Wednesday 31 January 2018

My January Days

I'm sure I'm not the only person feeling pretty happy that today is the last day of January and we can all say goodbye to what is usually a dark and miserable month. Now that the evenings are getting lighter I can't help but start the Spring countdown. We've kept ourselves pretty busy this month in an attempt to beat the Winter blues, here are a few things that happened in January that didn't make the blog.

Wardrobe Discoveries

I'm determined to try and wear my forgotten clothes this year. I'm very guilty of saving things for "best", waiting for the perfect occasion (that inevitably never happens!) These pleather look skinny jeans have been sitting in my wardrobe for around two years and this month was the first time that I wore them. Effortlessly stylish, I loved wearing them and they'll definitely be making more of an appearance in 2018

New Girl in Toon - My January Days

Cinema Addiction

There's been plenty of hibernation in the cinema this month, the perfect way to spend cold January weekends. Simon and I both have Odeon Limitless cards which are a must if you're movie buffs like us, for £17.99 a month we can see as many films as we like and we love it!  This month's addiction has definitely been The Greatest Showman which we saw two weekends in a row, I can't stop singing the tunes.

My January Days - Odeon

Wolfmann's Eating House

I love trying out new places so was very happy to discover Wolfmann's Eating House in Chichester thanks to my friend Katie. Having only recently moved to the South Shield's coast she's been discovering some great little spots to enjoy good food in the area and knowing how much I love my scran she was keen to show off this place and I can see why. My Meatball Sandwich and Parmesan Fries were just what I needed for a Saturday treat.

My January Days - Wolfmanns Eating House

Baker Boy

Welcome to this month's obsession - Baker Boy hats! I love them and I never thought I would! After discovering my first in M&S I've since bought this beauty in Top Shop (who, FYI, have the best collection) My hair has a tendency to frizz the second I leave the house so I've been loving sticking one of these beauties on my head to hide it! Let's hope I can carry on wearing them in Spring.

My January Days - Baker Boy Hat

Winter Scenes 

I'm afraid I'm not one of those people who loses their head at the first sight of snow, in fact when it arrived this month I was fuming that my hubby woke me up at 3:00 am just to tell me it had been snowing (really!) Sure it looks pretty but when walking on a pavement involves dancing with death I'm not a happy lady. I'm counting down to Spring!

My January Days - Winter in Newcastle

Beret Dramas

We had great fun on my Instagram stories this month debating how on earth I should put this beret on my head. This was a sale purchase from Oliver Bonas and I love it but who knew wearing a beret would be so complicated. No matter what I did with it, it just looked all wrong. In the end I had to do some research online to work out how to wear it (oh dear!) If you want a laugh my beret drama is on my highlights on Instagram.


Primark has me wishing for Summer with their amazing collection of holiday goodies appearing in store. It felt rather odd looking at Summer things when there was snow on the ground but I couldn't resist purchasing this beautiful lemon embroidered hat. With no Summer holiday booked you can expect to see me skipping about Gateshead in it as soon as the sun makes an appearance!

My January Days - Primark Summer

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

Thursday 25 January 2018

Filmore & Union, Jesmond - Breakfast Menu

I am beyond excited that Filmore & Union have opened in Jesmond and I finally get to try everything on their breakfast menu. Ever since our first mouthful of their delicious food during our staycation in Harrogate last year I have been dreaming that they would open up a restaurant in the North East.

Filmore and Union, Jesmond - Breakfast MenuRestaurants it seems are like buses, having waited forever for Filmore & Union to appear this month we find ourselves with two! A small eatery on Acorn Road in Jesmond, soon to be followed by a larger restaurant in John Lewis.

So why am I so excited? Because Filmore & Union serve up my favourite kind of grub! Dishes that taste delicious but are prepared using fresh food, using healthier cooking techniques and without any hidden nasties. Perfect for a January detox.

Filmore and Union, Jesmond - Breakfast
Simon and I enthusiastically popped to their little place in Jesmond last week (we were very eager beavers and arrived just as the doors were opening at 9:00 am on a Sunday!) tummies more than ready for a nice hearty breakfast and a little nose around. If there's one thing in life I love, it's a good look round a new restaurant.

Filmore & Union in Jesmond is pretty tiny with only a few tables available but if you can manage to get your bum on a seat it's well worth a visit. The wooden benches, white tiles and shelves packed with products to buy and take home make it instagram gold and a rather lovely place to spend an hour or so.

Filmore and Union, Jesmond - Breakfast

Filmore & Union suits the Jesmond crowd perfectly. As we took our seats we were soon joined by a handful of students and small groups of friends with a fair few people stopping to study the menu outside and popping in for takeout. Something tells me this place is going to get popular very fast.

Every great breakfast begins with a smoothie so I was very excited to try the Berry Breeze, only to be told that they were all out of strawberries and blueberries (this is what happens when you're so early you beat the fruit delivery!). As an alternative I turned my attention to the Juices and picked the Union Tonic (£4.00) - Pineapple, Lemon, Orange and Apple (and usually Strawberries!) 

Wow!  I am so glad my original choice was off the men because the Union Tonic was seriously tasty.

Filmore and Union, Jesmond - Breakfast Juice

Simon can't function in the morning without his coffee so ordered a Flat White (£3.00), a very boring choice when you hear about what else Filmore & Union have to offer. Their coffee menu is pretty special with some very intriguing signature drinks including Tumeric latte with almond milk, black pepper and honey and Beetroot latte with almond milk. Next visit I am definitely trying the Beetroot, I'm so curious about what it would taste like.

Filmore and Union, Jesmond - Breakfast Coffee

The Breakfast menu at Filmore & Union is a full page bursting with every dish you could possibly fancy. Close your eyes and imagine your favourite breakfast and it probably appears on the menu. From Omelettes and Pancakes to Waffles and Bagels, I feel like I need to make plenty more visits to work my way through the menu as I found myself wanting it all.

I've recently become a little addicted to French Toast (I think I have last year's Honeymoon to America to blame for that!) so was thrilled to see it pop up on the Filmore & Union breakfast menu. Their Gluten Free Winter Spiced French Toast (£10.00) was served with Greek Yoghurt, Plums and Pistachios (which were left off mine due to my nut allergy)

Filmore and Union, Jesmond - French Toast

It was delicious!  Served piping hot (despite me taking ages to take all the photographs!), the plums and Greek Yoghurt were a beautiful flavour combination and the French Toast wasn't at all greasy and stodgy.  French Toast that doesn't leave you with that horrible bloated feeling - brilliant! 

One of things I love most about Filmore & Union is that you can enjoy the dishes that you love without feeling like you've overdone it.

Simon opted for Free Range Scrambled Eggs on Toasted Wholemeal Bread with Smoked Salmon (£9.50), the breakfast of champions I'm sure you'll agree. It looked and smelt delicious and despite it being a little risky waving salmon directly over my beautiful French Toast I decided it was worth the challenge of getting a fork full before he devoured it. So good!

Filmore and Union, Jesmond - Scrambled Eggs

Our breakfast at Filmore & Union was spot on and we're thrilled that we've found somewhere new in Jesmond to indulge in our lazy weekend mornings. We can't wait to return!

Let me know your favourite place to go for breakfast!

Tuesday 23 January 2018

10 Reasons Why We Love being National Trust Members

Have I ever mentioned how much we love being National Trust Members? Simon's Mum bought us a joint membership for Christmas last year and we enjoyed it so much she renewed it again for 2018.  It honestly is the gift that keeps on giving and, in the hope that some of you will get as much enjoyment out of it was we do, I thought I'd share 10 reasons why we love being National Trust Members.

1. Effortless Walks

Simon and I enjoy walking but aren't exactly experienced hikers so having access to easy walks in so much beautiful parkland across the country is ideal. Routes are clearly signposted, maps are provided, there's no chance of getting lost and quite often you'll find a nice bench to sit on just as you start to get tired. Beautiful walks without any of the worry, walking with National Trust is a dream!

10 Reasons Why We Love being National Trust Members

2. Diary Planning

There's always something happening at National Trust. Christmas carols, Mother's Day celebrations, craft lessons and guided tours we could pack our diaries out every weekend of the year if we fancied it. An effortless way to keep your diary full of plans, waking up on a Saturday morning and checking the National Trust app is the greatest way to come up with a weekend adventure with minimal effort.

3. Tea Room Treats

Surely you know me well enough by now to know that cake it always going to feature somewhere! Although we try to resist the pull of the National Trust tea rooms sometimes we have to treat ourselves to something naughty after a long walk. A huge slab of Victoria Sponge (big shout out to Gibside who do the best!) or a cheeky sausage roll (the beauty down below is from Blickling Hall in Norfolk!) is well deserved after all that exercise.

National Trust Members - Blickling Hall

4. Flower Displays

I love seasonal flower displays and find myself obsessively hunting out snowdrops, daffodils and bluebells. Luckily our National Trust membership makes it easy to find the best displays and Simon is very thankful that I no longer make him drive all over the place trying to hunt down flowers. My favourite has to be the stunning collection of bluebells at Seaton Delaval Hall in Northumberland.

5. Perfect Pints

Yes, I did say pints! Did you know that National Trust own over 35 pubs across the country? Home cooked food, cosy corners and open fires await tired walkers or, if you want something truly special, Gibside in Gateshead opens its doors until late on Friday and Saturday evenings where you can enjoy Wylam Brewery ales, wood fired pizza and live music in their outdoor pub.

National Trust Members - Gibside Pub
6. Posh Houses

A real life "Through the Key Hole", we love nosing round the posh National Trust houses.  With huge staircases, beautiful furniture and tales of lavish parties and wonderful characters, I love transporting myself to another world in their stunning historical homes.

7. Wildlife Spots

In our short time as National Trust members we have seen some truly amazing things that we will remember forever. We spent hours sitting in a bird hide at Wallington watching the red squirrels, saw a deer dash across the path in front of us on a woodland walk and even watched a lamb being born during a hike at Gibside.

National Trust Members - Red Squirrel Wallington

8. Staycation Plans

We love using our National Trust membership when we're visiting other parts of the country and so far we've visited Plas Newydd in Anglesey, Stowe in Buckinghamshire, Tatton Park in Cheshire and Sheringham Park in Norfolk. It's great to have ready made day trips when we're on staycation.

9. Garden Days

We have a very small garden at our house so being a member of National Trust gives us access to some beautiful lawns and fields where we can spend an entire Summer afternoon playing ball games, enjoying picnics and sleeping in the sun. I'm pretty sure Seaton Delaval are fed up of seeing me snoozing in their grass!

National Trust Members - North East

10. Photography Days

If, like us, you fancy yourself as a bit of an amateur photographer there's no better place to practice your skills than at National Trust. With some stunning backdrops, endless locations and breathtaking views you don't get a classroom much better than National Trust!

National Trust Members - Roseberry Topping

If you're a National Trust member too let me know your favourite places to visit, we're hoping to get out and about and explore loads more this year!

Want to become a National Trust member? You can find all the details here.

Thursday 18 January 2018

Walking Hadrian's Wall in Winter - Discovering Sycamore Gap

I spend a lot of time saying "I really want to do that one day", and not a lot of time actually getting out there and doing any of it. So this year I've decided to finally start planning some of the activities in the North East that I've been meaning to do for years, starting off with a visit to Hadrian's Wall. If you want to blow away the cobwebs in January, surely nothing beats walking Hadrian's Wall in Winter, am I right?

Walking Hadrian's Wall in Winter - Discovering Sycamore Gap

Try telling that to my poor husband who ended up with very soggy feet and a slight sense of humour failure, but we'll get to that later!

Hadrian's Wall has been somewhere that I have wanted to visit for a long time, with Sycamore Gap (aka Robin Hood's tree if you're a movie buff like me!) being top of the list. With an impressive 84 miles of wall to explore, starting off with a quick jaunt to the famous tree has always seemed like the best place to start and I have been wanting to take "that photo" of the tree for the longest time.

Walking Hadrian's Wall in Winter - Footpath

Whilst Summer would probably be a sensible time to visit Sycamore Gap, we decided to visit in Winter.  I blame the beautiful blue sky that tempted us out of bed and into our hats and gloves for a drive to West Northumberland in hunt of the famous wall.

It's amazing how great a bit of Winter sunshine is for the soul and we were in high spirits on the car journey, pointing out every stone that we passed and debating if maybe that was "the" wall.

Walking Hadrian's Wall in Winter

We decided to park at Steel Rig, my hours of research (forever an organisation geek!) showed a nice short walk to the tree (this is what I promised my husband).  I was giddy as we set off, our walk giving us the most beautiful views only a few steps in.

I was, however, slightly nervous watching the people in front of us starting to climb a very high looking mountain top (I'm sure it's officially a hill, but to a southerner it may as well have been Everest!) - surely we didn't have to climb up there?

Hadrian's Wall in Winter

Yes we did!

Simon and I aren't experienced walkers, sure we have walking boots, but that's about as far as our professional equipment goes. We stumbled our way up, being careful to avoid the slippy patches (exploring Hadrian's Wall in the Winter definitely has its hazards!) and gingerly making our way up like a pair of toddlers. Confident people hiked in front of us, laden with camera equipment, babies and dogs whilst Simon and I clung to the rock faces like we were on the most challenging hike of our lives.

Hadrian's Wall

Walking Hadrian's Walk was certainly proving to be more challenging than I had first realised, I had thought it would be a gentle ramble along the wall, but as we picked our way over rocks and dodged the ice I realised it was actually proving to be a bit of an adventure.

Sycamore Gap was a little further than I had imagined it would be, to the point where I did start to ask people we passed how far it was to "the tree" - they chuckled at the crazy amateur walkers and each time we got the same response "not far".

Walking Hadrian's Wall Winter

Every hill we climbed and every corner we turned we kept expecting to see the tree so when it finally did appear we felt a bit like we'd found the elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. And boy was it worth it.  Just as beautiful as the photographs I'd admired, it may have looked pretty bald without its Summer leaves but it was still breathtaking and the time of year meant we were free from any tourists.

Walking Hadrian's Wall Winter - Sycamore Gap
We spent a good while just looking at it, and I felt truly lucky to have made my home in the North, what a treasure we have right on our doorstep.

It was on our way back to the car that poor Simon managed to plunge his leg into a muddy pool of water. He cursed me and my silly adventures as he pulled himself out to find a very dirty shoe and wet socks. As he grumbled his way back to the car I barely heard him, nothing was going to ruin my high of finally walking Hadrian's Wall and seeing Sycamore Gap.

Hadrians Wall Winter Walking

I'm so happy I've ticked something else off my 40 Before 40 List!

Our visit was brief but left me wanting more and I'm really hoping that we'll get back to the wall for a longer hike in the Summer months. So I'd love to know, what are your favourite walking routes along Hadrian's Wall?

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Healthy Places to Eat in Newcastle

I don't know about you but I'm getting a little annoyed at endless e-mails popping into my inbox over the last few weeks offering me 50% off menus, reminding me about Restaurant Week (sob!) and tempting me with delicious photographs of burgers and pizzas. It's January, I'm attempting to be healthy and constant reminders of what I can't have are driving me crazy!

So I thought it might be helpful to put together a little guide to some of the healthier places that you can eat out this January. Healthy eating in Newcastle has never been easier and restaurants and cafes that promote delicious, healthier dishes are popping up all over the place.

This is just a very small handful that we have discovered and would recommend you try, I'd love to hear if you have any more that we should add to the list for January!

Healthy Places to Eat in Newcastle
Filmore & Union, Jesmond

I am SO excited that Filmore & Union have arrived in the Toon with not only a Jesmond restaurant but also another landing in Eldon Square's John Lewis store any day now! Simon and I first discovered Filmore & Union on our staycation in Harrogate last year and I left sulking that we didn't have a restaurant in the Toon. I fell in love with their breakfast dishes and wanted more! Serving up seasonal fresh produce sourced from local suppliers, the food is real and fresh and I can't wait to get my fix without having to leave Newcastle.

Find Filmore & Union at 32 Acorn Road, Jesmond, NE2 2DJ

Healthy Places to Eat in Newcastle - Filmore & Union

Jesmond Dene House

Jesmond Dene House have realised how important it is to have a healthy start to the year and have put together a special "guilt free" menu for January. The chefs have rustled up a tasty lighter menu to help you with your New Year's resolution whilst satisfying your tummy. Packed with flavour, the Asian inspired menu features some delicious dishes including Steamed Salmon with Squash, Spring Onion and Ginger with 2 courses for £20.00 or three courses for £25.00. Who said healthy eating had to be boring?

Find Jesmond Dene House at Jesmond Dene Road, NE2 2EY


We discovered Aurora in Newcastle last year and were really impressed by their nutritious fresh dishes. Using locally sourced ingredients the food is cooked to order from an impressively large menu of tempting dishes. Breakfasts, stripped back burgers, light bites and treats - there's something for everyone and you'll leave feeling healthy and happy!

Find Aurora at Herber Street, NE4 5TN

Healthy Places to Eat in Newcastle - Aurora

Naked Deli

It's no secret how much I love Naked Deli, Simon and I became such regulars at their Gosforth restaurant last year that the staff began to recognise us (how embarrassing!) We have worked our way through a good portion of the menu now and we've loved every single dish we've tried.  We're huge fans of their breakfasts and are addicted to their smoothies!  The food is lovingly prepared, highly nutritious and free of any nasties!  Yum!

Find Naked Deli at 231 Chillingham Road, NE6 5JL and Unit 30-31 Gosforth Shopping Centre, NE3 1JZ

Healthy Places to Eat in Newcastle - Naked Deli

I'd love to hear what healthy places you've discovered to eat in Newcastle!  Where should we try next?

Thursday 11 January 2018

How to Shop in Primark: Bagging a Bargain and Surviving!

My friends know me as the "Queen of Primark", with over 90% of my wardrobe consisting of bargains I've found in the nation's favourite budget store, I've got myself a bit of a reputation for knowing how to bag the best Primark bargains and survive hours in store without even breaking a sweat.

So if your 2018 resolution is to save more money then allow me to introduce you to the weird and wonderful world of bagging a bargain in Primark, and surviving!

Shop in Primark: Bagging a Bargain and Surviving!

No matter how many times I tell myself it might be time to grow up and fill my closet with better quality fashion I just can't help but stroll into Primark and before I know it I'm staggering out with massive paper bags.

So I thought it was about time I shared a few tips and tricks for getting the most out of your Primark visits - how to shop the store successfully, where to find the bargains and how to survive what some consider to be a rather chaotic shopping experience.

 Primark: Bagging a Bargain and Surviving!


Primark is very trend lead and their more popular items sell out fast. Recent crazes have included dupes for the Jo Malone fragrances (you'll be lucky if you find a stand in Primark that hasn't been cleared!) and Beauty and the Beast Chip teacups.  If you are interested in getting your hands on the latest "must have" from Primark it pays to follow the right accounts on Instagram so you can be there first.

Bargain Dupes

Even if you're not fussed by the latest craze it's good to have a look through Instagram pre Primark and save your favourite looks in your phone.  Primark have very fast turnaround of fantastic dupes and you can put together a designer outfit that you love for a tiny price. If you love fast fashion and current trends Primark is a great place to head.

 Primark: Bagging a Bargain and Surviving - Coat

Dress for Success

Shopping in Primark is definitely best enjoyed in comfortable clothes. If you can leave any bulky warm coats at home and dress in a nice cool outfit it's a good idea! If you're planning on trying lots on make sure your outfit is easy to get out of - shoes with laces and shirts with buttons aren't the best idea.  Also, it's kinda a good idea to leave your friends/husband/girlfriend at home - solo trips to Primark tend to be the most productive!

Arrive Early

I hate dragging myself out of bed on a Saturday morning as much as the next person but when it comes to planning a Primark visit it pays to get into store as soon as it opens and for many Primark stores that means before 9:00 am! Our store in Newcastle opens at 8:00 am and I do my best to get there for doors open. Dragging yourself up and out early guarantees a lovely quiet store and you can get at least 2 hours of shopping time before the crowds descend.

 Primark: Bagging a Bargain

Know your store

It pays to know the layout of your local Primark store as it can seriously reduce the amount of aimless wandering that you'll do during your trip. I know where to find all of my favourite things in the Newcastle store and so always follow the same route round the store, tackling each of my favourite sections one at a time.

Pick a Store

Unfortunately some Primark stores are badly laid out or very small with limited stock and these types of stores tend to result in unsuccessful shopping trips. I've visited Primark stores all over the country and my favourites are definitely Newcastle, Manchester and Bristol for the best bargains.

 Primark: Bagging a Bargain - Shorts

Try Before You Buy

It's always best to try before you buy in Primark as sizes can really vary. Most Primark stores allow a maximum of 8 items in the changing room and I always take advantage and go in fully loaded. It pays to try things on in a few sizes and I usually take in a variety as I can be anything from a size 8 to a size 14. Sizing in Primark really is just a meaningless label so is best ignored.

Go Wild!

Shopping in Primark offers you the  perfect way to try styles and trends that you may not have tried before. The cheap price tags tend to make me go crazy and I've been known to try all sorts. The dungarees you thought would never suit you, bright bold colours and killer heels - if you want to experiment with fashion Primark is a great place to do it.

 Primark: Bagging a Bargain - Flamingo Jacket

Check Quality

The quality of the clothes in Primark has improved so much and if you look after your purchases they will stand the test of time, I have many Primark dresses that I've had for years and still look as good as new. It is worth remembering though that Primark is a budget store so check the quality of your picks before you head to the till.  I'm always sure to check over my jumpers for any holes, ensure all zips work without sticking and check that nothing feels to cheap or static.

The Price is Right

With plenty of bargains to find it can be too easy to take piles of clothes to the counter without looking at the price tags. I've definitely been shocked at my total a few times! It's worth noting that whilst most items are very cheap the price of some clothes in Primark has definitely gone up in recent times. Items like coats, jackets and shoes can have a slightly higher price tag so check before you buy!

 Primark: Bagging a Bargain - Sandals

Does anyone else love a good Primark shop?  I'd love to hear if you have any tips and tricks of your own.

For plenty of Primark outfit inspiration be sure to follow New Girl in Toon on Instagram.

Tuesday 9 January 2018

How to Spend a Weekend in Dublin

My husband's birthday falls, rather inconveniently, 4 days before Christmas. This always presents problems with restaurants serving festive dishes, bars crowded with Christmas parties and friends too busy to celebrate. So when it came to celebrating Simon's "big 4-0" I knew I'd have to do something pretty great to compete with Christmas. I didn't want his birthday to get lost in Santas and reindeers, it's not every day you turn 40!

I decided to surprise him with a trip to Dublin, somewhere we've always talked about visiting together and a city that's important to Simon as his late Dad was born there.  It felt like the perfect place to celebrate a special birthday.

How to Spend a Weekend in Dublin - Ryanair

Destination decided, I started planning our trip in the Summer, told everyone we knew about it (me and my big mouth!) and then had to swear them all to secrecy so that he wouldn't find out. Don't ask me how I did it but I somehow managed to get Simon all the way to Newcastle Airport before revealing our plans.  He was very surprised!

Dublin is a short flight from Newcastle Airport with a couple of flights a day leaving the North East to make the 50 minute trip over the Irish Sea. We managed to travel with small cabin bags making it a pretty effortless weekend trip, if you've not been before I'd recommend planning a trip!

How to Spend a Weekend in Dublin

Brooks Hotel, Dublin

As you can imagine hotels in Dublin at Christmas time didn't come cheap and finding somewhere that looked nice, was in a good location and wasn't going to bankrupt me for a three night stay was pretty tricky. I spent hours researching before stumbling across Brooks Hotel on Drury Street, a very short stroll from the shops of Grafton Street and pubs of Temple Bar.

I booked direct through the hotel and mentioned on my booking that it was Simon's 40th so we were really happy when we arrived to discover that, despite the hotel being very busy for Christmas, they'd very kindly upgraded us to a Junior Suite. We really enjoyed having the extra space - a good bedroom to rest your weary legs when you're on a city break is a must!

How to Spend a Weekend in Dublin - Brooks Hotel

We were very impressed with the lovely little touches that made the hotel really comfortable including a pillow menu, turndown service (Simon loved that he managed to catch the "chocolate man" a few times and got some extra choccies for our pillows!), concierge, White Company toiletries, a secret resident only lounge and the all important super fast wifi.

The noise from the outside street during the early part of the night was a little loud, but it wasn't really surprising considering it was a few days before Christmas and people were out celebrating. It didn't stop us getting some shut eye, but if you're considering the hotel for a break and want some peace and quiet it may be worth requesting a room away from the street.

Brunch Spots in Dublin

Breakfast wasn't included in our rate at the Brooks Hotel and although we could have added it, the brunch spots in Dublin were too good to resist.  I did a geeky amount of research before our visit (we're talking literally hours!) and carefully selected a few places to try.

The Bakehouse - The Bakehouse, a cute little bakery and eatery close to the banks of the River Liffey that served up a might fine breakfast.  Simon went for the Sausage Sandwich and I couldn't resist the Bakehouse Pancakes served with banana, blueberries and maple syrup.

How to Spend a Weekend in Dublin - The Bakehouse Brunch
Sophie's at the Dean - we spent quite a bit of our weekend nosing at other hotels that we weren't staying at.  Does anyone else do that?  I love popping into hotels to check out their bar and try out their restaurants.  The Dean has to be the coolest (most instagram perfect!) hotel in Dublin and we couldn't resist trying out Sophie's, their rooftop restaurant offers 360 degree views of the city, adult sized swings in the lobby and has a great breakfast menu.

How to Spend a Weekend in Dublin - Sophies

How to Spend a Weekend in Dublin - The Dean

I enjoyed French Toast with Maple Syrup and Fresh Berries which would have been the most amazing brunch I'd ever had, if my fork hadn't also attacked Simon's food. His Blueberry Pancake Stack with Maple Syrup and Orange Butter was out of this world. How come I've never tried Orange Butter before? It is so good! Luckily his portion was so huge he couldn't manage it all so I polished his breakfast off after finishing mine. Greedy? Yes! Regrets? None!

How to Spend a Weekend in Dublin - Sophies Brunch

Shopping in Dublin

Shopping in Dublin was pretty crazy in the run up to Christmas, shops were open until late and the streets were rammed with people trying to pick up last minute presents.  We managed a bit of a potter before having to call it quits but the small amount that we saw definitely made us want to return, Dublin is a great shopping destination.

How to Spend a Weekend in Dublin - River Liffey

We spent most of our time on the tourist hotspot, Grafton Street which is lined with the most popular stores including a very large Ted Baker, And Other Stories and, of course, Brown Thomas - the city's most beautiful department store. I spent a little longer than I'd like to admit wandering the beauty hall, lusting after designer bags and trying on sunglasses before my husband managed to drag me out the door before I could reach for the credit card.

For more boutique type shops The Powerscourt Centre was beautiful for a wander, housed in a beautiful Georgian building it's a treasure trove of antique shops, jewellery stores and clothing boutiques with plenty of great looking places to eat.

How to Spend a Weekend in Dublin - Powerscourt

If, like me, you are a huge fan of Primark you'll be pleased to know that the bargain store was actually born in Dublin under the name Penneys and you'll find a store so large it'll make your jaw drop on Parnell Street.  I planned a quick walk around but once I realised how big and busy it was we soon had to re think our plans as I didn't think Simon would want to spend his birthday following me round on a bargain hunt.

Dublin Donuts

Did you know that Dublin is an absolute heaven for donut lovers? There are so many places that produce the most delicious looking treats for the donut fan and it was a real struggle stopping ourselves from trying them all!

Our favourites?  Aungier Danger, so popular that it's been known to have queues down the street, and The Rolling Donut!  These guys have donuts nailed, some amazing flavour combinations, generous fillings, the most beautiful toppings and wow they were big.  Every time we walked passed a donut shop we had to press our noses up against the glass just for a little look, I can't believe we only ended up having a couple during our visit!

How to Spend a Weekend in Dublin - The Rolling Donut

Things to do in Dublin

I pre booked a couple of things to do when we were in Dublin, the organiser in me just can't resist a bit of planning!

Kilmainham Gaol - An absolute nightmare to find, we almost gave up looking for the gaol when we realised we were about to miss our tour, luckily we weren't the only confused tourists wandering the streets and managed to buddy up with some others who were lost to get there just in time.

I'm so glad we decided to visit the Kilmainham Gaol, the tour is fully guided which we found far better than reading from boards. Simon and I definitely aren't history buffs and are a little like children in museums, we need to be kept entertained! Our guide was so knowledgeable, had so many fascinating stories that gave me goosebumps and truly made the gaol come to life.

How to Spend a Weekend in Dublin - Kilmainham Gaol

The Guinness Storehouse - We couldn't go to Dublin without a trip to the Guinness Storehouse, the ultimate tour for the Guinness fan. The Storehouse is a self guided tour round the world's largest pint glass, seven floors full of delicious smells, interactive displays and a very interesting insight into Guinness and its importance to Dublin. Our entry ticket included a pint of Guinness which we enjoyed in the Gravity Bar, the Storehouse rooftop bar offering great views across Dublin.

How to Spend a Weekend in Dublin - Guinness Storehouse

Evenings in Dublin

Simon and I aren't party animals so I'm afraid I can't really tell you which are the best pubs to hit, the Christmas crowds kept us away from Temple Bar and so we spent our evenings enjoying delicious food and attempting to find quiet corners to drink in (very hard!).

How to Spend a Weekend in Dublin - Gin

Balfes - Our first discovery was Balfes at the beautiful Westbury Hotel, I was glad I'd pre booked our table as Christmas parties had taken up a lot of the restaurant. The menu is small and ever changing with delicious seasonal dishes.  I somehow managed to resist the fish and chips and went for the salmon which was perfectly prepared.

How to Spend a Weekend in Dublin - Balfes

After our meal we ducked into the Westbury for a little nose around and to see if we could get a drink.  Unfortunately it was far too busy with Christmas parties to get into the bar but wow were we smitten.  It is beautiful and it's now become our ultimate goal to one day stay there (it's a 5 star so unfortunately comes with a pretty hefty price tag for our budget but we can dream!)

Bobos - Keeping the birthday boy happy I did a lot of research into the best burgers in Dublin before our trip and we booked a table at Bobos who have the most impressive burger menu in the city. With over 30 to choose from we were in our element studying the menu. I opted for The Humpty Dumpty which featured a fried egg, burger sauce, Old Dubliner cheese, caramelised onion and cured smoked bacon.

How to Spend a Weekend in Dublin - Bobos Burgers

We loved our visit to Dublin and are eager to plan another visit at a quieter time of the year. Only a short flight from Newcastle and fairly cheap (as long as you don't mind putting your trust in Ryanair!) it is the perfect city break!

Have you ever been to Dublin?  I'd love to hear about your experiences.

A Weekend in Dublin

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