Sunday 31 May 2020

My May Days

This blog includes advertisement features with Nourish Bud and Cocoa Grace

In some ways I feel like these weeks in lockdown are flying by, yet if I stop and think back to the last time I was sat in a coffee shop or in the office it feels like a lifetime ago. This month has been a challenging one for me and I'll admit I've struggled a little over the last couple of weeks, mostly thanks to our Government whose actions, mixed messages and total disregard for their own rules has left me feeling pretty hopeless. Despite another four weeks of staying close to home our days have been filled with sweet treats and fun discoveries.  Here's what we've been up to in May.

Cakes, Classes and Cutters

Giving up on the never ending mission to find flour on the supermarket shelves I finally got to rustle up some cakes in my kitchen thanks to Cakes, Classes and Cutters.  Based just outside Gosforth this lovely little cake shop have produced their own cupcake making kits and diving into mine has been my favourite lockdown activity so far. The kits are perfect for kids (or adults who never grew up) and include everything you need to make picture perfect cupcakes.  There are loads of different themes to choose from including Dinosaurs, Super Heroes and Flamingos, I couldn't resist ordering the Mermaid kit and despite my questionable icing skills (I attempted to use the piping bag provided but I definitely need a lesson) I am really impressed with my efforts. The cakes tasted so good and had me strolling about my house claiming I'm a baker! The kits cost £15.00 with free local delivery or pick up from Coppers in Gosforth.

My May Days  - Cakes Classes and Cutters

Bees on my PJs

With Simon's side of the family all proud Mancunians it's no surprise I've fallen hard for the city and love to see it as my (other) adopted home. So as soon as I see anything with bees on I immediately think of Manchester and want to make it mine.  My house is slowly filling with beautiful bee prints and after spotting this cute PJ set on the Tu Clothing site I just couldn't resist. With the hot weather we've been having I was in desperate need of some Summer sets and these are the perfect addition to my nightwear collection.

My May Days  -  Bee PJs

Healthy Lunches from Nourish Bud

We've been ordering a lot of sweet treats in lockdown and who can blame us. In a world where every day begins to feel like the last, food deliveries have become the highlight of our week, and we were so pleased to discover a healthier option thanks to Nourish Bud. Their plant based delivery service provides freshly cooked dishes in and around Newcastle and they are perfect "working from home" lunches.  If you order by 9:00 pm they arrive at your door the next day between 10:00 am and 12:00 pm and are perfect for eating at your desk. I went for the Nourish Bud'dha Bowl (£5.95) and Mediterranean Salad (£5.95)) - a great way to kick start a healthier week.

My May Days  -  Nourish Bud

I Wore Real Clothes

I knew eventually something would happen to convince me to ditch the loungewear.  All it took was the arrival of the hottest May we've had in decades to make me forget all about my tracksuits and reach for my Summer wardrobe. Admittedly throwing on a lovely floaty dress is even less of an effort than putting on a tracksuit but it's felt nice to feel a little bit more put together.  My extra large sunglasses and hat have been the perfect way to cover up the state of my hair and face. At this point in lockdown I don't think anything could ever convince me to start using makeup again!

My May Days

Cocoa Grace Cupcakes 

I hope no one is keeping count of how many sweet treats I've had during lockdown - it's hard to resist when doorstep deliveries look this good. These mouthwatering cupcakes arrived from Cocoa Grace with a box of Chocolate Caramel, Oreo, Coffee and Red Velvet which were demolished in one weekend. If you're looking for some lovely homemade treats and live in the South Gosforth area then you can order yourself a box of cakes to collect and enjoy at home. Prices start from £8.00 for 6 cupcakes and they are seriously good!

My May Days - Cocoa Grace Cupcakes

Afternoon Baths 

I got this bath caddy at Christmas but it's taken lockdown for me to start using it regularly and now I can't imagine having a bath without it. It's been lovely to have so much time for long leisurely baths in the afternoon and suddenly sinking into some bubbles whilst sipping on a glass of wine at 3:00 pm on a Tuesday feels completely acceptable. I love diving into my bathroom cabinet, pulling out loads of products and taking a soak by candlelight - I'm sure water, wine, an open flame and a book are a recipe for disaster but so far, so good.

My May Days - Bath Caddy

The Cairns of Whitley Bay

Simon and I have decided to very cautiously start travelling out and about a little more, albeit on our own terms. We're not keen to go anywhere that's busy so for the moment our trips out will be early in the morning or later in the evening.  We started with a late evening visit to Whitley Bay, stepping out of the car we were really nervous but as soon as we got to the sand our worries just vanished - it felt incredible to be back in our favourite place and the sea air really does do wonders. We finally got to see the cairns that have been built since lockdown began and I couldn't get over how many there were - the most incredible symbols of community spirit and hope decorating the shores.  We'll be heading back soon to build our own.

My May Days - The Cairns of Whitley Bay

Pimms O'Clock

In years to come when we look back at this time and all the things we achieved in lockdown, my proudest accomplishment will be perfecting my Pimms technique.  With my Pimms jug fully loaded with mint, strawberries and cucumber, the trick is to freeze pieces of fruit into giant ice-cubes to have in your glass - it makes for a picture perfect cup and keeps you cool in the blazing hot sun. I'm not going to tell you how many of these I have got through.

My May Days - Pimms

Although I am pretty quiet across social media and my blog at the moment my addiction to Instagram continues so you will find a new photo every day on my grid.  You can find me here.

Thursday 28 May 2020

Luxury Afternoon Tea Delivered in Newcastle with After-toon Tea

This is an advertisement feature with After-toon Tea

When the reality of lockdown life began to sink in and I realised that we would probably be spending a lot of 2020 shut away in our house one of my first worries (after the state of the world, my sanity and my eyebrows of course) was afternoon tea. As an afternoon tea obsessive the thought of not being able to tuck into delicate sandwiches whilst sipping on a glass of fizz made me feel sad - we celebrate most special occasions with an afternoon tea. So I'm very happy to be able to share my new lockdown treat discovery - luxury afternoon tea delivered in Newcastle by After-toon Tea.

Luxury Afternoon Tea Delivered in Newcastle with After-toon Tea
Although there are a few afternoon tea delivery services operating in Newcastle during the lockdown, After-toon Tea have created something a little different and are offering a more luxurious experience with a quality afternoon tea that you'd usually only find in the city's finest hotels. Created and prepared by Cal Byerley (best known for his time as Head Pastry Chef at Michelin-starred Forest Side in Cumbria), After-toon Tea is the perfect afternoon treat if you fancy something a little special whilst you're stuck at home.

In life before lockdown (remember that?) I loved the whole experience of treating myself to a luxurious afternoon and would use it as an excuse to put on a dress and spend a lovely afternoon in the beautiful lounge of one of my favourite hotels.  Of course afternoon tea at home is a little different but in some ways even more enjoyable.  The freedom to be able to dine in your best pyjamas from the comfort of your own home has to be one of the perks of this messy situation. 

Afternoon Tea Delivered in Newcastle with After-toon Tea

I considered perhaps taking my tea on the coffee table in my lounge, outside on my garden furniture or maybe even in bed before deciding on the kitchen (it has become one of my favourite rooms since we started spending so much time indoors.) With no cakestand to hand I decided to get a little creative with my set up and muddle together a stand for my cakes using things from my kitchen cupboard.  As someone who isn't great at arts and crafts I'm pretty impressed with my efforts - who knew a wooden chopping board balanced on two empty coffee jars would make such a lovely stand.

Afternoon Tea Delivered Newcastle with After-toon Tea

My afternoon tea had been delivered to my front door the day before, conveniently boxed up and ready to pop into the fridge for up to three days, it gave me the freedom to enjoy it whenever I wanted over the weekend.  In all honesty if I'd been feeling lazy I could have just devoured the lot straight out of the boxes, but after the success of my makeshift cakestand I decided to rummage about my kitchen cupboards pulling out any decorative plate I could find to lay out my afternoon tea. If you want an excuse to use your finest china, mismatched plates or untouched wedding gifts this is it.

All set up and ready to go I tucked into my plate of delicately prepared finger sandwiches - Smoked Salmon & Cucumber, Egg Mayonnaise and Coronation Chicken, all afternoon tea classics and the perfect way to start off my experience, especially washed down with a glass of fizz.

Afternoon Tea Delivered Newcastle

I love when an afternoon tea has something extra as a savoury offering and my After-toon Tea also included a slice of Quiche Lorraine which was easily one of the loveliest slices of quiche I have every had.  It was so creamy and I found myself running about the house with a forkful eagerly looking for my husband just to make him try a bit.  So good!

After-toon Tea - Afternoon Tea Delivery in Newcastle

After sandwiches comes scones and I had two to tuck into. I started with the Dale End Cheddar Cheese Scone which I was very happy to see on the menu. Perhaps not a popular thing to say, but I am such a fan of cheese scones I'd choose them over a traditional cream tea!  Unfortunately the afternoon tea didn't arrive with butter for the scone which was a shame because I love proper butter on a cheese scone and my low calorie margarine from my fridge didn't quite hit the spot. Still, it was a beautiful cheesy treat.

Feeling sorry for Simon that he was missing out on this experience I decided to let him tuck into the other scone - the Sultana Fruit Scone was served with Rodda's Clotted Cream and Strawberry Jam which he slathered on with great enthusiasm.  Anyone who's ever read one of my afternoon tea reviews before will know that my husband likes to really pack on his jam and cream! Gone in a matter of seconds I managed to get a quick bite and it was truly delicious.

After-toon Tea - Afternoon Tea Delivery
Saving the best for last and the After-toon Tea cakes were the real star of the show with an impressive display of sweet treats.  Looking at them all laid out in front of me it was hard to believe that these had been delivered on my door step in a box, they were absolutely beautiful and the type of cakes you only ever see in the loveliest of hotels.

I started off with the Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Tart, deliciously sharp against the bitter chocolate, I was off to a great start and didn't really think it would get any better than that, until I slid my fork into the Glazed Lemon Mousse, the perfect hit of sweetness to follow the raspberries.

After-toon Tea Delivery Newcastle

Having checked in advance about my nut allergy I was so excited to discover that the Layered Carrot Cake with Mascarpone Frosting was safe for me to eat.  I am the biggest fan of carrot cake but can't have it very often as it always seems to contain nuts. It's been years since I've last been able to enjoy one so I enjoyed every forkful of this beauty.

After-toon Tea Newcastle

I'm sure we can all agree that the most eye catching treat of this afternoon tea is that stunning apple. Since posting a sneaky look on my Instagram I've been inundated with people asking about it. Would you believe that this perfectly crafted cake is actually a White Chocolate and Madagascan Vanilla Cheesecake? I really can't get over how beautiful it is, imagine being able to create something as perfect as that.  It was incredible and tasted just as good as it looked.

After-toon Tea Newcastle Delivery

I am so thankful that local businesses like After-toon Tea have given us all a reason to get up in the morning and with every day beginning to feel a little like Groundhog Day it's lovely to organise something like this to give yourself something to look forward to.  

If you fancy ordering your own After-toon Tea to enjoy from the comfort of your house then you can order here.

What you need to know:
  • Afternoon Tea costs £20.00 per person
  • Afternoon Tea with a 200ml bottle of Prosecco costs £25.00 per person
  • The menu is set, however can be amended to cater for vegetarians and pescatarians.  If you have any allergies or dietary requirements please enquire in advance.  
  • Afternoon Tea is delivered every Friday and Saturday to NE1 - NE6 postcodes from 10:00 am.  NE13, NE15, NE18, NE20 and NE39-NE46 can also be included.  If your postcode is not mentioned please e-mail to enquire
Find After-toon Tea at:

I was treated to complimentary afternoon tea for one by After-toon Tea
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