Sunday 31 December 2017

My December Days

Apologies in advance that this post is going to be full of festive photographs when Christmas is now over (SOB!) But before we pack away the decorations for another year I thought I'd look back at the things that happened in December that didn't make the blog ... as you can imagine this involves a lot of food!

I hope you all had a brilliant Christmas and are looking forward to the new start in 2018!

Unicorn Hot Chocolate

I became rather obsessed with Hadrian's Tipi this month, Newcastle's festive pop up of fire pits and food huts. My first visit was for the Unicorn Hot Chocolate from Its R Place which very quickly became "insta-famous" in the Toon!  A little cup of naughtiness the hot chocolate was topped with a mountain of cream, pink marshmallows, glitter and little colourful unicorns - I don't think I'll ever find a hot chocolate as good as this one!

My December Days - Unicorn Hot Chocolate

Christmas in Newcastle

Christmas in Newcastle felt extra special this year, alongside the amazing new look Hadrian's Tipi the Christmas Market also seemed much bigger and better than previous years. I spent a lot of time just strolling around the city centre taking photographs and doing a spot of people watching. Everything just looked so beautiful and I'm dreading all of the decorations coming down in a few weeks, Newcastle is going to look so bare!

My December Days - Newcastle

Fowl Play

Another day, another trip to Hadrian's Tipi (I promise you they are not sponsoring this blog post!) Our best food discovery of the month had to be Fowl Play who set up shop at the Tipi and fed the folks of Newcastle with THE best chicken and waffles.  Oh wow, they were seriously good, so good that I'm now really hoping they open up a restaurant soon because the thought of being without these guys when the Tipi shuts makes me very sad. Come on guys, make my day!

My December Days - Fowl Play

Christmas Time at Jesmond Dene House

Every Christmas we like to pay a little visit to Jesmond Dene House and this year we went all out and enjoyed a festive meal with eight of our friends in one of their beautiful private dining rooms followed by an overnight stay. It's been years since we stayed at Jesmond Dene House so it was lovely to stay the night again. The ultimate indulgence happened on the Sunday morning when we snuggled up in our dressing gowns and enjoyed breakfast in bed.

My December Days - Jesmond Dene House

Merry Cheesemas!  

It wouldn't be Christmas if we didn't tuck into some Christmas burgers and this year we decided to visit Byron Burger for their epic Cheesemas menu. I'm a little cheese obsessed so their special festive burger, The Fromagemas was right up my street - a 6 oz hamburger stuffed with Barber's cheddar, Barber's Red Leicester, Byron cheese and crispy Grana Padano all served with a little jug of Byron cheese sauce (that I poured in my burger and over my chips!) Forget the turkey, Christmas is all about the cheese!

My December Days - Byron Burger

A Brave New Hat

I had my eye on this hat from M&S for a good couple of weeks before purchasing it, although I loved it each time I tried it on in store I wasn't sure if it really suited me or if I'd be brave enough to wear it out and about. For some reason walking around with a hat on your head feels like a pretty bold statement which isn't ideal when you're not exactly a confident fashonista.  I'm so glad I was brave though, I love it and it's fantastic on bad hair days!

My December Days - Hat

A Winter Candle

For years I've been wanting the White Company's famous Winter Candle and this year I finally got my hands on one and I'm so happy that I did. Our house has smelt delicious all season - the beautiful combination of cinnamon and clove is the perfect warming scent for Christmas. They currently have 20% off in the sales and I'm tempted to get a few so I'm fully prepared for next year.

My December Days - Winter Candle White Company

Christmas at Evan's Bistro 

Evans in Whitley Bay has been on my list of new places to visit for a while now so at Christmas we finally made a plan and joined some friends at the restaurant for a delicious Christmas dinner. It made me so happy that I live in the North and people understand the importance of covering your plate in gravy.  Our meal was delicious and I can't wait to return for a date night soon.

My December Days - Evans Bistro

Dublin Days

I planned a big surprise for Simon's 40th birthday this month and flew him out to Dublin for a special trip. I booked it all back in the Summer and have no idea how I managed to keep it a secret from him (especially as I told everyone that we knew all about it and then had to swear each person to secrecy!) We had a brilliant time and I'm looking forward to sharing our trip with you properly in the New Year.  Dublin is only a 50 minute flight away from Newcastle and if you're looking to plan an adventure in 2018 I highly recommend.

My December Days - Dublin

Boxing Day Sales

I'm sure some people think I'm slightly crazy for getting up early on Boxing Day and hitting the sales but it's a tradition that I really enjoy.  I like to arrive just before the shops open to take advantage of the Lush sale and this year the Eldon Square store had a brilliant one in one out system that made shopping far easier. I'm now sorted with bath products that will see me through the rest of the year and I also made a trip to Boots for some Clarins sets and bought two beautiful new coats in Oasis (I'm sure they'll feature on Instagram very soon!)

Bulgari Beauties

How gorgeous are my new Bulgari shades?  I bought them in Newcastle Airport on our way to Dublin and I'm completely smitten. Buying new sunglasses in the airport seems to be my new thing, much to Simon's dismay, I think I tried on every single pair in Duty Free before I chose these!  This photo was taken during a very long and boring car trip from Newcastle to Norwich to see my family for Christmas, the only good thing about that journey was being able to wear these new shades for the first time!

My December Days - Bulgari Sunglasses

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

Friday 15 December 2017

Christmas at Jesmond Dene House - Festive Afternoon Tea

I have been waiting an entire year to write this blog!  Yes, a whole year! So please forgive my hazy memory (a sensible person would have written this a year ago and saved it!), but I just had to share the Jesmond Dene House Festive Afternoon Tea with you.

Christmas at Jesmond Dene House - Festive Afternoon Tea

Simon and I enjoyed the Jesmond Dene House Christmas Afternoon Tea last December for his birthday which, rather annoyingly, falls only a few days before Christmas. By the time we were enjoying this I'd signed off from blogging for the year, I didn't even have my proper camera with me! But it ended up being the picture perfect treat and I knew I had to share it with you all.

If you want to truly indulge this Christmas and still have some space in your diary I highly recommend booking yourself the Festive Afternoon Tea at Jesmond Dene House, it's the most idyllic way to give you that warm Christmas feeling and putting your feet up after a hectic few weeks of present shopping and rushing about is a must.

If you're having Festive Afternoon Tea at Jesmond Dene House this Christmas then try and grab yourself a comfy seat by the fire, nothing beats an afternoon of eating cakes with the nice warm flames keeping your fingers and toes nice and toasty.   The beautifully decorated mantlepiece is picture perfect and as we tucked into our sandwiches and cakes I did half expect Santa to suddenly drop down the chimney.

Christmas Jesmond Dene House - Festive Afternoon Tea
Of course sharing all of these scrummy photographs from last year's Festive Afternoon Tea isn't very helpful is it?  So I thought I'd let you have a little look at what's on offer this year, personally I think it looks even better!

The savoury tier has been given a festive twist with Roast Butternut Squash and Goats Cheese Quiche sitting alongside a Sage & Onion Sausage Roll and two Christmas inspired sandwiches - Cheese Savoury on Wholemeal Bread and Turkey, Stuffing and Cranberry on White Bread.

The scones at Jesmond Dene House are out of this world so you'll definitely need to make sure you leave room for them as you get three - the two classics, plain and cheese alongside a cranberry & citrus especially for Christmas.

The top tier is crammed full of Christmas goodies with a Spiced Pumpkin and White Chocolate macaron, Cranberry, Cherry & Baileys Trifle, Praline & Chocolate Truffle and, of course, the Festive must have a Sweet Mince Pie.

Christmas at Jesmond Dene House
Photo c/o Jesmond Dene House

Unfortunately our overly crazy diary means that we haven't got time to indulge in the Jesmond Dene House Christmas Afternoon Tea this year.  I'm absolutely gutted because that Spiced Pumpkin and White Chocolate Macaron has my name on it!  So I'm really hoping that one of you lovely lot get there so you can report back and let me know what I've missed!

Christmas Afternoon Tea at Jesmond Dene House is served daily in December (excluding Christmas Day and Boxing Day) between 12:00 pm and 5:00 pm and costs £25.00 per person.  Pre booking is essential!

Find Jesmond Dene House at: 

Jesmond Dene Road
Newcastle upon Tyne

0191 212 3000

For plenty more Christmas inspiration make sure you're following New Girl in Toon on Facebook and Instagram.

Thursday 14 December 2017

Blow Dry, Nails and Makeup! Christmas Party Ready in Newcastle with Bobbi Brown, Regis Salons and All About You

I am pretty useless at doing my hair and makeup. I will never be able to create the perfect smoky eye or convince my hair to form beautiful waves - most days I throw some products on my face, cross my fingers and head out of the door. So when it comes to getting Christmas party ready, I haven't got a chance!

I don't know about you but whenever I'm trying to get ready for a special occasion I end up with huge makeup and hair disasters.  Guaranteed I will get mascara down my face, my hair will frizz and it'll all result in a very red face from all of the stress. I've lost count of the amount of birthday and Christmas parties where I've turned up looking a little like I've been dragged through a hedge backwards.

Getting Christmas Party Ready in Newcastle with Bobbi Brown, Regis Salons and All About You

This year I decided enough was enough!  I learnt from being a bride that it's OK to let the experts do the hard work for you, in fact there's nothing more relaxing than letting someone else take care of your hair and makeup.

The Christmas Party that I was most excited about this season was a very special visit to Jesmond Dene House with eight of my friends.  It's not often we get to all go out as a big group, especially to somewhere as lovely as Jesmond Dene House so we all decided to dress to impress, and I decided it'd be the ideal time to get myself Christmas party ready with the help of some of Newcastle's best experts!

Glam squad assemble!

Gel Nails at All About You

My first trip of the day was to my favourite beauty salon in Newcastle, All About You.  During my last treatment I'd told my therapist Rachel that I'd never had a gel manicure before and we decided that Christmas would be the perfect time for me to indulge so I booked an appointment the morning of my trip to Jesmond Dene House.

Escaping the craziness of the high street I settled down in the cosy retreat and spent a while perusing the colours.  There were so many great options for Christmas with glitters, midnight blues and beautiful purples.  It took me a while but I decided to go for a beautiful red with a slight hint of shimmer - perfect for Christmas.

My GELeration Gel Manicure (£39.00) included a hand exfoliation, massage and cuticle care before my Jessica GELeration nail polish was applied.

I LOVE my gels, they are beautiful!

Getting Christmas Party Ready in Newcastle - All About You

Blow Dry at Regis Salon

There are several places in Newcastle where you can get a blow dry so I ended up asking my followers on Twitter for their recommendations.  Local influencer Laura (not going to lie, I have such a girl crush on this lovely lady), recommend Regis Salon in Fenwicks Newcastle and having admired Laura's hair on her Instagram I was, of course, hoping that I'd end up looking as beautiful as her.

Getting Christmas Party Ready in Newcastle - Fenwicks

My Regis blow dry (£25.00) began with the stylist asking me what kind of blow dry I wanted and what my plans were for the evening so that we could create the perfect style. As I needed the style to last for a good few hours we decided to use a volumising shampoo and conditioner and then styled my hair into tight curls that would see me into the evening.

I'm useless at doing my own hair and was so happy with the end result, I can never get my hair to curl so having such beautiful curls was such a treat.  I will definitely go back next time I have an event to attend.

Getting Christmas Party Ready in Newcastle

Makeup at Bobbi Brown

Being a huge fan of the Beauty Hall at Fenwicks I decided that my Christmas Party prep gave me the perfect excuse to head to the Bobbi Brown counter for a makeover.  I booked myself the Party Ready look (£30.00) which promised to create me a look perfect for the evening.

I was a bit worried that sitting in the middle of the Beauty Hall getting my makeup done wouldn't be very relaxing but I really enjoyed myself and loved that I got to do a sneaky bit of people watching while I was there.

Getting Christmas Party Ready in Newcastle - Bobbi Brown

The Party Ready look offered me a full makeover and after we'd discussed what kind of look I was going for my makeup artist checked with me at every step to see what kind of coverage, finish and products I wanted.

I was so impressed with the beautiful light foundation which left my skin looking flawless, the subtle pink blusher and I couldn't believe how great my eyebrows looked (why can I never do them like that myself?!).  My eye makeup was stunning with a beautiful blend of purples and glitters, perfect for complimenting my outfit for the evening.

The £30.00 makeover was redeemable on the counter which meant that I also got to leave with some goodies and I treated myself to a lipstick and travel sized face cream - who doesn't love an excuse to buy themselves beautiful makeup?

Getting Christmas Party Ready in Newcastle - Bobbi Brown Fenwick

Feeling Glam at Jesmond Dene House

I was so happy with the end result, as soon as I put on my beautiful skirt from Coast everything came together and I honestly felt like a million dollars!

So what do you think of the finished look?

Getting Christmas Party Ready in Newcastle - Jesmond Dene House

I will definitely be doing this again next time I have a special event, there is no way that I am going to do battle with my hair and makeup ever again.  Everyone needs a pamper every now and again and my transformation made me feel really special - I can't wait to do it all again!

Have you ever had your hair and makeup done for a special event?  I'd love to hear about your experience!

For more pictures from my Christmas night out at Jesmond Dene House make sure you're following New Girl in Toon on Instagram.

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Christmas at the Laundrette, Newcastle

Anyone else beginning to feel like they might be starting to resemble a Christmas pudding? Festive feasting in our house has well and truly begun and with a diary packed with nights out and Christmas meals, I'm fully prepared to get out my stretchy pants!

If there's one place in Newcastle where stretchy pants are always a must it's The Laundrette, famed for its cocktails and carbs it is the perfect place to host your Christmas night out this year - because who cares about overindulging at Christmas time? Luckily all of my friends love cocktails and carbs as much as me so a group of us headed to The Laundrette for a night of fizz and feasting off a fully loaded Christmas menu.

Christmas at the Laundrette, Newcastle

If you're already a little bit bored of the turkey dinners and mince pies then The Laundrette offer something a little different this Christmas with their tasty carb loaded dishes served with plenty of seasonal fun. Here are a few of my recommendations to make your mouth water!

The Small Load Starters start off the merriment and for the ultimate treat I loved the Dough Balls served with a dipping smoked truffle cheese fondue.  I always drown myself in cheese over Christmas and these ticked every box.

Christmas at the Laundrette, Newcastle - Dough Balls

The meat lovers will enjoy the Wild Boar Meatballs in spiced tomato sauce topped with Grana Padano and Fried Sage. Delicious!

Christmas at the Laundrette, Newcastle - Wild Boar Meatballs
Is it really Christmas time if you don't indulge in pizza? I love the pizzas at The Laundrette, they always have such a fantastic variety of toppings unlike anything else you can find in Newcastle.  I loved the Pulled Pork Pizza with Salami, Pepperoni and Caramelised Onion on a BBQ Base with Mozzarella and the star of the show, Pork Crackling.

Christmas at the Laundrette, Newcastle - Pizza

If you wanted to save some room for dessert (always important!) the Prosciutto Wrapped Cod served with Tuscan Bean Broth, Grana Padano and Polenta Chips offers a slightly lighter alternative.

Christmas at the Laundrette, Newcastle - Menu

The highlight of the night for me had to be the massive slab of Salted Tequila Lime Cheesecake with Dark Chocolate Whipped Ganache.  Can you believe the size of it?  Even a professional pudding pundit like me couldn't quite polish it off.  I think I'll have to go back and try it again, I hate that it managed to beat me!

Christmas at the Laundrette, Newcastle - Salted Tequila Lime Cheesecake

My other favourite on the Delicates Desserts menu was the Burnt Caramel Apple and Panko Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream.  I love crumble in the Winter time and the Laundrette offering is delicious.

Christmas at the Laundrette, Newcastle - Apple Crumble

Of course all of this festive feasting is thirsty work so I happily guzzled a fair few glasses of "Absolut MILF" - Absolut Vodka Mint, Fresh Strawberries and Lychee Syrup, Topped with Apple Juice which has had a bit of a Christmas makeover - I love its little dusting of snow!

Christmas at the Laundrette, Newcastle - Absolut MILF
I rolled out of the Laundrette with my ever growing Santa belly feeling very happy (it's in for a shock in January let me tell you!) and I'm already wondering if I can squeeze in another visit before the festivities are over.

Festive Lunch at the Laundrette offers 2 courses for £23.00 or 3 courses for £25.00 and Festive Dinner is 3 courses for £28.00.  The Laundrette are offering 25% off the Christmas menu on week days for those who pre book and have some freebies for those attending this year's pantomimes or staking at Life. Redeemable Sunday to Thursday until 25 December if you show your same day ice skating or pantomime ticket you'll get a free children's meal or a glass of Prosecco with the purchase of any adults main course dish.

We were treated to a night of complimentary food and cocktails - all opinions are my own. 

For loads more Christmas inspiration follow New Girl in Toon on Facebook and Instagram.

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Newcastle Pantomime 2017 - Snow White Review

What is Christmas without a visit to the Pantomime?  This is exactly what I said to my husband as I convinced him to join me at the press night of the Tyne Theatre and Opera House Pantomime, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He wasn't too sure, not being one for audience participation I think he was a little worried that he'd end up being dragged on stage, but I convinced him and as we headed off to Newcastle I promised him an evening of great entertainment!

I love the Tyne Theatre and Opera House, it is a beautiful cosy theatre and I always feel very at home.  I've been lucky enough to see a couple of shows there since moving to Newcastle and seeing their Pantomime for the first time was going to be a real treat.

Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Newcastle Pantomime 2017 - Snow White ReviewPhoto c/o Tyne Theatre and Opera House

This year's Pantomime ticks a definite box for me with an appearance by the North East's very own Michelle Heaton, the Liberty X star provided me with a "star from my youth" that I have to admit I love in a panto. Other local faces in this year's panto include Geordie comics Charlie Richmond and Lewis Denney as well as ITV Tyne Tees presenter Rachel Sweeney.

As the curtains lifted and the tale of Snow White began I realised that the Tyne Theatre and Opera House Pantomime is full of classic gags and much loved tradition.  From wobbly sets to silly songs it transported me straight back to my childhood and to the things that I had long forgotten.

I loved reminiscing with my husband about our favourite pantomimes as children and as each scene unfolded we began to remember the classic jokes and sketches. From ghosts kidnapping characters to screaming "He's Behind You!" at the top of our voices, if we'd been playing Panto bingo we would have had a full house within 10 minutes.

The star of the show for us was the brilliant Charlie Richmond as Muddles whose Geordie jokes had my husband wiping tears away he was laughing so hard. Muddles' interaction with the children in the audience was spot on, and his cheeky jokes were very much appreciated by those of us who have never really grown out of being very silly!

Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Newcastle Pantomime 2017 - Charlie Richmond

Photo c/o Tyne Theatre and Opera House

Michelle Heaton impressed us as the Wicked Queen, and I particularly loved her evil laugh which boomed across the theatre each time she'd carried out an evil plan. The Liberty X fans in the audience also got a little treat when she gave us a little performance of one of the group's biggest hits, Little Bit More.

Britain's Got Talent fans were in for a treat with appearances by Matt Pagan, one fourth of 2014 winners Collabro, as the prince and comedian and impressionist Danny Posthill as Dame Dotty Donut. Having never watched Britain's Got Talent I have to admit I had no idea who either of these guys were but I was left very impressed by their talents and am now wondering if I should have been watching the show!

Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Newcastle Pantomime 2017 - Michelle Heaton

Photo c/o Tyne Theatre and Opera House

Snow White played by the beautiful Robyn McEnaney was charming and sweet and offered some much needed sensible relief when everything on stage got a bit silly.  The local actress and performer was fantastic in the lead role and it was a joy to watch some great North East talent on the stage.

With plenty of familiar songs to sing along to, loads of audience participation and a good dose of Geordie humour, despite the panto being very much aimed at kids (there weren't many gags for the adults) we thoroughly enjoyed our evening at the Tyne Theatre and Opera House and would highly recommend a trip to see Snow White.

Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Newcastle Pantomime 2017 - Snow White

Photo c/o Tyne Theatre and Opera House

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is on at the Tyne Theatre and Opera House in Newcastle until 31 December - check out the website for further information and to buy your tickets.

We attended the Pantomime on Press Night and received complimentary tickets for review purposes.

Monday 11 December 2017

The North East Christmas Gift Guide

While the internet may be full of Christmas Gift Guides I doubt you'll find too many like this! I love to share my favourite North East finds at Christmas time and buying your loved ones gifts inspired by or created here in the North East is such a great way to help the local community and purchase some truly unique and special gifts.

I hope you enjoy this year's North East Christmas Gift Guide (if you want even more ideas check out last year's guide here!)

The North East Christmas Gift Guide

Make your own single at Cluny Studios 

Anyone else love warbling along to Mariah Carey "All I Want for Christmas"?  Chances are you'll know someone that's always wanted to be a popstar so this Christmas why not give them the most amazing Christmas gift with the chance to record their own track in a proper recording studio!  A one hour session at the Cluny Studios costs £50.00 and includes your own engineer to mix your track and make it perfect.  Your experience is valid for 12 months and you'll even get 5 CDs with your track to give out to your friends!

A Cosy Winter Break at the Lord Crewe Arms

We discovered the Lord Crewe Arms a few months ago and it is one of the most beautiful places that we have ever stayed.  If you're looking for the ultimate gift for someone special in your life then a gift voucher for the Lord Crewe Arms will tick every box.  You can treat your loved one to a foodie voucher, a Gatehouse Event voucher (read my review of the Gatehouse here) or a stay over voucher.

You can buy a Lord Crewe Arms voucher here.

North East Christmas Gift Guide - Lord Crewe Arms

Starbucks Newcastle Mugs

If you're a regular visitor to Starbucks you may have spotted their brilliant limited edition Newcastle mugs that are currently available. Featuring some very familiar Geordie landmarks, the mugs are perfect for any Starbucks fans and will look great on display in the kitchen.  Not available online, you can find them in the local Starbucks stores (and why not treat yourself to a festive coffee while you're there!)

The 21 Hospitality Group Taste Tour

Before I'd read Sam's wonderful review of the 21 Hospitality Group Taste Tour I had no idea that it existed! For £45.00 you can buy a voucher that offers you the best foodie experience in the Toon.  Restaurant hop between three of the 21 Groups best locations and enjoy bar snacks at the Broad Chare, Mains at Caffe Vivo and then dessert at 21 Newcastle. I have been hinting very heavily to Santa Simon that I'd very much like a voucher for Christmas!

Buy your 21 Taste Tour Voucher here

North East Christmas Gift Guide - 21 Taste Tour

Cheeseboard from the Grainger Market

Find me a foodie who wouldn't love the gift of cheese! Matthew's Cheese Shop at the Grainger Market sells over 200 different types of cheese so it's THE place to go to create the foodie's perfect cheeseboard this Christmas.  A great present for the cheese lover in your life, Matthew's Cheese Shop can help you create a truly unique and special cheeseboard that's beautifully presented all ready for your loved one.

Find out more about Matthew's Cheese Shop here

Pampering at All About You

All About You has become my favourite beauty salon in Newcastle, I love popping in for a treatment and a gossip with the lovely ladies.  I'm slowly working my way through their menu of treats and have so far enjoyed a pedicure, manicure and waxing (I'm definitely booking myself a post Christmas facial next!)  The beautiful little spot below the Grey Street Hotel is the perfect place to treat your Mam or best friend this Christmas and their gift vouchers make a great present!

Discover more about All About You here

North East Christmas Gift Guide - All About You

A Bottle of Durham Gin

2017 has definitely been the year of gin for me and I know that I'm not the only person who has become a complete ginthusiast!  If you want to grab a gin inspired gift from here in the North East why not check out Durham Gin.  I've got my eye on their Durham Damson, Blackbery and Ginger Gin Liqueur (how good does that sound?) - another hint to Santa Simon!

Buy your Durham Gin gifts here

Local Produce from the Fenwick's Food Hall

I love pottering around the Food Hall at Fenwick's at Christmas time and there are plenty of local gifts that you can buy the foodie lovers in your life. How about a bottle of Noveltea (the perfect Christmas tipple) a Rafi's Spicebox Curry Kit (great for the budding chef), some Gingerbread Mam goodies (for your friend with a sweet tooth) or, of course, if you're feeling extra generous you can create your own Fenwick's Hamper!

North East Christmas Gift Guide - Fenwick's Food Hall

Geordie Gifts

I couldn't write a North East Christmas Gift Guide without mentioning Geordie Gifts could I? This year buying your presents from the cheeky Geordies is even easier with their pop up shop at Grainger Market. I love their hilarious tote bags and their coasters are perfect stocking fillers. I've already bought up half their shop and there are a few Geordie Gifts sitting under my tree!

Buy your Geordie Gifts here, or pop down to their shop at The Grainger Market

12 Deals for Christmas at Matfen Hall

Personally I love to receive a gift experience at Christmas and if you love the idea of treating your loved one to something really special this year check out the range of gift ideas available at Matfen Hall in their 12 Deals for Christmas.  They have 12 special gift ideas all available at a reduced rate over the festive period. From Afternoon Teas to Weekend Breaks and Golf Experiences, there's a gift for everyone!  Vouchers are valid January - March 2018, giving your loved one something to look forward to in the cold Winter months!

Check out the 12 Deals for Christmas here

North East Christmas Gift Guide - Matfen Hall

I would love to hear about any North East Christmas gifts you've bought this year! I still have a few more people I need to buy for!

For plenty more Christmas inspiration check out New Girl in Toon on Instagram and Facebook

Friday 8 December 2017

Christmas at the Botanist Newcastle

Christmas at the Botanist in Newcastle is something I look forward to every year, for me it's always the official start of Christmas - a chance to snuggle up with some close friends, enjoy a few tipples and chat festive plans.

Earlier this week I spent the evening with six of the loveliest ladies I know at The Botanist and after a night of mulled wine, over indulgence and plenty of giggles I'm definitely feeling very lucky to have such wonderful friends to share my Christmas time with.

Christmas at the Botanist Newcastle

A Winter Wonderland - The Roof Terrace at The Botanist

Our night of celebration began on the roof terrace which is the perfect place for a cosy Christmas with a few of your closest mates.  We were lucky to have a really clear night where it was mild enough to sit outdoors for a short while but still nippy enough to treat ourselves to mugs of hot cider and cover our knees in cosy blankets.

Christmas at the Botanist Newcastle - Roof Terrace
Whilst you might think that the Botanist Roof Terrace is just for those Summer days it's definitely somewhere that I love most at Christmas time. The wooden huts seem extra beautiful with their little fairy lights, the bar is decked out in giant baubles and the hidden corners and snuggly blankets gives you those apres ski vibes without having to actually get cold and do any ski-ing - perfect!

A great place to people watch, we spent a fair amount of time watching the Christmas Market at Monument down below. The Newcastle lights look extra special from the roof of the Botanist!

Christmas at the Botanist Newcastle - Roof Winter Wonderland

Keeping Warm with the Budweis Mule 

When our tummies needed a little extra warmth we lined up at the bar, eager to try out the Botanist's latest creation, the Budweis Mule (£7.95).  A twist on the classic Moscow Mule the "Hoptail" is the perfect way to convince the beer lover in your life to join you on cocktail night.  Traditional ginger beer is replaced with Budweiser Budvar original and fresh ginger is then mixed with Tanqueray gin and Cointreau. It's pretty damn special as The Botanist is the only bar in the region to serve Budweiser Budvar, brewery fresh tank beer from the Czech Republic.  I have to admit I'm not a huge lover of beer but with the nice subtle sweet hit in the Budweis Mule I could definitely manage a pint!

Christmas at the Botanist Newcastle - Budweis Mule

The Christmas Menu at The Botanist 

Fingers, toes and tummies warm from our Winter drinks we headed indoors and up to the new Mezzanine level to sit down for some Christmas food, the Mezzanine is the perfect place to host your Christmas party this year - nicely tucked out of the way with the most amazing views over the bar and that famous tree!

Christmas at the Botanist Newcastle - Mezzanine

The Christmas menu at The Botanist is available through December with Lunch for £22.75 per person and dinner for £27.50. When the festive menus started doing the rounds I have to say that it was the Botanist menu that caught my eye - with so many of my seasonal favourites featuring it was the only place I was adamant I had to try this Christmas.

Christmas at the Botanist Newcastle - Menu

Christmas Starters at The Botanist 

There are three choices of starter at The Botanist this Christmas with dishes to suit every taste.

First up, the Smoked Salmon Rillettes with avocado salsa, homemade chilli jam and olive oil croutons.  The perfect light starter if you want to be sure not to get too stuffed before the main event.

Christmas lovers will love the Curried Cauliflower and Coconut soup with toasted almonds and curry oil, the perfect Winter warmer.  Served with a delicious squishy bread roll, perfect for dunking - no need for table manners when you're out with your friends!

Christmas at the Botanist Newcastle - Curried Cauliflower and Coconut Soup
My personal favourite Christmas Starter of the evening was the Roast Jerk Ham, Celeriac and Apple Remoulade with Honey Mustard dressing.  We always have ham at Christmas at my parents house so it will always remind me of cosy festive evenings back at home.

Christmas at the Botanist Newcastle - Roast Jerk Ham

Christmas Main Course at The Botanist

Back by popular demand, would it really be Christmas without the Turkey Hanging Kebab with Spiced Cranberry Glaze? Served with a tiny pot of gravy (I have to admit being the only southerner at the table I didn't really understand the gravy debate that was happening at the table!), the kebab hangs above a dish of seasonal veg and is such a fun way to enjoy your Christmas dinner.

An alternative to the traditional, we all loved the Backed Cod in Herb Crust with a Chorizo, Tomato and Butterbean Stew - although I love a full turkey dinner it's great to have a menu with plenty of delicious alternatives.

Christmas at the Botanist Newcastle - Baked Cod

For the meat lovers the Sirloin Steak with Braised Spiced Red Cabbage, Smoked Bacon and Thyme Sauce went down a treat. I have to say it wasn't served rare enough for my liking (I like my steak to be crawling off the plate) but everyone else wolfed it down.

My favourite of the night, and the dish that had my mouth watering when I first saw the menu, was the Roast Butternut Squash and Mushroom Wellington with Goat's Cheese, Chestnut, Sage and Roast Cherry Tomatoes.  I love a classic Beef Wellington and this veggie version worked so well, I was supposed to be sharing but I will admit I polished most of this off myself.

Christmas at the Botanist Newcastle - Butternut Squash Wellington

Christmas Desserts and The Botanist

As a huge lover of Bakewell I was very intrigued by the first dessert at our table, the Christmas Bakewell Tart with Orange Brandy Custard, it was so lush and I'm now thinking about having something similar on our Christmas table at home.

The Cranberry and Raspberry Meringue with Poached Pear and Eggnog Cream was the other dish that had me excited to book a table at The Botanist, I am an eggnog obsessive so am in my element at Christmas time.  The eggnog goes so well with the perfectly chewy meringue.

Christmas at the Botanist Newcastle - Cranberry and Raspberry Meringue

The first dish to be completely cleared at our table was the Chocolate Fudge Brownie with Mint Choc Chip Ice Cream which we all attacked with such enthusiasm I'm surprised there wasn't an argument.  So delicious I definitely suggest you tuck into one of these bad boys on your own and don't even attempt to share it with anyone else.

Christmas at the Botanist Newcastle - Chocolate Fudge Brownie

We loved our evening at The Botanist and I'm definitely planning a few more visits before Santa arrives!

Is anyone else planning a Christmas night at The Botanist?

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We were treated to complimentary food and drinks at The Botanist in exchange for an honest review of their Christmas offerings.
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