Wednesday 28 February 2018

My February Days

I have spent the majority of this month gazing out of the window lusting for Spring. Every time the sun made an appearance I found myself lost in a world of short sleeves, pink blossom and skipping lambs. I know you shouldn't wish your life away but I have to say I'm very thankful February is over and that we can start looking forward to the lighter months. Here are a few things that happened in February that I didn't share on the blog.

Proven on the Tyne

This isn't the first time I've raved about Proven Doughnuts and if you haven't tried them yet you really need to ASAP! There's really no excuse now as they are popping up all over the city, their most recent appearance being at the weekly Quayside Market. I made it to the Market last weekend for my doughnut fix and was surprised by the amount of food stalls there now are along the Tyne on a Sunday. It's bigger and better than ever and I need to make a proper visit soon.

My February Days - Proven Doughnuts

Cheeky Nandos

Help! I think we might have a problem. This month Simon and I have found ourselves in Nandos almost every weekend (I'm pretty sure I've been 5 times this month!) My lovely followers on Instagram have been sharing their favourite dishes which has been the perfect excuse for me to keep returning and trying more of the menu. My current favourite? Halloumi and Mushroom Wrap (with pineapple), Super Grain and then pinching some of Simon's chips! Please let me know your favourite orders, I need an excuse to carry on going in March!

My February Days - Nandos


I can't really talk about February without mentioning Valentines can I? Love it or loathe it, it's pretty hard to escape and like every other city in the country Newcastle was awash with pink love hearts and red roses (how gorgeous is this window display at O'Brien's Loft opposite Central Station? Beautiful! Our Valentines was pretty low key, we sat on the sofa and watched J-Lo in Maid in Manhattan after wasting a good hour of the evening hunting through Netflix. Simon bought me a beautiful Jo Malone candle, he picked out the scent himself and he was pretty chuffed with himself, rightly so - I love it!

My February Days - OBriens Loft Newcastle

We Blog North

It's not often you'll find me sitting in a bar on a Sunday afternoon, I'm definitely a homebody who likes to recharge ahead of a new week but how could I resist meeting the lovely ladies from We Blog North.  We Blog North is a blogging network group originally based in Manchester but now spreading their wings to involve all content creators around the North. It was so lovely to spend an afternoon with other bloggers and, of course, work my way through a few cocktails on the impressive Alchemist bar menu!

My February Days - We Blog North

Colourful Lunches at Aurora

I popped out for lunch with my lovely friend Nyomi this month, as she had some free time away from her kids I insisted that she pick our venue and was delighted when she opted for Aurora Kitchen. Isn't it great when you're trying to be healthy and you're dining with a friend who is doing the same. I went for this beautiful rainbow salad and it kept me full all afternoon.

My February Days - Aurora Kitchen

Wedding Dress Window Shopping

I love looking at wedding dresses and despite already being married I don't think I'll ever stop having a good nose through bridal shop windows if I ever happen to stroll past one. Unfortunately the guys at Si Bridal will probably be banning me from their windows soon because I can't help but stop every time I walk by, their new home is stunning!  Just looking at those dresses!

My February Days - Si Bridal

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

Monday 26 February 2018

Snowdrops at Wallington, Northumberland

You may remember last year when my hunt for snowdrops had me tricking Simon into driving over the border to Scotland to check out the impressive snowdrop display at Floor's Castle.  Much to his relief, this year I decided to plan a snowdrop expedition far closer to home and one that used our much loved National Trust memberships.  The snowdrops at Wallington in Northumberland are supposed to be some of the best in the North East and with some unexpected February sunshine putting in an appearance yesterday it seemed like the ideal time to go on adventure.

Snowdrops at Wallington, Northumberland
I have to say that the National Trust properties in the North East really do spoil us with their beautiful displays of seasonal flowers and we're very lucky to have an impressive collection of snowdrops right on our doorstep.  Since 2015, visitors to Wallington have been invited to help keep the beautiful snowdrop display thriving by planting over 600,000 snowdrop bulbs, ensuring that each year we are greeted with the most beautiful display of white flowers.

Snowdrops at Wallington National Trust, Northumberland

As soon as we near the end of February I love to see snowdrops, for me it's the promise that Winter is almost over and Spring is ready to put in an appearance. Gone are the dark evenings and cold days, making way to a new start with beautiful flowers and sunnier skies. My first snowdrop spot of the year is always a special moment.

Snowdrops Wallington National Trust

You'll find most of the snowdrops at Wallington in the East Wood, which was great news for us as it's a part of the grounds that we were yet to discover. We were impressed with the amount of beautiful woodland there is to explore and we've already decided we want to plan a return trip in the Spring.

It wasn't long before we started seeing the little patches of tiny snowdrops, their brilliant white petals beaming out between the crispy brown leaves on the woodland floor.

Snowdrops Wallington National Trust - Robin
The stunning trail of flowers guided us along the paths between the trees and we strolled in happy silence stopping every now and again to appreciate the pretty little flowers. This is the kind of day that was made for a Sunday, absolute bliss!

Turning the corner we soon discovered some even more impressive snowdrops, Eddie Glew of Bilthfield Willowcrafts has created this breathtaking snowdrop sculpture out of willow. It took him 200 hours to complete and stands 3 metres tall above. A beautiful celebration to the wonderful snowdrops we have at Wallington.

Snowdrops Wallington National Trust - Sculpture

Of course, every great National Trust adventure has to involve a little visit to the tea room and we were in desperate need of warming up after our stroll in the bracing Winter breeze. The Clocktower Cafe is always a great treat in the colder months as they have a lovely warm fire at the back of the tea room and plenty of delicious cakes on the counter.  We both opted for a slab of Victoria Sponge with a pot of tea to share and it wasn't long before our bellies were warm again.

Snowdrops Wallington National Trust - Tea Room
I waited for my husband to stuff a particularly large piece of cake into his mouth before casually telling him about all the plans I have for next month. Snowdrop season might be almost over, but Daffodils are still to come, he didn't object, just finished his cake silently and rolled his eyes at me.

Find Wallington at:

Nr Morpeth
NE61 4AR

Thursday 22 February 2018

Brunch at Flat White Kitchen, Durham

I honestly don't know why I'm writing this blog post. I'm pretty sure that everybody in the North East knows about how great the brunch is at Flat White Kitchen in Durham, you hardly need me to tell you about it. Probably the most photographed breakfast in the region, if you've not heard of it you've possibly been living under a rock.

But for the small amount of people who are yet to visit Flat White Kitchen (I can hardly judge when I've only just made it there myself!), I thought I'd share my recent brunch visit, just to show you why it's won over hoards of breakfast fans since opening its doors in 2016.

Flat White Kitchen is the kind of place where you need to turn up early to be able to get yourself a table. From the minute their doors swing open the place is heaving with eager foodies and instagram lovers, all wanting to indulge in mountains of eggs and pancakes whilst taking photos of their food.

Brunch at Flat White Kitchen, Durham

So I found myself power walking the cold streets of Durham on Saturday morning with my brunch loving friend Sarah, desperately trying to get ourselves to Flat White Kitchen for their doors opening at 9:00 am. We got there at 9:05 am and just missed out on the last table (that's how popular their breakfasts are!) We were lucky to be the first in the queue for available seats, meaning a warm wait indoors (perfectly positioned in front of the cake counter!) - 10 minutes later and we would have joined the masses already lining the streets waiting for a table.

In no time at all a table was ready for us and we made our way upstairs to the cutest little room full of potted plants, exposed brick, wooden tables and fresh Spring flowers, it's no surprise that Flat White is one of the most popular Instagram spots in the North East.  A doll's house of hidden rooms and cute corners I had to stop myself running around with my camera taking photographs of everything (even the toilet with its beautiful stone walls and candles was begging for a photo!)

Flat White Kitchen, Durham
Important things first we needed hot drinks to warm our hands and knowing that Flat White Kitchen use the very best local suppliers (Ringtons and Ouseburn Coffee Co) I knew I was going to be in for a treat. I opted for a Latte which was perfect presented with latte art displayed on the top of my cup. It was delicious and went down a treat, my only complaint was that it was so small!  A couple of sips and it was gone!  When I'm sleepy and cold on a Saturday morning I need a bucket full of coffee not a thimble full!

Flat White Kitchen, Durham - Coffee
Sarah opted for a Chai Latte that was served in a lovely mug that I instantly wanted to sneak away into my  handbag! I couldn't resist sticking my nose in for a good sniff (I am such a lovely friend), there's just something so comforting about the delicious smell of chai and cinnamon on a cold Winter's morning.

Flat White Kitchen, Durham - Chai Latte
Turning our attention to the breakfast menu and I realised pretty quickly that tough decisions were going to need to be made. There were so many dishes I wanted to try I was quite tempted to just settle myself down for the morning and work my way through, they wouldn't want our table back any time soon would they?

I was so tempted by the delicious sounding French Toast with Roasted Plums, Almonds and Mascarpone and the Baked Eggs with Local Chorizo and Tomato Ragout on Ciabatta sounded divine, but the dishes that really caught my attention were the famous Flat White Kitchen pancake stacks!

Flat White Kitchen, Durham - Menu

I opted for the Buttermilk Pancakes served with Mango Compote and Whipped Coconut Cream (for those not allergic to nuts it also comes with Pistachio & Lime Sherbert) (£9.95).  Full of weekend naughtiness I ordered the full stack and I knew it was the right decision as soon as my breakfast arrived in front of me.

Flat White Kitchen, Durham - Pancake Stack
Oh wow! I should have worn stretchy pants!

The ultimate pancake stack of my dreams, they were thick and fluffy and absolutely covered in delicious sticky Mango Compote. Why can't every breakfast be this good?

Sarah decided to join my pancake club and ordered herself the Buttermilk Pancakes and Maple Syrup with Bacon (£10.90). Committing to the full stack she tackled her pancake mountain like a pro!

Flat White Kitchen, Durham - Pancakes

We realised pretty quickly that any plans we'd had to enjoy cake later in the afternoon (oh how silly we were!) were going to be cancelled. Flat White Kitchen pancake stacks are very indulgent and incredibly filling and definitely keep you going for the whole day.

As we made our way back out, carefully nursing our pancake bellies, there was a sizeable queue already snaking its way down Saddler Street and after our pancake feasting I knew exactly why! Flat White Kitchen really do serve up one of the best brunches in the North East.

Find Flat White Kitchen at:

40 Saddler Street

07936 449 291


Tuesday 20 February 2018

Horton Grange Country House Hotel, Northumberland - A Winter Staycation

By the end of January I was fed up of looking through the empty pages of our diary and decided we needed to make an immediate plan to cheer ourselves up. Remembering that we had a voucher for a staycation hanging about, it seemed like the ideal time to book ourselves into somewhere beautiful and relaxing. Not wanting to travel too far we decided on Horton Grange, a country house hotel in Northumberland a few miles from Newcastle.

We have visited Horton Grange once before when Simon treated me to a birthday meal there but it was our first time staying over and we were keen to see what the hotel had to offer for a Winter staycation.

Horton Grange Country House Hotel - A Winter Staycation

Horton Grange Country House Hotel is a privately owned Grade II listed building with nine ensuite bedrooms, a restaurant serving up delicious meals and a lounge complete with open fires and the all important afternoon tea menus!

We checked in on a very wet Saturday afternoon, scurrying from the car with our luggage at top speed to avoid a soaking, it was, without a doubt, the perfect kind of weather for a staycation. Nothing beats shutting yourself away in a beautiful hotel where you can stay cosy and dry whilst watching the rain out of the window - am I right?

Horton Grange Country House Hotel

We were shown to our room by the very lovely Deputy General Manager, Mo who helpfully picked up my bag and carried it up the stairs, despite my protests (I always worry people will judge my heavy luggage for a one night stay!). 

Staying in the Winter definitely paid off as the hotel was relatively quiet which meant an upgrade to the Alnwick room, a beautiful Executive room that we later discovered is often used as the bridal suite.

Horton Grange Country House Hotel - The Alnwick Room
As soon as the door swung open I was mesmerised by the beautiful features in our room. The dark wooden wardrobe reminded me of the antique furniture that my Grandparents used to have in their home and the ornate mirror and intricate carvings on the headboard of the bed all took my breath away as I explored our home for the night.

The bed was the most beautiful feature with its stunning headboard and shaggy cushions (I immediately decided that I must get shaggy cushions for our sofas at home!), it took all of our willpower not to just throw our luggage on the floor and jump straight in for a nap.

Horton Grange Country House Hotel - Executive Room
As Simon settled down on the comfy chair for some laptop time I was appreciating the little North East touches to our room including locally produced Ringtons tea bags and biscuits (my favourite) and a great selection of local magazines (anyone else addicted to Appetite magazine?) Just as I settled down with an issue of Living North there was a knock on the door and we were presented with a complimentary food platter of fruit and chocolates and some glasses of fizz. What a lovely surprise and such a nice gesture!

Horton Grange Country House Hotel - Staycation

Horton Grange Hotel
After a few hours chilling we decided to head downstairs for a little explore and found our way into the lounge that was filled with huge squishy sofas and open fires - the perfect little Winter escape. A couple of people had already settled themselves down for the afternoon, quietly chatting and enjoying an afternoon tea.  Just as we began to get food envy we were surprised to discover that Horton Grange were treating us to an afternoon tea of our own.

We had quite a shock, and were immediately glad that we'd worn stretchy pants and hadn't eaten too much during the day - an unexpected afternoon tea was quite the treat! We settled ourselves down on a sofa and started chatting afternoon teas with some lovely ladies next to us. We shared our favourite spots and enjoyed discussing the best scones in the North East - they were very keen to let us know that the Horton Grange afternoon tea was one of the best they had tried so we knew we were in for a treat.

Horton Grange Country House Hotel - Afternoon Tea

With dinner booked only a few hours later we decided we'd better pace ourselves and slowly tackled the sandwiches (the mini cream cheese bagel was divine!) before moving up to the scones, deciding immediately that we'd best not eat three each or we'd never make it to our evening meal!

What a treat getting three scones on an afternoon tea! Perfect if you can never quite decide which you like the best, at Horton Grange you get a cheese, plain and fruit with your choice of butter, jam and cream. It took a lot of willpower not to eat every crumb, they tasted so good.

Horton Grange Country House Hotel - Afternoon Tea Cakes
The top tier was as pretty as a picture with plenty of colour and delicious looking treats all homemade by the kitchen. Mini carrot and walnut cakes and fruit tartlets, macarons and chocolate choux buns, there was something for every taste and we made sure to try a bite of each before having to admit defeat.

Afternoon Tea at Horton Grange costs £16.95 per person which is a bit of a bargain and if you really fancy pushing the boat out they also offer Prosecco or Champagne as an accompaniment or Gentlemans Afternoon Tea for that important Mr in your life.

As you can imagine we were pretty full after all that food so we headed back upstairs for a little nap. Having a room to retire to after afternoon tea is such a treat and made us wonder if we should always book a room for the night when we're indulging in a cake stand. We had a perfect 2 hour nap and woke up feeling refreshed and just about ready for round two - dinner!

Horton Grange Country House Hotel - Afternoon Tea Stand
We made our way down to the small hotel bar and enjoyed a gin and tonic each (so happy to discover that Horton Grange have our favourite gin, Edinburgh Rhubarb and Ginger) whilst taking a look at the evening menu. Knowing we'd never be able to fit in a Starter we headed straight for the Main Courses where I struggled to make a decision because the restaurant were serving up so many of my favourite foods. How on earth was I supposed to choose between Steamed Seabass with Chilli and Ginger Noodles, Roast Butternut Squash and Wild Mushroom Linguine and Pan Roasted Duck Breast?

In the end I opted for the Duck Breast (£21.50) which came served with Barley Stew, Butternut Squash Puree and Red Pepper Coulis and Simon opted for Roast Rump of Lamb (£22.95) which came with Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, Fine Beans, Tender Stem Broccoli and Red Wine Jus.

We made our way to our table and settled down for the evening. The restaurant was very quiet with only one other couple in the room and with no music playing it was a little awkward to start with, we were whispering our conversations! Luckily just as we polished off the bread basket the music came on and we instantly relaxed, it's amazing how much a little bit of music can change the atmosphere in a room.

Our only disappointment during our meal came at the very start with the bread at our table being a little dry and the cold hard butter impossible to spread on it. I was a little sad as I do love a bread basket (it's the only time I allow myself to truly indulge!). Luckily the appearance of our main course dishes more than made up for it.

Horton Grange Country House Hotel - Restaurant

My Duck Breast was beautifully presented and was cooked to perfection. I'd asked for my meat pink and my knife slid through the meat so effortlessly, I was enjoying every mouthful

Simon's Lamb was equally delicious and despite my bulging belly I managed to enjoy a forkful of meat and a tiny bit of the Rosemary roasted potatoes. I'd never order lamb when I'm out as I always worry that the meat will be tough but the dish at Horton Grange was spot on.

Horton Grange Country House Hotel - Evening Meal

Despite having only indulged in afternoon tea a few hours earlier we both managed to leave our plates completely clean. We both loved our meal and couldn't believe that we've never really heard anyone say how great the food is at Horton Grange - maybe it's a very well kept secret?

When it came to desserts my nut allergy meant I had to sit at the sidelines and watch as Simon ordered the Vanilla Parfait with Peanut Brittle and Honeycomb (£5.95). Despite being pretty full he decided that he could probably manage something light.

Horton Grange Country House Hotel - Dessert

Just as I was thinking to myself that I was quite thankful that the desserts weren't suitable for me, our waiter appeared with a special dessert that he'd created just for me guaranteed to be nut free. A beautiful plate of fruit, honeycomb and chocolate I was so touched by this lovely gesture.

We fell into bed that night with very fully tummies and the overindulgence meant that we were fast asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow and we didn't stir until morning - bliss!

Our room felt extra cosy when we woke in the morning and it was such a struggle to pull ourselves out of bed, I think if it hadn't been for the promise of breakfast we'd probably still be there now! We enjoyed lovely hot showers although I was a little disappointed by the complimentary toiletries available in the room. We had a small shower gel and some shampoo and that was it - I hadn't packed any moisturiser as I usually just slather myself in whatever is available in the hotel room.

Horton Grange

Breakfast was served in the restaurant and we were invited to help ourselves to as much as we wanted from a table laden with continental goodies including jugs of fruit juice, cereals and mini pastries. Despite knowing we were going to be ordering a cooked breakfast we couldn't resist grabbing a couple of cinnamon swirls and danish pastries each. They looked too good to leave behind!

The Cooked Breakfast selection offered a great range of dishes including The Horton Grange Breakfast (the most fully loaded English Breakfast I've ever seen), Eggs Benedict, Porridge and Toasted Teacakes. I was so tempted by the Drop Scones which came with a choice of Honey, Fruit Compote or Lemon Butter but in the end decided that I should be sensible and go for something light.

I was a little worried I was being a complete pain when I asked if I could create my own breakfast but the chef was only too happy to oblige my craving for salmon, scrambled egg and a couple of round of toast.

Horton Grange Country House Hotel - Breakfast

Throughout our stay we were so impressed by how lovely the staff at Horton Grange were, every guest was well looked after and everyone in the hotel was so happy and friendly - it felt like a real home away from home and we can't wait to return soon. With a full range of events throughout the year I think we know where we'll be heading next time we're having a date night!

Horton Grange Country House Hotel Northumberland

Find Horton Grange at:

Berwick Hill Road
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE13 6BU

01661 860 686

We paid for own accommodation and evening meal.  Horton Grange surprised us with a complimentary afternoon tea when we checked in (they must've heard we're huge fans!)

Friday 16 February 2018

Why my Husband will never love Adventures

Something a bit silly for you today to celebrate Valentines Week!

My husband and I are so similar in some ways - we agree on the important things in life, both love movies and are somewhat socially awkward, we are the perfect team! However, there is one thing that we will always disagree on and that's adventures!

I love nothing more than grabbing my camera, jumping in the car and heading out into the countryside for an explore. Long walks, seaside views, beautiful flowers - being out in the sunshine makes my heart sing and never fails to put a smile on my face. My husband however would much rather stay at home and spend his downtime indoors chilling out and switching off. Obviously married life is about compromise and we try and do a bit of both to keep us happy, but I have to say when it comes to adventures poor Simon is pushed way out of his comfort zone.

My husband is a walking, talking disaster zone when we go on day trips, and here are just some of the reasons why he will never love adventures.

The Sun

Whilst the sun makes most of us happy it turns my husband into the Hulk. He hates low Winter sun that gets in his eyes when he's driving and hates having to change his glasses when it's sunny. No matter how much sunblock he puts on he will always end the day with angry red sunburn. Simon and the sun are not friends!

The Insects

One of my funniest memories of Simon on an adventure was during a 6 mile walk round Gibside when a fly insisted on following him for the entire hike. I have no idea why, but no matter how much he ran away from it, how many times he shouted at it or flicked it away it came back and it stayed with him all day. The angrier he got, the more I laughed ... I am so mean!

The Puddles

If there's a puddle to be found you can guarantee that Simon will put his foot in it. I'll usually be skipping off ahead somewhere when I'll suddenly hear a "Oh crap" behind me, only to turn round and see my poor husband with his foot stuck in some kind of muddy hole. It'll inevitably soak through his shoes, make his feet soggy and he'll spend the rest of the day squelching behind me with a scowl on his face.

The Road Trips

If Simon could limit the journey time of our adventures he'd probably cap it at 20 minutes, he is not a big fan of going on long car trips. So I usually have to trick him into going places, like the time I somehow managed to get him to drive to Scotland and see some snowdrops (still not sure if he's forgiven me for that!) I also have a knack of taking us to places down tiny country roads (where we will inevitably get stuck in some mud) or taking us to places with limited car parking spaces.

The Animals

Although Simon loves animals he does seem to attract the wrong kind of attention when we're out on adventures - like the time that he got chased by a lamb at Wallington after I befriended it and it decided Simon was its Mam. He is forever telling me off for getting too close to things and I have to admit that most of the time when I ignore him it's him that ends up getting chased or attacked!

I'm pretty sure that my adventures annoy the hell out of him and it's pretty amazing he still continues to let me take charge of our weekend plans. Who knows what messes I'll get him into this year!

Thursday 15 February 2018

My Instagram Husband

Behind every great Instagram addict there is, without a doubt, a reluctant Instagram Husband. Whether it's your best friend, long suffering girlfriend or your tech phobe Mum, it's pretty impossible to survive on Instagram without your assistant to help you out.

My Instagram Husband is my real life husband and if ever there were grounds for divorce I'm pretty sure putting up with being my photography assistant is probably one of them. Behind every one of my perfectly arranged Instagram photos there is a story of frustration, arguments and tears. My poor Instagram Husband has been through it all, so today, to celebrate Valentines Week I thought I'd share some funny stories behind some of my most popular photographs.

I think you'll all agree that my Instagram Husband is an unsung hero!

My Instagram HusbandThe Photograph 

A lazy Saturday morning at the garden centre enjoying a little potter about followed by a delicious scone with jam and cream.

The Reality

Having purchased my scone I ran with my tray across the tea room to get back to the table to allow plenty of time to arrange everything to make "the perfect Instagram shot". Unfortunately perfection is not usually created that fast so poor Instagram Husband (and Instagram Mother in Law!) had to wait patiently holding their heavy trays while I took photos of my scone. I didn't want them ruining my background by taking a seat!

The Photograph 

Feeling excited for Summer after discovering the amazing new holiday pieces in Primark.  

The Reality

Deciding the display in Primark wasn't quite right for my photograph I decided to rearrange the store a little. That lovely bag? Yep it was originally on a different display. I have never seen my Instagram Husband move so fast. He was mortified and immediately left me to it!

The Photograph 

Not in the mood for cooking so popped out for a quick and easy Maccy Ds - the hassle free tea of champions!

The Reality 

I'm sure I don't have to explain to you how embarrassing it is trying to enjoy your Big Mac while your wife is creating the perfect McDonalds flat lay on the table. Normal people don't really Instagram their fast food but unfortunately I'm not normal! Probably one of the most embarrassing photographs I have ever created for Instagram, my poor Instagram Husband wanted to hide under the table.

The Photograph 

Beautiful day out on the North East coast enjoying some well deserved ice cream from one of our favourite little shops.

The Reality 

Left my Instagram Husband in the queue for his ice cream as I needed to run super speed to somewhere photogenic to snap my cone before it started to melt down my head. Cue a very literal melt down when the photo went wrong because the lighting was too harsh. In my my mad dash to the sand my flake fell out.

The Photograph 

Sunday strolls in sunny Whitley Bay - sharing our nice chilled out afternoon on the North East coast.

The Reality  

Desperate to show off my amazing new Primark jacket I marched up and down this path at least 20 times making my Instagram Husband take endless photographs for me. Wanting to get the perfect shot of the flamingo and St Mary's Lighthouse it took us a lot of shots to get this one and I'm very surprised my Instagram Husband didn't chuck my phone in the sea!

The Photograph 

Loving my new River Island bag, the perfect Valentino dupe for Summer.

The Reality 

Instagram Husband trying to drive the car while I'm taking endless photographs of my lap attempting to capture the perfect picture as we're driving round roundabouts and battling motorways. He really needed me to help with directions but I was too busy loving the amazing natural lighting to hear him.

The Photograph

After a meeting to plan my wedding I can't wait to share my beautiful feather filled balloon.

The Reality 

Got so annoyed at my Instagram Husband when he couldn't read my mind and understand exactly what shot I wanted. Half of my body, no face and balloon in shot - how hard can it be? Impossible to explain, I almost made him stand and hold the damn thing just to get the photograph that I wanted.


Being the smug couple wandering through the beautiful pink blossoms with our wedding photographer celebrating our engagement.

The Reality 

Made wedding photographer and Instagram Husband wait whilst I took photos of my own feet in the pretty blossom because I couldn't waste the opportunity for an Instagram shot. Perhaps took a little longer than I should and forgot for a moment that getting married and practicing our photographs was a little more important than my Instagram.

So next time you're liking one of my Instagram photos, spare a little thought for my poor Instagram Husband.

I hope this post gave you a bit of a chuckle, if you're an Instagram Diva like me make sure you let me know some of the demands you've made of your Instagram Husband!

Tuesday 13 February 2018

Northern things my Husband's taught me

Northern things my husband's taught me!  For my Geordie friends I should probably rename this but, without starting the whole "Manchester isn't in the North" debate again, this title had a nice ring to it so we're sticking with it!

Being a southerner married to a man from Manchester provides endless giggles for me and my husband. Despite having been with Simon for many years, I still find myself questioning his weird words and odd sayings. Sometimes I honestly don't have a clue what he's talking about and life is like one big Peter Kay sketch or an episode of Corrie!

So today, for a bit of fun, I thought I'd share with you, northern things my husband's taught me! 

Not wanting to go all Game of Thrones on you, but falling in love with a man from the North definitely changed me.

Northern things my husband's taught me

Pass the Pot Towel Love!

Eh? What on earth is a pot towel? For those of us not well versed in Mancunian, apparently in Manchester dishes are called pots, therefore a tea towel becomes a pot towel! I kinda love it and now in our house we "wash the pots" after our meals, it's a northern thing that I've definitely got on board with.

I'm Sweating Cobs!

Pretty sure he got this one from Peter Kay and I'm yet to work out if real life people actually say this? When I first met Simon he always used to claim he was "sweating cobs" every time he got a little hot. He doesn't really say it so much now but only because I love it so much it's become my saying, I've stolen it off him and I just can't get enough.

When is a Roll a Barm?

It's quite puzzling how many different words there are for a bread roll! Simon calls them "barms" which I love, especially as no one up here understands what on earth he's asking for! In an effort to make myself feel a little bit more northern I now like to call them barms too although it doesn't sound so great in my southern accent.

Northern things my husband's taught me

A Chippy Tea

Chippy teas don't really exist where I'm from but in the north they're a way of life and I now truly appreciate how special it is on a Friday night to treat ourselves to a bag of chips, covered in gravy of course! The rumour is true, you really can't get gravy in chip shops down south!

Extra Gravy

Whilst we're on the subject of gravy my husband has taught me that up north everything is far better with gravy. If your plate isn't completely swimming then something has gone very wrong. One of my favourite northern moments was when I was having dinner with Simon and his Mum and they both poured an entire jug of gravy over a slice of bread.  Wow!

Northern Families

I LOVE Simon's family and am so happy that I now get to call them my own. They are so kind and warm and welcomed me with open arms from the second I walked into their lives. It's true that people in the north are friendly and I feel very lucky that I'm now surrounded by my northern family.

Northern things my husband's taught me

If any of you are a southerner living in the north I'd love to hear your stories!

All photos in this post were taken by our wedding photographer Katie Bryam ( Please do not use any of these images without her permission. 


Monday 12 February 2018

10 Romantic Dates in the North East for Valentine's Day

It's become somewhat of a tradition for me to put together a little guide every February and share the most romantic dates in the North East for Valentine's Day. Despite not really celebrating the day ourselves (we'll more than likely just be snuggled up on the sofa at home with a takeaway) I know that some people love to go all out.

So for those of you that love to be showered in romance, here are a few places in the North East that scream romance!

10 Romantic Dates in the North East for Valentines Day

Copyright Katie Byram Photography

Enjoy a Carpet Picnic

Picnics are so romantic but obviously February isn't the best time to be rolling about in the grass with your love (brrrr!) so how about planning a picnic for two in your lounge? Close the curtains, light some candles, spread a blanket out on the floor and impress your date with a carpet of delicious scran. I recommend treating yourself to some fancy "picky bits" from the Fenwick's Food Hall which will make your carpet picnic one to remember.

Cocktail Night at The Botanist

There really is something for everyone at The Botanist and if your other half prefers downing the pints to sipping on cocktails then The Botanist is the perfect place to head for your Valentine's date. Their Botany and Beer menu offers great cocktails for your beer loving partner, leaving you free to guzzle your way through as many Botanist Pornstars as you can manage.

Romantic Dates for Valentines Day - The Botanist

Candlelit Romance at Cote Brasserie

The way to my heart is definitely through my belly and nothing screams romance more than an evening of delicious French food. Newly opened restaurant Cote Brasserie is in the heart of Newcastle and is the perfect way to wine and dine with your love. Their special Saint-Valentin menu looks so good!

A Weekend Away at The Lord Crewe Arms

The Lord Crewe Arms became one of my biggest obsessions last year and for good reason, it is one of the most romantic places we have ever stayed. Escape to the Northumbrian moors and snuggle up in your cosy room for two before sneaking off to the Crypt bar for some fizz followed by platefuls of delicious food created by chef Simon Hicks.

Romantic Dates for Valentines Day - Lord Crewe Arms

Indulge in a His n Hers Spa Day at Rockliffe Hall

We've enjoyed many spa days in the North East but the one that really stands out for us is Rockliffe Hall. The luxury 5 star hotel just outside Darlington is the perfect spot for couples wanting to enjoy a romantic day together, there are plenty of packages to choose from so make sure you make a day of it and enjoy some food too, the experience is worth doing properly!

Adventure to High Force Waterfall

There's something quite romantic about a waterfall, maybe it's because they're not something you come across too often. We enjoyed a lovely hike to High Force Waterfall last year and getting lost in the North Pennines is a pretty romantic way to spend the day. With plenty of peaceful spots for a sit down, you're guaranteed plenty of alone time out in the countryside.

Romantic Dates for Valentines Day - High Force Waterfall
Watch the Sunrise at the Coast

Although dragging yourself out of bed to go and sit outside in the freezing cold may seem like a bit of a mission, the sunrises that we see here in the North East make it truly worth it. If you're feeling extra brave and very romantic take your date to the coast where you can snuggle up in blankets with a flask of something hot and enjoy the beautiful pink and orange skies (before heading off for a slap up breakfast of course!).

Enjoy Oysters and Champagne at Saltwater Fish Company

I have to admit I do find it hard to believe that Oysters are the food of love because personally I'm not a fan. But if you fancy treating yourself to some Oysters and Champagne this Valentines head to The Saltwater Fish Company in Fenwick's Food Hall for the ultimate afternoon of romance (don't worry there's plenty of other delicious dishes to try if Oysters aren't your thing)

Romantic Dates for Valentines Day - Saltwater Fish Company
Sail on a Swan at Saltwell Park

The swans at Saltwell Park will always feel very romantic to me as it's one of the first dates that Simon and I ever had in the North East. Giddy with our new romance we had an amazing time sailing around on the lake, trying not to collide with any ducks, taking selfies and getting to know each other. The perfect idea for a first Valentine's Day together.

Sit on top of the World at Roseberry Topping 

Believe me nothing brings you closer to your love that struggling your way up Roseberry Topping! Although not the most challenging hike in the world, those of us who aren't experienced hikers certainly need a little bit of team work to combat the top of the hill. The view from the top is breathtaking and very romantic, chatting about life, love and the world is all that more special from the peak of Roseberry Topping!

Romantic Dates for Valentines Day - Roseberry Topping

For further inspiration you can check out my previous Valentines guides here and here.

What are you planning this Valentine's Day?
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