Thursday 31 May 2018

My May Days

How amazing has May been? The beautiful days of blue sky and sunshine have been the perfect start to Summer and we have everything crossed for June as we have a week booked off for a North East Staycation and some sun would be lovely. Here are a few things that didn't make the blog this month.

An Honorary Geordie

This month I hit a pretty important milestone - 5 years of living in Newcastle! I was delighted when Geordie Gifts officially declared me an Honorary Geordie and presented me with this very special mug. If you're drinking tea out of this you are, most definitely, 100% certified pet! If you want one for yourself you can find Geordie Gifts at their shop in the Grainger Market and you should most definitely follow them on Instagram because their stories are hilarious!

My May Days - Geordie Gifts

Up on the Roof

I discovered Newcastle's best kept secret this month! John Lewis in Eldon Square have their own roof garden for staff - who knew! I am now seriously considering getting a job there just so I can have access to this gorgeous space, the views and people watching opportunities are spot on.

My May Days - John Lewis Roof Garden

Lunch at Hotel du Vin

We headed up the hill from the Quayside last weekend for a spot of lunch at Hotel du Vin, somewhere that's definitely very much out of sight out of mind. It was a gorgeous sunny day in the Toon yet their outside terrace was deserted (a great tip if you're looking for some available seats next time it's sunny). We had the Bistro to ourselves and indulged in a delicious carb fuelled lunch. I'm currently thinking about what hotel to book for our wedding anniversary this year and I have to say that Hotel du Vin is a serious contender. Has anyone ever stayed over?

My May Days - Lunch at Hotel du Vin

Mini Golf in Gosforth

First a little tip for you, if you're going to play Mini Golf I do not recommend doing it in dungarees and a baker boy hat - it has to be the most unpractical outfit for golfing. One of the few ways (and there really are only a few!) to get Simon out enjoying the sunshine is with a round of Mini Golf, he loves it! We only discovered Parklands Mini Golf in Gosforth this month and it's a great little find. Only £2.50 to knock a few balls round the course and although I was pretty useless I enjoyed sitting on some rocks enjoying the sun while Simon tried to teach me how to get the ball into the holes!

My May Days - Parklands Mini Golf

Getting Summer Ready at Intu Metrocentre

The launch of the SS18 season at Intu Metrocentre had me lusting after brightly coloured dresses and straw bags and wishing that we could afford to book a beach holiday this Summer! I love Summer fashion and whilst I may look a tad daft strolling about Newcastle in a huge straw hat, I will most definitely be rocking the beach vibes Tyneside this year! The Fashion Live events at the centre are always a season highlight for me and I now have a shopping list that far exceeds my clothes allowance for the month. Will anyone else be joining me in wearing daft holiday gear round the North East this Summer?

My May Days - Metrocentre Summer Fashion

Summer Coffee 

You know Summer has arrived when you order your first Frapp of the year. I am an absolute sucker for calorific drinks when the weather turns hot and the more cream and sugary drizzle the better. My first of the year was this delicious Caramel Frappuccino from Starbucks and I'm sure it's going to be the first of many.

My May Days - Starbucks Frappuccino

Beargers at The Purple Bear

Newcastle really has become "Destination Burger" and there are now so many places in the Toon to get your burger fix. We're slowly making our way round them all and our latest discovery was the "Beargers" at The Purple Bear - I went for The Brown (£10.50) - a two stacked patty with Swiss Cheese, Mushrooms and Garlic Mayo. Despite it coming wth fries and Slaw I couldn't resist ordering a side of Pit Beans as well. The burgers were delicious but what really stole the show for us was the episodes of Thundercats being played on the screen above our heads.

My May Days - The Purple Bear Newcastle

Bank Holiday in Manchester

I spent the first Bank Holiday of the month in sunny Manchester and it was beautiful! With temperatures soaring we had a perfect afternoon wandering the streets of the Northern Quarter hunting out all of the amazing street art and attempting to stay cool by pottering around in Selfridges air conditioning (whilst lusting after stupidly expensive bags of course!) and indulging in glasses of Prosecco. It really is such a fantastic city, and if Newcastle hadn't already stolen my heart I could see myself living there one day (just don't tell my husband as he'll have me moved to his home city in a heartbeat!)

My May Days - Manchester

Pasta Party

Considering I write a North East destination blog it is crazy how long it sometimes takes me to get to places, Zucchini Pasta Bar has been open for ages, I've heard nothing but amazing things about their fresh pasta dishes yet I only made my first visit there this month! So now I'm yet another person telling you that you HAVE to go because the food is so good! I went for the Open Lasagna of Funghi, Parmesan and Tarragon (£7.00) and it gave me one very happy tummy!

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

Tuesday 29 May 2018

How we became Weight Watchers Campaign Stars

If you've been reading New Girl in Toon for a few years you'll know that on 29 May each year I write a blog post celebrating another year of being at my goal weight, and if you're new then you may not know that 6 years ago today I completed my mission to lose 9 stone and reach my healthy weight (read my story here).

Today I've decided to share a very special memory from the very first few months of my relationship with Simon, the day that we became Weight Watchers Campaign Stars!

How we became Weight Watchers Campaign Stars

Simon and I met through the Weight Watchers online community. I was living in London, he was up in Newcastle and we read each others weight loss blogs and fell in love whilst helping each other on our weight loss journeys. When we met I was a few months off reaching my goal weight and his support was vital to me completing my journey.

It's no surprise that Weight Watchers heard about our romance, I mean it's not every day you lose 9 stone and fall in love (doesn't that sound like a heading from a cheesy real life article in a trashy magazine?) and a few short months into our relationship they got in touch with us and asked us if we'd like to head down to Surrey for a photoshoot and to share our story.

Weight Watchers Campaign StarsWe accepted immediately! Simon and I were only getting to spend time together every few weeks so being able to see each other much sooner than we'd originally planned whilst getting spoilt by a wardrobe team and makeup artist sounded too good to be true. Looking back at it now, the Weight Watchers shoot was probably only the 6th or 7th time we'd met each other, I'm not sure many couples can say that one of their earliest dates was being interviewed about their relationship!

Weight Watchers Stars
Our day with Weight Watchers began with a wardrobe styling. I was taken into a room with rails of gorgeous clothes to try on. Still getting used to my new body shape it was such a great opportunity to have some one on one time with a stylist who pulled out some fantastic outfits that I never would have thought to try on myself.

It's pretty crazy but when you lose a lot of weight it takes a long time for your head to catch up with your body and in the mirror I always saw size 20 Chloe looking back at me and when I held up something in a size 10 it looked super tiny and I just couldn't understand how my body could ever get into it. I was still very much hiding behind baggy clothes and attending the photo shoot with Weight Watchers made me discover my waist. Dressing in skinny jeans for the first time was quite a moment and when I was given a bright orange jacket to wear I just couldn't believe it was me!

Weight Watchers Campaign

I can't say that posing for photos came naturally to me, having spent so many years hiding in the shadows embarrassed by the way that I looked parading about in front of a camera felt a tad awkward but the Weight Watchers team were so great at making me feel very comfortable and making sure that I was happy.

My second outfit was a gorgeous pink salmon top that I wore over some black leggings and the most beautiful glittery heels! This outfit will always stick in my mind as I stumbled my way down the stairs in those shoes to do my photos, Simon was waiting for me at the bottom. It was the first time he'd ever seen me dressed up and he just couldn't stop paying me compliments. In those early days of our relationship I was so shy I'm pretty sure I just went bright red and changed the subject but every time I see these photos I'm reminded of his face when he saw me.

Weight Watchers Valentine Campaign

As well as doing some photos we were also sat together in the lounge to make a short video. Luckily it's no longer online so I can't embarrass myself and share it with you, it involves a lot of me blinking as I was trying not to cry. To this day talking about how much Weight Watchers helped me makes me a little emotional - for the video I had to talk about how Weight Watchers had changed my life and I just couldn't get my words out in any kind of coherent sentence without the tears coming. I was so overwhelmed and thankful to them for not only changing my life but for introducing me to Simon.

Things went a little quiet for a while after our photoshoot until one day, out of the blue, we were contacted by a journalist for Weight Watchers who wanted to interview us both as they were ready to run our photographs as part of their 2013 Valentines Campaign. By this time we were busily saving so that I could afford to leave London and join Simon up in Newcastle. Things had got serious very quickly and by the time our Weight Watchers campaign launched our relationship was 10 months old and we were ready to take a huge step to be together.

Seeing our faces pop up on the Weight Watchers website was funny and when it got shared on their Facebook page we were overwhelmed by the support and love from our family and friends.

Weight Watchers Valentine Campaign Online

and we couldn't believe it when our story was also shared in the booklet that was handed out at the meetings! 

It was our five seconds of fame and it was a pretty special feeling and definitely something to keep to show the grandkids one day!

Weight Watchers Valentine Article

Sitting here now all these years later it seems so funny that Simon and I shared an experience like this so early into our relationship and that we ended up getting married. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to realise that all of this happened to me. It is absolutely crazy!

Has anyone else ever had 5 seconds of fame?  I'd love to hear your stories!

Friday 25 May 2018

Sunday in the North East - A Guide to the Best Brunches, Sunday Roasts, Scenic Walks and Pamper Days

If I say "Sunday" to you what immediately springs to mind? Long walks with the family? Delicious Sunday lunches? Brunch with friends? For me the last day of the weekend is all about really getting the most out of the day and I love to enjoy Sunday in the North East before the reality of Monday morning hits.

Traditionally Sundays are all about pottering about, eating loads of satisfying food and enjoying quality time with your loved ones so today I thought I'd share with you my favourite ways to spend Sunday in the North East with a little guide to the best places for brunch, Sunday roasts, scenic walks and pamper days.

Sunday in the North East - A Guide to the Best Brunches, Sunday Roasts, Scenic Walks and Pamper Days
Sunday Brunch

Nothing starts off Sunday better than a long leisurely Sunday brunch! Over order, grab the Sunday papers and get ready to indulge in bottomless cups of coffee and pancake stacks! There are so many fantastic places in the North East to treat yourself to an amazing brunch, here's just a few of my favourites:

Filmore & Union - If you really fancy a lighter Sunday Brunch after a heavy weekend then Filmore & Union in Newcastle is where you need to head. Their dishes are prepared using fresh food, healthier cooking techniques and without any hidden nasties but still taste delicious! The menu has every breakfast dish you could possibly imagine including omelettes, pancakes, French Toast and scrambled eggs.

Monsieur Creperie  - If you need a bit of sugar after a heavy Saturday night then a Sunday Brunch at the Monsieur Crepe Cafe in Heaton will hit the spot. Offering the best variety of pancake stacks and crepes in the North East their menu is the thing of dreams. Indulge in Chocolate Crunchie and Marshamallow , Peach and White Chocolate or perhaps my favourite, Banana, Ginger Crumb and Salted Caramel (don't worry they do savoury too, I just have a sweet tooth!)

Cafe Royal - Cafe Royal in Newcastle have the finest collection of egg dishes in the North East, perfect for a Sunday morning. Tuck into Softly Poached Lintz Hall Farm Eggs, Scrambled Eggs with Hot Smoked Salmon or Eggs Benedict with a side dose of great people watching (just make sure you bag yourself a sunny seat by the window!)

Sunday in the North East - Brunch
Scenic Walks

I could quite literally sit here all day listing off my favourite scenic walks in the North East for a Sunday stroll, the options are endless and I'm not sure we'll ever make our way round them all. Here are a small selection of our favourites, perfect for a post Sunday brunch stroll:

South Shields to Sunderland Coastal Path - the 7 mile walk between South Shields and Sunderland is the most fantastic stretch of North East coastline. With beautiful views of Souter Lighthouse and plenty of places to stop along the way (there's a National Trust cafe for a scone, a chance for a cheeky pint at Marsden Grotto and plenty of fish and chip restaurants at Seaburn) it ticks every box.

High Force Waterfall - you'll find High Force Waterfall in the beautiful North Pennines - miles of winding roads surrounded by wild moors, wandering sheep and huge hills, it's quite the place for a Sunday afternoon adventure with plenty of walks to choose from.

Hadrian's Wall - Hadrian's Wall has to be the most popular walking destination in the North East and it's easy to see why, the countryside at the Wall is stunning and on a clear day you can see for miles. There are endless walks to choose from so you can make it as short or as long as you like - perfect for both beginners and pro walkers.

Sunday in the North East - Walk

Sunday Roasts

Fighting with your Dad over the gravy jug, kicking your little sister under the table and secretly hoping your Grandma won't be able to fit in her Yorkshire Pudding, there's no better way to enjoy Sunday as a family than with a delicious Sunday Roast. We're still working our way round all of the fantastic lunches available in the North East, but here are a few of our current favourites:

The Badger, Ponteland - A traditional country pub steeped in history, The Badger in Ponteland offer a full and weekly changing Sunday menu that'll have you struggling to make a decision. All roasts are served with Duck Fat Roasties, Yorkshires and plenty of veg - just make sure you leave room for the delicious desserts.

Pleased to Meet You, Newcastle - One of the best offerings in Newcastle, Sunday Roasts at Pleased to Meet You involves plates piled high with delicious cuts of meat, colourful veg and Yorkshires as large as my head. The dishes are so huge we've not been able to fit in dessert yet!

The Lord Crewe Arms, Blanchland - Sunday Lunch at the Lord Crewe Arms in Blanchland is a little different as all of the food is shared with the rest of the table. Each table gets all three starters followed by a platter of three meats and then three desserts. Perfect for the indecisive, the sharing lunch is so much fun and offers the rare opportunity to try everything!

Sunday in the North East - Sunday Roast

Pamper Days

If your perfect Sunday involves doing not a lot then booking yourself in for a spa day can be a great treat before you head back to work.

The Garage Spa, Greta Bridge - a beautiful rural haven, The Garage Spa is small and perfectly formed with some lovely unique features. Enjoy a sauna in a Shepherd's Hut, jump into a huge outdoor tin bath hot tub and lounge in the hammock chairs of the secret garden - bliss!

Rockliffe Hall, Darlington - the outstanding facilities at Rockliffe Hall make it one of our favourite spas in the North East, enjoy the Roman Sauna, cool down in the Igloo, grab a drink from the poolside bar and spend some time in the outdoor hot tub before indulging in a foot spa - the perfect way to forget about Monday.

Wynyard Hall - the spa at Wynyard Hall only allows a few people to use its facilities at a time ensuring a truly peaceful experience. Enjoy the lakeside hot tub, have an afternoon tea in the stunning conservatory or indulge in a treatment before a spot of sunbathing on the sun loungers.

Sunday in the North East - Spa

What's your idea of a perfect Sunday? Let me know some of your favourite things to do!


Wednesday 23 May 2018

Puffins on the Farne Islands with Serenity Boat Tours

I don't think I have ever been as excited about a trip as I was after booking a boat trip to see the puffins on the Farne Islands with Serenity Boat Tours. I talked at Simon for days on end about finally getting to see a puffin and by the time the day rolled round I'm pretty sure he was fed up of hearing the word "puffin".

Puffins on the Farne Islands with Serenity Boat Tours

The Farne Islands are a nature lovers paradise. One of the few places in the UK to see nature at its best, the small cluster of islands just off the coast of Seahouses in Northumberland is home to colonies of seals and over 20 varieties of seabirds. Each time you visit you are guaranteed to see something that will truly take your breath away.

There are a few different tour companies offering trips from the harbour in Seahouses to the Farne Islands and on first glance it can seem that they all pretty much offer the same but if you're going to plan a trip I highly recommend going with Serenity Boat Tours who have a genuine knowledge and passion for the islands and really will give you a fantastic trip out and great value for your money.

Farne Islands with Serenity Boat Tours

Serenity Boat Tours offer a few different trips to the Farnes Islands. We opted for the Inner Farne Tour (£18.00 for adults, £12.00 for children and under 4s free) which gave us a tour round the islands with a landing on Inner Farne.  Inner Farne is the largest of the Farne Islands and the perfect place to visit if you want to see the puffins. Owned by National Trust, there's a landing fee of £7.00 per adult or £3.50 for children or if you're a member you can land for free.

Our boat left Seahouses at 11:45 am and as we boarded we noticed the great mixture of people who would be joining us on our trip - families with young children, photographers with huge lenses and a handful of tourist, all ready to head out on a great adventure. There was plenty of seating for everyone and although we missed out on a prime spot round the edge of the boat we were thankful to have a seat snuggled up in the middle of the boat away from the cold wind and splashing waves.

Farne Islands Serenity Boat Tours

We planned our trip to the Farne Islands on a particularly hot day in the North East - with temperatures in Newcastle set to hit 20 degrees I was a little puzzled when people kept warning us to wrap up warm if we were going to head out to the Farnes. Wouldn't I look a little daft wearing my woolies in a heatwave? I have to say I'm so glad that I listened, because my t-shirt, hoodie and waterproof were needed to protect me from the chilly conditions onboard the boat. If you're planning a trip to the Farne Islands it's best to take as many clothes as you can carry - the North Sea is pretty cold!

Our afternoon began with a little jaunt around the Farne Islands to see what we could spot and it wasn't long before we were surrounded by the most wonderful seabirds - flying over the boat, bobbing about in the water, swooping and diving it was hard to know which way to look as there was so much going on. The crew of the Serenity were brilliant at pointing out anything of interest and they were constantly chatting to all of the passengers sharing their knowledge and telling great stories.

Farne Islands Serenity Boat Tours Bird Watching

I wasn't sure how close we'd get to the wildlife when we were out at sea but our Captain Andrew was highly skilled at manoeuvring the boat very close to the action and also twisting the boat round at all angles to ensure that all of his passengers get a good look. We were very thankful that we didn't have to go scrabbling round the boat to get a good view as every person onboard got their turn to see the wildlife up close.

The highlight for us had to be spotting a colony of seals, we had a fantastic view of them lounging about on the rocks. They have the cheekiest personalities (I'm still convinced that one was grinning and waving at me!).

Farne Islands Serenity Boat Tours Seals

Just when we thought that things couldn't get any more exciting we landed on Inner Farne for an hour of bird watching and island wandering. The island is home to a huge variety of birds including Fulmar, Guillermot, Kittiwake, Shag and of course Puffins. The island is protected by National Trust and there are boarded walkways across the island offering easy walking routes and great views of the birds.

Be warned, this is not your usual National Trust experience so don't expect a tea room! The island is home to the wildlife and whilst you will enjoy a genuine experience watching amazing seabirds in their natural habitat, you won't be able to finish your visit with a pot of tea and a scone. If you're going to get hungry it's best you take a packed lunch!

Farne Islands with Serenity Boat Tours
I will admit as we got off the boat I was a little nervous as I'd heard a lot of stories about aggressive Arctic terns swooping down on tourists during nesting season. Over the years they have started laying their eggs closer to the boardwalk and don't take too kindly to being disturbed so will hover over the heads of tourists, diving at them to give them little warning pecks on the head. Its worth taking a hat to protect yourself if you are visiting, but don't worry they only attack the first little bit of the boardwalk and then leave you alone to enjoy the rest of the island.

If you don't like the sound of being attacked by birds I recommend visiting Inner Farne in late April/early-mid May just before the terns start nesting. We were very lucky during our visit and didn't get attacked, I think we timed it just right.

Of course, the main reason for our trip was to see the puffins! The puffins return to the Farne Islands each year at the end of April and stay until July time. With over 40,000 pairs on the islands it is the most fantastic place to go puffin watching.

Puffin Watching on the Farne Islands with Serenity Boat Tours
There are puffins everywhere on Inner Farne and they are brilliant to watch. With their beautifully coloured bills and matching feet they are stunning and they move about the island like little men dressed in tuxedos. They happily waddle about the island and don't seem remotely fussed by visitors.

The whole island is covered in puffin burrows and we were very lucky to see one handsome chap pop into his burrow, his head just peeping out to say hi every now and again.

Puffin Spotting on the Farne Islands with Serenity Boat Tours

Puffins on the Farne Islands
On the edge of the island there's a cliff face that is perfect for bird watching, we saw nesting Shags and plenty of Kittiwakes. It's a good idea to be prepared if you're going to spend some time on that part of the island as we saw a couple get well and truly drenched in bird poo!  It seems it's not only a hat and warm clothes you need on the Farne Islands, some wet wipes and tissues are also a great idea!

Nesting Eider Ducks sit in the grass alongside the board walk. Luckily they are far more chilled than the Arctic Terns and don't get nasty when  you stroll past their nests.

Eider Duck on the Farne Islands

Before we knew it our hour on Inner Farne was up and it was time to head back to Serenity for our short journey back to Seahouses. I can't believe how fast our time went and next time I'm definitely booking their All Day Bird Trips that includes 2 hours on Staple Island and 2 hours on Inner Farne. I'm also feeling very inspired to get a much better lens for my camera!

We loved our first ever trip to see the puffins on the Farne Islands and yet again I am feeling very lucky that we live in the most amazing part of the country that gives us unique opportunities like this.

If you want to see more about our trip then follow me on Instagram and check out my video highlights

Puffins on the Farne Islands

Find Serenity Boat Tours at:

Seahouses Harbour
NE68 7RN

01665 721 667

Monday 21 May 2018

Afternoon Tea on the Tanfield Railway

I have always wanted to dine on a steam train, in fact it's one of the items on my 40 Before 40 Bucket List  I don't know exactly what it is but enjoying food with my husband on a beautiful old steam train chugging its way through stunning landscape just sounds so romantic to me. So this year I decided it was time to tick it off the list and I booked us an afternoon tea on the Tanfield Railway.

Afternoon Tea on the Tanfield Railway

The Tanfield Railway in Gateshead is the world's oldest railway. Riding the 6 miles of track in beautiful Victorian carriages through the picture perfect wooded valleys of Gateshead and Durham is the most relaxing way to spend an afternoon.

An important part of North East history, the railway dates back to 1725 when the line was built to transport coal from colleries in the Tanfield area to the River Tyne for shipment and, if you're keen to learn more, the Marley Hill Engine Shed is the oldest working engine shed in the world where you can take a closer look at the steam engines.

Tanfield Railway Gateshead

There are four stops along the Tanfield Railway - Sunniside, Andrews House, Causey Arch and East Tanfield and if you book a ticket for afternoon tea you're able to travel on the trains all day and hop off at any stations that you fancy. A great way to get some fresh air and a leg stretch after indulging in your afternoon tea, there are some beautiful walking routes alongside some parts of the track and if you want to explore the Causey Bridge, the world's oldest railway bridge it's definitely worth getting off the train for a proper look.

The Tanfield Railway Gateshead

Our Afternoon Tea train departed Andrews House at 2:40 pm and we were welcomed aboard the Director's Class carriage at the front of the train. Another slice of amazing railway history, the carriage was built in 1875 as an inspector's saloon for senior officers of the North Eastern Railway.

The Director's Class Carriage is most definitely the loveliest way to journey down the train track, a small carriage with a handful of tables and super comfy chairs, there were around 18 of us sitting down for Afternoon Tea and we had the most fantastic views. The engine of the train changes position at various points during the journey so we either had a fantastic look at the front of the train or the most beautiful open scenery at the back of the train.

The Tanfield Railway Durham

When we booked our tickets we could select which table of the carriage we wanted to sit at, with tables set for either groups of two or four. We were shown to our table which was already laid out with our beautiful traditional crockery and a large plate of sandwiches.

They were Afternoon Tea classics - ham, cheese and cucumber with the crusts cut off and a generous spread of butter (whoever made these sandwiches needs to come and make me my lunches for next week because they are on the same page as me with the butter).

Afternoon Tea The Tanfield Railway Durham
Eating afternoon tea on an old steam train is so much fun. As soon as we set off our cups were rattling away and I just loved it. Tea was served to us at the table, with just a splash served each time to prevent spillages, it's pretty much impossible not to make a mess when you're pouring tea and milk on a moving steam train. We were very thankful we weren't in charge of the teapot ourselves and there were endless refills available whenever our cups were empty.

Afternoon Tea The Tanfield Railway Gateshead

Clattering our way down the train tracks sipping on tea and admiring the beautiful views of the Gateshead and Durham countryside was the most blissful way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon and if you're planning to travel on the Tanfield Railway I'm convinced that this is the best way to do it.

As we clattered our way up the tracks our host told us a brief history of the Tanfield Railway which unfortunately I couldn't really hear too well as the table next to us were getting very over excited about how much they love cheese sandwiches (I couldn't be angry at them when I also REALLY love a good cheese sandwich!)

Afternoon Tea Tanfield Railway Gateshead

Once we'd cleared our sandwiches (no prizes for guessing which table polished the plate off first!) the cakes arrived. We each had a scone, a large slab of Victoria Sponge and a Strawberry tart. Whilst the food definitely won't win any prizes for being the fanciest or best Afternoon Tea in the North East the experience of eating it on the steam train really made it all taste extra delicious.

There was no cream served with the scones (you should have seen my shocked face) so I came up with the genius idea of scooping cream off my strawberry tart to cover my scone, then swapped my tart for Simon's when he wasn't looking. I'm sure I would have got away with it if I hadn't been laughing so hard I had tears rolling down my face!

Afternoon Tea Steam Train
Having completed the challenge of managing to cut my scone with a knife on a very wobbly train, comedy moment of the journey arrived when the table next to us lost one of their cakes off the top tier and it landed (with amazing precision) into a man's teacup!

It really is so much fun eating afternoon tea on a steam train!

Afternoon Tea Steam Train - Gateshead

Just as we finished up our delicious cakes the train made a brief stop and the guard stepped into our carriage to ask if any of us wanted to have a proper look at the engine. We had no idea this was going to happen, and we were over the moon that our carriage was getting the opportunity to have an up close look at the train. The young lads driving the train were so lovely and huge fans of railways and engines so they were really interesting to chat to.

I couldn't believe how hot it was and it really made me realise how hard it must have been transporting coal up and down the line in the 1700s!

Afternoon Tea Steam Train - Durham

Our whole journey took around 70 - 80 minutes and with a really smooth and efficient service we had plenty of time to fully enjoy our afternoon tea in that time. We didn't feel rushed at all and really enjoyed the food at a leisurely pace with plenty of opportunities to admire the views and take photographs.

We both really enjoyed our day and I'm so happy that I finally got myself into gear to book the experience, it was one of the loveliest days out we've had in the North East.

Afternoon Tea Steam Train - Tanfield Railway

Afternoon Tea on the Tanfield Railway is served every Sunday and Summer Saturday until 27 August and costs £25.00 for Adults, £22.00 for Seniors and £20.00 for Children. Pre booking is essential!

If Afternoon Tea isn't your thing then unlimited travel all day is £10.00 for adults, £6.00 for children and £8.00 for Seniors and there's a tea room, canteen and gift shop at different stations along the track so you won't go hungry!

It's worth knowing that Tanfield Railway run loads of different events throughout the year including Murder Mystery Evenings, Heritage Open Days, Ghost Trains and the very popular North Pole Express. Discover more of their events here.

If you want to see more about our trip then follow me on Instagram and check out my video highlights.

Tanfield Railway - Afternoon Tea

Find The Tanfield Railway at:

Marley Hill Engine Shed
Old Marley Hill
NE16 5ET

07508 092 365


Sunday 20 May 2018

The Top 5 North East Adventures in 5 Years! Happy 5th Birthday New Girl in Toon

Reaching the age of 5 feels like something that should really be celebrated!  I never would have thought when I opened up my laptop 5 years ago and began writing a blog that New Girl in Toon would last so long and be so successful.

To celebrate I thought it would be fun to rummage through the archives and share my top five adventures in the North East, picking each one from when I first started my blog in 2013 (get ready for some giggles!) right up to 2018.

The Top 5 North East Adventures in 5 Years! Happy 5th Birthday New Girl in Toon

2013 - A Picnic at Saltwell Park

Picking a post from 2013 to share with you wasn't an easy job, I didn't exactly have a great choice of high quality blogs to choose from (please don't go back and read any others!) but as we're chatting about the top 5 adventures in the North East I'm throwing it back to July 2013 when we went on a picnic to Saltwell Park, an adventure that certainly stands the test of time! Saltwell Park in Gateshead is somewhere that we've spent a lot of time over the years, we even had our engagement photo shoot there in 2016.

On this particular day back in 2013 we made a quick visit to the (retro old style) Fenwick's Food Hall to stock up on picnic goodies and then made our way to Gateshead for an afternoon of lounging about in the beautiful sunshine. I was very new to the North East and Simon and I hadn't been dating that long so it's certainly a memory that I hold very dear.

Crazy to think that this is actually the last picnic that we went on!

Fancy a little look at the old Fenwick's Food Hall - read all about our Picnic at Saltwell Park 

New Girl in Toon - Saltwell Park Picnic

2014 - Exploring North Tyneside

There's nothing like looking back at a blog post from 4 years ago to make you realise that maybe you need a wardrobe refresh. I still wear this outfit!

Exploring North Tyneside has to be one of the greatest North East adventures that you can have, it's still one of our favourite things to do on a Sunday afternoon. Ambling along the seafront eating ice-cream, going crazy for all of the lovely little dogs we meet and playing Dinosaur Crazy Golf in Tynemouth.

On this particular day back in 2014 we started our stroll in North Shields and walked all the way along to Whitley Bay (with a cheeky stop at Beaches and Cream for huge ice-cream sundaes of course!)

Why am I wearing so much eyeliner? Have a giggle and read all about exploring North Tyneside.

New Girl in Toon - North Tyneside

2015 - Glamping in Northumberland

When I think back to all the opportunities this blog has brought me, staying in a Shepherd's Hut with the Bells of Hemscott at Druridge Bay is one of my favourite moments, it's an experience that will stay with me forever.

I'd always wanted to go camping but never thought that Simon would be up for it so when the opportunity came along to stay in a Shepherd's Hut I was over the moon. I had the most fantastic evening roasting marshmallows on an open fire, skipping about on Druridge Bay and having a wonderful night of no TV and no technology .. we actually had to speak to each other!

Yes I'm dressed like a fisherman leave me alone! Read all about our experience Glamping in Northumberland 

New Girl in Toon - Bells of Hemscott

2016 - Climbing Grey's Monument

Climbing to the top of Grey's Monument in Newcastle was something that I'd been wanting to do ever since I arrived in the North East yet it took me until 2016 to finally get round to booking us some tickets and I'm so glad we finally got the chance to climb the 164 steps to the top because it was the most amazing experience and those views have to be the best in Newcastle.

If you ever get the opportunity to climb Grey's Monument (they usually release tickets once a year!) then make sure that you go.

Check out the beautiful views across the Toon! Read all about our adventure climbing Grey's Monument.

New Girl in Toon - Monument

2017 - Newcastle in the Sky

Picking only one adventure from last year was incredibly tough as we did so many fantastic things. The one thing that really sticks in my mind though is Newcastle in the Sky when we got to dine at a table hoisted 100 feet in the air over Newcastle. As much as I love amazing views I was so nervous when the table first hoisted up but it was a truly beautiful experience and one that I don't think I'll ever be able to recapture. I really hope they come back to entertain us again this year.

Dining in the Sky! Read all about our evening dining in the sky

New Girl in Toon - Dine in the Sky

Before I sign off I just have to say a massive thank you to every single one of you who have commented on a blog post, shared my work or sent me a lovely message. This blog was created out of my love for the North East and to this day it is the only reason that I still create new content every week. Chatting about the North East is my passion and this site has given me the most amazing opportunities to collaborate with local businesses and people to help promote our beautiful region - I am so proud to be an ambassador for the North East and that my readers give me such a great reason to indulge myself in the wonderful delights of the region.

Thank you!
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