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. 

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Edinburgh: Day One - Cameras, Cakes and Cathedrals.

It’s kind of become a bit of a tradition to go somewhere every year with just my mam and myself. Call it mother daughter bonding, that’s what I do. This year I really fancied going to Edinburgh, so that’s exactly what we did on Monday. We packed our minimalist cases with necessities and got the train from Newcastle Central.

Every time we go somewhere I write an itinerary (yes I’m that sad) but really its just because there’s so many things I want to see and I don’t want to miss out on anything. I’ll even research foodie places and shops too. Well, you might as well go in knowing what to expect in a way.

As soon as we got there and dropped our bags off we headed to the Camera Obscura. Think floor upon floor of random kid-like fun. Lots of optical illusions and interactive things to do. You also get to explore the city views from rooftop telescopes. Plus obviously, the main attraction of the camera obscura itself. See it move around the Edinburgh streets below. It's quite a cool thing to behold. It’s £14.50 a ticket and open every day 9:30-19:00

After some sightseeing, we headed to The Dome for a spot of afternoon tea. I'm sorry, but I couldn't go all of the way to Edinburgh without indulging in a bit of afternoon delight. (Stop being dirty.)

It's quite a spectacle to behold. Very ornate pieces. Think gorgeous crystal chandeliers, high ceilings with intricate detailing. I particularly loved the black and white checked flooring, how well it worked with the rich tones of the walls. Basically if you were ever thinking of trying out afternoon tea it would be the most perfect spot.

The Tea was held in The Georgian Tea room. I mean come on, it has it's own special room just for afternoon tea and such. Very classy indeed.

Let's just take a minute to appreciate the gorgeous gold teapot and tea strainers. You know its a posh affair when all is gold. The tea was amazing quality and they have many specialty teas to choose from. Just pouring it through a little strainer made me feel all grown up and special.

You can check out the menu. The sandwiches were top notch, soft bread and tasty fillings. Hot, plain scones (just the way mother likes them) and delectable mini cakes. I'm a sucker for a good macaron and they did not disappoint. It was £16.50 per person (£23.50 with champagne) To be honest I would have paid that for the surroundings alone. All I'll say is if you go, check out the bathroom. Luxury doesn't even cut it.

St. Giles' Cathedral was next on the tour. We had spent so long chatting over tea, that it was just a quick stop before it closed.

It's such a gorgeous building situated on the Royal Mile right in the middle of everything. It's a very popular place. Every time we passed there were always hoards of people about and rightly so. It has such a calming effect on the soul. Just stepping through it's door and talking in the beauty of the stained glass windows, the organ and alter and you can see why. 

Admission is free and it's open until 19:00 (On weekdays)

Just before calling it a night, we went on a free ghost tour of the city. There are plenty of tours about in Edinburgh and you only need walk a few minutes on the Royal Mile before bumping into one of them. 

I will say it wasn't quite what I expected. It was a great way to see the city, and at night. The stories however were a bit more about murder and less ghostly I'll say. Our tour guide was a bit pushy and as we moved from place to place the group was getting smaller from all of the people deciding to leave. She didn't mind slagging off the English either. So yeah, enter at your own peril I guess...

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Town End Farm: Exploring the Countryside.

After exploring the village of Appleton Le Moors, myself and my buddy Nic decided to wander off the beaten track a bit. It’s not every day that you end up surrounded by luscious countryside and sheep hanging around every corner.

So we thought we’d make the most of it before returning to the rest of the hen party who were back at the house.

We wandered past a field of cows. It’s strange getting so close to the animals. We had to open the gate right beside where they were just to get passed. They never even flinched. I guess they’re used to people meandering by, enjoying leisurely strolls.

Afterwards we went in the opposite direction and found, you’ve guessed it, sheep. They were lined up standing on two legs trying to eat from the bushes, which I’ve never seen before. I guess you adapt to your surroundings. 

I love this photo so much. It reminds me of some kind of hipster album cover. Maybe The Beatles in a past life without Abbey Road to fall back on.

We walked on further, bendy country lanes, barely wide enough for one car. We had to keep stopping to let them through. They in turn had to wait for the sheep to pass by. It was hilarious at times. 

It was a long walk, not so bad going as it was mostly down hill. Coming back was a whole other story though.

The views were absolutely stunning. Gorgeous rolling hills, yellow blossoms dotted about. The smell of wild garlic in your nostrils, rustic fences and grazing horses. I could have quite easily hopped the fence and just lain in the field watching the clouds pass by.

Near the end of our walk that's pretty much exactly what we did do. We came to a stream with a bridge (of course everyone knows in the story you have to cross it) they probably don't warn you about the electric fences or the massive piles of cow pat everywhere though. No you have to find that out for yourself.

It opened into a clearing full of cows and bulls. I know how serious bulls are. We kept well back and found a secluded part next to some bushes. We sat for a while making daisy chained necklaces and crowns. I kid you not, that's actually what we did. All the while we kept checking about to make sure no bulls were coming our way.

It was a lovely, peaceful day. For me, it was one of those walks that I'd never do again. You go and you experience it once and its special and magical, but you'd never go again because A. it was hard work and you don't think your legs could manage the walk (you know what's coming this time and it aint pretty) and B. you don't want to take away from the shine of the place. What if you didn't miss the poop next time? what if it was raining on the bridge? These are honestly the questions I ask myself.

Have any of you ran into some bull trouble recently? 

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Town End Farm: Exploring Appleton le Moors.

For my friend Laura’s hen do, thirteen of us packed up and headed to Town End Farm in Appleton Le Moors, where a gorgeous house, The Long Barn, was waiting for us. A magnificent open plan, tall ceiling, little taste of luxury to home us for the long bank holiday weekend.

It was the perfect place for bra pong (oh so fun, you have to try it) amazing assault courses and other bridal games. Louise, the Chief, did an absolutely fabulous job of organising everything, and it was a truly mint (bit of Geordie twang) weekend.

Beyond that though I took some time out to go and explore the village with my pal Nic. The place is small that’s for sure, but it’s oh so picturesque and just brimming with charm and character. 

Note: The photo above isn't The Long Barn, its a nearby property. I just love the garden and the facade, so why not take a photo?

One thing it takes a little while to get used to is the sheer amount of sheep everywhere. I’m talking, just walking and bleating beside you as you’re strolling down the street. Following you along, scaring the crap out of you at times. It’s an amazing thing and when I got home I definitely missed seeing them around.

The Village Hall really captured my eye. It was built in 1867, a grade II listed building that used to be a school. The gardens looked inviting and I could imagine community projects taking place within it's gated surrondings.

You can't possibly walk by without taking a picture of a good old fashioned pillar box red phone booth. Well at least I can't anyways. Wherever I go, if I spot one, I'm clicking away before I realise. Maybe it's a British thing?

The sun kissed street was lined with beautiful house after beautiful house. They were all individually named, all unique in their own way. I could have filled this post with glorious door knockers and stunning flowered gardens alone, but I'd be here forever. 

They just give me a sense of peace and fulfillment. Like I could imagine myself settled down, old and happy, pottering about tweaking my rose bushes or something. (That's not a weird euphemism or anything.)

There's studios, a church and of course a pub, The Moors Inn. (We went there for a meal on one of the nights and the food was delicious)  Appleton Le Moors is a lovely place and I could have spent more time just walking around and exploring. It has a real community feel and everyone you passed would smile and wave. Shouts of hello echoing through the street.

We ventured past civilisation and headed further afield towards the greenery of the countryside. (The sheep following us along) Of course I have a whole other post on that, so come back tomorrow to find out what happened.

Have any of you been to Appleton le Moors?