Lake District

After our little getaway to Nice in June, we decided to holiday a bit closer to home last week…

We’re not ones for planning too far in advance, so we booked ourselves into Low Wood Bay on Sunday night and set off on Monday morning :) The hotel is in between Ambleside and Windermere (closer to Ambleside) and this was our first time staying here. We will definitely be back, we loved it, but I hope we manage to book far enough in advance to get a lake view room in the main hotel building. During this trip we were in the “new block” which was perfectly nice, but the view wasn’t ideal – not a complaint, totally our fault we booked super late – I think we got the last room in the hotel!

We didn’t do too much, it was more of a chance to totally relax and recharge our batteries; day trips to Ambleside, Windermere, Keswick, Grasmere, lots of cups of tea and delicious food!

Here are a selection of photos from our trip (I’ve tried really hard not to post too many).

Low Wood Bay

Low Wood Bay

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The walk from the main hotel building and the block our room was in...

The walk from the main hotel building and the block our room was in…

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Derwent Water

Derwent Water

Derwent Water

Derwent Water

Derwent Water

Derwent Water

Derwent Water

Derwent Water

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Keswick

Keswick

Keswick

Keswick

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You know it

You know it

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Low Wood Bay at sunset

Sunset at Low Wood Bay

Low Wood Bay at sunset

Sunset at Low Wood Bay

Hope you’ve enjoyed the photos!

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The Naked Deli – Chillingham Road

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The Naked Deli on Chillingham Road Heaton isn’t new to Newcastle, but today was my first visit. It’s been on my list for ages and lots of my friends love it so I had pretty high expectations.

Everything on the menu is freshly prepared in their deli using “unprocessed, whole and natural state foods” and they only ever cook with organic coconut oil (who else is obsessed with organic coconut oil?! SO many uses… I use it as part of my skincare, haircare, tooth & gum care and also cooking!). I’m following the 5:2 intermittent fasting diet, luckily today was not a fast day so I was really looking forward to eating some good healthy (and tasty) food for lunch with my friend, Julie.

We got there just after 1pm so I wasn’t surprised by how busy it was, the lunchtime rush! All tables were taken and there was a long queue of people ordering to take out. This place is popular! I did feel funny in my jeans and t-shirt, at one point we were the only people not in gym clothes (I was wearing trainers though, phew!).

I love the branding – the logo is brilliant, it’s on the napkins, the stamp on the loyalty card and even on stickers underneath the little plant pots hanging up on the wall!

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I made my mind up really quickly, I ordered the chicken burger served on a portobello mushroom with sweet potato chips and fig ketchup. I hesitated a bit with the drinks, but went with the wheatgrass smoothie (with spinach, pear, grapefruit and ginger). Julie ordered the beef burger with halloumi, on a rye bun, with sweet potato chips, garlic yoghurt and a cold pressed juice.

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The burgers were £8 each, the smoothie was £3.75 and the cold pressed juice was £4. I really enjoyed my food, a mushroom instead of a bun – LOVED this. I’m all about the filling anyway, the bread just gets in the way and I usually leave the top of the bun. My husband says I have mushrooms with everything, he’s exaggerating obviously, but I do love a good juicy mushroom. The chicken was chargrilled and there were 2 fillets in the burger alongside avocado and crispy bacon. The sweet potato chips could have been a bit crispier for my personal preference but I still enjoyed them, especially dipped in the delicious fig ketchup.

I was totally stuffed, but knew I wanted to order one of the naked treats to go. I went with the raw snickers, which I’ve half devoured (accompanied by a mug of lemon, echinacea and ginger tea) whilst writing this post! All naked treats are gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free… but NOT taste & flavour free may I add. Absolutely delicious. I can’t remember how much this tasty treat was, but on the menu it says ‘from £2′. Well worth it.

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I love the Naked Deli’s approach to healthy eating, it’s far from boring and there are loads of tasty sounding options, I can see why they’re so popular. I’ve got my loyalty card and I’ll be back soon – next time for breakfast! I’ve got my eye on an acai bowl or square sausage and eggs.

Have you been to The Naked Deli? If you have, I’d love to hear what you think (and what you order, because I’m nosey).

Post Box Ponteland – Afternoon Tea

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Post Box Ponteland has been open for a couple of months now, I went along on opening day for breakfast (read about it here) and was hugely interested in what Alex & Hayden had in store for the future.

My friend was home from London for the weekend so I took this opportunity to get us booked in at Post Box for Ladies Afternoon Tea (they also offer a Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea). Tea, cake and a good old chin-wag was definitely on the menu!

It wasn’t too busy when we got there so we had a few tables to choose from, I always look for the one with the best lighting. We managed to get a nice window table, perfect for photos! The waitress came over and we ordered an afternoon tea to share. There was a bit of confusion over what came in the afternoon tea but that was sorted out pretty quickly. My friend doesn’t drink tea so ordered fresh orange juice. Unfortunately they didn’t have any orange so she had squash instead.

The stand arrived, full of delicious looking items!

Salmon and ham & pease pudding finger sandwiches

Salmon and ham & pease pudding finger sandwiches

YUM

YUM

A different angle :)

A different angle :)

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I love the little milk bottle to accompany the pot of tea, it’s the little touches that make the difference :) I got two and a bit cups of tea from the pot which was more than enough to wash down the cake!

Here are some better pictures of some of the food, I tried to keep my plate as crumb free as possible while I took the photos – I should have just asked for another plate. I’m silly.

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Really liked the little salad and chopped up gherkins that came with the sandwiches. Again, small touches.

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This was AMAZING

This was AMAZING

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Here are a couple of photos of the cosy interior, love those cushions.

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We were so full we couldn’t actually finish everything, so we got the rest of the cake packed up to take home. Everything was delicious, the sandwiches were filled generously and tasted really fresh. My favourite was the meringue with cream – the meringue was perfect and chewy, I savoured every bite. The scone was great too, we both agreed the homemade jam was particularly delicious!

Post Box is now open Friday and Saturday evenings as a bistro with an evening menu (check it out on their Facebook page – lots of delicious looking options to choose from) and they have an alcohol licence too. They also have live acoustic music fortnightly on Saturday evenings which must be lovely. I’m really happy to see how things have evolved in a few short months, Hayden, Alex and the team have certainly been busy.

I said it last time and I’ll say it again, I’m so happy they’re here, I’ll be back soon to sample the evening menu.

Have you been to Post Box Ponteland yet? Would love to hear what you thought if you have!

 

A week in Nice, France

Last week we travelled to Nice for the week, I’m not going to write a full post about our time away but I thought it’d be nice to share some photos :)

If you know me, you know about my love for France. I studied French at university and have spent 1.5 years living there, I spent a year in Aix en Provence as part of my degree and then in 2010 I worked in Paris for 6 months. The last time I was in Nice was 15 years ago and this was my husband’s first trip to France, so we were both really looking forward to it. Needless to say, it did not disappoint! The gorgeous weather, delicious French food and lack of schedule to keep to was exactly what we both needed.

We did venture out of Nice, not very far though, to Cannes and then to Monaco, both were lovely but we wanted to get back to Nice to explore the old town more and spend time lounging at the beach!

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Hope you’ve enjoyed the photos, I’d love to know where you’re off on holiday this summer!

 

St Mary’s Inn – Stannington

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St Mary’s Inn, Stannington, isn’t far from the A1 but (wonderfully) still feels a bit like the middle of nowhere – if you ignore the new fancy housing estate immediately surrounding it of course! The last time I visited was in November, the week it opened. I got very lost because I stupidly followed the sat nav, not the directions I was given. I was panicking that I would have the same issue this time, but actually, it’s only 15 minutes from my house and very easy to find!

When we arrived, I wasn’t surprised to see that it was relatively busy, with people in the bar, the outdoor courtyard and restaurant area. We got seated in a different area than last time, it was much brighter which made me happy.

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To start we both ordered the Potted Pork with House Pickles and Sourdough (£6.50).

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It was delicious, I’d certainly order it again. The pork was mouth-wateringly good and the sourdough was perfect, especially with the pickles. I could have done with a few more pickles (I’m a pickle fiend). I was dining with my friend (from France), who informed me that this is served with gherkins in France. I wouldn’t have said no to a gherkin or two :)

For mains we went with the Ribeye Steak with Béarnaise sauce with Fries (£16) and the Aberdeen Angus Cheeseburger (£10.50) with Bone Marrow and Parsley Fries (£3.50).

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Both were good choices and we enjoyed our meals, especially the Bone Marrow and Parsley Fries which I would definitely recommend ordering! So much flavour. Julie’s steak was not as rare as she’d hoped for and she was a bit disappointed with the Béarnaise sauce, it was almost foamy.

For dessert, this Chocolate Brownie Sundae (£6.50) was calling my name and did not disappoint although I nowhere near finished it. It tasted even better than it looks. The rest of the dessert menu looked fantastic and there was a delicious sounding yoghurt panna cotta on the specials board, which I would have ordered had I not already set my sights on the Sundae!

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The service was as good as my last visit, staff were attentive, friendly and helpful but not overbearing. We had a few people serve us, including Victor Castro, the General Manager,  who was busy throughout our visit, chatting to diners whilst serving.

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Private dining room

Private dining room

Love this guy created by sculptor Gary Tiplady

Love this guy created by sculptor Gary Tiplady

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This is where I sat last time

This is where I sat last time

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I really enjoyed driving out to St Mary’s Inn, I love the ambience and cosiness (who doesn’t love a wood-burning stove?) of the place as well as the attention to detail with the furnishings. It’s also really nice to go somewhere out of the city centre for a change (with no parking traumas). The menu has plenty to choose from and has recently changed, you can check it out here.

Have you been to St Mary’s Inn yet? I’d love to know what you ordered and what you thought! If you’re thinking of popping in, I’d recommend calling up to book beforehand. Next on my list is the Sunday Lunch which I’ve heard great things about.

* Our meals were provided free of charge for review purposes, but as with everything on my blog, my opinions are 100% honest.

Jesmond Food Market

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Jesmond Food Market takes place on the 3rd Saturday of the month, from 10am-3pm, on Armstrong Bridge overlooking Jesmond Dene. The launch last month was a huge success, with many stalls selling out very quickly. I was busy that day but pencilled 16th May in my diary immediately, to make sure I didn’t miss out this time around.

The monthly food market is being run by Anna Hedworth (who I’ve talked about on my blog a few times. Here and here), Food Newcastle and Jesmond Residents Association. I went along with two friends today, we got there at around 11 and it was already bustling! It was also pretty blustery and looked like it might rain. It did rain. We got soaked but took shelter under some trees for a few minutes until it slowed. While we were at one of the stalls we overheard someone saying they thought today, like last month, was going to be a sell-out too. The people of Newcastle LOVE a food market, clearly!

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We’d already decided to head for lunch after the market, otherwise I would have had a pizza from Pizzette, a crêpe from my faves (La Petite Crêperie) or some delicious barbecued meat in a bun from Longhorns. Papa Ganoush were also there, whose food I LOVE, but I had chicken shawarma in flatbread from them last week (delicious)! Coffee from my favourite coffee place in town, Ouseburn Coffee Company, was a must. I managed to convert two more coffee drinkers (well, I bought them a cup of coffee and that was that). After having a good nose around and taking photos, I ended up buying some cheese from Northumberland Cheese Company, a French boule from Olivia’s Artisan Bakery and a pack of sausages from The Northumberland Sausage Company. On the way out we stopped at Di Meo’s for an ice cream, even though we hadn’t eaten lunch (or breakfast).

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Elodie's Crêpes

Elodie’s Crêpes

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Jesmond Dene

Jesmond Dene

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Americano. Latte. Flat White.

Americano. Latte. Flat White.


Right before the rain

Right before the rain

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The Northumberland Sausage Companu

The Northumberland Sausage Company


Charlotte's Butchery

Charlotte’s Butchery


Best coffee in the toon

Best coffee in the toon

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hello

Hello


salted caramel ice cream in an oreo cone!

Salted caramel ice cream in an oreo cone!


chocolate ice cream in a salted popcorn cone

Chocolate ice cream in a salted popcorn cone

Overall I loved the variety of things to choose from, there were a lot of bread stalls (all of which were busy!), I would have liked to have seen more veggies/flowers but they’re the only things I can think of. I was meant to write this on my feedback form but it started raining and we ran away to get shelter.

It feels like this has been long overdue, I’m so glad it’s here now! Thank you organisers, I’ll definitely be back regularly and recommend it if you’re in the area. The next one is Saturday 20th June! 

Were you there last month or today? Let me know what you thought!

Café Royal – Afternoon Tea

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Last month I wrote a review of Café Royal, the place I had originally wanted to be my first blog post but I chickened out of taking any photos, because I was a scaredy cat. This has been one of my favourite places in Newcastle since my lovely friend Heidi introduced me to it back in 2003.

I’ve eaten breakfast, brunch and lunch there on countless occasions, stopped for a coffee or a pot of tea and a slice of cake after traipsing around town on a busy Saturday afternoon, but I’ve never been for afternoon tea… Until now!

Afternoon Tea is served from 2.30-5.30, Monday-Friday and costs £25 for two with tea or coffee and £30 for two with Prosecco. We opted for tea and coffee, this won’t surprise anyone who knows me. My mum (who is incidentally a veggie) was my dining companion and I was very interested to see what would be on the menu for her. She’s not a fussy vegetarian, she just appreciates it when there’s an effort made for veggies, rather than a cheese or egg & cress sandwich.

We were shown to a table upstairs (I’ve never sat there before) and I was very happy to see there was a nice little spotlight in the ceiling right above my chair – no dark photos.

Our menus were laid out in front of us so I thought we had to make some choices but was informed we got one of everything on the menu. At this point I realised I was pretty hungry. There were a few things on the menu that I was excited to try, things I’ve not eaten a lot, like smoked trout, crab and blue cheese.

Mum’s menu looked great too, I could tell she was impressed before the food had even arrived – that’s quite some feat, seriously.

Now for the food photos!

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Wild mushroom, red pepper relish & goats curd granary roll

Wild mushroom, red pepper relish & goats curd granary roll

Pickled beetroot, horseradish cream & beetroot blini

Pickled beetroot, horseradish cream & beetroot blini

Spiced crab & coriander tart

Spiced crab & coriander tart

Caramelised shallot tart tatin with mordon blue cheese

Caramelised shallot tart tatin with mordon blue cheese

Courgette, feta & coriander pancake

Courgette, feta & coriander pancake

Smoked trout, horseradish cream & beetroot blini

Smoked trout, horseradish cream & beetroot blini

Chorizo, manchego & romesco on toasted focaccia

Chorizo, manchego & romesco on toasted focaccia

Caramelised onion & mature cheddar scone

Caramelised onion & mature cheddar scone

Raspberry scone

Raspberry scone

Lemon & passion fruit custard tart

Lemon & passion fruit custard tart

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Chocolate & Earl Grey cake

Chocolate & Earl Grey cake

Coconut & mango rice pudding with pistachio

Coconut & mango rice pudding with pistachio

I realise there are a lot of photos but the food was so well presented, I got carried away. It happens.

My absolute favourite savoury item was the smoked trout, horseradish cream & beetroot blini. I’ve never (knowingly) eaten trout before, it was delicious – not too smokey and just perfect, paired with the horseradish cream. SMOKED TROUT. Who knew?! Mum’s favourite was the courgette, feta and coriander pancake.

The trio of desserts were little morsels of decadence. It’s too hard to pick a favourite, not that anyone is actually asking me to do that, but if I could eat one right now it would be the lemon & passion fruit custard tart. The coconut & mango rice pudding with pistachio was mum’s favourite. She had left the chocolate & earl grey cake until last and said she was too full to eat it, one second later I heard her say ‘ooh it’s not too chocolatey and you can really taste the earl grey’.  Delicious.

I love the variety & combination of things on the menu. I also love the thought that’s been put into this afternoon tea, it’s not like anywhere else I’ve been. There’s nothing wrong with those afternoon teas of course, it’s just refreshing to see something entirely different.

Exciting news… I’ve been informed by head chef Gavin that they’re launching High Breakfast very soon, an afternoon tea type of concept for breakfast – this could possibly be my favourite thing ever. Keep your peepers peeled for news on when that’s launching!

I really enjoyed afternoon tea at Café Royal and I’ll definitely be back (let’s be real, I’ll be there for brunch in-between afternoon tea visits), if you’re looking for a new place to try afternoon tea I think this is just the ticket. Make sure you call up and book beforehand! Would love to hear what you think if you go or have already been.

* This afternoon tea was free of charge for review purposes, but as with everything on my blog, my opinions are 100% honest*