Friday 30 September 2016

September Days

September 2016 will be a month I will remember forever! I can't believe I'm a married woman (does this mean I have to be a grownup now?). Thank you so much for all of your best wishes, I can't wait to share every detail of our special day with you. But for now here's what else happened during September that didn't make it to the blog.

Mr and Mrs

It'll be a little while until I'm able to write blogs about our wedding day as we'll be waiting for our official photographs but I obviously couldn't just leave you all hanging so here's a little look at the new Mr and Mrs! Our day was the best day of my life, it was perfect and I can't wait to tell you all about it!

A Minimoon in Paradise 

I don't want to be giving away too much about our Minimoon as there is a blog post to come very soon but I couldn't resist sharing this afternoon tea photo. I promised my husband (how long will it be until that sounds normal?) that I wouldn't be going too blogging crazy during our break but who can resist such beauty, our Minimoon was Instagram heaven. I couldn't help sharing a few photos whilst I was away so make sure you check out my Instagram for a little look.  We stayed at the luxurious Gilpin in the Lakes, it was picture perfect amazing and watch this space for a proper review coming soon!

Wearing PJs outside

I love oversized jumpers covered in slogans, especially now that we're heading towards colder days. I found this one in George at Asda but it's actually a PJ top! Yes, this month I have been wandering around in public wearing PJs. Come on though, this is too amazing to be hidden away under a duvet am I right?

George at Asda Slogan Jumper

Great North Run

I mentioned last month that I've recently joined These Girls Can Run and my new passion for running has continued this month. Unfortunately I got slightly injured just before the wedding so I've been seriously sulking about not being able to go out for a run.  The Great North Run arrived in the Toon in September and I was so proud as two of my best friends Katie and Kayleigh were both running it for the first time.  I spent a lot of the day nervously waiting for news but I had nothing to worry about as they both stormed to the finish line with great times.  Call me crazy but I am seriously considering giving it a go next year!   I think I might love running!

Great North Run - Tyne Bridge

Wedding Guest 

Let me tell you, attending a friend's wedding two weeks before your own is pretty scary. Waiting to go into their ceremony my legs were actually shaking and as our friends were saying their vows I felt Simon breath out the biggest puff of air next to me.  Safe to say we were both feeling the pre-wedding nerves. The wedding was at the beautiful Branston Hall in Lincolnshire and despite the horrible wet weather I managed to sneak out into the pretty grounds to take a photo in my new Chi Chi London dress which I love. The wedding was perfect with an Enchanted Forest theme, personalised lego man favours and was a great catch up with old friends.

Wedding at Branston Hall - Chichi London Amber Dress

Indian Summer

September is easily my favourite month of the year (there's a reason we chose it for our wedding). I love that often we get the best weather of the Summer whilst still getting the beautiful hints of Autumn with the leaves beginning to fall and the arrival of Pumpkin Spice Lattes! We had some really beautiful sunny days meaning that Summer just kept on coming and I had the perfect excuse to enjoy Summer inspired cocktails at Garden Kitchen.

Garden Kitchen Newcastle Cocktail

Great North Snow Dogs

The Great North Snow Dogs have arrived in the North East and I am so excited. My obsession with public art trails started 6 years ago when I was living in London whilst the Elephant Parade was on, I became hooked on travelling to every part of the capital city to see all the elephants on the trail (I almost did it!). My friends thought I was a little crazy but I got loads of exercise and explored parts of London I'd never seen before. The Great North Snow Dogs are scattered in the regions cities, parks and beaches and will be around for 10 weeks so pick up a map and see how many you can find. My first spot was Ziggy who I stumbled across outside the Sage in Gateshead.

Great North Snow Dog Trail Newcastle Gateshead Sage

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


Friday 23 September 2016

I'm getting married! Tomorrow!

I'm getting married ... tomorrow!

I really can't believe it!

Things will be a little quiet here over the next week or so as I want to enjoy a nice break with my new husband (and I'm pretty sure my Mr could also do with a break from the blog!)  I will, of course, be back early next month to share all of the gossip from our wedding day and our minimoon in the Lake District.

In the meantime, in celebration of our wedding I thought I'd share with you all of the Wedding Chat posts that I've published in the year that we've been engaged. I really hope it helps those of you that are planning a wedding!

I've said yes, now what

Probably the most helpful guide that I've written for anyone newly engaged. After the initial excitement of having a beautiful new ring on your finger you'll find yourself asking, I've said yes, now what? The thought of planning our wedding day was so daunting to start with, I didn't have a clue where to start or what to do!

Norma and Dorothy Rustic Stationery

One of the most overwhelming elements of planning a wedding is choosing the stationery. We were so thankful to find Norma and Dorothy whose rustic style designs suited our wedding perfectly. Not having a creative bone in my body I was very happy to find beautiful save the dates, invitations and table plans that all matched our theme. If you're stuck then seriously check these guys out!

Choosing our perfect Northumberland wedding venue

My favourite part of wedding planning was choosing our perfect Northumberland wedding venue, I could have happily spent weeks going round every grand country estate and converted barn in the North East.  We are very spoilt when it comes to wedding venues in the North East and there really is something for every couple no matter what your tastes and budget. We loved every single venue we looked round and really hope that we'll get invited to a wedding at each of them at some time in the future!

Bridal Consultation at Jo Malone

Planning a wedding is hard work but you get to have a lot of fun along the way and I definitely recommend booking yourself a bridal consultation at Jo Malone, it's completely free, you get to treat a friend and having a pamper with a glass of Prosecco by your side is a much needed part of the wedding process. I loved that I felt under no obligation to purchase and was happy to part with some cash and leave the store with a big bag full of goodies that I can't wait to use the morning of my wedding.

Be my bridesmaid

How do you ask your friends to be your bridesmaid? With my ladies scattered across the country I spent hours researching great ways to ask the all important question. Luckily you don't need to spend ages worrying about it, I've done the hard work for you!

How to plan a stress free wedding

I am such a chilled out bride and have found the process of wedding planning pretty stress free.  Yes friends and family will annoy you, people will baffle you at how they can be so inconsiderate, plans will fall through and people will let you down.  But the most important thing is keeping a level head and focussing on the bigger picture.  I shared my guide on how to plan a stress free wedding and really hope it helps all your bride (and grooms) to be!

Budgeting for your big day

Probably one of the most important things about wedding planning is managing your budget as it's very easy for things to get out of control. Yes weddings are ridiculously expensive and despite managing to keep our costs down this is still the silliest amount of money that we have ever spent on a party!  There are definitely ways to save money and my guide has a few helpful tips.

Everyone said it would be stressful but I have enjoyed every second of planning a wedding and I am so jealous of anyone that still has this exciting time to come!

There'll be plenty more wedding content to come over the months, I really can't wait to share all of the details of our wedding and I have worked with the most amazing North East suppliers that I really want to tell you all about.

If you fancy a little look at our day then we've asked our guests to share their photos of our day using #mrandmrsmcg2016 - we have a few social media savvy bloggers on our guests list so keep an eye out on Twitter and Instagram over the weekend!

Right, I have an important date with my future husband and a lot of family and friends!

Wish me luck!

Thursday 22 September 2016

My Autumn Bucket List

Today is the official start of Autumn and I'm so excited about snuggly nights in, pumpkin spice lattes and dancing about in leaves. Autumn has always been my favourite season and this year it's even better as on Saturday I'll be getting married!

Seeing as I did such a great job of ticking things off my Summer Bucket List (ha!) I thought I'd put together a few things that I'd love to do over the next few months. Fingers crossed I'm a bit more organised than I was this Summer.

Leafy Walks

I have always been obsessed with leaves and when it comes to a big pile of crunchy orange and red leaves sitting on the ground I can't resist throwing myself into them (quite literally!). As soon as the leaves begin to fall I like to plan a walk to have a good kick about. In the past we've been to Saltwell Park but now that we've relocated I'd love some recommendations of good leafy walks in Newcastle and Northumberland.

Wardrobe Rehaul

Autumn is probably my favourite season to go clothes shopping. The gorgeous purple and green colours really suit me and I love to buy a new pair of boots every year (is it just me who never manages to find boots that can last me more than a few months?)  I've done a fair bit of window shopping already and as soon as we are back from our Minimoon I feel an Autumn shopping trip coming.

Pies at Red House

As soon as the weather turns slightly cooler I immediately turn my attention to warm comfort food, preferably enjoyed in one of Newcastle's cosier restaurants. Red House ticks every box when it comes to Autumn feasting and I really want to enjoy one of their pies very soon. My mission this Autumn is to finally sample one of their dessert pies, I just need to stop being so greedy with the main course to give myself room.

Cooking at home

If Simon reads this he will definitely have a snigger to himself. I'm not exactly a whizz in the kitchen and do anything I can to avoid cooking. We have a coffee table full of cooking books and a wedding list full of new pots and pans and I'm determined to get use out of them this Autumn. With extra time spent indoors there really is no excuse!

Celebrate Halloween

I love the idea of Halloween but very rarely celebrate it, last year we headed to Grainger Market to pick up these ghoulish treats from Pet Lamb Patisserie, but that's about as far as we got. There's plenty going on in the North East over Halloween including Halloween Evenings at Beamish, the Hillbilly Horror Show at Brockbushes and Alnwick Garden's The Dark Garden. We have a Halloween Cocktail evening planned with our friends Sam and Steve and hopefully we'll be able to dedicate an evening to watching some spooky films too.

Pumpkin picking

Back when I lived in London my housemate was the King of Pumpkin decorating. He always created the most beautiful designs and would leave a couple of pumpkins by the front door to impress anyone who happened to walk past.  It's been years since I gave pumpkin carving a try and I'm feeling pretty up for the challenge this year. If anyone knows anywhere we can go pumpkin picking in the North East or anywhere that serves up pumpkin pie please do let me know!

Bonfire Fun

It's been a couple of years since we've been to watch a firework display on Bonfire Night which is a real shame as it's one of my favourite events of the year. I love wrapping up in a big coat, eating a hot dog then warming up my cold hands on a hot drink whilst we watch the fireworks.

The Treehouse

Embracing my love of leaves, what better way to spend an Autumn evening than dining in the tree tops? The Treehouse Restaurant in Alnwick has been on my "to do" list for years, maybe we'll finally get it ticked off this season!

What's on your Autumn Bucket List?

Monday 19 September 2016

The 10 best breakfasts in Newcastle

With the colder months almost here I'm feeling giddy at the thought of snuggling up in warm jumpers and eating loads of hot comfort food, and what better way to start off the day than with an indulgent leisurely breakfast.

In Newcastle we are spoilt for choice when it comes to locations for breakfast and brunch and if you love the idea of eating perfectly prepared eggs over the morning paper then you have come to the right place as today I'm sharing with you the 10 best breakfasts in Newcastle.

Naked Deli

Now that Naked Deli has opened in Gosforth my life is complete and Simon and I are happily working our way through the entire breakfast menu (we knew we were going too much when the staff started to recognise us!) If you want your indulgent brunch to be guilt free then Naked Deli is the best place to head. Their clean eating menu is packed full of dishes and they taste so good you'd never believe you were eating healthy. We love to go after parkrun on a Saturday and Simon insists that the Cacao Sweet Tooth smoothie tastes just as good as a chocolate milkshake.

best breakfasts in Newcastle - Naked Deli - Gosforth

Jesmond Dene House

We were lucky enough to enjoy a breakfast at Jesmond Dene House many moons ago when we treated ourselves to an overnight stay. We loved starting our morning off in style with our leisurely breakfast served in the Garden Room and I remember we were so obsessed with the delicious tiny pots of jam that we spent the next few days desperately hunting down the brand so we could buy some for home. I had always thought breakfast at Jesmond Dene House was only available to residents but did you know that anyone can book a table for their luxurious breakfast? With the choice of a full continental or a cooked breakfast (with champagne if you're feeling extra fancy!) - breakfast never tasted so good!

best breakfasts in Newcastle - Jesmond Dene House

Photo by Hello Freckles

Quay Ingredient

Quay Ingredient ruled the roost as the number one café in Newcastle on Tripadvisor for a long time and after a taste of their famous eggs benedict it's easy to see why. Their breakfasts are perfect and they use plenty of local produce including the highly sought Craster kippers. Tucked away underneath the Tyne Bridge, Quay Ingredient is so cosy, the only downside being the place is so teeny it can be near impossible to get a table, especially on busy weekends. Their newly opened sister restaurant, Heaton Ingredient is a lot larger if you fancy some of those eggs without the stress of finding a table.

Cafe Royal

You can't talk about the best breakfasts in Newcastle without mentioning Cafe Royal. I love breakfast at Café Royal and for some reason tend to always lean more towards the pastry and porridge dishes whenever I go. They're my absolute favourite and sometimes I can't help but order multiple courses. Simon is a fan of the waffles and I've spent many a moment obsessively staring at his breakfast as he pours his syrup over it in slow motion, I swear he does it on purpose!

best breakfasts in Newcastle - Cafe Royal
Butterfly Cabinet

Another place so popular that there's usually a queue for a table, the Butterfly Cabinet has the most epic breakfast menu in Newcastle. No matter what your favourite breakfast dish is the chances are it'll appear on the extensive menu and it's taking us a good long time to work through everything. Muffins, pancakes, eggs, Full English - it's pretty much breakfast heaven. My favourite? The eggy bread smothered in a greedy amount of syrup.


Arlo is one of the most popular eateries in Jesmond and its breakfast certainly draws the crowds. If you can manage to resist the counter of cakes (in my eyes you can definitely enjoy cake for a breakfast at the weekend) then take a look at their brunch menu which serves up everything from toasted teacakes to crushed avocado on Toast. On my last visit I went veggie and ordered the Cooked Veggie Breakfast which came with some amazing dipping sides - you've not lived until you've dipped your toast in hummus, guacamole and sweet chilli sauce.

best breakfasts in Newcastle - Arlo - Jesmond

Tyneside Bar Cafe

The Tyneside Bar Cafe tends to be our "go to" breakfast in the city centre and the Weekend Brunch Menu always makes me want to settle in for the day. With plenty of meats, a good range of eggy delights, sweet treats and the all important baked goods (which you must smother in jam!) I always want to revisit so I can tick more off my menu wish list.

Long Play Cafe

Long Play Cafe is somewhere that I find myself recommending to people time and time again. Their breakfast menu is fantastic and if you can manage to bag yourself a seat in the popular café you are in for a treat. The perfect spot to chill out with friends over some tunes, it's another place where you need to move fast to get yourself a seat. It's worth the dash though as the food is so good and I love anywhere that gives me a huge bowl of butter for a few slices of toast! As an added bonus its location on the Newcastle Quayside means you have somewhere beautiful to walk off those extra calories.

best breakfasts in Newcastle - Long Play Cafe - Newcastle Quayside

Quilliam Brothers

We take tea drinking so seriously in Newcastle that the Quilliam Brothers Teahouse is open from morning to night offering shoppers, students and tourists a full selection of tea and a wonderful menu of food. I love enjoying breakfast there especially as so much of the menu arrives served on a Stottie. Definitely the best breakfast in Newcastle for the hungry shopper, nothing prepares you for the High Street quite like one of their beautiful egg dishes.


It took us a while to get around to trying the breakfast at Longhorns, it sat on my "to do" list for such a long time which I now regret as since trying their Pit Bean Benedict I haven't looked back. I would happily cover every meal that I have in pit beans, they are so good! The breakfast menu is perfect for the meat lovers and the Blueberry Moonshine (pancakes or waffles served with blueberry moonshine compote) has my name written all over it.

best breakfasts in Newcastle - Longhorns

There are so many great places for breakfast in Newcastle that my little guide barely scratches the surface, I haven't even mentioned Ernest, Harvest Canteen or Garden Kitchen! Anyone thinking I need to do a Part 2?

Let me know how you like to start your mornings, and where you think serves the best breakfasts in Newcastle.


Thursday 15 September 2016

Wedding Chat: Weddings at the South Causey Inn, County Durham

I have loved every moment of wedding planning and if you were to ask me what my favourite part has been I'd definitely say choosing a wedding venue. We were completely spoilt for choice in the North East and looked at so many beautiful places. Making a decision was hard work!

Today I thought I'd share with you the gorgeous wedding venue at the South Causey Inn tucked away in the beautiful Beamish Valley in County Durham. Simon and I recently popped along to their wedding open evening and fell in love with the venue (we are kicking ourselves that we didn't look round earlier!) The South Causey Inn is an independent hotel with a very popular restaurant and is set in 100 acres of picture perfect countryside - making it the perfect venue for a North East Wedding.

Weddings at the South Causey Inn, Co Durham

Venues and Ceremony Rooms

Weddings at South Causey Inn come in all shapes and sizes with the smaller Beamish Suite and the Cobbles available for more private intimate weddings. We were particularly impressed with the Elopement Package which has been designed for couples that don't want a fuss.  Beautifully romantic and private if you want a discrete wedding just for two the South Causey cater to your every need and will even provide witnesses if you need them. 

If you are after more of a traditional wedding with all of the trimmings then the South Causey have the choice of two stunning venues. The brand new venue, The Old Barn promises a private area away from the main hotel with capacity for up to 200 guests, a garden with breathtaking views across the Beamish Valley and a magical room for your wedding breakfast complete with old features, a draped ceiling and lighting. The Old Barn is set to open in early Spring 2017 and after a quick tour of the space I wasn't surprised to hear that they are already taking bookings.

Weddings at the South Causey Inn, County Durham - Tree House Suite - Gypsophila

The Durham Suite is a pretty converted stone stable block that has been hosting weddings for 4 years. Attached to the main hotel it has its own staff and entrances ensuring that you wont be bumping into any other brides during your special day.

The chapel style Tanfield Suite hosts civil ceremonies for up to 150 guests and the beautiful aisle took my breath away. With a plush red carpet giving the bride a grand entrance, beautiful candles and wooden beams decked out in natural foliage and twinkling lights I couldn't resist taking a little walk down the aisle and found myself imagining how it must feel to be a bride walking down the aisle on her wedding day.

Weddings at the South Causey Inn, County Durham - Durham Suite

Celebrations move into the larger room adjacent where the wedding breakfast takes place in an equally beautiful room where the South Causey can help you with your choice of dressings, table decorations and backdrop if you need it. They really do think of everything and are a great venue to plan a beautiful yet stress free wedding.

Weddings at the South Causey Inn, County Durham - Durham Suite

Wedding Packages

We were so impressed with the variety of packages available to couples, the indulgent Infinity Package offers couples the ultimate VIP treatment including hen and stag parties, a pamper on the eve of the wedding, stationery, favours (made onsite at the Distillery & Brewery), cake and full room dressing.

The Platinum Package has everything that you need to make sure that your day is perfect including complete room dressing, a Casino Table (which includes the prize of an overnight stay at the Inn) and a Sweet Cart filled with a selection of treats.

The Gold Package is ideal for couples who want to dress the room themselves, leaving you to work with your own suppliers to create your perfect day.

Every package includes a personal Wedding Attendant and Master of Ceremonies, arrival drinks, a three course Wedding Breakfast (including wine), toasting drink, evening reception, resident DJ, giant Love Letters, Sparkle Dance Floor, Evening buffet, luxury bridal suite for your first night as a married couple and a first anniversary stay to the value of £100.

Dressing and Decorations

If you don't want the stress of sorting out your own decorations and don't fancy dealing with an army of suppliers yourself (believe me it can lead to a lot of drama!) then the South Causey can help you with all of the details.

Their dedicated wedding planner is available to talk you through the important details for your day and the South Causey have a number of suppliers they work with to fit your theme and budget. From caricaturists to photo booths there's plenty to choose from.

Weddings at the South Causey Inn, County Durham - Durham Suite -  Table Decorations


When we were looking at wedding venues the one thing that turned us off more than anything else was venues forcing us to take on bedrooms that we didn't want. The South Causey has over 30 rooms available but the bride and groom are under no obligation to fill them which was so refreshing. Small touches like this really made us feel like the South Causey are a venue that care about their couples and wanting to offer them great value for money.

The bedrooms at the South Causey are ideal for your family and guests with larger group rooms for bridesmaids, smaller rooms for your parents and of course the all important Bridal Suite for the new Mr and Mrs. Wedding guests are offered a 10% discount on the night of the wedding.
Weddings at the South Causey Inn, County Durham - Bedrooms

Having everyone on site together would definitely make for a great holiday atmosphere for your guests and gives you the freedom to be able to socialise with your guests before and after the wedding.

There are plenty of beautiful bedrooms or if your guests appreciate something a little more fun then there are a number of themed rooms that look amazing. Our friends Sam and Steve recently stayed in the Tree House Suite - check out their review of their blissful overnight stay.

Weddings at the South Causey Inn, County Durham - Tree House Suite

Photo by North East Family Fun

Ask me for my favourite though and it has to be the "Trafalgar Square", a renovated 1960s Double Decker Bus complete with hot tub. Imagine how fun it'd be staying there the night before your wedding! I'm now heavily hinting to Simon that I'd quite like a romantic break on the bus.

Wedding Photographs

Locations for your all important wedding photos is crucial when hunting for the perfect wedding venue and South Causey has some beautiful options. With a small farm onsite with a duck pond, pigs and horses there are some stunning backdrops for photographs (as well as plenty to keep the little ones entertained!)

Weddings at the South Causey Inn, County Durham - Wedding Photographs


Of course one of the most important elements of our wedding is the food and having a wedding venue that provides really delicious food was essential. We decided to have some dinner whilst we were at the South Causey and couldn't believe our eyes when the menu appeared, it was huge - literally a book containing all of our favourite dishes. I went for the Corned Beef Pie which was served with crispy chips and salad. Even though it filled me up I also couldn't resist a dessert and ordered myself a massive slab of chocolate fudge cake.

We both loved our meal at the South Causey so it's safe to say your guests would be treated to fantastic food.

Weddings at the South Causey Inn, County Durham - Restaurant - Food

I'm really hoping that this has inspired those of you planning your wedding to take a look at the South Causey, make sure you let me know how you get on (and of course send me an invitation because I'm now desperate to go to a wedding there!)

As for me, I may have missed out on booking the South Causey for my own wedding but I do now have a South Causey Wish List including the Ladies Pamper Package, Gourmet Overnight Stay (seriously check out the packages, they look amazing!) and, of course, a night on that bus!

For more information about weddings at the South Causey check out their website or give them a call on 01207 235 555.

The South Causey invited us to look round their beautiful wedding venue but believe me this post is very much from the heart - we fell in love!

Tuesday 13 September 2016

Benito Brow Bar at Debenhams, Eldon Square

I didn't touch my eyebrows until I was 28! Whilst it's mad to think that I was walking about with huge messy caterpillars above my eyes for all those years I am now thankful that I didn't care too much about my appearance in my younger years as I haven't been left with 90s style over plucked eyebrows.

When I finally decided to sort out my brows, threading was the only method that interested me. I'd heard amazing things about the technique from friends and loved the polished finish that it created. Since my first time I have never looked back and now regularly get my brows threaded whenever they start to get a bit wild.

I will admit when it comes to brow maintenance I am a little lazy and tend to pop to Tesco to get mine done, usually in between picking up the cereal and choosing a pizza. It's definitely not the most glamorous or relaxing experience so when new brow bar, Benito invited me to their launch night at Debenhams in Intu Eldon Square I was excited to see what they had to offer.

I headed to the event with the lovely Kelly, one of my favourite ladies because every time we meet we chatter on like excited school girls. This meant an evening of telling each other loads of hilarious embarrassing stories about hair removal (which I definitely wont be sharing on here!) It seems that although it's something we don't always discuss, us ladies all have hair sprouting up on the most peculiar parts of our faces so thank goodness that Benito have arrived to keep us all fuzz free.

Originating in Asia, threading is a precise form of hair removal done by pulling thread over unwanted hairs in a twisting motion which pulls them right from the folicile. If you're new to threading then you understandably may feel a little nervous about it but I've always found it to be perfectly comfortable and I'm a wuss with a very low pain threshold! For a few minutes slight discomfort you are left with perfectly shaped brows.

The best thing about getting your brows done at Benito is that when you sit down in the chair the therapist asks you how you like your brows and talks you through exactly what will happen whilst showing you in a mirror. It was the first time I'd ever had a proper consultation before a threading and it was a little added touch that I really appreciated, especially considering I'm getting married next week and an eyebrow disaster would not be great!

 My treatment was over in a flash with minimum pain. I was asked if I'd like some soothing Aloe Vera gel over my beautiful new brows and just like that I was done and ready to go. I was really impressed with the service and am now seriously considering going back to get my entire face threaded before my wedding.

Benito offers loads of different services including full face threading, eyebrow shaping and tinting, men's grooming and lash treatments. Prices start from as little as £5 and an eyebrow shape will cost you £13. There are also a number of money saving package cards where you can save up to £26 by booking for multiple treatments in advance.  If lashes are more your thing Benito offer natural look lashes for £75 or longer fuller dramatic looking lashes for £55.

You'll find Benito on the ground floor of Debenhams in Intu Eldon Square and you can't really miss them as their welcoming bright orange signs easily guide you through the beauty hall. There's no need to make an appointment, just walk up to the counter and one of the lovely ladies will offer you one of the comfortable seats to relax in.

Newcastle, your brows never looked so good!

Benito treated me to a free eyebrow treatment but all thoughts are my own.

Friday 9 September 2016

My Hen Weekend in the Peak District

Can you believe it, this is my 500th post on New Girl in Toon? Where on earth has the time gone? What better way to mark the occasion than by telling you all about my epic Hen Weekend adventure.

Anyone else think that I'm a very spoilt hen? You may have already read about my mini hen in York and my Geordie night out but my Hen Weekend was the celebration that had my tummy full of butterflies. Spending a whole weekend in a mystery location with my closest and oldest friends, I was literally counting down the months.

Being a natural organiser I spend my life planning fun day trips and adventures and it's not often that the reigns are taken out of my hands and something is organised for me so I was buzzing when my sister Lydia agreed to organise me a huge weekend surprise to celebrate my last weeks of being a singleton.

I decided I didn't want to know a thing and so woke up the morning of my Hen with absolutely no clue of whether I'd be travelling north or south and what to expect. Friday morning I was handed an envelope from Simon that finally revealed I was off to Chesterfield for a Hen Weekend in the Peak District!

I was absolutely thrilled by my mystery location as I'd always wanted to go to the Peaks and had no idea it was so easy to reach from Newcastle.

Just over 2 hours on the train and I was met at Chesterfield Station by my very enthusiastic sister who had a sash and veil all ready for me as she bundled me into a car and drove me to our home for the weekend, the beautiful Cow Hey in Little Longstone.

I was giggling to myself as I explored our cottage which had been decorated with posters of my favourite boybands from the 90s and a few comedy photos of Simon thrown in for good measure. My sister had a great time raiding his Facebook page for the most ridiculous photos that she could find.

I finally found my friends, hiding in the kitchen and dressed as pop stars from the 90s. It's not often you find yourself in the company of a member of B*Witched, Posh Spice, Whigfield, Stephen Gateley and a member of All Saints.

Knowing I wouldn't get away with staying in my normal clothes I suddenly realised why I'd been asked to pack a tartan skirt. I was being dressed as Britney Spears in the "Baby One More Time" video, complete with knee high socks and a blonde wig.

If I thought I looked ridiculous I needn't have worried as a few moments later my sister re-appeared dressed as Peter Andre. Her outfit was absolutely amazing.

 We spent the evening drinking Prosecco, tucking into a huge buffet, listening to 90s pop tunes (and being amazed that we remembered all the words to Shampoo "Trouble") and playing silly games, including my friends having to draw my wedding dress with their eyes shut (hilarious). It was a real surprise when the night ended with Simon popping up on the screen to play Mr and Mrs. Our answers matched almost perfectly which was very reassuring!

I had said that I didn't want any organised hen type activities during my weekend so instead my sister just planned things she knew that I would really love. So our Saturday morning started with a nice 7k walk in the Derbyshire countryside. There's nothing I love more than exploring a new area and going for a long walk in the fresh air, it's something I wish I got to do more.

Lydia had managed to find us a beautiful route with easy to follow instructions to ensure that we didn't get lost and with plenty of opportunities for me to be able to take photographs.

Knowing that I'd probably love seeing Chatsworth House she found a route with perfect views of the house and surrounding countryside. She got it completely right as the moment I'd found out we were visiting the Peak District I'd been hoping that we'd get to see Chatsworth House as I'd always wanted to go.

You probably know that Chatsworth House is one of the most beautiful and famous stately homes in the UK and has been used a lot in the TV and film industry, most notably the BBC adaptation of Pride & Prejudice starring Colin Firth.

 As the Bride to Be no one minded that I spent a silly amount of time taking photographs and my sister started calling them my "Blops" aka Blogging Opportunity Stops.  It made me laugh so much and I'm definitely adding "Blop" to my dictionary.

Our walk took us up hills, across steams, over stiles and down a particularly itchy bracken covered path that made us all worry that we were perhaps going the wrong way.

 We were completely exhausted by the end with pretty achey legs, but we loved comparing our fitness watches to see how many steps we'd done and how much of our buffet we'd burnt off.

Luckily the plans for the rest of the day involved sitting about eating cake, which we all know is my idea of heaven. My sister had booked us in for afternoon tea at the Original Bakewell Pudding Shop in the gorgeous village of Bakewell.

The service was really awful but provided us great entertainment during our tea and kept us feeling pretty amused for the rest of the weekend. Luckily the food more than made up for the shoddy service and we were presented with mammoth sandwiches stuffed with generous fillings, huge scones and, the most exciting part, traditional Bakewell Pies and Tarts. I'm obsessed with Bakewells so getting to eat them in Bakewell was a dream.

 In no time at all we were feeling completely stuffed and couldn't manage to finish the tea off, we had to head home with paper bags full of our leftover cakes.

Arriving back at Cow Hey it was time to get dressed up ready for a night out. It was pretty hard work fitting into our dresses after so much cake but luckily we just about managed it.

Before our taxi arrived we had an enthusiastic game of cocktail making where each of my friends made me a cocktail and I had to guess who had made what. I was a little nervous that they were going to make me nasty drinks but it turns out my friends all have great skills when it comes to creating cocktails.

Each one was delicious and I loved that so much effort had gone into decoration including fruit, tropical straws and colourful umbrellas.  Don't worry I didn't drink them all!

With cheeks slightly flushed from cocktails we headed off in a taxi to Buxton for dinner at
Barbarellas, a great restaurant and bar with a very impressive menu full of my favourite food. Unfortunately I was still pretty full from my afternoon tea so had to pick what I could fit in rather than what I really wanted.  I was particularly sad when I realised that Chocolate and Cherry Cheesecake was on the menu but that there was no way I'd be able to manage it. I'll definitely have to return. 

Of course no hen night is complete without cocktails and Lydia had arranged us a table at The Monk Cocktail Bar which was completely up my street. The most quirky little cocktail bar with exposed brickwork and snuggly fairy lights, the barmen were amazing at creating whatever cocktail you fancied.

The following day we were feeling a little worse for wear, I'm not sure if it was the amount of sugar we'd consumed the day before or all the cocktails (and Prosecco and wine!) but we managed to drag ourselves up and out to head back to Bakewell for one last potter.

Bakewell is a stunning little place with so many gorgeous streets to explore. I was gutted my tummy was still full as I would have happily done a café crawl. Everywhere I turned there was a cute little tea room or coffee shop.

The village was alive with pretty stone buildings, cobbled streets, vintage bunting and colourful flowers. It was a non stop "Blop" for me!

I left the Peak District that afternoon with so many happy memories and so thankful to have so many wonderful friends and sisters that have been so good to me over the years.  I hugged each one goodbye and with a "see you at the wedding" I set off towards my train.  It's absolutely mad to think that the next time I see some of my favourite ladies I'll be walking down the aisle in a wedding dress!

I'd love to hear about your favourite hen weekends!  Let me know
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