Monday, 7 November 2016

Snowdogs and The Quayside at Night.

It’s been a while since I went to the Quayside and took some night-time photos. The quality of them last time wasn’t the best so I wanted to see if a better camera would do the trick. I went with Lillian for a quick dash around before we went to see Birdy perform at Sage Gateshead (She was amazing if you’re wondering.)

The Baltic is a beautiful building and I love the way the doorway is framed and the light box sign. It seems sixties to me almost, if that makes any sense. Like dark wooden paneling and the font together give off a vibe. (Yeah I'll stop there.)

I’ll never tire of seeing the Millennium Bridge, even now when I walk on it, It freaks me out going over the grated side and being able to see the water below. I just can’t help it. When the wind picks up and it shakes that doesn’t help either. There’s always people nearby and budding photographer’s trying to get the perfect shot. I love how the lights change colour and it can be red one moment and green the next. On a clear night there is nothing better.

I'm also on the hunt for Snowdogs, so the fact there are just three hanging around the Quayside made me giddy with excitement. (I'm definitely a child at heart.)

I found Tyne Tail Jack and Snowberry right beside the bridge. Then I found Hadrian's Hound - 'Amicus Optimus' beside Broad Chare. I love looking for them and it’s definitely made me explore a lot of places that I'd never seen before. Definitely great for a wannabe tourist.

The Quayside Seaside looked eerie as we were passing it. Gone were the happy kids making sandcastles. It just doesn’t have the same appeal all covered in darkness. I liked the way the beach huts looked though and it made me remember that I didn’t even visit it this year, not once. 

Chance are you’ll find some nice luxurious yacht docked up by the side of the water. I saw a few, but it was this little boat that caught my eye. I love seeing little unique boats with their own charm and character just sitting bobbing in the water. You try to get a sense of what the owner is like and what they like to do on their boat. (I’m not talking Dexter vibes or anything) Just people sitting in little fishing boats trying to catch some bait or something. 

We walked along to the Tyne Bridge and then went back along and up to the Sage. You can get some great views from higher up. All of the buildings lit up against the side of the Tyne. It's quite spectacular. I bet watching a sunrise or sunset would be pretty darn special.

You could imagine my delight when I spotted another couple of doggy statues up at the Sage.

Ziggy was just outside one of the entrances and Disco Dog was just inside. Disco Dog has to be the best one I've seen so far. It's covered in small mirrored pieces and even has it's own podium. That in my eyes means it deserves two photos (at least)

On a cold Autumn night, sure it's nice to sit in and get warm and cosy beside the fire, it's also great to just go out and do a bit of exploring. Wrap up warm, put your favourite scarf on and just have a little wander. The box sets and jarmies will still be waiting for you when you return. The Snowdogs are gone in a couple of weeks so if that's not ammunition enough for you, I don't know what is.

How many Snow Dogs have you spotted?

Monday, 31 October 2016

Return to High Force Waterfall.

Back in May I visited High Force Waterfall. (The biggest waterfall in England) It was one of the most breath-taking nature spots I’ve been to. So when my brother suggested we go for the day I obviously jumped at the chance. He’d never been before so it was an excuse for me to show him around. Just call me the Geordie Tour Guide.

It’s great going back somewhere. Sure I love the excitement of exploring a new place, but when you revisit somewhere it’s because you’ve found something in that place. Something spoke to you and you just know you have to go back. Plus no two days are ever the same. Changes in the seasons, weather, and even your mood on the day, and the company you keep can all affect your overall experience. Plus I actually have a proper camera now so I can take some better quality photos. (Hallelujah) 

We took the route along to the top of the waterfall first. This time there were cows grazing in the fields. They were very curious let’s say and it was all but impossible to get by them. I’ll talk more about that later though.

I loved how the sun was shining and you could see all the autumn colours of the trees. Autumn is one of my favourite seasons and the ever-changing hues of the leaves is one of the reasons why. 

You'll definitely hear the waterfall before you see it. You are walking along a little path and there's steep hills on one side and the plummet into the water on the other. Thick trees cover the way, but there's gaps in which you can see the flowing stream below. 

You can actually walk out onto a ledge to get the best view of the falls. It's scary and amazing and something to be savored, despite me wanting to get it over and done with as fast as possible so I don't slip and fall off the edge. 

If you carry on walking past the waterfall you can see the rocky verges. We took the shorter route, but there are lots of walks around and near the falls all depending on how many miles you want to walk. We had a reluctant dog with us so the shorter route seemed best.

I noticed a lot more views on the way back this time too. I don't know if it's because the weather was better or because I was just taking my time and enjoying it as I'd already been before, but the country backdrops were just stunning. There was a house too, I definitely don't remember seeing a house. I guess you do notice different things on a revisit.

When it was time to go back along the field where the cows were, we had a bit of an ordeal. We were just walking along and then out of nowhere we heard a woman shout, she was near the water with her family. We then realised she was saying the cows were charging. We bolted into the water with the dog in tow (she doesn't really like to go in too far) whilst the cows decided to try and follow us in. My God I've never been so frightened. We were knee-deep, soaking pants, shoes filled with water and a dog all but traumatised.

Thankfully some women passing by shooed them off. (If I had known it would be that easy I would have done that myself.) If they didn't show up I don't know what would have happened. Our legs were shaking, honestly I think I've developed a fear of cows now.

After a good ten minutes we were able to laugh about it. It's now a funny story to tell people. (Cowgate) We headed along to the bottom of the falls, boots squelching, legs soaked, hearts racing (still) to get a peek of the waterfall from below.

We only went so far, we had spent a lot of time walking already and as soon as we glimpsed the waterfall, we didn't feel like going any further. My camera died too and to be honest we both just wanted to get back to the car to take our sodden socks off. 

It was an experience that's for sure, part of it I hope to never repeat. High Force is one of those places you could keep going back to. There's still plenty more land left undiscovered (to me anyways) and no doubt I'll be back in another few months to have another look around.

You can access the waterfalls from 10am-5pm and it costs £1.50 per adult.

Have any of you visited High Force before?

Monday, 24 October 2016

A Quick Breakfast Stop at Garden Kitchen.

Breakfast, they say, is the most important meal of the day. I’d have to agree, but more than that it’s definitely my favourite meal of the day. Half the time I’ll skip lunch as I’m off pottering about doing something that seems more important than eating. (Bold words for an eater like me.)

Some days soggy cereal just won’t do though, and the only other option is to go out into the world and see what else is on offer. I decided to kill two birds with one stone and spend some quality time with my brother whilst also having a bite to eat at my all time favourite place. I swear one of these days I’ll venture further afield, but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Isn’t that what they say? 

We went to Garden Kitchen. (If you haven't already guessed.) The snug little bistro/quirky eatery in the quiet segment of Eldon Gardens. Believe me the quietness makes all of the difference. Granted, it was early in the morning so there weren’t many people there to start with, but it was definitely away from the hustle and bustle. 

The place never gets old for me. I love the mixtures of wood and leather and the odd perspex chair dotted about. Besides that, the food is always good quality.

From the Menu:

Camomile Tea - £2.75
Sourdough or Wholemeal Toast, Northumbrian Jam & Butter - £2.25
Freshly Baked Croissant or Pain au Chocolat - £2.45

My brother got an upmarket sausage and bacon sandwich too. I was slightly disappointed as the menu online was different to the one when we got there. I had been setting myself up for a bagel with smoked salmon, and it was just nowhere to be seen.

Don't get me wrong, the sourdough toast was beautiful. I loved that it was a big portion and it came with raspberry jam. I much prefer it to strawberry these days so that was great. The tea was fresh and really hit the spot and even though I was near bursting, I managed half of the pastry, before giving the rest to my brother.

The food is always top notch at Garden Kitchen and that's why I like it. I've had a better variety on previous visits and I don't know if I'd return for breakfast. It was still better than any toast I would have gotten at home though.

Can you recommend any nice places to go for breakfast or brunch?

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The Surprise Baby Shower at Santana's Whickham.

I don’t know about you, but any excuse to eat cake and I’m there. At the weekend we planned a surprise baby shower for my cousin Danni who’s expecting a baby boy. (In a matter of weeks really) Just the initial going to Next and looking at all of the cute baby clothes we could get her was enough to make me giddy.

We booked Santana’s in Whickham which is a pizzeria and specialises in all things Italian. It’s nestled right on the high street among the classical shops and businesses nearby. The d├ęcor inside was minimalist, with flashes of black and red dotted on the tables.

A spot was secured right next to the window which was ideal as we were making demands for extra space and tables as soon as we arrived to prep everything. The staff were more than happy to oblige, so if you’re on the lookout for restaurant space for a special occasion try them.

Everything was blue, blue and then some more blue. Balloons and banners were popping out from everywhere (well within the vicinity of our ever expanding corner.) We set up a table nearby with all of the extras. Everyone had a baby bottle filled with sweets. There were cakes with babies faces on them. Goody bags were made by Do is a Favour which everyone loved. They had little baby soaps and sweets and some good old fashioned sashes with nicknames on them. They were a nice touch. I may be biased as they're made by my brother's girlfriend Lorii, but check them out for yourself.

My mam made a little flower box filled with blue and white roses. Just something different, but it really brought everything together. She's just started a business specialising in artificial flower arrangments. (Anytyne Flowers) With a Facebook page coming very soon. I promise this isn't a post just trying to get you all to buy things. It was just a right old family affair with everyone getting involved. Plus people have exciting projects developing and I wanted to tell the World. (Or the few of you that read this)

I was in charge of games. Having never been to a baby shower before I wasn't sure what to do. After a few hours on Pinterest it was like I was the special chosen one. This role was made for me and I couldn't wait for everyone to have some fun.

We made babies out of playdoh and got the waitress, (who by this point was probably sick of us) to pick a winner. I say babies, but there was one that looked like a turtle, piglet, an old man and even some questionable looking private parts. (I'll say no more.)

Next on the agenda was 'Guess the Baby Food'. Yes it really was as disgusting as it sounds. I tried one and that was more than enough for me. Just smelling them in the pots brought back so many memories though.

Last but not least was 'Preggers or Porn' as you can imagine this one went down a storm. Everyone wrote down their answers, thankfully. I mean it's a family business. It was hilarious non the less though. Definite hit for any of you out there wanting to plan a shower.

Food wise, we all went for the lunchtime special which was three courses for £3.95. It was such a bargain. I had potato skins for starters and then half pizza (cheese and mushroom) half pasta (tomato tagliatelle) which tasted amazing. I'm pleased I opted for a bit of both as there's no way I could have eaten a full pizza to myself. Everyone else had the same idea too.

It's a set menu, but you can order some other things for an extra £3 which is nothing really. I got a couple of lemonades and my meal didn't even come to a tenner. 

The food was great, the company even more so. It was such a beautiful little afternoon just chatting with the other ladies (we try to be) and having a laugh being silly and playing games. If this is what I've been missing out on then boy I need to go to another baby shower sharpish.

P.S. Sorry I've been gone for a while. I thought I might be done with blogging, but it seems I can't let go just yet. I have so many posts up my sleeve so keep an eye out. 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Edinburgh: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

 On our sightseeing trip to Edinburgh my mother and I hopped off the tour bus (we literally hopped) and decided to have a little gander at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. The Garden was founded in 1670 as a Physic garden, adjacent to Holyrood Palace, and was no bigger than a tennis court.

Today, it is a world-renowned center for studying plant science and horticulture and features over seventy acres of manicured lawns. (Slightly bigger than a tennis court.) To me, it’s a space showcasing themed gardens and a magnificent array of trees and plants.

As soon as we entered the center its clear how important learning is. They have videos and walls telling you all about the history of different plant species. I particularly loved the glass cabinets filled with samples. It made me feel like I was in a science lab. It was good to have a mixture of the science and also the beauty of the nature.

I couldn't possibly show you everything the garden have to offer. In fact I don't even think I saw it all myself. The place is just too big.

I will show you my favourite parts though.

It's got to be the Glasshouses. Even the appearance from the outside had me in complete and utter awe. I must have taken about twenty pictures in one spot.

They are all interlinked and when you go through it's like a different garden in each glasshouse. Well I guess more like different species in each area. It's strange to get used to at first, the changes in temperature as you go from one to the other is very surreal. half of the time I felt like I was an explorer in a tropical rainforest.

It's free to see the gardens, but £5.50 (per adult) to go into the glasshouses. It's definitely worth it as there is just so much to see.

Before you've even gotten into the main bulk of the tour, you enter and are greeted with an array of huge palm trees. I'm taking mega sized, hitting off the ceiling, spreading far and wide palms. It's a sight to behold. I love the shapes and the way they look against the top of the glasshouse. 

This part is free if you just want a quick peek and don't fancy going in any further. 

This is the house showing orchids and cycads. I won't go into too much detail about the plants and flowers as they have an abundance of information on their website. Plus if you go yourself you'll learn all about them. I will give you a couple of facts though.

Cycads, (which I don't think you can see on the photos) are an ancient group of plants that where around when the dinosaurs were here. (Mind blown.)

And did you know there are about 20,000 different species of orchid. 

I love how overgrown and natural it all looks. It's like an enchanted garden. The tillandsia usneoides (Spanish moss) AKA the lovely wispy-like stuff hanging from the trees is just beautiful. I think I'll refer to it as nature's curtain. It's calming and I can't help but want to rub my greedy fingers over it when I see it.

The Plants and People House was my favourite by far. You know I'm a sucker for water and as soon as I stepped into the (almost) cloying heat and saw the giant lily pads I felt at home.

This was a proper rainforest. There was vegetation surrounding the pond like bananas, rice, sugar and coco. The purpose of the garden is to show how the tropics make a major contribution to the global economy.

Its a gorgeous sight and I'd quite like to try and bounce from lily pads to lily pad as if they were stepping stones. Anyone else?

Another shot of the Glasshouses as we were walking away. I think I may be a bit obsessed. I just can't help it. The architecture is gorgeous and the roof and windows, gosh, don't get me started.

There is literally so much more to see, even just in the glasshouses. Beyond the glass though there's Alpines, Rock Garden's, Herbaceous Borders, and even the Queen Mother's Memorial Garden which featured a little shed covered in shells.

We saw a good few of the garden's, watching the rain hit off the pond whilst standing under a Chinese-style shelter was definitely a highlight. I'd say you'd need to spend a good day here just taking it all in. It's something to be savoured. So if you have the time to spare, do it at a leisurely pace and just enjoy all of the sights and smells.

Who knows you might befriend a little duckling like I did, or go following a squirrel through the trees.

Have any of you been to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh?