   This is really rather silly of me so I've decided to make more of an effort to wear more of my wardrobe.

My birthday fell in the category of "special occasion" which meant that abiding by my own Chloe logic it was a day I could reach for a skirt.

This leather style skater skirt was a present I got for Christmas.  I'd been hunting for the perfect piece of "leather" for my wardrobe for ages. I loved the trend but it was hard finding something that was flattering to my figure as leather is very unforgiving.   I eventually found this flared skirt in New Look and it was a perfect flattering fit.

Next was deciding how to style it!  I knew I wanted to wear it with something soft and fluffy but it took me a good few months to find something that was just right.  I stumbled across this gorgeous pink cropped jumper in the Topshop sale in Fenwicks a few weeks ago and it was exactly what I'd been looking for.

Cropped jumpers are something that I've always avoided before, thinking that they'd look terrible on me and emphasise my bum and tum which are areas I don't particularly want people to notice.  I now have a new found love for them though because they are perfect to wear with the right skirt. 

This jumper is pretty short so obviously now that I'm over 30 and therefore have become slightly sensible I did wear it with a pink vest top underneath just to ensure that I didn't expose my midriff to all of Newcastle and also to keep me nice and warm.

As I mentioned in my previous post I spent a lot of my birthday loving all thing mint green after painting my nails a lovely shade of Tiffany and putting on my statement necklace  I bought in a haul last year.

I finished my birthday outfit with a pair of boots I bought in Primark back in the Winter.  I adore the little gold features.
This outfit was definitely something new for me, it was my first time wearing leather and a cropped jumper, but I really loved it, I will definitely be wearing this again soon. 

Thursday 20 March 2014

Birthday Diva

My birthday pretty much gives me the opportunity to strut about for the day being a diva (I'm sure Simon will tell you I'm a diva every day, but we'll just ignore him!)

Today I celebrated my first ever birthday in Newcastle so it was a bit of a special one.   Simon and  I both took the day off work as birthdays are best spent eating lots and hanging out with your best friend rather than sitting at your desk in the office.

My day started with lots of pressies and I was completely spoilt by my family and friends.   Mum and Dad bought me the Oasis Parka and Zara City Bag with Zips (more on both those another time) I've had my eye on for a while, one of my sisters bought me a pretty daisy print dress from Dorothy Perkins and the other got me a Primark voucher so I could treat myself to another haul. 

Simon completely spoilt me, firstly by ordering me a surprise toblerone cheesecake made by Simply Cheesecake, a local lady who makes delicious cheesecakes in a variety of flavours.  If you're local I'd suggest you pop down to Tynemouth Market on a Saturday and grab yourself one.  It tastes absolutely gorgeous and is so huge I think we'll be getting a lovely after dinner treat for days to come.

As those of you who follow me on twitter and Instagram will know I was also lucky enough to get a beautiful little blue box.   Simon didn't quite get why I was getting so giddy about a box, but I think us ladies all know how special a gift from Tiffany's is.  I got a gorgeous little bracelet of silver beads with a delicate Tiffany's charm, it's perfect.  

I'd like to point out that my nail varnish matching the Tiffany's box is a very happy complete coincidence!

The other present I have to mention reduced me to tears.   Simon bought me my very own domain name for the blog.  I was so touched by how thoughtful the gift was and am so excited that very soon my little space on the internet will become

Once the presents were all opened we had a nice walk into Newcastle and popped by Quay Ingredient for brunch.   Quay Ingredient has been voted the top place for breakfast in Newcastle on many occasions and is usually found sitting at number one restaurant in Newcastle on Trip Advisor.   Being very cosy (it has only around 6 tables) it can be hard to get a seat, especially on weekends so a Wednesday seemed the ideal time to treat ourselves to some brunch.   It's such a great place and I highly recommend it, the people are so friendly and the food is perfect.   I went for eggs benedict with crispy bacon and it really hit the spot.

The rest of the day was spent with me charging around the shops spending all of my birthday money with Simon being Mr Wonderful, following me around, carrying my bags and waiting for hours outside changing rooms.  He didn't complain once and I'm so lucky to have bagged myself a true gent.  He spent the entire day treating me like a princess.

I had a wonderful time with a bit of an H&M haul and yet another Primark haul but I'll tell you all about those another time because they are worthy of their own post.   I've spent quite a lot of the day lusting over clothes in mint green and turquoise (maybe that Tiffany box went to my head!) and am now on the hunt for the perfect mint green Spring skirt so if anyone knows where I can find one please let me know!

To complete a perfect day I obviously needed some cake so we popped into Olive and Bean for afternoon tea.   They only serve afternoon tea on week days so I've never had the chance to try it before.   We opted for the "Afternoon Tea for Two" costing £15.99, such a bargain.   The sandwiches on the bottom layer were probably the best  I've ever had on an afternoon tea, the bread was so fresh and soft and the fillings were really generous, they cut chunks of cheese the Chloe way (ie huge wedges) and the tuna was spilling out there was so much of it.   We were a bit more disappointed with the scones as they were a little dry but the cream was lovely and the fresh strawberries were a nice added touch.  Unfortunately we didn't get to try many of the cakes as there was a bit of a mishap with our order but the staff were so wonderful in dealing with their mistake it wouldn't put me off going back, it was just a bit of a shame. 

I can't believe the day is almost over already, this evening's plan is to eat some pizza and snuggle on the couch with a DVD,  of course the Birthday Diva will be picking out something suitably cheesy and naff whilst she can still get away with it.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Primark Flower Tea Dress

This weekend Simon and I have been in Norfolk staying at my parent's house.  It's my birthday tomorrow so I wanted to go back to see them for an early celebration and also catch up with friends I don't get to see very often.

It was a weekend of eating far too much and lots of sitting about.   My parents have a beautiful conservatory and with a gorgeous sunny day on Sunday it was the perfect place to enjoy the warmth with my feet up enjoying some glossy magazines (I'm so far behind I'm currently reading February's issue of Marie Claire!)

As I knew the weather was going to be nice and my Dad's garden is a much better backdrop than a plain white wall in the flat back in Newcastle I decided to wear my new Primark dress on Sunday as seen in my recent haul as a few of you said you'd like to see some proper photos of it.

Apologies for the quality of the photos, not being a professional photographer I have no idea how to take good photos when the sun is out therefore they are a bit bright and my eyes are a little squinty!

The dress is my favourite purchase of the year so far, and only £8.00 so such a bargain.

It has a little zip at the side which pulls you in just the right amount to make the top part of the dress nice and fitted (I will admit I ate so much Sunday lunch I spent the 5 hour car journey back to Newcastle with the zip undone as I was growing a rather large food baby).   The bottom of the dress flares out giving it a gorgeous shape.

 The colours are so bright and pretty, being a bit of a nail varnish fan I love that I have so many colours to pick from to match the dress, if you like to leave your styling options open the amount of different colours make it fun to play with.

I've worn it twice so far and both times have teamed it with my thick super cosy Primark tights and my biker style boots but maybe as we head into even warmer weather I might have a think about what else I can do with it.

Let me know if you've got your hands on the same dress, I think it's going to be a popular one!
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