Friday, 20 April 2018

Liz Earle at John Lewis, Newcastle - Get The Glow!

I grew up with eczema. Really bad eczema! Eczema so awful that even now, my parents talk about how baby Chloe cried in pain all night every night and they got no sleep! Thinking back, my skin problems affected me a lot growing up - chlorine was so painful on my skin that I never learnt to swim, other girls at Brownies didn't want to hold my hands because they "felt disgusting" and my poor Mum spent a fortune trying lotions and potions to soothe my poor red skin.

And I think that's why I fell in love with Liz Earle, a lady who herself has battled eczema and became inspired to create a skincare range that she could use without irritating her skin and could be used by people of all skin types who want a simple, yet effective skincare routine.

Liz Earle at John Lewis, Newcastle - Get The Glow!

You may have noticed that Liz Earle don't go for the heavy marketing campaigns - you wont find any world famous actresses pushing their products on TV or glossy spreads in the beauty magazines. They rely simply on the great quality of their products and working with their customers and fans to help spread the word. As soon as you start using Liz Earle you realise why they don't need to plough a load of money into advertising, the products speak for themselves.

And the very best thing? Liz Earle is a luxury skincare brand that doesn't cost the earth. Far more affordable than their competitors I love that when I run out of Cleanse and Polish I can just happily stroll into John Lewis in Eldon Square and pick myself up a new bottle without having to save my pennies.

You might be forgiven for thinking that after that rather gushing introduction that I am a Liz Earle skincare expert. I'm really not! In fact I'm yet to get much beyond their iconic Cleanse and Polish (the product that started it for most of us!). I use it every day and have so many backups lying around the bathroom that my husband is pretty sick of tripping over them! I swear by it and am more than a little hooked on buying their limited edition bottles that come in the most delicious smelling scents.

Liz Earle at John Lewis, Newcastle - Get The Glow!

So really it was about time that I tried out some more of their products with a little introduction to the wonderful world of Liz Earle at the John Lewis store in Newcastle. After quizzing the ladies behind the counter for a while about how to cleanse (turns out I'd been using a little too much product on my cloth!) they very kindly took me through a skincare routine, showing me how to apply each product and the benefits of the ingredients that are used in each one.

Now at the age of 30 something, I feel like a proper grownup with a skin care routine that actually has me looking forward to the part of the day when I take my makeup off. After my Cleanse and Polish I've just started to use the Instant Boost Skin Tonic, which is the first truly gentle tonic that I've used. I've always been too terrified a toner in the past as they can be so harsh but the Liz Earle tonic is really gentle and moisturising.

Now that I'm getting a little older I've also decided that I need to take a little more care of my eye area so have invested in the Liz Earle Eyebright, a soothing eye lotion perfect for my tired puffy eyes.

Liz Earle at John Lewis, Newcastle - Get The Glow!

So those are a few Liz Earle products that I'm planning on trying out this month and adding to my routine but I'd love to hear what your favourites are and what I should try next!

If you're a new or old fan of Liz Earle the lovely ladies at the John Lewis counter in Eldon Square would love to see you!

Find Liz Earle at John Lewis at:

Eldon Square

I was invited to a bloggers event by the Liz Earle team at John Lewis but chose to share this post with you all as I'm a huge fan of the products.


Thursday, 19 April 2018

Afternoon Tea at VIP Teas, High Spen

A few years ago my friend Lisa introduced me to VIP Teas in High Spen. We enjoyed the most wonderful morning of homemade cake and delicious scones and I vowed to one day return for their afternoon tea .. how on earth did it take me so long to keep my word?

Last weekend we had friends from the south visiting us and, eager to impress them with the finest North East food and hospitality, I remembered VIP Teas and how wonderful it was and decided now was the time to finally book in for the afternoon tea. If you're going to show off to visitors it's definitely best to do it surrounded by homemade cake that they can't get outside of the North East!

Afternoon Tea at VIP Teas, High Spen

VIP Teas is in the little village of High Spen near Rowlands Gill (very conveniently close to two of our favourite places - Gibside and The Metrocentre!) A cute and friendly tea room run by locals and with the most amazing warm welcome from the second you stroll in. If you love tea rooms extra twee with brightly coloured table clothes, vintage china and bunting then this is your kind of place. It's also worth noting that the cake counter at VIP Teas is one of the most impressive in the North East, it is completely covered in cake, meaning that you're highly likely to end up going for several slices because it's impossible to choose just one.

Afternoon Tea at VIP Teas has to be ordered in advance with a £10.00 per person deposit payable at the time of booking. Completely fair when you consider that all of their afternoon teas are made fresh to order. Our tea cost £15.95 per person which included a sandwich of our choice (we all really loved being able to choose exactly what we wanted), two sweet scones each and a selection of homemade minature cakes.

Afternoon Tea at VIP Teas, High Spen - Scones

I really love the moment when your afternoon tea arrives at your table and your eyes bulge at the sight of it and VIP Teas really gave us that moment (and some!) the stand was completely covered in cakes, so much so that our sandwiches were delivered on a different plate. Our spread of food covered the table and being "that annoying person" I made everyone sit on their hands whilst I lovingly photographed it.

We'd each picked a different sandwich for our platter , a great idea if you're eating with fellow foodies who don't mind mixing and matching sandwiches so you get to try a few different fillings. I just about managed to convince Simon to swap one of my Tuna Mayonnaise and Cucumbers for one of his Chicken and Sweet Chilli.  The bread was fresh and squishy (heaven!) and the fillings so plentiful I accidentally dropped a rather huge chunk of chicken into my friend's handbag (sorry Jen!)

Afternoon Tea at VIP Teas, High Spen - Cake Stand
It's not often that we have afternoon tea with another couple, and it was the perfect way to catch up and relax. We happily chatted between our tiers meaning that our afternoon tea lasted a good few hours - far more enjoyable than when Simon and I go alone and end up woolfing through an entire afternoon tea in around 30 minutes!

Next up, the mini scones! We had two each which were served with the largest dishes of jam and cream you've ever seen alongside some fresh strawberries which was a lovely added touch. Before our afternoon tea had arrived we'd had a rather long conversation about how annoying it is when places claim to serve "clotted cream" only for a dish of something suspiciously squirty looking arriving. The cream at VIP Teas was perfect! So thick that we could stand the spoon up in it, glooping it onto my scone involved expert afternoon tea skills and it was so good on the scones!

Afternoon Tea at VIP Teas, High Spen - Jam and Cream

We paused a while before tackling the cakes, taking them in order of what looked the lightest first (a good afternoon tea tip if you don't want to get full too early!). We started off with a slice of moist ginger cake, before arriving at the most amazingly fluffy victoria sponge before ending our afternoon with caramel shortbread and gooey brownies.

Our afternoon tea at VIP Teas was faultless and one of the best I've ever had (and we all know how many I've indulged in over the years!)

Make sure you let me know your favourite afternoon tea!

Afternoon Tea at VIP Teas

Find VIP Teas at:

7 - 9 Ramsey Street
High Spen
Rowlands Gill
NE39 2EL

01207 545180


Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Legally Blonde at the Sunderland Empire

Have you ever been obsessed with a musical? So obsessed that you know all the lines, own the soundtrack and whenever you watch it on stage you have to stop yourself leaping into the aisles to sing along (no one likes an out of tune wannabe sitting next to them in the theatre!) This week my obsession, Legally Blonde, arrives at Sunderland Empire and I admit that despite having seen it in the West End at least five times I am thrilled that it has arrived in the North East.

Of course obsessions are best shared so last night I decided to share Legally Blonde with my husband Simon and we set off for Sunderland Empire, me feeling slightly nervous that he wouldn't love the show as much as I wanted him to!

Based on the book and popular film starring Reese Witherspoon, Legally Blonde tells the story of popular sorority girl Elle Woods whose main focus in life is to wear as much pink as possible and marry long term boyfriend Warner. Living in a happy bubble Elle lives her life from party to party until one day the love of her life dumps her for not being serious enough.  Determined to win him back Elle follows him to Harvard Law School but can a girl who's always cared more about her hair and nails than school really make it as a law student?

So does Legally Blonde work well on stage as a musical? Hell yes! Once you've seen the story on stage it's hard to imagine that it ever wasn't a musical! As soon as the opening bars of "Omigod You Guys" start you know the songs will be stuck in your head for days to come.  The songs are catchy and each one is quite the performance, I challenge you not to have a little dance in your seat at least 10 times!

Legally Blonde at the Sunderland Empire stars Lucie Jones as Elle Woods and she is fantastic in the role. Her voice gave me tingles and it's crazy to think that this talented lady got booted off the X Factor all those years ago when Simon Cowell chose to save Jedward (yes, seriously!)

Having seen the nation's sweetheart, Sheridan Smith in the lead role many years ago I was a little worried how this latest production would compare but the show is definitely in safe hands with Lucie in the lead role.  Lucie's comedic timing was spot on and the whole audience fell for Elle the second she came on stage.  Biggest applauses of the night went to ex Eastender Rita Simmons in the role of Paulette who did an outstanding vocal in her solo song "Ireland" and Emmerdale's Bill Ward as Professor Callahan got a warm welcome onto the Empire stage.

So what did my husband think of my favourite show? He was won over! You may think that Legally Blonde is best seen with your girlfriends, but thanks to the quick dialogue, witty one liners and jokes aplenty the show really does appeal to all!

The audience at the Empire particularly loved the UPS delivery man who got everyone feeling a little hot under the collar and the all singing and dancing court room scene went down a treat.

Legally Blonde gave me a night of every emotion and I was completely immersed in the story, so much so I was blinking back the tears during the title song "Legally Blonde" and has left me wondering if I can maybe head to Sunderland to see the show again before it finishes!

Legally Blonde is at the Sunderland Empire until Saturday 21 April and tickets start at £15.00 and you can buy yours here.

I was invited to press night of Legally Blonde and was given two complimentary tickets for review purposes. 


Monday, 16 April 2018

The BeautyBAR by Clarins - Fast and Affordable Facials in Fenwick Newcastle

It's thanks to the Beauty Hall in Fenwick Newcastle (somewhere that I spend far too much time strolling around!) that I fell in love with Clarins. Before I stumbled my way towards their counter I was pretty clueless about skincare, in fact I didn't have any kind of routine! Now? They're one of my favourite skincare brands and I would never dream of going to bed without giving my face some TLC (and believe me it's made the world of difference to my skin!)

The Clarins' counter at Fenwick in Newcastle have now launched the BeautyBAR offering speedy, affordable beauty boosting facials and relaxing massages that can easily be fitted around your busy life. Each treatment only takes 30 minutes, making it the perfect lunchtime pick me up, an easy treat to slot in-between running the kids around or before you rush to get the bus home after work.

Clarins invited me to their counter in Fenwick to learn some more and, after a pretty stressful few weeks, I was keen to see if one of their new facials could perform some kind of miracle on my tired dehydrated skin!

The BeautyBAR by Clarins - Fast and Affordable Facials in Fenwick Newcastle

Important things first, you may be thinking that having a facial in the middle of a shop doesn't sound very relaxing, but you may be surprised to hear that Clarins actually have a lovely little haven hidden away from the counter.  If you truly want to escape the hustle and bustle of the shoppers, full length treatments take place in the private rooms of their lovely little spa and the BeautyBAR is tucked away just behind the counter.

The BeautyBAR offers six different treatments (as well as a mens treatment and seasonal specials) to tackle the most common issues that we all face whether it's battling fatigue, de-stressing or rediscovering your glow. Presented with the menu of treatments available I was surprised at how spot on the choice was - the options were clearly explained, perfect for picking something out in a hurry!

I decided to go for the The City Skin Rescue, a deep cleanse and detoxifying facial battling the effects of city grime, stress and late nights - the perfect after work treat! My facial started with a 10 minute consultation where I chatted through my current routine and any skin concerns with my therapist. The products used in the treatment were tailored to me and I was happy to see that some of my current favourites were included.

BeautyBAR by Clarins - Fast and Affordable Facials in Fenwick Newcastle

Then it was time to lie back in the plush chair, shut out the world and enjoy 30 minutes of heaven. My skin was in need of some TLC and the treatment felt so good I think I may have dozed off a few times!

My treatment started with the calming effects of the Toning Lotion with Camomile before being treated to the Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Shea Butter. The Multi-Active face creams were boosted with the Clarins DETOX booster which is now definitely on my shopping list!

As an existing Clarins customer I already have an account set up (if you're new to the brand it's easy to set one up in store at the end of your treatment if you're interested) which meant that my therapist was able to e-mail me a list of all the products used during my facial. With no pressure to buy on the day the list was available for me to look over at my leisure and is now stored against my account if I fancy picking any of the products up from store at a later date.

BeautyBAR Clarins - Fast and Affordable Facials in Fenwick Newcastle

Something tells me it wont be long before I'm back for another treatment!

The BeautyBAR treatments cost £25.00 and are available to book at Fenwick Newcastle by booking online or by calling 0800 036 3558

After my treatment I couldn't resist popping over to the perfume counter for a little spritz of the new Mugler Les Exceptions Collection which is an exclusive to Fenwick Newcastle (we're the only store other than Harrods to stock the fragrances!) Beautifully packaged in the most decadent bottles which come in their own stunning presentation box, each scent is unique and triggered some wonderful memories.

If you love floral perfumes you need to go and have a try of Supra Floral which smells exactly like walking through a beautiful garden on a Summer's day or my personal favourite, Over The Musk, the most beautiful floral woody scent with a hint of black pepper.

Mugler Fenwick Newcastle

Find Fenwick Newcastle at:

39 Northumberland Street

I was invited by Clarins to enjoy a complimentary treatment and receive a bottle of my signature scent in exchange for this honest review. 

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Sunday Lunch at The Lord Crewe Arms, Blanchland

Last year we discovered The Lord Crewe Arms in Blanchland and after enjoying the most amazing supper at The Gatehouse (followed by a dreamy night in one of their beautiful bedrooms) we knew it would only be a matter of time before we returned.

There are so many amazing things about The Lord Crewe Arms to tempt us back, but it was their Sunday lunch that really had my mouth watering. I heard amazing tales of mountains of food, perfect pastry and sharing feasts and I couldn't resist booking a table to see what all the fuss was about.

Sunday lunch at the Lord Crewe Arms is a little different to what you might expect as you share your dishes with the rest of the table. Perfect for an indecisive foodie like me, each table is presented with three starters followed by a platter of three meats and finishing with three desserts - all shared between everyone on the table.

Sunday Lunch Lord Crewe Arms, Blanchland
This is definitely my kind of dining! I always struggle to make a decision when I'm presented with menus and will usually end up with a huge amount of regret when Simon's dish looks better than mine. No chance of that happening at the Lord Crewe Arms, although I was a little worried that sharing with my husband (the lunching champion of the North East!) would be a little stressful. If he didn't leave enough of everything for me, we would certainly end up having a domestic in the middle of the restaurant!

Being early birds we arrived for our lunch at 12:00 pm and were shown to our table. There are so many hidden corners and rooms at the Lord Crewe Arms that you can be served your lunch either downstairs by the huge open fire, in a snug corner of the bar or upstairs in the restaurant. We were upstairs which I'd say in the Summer months is definitely the best option, the views across the Northumbrian hills are stunning and the room is a beautiful light and airy space.

Sunday Lunch at the Lord Crewe Arms

The Crewe Sharing Lunch menu is different every week so we were quite excited about getting our hands on it and seeing what was available for our lunch. Having looked at the Starters (Cabbage, Bacon and Potato Soup; Organic Chicken Liver parfait with Milk Loaf and Kipper Scotch Egg) we decided to start with the Main Course as we wanted to ensure we had room for dessert.

The Sharing Platter of the day was "Crewe Brew" Beef Stew; Chicken Breast, J.D. Hall's Roast Pork Loin served with Roast Potatoes, Yorkshire Puddings and Seasonal Vegetables and when our food appeared in front of us we were in awe. Where on earth did we start?

Simon recovered from his shock quicker than me and started piling the food onto his plate. Realising he was swiping all of the veg (can you believe he didn't leave me any carrots!) I quickly sprung into action and took my share of the feast. You need to keep your wits about you when sharing food!

Sunday Sharing Lunch at the Lord Crewe Arms

I loved having three different meats to enjoy on my plate. I'm usually pretty dull with my ordering whenever we go out for Sunday lunch and will always, without fail, just order chicken without thinking. I never would have ordered Pork so it made a great change and it was beautiful. Each meat was perfectly prepared - really tender and packed with flavour.

The potatoes were beautifully crispy, slightly on the salty side which was a shame but that was our only criticism of our meal. The absolute highlight for me was the yorkshire puddings, not only were they huge but they tasted so damn good - I was thrilled when Simon couldn't quite finish his so I got extra (I really am a human dustbin!)

Sunday Sharing Lunch at the Lord Crewe Arms Northumberland

By the time we'd polished off our mains I was more than ready for a nap but needed to fight the urge to close my eyes - dessert was still to come.

The sharing desserts were Sticky Toffee Pudding, Chocolate Brownie and Gooseberry Fumble. I'd informed the kitchen about my nut allergy when we ordered and they were fantastic at letting me know exactly what dishes had nuts in and as the Chocolate Brownie had walnuts in prepared me my own special dish.

Sunday Sharing Lunch at the Lord Crewe Arms - Desserts

Simon loved that we had Sticky Toffee Pudding (his absolute favourite dessert) and having a smaller than normal portion meant that our bellies didn't feel too heavy after such an indulgent dessert.

My dessert highlight had to be the Goosberry Fumble - stewed fruits always remind me of being a kid and eating dessert at my Grandparents house (food memories are just the best aren't they?) and the slightly tart flavour worked so well with the sweet chewy meringue. Knowing how much I was enjoying it, Simon let me have slightly more than my half - I knew there was a reason I married him!

Sunday Sharing Lunch at the Lord Crewe Arms - Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sunday lunch at the Lord Crewe Arms costs £18.50 for two courses or £25.00 per person for three courses and comes highly recommended! It has to be one of the finest foodie experiences in the North East.

Find the Lord Crewe Arms at:

The Square

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

20 Things to do in Newcastle during your Lunch Hour

So many office workers spend their lunch hour stuffing in a sandwich whilst sitting at their desk. After a morning sitting on my bum, I love the opportunity to get out into the fresh air, it's essential for my mental health and leaves me feeling ready to tackle the afternoon. It's amazing what you can do in an hour on your lunch break, so today I thought I'd share with you 20 things to do in Newcastle during your lunch hour - yes that's a whole month's worth of activities to stuff into your lunch time.

I'd love to hear your recommendations too, what do you do in your lunch hour?

20 Things to do in Newcastle during your Lunch Hour

Do some boring jobs

Not very exciting I know but I love to try and get my boring jobs done in my lunch hour to free up more time at the weekend. Posting parcels, getting my eyebrows threaded, picking up a birthday card - all things that can easily be done in your lunch hour and you'd be amazed how much extra weekend you gain.

Explore a Museum

If you're lucky enough to work close to one of the city's museums you'd be surprised how much you can see in your lunch break. Whilst it's physically impossible to see everything in an hour, it's a great chance to maybe see a new exhibition or revisit a favourite and offers the perfect opportunity for some peace and quiet away from your desk to clear your head.

Discover somewhere new for coffee

The average office worker spends a crazy amount of money on coffee every week but why not take a break from the chains and try somewhere different in your lunch hour? With so many great independent coffee shops spread across the city there's bound to be one near your office. A great way to switch off for an hour, snuggle up in a cosy corner with a cup of something hot.

20 Things to do in Newcastle during your Lunch Hour - Coffee

Go Rollerblading

Yes, this possibly sounds a little mad but when I was living and working in London, taking roller boots into work for a quick skate at lunchtime was completely normal especially for those working near a park. Of course if rollerblading isn't your thing, taking your running shoes with you for a quick dash round the streets near your office is a great way of getting in some exercise during your lunch hour.

Try a local sandwich shop

It's so easy to fall into the habit of returning to the same sandwich shop every day (we're all guilty of spending all our pennies in Greggs) but how about trying some of the independent shops in Newcastle in your lunch hour. With so many to try make it your mission to shop around and discover a favourite. I promise you the sandwiches will be tastier than any pre packaged in a chain shop.

Explore a new area

Take a look at Google maps and you may be surprised to discover where you can walk to in your lunch hour. I love to explore areas of the city that I don't know too well. If your office is based near the Quayside then Ouesburn is a short stroll and a great place to wander and you'd be surprised how fast you can walk to Jesmond from the north of the city.

20 Things to do in Newcastle Lunch Hour

Do your weekly shop at the Grainger Market

I love strolling the Grainger Market in my lunch hour and have been known to do my weekly shop while I'm there. Far more enjoyable than wasting your weekend in a supermarket, Grainger Market is packed full of fresh fruit and veg, meat and fish, wine and more than enough goodies for you to eat for your lunch while you're there (just make sure your colleagues don't eat your grocery stash from the office fridge!)

Read a book in the park

In the Summer months I love nothing more than crashing out on the nearest patch of grass to my office and getting lost in a book. It can be so tricky to find the time to really get into a book so utilising your lunch hour to enjoy a chapter or two is such a treat.

Pet a Cat

Newcastle has two cat cafes and if you're lucky enough to work near one of them it offers the perfect chill out and coffee opportunity with some precious kitty cuddling in your lunch break. You'd be surprised how easy it is to switch off from the overflowing inbox when you're saying hello to these cuties!

20 Things to do in Newcastle during your Lunch Hour - Cat Cafe

Listen to music at The Sage

Chilling out at The Sage on the Gateshead quayside has to be the perfect way to spend a lunch hour. With free wifi, a lovely little gift shop and delicious cakes it's such a wonderful little spot and if you're lucky you may even be treated to some free music whilst you're there. With regular performances in the atrium, students playing guitar on the comfy seats or rehearsals in the theatre there's usually something lovely to listen to.

Have a makeover in Fenwicks

Who wouldn't want to head back to their office looking like a movie star? Mooching about the Beauty Hall in Fenwicks is one of my favourite ways to spend an hour and with many of the makeup counters offering makeover services it can be the perfect opportnity to learn how to perfect your brows or create the perfect smokey eye. Bobbi Brown offer quick 15 minute lessons that slot into a lunch hour.

Take Photos

Whether you're an Instagram addict or just love taking beautiful pictures of lovely things, strolling around the city taking a few snaps is a really relaxing way to spend your lunch hour. I love taking photographs around the city and always return to my desk feeling very inspired (and even more in love with Newcastle!)

20 Things to do in Newcastle during your Lunch Hour - Wylam Brewery

Listen to a Podcast

I've recently become addicted to Podcasts and my favourite thing to do is power walk my way round Newcastle listening to something that makes me laugh. Whilst strangers probably think I'm a little strange I love to lose myself with some intellectual chat or comedy over my lunchtime.

Get Lost in Waterstones

Getting lost in a book shop or library has to be one of life's greatest joys and a lunch hour is a perfect amount of time to wander the shelves and discover something new. Crash out on a comfy chair and have a little flick (Waterstones also have a rather lovely little cafe!)

Eat Cake

Eat cake in your lunch hour!  Need I say more? If you've had a particularly tough morning then there's no better pick me up then a slab of cake from somewhere delicious. We have some fantastic cake shops in the city centre so there's bound to be one near your office.

20 Things to do in Newcastle during your Lunch Hour - Cake

Down on the Farm

Sometimes animals make so much more sense than humans so if the office is driving you a little mad then you'll probably appreciate a little trip to the farm. Ouesburn Farm is a nice little walk if you work near the Quayside and saying hello to the pigs on a lunch hour never fails to put a smile on my face.

Try a lunchtime deal

Some of the best restaurant deals can be found at lunchtime so grab your colleagues and escape your desks with some purse friendly scran in the city. If you work near the Quayside check out my guide to the best lunches but believe me there are bargains to be found all over the city.

Stroll the Quayside

Walking along the Quayside on a beautiful sunny day is the best way to spend your lunch break. Fast walkers can make it down to the peaceful Staithes where you'll be blessed with miles of stunning river views, the perfect spot to take a moment before returning to your desk.

20 Things to do in Newcastle during your Lunch Hour - Quayside

Enjoy the views at the Baltic

The views across the Newcastle Gateshead Quayside are the finest in the city and if you're lucky enough to work near the area I highly recommend a quick visit to the Baltic in your lunch hour. Take a lift up to Six on the top floor and enjoy a cup of coffee by the floor to ceiling windows and take in the stunning view. Just make sure you remember to go back to work!

Look up!

Newcastle has the most fantastic buildings and if you take a moment to look up you may notice things that you've never spotted before. From gorgeous statues, curious features and brightly coloured roof tops there's a whole world to discover and planning your own "look up" walk at lunch time is a fantastic way to recharge the batteries ready for the afternoon.

20 Things to do in Newcastle during your Lunch Hour - Monument

What's your favourite thing to do in your lunch hour?  I'm always looking for new ideas so make sure you share yours in the comments!


Thursday, 5 April 2018

The Lambing Shed Live at Broom House Farm, Northumberland with National Trust Wallington

Back when I lived in Norfolk I had a wonderful tradition with my friends - every Easter weekend we would go to a local farm and spend hours watching lambs being born. It was the most amazing experience and something I looked forward to every year. I've always been keen to recreate the Easter tradition in the North East and have been wanting to attend The Lambing Shed Live at Broom House Farm since I first heard about it.

Taking place every day until Sunday 15 April, The Lambing Shed Live offers guests the special experience of a guided tour round Broom House Farm in Northumberland during the peak lambing season. With more than half of last year's visitors getting to see a lamb being born, you can imagine how excited I was!

The Lambing Shed Live at Broomhouse Farm, Northumberland with National Trust Wallington

Tickets are best booked in advance and we got ours a few months ago, back when I had romantic ideas about the Easter weekend being all blue skies and sunshine. Unfortunately lambing day arrived the same time as "Beast of the East" part 3 (can you believe it!) and we found ourselves heading up to Northumberland in thermal socks, waterproof trousers and wellies.

The journey to Broom House Farm for Lambing Shed Live is on board a tractor pulled trailer from the carpark at the National Trust site at Wallington. When I saw the weather in the morning I'd been worried that we'd be sitting on soggy hay bales getting rained on but our trailer was completely under cover which made us feel like royalty as we made the 10 minute journey down the bumpy country roads to Broom House Farm.

Lambing Shed Live at Broomhouse Farm, Northumberland with National Trust Wallington

As the weather this Spring has been particularly bad, Lambing Shed Live is taking place in a marquee on the farm, a nice little protection from the elements and a cosier place for the expectant mums and new born babies to shelter from the rain and snow. Who knew that the marquees we hire for weddings and celebrations are also hired by farmers to protect their animals in the colder months!

With only a certain amount of tickets released for each session, the best thing about the lambing experience at Broom House Farm is that there aren't too many guests tripping over each other. Our trailer brought a full amount of people to the farm but as soon as we got into the marquee we were split into two groups ensuring that we all got plenty of time with the animals and were able to ask any questions that we wanted.

Lambing Shed Live Broomhouse Farm, Northumberland with National Trust Wallington

As soon as we got into the marquee I didn't know where to head first, there were adorable fluffy lambs everywhere that I looked and in each pen I discovered babies cuter than the last.

First on the agenda was lamb cuddling, and our host farmer picked out a few lambs from the pens for cuddles. Being one of the few couples there without children I was a little worried that we would get overlooked but we soon realised that Lambing Shed Live really is an event for everyone and every single person that wanted to hold a lamb had the opportunity.

Lambing Live Broomhouse Farm, Northumberland with National Trust Wallington

After I'd made sure that all the children had had a go I stepped forward for my cuddle and soon had a lively bundle of wool snuggled into my arms. He was a noisy little fella and was happily bleating in my arms before settling down for a stroke. I got plenty of time with him and I loved having him all to myself without feeling rushed to pass him onto anyone else.  Heaven!

Lambing Live Broomhouse Farm, Northumberland
Once we'd all had a cuddle we were introduced to a lamb that had been born only a few hours before and were taught a little about how the lamb is kept healthy in Mum's tummy and a bit about the birthing process. Our farmer was fantastic with the children in our group and kept them really engaged throughout his talk.

Lambing Shed Live Broomhouse Farm, Northumberland

We were then taken to the back of the marquee that was filled with Ewes due to give birth at any moment. Unfortunately we'd just missed a few births earlier in the morning so were told it wasn't likely that we'd get to see any during our visit but it was interesting to hear more about the Ewes and the different breeds that they keep on Broom House Farm.

Next was the part that we'd all been waiting for, bottle feeding the orphan lambs! Ewes can only look after two lambs so when a third lamb is born it needs to be bottle fed before it can be given to a Ewe who only has one of her own to look after.

Lambing Shed Live Broomhouse Farm, Northumberland - Bottle Feeding Lambs
I was over the moon when I got the opportunity to bottle feed a lamb, something I've not done since I was a child. 

It made my Easter!

Lambing Shed Broomhouse Farm, Northumberland - Bottle Feeding Lambs
As we climbed back into the trailer to make our way back to Wallington I promised poor Simon (who'd stopped being able to feel his toes about 10 minutes earlier) that I'd treat him to a hot chocolate at the cafe. Unfortunately the awful weather conditions meant that when we got back the tea room was closed! Yet another funny story to add to the reasons why my husband hates adventures eh?

The Lambing Shed Live at Broom House Farm was one of the best events I have ever been to - it was so well organised and very informative, we loved every second of it and something tells me we'll be back next year!

The Lambing Shed Live takes place at Broom House Farm at 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm every day through the Easter holidays. Tickets cost £6 for adults and children (under twos visit for free) and there are still some tickets left to purchase here.

Lambing Shed Broomhouse Farm, Northumberland - Lamb Cuddles

Find Wallington at:

nr Morpeth
NE61 4AR

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The Band (The Take That Musical) at Newcastle Theatre Royal

I have been so over excited about The Band (aka "the Take That musical"), coming to Newcastle Theatre Royal this month. I have been talking about it non stop and have had the date written in my diary ever since the tour dates got announced.

You see, when I was a kid, I had a band ....

The Band (The Take That Musical) at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Confessions over first, I am THE biggest boyband fan, I don't care that I should have grown out of boys with floppy fringes and cheesy grins two decades ago (gulp!) - they are my weakness and my favourite teenage memories revolve around chasing after boys in bands.

When I was 11 I obsessively watched the "Take That & Party" video on repeat, at 15 my room was covered in posters of Ronan Keating and by 17 I was bunking off college to go boyband chasing in London (sorry Mum!).

To this day some of my oldest friends are girls that I met during my boyband stalking days. Lifelong friendships forged at the back of a radio station while waiting for a boyband, we grew up together, bonded by love of "our boys" but supporting each other through every high and low of our young lives.

And, I'm sure I'm not the only teenager from the 1990s with this story to tell!

The Band at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Knowing that seeing The Band would be the ultimate girl's night I invited my friend Kelly out for a night of reminiscing. We couldn't wait to recapture that teenage hysteria and spend an evening laughing at our teenage selves whilst swooning over boyband members that we're far too old to fancy!

Written by Tim Firth and directed by Kim Gavin (who fellow Take That fans will know has created the band's iconic stage shows since the 1990s!), The Band opens by introducing us to a group of five 16 year old girls in 1993 whose friendship centres around being obsessed with the boyband that adorns their bedroom walls and lockers at school.

Obsessing over last night's performance on "Top of the Pops" and desperately learning dance routines, we join Claire, Heather, Rachel, Zoe and Debbie at a point in time where the band are an essential part of their lives - helping them to cope with the dramas of arguing parents, school tests and snogging boys.

The girls are untouchable, until a tragedy strikes that changes their lives and friendship forever.

The Band - Newcastle Theatre Royal

Fast forward 25 years and the girls decide to track down the band and attend their reunion gig in Prague. Leaving their kids, husbands and secrets behind them in England they climb on board a plane for a journey of self discovery, acceptance and finally facing the troubles of their past.

The Band is a wonderful story of friendship, love and loss and had us bawling our eyes out, laughing our heads off and completely lost in nostalgia. Beautifully narrated by the ghost like figures of The Band who slip in and out of scenes and treat us to some of the most amazing pop songs ever written, it's the kind of show that will make you pull all of your Take That tapes out of the loft and start tracking down old school friends you've lost touch with.

The Band - Theatre Royal Newcastle
I loved spending my evening singing along to the songs of my youth and there were a few moments during the concert scenes where I felt 15 again, singing along to "Do What You Like" and "Could It Be Magic" and looking round the theatre I certainly wasn't the only one!

From the moment we were greeted at the theatre to the Ceefax pages to the curtains lifting to the opening credits of Top of the Pops I was lost in 90s heaven and had the most wonderful evening remembering things that I had long forgotten.

The Band is the fastest selling musical theatre tour of all time and only a few weeks ago it was announced that the show will be opening in London's West End this Christmas, so make sure you see the show in Newcastle before it's too late!

The Band is on at the Newcastle Theatre Royal until Saturday 14 April. Tickets cost from £19.50 and you can buy yours here.

I was invited to Press Night of The Band and was given two complimentary tickets in exchange for this honest review.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

The Great British Cupcakery - The Naughtiest Breakfast in Newcastle!

Usually I'm all about a healthy and balanced breakfast. Week days are about regaining control after a heavy weekend and a boring adult bowl of porridge and fruit usually sets me up for the day ahead, so erm, how did I end up having the naughtiest breakfast in Newcastle at the Great British Cupcakery on a Monday morning?

When Simon and I found ourselves in Newcastle on my birthday there was only one place I wanted to head for a naughty breakfast - The Great British Cupcakery of course! Every birthday girl needs a Unicorn Milkshake to start her day am I right?

The Great British Cupcakery - The Naughtiest Breakfast in Newcastle!

Whilst you'll find all of the usual breakfast type dishes on the menu at The Great British Cupcakery, for me visiting Newcastle's cupcake hot spot is all about eating naughty things covered in sugar, sprinkles, chocolate and cream and breakfast is no exception.

I had been wanting a Great British Cupcakery Geet Big Shake (the Geordie version of a Freakshake) ever since they first started appearing on Instagram but trying to bag yourself a table is near enough impossible over a weekend so having the opportunity to visit on a Monday was just too good to resist, we practically banged down the table at opening time and actually took our seats before they'd even finished filling the cake counter.

The Great British Cupcakery - Unicorn Shake

When it comes to Freakshakes the Great British Cupcakery is always introducing shakes even crazier than the last to satisfy the sweet tooth. There is no question that they definitely serve up the very best freakshakes in Newcastle, I'm pretty sure even people who would never dream of taking photos of their food can't resist taking a few sneaky snaps when the Geet Big Shakes appear.

Ignoring the early time (surely 10:00 am isn't too early to enjoy a freak shake on your birthday?) I quickly discovered the best freak shake for any birthday girl - the Unicorn Shake (£7.95) ! Thick Bubblegum Shake served in a Pink and Blue Candy Melt covered Glass with Vanilla Infused Cream and Topped with Meringue Swirl, Marshmallow Horn and finished with a cream main and Magical Sprinkle mix perfect for any 7 year old girl (or a 30 something with a sugar addiction!)

The Great British Cupcakery - Unicorn Shakes

When this stunner turned up at my table I almost cried sugary tears of happiness, I mean look at it! Armed with two spoons and a straw I set to work demolishing my shake (after taking the obligatory hundred photographs of course!) with Simon looking on with amusement. I don't think he actually thought that I would be able to finish it.

I gobbled down huge spoonfulls of cream followed by the marshmallow and was then left with the bubblegum flavoured drink that guaranteed I'd be bouncing off the walls for the rest of the day. It wasn't actually as difficult to finish as you'd like (I probably shouldn't confess to this, but I actually managed to eat lunch only a few hours later!)

Slightly more sensible than me (never thought I'd be saying that), Simon decided that he wouldn't drink his breakfast and instead would go for something a little more substantial. After almost ordering the Cereal Killer (a huge bowl of sugary cereal mixed with brownies, which sounds amazing - can someone please go and try it for me!) he ended up going for some kind of French Toast and Nutella type thing (definitely not its official name, but this amateur forgot to make a note of what it was!)

The Great British Cupcakery - French Toast and Nutella

I say it was a sensible breakfast, it wasn't really, it was huge and definitely a very naughty breakfast (pretty sure the addition of the strawberries didn't make it any healthier!). I've never seen such a huge spread of Nutella in my life and a few friends I know who love to eat Nutella out of the jar (mentioning no names!) will definitely need to go and try this one. There was so much chocolatey gooeyness in the french toast it actually wedged Simon's mouth shut - I've never known him to be so quiet!

Whilst I do not encourage you all to eat so much sugar for breakfast (unicorn milkshakes are definitely special occasion breakfast!), for a treat The Great British Cupcakery definitely serve the finest and naughtiest breakfast in Newcastle. I couldn't see straight for the rest of the day!

The Great British Cupcakery - French Toast

Find The Great British Cupcakery at:

15 Queen Street

0191 230 2151

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