Tyneside Bar Cafe

On Friday 22nd August at 4pm, the much awaited Tyneside Bar Cafe opened its doors to the public! I went along with my friend Julie in the evening, thinking we’d just stay for an hour… we liked it so much that we didn’t budge for 3 hours!

Part of the Tyneside Cinema (read my post here) on Pilgrim Street, the cafe is fully licensed and all food is made fresh to order using locally sourced ingredients. It was pretty busy when we got there and people seemed quite settled, but after sitting by the window for half an hour we managed to nab a table in the centre of the room. The bar area is pretty but as it was so busy I was a bit hesitant to take a lot of photos. There are plenty of tables with enough space to walk around to the bar/loos etc and at the back of the room is an open seating area with a curtained screen.

Open from 8am-late, the menu is pretty extensive (the breakfast and weekend brunch menus look delicious) and of course we ordered something to eat. Julie got the Royale with cheese and I got the Tyneside Cinema hot dog in a brioche bun. (I was getting some funny looks for photographing the hot dog). I drove into town so was on the soft drinks, I had the most delicious black cherry flavoured american soda, while Julie had Poretti beer.  I will not be driving next time :)

We bumped into the lovely Chloe and boyfriend Simon, who like us had popped in to see the newly opened establishment. They had a quick drink with us before heading off as they had other plans.

At 9pm, a Geordie rockabilly band (yes really) took to the stage and we absolutely LOVED it. The band – Sir Jac’s Bantamacs – are quite newly formed and are brilliant! The crowd were loving them too, we saw a couple of couples having a little dance – they really lifted an already great atmosphere. Took a few photos, looked a bit like a groupie.

There seem to be lots of event being hosted here too – live music on a Friday and Saturday night, every Sunday morning a movie classic will be screened to accompany brunch (what an amazing idea) and the weekly quiz night which used to be held in the old cinema bar, will move to the bar cafe. Anyone interested in giving quiz night a shot? I’m rubbish at quizzes but am willing to humiliate myself.

Time for some photos!

DSC_0422
DSC_0421
DSC_0425 DSC_0432 DSC_0434 DSC_0441 DSC_0442 DSC_0443 DSC_0445 DSC_0446 DSC_0448 DSC_0452 DSC_0456 DSC_0457 DSC_0462 DSC_0464 DSC_0467

It’s nice to be able to go out into town on a Friday night to somewhere super cool where the crowd is friendly, you can have a nice chat with your friends and don’t have to worry about being underdressed. I loved it and will definitely be back to try the brunch menu, but also for drinks in the evening. Let me know if you’ve been in over the Bank Holiday weekend, or if you plan to!

The Vintage Powder Room – Afternoon Tea

DSC_0474

When I saw Chloe’s (New Girl in Toon) tweet asking if any bloggers were interested in an afternoon tea meet-up, obviously I replied with YES! The meet-up was on Sunday and there were 6 of us in total at The Vintage Powder Room and Tea Shop (which is on Park View, Whitley Bay). I’d heard of this place from a friend who’d visited, but I hadn’t yet had the chance to visit.

I’ll admit I was a bit nervous/excited as I hadn’t met any other NE bloggers – turns out I needn’t have worried as everyone was so lovely and I had such a great time chatting (and eating cake/drinking tea). I’ve been tweeting Chloe for a bit now but hadn’t spoken to anyone else, I’d just been getting on with my little blogventures without even thinking about looking for other NE bloggers. Thank goodness that changed & thanks to Chloe for organising a great meet-up.

The Vintage Powder Room opened in October 2013, they offer hair and beauty treatments and are also a tea room with a great menu. Afternoon Tea was £12 per person and well worth every penny. Lou and Michael were busy setting up our table when I arrived and a few of the girls were in the powder room having some beauty treatments. Chloe was getting her hair curled and Kayleigh was having her nails painted. We moved through to the tea room after the treatments were done and the table just looked amazing. Anyone who has been with me on a blogventure will know how long it takes me to photograph everything before letting anyone touch their food…. well imagine 6 bloggers at an afternoon tea :) I LOVED THIS. We had finger sandwiches, scones, cream meringues, victoria sponge cake, pink lemonade (my favourite), tea and coffee. The time just flew by and Lou & Michael were pottering away in the background, bringing us more tea and hot water. The food was delicious and beautifully displayed. The Victoria Sponge was most definitely the highlight – you’ll see what I mean soon. I can’t believe I had to leave a big wedge of it. Poor show from me. Photo time!

DSC_0421 DSC_0422 DSC_0458 DSC_0464

DSC_0432

DSC_0435

DSC_0449

DSC_0450

DSC_0448

DSC_0443

DSC_0445

DSC_0438

DSC_0479

DSC_0446

DSC_0439

DSC_0436

DSC_0437

DSC_0452

DSC_0478

DSC_0481

From left to right, Rachel, Kayleigh, Emma, Me, Lisa, Chloe.

I’d love to know if you’ve visited The Vintage Powder Room, or if after this post you plan to! I already have a 2nd visit pencilled in… and it’s soon!

Half a day in Harrogate

I think I’ve mentioned a few times that we went on some day trips last week as we were both off work and my mother-in-law is visiting from India. On Monday we decided to go to Harrogate and York for the day, with both of our mums! Having not been to either, I was very excited. York will be featured in a post of its own.

Our first stop was Mother Shipton’s, in Knaresborough. I’d never heard of this place, but it’s somewhere Ankush had heard about from his parents as they’d visited 20 years ago. Mother Shipton was a Yorkshire witch who prophesied about the future (including the end of the world… cheery). Within the park there are two wells, the Petrifying Well and the Wishing Well. The Petrifying Well turns objects placed in it, to stone – there are lots of stony teddy bears hanging there, some socks, underpants and a bicycle. There is also a tiny Wishing Well, within a cave… Of course I made a wish, but I won’t be telling anyone what it was ;)  The park is lovely, it was a leisurely walk to the Wells with lots of benches along the way if you fancied a break. It was £6 each to get in and £2 for all day parking. We were there for about 2 hours, not sure we could have stayed much longer – unless we’d brought a picnic! There was an adventure playground for kids, a tea room and a small museum and gift shop. Small is quite generous, it was tiny (but there was a Zoltar Fortune Teller Machine, so it’s ok). Opposite the park is a pub called the End of The World pub – so named because one of Mother Shipton’s prophecies was that the end of the world would come when that building fell to the ground for the 3rd time. It has collapsed twice. YIKES. Thanks to my friend Clare for that story – she spent lots of time here as a kid visiting Knaresborough.

DSC_0426

DSC_0429

DSC_0434

DSC_0439

DSC_0441

DSC_0467DSC_0454

DSC_0492

DSC_0505

Next stop was Bettys in Harrogate for lunch. Obviously everyone has already been here, or heard of it at least! We were really ready for lunch by the time we got there, and luckily the queue wasn’t too long. We got a parking space right outside and only had to wait for 15 minutes before we were seated. We got a table by the fireplace (it wasn’t fired up, of course) in the Veranda Cafe. I ordered the English Breakfast – I will just show you photos of the rest of the orders. With it being lunchtime, there wasn’t a spare table for more than 2 minutes. Despite this the service was quick, friendly and helpful. There were so many people working, they made it look easy.

After our mains, of course we had to have tea and cake! I ordered the Strawberry Paris-Brest and the tea room blend. My mum doesn’t drink tea (yet I can’t live without it), she had coffee and said it was delicious. We couldn’t leave without buying a box of teabags for the house. The queue in the shop was huge, clearly everyone else wanted to buy teabags too… or cakes.

Photo time? I hope you’re not hungry!

DSC_0511

DSC_0513

DSC_0520

DSC_0522

DSC_0523

DSC_0531

DSC_0538

DSC_0542

DSC_0543

DSC_0545

DSC_0551

DSC_0555

DSC_0561

DSC_0571

DSC_0583

DSC_0586

Have you been to Harrogate? I need to go back to look around properly, because we literally parked, ate and left to get to York in good time to see everything there.

Cook House – Ouseburn

Cook House

When I read that Anna (NE food blogger The Grazer) was opening up her own kitchen in Ouseburn I knew I would have to make a trip down there ASAP.

Cook House is situated on Ouse St and opened its pretty doors to the public on Wednesday 6th August. As I had this week off it was the perfect time to visit. Open weekdays for breakfast and lunch from 8:30 until 15:30, the menu changes daily with tasty, local, seasonal food on offer. When we arrived at 9:30 there were other diners enjoying the sunshine sat out front and also at the back where there’s a lovely decking area and garden.

Mum and I both ordered toast – I knew I wanted honey on mine, made by the Ouseburn bees (I KNOW!), mum had hers with homemade strawberry jam and both of us ordered pour over coffee (coffee is from Ouseburn Coffee Company – my favourite). Delicious!

This venture is being executed entirely by Anna and from the little chat I had with her it’s obvious that she is so passionate about it. I can’t believe she’s doing this on her own without looking remotely flustered. Impressive to say the least. Anna was preparing for the lunchtime crowd and told me she liked to be ready for about 11am. With a small yet deliciously varied menu, I love how many veggie options are on offer – everything sounds so tempting. On today’s lunch menu there was:

Salt Beef Sandwich with Homemade Sweet Cucumber Pickle and Mustard
Roast Cauliflower Salad with Almonds, Celery & Pomegranate
Feta, Courgette, Pine nut and Lambs Leaf Salad
Sweet Potato Salad with Ginger, Pecans and Herbs

Erm, can we say YUM? If I was popping back for lunch I’d go with the sweet potato salad. Mum was very interested in the roast cauliflower salad. The prices are very reasonable in my opinion too, our breakfast came to £8. For lunch, it’s £5 for the salt beef sandwich, and the salads are £4 or £6 depending on if you fancy a smaller/bigger portion. I’m always happy to pay a bit more for good local produce and I don’t think these prices are high enough (which I told Anna too!).

Cook House is an experience not to miss, built from 2 converted shipping containers (amazing) and located right on the Ouseburn River (near The Toffee Factory), there are fresh flowers on each table, with bowls of fruit and little framed pictures all over the walls. There’s so much to look at and the colour scheme just happens to be my favourite.

Having had a nose on the website: cookhouse.org, there’ll be a series of supperclubs from The Grazer and other chefs & there’s also going to be a Food School programme if you’re interested (I am!) with the first being a demonstration from Charlotte’s Butchery. Keep an eye on the website for ticket info.

I took so many photos while we were there, it’s too photogenic not to, but don’t worry, I won’t subject you to all of them… (I love the space invaders painted by Anna – during The Late Shows the containers were turned into a video game arcade – gutted I missed this!)

DSC_0426

DSC_0422

DSC_0431

DSC_0432

DSC_0436

DSC_0441

DSC_0442

DSC_0445

DSC_0446

DSC_0452

DSC_0454

DSC_0455

DSC_0456

DSC_0459

DSC_0460

DSC_0461

DSC_0463

DSC_0464

DSC_0466

DSC_0467

DSC_0469

For a bite of something tasty to eat and somewhere super cool to hang out, pop down to Cook House. If you decide to visit I’d love to hear your thoughts. I LOVE it and will definitely be back to sample the lunch menu, perhaps followed by a slice of cake for dessert…

As always, thanks for reading!

Day Trip to Durham

I’ve got this week off work, so does my husband… also, my lovely mother-in-law is visiting from India. What better reason is there for going on some little day trips? I’ll post each trip separately, otherwise this will be at least 10 million pages long.

Saturday’s thunderstorm got in the way of our trip to Corbridge, the rain was ridiculous so I didn’t take my camera out (we’ll just have to go back another day) but did manage to buy some cute bits ‘n’ bobs from a cook-shop.

On Sunday we went to Durham, saw the Cathedral, sauntered leisurely around the pretty streets and drank coffee at Flat White Durham. There was a food market with lots of vendors set up – the smell of food was too tempting and we had to have a sausage sandwich. (HAD TO. Ha ha). We also met the fluffiest (and happiest) 3 year old dog called Paddy. (Love you Paddy). We used to come to Durham every few months, but hadn’t been for over a year so it was lovely to be back.

Flat White’s was recommended to me by the barista at Harvest (read my post about Harvest here). As they serve Ouseburn Coffee, I knew I’d have a nice time, I had no idea just how lovely this place was going to be! Tucked away off the street, it’s quiet, quaint and oozes character. The customer service was brilliant, really friendly but still sincere (oh and service with a sense of humour is my FAVOURITE).

Ready for some photos? The Dragon Noodle man asked me to take his photo, FYI.

DSC_0267 DSC_0291 DSC_0283 DSC_0289 DSC_0271

DSC_0303 DSC_0300 DSC_0387 DSC_0305 DSC_0317 DSC_0324 DSC_0368 DSC_0373
DSC_0309

and now for some photos of Flat White!

DSC_0328

DSC_0329

DSC_0332

DSC_0335

DSC_0338

DSC_0340

DSC_0343

DSC_0344

DSC_0346

DSC_0349

DSC_0355

DSC_0356

Where are your favourite places to go in Durham?

Why I write a blog…

This week my credibility came under fire from someone online, asking why I was conversing with a company I planned to feature on my blog… Without knowing anything about the situation, this person jumped to the conclusion that I was blogging about places with the intention of receiving no bill at the end of a meal or for better customer service. Normally, I turn up, take photos, ask a few questions and write my blog. This has been the case for every single blog post I’ve written. In this situation, I was meant to attend the opening night of a venue and hadn’t been able to go, so had publicly tweeted asking if an email had been received, and so it began…

I’d like to set the record straight. I do not blog for free meal tickets. Since I started this in April, I have paid for everything featured on my blog (with the exception of the Paint Work Shop at Penny Pieces, which I disclosed, and the opening of Harwood Health & Spa which I was invited to). I blog because I love writing, I love photography and I LOVE finding new places to eat/drink coffee/spend time with friends. I’d been thinking about it for a long time, but having received the camera of my dreams (Nikon D3200), it felt like the right time to start.

None of the bloggers I have spoken to are in it for ‘free stuff’ so I felt quite offended that someone would think this of me. I would always disclose if I’d received something for free, or if a company had asked me to feature them… but it’s always been the other way around. I’ve spent a lot of money and time (which I am not complaining about btw, I’ve done it because I wanted to) and I’m very proud of my blog, so it felt extremely personal when it was implied that I was being dishonest.

I’ve always loved photography and the first blog I ever read was “I Keep a Diary” – a photo diary of Brian Battjer’s life. I started my blog in April 2014 and really wanted to focus on the photography – which is why I took a 6 week digital photography course in June. I can clearly see how my photography skills have improved since I started blogging, how my writing is flowing better than ever and on top of all that I really look forward to discovering new places or just writing about places I already love. I also love the connections you make with other bloggers, I’m going to my first meet-up in a few weeks time which I am super duper excited about!

The moral of this story – even though it’s almost impossible… don’t take what someone says to you on the internet, to heart. What matters to me is that my friends (IRL and online), family and blog followers know that I’m an honest, credible blogger.

Have you had to encounter anything like this? I’d love to hear about it and how you dealt with it. :)

(I can’t believe there are no photos in this post…)

A Weekend in Windermere

A month or so ago, Ankush and I went to one of our favourite places for the weekend. The Lake District is only 1.5 hours away from our house so it’s silly we don’t visit more often.

As it was the weekend of the Great North Swim, most places were already fully booked but we managed to get a room in a guest house in Windermere. Oakthwaite is a relatively new guest house (I actually can’t remember how long it’s been open – I didn’t write it down) and is just stunning. The guest house has two double bedrooms – which I didn’t realise at the time of booking – so is perfect if you’re going away with another couple/friends/family as you literally have the place to yourselves. Breakfast was continental style and the location was so tranquil, the view of the the large garden from our bedroom was beautiful too. Deborah was very accommodating and friendly, I’d love to go back and stay again! I’m keeping this post as short as possible because I realise I go on and on sometimes… (BTW, just came back to proofread and the post is still majorly massive, mostly with photographs though).

Here are some photos of Oakthwaite, Windermere, boat trip to Ambleside and the drive to Grasmere/Keswick, oh and food. OBVIOUSLY.

Lakes
DSC_0763

DSC_0924

Lakes
IMG_3011

IMG_3013
DSC_0804
DSC_0778

DSC_0790

DSC_0822

IMG_3030

DSC_0865

DSC_0874

DSC_0885

DSC_0897

DSC_0899

DSC_0904

DSC_0958

DSC_0961

DSC_0985

DSC_0993

and obviously this blog wouldn’t be complete without some food pics… I’m fasting today (5:2er) and haven’t had dinner yet and these pics definitely aren’t helping matters!
IMG_3036

IMG_3060

IMG_3020

I’ll finish off with a comedy selfie of Ankush and I … Not entirely sure why we pulled these faces, but we did! Where do you stay when you go to the Lakes?
IMG_3034