Thursday 27 August 2015

Man vs Food, Heaton

Chillingham Road in Heaton is fast becoming one of our favourite places to eat.  The little suburb on the edge of Newcastle is a haven of delis and restaurants and every time we stroll the streets I find myself adding to our Bucket List.

On our most recent walk we stumbled across Man vs Food and we were immediately curious.  Most of our meals out turn into a Man vs Food type experience, with us eating as much as we possibly can before rolling home.

So when an e-mail landed in the inbox inviting us for a sneaky peak the night before opening we were very quick to get a table reserved. 
Welcomed in from the cold and rain (ah British Summer time) we were shown to a snuggly wooden booth to hide away from the world and bury our faces into a rather awesome looking menu.  If you love American style dining, Man vs Food is the place for you - burgers, hot dogs, doorstop sandwiches and a generous selection of sides - our tummies were grumbling as we tried to choose what to order.

Of course, when you are eating American you have to do it properly and for us this meant ordering naughty milkshakes.  I never bother ordering a milkshake if the flavours are boring but with shakes like Strawberry & Marshmallow on the menu I was keen to get involved.  I decided on the Oreo Shake and Simon picked out the Aero Mint Shake.
They arrived in huge glasses and each drink was topped with a treat.  I was pretty chuffed to get an Oreo cookie sitting on a generous helping of cream. 
I also couldn't help but notice that the usual red and white stripy straws that often appear with milkshakes these days were absent - hurrah!  As cute as these straws look they are made of paper and so go soggy.  I really wish places would stop using them. 
As you can imagine by the name of the restaurant the food at Man vs Food is pretty substantial.  Each main meal comes with a choice of two sides, allowing you to be as greedy as you like. 

I opted for the hot dog, but not reading the menu properly didn't realise it was going to be a foot long. I was pretty surprised when it showed up and was the largest hot dog I've ever seen. 
Ah well, no complaints from me, I'm a girl with a big appetite.
For my sides I chose onion rings and sweet potato fries, I was tempted to order garlic bread, but that seemed a little excessive, even for me!  

The hot dog was covered in crispy onions and smothered in a delicious house sauce - the perfect accompaniments to the smoky flavoured dog.  The foot long monster was a challenge, especially with the additional sides which were very filling.  The onion rings were huge and covered in a thick batter, if you're ordering those as a side definitely don't try and tackle them first.
After a little encouragement from me Simon ordered the Parmesan, or "Parmo" if you're from the North East.  I hadn't noticed it on the menu on first glance but as soon as he mentioned it was something he might order I insisted that he did.  I've been wanting to try a Parmo ever since I moved to the North East.
For my southern friends who are probably wondering what a "Parmo" is, let me give you a lesson in North East cuisine.  Parmos are popular with our neighbours in Middlesbrough and consist of deep fried chicken in bread crumbs, smothered in white béchamel sauce and then covered in cheese. 

The Parmo at Man vs Food was literally the size of the plate and being quite a stodgy food it was hard work to tackle. 
I'm afraid to say that in this battle of Man vs Food, food well and truly won.  Despite being experts at eating Simon and I couldn't finish our meals and had to admit defeat.  We had great fun trying though, and one tip I have to share is that if you're meal is beginning to feel like a bit too much, swap with your dining buddy!  

There's one very important element of Man vs Food that I haven't mentioned yet - the food challenges.  If you're feeling brave there's a menu just for you featuring 5 different challenges, most involve eating a lot of food, but one involves handling a ridiculous amount of spice (you need gloves and goggles for that one!). 
So if you think you can eat 4 burgers (with sides!) or 2 whole chickens within 30 minutes get yourself to Man vs Food.  You could win a t-shirt and get your photo on their wall of fame!

You won't see us partaking in challenges any time soon, the standard menu finished us off!  But we will definitely be returning and this time we'll make sure we don't eat all day in preparation.
If you've enjoyed this post please consider voting for New Girl in Toon in the "Best Travel Blog" Category of the North East Blogger Awards - you can find all the details here.


Tuesday 25 August 2015

My North East Story: Scobberlotch

It's my North East Story time again and this time we're learning more about the lovely Rosie one half of my favourite local food blog Scobberlotch.
1.  What is your North East Story
I grew up in a big Victorian house in South Shields within walking distance of the beach. As a child I’d spend my days playing putt at the park, feeding ducks, building elaborate sandcastles and eating a lot of ice cream from Minchella’s .  I loved every second of it.

Even though I moved to Washington when I was 10 years old, and now live in Gateshead with my husband (also from the North East), I still regularly visit South Shields for walks on the beach and a Minchella’s ice cream. I don’t really have one place in the North East that I call home, I love all of it. I work right next to Central Station and adore being in Newcastle city centre every day (and popping to The Grainger Market for my shopping on my lunch breaks).  

2. Why do you love living in the North East?

The North East will always be my hometown, so of course I love it for that, but I also think it offers the best of everything: a beautiful coastline, stunning national parks, a vibrant, modern city (Newcastle), and the lovely, cobbled Durham. There’s just so much to love that when I forever compare it to any other place I visit, I always return to the decision it’s the best place to be! I really missed it while living abroad in China, so now I’m back, I try to explore it and grow my love for it even more.

3.  Where's your favourite place in the North East to relax?
If I want a perfect pampering day, I’ll go to Seaham Hall’s spa with my mum. We’ll go and buy a ton of magazines and just cosy up in our fluffy, white robes and while away the hours. Just writing about it makes me want to plan another visit!

I also love walking, with no purpose than just to be outside and breathing in the fresh air. I’m lucky that I live quite close to Saltwell Park, and I love having picnics there (it’s where I had my engagement photographs taken!). If the weather is good, especially in the summer, I’ll walk to the Quayside and get lunch alfresco and just bask in the sun.

4. Recommend some yummy food places 
My number one favourite lunch spot of all time is Olive & Bean on Clayton Street in Newcastle. If I have friends visiting, I’ll always take them there! Their range of cakes and drinks make my mouth water, and their tasting planks are just amazing!

I also love the Grainger Market. It has so many fantastic independent eateries like La Petite Creperie, Nan Bei, Pizza by the Slice and Pet Lamb Patisserie.

My favourite place for a dinner date is Gusto by the Quayside. The food and atmosphere is always top notch, and I mean, they do a nutella and marscapone calzone for dessert!

I’m such a foodie that I find it hard to choose favourites, so I’ll also throw Haveli in Ponteland, the best Indian restaurant I’ve visited in a long while (and I grew up next to the Curry Mile in South Shields!), Quilliam Brothers for tea and catch-up chats, and HeiHei  into the mix as well. and my hidden gem recommendation is JJ’s Kitchen in Saltmeadows Industrial Estate in Gateshead that looks like nothing from the outside, but does delicious homemade food and has a rainbow library.

5. Describe your perfect day in the North East
Going to Allard’s Lounge in Tynemouth for breakfast/brunch (they do the best Eggs Benedict), followed by a wander around the Tynemouth market (bonus points if we go the same weekend as the additional food market!) and a walk on the beach. Then, maybe a trip up to Barter Books in Alnwick (an amazing charity book shop), and dinner at a new restaurant. Sounds pretty perfect to me!

Make sure you check out Scobberlotch and if you want to get involved with My North East Story drop me an e-mail at  

Friday 21 August 2015

Budgeting for your House Move

Being given the keys to our very own house was one of the most exiting moments of my life so far.  All of our hard work and determination had finally paid off and our tummies were full of butterflies when we put the key in the lock and swung open our front door for the first time.

It's hard not to get carried away when you finally step foot into your new house.  Being presented with a completely empty house that's all yours, the temptation to start shopping for expensive furniture to make your new home look perfect is overwhelming. 
Having worked so hard to save the money for our deposit we knew we had to be sensible about decorating our new home.  A house full of beautiful trinkets would involve spending money that we didn't have and that could have been a slippery slope.
As a first step we sat down together to write down a list of all the things we would ideally want to make our house functional.  Whilst cushions and vases are pretty, it was more important that we had furniture to allow us to be comfortable in our new home.
With a three bedroom house to fill we knew it was sensible not to try to furnish the entire house in one go.  We agreed that the most important items of furniture to begin with were a bed, sofa, kitchen table and chairs.  We bought all of these on a 0% interest credit card with an agreement to pay them off when we have a bit more money.
After that we went for a trip round Ikea to make a note of the rest of the furniture that we'd want to finish decorating our home.  Decorating your home with cheap furniture you can afford is great as a starting point, we know that over the years we can begin to replace things as and when we get more money.
We made sure to note how much the rest of the furniture totalled so we knew how much extra we'd need to save to be able to furnish the rest of our home.  We then put all the items into priority order.  Unfortunately, the things we were the most excited about weren't always the things that were the most important.    For us that meant that budgeting to buy a wardrobe and chests of drawers was more important than my dressing table and blogging desk (still sulking about this!)

Furnishing your home is expensive and to help one of my lovely readers out, Newcastle Building  Society have given us a £50 Homebase Voucher to give away!   You can enter using the Rafflecopter below - best of luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday 20 August 2015

Mortgage Tips for First Time Buyers

Chances are if, like us, you've been renting for years you probably don't know much about mortgages.  I will admit it was probably the thing  I found most worrying about buying our new house as I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to understand what we were doing. 

Here are a few tips for your first time


Before you start, sit down and take a good look at your finances and work out what you can afford.  When you apply for your mortgage, lenders will check you are able to make the monthly repayments.  Don't forget that the expense of owning your own home isn't just about finding money for a deposit and paying a mortgage.  You'll also need money for Stamp Duty Land Tax, Solicitors fees and Building Insurance amongst other things.  

Affordable Housing Schemes

As a first time buyer you may be able to take advantage of an affordable housing scheme to help you out.  There are a few to consider but the most popular, and the one we took advantage of, is Help to Buy.   Help to Buy is a Government scheme that enables you to put down a 5% deposit, making owning a home more affordable.  If, like us, you are looking to buy a new build you can borrow up to 20% of the purchase price interest free for 5 years.  

Whatever scheme you choose make sure you read the terms properly before committing and understand fully what is expected of you in terms of repayment and interest.

What is a Mortgage?

A mortgage is a loan taken out against a property that is secured against the value of your home until it's paid off.  Most run for 25 years, but the term can be shorter or longer depending on your circumstances.

You can apply for a mortgage directly through a Bank or Building Society but there's also the option to use a financial advisor who can compare different mortgages on your behalf and give you advice on picking out the best one.

Mortgages can be fixed or variable.   A fixed rate mortgage you will be paying the same amount each month for a period of time (usually two to five years) and a variable mortgage the rate you pay will move up and down in accordance with your lenders underlying mortgage rate.

Finding your Mortgage

When you start researching mortgages you will realise that there are many, many different deals to pick from and it's important that you choose the right one for you.

Finding the right mortgage can depend on many different factors so it's worth talking to an expert to make sure you pick a mortgage to suit you. 

Check out one of the many First Time Buyer's Guides online and don't be afraid to ask questions!  You can't be expected to understand something you've never done before.   

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Saving for a House Deposit

Being in our mid 30s, Simon and I belong to a generation of kids who lived at home for longer, were encouraged to borrow money and then suffered during an awful recession that saw many of us losing our jobs.  At times saving for a house deposit seemed like an impossible dream.   

We first discussed buying a house together when I relocated to Newcastle two years ago. We knew that we didn't want to continue spending our hard earned cash living in a flat that didn't belong to us, but were also slightly terrified that we'd never be able to save up enough money for a deposit.

We learnt a lot along the way, so here are our tips for saving for a deposit for your first home.
Take a Deep Breath
It's easy to get panicked when you think about the bigger picture.  Stop stressing about "if" you'll be able to save for a deposit and instead think about "when".   Neither Simon or myself are big earners but with a sensible plan and budget we were able to do it.  It could take you months, it could take you years – it doesn't matter! 
Start off by using a Monthly Budget Planner to take control of your spending.   It's a great way to see all of your outgoings and how much you could potentially save each month.
Clear your debts
Simon and I were both pretty irresponsible with money in our 20s and between us managed to build up a fair amount of debt in our younger years.
Before saving for our deposit we decided to clear our existing credit card debt so we could start with a clean slate, allowing us to focus on our savings.   We made sure we were paying off as much as we could possibly afford each month rather than the just the minimum amount.  This also gave us a great experience of what saving was like, and if we were prepared to commit to our saving plan. 
I'm not going to lie, saving for a deposit is hard work and sacrifices will need to be made.  We looked at our finances for each month and decided what luxuries we couldn't live without and which we could give up.  We didn't want to become hermits so wanted to make sure we hit a healthy and achievable balance. 
Every Penny Counts
It's amazing how much money you can save from making a few changes. Here's some ideas to save some extra pennies:
* Rather than buying a coffee every day treat yourself to one a week.
* Take a packed lunch to work rather than buying expensive sandwiches
* Have a wardrobe clear out and start wearing forgotten treasures rather than buying new clothes.  If you're desperate for something new, do a clothes swap with a friend.
* Rather than buying the latest game for your Xbox start playing some of your old favourites again
* Take a look at your service providers and see if you can save money by switching.
* Plan cheap day trips with lots of long walks and picnics
* Rather than booking an expensive holiday abroad plan a staycation. 
Monthly Budgeting

Each month our diary looked pretty different.  Some months we didn't have many plans and could save away lots and other months we found ourselves travelling round the country attending weddings.
Life doesn't have to stop just because you're saving for your house deposit.  With careful budgeting you can still afford to attend important family gatherings and see your friends.
We sat down together a week before each pay day to go through our diary and agree budgets for all of our plans.   We made sensible decisions, sticking to diet cokes at weddings rather than hitting the bar and taking packed lunches on road trips to stop ourselves spending money in expensive service stations.
Extra Money
If there's any way of getting extra money grab it with both hands!  Money from relatives instead of presents at Christmas and Birthdays can be a great way to top up your total or if you can get extra hours at work or take on a second job it'll definitely help out. 
It's also a great time to sort through old possessions and see if you can sell anything you no longer need or want.
I could talk all day about saving, it definitely became a way of life for us and was an enjoyable experience once we'd got into the swing of it.  If anyone has any questions or tips of their own about saving for a house deposit, make sure you leave a comment. 

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Decorating our Living Room

There are a couple of rooms in our new house that have got me feeling very excited about decorating and these are the spaces that we'll probably be focussing on first.

To me the Living Room is the most important room in the house.  It's the first room you come to when you push open our front door and it's not only where we'll be spending most of our time in the evenings but also where we'll be welcoming our friends and family.
 Image Source: Better Home / Homify
We want a room that looks fabulous, offers a practical amount of storage space but is also cosy and inviting.  We have become a little addicted to looking at photographs of beautiful living rooms and now it's just a matter of pulling together all the elements that have inspired us to make a space unique to us.

The furniture that we have picked out is white to create a light, clean room and we'll be adding a few splashes of colour to bring the room to life.   We're keen to try and keep the room pretty minimal so we can enjoy a calming room to relax in.
Image Source: Eightytwo PTE Ltd / Homify 
Having lived in a cluttered flat for two years, storage is something that is very important to us.  Simon and I are both film geeks and have a rather large collection of DVDs between us so the main focal point of our living room will be the Entertainment Centre.   We've chosen the popular Hemnes units from Ikea which will provide us with a lot of storage and the option to hide away mess and display some photographs and ornaments.

We've opted for the Toulouse Sofa from Next in a light grey colour which will look beautiful against our white furniture.   I love the idea of using light yellows and blues to add character to the room so we'll be adding some cheerful cushions.

There's no such thing as too much storage space in our living room and we are hoping to also buy a white unit.  Whilst the cupboards will probably be full of hidden mess, the top of the unit will become our very own mini bar with cocktail shakers and cool coloured glasses - perfect for welcoming friends to our new pad.

Ever since we bought our house I have been determined to fit a coffee table into the lounge.  I love what a well placed coffee table can add to a room and although it will serve a practical purpose I plan to keep it well stocked with magazines and fresh flowers.
 Image Source: The Bazeley Partnership / Homify
I can't wait to make all of our ideas come alive and share the finished room with you all!  I would love to hear about your Living Room inspirations.

Monday 17 August 2015

Moving House

Wow, I have had the most exhausting weekend!  I'm absolutely shattered and my legs ache so much I feel like I've ran a marathon.   You'll find no whinging from me though as it's been one of the most exciting couple of days of my life so far.

I've mentioned in passing a few times that Simon and I have recently been busy buying a house (argggh, I still have to pinch myself every time I say that out loud!)
This weekend saw the arrival of a day we have been looking forward to for years - we completed and finally got given the keys to our brand new shiny home.  After two years of working hard and saving we finally have a place to call our own, which is very exciting and also slightly terrifying.  I'm not entirely sure we're grown up enough to handle such a ridiculous amount of responsibility.

To celebrate, this week New Girl in Toon is talking all things house!  
Tomorrow you can get a sneaky peak at our ideas for furnishing our new living room and then at the end of the week I've teamed up with Newcastle Building Society to share some of our experiences of buying a house.   I'll be giving you some tips on saving and budgeting and about applying for your first mortgage and then on Friday there'll be a fantastic competition where you can win yourself a £50 voucher to spend on your home.
Of course, I'll be sharing some posts all about our new abode when it starts to come together and we have managed to unbury ourselves from the pile of cardboard boxes and flat pack furniture.  I'm so excited to show you our new pad!

But in the meantime things may be a little slow around here.  Although we have been promised that we will only be without the internet for a few days, I've heard enough stories to know that that may be a little optimistic!   I have a few posts scheduled whilst we get ourselves sorted including some more North East Stories, plenty of food and the official arrival of Wedding season!
Please do let me know if you have hints and tips on surviving the moving madness, and hopefully I'll be back here soon at full blogging capacity to share how our move went!

Thursday 13 August 2015

Late Night Shopping at the Bridges, Sunderland

Late Night Shopping has arrived in Sunderland!  Every Thursday you can now shop in the Bridges until 8:00 pm, giving you loads of extra time after work to unwind and buy yourself something fabulous.  Need an added incentive?  The centre is also offering free parking to customers from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm on Thursday evenings.

Last Thursday Simon and I popped over to Sunderland to enjoy the new extended hours and give ourselves the challenge of spending a £20 Bridges voucher on something we could both make use of and appreciate.  

I managed to resist the lure of River Island and New Look and although Simon insisted that we wandered round HMV for a short while I managed to convince him to leave the shop empty handed.  Sensible grownup heads on, we headed to Debenhams.

As you know we've recently bought our first house together and so decided a sensible way to spend the voucher would be on something new for our home.   Debenhams in the Bridges is a great size with a pretty big homeware department so there were lots of things for us to pick from.   We wandered around for ages debating whether to get some new Jamie Oliver pans or a shiny new toaster but in the end we picked out some bits for our new bathroom.   I hate to be a tease but I'll be sure to show you what we got when we've finally moved into our house.

Despite being a small shopping centre, the Bridges has everything that I could possibly need from a Primark to a Pandora (and everything in between).  It's also the home of our favourite guilty pleasure restaurant Ed's Diner.  We are a little obsessed with the milkshakes (next time you go in make sure you order Butterscotch and Oreo ... it is amazing!).   This time we managed to resist the temptation but next time we'll be sure to stop and have a feast.

Let me know if you'll be taking advantage of the new late opening, and what you're planning to buy!

If you've enjoyed this post please consider voting for New Girl in Toon in the "Best Travel Blog" Category of the North East Blogger Awards - you can find all the details here

Wednesday 12 August 2015

Restaurant Week: Red House Pies

There's very few things that I'd miss the first episode of Great British Bake Off for.  If you forced me to make a list right now of acceptable reasons for missing Mary Berry it would consist of pie, good friends and Restaurant Week!

Funnily enough those three things all came together last Wednesday and so I found myself ditching the TV in favour of an evening at Red House just off Newcastle's Quayside for pie, wine and banter with some of my favourite ladies - Sam, Ash and Katie.

Past Restaurant Weeks have always consisted of date nights with Simon so it was lovely to get together with friends to enjoy a "girls only" evening, at a venue that all our other halves were very jealous of.

I've mentioned Red House on the blog before, it's somewhere I've visited a fair few times and is one of our top suggestions of places to head if we have people visiting us.  It's hearty menu of generously filled pies is enough to satisfy any appetite and we are always keen to show off the beautiful food and great surroundings.

The Restaurant Week deal was Pie and Dessert for £10.00 but when we arrived the guys at Red House pointed us in the direction of their usual Wednesday "Pie Night" offer where you get two meals for £10.00.   Much appreciated by us as it meant saving even more money!

The pies at Red House are hand made by local butchers, Amble Butchers and there are some really delicious pies to choose from which always makes ordering a little tricky.  Not only that but once you've finally picked out your pie you then have to pick your mash, peas and liquor to go with it.

After a little bit of mind changing I went for the Sausage, Apple, Cider and Onion with Mature Cheddar Mash, Mushy Peas and Meat Liquor.  I'm pretty sure this is what I order every time I go, but it's just so tasty!

The food arrived piping hot and every inch of our plate was covered in delicious looking food swimming in liquor.  It's definitely a good idea to arrive at Red House feeling very hungry!

Being ladies who love our food we all managed to polish off our meals with no problem although there was no way we could fit in a dessert.  I'm always a little upset that I can't manage pudding at Red House.  I'm desperate to try the Jam Roly Poly but yet again I wsa left hoping that maybe next time I'll be able to squash it in!

If anyone made it to Red House during Restaurant Week and managed a dessert as part of their offer menu I'd love to hear how you managed to fit the extra food in - I need tips!

If you've enjoyed this post please consider voting for New Girl in Toon in the "Best Travel Blog" Category of the North East Blogger Awards - you can find all the details here

Tuesday 11 August 2015

The Vermont Aparthotel

Have you ever had a daydream about owning a luxury apartment right in the centre of the city?  Somewhere with beautiful décor, gorgeous views and conveniently located near all of your favourite bars and restaurants?  I certainly have!

Unfortunately for most of us this will only ever be a dream, however this month one of my favourite hotels, The Vermont (home of the amazing Bridge Brasserie and Sky Lounge) have opened The Vermont Aparthotel, allowing dreams to become reality for a night or two.

The Aparthotel has been built just across the road from the Vermont Hotel, close to Newcastle's famous Quayside, and boasts 11 luxury apartments.

I was invited in for a little sneaky peak and let's just say I was rather reluctant to leave!   The apartments are stunning and certainly gave me a small glimpse into what an extravagant lifestyle might be like.  Luckily these apartments are available for normal folk like you and me with prices starting from only £129.00 per night for a  Luxury One Bed Apartment.

The one and two bed apartments are beautifully furnished and include huge comfortable beds, fully equipped kitchens, HD TVs, wifi and even butler service if you're feeling extra fancy.  The apartments would be perfect for a romantic overnight stay with your partner or for a little together with old friends.

For an extra special stay there are two penthouse suites at the Aparthotel sleeping up to four people.  I had a look round the Dom Perignon suite and it was stunning.  

The marble bathroom was a dream, the bedrooms were gorgeous and the communal lounge area with its very own bar looked like the perfect place to spend the evening.

I was also really pleased to discover that with the opening of the Vermont Aparthotel comes "Churchills", a brand new bar that's open to the public as well as guests.  Dark wood furnishings, a warm fire and comfortable Chesterfields fill the space, making for a very relaxing and peaceful environment.   It's definitely somewhere that I'll be bringing visiting friends to.

The Vermont Aparthotel was everything I hoped it would be and I now plan on spending most of my spare time hinting to Simon that I'd quite like to stay there for a night.  I'll let you know how I get on!

If you've enjoyed this post please consider voting for New Girl in Toon in the "Best Travel Blog" Category of the North East Blogger Awards - you can find all the details here


Monday 10 August 2015

Restaurant Week: Pleased to Meet You

Last week saw the return of Restaurant Week in Newcastle.  Those of you who have been here for a while will have heard me talk about Restaurant Week before (twice a year in fact) but if you're new, let me explain.  Every January and August most of the restaurants in Newcastle partake in Restaurant Week, a weeklong celebration that sees special offer menus across the Toon.  It's an ideal chance to try somewhere new and is a week of date nights and catch ups with friends.

I always struggle choosing where to book for Restaurant Week.  With so many of my favourites taking part I tend to peruse each menu carefully before booking tables.   This year I was excited to see that Pleased to Meet You were offering a bit of a free for all, with their entire menu to choose from in a 2 courses for £10 or 3 courses for £15 deal.
I was a little disappointed when we arrived on the day to find that was no longer the case and there was a set menu to choose from.  This is what happens when you're an eager beaver – things change.

After a teeny bit of sulking (I'd been looking forward to trying the Cherry Bakewell Tart for weeks) we settled down with some drinks for a good look at the special menu that had been exclusively designed by the chefs just for Restaurant Week.
Pleased to Meet You is best known as a gin bar.  Home to the "create your own" G&Ts it would have been a crime for one of us not to have a play and as it was Simon's first visit to the bar he decided to order himself a G&T.
The lists of gins, tonics and garnishes can be a little overwhelming at first.  There are pages and pages of choices.  So I pointed him towards my favourite page, the fruit and flavoured gins and he was away.  He ordered the Williams Chase Seville Orange Gin with a slim tonic and an orange garnish.
Meanwhile I decided to take advantage of the two cocktails for £10 deal and ordered a Flowerbed Martini (Vodka, White Crème de Cacao and Rose Syrup with a spray of Orange Blossom flower water) which tasted just like eating Turkish Delight on a Summer's afternoon.

This was swiftly followed with the refreshing Joan Collins.  Hoxton Pink Grapefruit and Coconut Gin, Crème de Peche, peach puree, pink grapefruit juice and peach bitters mixed with a dash of soda.

Drink in hand, it was time to turn our attention to the food menu.  With a choice of three dishes for each course, Simon and I opted for two courses for £10 and, obviously, decided to order mains and desserts.

Being a lover of food photography I am pretty guilty of ordering dishes that I think will look great in a photograph, and I almost never order the same as Simon.  This time, however, I couldn't resist ordering the same, we both loved the sound of the Roasted and Slow Cooked Chicken with pink fir potato, garlic, spinach and thyme.
Our dishes turned up and they were beautifully presented and tasted just as delicious as they looked.   The chicken was really juicy and I loved eating it with the generous chunks of garlic.
Our main courses left us feeling comfortable with room for more so we were excited to get our desserts.
I ordered the Orange and Cardamom Posset with rosemary shortbread.  It was beautifully fresh and creamy and I loved the addition of the mint leaf garnish.  It reminded me of Summer days of my childhood when I used to collect mint leaves from the garden to add to glasses of lemonade – delicious!

Simon was delighted to see one of his favourites on the menu, Sticky Toffee Pudding served with salt butter caramel and vanilla ice-cream.  I managed to get a couple of bites off him and it was absolute heaven.

We loved our food so much we asked to take a look at the full menu for future reference and as we tucked into our last spoonfuls we happily planned what we'd be ordering on our return visit.   With an extension to the restaurant happening imminently it definitely won't be long before we return!

Friday 7 August 2015

Eldon Bowl : Newcastle's brand new Bowling Alley

I don't like to be a gossip but wow do I have something awesome to share with you today, and I think it may be Newcastle's best kept secret!

Did you know there's a bowling alley in Eldon Square?   Not only that, there's actually an entire entertainment complex hidden above the shops and it's so big you could spend an entire fun filled day up there playing table tennis, climbing walls, enjoying a workout and even grabbing yourself some food.

Eldon Leisure has recently had a £3 million redevelopment and we were invited last week for a nose around.  Not sure what to expect I had no idea there was so much hiding away on the top floor of  Eldon Square.  It's huge!

Whilst we were there to try out the Bowling Alley, we couldn't resist a sneaky peak into "Vertigo", an adventure climbing centre that was like nothing I'd ever seen before.  I was expecting a couple of walls but instead was met with 19 different interactive climbing walls - all completely different to each other. 

Unfortunately I'm an absolute wuss with a bit of a fear of heights, but someone HAS to go and try it for me and report back, it looks so much fun.

Eldon Bowl is an eight lane, tenpin bowling centre and at £6.75 on peak is the cheapest bowling alley in the city.  Make sure you take a look at their Facebook page for deals.

We went along on Thursday night for 2 games of "Glow Bowl", a perfect activity to enjoy after hitting late night shopping at Eldon Square.

As always I was up against Mr Pro Bowler, Simon!  I'm not sure why he ever wants to bowl with me as I'm not exactly ever going to challenge him to his title.  I am so awful at bowling!

I spent a lot of my time lolling about on the comfortable sofas chatting and trying to resist ordering chips from the café bar (they smelt seriously good!) - maybe if I spent less time talking and more time bowling I may improve?

With the slightly soggy and muggy Summer we seem to be "enjoying" at the moment, I'm really excited to have found some great indoor activities to enjoy on our doorstep.  Something tells me Eldon Leisure will be seeing a lot of us!

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