Monday, 18 March 2019

National B&B Week - A Night at Forest Guest House, South Shields - Review

* This is a collaboration with eviivo

Some of my favourite childhood memories were created in B&Bs - the excitement of sharing a room with Grandma, the promise of a special breakfast and the chance to experience living somewhere else for a few days. Growing up my family always favoured B&Bs when we went on holiday, my Mum always found the best places to stay and every single experience we had was wonderful - yet I don't think I've actually stayed in one since the 1990s!

For some reason Simon and I have never really used B&Bs and I don't for the life of me know why. So when online booking specialist, eviivo invited us to stay at the Forest Guest House in South Shields to celebrate National B&B week I was excited at the thought of recapturing a part of my childhood I'd forgotten and introduce Simon to the wonderful world of B&Bs.

A Night at the Forest Guesthouse, South Shields Review - Celebrating National B&B Week


Forest Guest House is in the heart of South Shields, perfectly located on Ocean Road which, if you're local, you will know is THE North East destination for the best curry houses. A short stroll down to the seafront, close to the Metro and surrounded by some fantastic bars and restaurants - it's the perfect base for a night away.

We turned up on a blustery Saturday afternoon and were welcomed in by owner Janet who instantly made us feel at home. I'd forgotten what a great personal experience you get when you stay at a B&B - being welcomed in to someones home feels so much more special than checking into a hotel.

Forest Guesthouse, South Shields Review - Celebrating National B&B Week
Our home for the night was "Room One', an executive double beautifully furnished, with a huge bathroom and a little furry friend! How gorgeous is our pal?

Forest Guesthouse, South Shields Review




With such a homely finish to our room, there were so many lovely little touches. We had been left some chocolates (which we greedily ate despite being full after dinner!), enjoyed a fully loaded tea tray, fancy toiletries and Simon's favourite we had a DVD player as well as a TV and a very impressive DVD library in the corridor outside our room.

As soon as Simon saw the DVDs I knew he would have happily stayed in the room all evening, but it's not often we get the opportunity to explore one of our favourite seaside towns after dark so there was no way I was going to let him stay in.

Forest Guesthouse, Ocean Road South Shields


Usually when we go to South Shields we head to the same restaurant, it's one of our favourites and hard to resist but this time we were very keen to try somewhere different and so asked our hosts for a recommendation. One of the best things about staying in a B&B is you get some really great ideas of where to head from locals who know what they're talking about. I was so keen to discover a new favourite!

I was in the mood for Italian so we headed to Da Vinci's a few minutes walk down the Ocean Road, somewhere that we've never paid any attention to before despite having walked past it so many times. It was a beautiful little traditional restaurant with so much character and the best tiramisu we'd ever tasted (we both ordered the same for dessert on the recommendation of our B&B hosts).

As we left the restaurant and walked down the street I was so surprised at how packed all the restaurants in South Shields were, everywhere we passed was full with diners and people out and about enjoying their Saturday evening. I honestly had no idea that South Shields was such a night time destination. We have been missing out!

After our meal we decided to head to Mambos Wine and Dine for a couple of drinks, another destination that came recommended by our hosts. We couldn't believe what a gem it was, gorgeous decor and a very impressive cocktail list.

Mambo Wine and Dine South Shields


Now I'd love to tell you all that we went all out in South Shields but the reality is we made a toast to being "out, out" and then realised it was actually only 6.52 pm, not 10:00 pm like we'd thought. It wasn't long after that we realised we were pretty shattered and the lure of that comfortable looking bed at the Forest Guest House was just too much to resist.

We turned in for the night at 9:30 pm and then slept for 10 hours, something we'd never be able to achieve at home. It was so lovely to have a proper night's sleep and I think we have the super comfortable bed to thank for that.

South Shields B&B


The next morning I was so eager to get downstairs having told Simon over and over that you always get the most incredible breakfast in a B&B I just knew from the delicious smells creeping up the stairs that the Forest Guest House were really going to deliver the best start to our day.

We made our way into the dining room and were surprised to find an open kitchen at the end of the room. It really was like being at a friend's house as we settled ourselves down at our table and tucked into our cornflakes whilst chatting to our hosts, Janet and Peter about anything and everything from the origins of the B&B to the current works on the Metro line and our favourite things about South Shields.

Of course when you're enjoying a night away from home it's perfectly acceptable to have a multiple course breakfast and once we'd finished our cereals we indulged in a cooked breakfast. Simon opted for huge homemade pancakes with bacon and maple syrup and I went for the more traditional English Breakfast. It's not often I'll choose a fry up but I just couldn't resist the local produce on the menu and I'm so happy I went for it because it was really delicious. I was far too full for the pile of hot buttered toast we had on the side but I just had to polish that off to.

Forest Guesthouse South Shields B&B


With breakfast over it was time for us to gather our belongings and return home. We gained so much during our short stay at Forest Guest House and are so happy that we made so many great new discoveries in South Shields and made some new friends in our B&B hosts!

We absolutely loved our break and it was a welcome reminder of how great a B&B stay can be and why we really should be using them more often!

What you need to know:

National B&B Week takes place from 18 to 24 March.  Working with eviivo and the wider industry, B&Bs across the UK are offering guests extra perks such as free champagne on arrival, unlimited ice cream and complimentary afternoon tea.  head to https://bandbweek.com/offers/ for more information and to book a stay.

Find Forest Guesthouse at:

117 Ocean Road
South Shields
NE33 2JL

0191 454 8160

forestguesthouse.co.uk/

We were guests of eviivo who treated us to a free night's stay at the Forest Guesthouse in exchange for this review. 
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Thursday, 14 March 2019

BBC Tours Newcastle - Review

* This is a collaboration with the BBC

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of your favourite TV shows? I had always imagined it to be ridiculously glamorous - celebrities, hair & makeup and huge studios and whilst some of that is certainly true I never appreciated all of the hard work that goes into broadcasting the programmes I watch every day until we went on the BBC Tour in Newcastle.

You may not know this, because I only very recently found out, but BBC Newcastle run tours for the public three days a week offering a fantastic chance to see behind the scenes of TV and Radio in the North East. There are two tours to choose from, a children's interactive tour and an adults tour suitable for over 12s.

BBC Tours Newcastle - Review
Simon and I booked ourselves on to the BBC Tour on Saturday morning at 10:30 am and were greeted at the door by Jordy and Tony, our two guides. We checked in, stashed away our bags and in exchange were given passes to wear for the tour.

I instantly felt very cool having a BBC lanyard hanging from my neck! This lasted until around the time I spotted the Tardis in reception and instantly became a super fan. I insisted on throwing on all of the Doctors clothes for a picture in front of it - it'll take a lot more than a BBC pass to make this girl a cool kid!

BBC Tour Newcastle - Review


Once the rest of our group had arrived it was time for our tour to begin. There were around 16 of us in total - a nice amount to move around the building and we started off with a little history of how BBC Newcastle began. It's funny to think now that for many years everything was broadcast from London with no local information available to other regions. Imagine not having a local news broadcast!

Looking along the timeline it was interesting to see what an important part the North East has played in the development of the BBC with many of my favourite shows and TV stars beginning life in Newcastle. My very first introduction to Newcastle was through a children's TV programme in the 90s - Byker Grove, I remember everyone at school trying to copy the Geordie accent.

Walking into the BBC library we discovered how recordings are made and stored and I couldn't believe all the shelves of video tapes and film reels. The archives are incredible and I had no idea how much footage the BBC has to store. Slightly morbid, but there's a little top shelf of the library containing obituaries for all of the key members of the Royal Family so in the event of the deaths of the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles or Prince William the BBC can instantly respond.

BBC Newcastle - Review


Next we went into one of the smaller studios to learn more about green screen technology and I got to live out my Harry Potter dreams by putting on the "cloak of invisibility" and turning myself into a floating head drifting above the Newcastle Quayside. This little trick really impressed the kids on our tour but I have to say I had just as much fun disappearing and reappearing in front of the cameras as they did.

BBC Newcastle - Tour Review


I think the most impressive part of the tour was stepping into the big news studio to go behind the scenes of Look North. As the huge doors rolled back and we stepped inside we were all pretty gobsmacked by the huge lights hanging from the ceiling, the cameras and seeing the news desk in real life. I probably shouldn't give away all the secrets, but did you know the offices you see behind the news desk aren't real offices at all? Shhhh don't tell anyone!

The studio was split into three sections. The hard news desk where all of the important headlines are broadcast, the soft news area where guests and presenters sit on comfier sofas to chat and the big screen for the weather. We learnt so many interesting behind the scenes facts and I've come away with a huge respect for the weather presenters who can be given anything from 30 seconds to 6 minutes to do their weather report and quite often have to ad lib to fill the time!

BBC Newcastle - Tours Review


Next was a quick stop to the Gallery where the production team and director sits. The room was completely full of TV screens and endless buttons - I can't even imagine the pressure of being in that room during a live broadcast. Imagine pressing the wrong button and turning out all the lights in the studio by accident?

With BBC Newcastle being a working studio every tour offers a real taste of a working day and as we moved into the radio studios we got to watch the presenters in the next door studio live on the radio. Absolute professionals, I can't imagine having a tour group coming through my office when I'm doing my job - imagine!

We ended our visit in the Interactive Studio where we got to put together our own little news broadcast switching between the news, weather and sport. Such a great moment for anyone wanting a go at being a presenter with a chance to read auto cues and speak to camera before seeing the final piece complete with intros and video clips.

BBC Newcastle - Studio Tour Review


We absolutely loved our time at BBC Newcastle, our guides were so much fun, we learnt loads and I honestly can't recommend the tour enough to anyone. It was so much fun doing something a little different and I left with a huge amount of love and respect for our local TV studio and the wonderful people running it.

What you need to know:
  • Tours take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm
  • Arrival time is 15 minutes before tours start to allow for security checks. Large bags are prohibited
  • Tickets prices up to 31 March 2019 are Adults £10.00; Children £7.50 from 1 April 2019 ticket prices increase to Adults £11.00; Children £8.00 - for other prices please check here
  • The Tour lasts approximately 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Parking at the studios is available on Saturdays but limited during the week. The Studio is a 20 minute walk from the city centre
Find BBC Newcastle at:

Broadcasting Centre
Barrack Road
NE2 4NS

http://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/tours/newcastle

We were given complimentary tour tickets for review purposes. 
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Tuesday, 12 March 2019

A Taste of Branches - Five Course Tasting Menu at Branches, Jesmond

*This is a collaboration with Branches

I have been wanting to visit Branches in Jesmond ever since they opened their doors.  I've heard great thing about their affordable, high quality food and lots of stories about their delicious Sunday lunches. Of course, I've also heard whispers that there's a blossom tree inside the restaurant (and we all know I can't resist a beautiful restaurant interior!)

Simon and I finally made it to the Jesmond restaurant last weekend for a late lunch, very hungry and excited about tucking into their five course tasting menu - it's not often you get the chance to enjoy such a huge feast. Usually when we eat out we manage two courses, so the promise of five made lunch feel extra special.

A Taste of Branches - Five Course Tasting Menu at Branches, Jesmond


The Taste of Branches menu is available for lunch between 12:00 and 14:30 and Dinner 17:00 to 19:00 (until 18:00 on Friday and Saturday) and costs £24.95 per person which is an absolutely amazing price. I don't think you'd find a five course tasting menu that cheap anywhere else and if you're looking for something a bit special without breaking the bank I wouldn't bother looking anywhere else.

We were shown to the most beautiful table underneath the gorgeous blossom tree, I really can't talk about it without mentioning Instagram because it was the perfect photo opportunity - absolutely beautiful and the perfect spot for a romantic lunch for two. The entire restaurant is decked out in white furniture, plush booths and I even spotted a flower arch when I ventured upstairs. It's quite the dining out destination.

Every meal for me nowadays starts with a gin (my gin and tonic obsession doesn't appear to be ending any time soon) and I opted for the Bloom Gin (£9.95) which came with rose buds and lavender, it looked so pretty. I've never tried lavender in my gin before but it worked so well and really added something special to my gin - it's definitely a garnish I'll look to introduce at home in the future.  Simon chose Diet Coke (I'd decided he was designated driver as soon as I read through the gin menu) which we thought was a little steep at £3.25 a glass.

Taste of Branches - Five Course Tasting Menu at Branches, Jesmond


Before I begin with the menu review I do have something to discuss which, although definitely isn't the restaurant's fault, did leave us a little frustrated. I have a mild nut allergy which I mentioned to our waiter who helpfully fetched me the allergen menu. At that point I discovered that a lot of the dishes were marked as containing nuts.

With many of the foods being sourced externally the restaurant couldn't guarantee that things didn't have nuts in. Completely understandable of course and something I come across a lot. Usually I confirm that I understand the restaurant has no control over the external food supplier and that there are nuts used in the kitchen and then use my own judgement when it comes to making my order. Branches however take allergies so seriously that I wasn't allowed to order anything that was marked as potentially having nuts in. I can completely understand why, especially given the recent press attention in relation to allergy sufferers in restaurants and the huge risks involved but I found it a little awkward to be told I couldn't order things that I knew I would be fine with.

Taste of Branches - Five Course Tasting Menu at Branches
I'm definitely not going to dwell on it as I do applaud the restaurant for taking allergies so seriously, but as I feel honesty is important in my reviews, I thought it was worth mentioning.

The first course of our five course feast was the one I couldn't help but be very excited about,  the bread course!  As someone who always goes slightly bonkers over the bread basket whenever we go out I was looking forward to my freshly baked warm bread served with whipped butter and the flavoured salt of the day.

The bread was divine, a warm crusty roll with a delicious soft centre which I completely smothered in the delicious whipped butter ...  yes I did ask for another because just having one roll to share on a "bread course" did seem a bit daft!

Branches - Five Course Tasting Menu at Branches


Course two and we had five delicious sounding starters to pick from.  I opted for the Rich Chicken Liver and Mushroom Pate with Black Truffle dressing and Caramelised Onion Chutney. The pate was delicious but really rich so I couldn't quite finish it (as we were only on course two I needed to make sure I left plenty of room)

Branches Jesmond - Five Course Tasting Menu at Branches


Simon opted for the Slow Cooked Crispy Ham Fritter and Hens Egg - Braised Ham with Soft Boiled Hens Egg, Truffle Mayo and House Pickles. It looked absolutely beautiful and shockingly Simon didn't let me try a single bite of it (grounds for divorce surely)? The dish gave me quite a lot of envy so on our next visit I'm going to be sure to order this one.

Branches Jesmond - Five Course Menu at Branches


Course three was an intermediate course which I always love on a taster menu as it's exciting to see what the chef is going to come up with.  We had a lovely light Beetroot and Apple amuse bouche. It is just me who finds extra courses just makes the meal that little bit more fancy?

Branches Jesmond - Five Course Menu
We approached the fourth course with plenty of room left and it was hard to pick between the six main courses on offer. Simon went for the Pan Roasted Chicken Breast with Duck Fat Fondant potato, Pickled Mushrooms, Pancetta and Seasonal vegetables. I was watching carefully as he cut into the chicken, I always think the sign of a good restaurant is a well prepared chicken breast and this one looked perfect.

Branches, Jesmond Five Course Tasting Menu


I opted for Tagliatelle Carbonara with Crispy Egg, Wild Mushrooms and Pancetta and although I'm the first to admit that Carbonara wouldn't be something I'd usually get that excited about let me tell you that this really was a Carbonara that was worth writing home about. I've never had anything like it, it was absolutely delicious and truly knocked my socks off. I would quite happily sit in the restaurant and eat endless bowls of it all day long. It was incredible and if you take anything from this review let it be that you need to go to Branches and try this dish!



We got a special little surprise at the table before our final course when a very impressive bit of food theatre appeared. I wasn't sure what was happening to start with as a jug of curious looking liquid was poured on top of our glasses covering the whole table in smoke. For a glorious moment I felt like I was on Top of the Pops. Love a bit of drama with my food so this went down a treat.

Branches, Jesmond - Tasting Menu


Time for the fifth and final course and although we were beginning to feel more than a little full we knew there was no way we were going to be able to resist polishing off the dessert.  I had a dessert that's not usually served on the Taster Menu to accommodate my allergy which I really appreciated. The Double Chocolate Brownie was served with Amarena Cherries, Chantilly Cream and Ice-cream. It was incredible!

Branches, Jesmond - Five Course Menu


The real big finish of the day though went to Simon's Bourbon Sticky Toffee Pudding with Salted Caramel Ice-Cream and Cinder Toffee. It just looked incredible - an absolute mountain of pudding and I just couldn't stop staring at it. It was a real thing of beauty and was the kind of dessert that makes you completely forget that two seconds ago you were feeling very full up. There's no way you could ever turn this bad boy down! Simon is a real connoisseur of Sticky Toffee Pudding and has decided this one now features in his top five in Newcastle (maybe one day I should get him to write a blog post on that?)

Branches, Jesmond
We were absolutely blown away by our meal at Branches, we have eaten in some of the finest restaurants in the North East and the quality of the food was definitely comparable, the only difference being the price! It's not often you find such high quality food at such a reasonable price, we still can't get over the fact that the Five Course Menu only costs £24.95!  The perfect location for a special occasion and, in all honesty, at that price, why bother waiting for something special - just book in now and give it a go!

Find Branches at:

9 Osborne Road
NE2 2AE

branchesjesmond.co.uk/

0191 239 9924

We received a complimentary meal for two in exchange for this honest review. We paid for drinks ourselves. 
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Friday, 8 March 2019

Find the Perfect Mother's Day Gifts at Silverlink Shopping Park

This is a paid advertisement collaboration with Silverlink Shopping Centre 

With only a few shopping weeks left until Mother's Day the race is on to find the perfect gifts for the most important woman in your life and this year Silverlink Shopping Park have challenged me to find the perfect Mother's Day Gifts from one of the stores on their park.

Between you and me this really isn't a challenge! You see Simon and I spend a huge amount of our time at Silverlink. As huge movie buffs we've spent many an hour at the Odeon on the park which is usually followed by a cheeky Nandos and a good few hours pottering around the shops. It's one of our favourite places in the North East to go shopping because there's loads of free parking, all the shops we love are in one place and it takes a lot of the hassle out of traipsing into the city when we want a relaxing day of shopping.

Find the Perfect Mother's Day Gifts at Silverlink Shopping Park


There are over 20 stores on the Siverlink Shopping Park including my favourites River Island, M&S, New Look, Next H&M and Outfit and "somewhere for Simon to hide" (if I ever lose him in Silverlink he can always be found in Currys PC World mooning over the giant TVs!). With so many great shops in one place it was a great spot for us to find Mother's Day gifts and with mine and his to buy for we had plenty of work to do.

There were a couple of shops on the Silverlink Shopping Park that I had in mind to find the perfect Mother's Day and we began our trip with a visit to Boots, always my go to when I want to find lovely gift sets, perfume or fancy bubble baths.

Mother's Day Gifts at Silverlink Shopping Park
We found a stand of Mother's Day inspired gift sets a few steps from the door and almost picked up the Joules Scarf Gift Set, a rather lovely collection of bath and body products along with a beautiful print scarf. We couldn't quite agree on that though so decided to move across the park to M&S which has never failed us when it comes to shopping for the Mums.

I LOVE M&S for gift shopping, they always have such a huge range of goodies that make perfect gifts - fantastic clothes and shoes (if you're confident enough to buy something for your Mum's wardrobe!) as well as candles, scarves and jewellery. They really have never let us down.

Mother's Day gift buying in the M&S in Silverlink is fool proof.  Making our way upstairs we found a Mother's Day Edit laid out next to the cafe and in all honesty the work had more or less been done for us with so many lovely gifts all set out, I would happily have purchased any of them. I was particularly smitten with a yellow bag and bright coloured scarf combo and almost bought them but we couldn't quite decide if this was the right choice.

Mother's Day at Silverlink Shopping Park


We spent a while mooching round the candles (M&S do deliciously scented three wick candles!), I got very distracted by some Lobster Pyjamas (before Simon helpfully reminded me that we weren't shopping for me) before picking up some Mother's Day cards and hunting through the bottles of gin and wine in the Food Hall (both Mum's love a bottle shaped present!)

After all that shopping time you're probably wondering what we got them? Unfortunately we can't tell you quite yet as both Mums read this blog and we don't want to be ruining any surprises (Hi Mum!) - we can't wait to share our gifts with them both later in the month and hopefully this has given you a little bit of inspiration to find your own perfect Mother's Day Gifts.

I'd love to hear if you have any great ideas for your Mother's Day Gifts this year!

Silverlink Shopping Park


What you need to know:
  • Silverlink Shopping Park is open Monday to Friday 9:00 - 21:00, Saturdays 8:30 - 19:30 and Sundays 10:00 - 17:00
  • There are 900 free parking spaces and two direct bus services from Newcastle
Find Silverlink Shopping Park at:

Coast Road
Wallsend
NE28 9ND

silverlinkshoppingpark.co.uk/
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Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Raising the Curtain on Seaton Delaval Hall - Behind the Scenes with National Trust

AD - This is a paid collaboration with National Trust

Most weekends Simon and I head off on a great adventures with our National Trust membership cards. With some of the country's most beautiful properties and estates on our doorstep we're pretty spoilt for choice when it comes to planning our day trips. But one of our favourite places will be giving us a very different kind of National Trust experience over the next couple of years, are you ready to Raise the Curtain at Seaton Delaval Hall?



Ask Simon and I about Seaton Delaval Hall and we will always tell you the story of the time we visited one Summer simply just to lounge about on the lawn on a particularly hot day.  We spent hours watching the world go by and playing catch, it was the simplest of plans yet it's something that we always look back on so fondly. I think from that day we developed a really special bond with the Estate, it's not the biggest National Trust site in the North East, but it is so special and I know that we're not the only people who feel that way.

Seaton Delaval has been special to the people of Northumberland since the 1700s when the Delavals threw notoriously crazy parties - playing the most ridiculous tricks on their guests, putting on theatrical shows and jaw dropping illusions and even now, hundreds of years later, locals can tell you stories of late night dinner parties in the hall.



So when Seaton Delaval was granted National Lottery Heritage Funding last year it was a great moment for the North East and the generations of families who have enjoyed the Hall and Estate over the years. With the exciting opportunities to not only attract new visitors but to reintroduce the site to its existing friends, Seaton Delaval has just entered a new chapter. Over the next two years The Curtain Rise Project will see some changes happening and, the best part is, we can all get involved.


Over the next two years the project will be focussing on conserving parts of the Estate as well as restoring some of the outside spaces and creating some new elements that are really going to be something to shout about.

I put on my hard hat on a closer look!



Visiting The Hall 

Work is currently being undertaken on the West Wing of the Hall. The furniture that was on display has been put into storage and the wing is being re-roofed as well as having a new paint scheme.



The Central Hall will also be getting some work done with the conservation of the spiral staircase. I must have walked up and down those stairs so many times but never taken the time to properly appreciate how they are built. Each step is individually placed, giving the effect that it is floating unsupported. Absolutely stunning and, as you can imagine, quite a big job to restore.

There will also be new flooring in the Stables and the Basement with new sympathetic lighting schemes introduced to make it easier for guests to get around and highlight some features of the Hall that may have escaped your notice before.



Visiting the Grounds

When we were strolling round the outside of the Hall I quickly realised how much of the Estate I've missed out on. Despite having spent entire afternoons wandering about and lounging on the grass I'd never made it to the end of the Paddocks to see the ha-ha walls and walled garden. Seems I'm not the only person who has never discovered all of the Estate so National Trust will also be restoring the gardens - laying new paths and opening up historic views as well as introducing new planting schemes inspired by the 1781 estate plan.



For more information on each part of the project there's a full time line as well as plans (including the highly anticipated new children's play area!) on display at Seaton Delaval which gives a really clear idea of the planned works and schedule.



Get Involved!

Of course, a big project like this does take time and different parts of the Hall and Estate will be closed at various times whilst works are done. Disruption will be kept to a minimum and although it wont always be possible to access parts of the site that you could before, the project does offer some pretty unique experiences that I think will be great to get involved in.

Viewing platforms will be erected at certain points of the restoration so visitors can take a closer look at the works as they happen and if you really want a good behind the scenes snoop Hard Hat Tours will be available, free of charge, on various dates giving you exclusive access to project areas with contractors, Historic Property Restorations.



The project has already dug up some pretty interesting treasures (you wouldn't believe how fascinating an old "nit comb" is!) and as the work continues and more is discovered you'll be able to see these finds on display and uncover even more stories of the Delavals.

In addition to the conservation work, Seaton Delaval are also working with the local community to tell the stories of the Hall. The Delaval Dialogues community programme provides the opportunity to get involved with the Curtain Rises Project including working with schools, local amateur dramatic groups and Northumbria University students.

New Features

There are some other very exciting elements to the project over the next two years that will introduce some brand new features to Seaton Delaval Hall including a new children's play area inspired by Baroque theatre, new permanent toilets and, the part that has got me most excited, a brand new cafe.

I was very lucky to have a sneaky tour of The Brew House, the brand new cafe and it is going to be amazing. A beautiful space inside a gorgeous stone building with low beams and plenty of light - current plans include having a stage inside for live music, outside seating and, fingers crossed, the ability to open in the Summer evenings for drink and food evenings.



I am SO excited about the future of Seaton Delaval Hall and I can't wait to see the next stage of the project come to life. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be there every few weeks because I'm just not going to be able to resist having a little nose at what's going on.

What you need to know:
Find Seaton Delaval Hall at: 

The Avenue
Seaton Sluice
Northumberland
NE26 4QR

nationaltrust.org.uk/seaton-delaval-hall

This post is a paid collaboration with Seaton Delaval Hall. 
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Monday, 4 March 2019

Pancake Day at The Waffle and Pancake House, Spanish City, Whitley Bay

If you're anything like me you will have "Pancake Day" written in rather large letters in your diary already for tomorrow but if you find yourself without a plan this year, a visit to the Waffle and Pancake House at Spanish City in Whitley Bay might just be the perfect addition to your diary.

Pancake Day at The Waffle and Pancake House, Spanish City, Whitley Bay


Someone recently said to me "Chloe, do you live in Spanish City?" Whilst I do wish that could actually be a thing (wonder if they'd notice if I just made myself a little home under one of the tables?), sadly we don't - we're just there a lot! It's no secret that I'm a big of a fan of Whitley Bay's famous Dome and am really enjoying working my way round all of the different bars and restaurants -  our latest visit to Spanish City took us to The Waffle and Pancake House, just in time for that all important pancake day research!

You'll find The Waffle and Pancake House at the front of Spanish City, its huge windows offering the irresistible temptation to have a nose in whenever you are strolling past. Something I've done every time we've been to Whitley Bay because, if there's one thing I can't resist, it's gazing at plates of pancakes.

Pancake Day The Waffle and Pancake House, Spanish City, Whitley Bay


Ever keen and always first through the door, Simon and I got ourselves to The Waffle and Pancake House for opening on a beautiful sunny Saturday, bellies growling at the thought of what was to come.  We both love an indulgent sweet breakfast at the weekend and with a coastal walk planned afterwards we were keen to prepare ourselves with bellies full of food.

The menu at The Waffle and Pancake House is pretty simple and made up solely of crepes, waffles and ice-cream sundaes. There are seven different creations to choose from and if one of those don't take your fancy there's also the option to "build your own" waffle and crepe with any three toppings - with plenty of tasty treats on offer including Marshmallows, Salted Caramel Pieces and Honeycomb I think creating your own masterpiece could be a lot of fun and I'm definitely going to going for that option on our next visit.

The Waffle and Pancake House, Spanish City, Whitley Bay


I knew immediately what I was going to order - the Black Forest Crepe (£4.95) Whipped Cream, Chocolate Ice-Cream and Amarena Cherries. As soon as I see "Black Forest" anything on a menu I am going to order it without question - chocolate and cherries are my favourite dessert combinations. The pancakes served at The Waffle and Pancake House are large crepes rather than American pancake stacks so the perfect size to satisfy your cravings without giving yourself a tummy ache. Definitely far superior to the ones I make myself at home on pancake day, mine arrived with a decent amount of toppings.

Swimming in sauce and sticky cherries a lack of dessert spoons saw me clearing my plate with a tea spoon from my coffee - I know I'm not very classy but there's something rather lovely about finishing your dessert with a baby spoon and there was no way I was letting any of it go to waste.

The Waffle and Pancake House, Spanish City


Simon must have missed the memo about prepping for pancake day and completely ignored my "but Pancake Day" reasoning and opted for the Banoffee Waffle £5.50 - Sliced Bananas, Caramel Fudge, Honeycomb Ice Cream, Toffee Sauce and Whipped Cream. I didn't admit to him at the time (because no one ever wants to admit that their dining partner won!) but I was so jealous of those waffles because they looked so good!

Waffle and Pancake House, Spanish City
We really enjoyed our first visit to the Waffle and Pancake House at Whitley Bay, it it is the perfect spot for a quick bite when you're at the seaside. They're nothing fancy, but as a little treat with the family or a post coastal hike reward they really do hit the spot and we're looking forward to going back and trying some more.

Find The Waffle and Pancake House at:

Spanish City
Whitley Bay
NE26 1BG

https://spanishcity.co.uk/waffle-and-pancake-house/
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Thursday, 28 February 2019

My February Days

I have to say one of my favourite things about February is how short it is after how painful January always seems. I can't help but wish the weeks away because March brings my birthday and the arrival of Spring which is one of my favourite seasons. But before I get carried away looking ahead, here are a few things that I didn't share on the blog this month.

Snow Days

It seems so bonkers talking about snow when we're currently having some kind of February heatwave, but our month began with snow days and cancelled plans. I know I sound like such a misery but I really can't stand snow, sure it looks pretty for a short while but then it turns to dirty slush and lethal pavements and after almost breaking my neck trying to get home from work and then having to cancel a weekend of adventures I was more than ready for it to leave! I do have one positive to come out of it though, I bought myself a beautiful pair of snow boots and I'm almost wanting some snow to come back just so I can wear them (almost!)

February Days - Snow in Newcastle


Spotlight On

This month the spotlight was on me when I was the very first guest on the The Life Bath Podcast, a recently launched podcast discovering the lives of people in the North East. I shared plenty of stories of weight loss, meeting my husband and, of course, how I fell in love with the North East and why I decided to pack up my London life and relocate. If you fancy a listen you can find my episode here.

February Days - Kiln




Northumberland Cake Discoveries 

Earlier this month we were out and about in Northumberland when we suddenly realised we were in desperate need of a cup of tea and a sit down, this is when it suddenly occurred to us that we really don't have much of a clue of where to go in the countryside for tea and cake. Luckily we stumbled across Kirkharle Coffee House who saved the day with this mammoth slab of Victoria Sponge. When I got home I asked my Facebook followers for some more recommendations and was inundated with suggestions - so I'm never going to be stuck ever again. Watch this space because I'm going to have some amazing new recommendations for you very soon.

February Days - Kirkharle Coffee House


Bee Pollen Lattes and Foggy Drives

Last month I shared with you that my New Year's Resolution is to get my driving confidence back and I'm so happy that I'm going from strength to strength with my solo drives. My biggest achievement had to be last weekend when I drove a completely unknown route down to South Tyneside in very thick fog, I think that was the moment I knew I've really cracked it! I journeyed down to Hive Coffee in Jarrow for a Bee Pollen Latte with two of my favourite ladies. It was my first visit to the cute tea room and I was really impressed, can't wait to go back and try out some more of the menu.

February Days - Hive Coffee


The Salt Cove

I'm pretty sure this is the most impressive transformation you will ever see! This beautiful bar is The Salt Cove in The Park Hotel in Tynemouth and if you saw how the bar looked before I don't think you'll believe me that they are the same place. The refurbishment is amazing and the new look bar features very fancy chandeliers, floral displays and marble tables. We only popped in for a quick drink but having spotted some rather delicious looking food making its way from the kitchen we're keen to book ourselves in for a meal really soon.

February Days - The Salt Cove




Strike a Pose

This month I decided to give poor Simon a break from playing photographer and actually paid a professional to take a few photos of me around Newcastle. I've been chatting to Laura for years online and although we'd never met I knew we'd get on well so she was the perfect photographer to get the best out of this awkward turtle. We spent hours walking round Newcastle and it was so lovely to be out and about with someone who loves the beautiful architecture of the city as much as me. I can't wait to share the images from our day in future blog posts.

February - High Bridge Newcastle


The Split Chimp 

Now that I'm getting more confident with my driving Simon is making up for lost time with a few well deserved pints when we're out and about on our adventures. Having chauffeured me around for years I love that he can now enjoy a few weekend drinks and his first celebratory pint was at the newly opened The Split Chimp at Spanish City in Whitley Bay. The micro-pub is the perfect addition to the seafront and we absolutely loved the vibe of the little place - it's a definite must next time you're at the seaside.

February Days - The Split Chimp


Batch Jesmond 

I have a new favourite lunchtime spot! Batch in Jesmond is the cutest little place that serves a really lovely cup of coffee and delicious light bites on the nicest blue plates. Every time I pop in it seems a little busier than the time before so I think word is spreading that this is a little gem - go visit them before you can no longer get a seat.

February Days - Batch Jesmond


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