Friday 31 May 2019

My May Days

I always love May, it's my month of anniversaries. I celebrated my six year anniversary of moving to Newcastle closely followed by the birth of this blog and becoming Facebook official with Simon (remember when that was a really big deal?) - there's been plenty of bottles of fizz chilling in our fridge. This month was also a month of new discoveries and revisiting old favourites and I can't wait to share them with you. Here's what didn't make the blog this month.

Coffee on the Quayside 

When we found ourselves strolling down the Newcastle Quayside desperately wanting a coffee I suddenly remembered that we were yet to visit St Vincents on Broad Chare. Although better known as a wine bar it also has a really lovely offering in the morning including a very nice weekend brunch menu and a rather fine selection of pastries to go with your morning coffee. The place is beautiful with red brick walls, ornate mirrors and gorgeous cafe style seating. For a moment I forgot I was in Newcastle, I was in a charming little cafe in Europe! Who needs a holiday when Tyneside is this good?

Saint Vincents Newcastle

Everyman Cinema Opens in Newcastle

I feel like we were waiting forever for the arrival of the Everyman Cinema in Newcastle, so when it finally opened its doors this month I was through them like a shot. The bar area is lush and offers a lovely quiet place for a nice drink and light bites (available for non-film goers too!) and the screens get a very enthusiastic thumbs up from me - they have snug little sofas with cushions (very comfy) and even have little tables so you can take wine into your film! I've only seen one film there so far but I can't wait to go back!

Everyman Cinema Newcastle

Anyone for Chicken?

You know it's officially Summer when the street food market at By The River Brew Co has reopened for the season. Simon and I welcomed the season in style with a visit to one of our favourites, Fowl Play. We demolished the Mother Choocka Bucket (made for four, yet can be enjoyed by two if you're feeling hungry) - we munched our way through naga hot sauce wings, smoked chilli butter thighs, buttermilk waffles, ziggy fries and sauces.  Typical Tyne weather saw me doing a rather fantastic catch of Simon's waffle after an overenthusiastic gust of wind tried to blow it away, I have obviously been trying to recreate it ever since!

Fowl Play at By The River Brewery

Alnmouth Rediscovery

I rediscovered a Northumberland gem this month after having "the great Alnmouth debate" with Simon. Every time we drive past the village along the coast road I'm hanging out the window to see the beautiful views of the boats and colourful houses so have been wanting to stop there for a mooch for a while.  Simon was convinced that last time we visited there wasn't much to see on our last journey we decided to settle the argument. Guess who was right! Such a lovely little spot, beautiful boats, pretty little harbour and a damn good coffee from Scotts of Alnmouth


Cake at The Running Fox

The Running Fox are slowly taking over Northumberland with their lovely little shops popping up across a few different locations. I tried out the new cafe at Shilbottle this month and I have to say I think it may be my favourite. Lovely decor, a decent sized carpark and, of course, their cake is as good as ever. I indulged in a big slab of Victoria Sponge complete with raspberry pieces and ate it whilst reading the breakfast menu (no surprises I decided I'll need to return for breakfast soon!)

Running Fox Northumberland

Breakfast by the River Wear 

Simon and I recently realised that it had been a long time since our last visit to Durham so we decided to venture south, trying out the Durham Park and Ride for the first time which I have to say was a bit of a game changer - I don't think we'll ever be getting the overpriced train there again!  We had the loveliest time exploring starting off with a picture perfect breakfast at Riverview Kitchen where we nabbed a table with River Wear views and I polished off a cheese scone with fried egg and bacon (sounds a little odd but wow it worked!)

Riverview Kitchen Durham

Lola Jeans Burgers

Lola Jeans Burgers are legendary in the North East. Having won Battle of the Burgers every year there's a reason why everyone is buzzing about their delicious inventions. They really do come up with some amazing combinations, last week I revisited their 2017 winner The James P Sullivan - two beef patties, mature cheddar, prime rump steak, shoestring onions, BBQ sauce, red onion jam and pickled onion Monster Munch - yes crisps in a burger! It might sound odd but it really is so good!

Lola Jeans Burgers

As always for more adventures from New Girl in Toon make sure you follow me on Instagram I post a new photo every day sharing our latest discoveries across the North.

Fowl Play and Lola Jeans treated me to complimentary meals in exchange for social media coverage. Everyman Newcastle invited me to enjoy a complimentary preview film. All other features in this post were paid for by ourselves.

Tuesday 28 May 2019

Visiting the Rhododendrons at National Trust Cragside

This is a sponsored collaboration with National Trust

I'm the kind of person that makes notes in their phone of when all the seasonal flowers are in bloom and the best places across the North East to see them. I've been known to drive for hours to track down beautiful blossoms and have dragged my husband out of bed at all times of the morning to locate colourful flowers. If you think I'm joking you probably haven't read my North East Flowers in Bloom Trail, believe me I take all of this very seriously!

Visiting the Rhododendrons at National Trust Cragside
One place in the North East that has been on my flower watch list for a time now is Cragside, home to the region's most beautiful display of Rhododendrons.

With only a two to three week window to see them in full bloom, a visit takes a little bit of diary organisation which is perhaps why we'd never made it before.  So to save you the bother of working out when to go, I've done all of the careful watching and waiting for you so I can tell you that NOW is the time!

We made the beautiful drive up to Northumberland on a wet Bank Holiday Monday to discover the first colours of Summer and if you've always been wanting to visit the Rhododendrons at Cragside you will hopefully find this little guide helpful.

Rhododendrons at National Trust Cragside
The Rhododendron collection at Cragside is huge, they are spread across the estate so it would be impossible to visit and miss them, however there are a few key locations around the site that offer the most impressive views of the flowers that I'm going to be sharing with you in our guide.

So if you're looking for the flower lovers perfect day trip (with a little pit stop for tea and cake!) then this is going to be right up your street.

Welcome to my Guide to Visiting the Rhododendron at National Trust Cragside!

The Rock Garden

We began our adventure by leaving our car in the main carpark and walking towards Cragside House to explore the Rock Garden, which is probably Cragside's most famous part of their Rhododendron collection and a great place to start your Rhododendron trail.

Rhododendrons National Trust Cragside

You'll find the Rhododendron scattered amongst the rocks underneath Cragside House and on the banks overlooking the garden. Splashes of colour everywhere you turn they look absolutely beautiful. This part of the Estate isn't yet in full bloom and we spotted plenty of buds just waiting to flourish and I think by next weekend the Rock Gardens are going to look incredible.

If it's the truly iconic Cragside view you are after I recommend making your way over the iron bridge below the rock garden and down to the valley where you can look back at the house and admire all of the different coloured flowers underneath the house.

It really takes your breath away and has to be one of Northumberland's most impressive views.

National Trust Cragside
This part of your Rhododendron trail is also the ideal time to stop for a cuppa and a slice of something nice as the tea room and visitor centre are just a short walk away.  Although there are other spots along the trail where you can grab some refreshments the tea room offers the greatest selection of cakes as well as the opportunity to buy jam in the gift shop (I don't know where this obsession started but recently we've gone a little nuts about National Trust jam!)

The tea room at Cragside has plenty of seats and I'd say is the largest out of all the North East National Trust sites.

National Trust Cragside - Tea Room
Although we were quite tempted by the delicious smell of breakfast sandwiches, we had to go for our usual order.

We have become so addicted to the National Trust's scones recently that every time we visit we can't resist having one - we like to select the largest we can find (forever greedy!), always dig out a jar of raspberry jam and buy a pot of cream each to save arguments.  I'm sure many a marriage has been saved by not having to share toppings for scones.

National Trust Cragside Scone
The Estate Drive

One of the best ways to see the full collection of Rhododendron at Cragside is to take your car round the Estate Drive, a six mile circular route it takes you all round the site with nine carparks along the way giving you plenty of opportunity to stop and admire any part that takes your fancy. With so much changing landscape at Cragside it is the best way to get around and enjoy a full experience. The Estate Drive will take you from pine forests to lakes, through rock formations to hillside views and out to the moors - it is a stunning way to experience Cragside.

The historic carraigeway also offers a perfect opportunity to experience the Rhododendron as Lord Armstrong's guests would have done and truly appreciate exactly how many Rhododendron there are at Cragside.

Some of the most colourful displays can be seen from the comfort of your car and it's a great way to enjoy the full experience. The route wasn't too crowded as we were driving round and we easily managed to pull over to admire a few of the more impressive displays.

Rhododendrons at National Trust Cragside - Estate Drive

Nelly's Moss Lake

If you fancy a bit of a walk while you're exploring the Rhododendrons I recommend a nice little potter round Nelly's Moss Lake. There are several carparks in that part of the estate but we left ours in the Crozier Carpark which is a great spot with a very impressive looking children's playground, toilets and a coffee and ice-cream kiosk.

There's a circular path round Nelly's Moss Lake and with Rhododendron at the waters edge and towering over the paths it looks absolutely stunning. The dramatic landscape of rock and water really makes the colours pop and on a clear day when the water is still you can get some really beautiful views of the flowers reflected in the water - a must visit if you're a keen photographer.

Rhododendrons at National Trust Cragside - Lake

We spent ages walking along the water admiring the Rhododendron and I have to say this was my favourite part of our day. I couldn't get over how beautiful the views were and each corner we turned we were greeted by scenery even more spectacular than before.  The rock garden at the house may be the most iconic  Rhododendron display at Cragside but I have to say the flowers round Nelly's Moss Lake are the real hidden gem of the estate.

Rhododendrons at National Trust Cragside - Nelly's Moss Lake
It was a lovely quiet spot to enjoy, we only passed a couple of other ramblers and we couldn't believe how many tables we found perched up on the rocks, offering beautiful views of the lake and Rhododendron, we'll definitely be bringing a picnic to enjoy on our next visit!

Rhododendrons National Trust Cragside - Nelly's Moss Lake
The Labyrinth 

The Labyrinth is a nice walk from Nelly's Moss Lake or if you have tired legs you can move your car to the North Lake which is a little bit closer.

The Rhododendron bloom slightly later at The Labyrinth than the rest of the Estate so they weren't really showing their full glory when we visited but we still enjoyed getting lost round the twisting paths through the forest (Simon had great joy in telling a group of children that he had been the same age as them when we first got into the maze - I think they may have believed him!)

The maze is cut out of a huge area of the Rhododendron forest so over the next few weeks The Labyrinth will come to life with brightly coloured flowers towering over the paths.  We passed so many bushes that were beginning to bloom and there were plenty of buds just waiting to burst their petals - I can only begin to imagine how magical the Labyrinth must be when all of the flowers have come out.

Rhododendrons National Trust Cragside - Labyrinth

Having only experienced the Rhododendron at Cragside at the very beginning of the season I am so excited to return in June to see the flowers at their full glory. If you fancy going yourself and seeing the display in full bloom I recommend visiting some time between next Saturday (1 June) and around 15 June.

It is the most dreamy way to spend the day and we both had a really wonderful time discovering more about the beautiful flowers and what Cragside has to offer.

We can't wait to return!

What you need to know:
  • Adult admission is £20.90 and Children are £10.50 (gift aid prices). National Trust Members are free.
  • There are nine free carparks spread across the site, all accessible from within the site via the main entrance
  • It's impossible to say the exact best time to visit the Rhododendrons but they usually bloom from the end of May, with early to mid June being the best time to see them.
  • For information about opening times please see here

Find Cragside at:

NE65 7PX

Rhododendrons National Trust Cragside Northumberland

We were provided with a complimentary cream tea for two as well as a sponsored collaboration in return for this honest review of our day.

Monday 20 May 2019

See Dippy the Dinosaur in Newcastle at Great North Museum Hancock

If you were to visit the Natural History Museum in London this year you would definitely notice that something very large and iconic is missing from the museum's entrance hall. Dippy, the Museum's famous Diplodocus skeleton, has packed his bags and left his home for some adventure across the UK and this Summer its our very special chance to see Dippy the Dinosaur in Newcastle at the Great North Museum: Hancock.

See Dippy the Dinosaur in Newcastle at Great North Museum Hancock

I'm sure I'm not the only person who has great memories of Dippy from their childhood. I remember my Mum treating me and my sisters to a great adventure on the train from Norwich down to London for the day. I experienced so many incredible firsts but the one thing that sticks in my mind above anything else is going to the Natural History Museum and seeing Dippy for the very first time.  Like every other child who has ever laid eyes on him, I became obsessed!

So I have been counting down the days to Dippy's arrival in Newcastle since I very first heard about it. It's been many many years since we were last together and I was so excited to be reunited!

Dippy the Dinosaur in Newcastle at Great North Museum Hancock

Dippy the Dinosaur Newcastle at Great North Museum Hancock

We felt very lucky to be one of the first to see Dippy at his Newcastle home and stepping into the exhibition on opening weekend and seeing Dippy towering over us was quite a sight, I have to say he really does suit his new home.  Can we keep him?

It blows my mind to think that Dippy has been greeting visitors in the Natural History Museum for over 100 years, being first unveiled in 1905 he became an instant sensation and has not only been astonishing generations of visitors but has also had a starring role in movies and TV shows (my husband, who has an amazing knowledge of films, can remember in pretty impressive amount of detail the 1975 Disney movie "One of our Dinosaurs is Missing" despite having not seen it since his childhood).

Dippy the Dinosaur Newcastle - Great North Museum Hancock

As you can imagine dissembling Dippy isn't something that's been done too often, it takes a great amount of time, care and storage and moving him is a bit of a responsibility.  He's moved exhibition spaces a few times within the Natural History Museum and was carefully disassembled during the Second World War to limit damage during bomb attacks, but this is the very first time that he's been out on the road and fans across the UK have had a chance to see him close to home.

It is definitely an event you don't want to miss!

Dippy the Dinosaur - Great North Museum Hancock

Seeing Dippy again gave me goosebumps, it must have been at least 25 years since I last saw him and I'm sure there are many people like me who will be feeling very nostalgic about the dinosaur's visit to Newcastle and the chance to share memories with their own children who may well be seeing Dippy for the very first time.

I feel very very thankful that Dippy has been brought out on the road to introduce himself to a legion of new fans and this is a fantastic opportunity for the people of the North East to see a true legend, I really hope that you're all as excited as I am!

Great North Museum Hancock Newcastle
Great North Museum Hancock I'd love to know if you're planning to visit and if you have any special memories of Dippy the Dinosaur from your childhood.

What you need to know:

  • Dippy is in Newcastle until Sunday 6 October
  • Entry to see Dippy is free however visits are allocated with a time slot. Walk up spaces are very limited to please book your free tickets in advance here
  • Relaxed sessions (with reduced capacity making for a quieter experience) to see Dippy take place every Sunday at 11:15 am and on the first Wednesday of the month at 4:15 pm
  • Dippy continues his tour from October taking on Cardiff and Rochdale before stopping off in my home city Norwich in July 2020 

Find The Great North Museum at:

Barras Bridge


Friday 17 May 2019

Sunday Lunch at Bradley Gardens, Wylam

With the arrival of lighter days and gardens beginning to bloom with beautiful Spring flowers I thought it was about time we made a Sunday Lunch date at Bradley Gardens, it had been five years since my last visit and knowing that things have changed a little since my last trip (and that Simon had never been) we were long overdue a visit.

Sunday Lunch at Bradley Gardens, Wylam
If you're yet to visit Bradley Gardens then Spring is an ideal time to go as the walled gardens are beginning to come to life with brightly coloured flowers and as the weather continues to improve I'm already dreaming about long hot afternoons lounging about in the gardens, if you love food and Sunday wanders in pretty surroundings there really is no better place to go.

Sunday Lunch at Bradley Gardens
You'll find Bradley Gardens hidden down a little country lane in the Gateshead countryside, a tranquil oasis behind a beautiful red brick wall, stepping through the gates is a little bit like leaping into the pages of your favourite childhood book - I'm talking Mr McGregors meets the Secret Garden, it's a pretty special place.

Sunday Lunch - Bradley Gardens
If you're in the mood for a pre lunch mooch I recommend turning up a good 45 minutes early for a potter round the gardens, although not huge it's nice to have the time for a slow amble. Spring sees a lovely display of daffodils and a very fine collection of tulips in a rainbow of colours. There are a few benches dotted around the gardens so if you're lucky enough to visit on a sunny day it's a really lovely way to enjoy some peace and quiet in the sunshine.

Bradley Gardens
If gardens aren't really your thing there are also a couple of lovely shops at Bradley Gardens to stroll round. The gift shop and ladies clothes and accessories store is ideal if you need to pick up any presents and if you're after some inspiration for your home the homeware shop is stunning. Just be warned, you will leave wanting a new country style kitchen, it's impossible not to!

Bradley Gardens Wylam

Of course, strolling round gardens and planning your dream home is hungry work so it's a good job that the main event at Bradley Gardens is, of course, their food. Served in the Glass House Cafe, they rustle up breakfasts, delicious afternoon teas (you need to see their cakes) and also run seasonal supper clubs. But the one thing that I've been hearing endless great things about is their Sunday Lunch offering. We couldn't wait to finally try it for ourselves.

Bradley Gardens Wylam Cafe

Bradley Gardens Wylam Cafe

If you love eating alfresco in the warmer months (it always reminds me of being a holiday which is never a bad thing!) then Bradley Gardens have a really lovely outdoor dining space with plenty of tables and the chance to enjoy your food with some perfect garden views. You'll definitely find me out there in the Summer.

Bradley Gardens Wylam Glasshouse Cafe

For the colder months, however, The Glass House Cafe is the most beautiful place to dine, split into four cosy sections the large glass house is simply decorated with fresh daffodils on all the tables, really comfy chairs (yep you can buy them in the homeware shop so beware, you will be wanting to go home with them!) and beautiful marble topped tables. Sitting in what is effectively a giant green house is a little warm - perfect if you feel the cold like me, but if you're a normal human being remember to wear layers, you may get a little hot if you're bundled up in a jumper!

Bradley Gardens - Glasshouse Cafe

The Sunday Lunch has loads to offer and if you're not really fancying a full on Sunday Roast it's worth knowing that they also have Traditional Sandwiches as part of the menu, perfect for family members with a smaller appetite or fussier eaters.  Of course, we decided to go for the Full Monty!

I had no intention to go for a Starter but as soon as I heard what the Homemade Soup (£5.75) was that day I just had to try it - Pea, Pear and Watercress - how good does that sound? Sounds a little daft but when it appeared in front of me the first thing I noticed was what a beautiful shade of light green it was, I sat there for a good while just shouting at Simon "look at the colour" before I'd even dunked my spoon in.

It was thick and creamy, served piping hot with a big chunk of fresh squishy bread and wow it was so good. Simon had decided against a Starter and so had to sit there watching as I slowly slurped my way through the never ending bowl of soup going on and on about how amazing it was. When more soup turned up for the next door table I seriously considered swiping theirs and having a second helping.

Bradley Gardens - Glasshouse Cafe Soup

We were off to an amazing start and I was very excited about what was to come next. There were three traditional roast dinners to choose from on our visit as well as a fish and veggie option. I barely glanced at anything else on the menu - I was there for a proper Roast and nothing could tempt me away from that.

Simon opted for the Roast Sirloin Beef (£13.50) and I decided on Roast Chicken Breast (£12.50) which was served on the bone and came with dry cured bacon and field mushrooms. Both our meals came with Roast Potatoes, Carrots, Greens, Broccoli and giant Yorkshire Puddings.

Bradley Gardens - Sunday Roast

I had been quite jealous when Simon ordered the Roast Beef as I'd quite fancied that myself (don't ask why I can never bring myself to order the same!) but when it appeared I was quite glad I hadn't gone for it. There was a fair amount of fat to cut off the meat which didn't really leave him a lot of beef to enjoy and it wasn't served pink. I sampled a bit off his plate and it was really delicious, just not quite to my taste.

My Chicken on the other hand was fantastic! It was really succulent and swimming in a gorgeous gravy that I really wish I knew the secret of because I've never seen gravy like it. It was a rich almost orange colour and tasted so good with the meat. The roasties weren't the traditional kind that you find on  most roast dinners and the little spuds tasted so buttery all wrapped up in their jackets - delicious. I loved the addition of the mushroom which made the dish a little different to other roasts I've tried and there was so much food on my plate I couldn't quite finish it off.

Bradley Gardens - Sunday Lunch
By this point we were both full to bursting so decided to indulge in a little bit of people watching whilst deciding if we were going to be able to make room for dessert. I enjoyed a quick glance round at the other tables. Every single seat in the Glass House Cafe was taken - large family groups were catching up, couples were enjoying romantic lunches for two and the baby shower in the corner were setting up with cute little gift bags and bunting. There was a really lovely atmosphere and although the place was full it still had a really calming buzz around it.

Having tried the cakes at Bradley Gardens before I knew that we had to indulge in a dessert. The menu included desserts or, alternatively, we also had the option to take a look at the cake counter and go for one of those instead.

Simon opted for a dessert off the Sunday Lunch Menu - Soft Brown Sugar Meringue (£6.50) served with berries and thick cream. When it showed up we couldn't believe how huge it was and as he started attempting to demolish it we realised what a mammoth task it was. No matter how much he ate it seemed to never reduce in size, it was like a food eating challenge. The meringue was perfectly prepared - crispy on the outside, gooey in the middle and absolutely swimming in berries and cream. The perfect Sunday treat.

Bradley Gardens - Dessert

I had told myself I wasn't going to have dessert but as soon as I discovered there was a Dark Chocolate and Cherry Cake (£5.20) on the menu I knew I had to order it, cherries and chocolate are my weakness. I was so full that when the biggest slice of cake you've ever seen appeared in front of me I did wonder how on earth I was going to manage it. The portion size was huge! Thick layers of chocolate, delicious sponge and layers of cream and cherries, I'm going to be dreaming about that delicious cake for many weeks to come.

Bradley Gardens - Cake
Our first experience of Sunday Lunch at Bradley Gardens was really enjoyable - it was lovely eating in such a beautiful location and we were very impressed by the quality of the food and the generous portion sizes. We can't wait to go back!

Bradley Gardens Gateshead

What you need to know:
  • Bradley Gardens are open Tuesdays to Sundays 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • There is a huge amount of free parking spaces with a large overflow carpark
  • No Dogs (except Guide Dogs) are permitted at Bradley Gardens 
Find Bradley Gardens at:

Sled Lane
NE41 8JH

01661 852 176

Wednesday 15 May 2019

Date Night at The Gate Newcastle

This is a sponsored collaboration with The Gate

I am the first to admit that if Simon and I are planning a date night in Newcastle, The Gate is probably the last place that we'd think to visit. I can probably count the amount of times I've been to Newcastle's most famous entertainment complex on one hand, I've just always considered it "not very us". Despite having barely ever been in I've always thought of it as somewhere that's full of teenagers and perhaps not the best place in the Toon to enjoy a date night as a 30 something year old couple.

So when The Gate got in touch and asked us if we wanted to plan a date night I was a little nervous, a bit intrigued and very keen to share our experience with you guys so we could all decide if Date Night at The Gate can really be a thing?

Date Night at The Gate Newcastle
Dining at The Gate

We are big foodies and love dining out in Newcastle's many varied restaurants so it's not too often you'll find us in a chain, another reason that we've perhaps never really visited The Gate on an evening out. One thing I had forgotten though is that The Gate is home to Nando's and if there's one restaurant we absolutely love (no shame or food snobbery here) it's Nando's. We are so addicted we actually went through a phase of going multiple times a week and had to put ourselves on a Nando's ban.

If you're a regular to Nando's you'll probably have your very own order, those of us who go more times than we like to admit know the menu without ever having to open it and have managed to find the perfect combination of dishes and sides to make the perfect chicken feast. For me it's all about the Mushroom and Halloumi Wrap with some Pineapple thrown in, a portion of Perinaise and half and half with the spicy rice and peri peri chips! Lush!

Date Night at The Gate Newcastle - Nandos
Another reason why we go a little bit crazy for Nando's is that there are some slightly healthier options on the menu that allow you to really enjoy an evening out without having to compromise. I really don't enjoy eating out when I'm trying to be "good" and Nando's is one of the few restaurants where I enjoy making healthier decisions because everything is so delicious.

Perhaps date night dining shouldn't be about being sensible but for our visit to The Gate Simon and I decided to put our sensible heads and not go too crazy. Sunset Burger with Spicy Rice for me and a Double Chicken Wrap and Supergrain for him. I still can't believe we managed to resist the halloumi sticks and garlic bread!

I don't know how I'd never realised that there's a Nando's is in the Gate but now it's on my radar we have the perfect spot to dine if we are wanting to enjoy a date night at The Gate.

Date Night at The Gate Newcastle - Nando's

Superscreen at Cineworld

Simon and I are THE biggest movie fans. We go to the cinema every week without fail, we always check the new releases as soon as they come out, we've seen every film trailer and it's probably our biggest shared passion.

Most of our date nights take place at the movies, we just love the excitement of watching something on the big screen and wow do we love a good debate about the film on the way home. We get so annoyed when people chatter through movies, love sharing a bag of sweets and somehow Simon always knows when I'm getting emotional in a film and will grab for my hand just as the first tear has rolled down my face.

If you hadn't already guessed we take our movie going very seriously so seeing The Avengers Endgame on the Superscreen at Cineworld in the Gate was something new for us and, in all honesty, it was going to take a lot to impress us. We are the harshest critics when it comes to our cinema experience.

For those who haven't heard of Superscreen before, it's a wall to wall, ceiling high mega screen with laser 4k projection and Dolby Atmos sound, promising a more vivid, clearer screen and the chance to really appreciate the beauty of the big screen as you've never seen it before.

If I'm being brutally honest I feel that cinemas have been trying for years to enhance the experience and we've always felt that it's fell a little short, so I am very excited to tell you that we LOVED Superscreen. It didn't feel like a gimmick and the size of the screen really did make our movie so much better. Having already seen The Avengers on a standard sized screen the difference in the quality was outstanding - we felt like we were in the movie and the fantastic sound and picture quality made us notice things we'd missed first time round. We will definitely be back!

We were very impressed by the brand new Cineworld at The Gate, it's a huge improvement on what was there before and really is something that Newcastle can feel proud of - if you've not been yet I'd highly recommend you go and take a look.

Date Night at The Gate Newcastle - Cineworld

Extending Date Night at The Gate

After a three hour very emotional journey through Avengers Endgame (don't worry, no spoilers here!) we were more than ready for bed by the time our film finished so date night was over for us. However if you did want to extend your date night at The Gate there are plenty of other things to enjoy.

The Gate is also home to Escape Newcastle which has two exclusive Predator themed escape rooms, Opera Piano Bar & Lounge for a cheeky tipple or two and, if you're after a slightly quieter end to your evening you'll now find Starbucks (which is open until 10:00 pm each night!) and some ping pong tables and oversized games dotted around The Gate to enjoy

The CTRL Pad will earn you some serious date points if your other half is a gamer! Newcastle's very own Video Game Lounge its packed with retro and modern games to enjoy on consoles including Snes, Sega Dreamcast and PS1.

Date Night at The Gate in Newcastle

What you need to know:
  • The Gate is open from 9:00 am Monday to Saturday (from 10:00 am on Sundays) and is open until late. 
  • The Gate is well served by public transport but if you are bringing your car they have their own underground carpark.  If you dine at a participating restaurant at The Gate the same day you visit Cineworld you qualify for free parking 
  • There are plenty of special offers available at The Gate - check out the website for more details.
Find The Gate

Newgate Street

We were provided with complimentary food and cinema experience as well as a sponsored collaboration in exchange for this review.

Monday 13 May 2019

The Late Shows 2019 - Exploring Gateshead After Hours

This is a sponsored collaboration with The Late Shows

The Late Shows are back! This weekend explore Newcastle Gateshead after hours with a celebration of culture, performance, art and history in some of the most iconic buildings and venues across the city. It's our yearly chance to access some of our favourite places at night and perhaps join in with some unique experiences along the way.

Considering how passionate I am about the city I can't believe I'm about to admit to you that I have never actually been to The Late Shows. Every year I say "this is the year" and for some reason it never is. So we've decided that 2019 is finally our time, we've blocked out the diary and I am so excited to enjoy the ultimate weekend of after-hours culture.

The Late Shows 2019 - Exploring Gateshead After Hours

Having managed to bag myself a Late Shows brochure on one of my many leaflet hoarding sessions (honestly, Simon is so fed up with me collecting local booklets and magazines every time we go out) I've loved having a good look through everything that's happening this year and I have a plan ready to go!

We've decided for our first ever experience of the Late Shows we're going to focus our attention on Gateshead, there are some really fantastic offerings and here are just a few of the highlights that we're excited about!

The Late Shows 2019 - Gateshead After Hours

Gateshead Central Library

Gateshead Central Library are throwing a massive party, the theme is "celebrate Gateshead" and we're all invited!

There's a bar for me and a LEGO pit for him! Yep, I'm yet to tell my husband about this (it's going to be the best surprise), but there will be a lego pit and I can't wait to see his face when he discovers it.  I'm also planning on a little peruse of the pop up arts market and a go at the GemArts Bollywood dance workshop.

Perhaps the part I'm most excited about getting involved in is "Because Gateshead Rocks My World" - inspired by the Tyneside Rocks craze (remember that?) - you can personalise your own rock with plenty of glow in the dark paint and then leave it somewhere in town for others to find!  If you fancy a go at that yourself make sure you get to the Library early - rocks are going to be handed out first come first served until they run out!

There's going to be a real family friendly vibe at The Gateshead Central Library and If you arrive earlier Twi-Lates will start at the Library at 4:00 pm with a free drama workshop with Mortal Fools for 12 - 17 year olds - find out more here and make sure you book in advance (book here)

There's so much going on under one roof during The Late Shows at Gateshead Central Library I think it's going to be hard to leave and move on to another location!

Find Gateshead Central Library at Prince Consort Road, NE8 4LN

The Late Shows 2019 - Gateshead Central Library

Gateway Studio Project

Join Gateway Studio Project, Side by Side Arts and Drummed Up at the Trinity Centre for a night of live performances and workshops. There'll be exclusive performances from Gateway Studio Project's youth dance groups as well as offering free taster sessions in dance fit and adult contemporary dance.

Being a huge movie buff I am really looking forward to seeing Stuart from Side by Side Arts accompanying the silent horror classic Frankenstine live on piano - that's going to be a very special moment.

I also quite fancy taking part in a percussion workshop run by Drummed Up and have been practicing my drumming skills using various tubs and saucepans in our kitchen over the last week (yes, I'm driving my husband mad!)

Find Gateway Studio Project at Trinity Centre, NE8 1EP

Dynamix Skatepark

I used to walk past Dymanix every morning on my way to work and I was always nosing through the gates wondering what was going on inside the building so the Late Shows will be my opportunity to finally have a look.

Now I'm not going to pretend that I'll be getting involved in any of the free short taster sessions - I can't imagine I'd be terribly good at skateboarding, bmx-ing or aerial circus but if you're more adventurous than me you really MUST have a go - it's not every day you can learn such unique new skills. Booking is essential if you want to partake and you can find all the booking information here.

I'm planning on going to watch, enjoy the live music and, if I'm being honest, pig out on some of the food that will be available to buy on the night!

Find Dynamix Skatepark at Albany Road, NE8 3AT

The Late Shows 2019 - Dynamix Skatepark

Dunston Staithes

I am the biggest fan of Dunston Staithes, it's probably my favourite part of Gateshead and if you're yet to see the River Tyne from the iconic Staithes please make a plan to go during the Late Shows! It's a truly stunning structure and I'm so excited about the unique opportunity to experience it in the evening. It will be open until 9:30 pm and if you don't fancy the beautiful walk along the Tyne to get there, there will also be a shuttle bus running down to the site, so no excuses!

Find Dunston Staithes at: Staithes Road, NE11 9DR

The Late Shows 2019 - Dunston Staithes

By The River Brew Co

I have to say, this is one of my favourite plans of the night because not only will By The River Brew Co be hosting work by some of the best world-renowned street artists at their pop up interactive exhibition in the Backyard Bike Shop, it is, of course, also home to some of the greatest street food in the region at their HWKRMRKT.

The perfect stop off in your itinerary to refuel during your Late Show trail round Gateshead.

Find By The River Brew Co at: Hillgate Quays, NE8 2BH 

The Late Shows 2019 - By The River Brewco

Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art

I am so excited about the opportunity of getting to stroll around The Baltic late at night and I will definitely be heading up to their viewing platform for the special opportunity to enjoy my favourite view of the Gateshead Quayside in a different light.

There will be heritage tours of the building and the Quayside to enjoy as well as some special presentations about The Baltic's resident Kittiwakes and, if you get thirsty, I've heard whispers there'll be a pop up bar to enjoy!

Find The Baltic at: South Shore Road, NE8 3BA

We can't wait to visit The Late Shows this year and if you want to see what we're up to make sure you're following me on Instagram ( - we will be sharing our evening of adventures on my Stories!

The Late Shows 2019 - The Baltic

What you need to know: 

  • The Late Shows starts this Friday (17 May) across Ouseburn before continuing in NewcastleGateshead on Saturday. 
  • This year for the first time celebrations start earlier in the evening with Twi-Lates, events for 12-17 year olds running between 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm before the Late Shows kick off from 7:00 pm until 11:00 pm.
  • The Late Shows are FREE, however some tours and activities require booking in advance so be sure to check the website before visiting
  • Free buses will be running between some venues. Hop onboard the CitySightseeing NewcastleGateshead tour bus or take the Gateshead shuttle bus which will be running between Shipley Art Gallery, Bensham Grove, Dunston Staithes and Dynamix Skatepark.
This blog is a sponsored collaboration with The Late Shows
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