The Eden Project, Cornwall

‘Flowers are restful to look at. They have neither emotions nor conflicts’ – Sigmund Freud

When I was 18 I used to work for a local newspaper which we sold holidays through. One of the trips that was really popular was coach trips to the Eden Project, which baffled me as from what I could tell is was just plants & shit.

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That was when I was a bratty 18 year old though with not an ounce of culture in me. Fast forward to the ripe old age of 35 and on a family holiday staycation to Cornwall for a wedding and I actually fancied going along to see what it was all about. So me, my mum and sister in law Ruth went to see some plants & shit.

For those who don’t know the Eden Project is a complex which is dominated by two huge enclosures consisting of adjoining domes that house thousands of plant species, and each enclosure emulates a natural biome. The biomes consist of hundreds of hexagonal and pentagonal, inflated, plastic cells supported by steel frames. The two bimones emulate two natural environments; a rainforest and a mediterrainian climate. There is also an outside botanical garden which is home to many plants and wildlife native to Cornwall and the UK.

We arrived at about 12.30pm on a Monday in the summer holidays and I can tell you it’s been me a new respect to people with kids, it’s was HEAVING. I don’t pity parents who are are tied to those timescales of craziness that are the school holidays. We would never normally be holidaying outside of term time however as we were in the area for a family wedding so didn’t have the luxury of choice on this occasion. Top tip number 1:  Buy your tickets online before had and you get to skip the 40 minute queue we had to wait in – our punishment for being under prepared.

 

We were short on time so heading straight over to the rainforest biome as that’s the one we were looking forward to seeing most. Let me tell you it gets pretty hot and sticky in there, especially when it’s so rammed full of people and the higher up the biome you get the hotter it becomes. There’s plenty of cool stuff to see once inside though, bamboo, banana trees and some pretty interesting looking flora and fauna. Meandering through the jungle there are little activity stations dotted around for the kids and good descriptions of what everything is.

 

Next up was the Mediterranean biome which, surprisingly I enjoyed more than the rain forest. It had all my favourite types of plant; olive trees, vineyards (perhaps not so surprising it was my favourite afterall) but my absolute favourite section was the perfume garden which (again unsurprisingly) smelt divine. The Mediterranean biome was definitely more interesting, possibly because it housed stuff we can relate to like the fruits and vegetables we love to eat. It was a much more pleasant temperature and less busy as well which helped with the laid back atmosphere.

 

Outside the biomes is more agriculture where you’ll find working gardens growing local fruits and vegetables like courgettes and potatoes, all of which are used in the on-site restaurants.

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Talking of food, there are plenty of options to eat from cafes for a sandwich to a full table service a la carte restaurant in the Mediterranean biome. The best value looked to be the canteen located in the connecting walkway between both biomes where you could get a full meal for £9 and everything is prepared in an open kitchen in front of you. However top tip number 2: they allow you to take your own food in and there are loads of grassy areas for a little pic nic. We treated ourselves to a Freakshake which wasn’t extortionate at £4.50 each – they’re not on the same level of the behemoths you get at The Great British Cupcakery but they were sustenance enough for us.

 

My honest opinion? Real talk, it was ok. Is it worth the £27.50 entry fee? Absolutely not, you’re talking over £100 for a family of 4 and i’m not entirely convinced it would be all that interesting for children anyway. Yeah it’s cool looking at all the big leaves and they have a few motion rides and a Space talk to keep the little ones occupied but bearing in mind you’re most likely to take them in the school holidays, you’ll probably going to spend the majority of the time standing in queues for things.

If you’re massive into botany then I’m sure it’s like Disneyland but we only spend a couple of hours there and felt we’d seen it all; my £30 would have been better spent elsewhere.

*Thanks to my sis-in-law Ruth who was my fantastic photographer for the day and let me use all her pictures!

 

Whitley Bay

In 1882 the North Eastern Railway (NER) opened a coastal route from Tynemouth to Monkseaton which replaced the inland Blyth and Tyne route, and a new station (simply called ‘Whitley’). The ‘bay’ was added in 1899 and was popular with people in the surrounding area for travelling into Newcastle. Back then of course Whitley Bay was quite a popular holiday destination believe it or not so a railway station was essential. Historian Nikolaus Pevsner later said of the station building (which is now Grade II listed) that it ‘lends some distinction to an undistinguished neighbourhood’. Charming Nick, charming.

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Stations like Whitley Bay are a dream in terms of the Wine and Beer Metro. Not only is the pub right in the station but it’s also a really, really good one. So it makes my job really easy!

Olives at the Station is part cafe, part bistro part pub. The last two times i’ve visited there has been private parties on (Saturday afternoons) however were still welcome to pull up a seat at the bar and have a few drinks (two large glasses of white wine comes in at just over a tenner). It’s really bright and spacious inside with minimalistic wooden tables and a large beer garden out the back.

Ordinarily I’d be wary of a pub that has it’s beer garden extending out into the metro station, after all, it could be the nicest metro station in the world but you’re still having a drink in a metro station after all. However they large bamboo style fencing around the outside area means other than the gentle hum of the trains going past every ten minutes, you wouldn’t know you were in a train station at all. If you’re really lucky there might be some live music on as well to add to the atmosphere.

Olives is relatively new in terms of pubs along the metro line and I really hope they stick around because they’re a brilliant addition to the coastal route – apparently their eggs benedict are pretty legendary too!

Contact:

Whitley Bay Metro Station Station Square, Whitley Bay NE26 2QT
0191 447 1313
https://olivesatthestation.com/

Find out where else we’ve been on our metro pub adventure here

 

 

Road to the Great North Run 2017

Only when you are challenged, and only when you challenge yourself, do you discover what truly matters’ – David Levithan

Running. Where do i beginning with my running story? Well it’s less of a story and more of an anthology these days considering. To cut a very long story short, I started running in 2013 because it was a more favourable option than doing Insanity and Dave was training for ultra marathons so I didn’t want to be the fat wife sitting on the sofa eating cake while he was out running 50 miles a weekend.

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I started off really small, running half a mile, then a mile, then building up to 5K then 5 miles etc etc. It was always on my bucket list to one day, once in my life, do one half marathon (note the emphasis on one there as I have no intention of doing it again) and seeing as the start line for GNR is practically on my door step it seemed the obvious one to choose.

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Training wise I was lucky that I already had a bit of a head start in that I could run a 10K if i really had to which would bring on only a mild case of COPD and the loss of movement in my right knee for 2 days. So when I started my training plan I was feeling strong. The longer runs did become a challenge at weekends, not such down to physical ability but more the crappy British summer weather – running for an hour and a quarter on a treadmill is. not. fun. The biggest obstacle in training came at the end of July which saw my Birthday, my cousins wedding and a week long holiday in Cornwall 3 weekends on the trot during which I did no training whatsoever. Whilst I was glad of the rest, it set me further back in my training plan than I had anticipated so come the second week in August desperate times called for desperate measures. If i were to have any chance to hauling my blubber butt over that finish line in less than 3 hours I needed to pull out the big guns. So i stopped drinking. I know, I know. Drastic.

Race Day

I slept surprisingly well the night before the race considering how nervous I was and was lucky to have Ang come over to do my hair and help Dave cart my stuff across the North East. We made our way to the start line on the metro, which was busy but there was a good atmosphere. The time that took the longest really was waiting in line for the portaloos before the race for that last minute wee wee. It’s alright for blokes who can (and did) just stand against a tree but us ladies need a little more privacy!

Once I was in my pen it seemed to take ages to get over the start line. When you watch on the telly it looks like everyone piles through at lightning speed but it was a good 40 minutes from then gun going off to me stepping foot over the line. As suspected I started off way too fast as I just felt I was being carried along with the crowd but I had my Runkeeper App on which triggered every 15 minutes so about the 3 mile mark I had slowed right down into a more comfortable pace as the field spread out a little bit and I didn’t feel I was in peoples way as much.

I had my 90s hip hop cranked up full volumes and the mile markers seemed to be coming round relatively quickly. Around the 6 miles mark my maths skills once again proved to be my downfall when I congratulated myself that I made it half way, until i remembered that 6 is half of 12, and I was running 13.

It’s cheesy to say but the crowd really do carry you through and thanks to them I only walked twice for no more than a few minutes each time. My the 10/11 mile mark I was really starting to feel tired and was pretty ready for it all to be over. So it was pretty opportune that at the 11.5 mark i saw my friends Carrie, Emma and Jayne. As i was running alone I felt surrounded by people who were with other people or part of a big team so seeing some friendly faces was just what I needed and they gave me the big cheer and positive words that I was in so need of at that moment.

Once I left them it felt like pretty plain sailing to the finish to be honest, It’s still a good mile when you hit the South Shields seafront but the crowd is 10 people deep and it really spurs you on to keep going. I kept forgetting that my name was on my bib so was extra lovely that people cheer you on by name.

I finally got over the line in 2hrs 38mins 17secs which I’m over the moon with considering anything under 3 hours would have been a massive achievement! I had my awesome support crew waiting for me armed with prosecco and mars bars at the end and mum and Ang assisted me in getting out of my sweaty gear so we could position ourselves in the pub and wait for the metro queues to die down. Which turned out to the be the best idea really as by the time we were fully hydrated again at about 6pm there were no queues at all so it was plain sailing to McDonalds back home!

Here’s a few fun facts from the day:

Final time: 2hrs 38mins 17secs
Things i was overtaken by: 2 unicorns, a minion, Woody from Toy Story and a two person pantomine horse
Most random thing I saw: A full packet of contraceptive pills on the ground
Things taken from the crowd: Some jelly babies and a strawberry ice pop
Glasses of wine consumed post race: 5

University

University Metro station was opened in 2002 along with the Sunderland extension and was one of the main reasons for Nexus expanding down to Sunderland in the first place. It is also classed as a city centre station (along with Park Lane and Sunderland) despite it predominately servicing the university’s city campus.

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It would be sheer madness to have a metro station so close to a university that wasn’t equal distance to a good student pub. And if we’re talking about good student pubs then look no further than The Stumble Inn. Exit the metro station from the campus side of the station and double back on yourself onto Chester Road, turn left and you’ll see The Stumble Inn across the other side of the street. Incidentally, being pub 5 on a metro pub crawl that day, stumble in is pretty much exactly what we did.

Naturally with it being about 5pm on a Saturday night and i’m sure all the local students were still in bed sleeping off last nights hangovers, it was relatively quite and we seemed to be the youngest people in there however were greeted with a warm welcome and there was plenty of comfy places to sit. As you walk in the main doors the bar is directly in front of you with some booths to sit at to the left and a larger more spacious dining room style area to the right.

Drinks wise, remember it’s a student bar so there are loads of ‘2 jagerbombs for a fiver’ type offers and the only beer they had was John Smiths (although had more crafty stuff in bottles) couldn’t fault the wine though which was reasonably priced but tasted more high end (it was nice and cold too!). We weren’t eating on this occasion but the food menu did look lovely and from the food we saw come out the portions were decent. Overall it reminded me a lot of The Longsdale in West Jesmond (which I highly rated). I’m sure if this was my local we’d be down most weekends to check out the life music.

Contact:

Address: 88 Chester RoadSunderland SR2 7PR
Tel: 0191 567 5292

Find out where we’ve been on our metro pub adventure here

 

 

 

10 of the Best: Quotes for an Overthinker

‘I admire the linear and decisive way a certain kind of man thinks, to my curlicue boundless overthinking’ – J. Courtney Sullivan

I tried really hard this year not to make any resolutions because they’re always the same, eat better, exercise more etc etc but one thing I have been consciously trying not to do this year is not over think everything so much. Last year was bad for my overthinking, whether it be at work, with friends or saving money, I seemed to be constantly getting myself into a tailspin trying to imagine every and any possible outcome to whatever minor problem was on my troubled mind at that time.

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But you know what? 99% of the time, in fact no, 100% of the time, none of those far fetched scenarios ever happened, and everything worked out absolutely fine. Now, I know as well as anyone that just saying ‘i’m not going to overthink any more’ simply doesn’t work. You need to practice it. I’ll probably always be an overthinker, it’s in my wiring, but I have found these useful quotes, which do help me put things in perspective, (in reverse order of favouritism) the last one being such a particular fave of mine I have it on my desk at work!

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‘Some questions should never be asked, because they have no answer, and the questions themselves serve only to haunt with grinding guilt and second guessing’ ― Bobby Adair

‘Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action comes, stop thinking and go in’ – Napoléon Bonaparte

‘The more you talk about it, rehash it, rethink it, cross analyze it, debate it, respond to it, get paranoid about it, compete with it, complain about it, immortalize it, cry over it, kick it, defame it, stalk it, gossip about it, pray over it, put it down or dissect its motives it continues to rot in your brain’ – Shannon L. Alder

‘Thinking will not overcome fear but action will’ – Clement Stone

‘Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere’ – Emma Bombeck

‘Be where you are, stop over-thinking, and focus on what you are doing’ ― Roy T. Bennett

‘Don’t get too deep, it leads to over thinking, and over thinking leads to problems that don’t even exist in the first place’ ― Jayson Engay

‘You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute’  ― Tina Fey

‘Don’t worry about the future or worry that know that worrying is as affective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind’ – Mary Schimch

‘The world is full of people who will help you manufacture tornados in order to blow out a match.’ ― Shaun Hick

 

Benton

Did you know that there used to me a red line on the metro? Well there was, and Benton was the original terminal on it. Now it just acts as one of those annoying stations that despite being names after a place, is nowhere near anywhere you’d need to visit within the locality.

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If you leave the station coming from the coast and turn right down Station Approach and then on to Station Road, turn right again when you hit Whitley Road (which becomes Front Street) and you’ll find The Ship Inn about 5 minutes away.

We visited t around 4pm on a bank holiday Sunday and it was pleasantly busy without being overcrowded. They get excellent reviews for their Sunday Lunches and although we weren’t eating, they certainly seemed to be a lot of satisfied tummies around, the portions looked good and the prices were reasonable.

It’s a large building with a bar to the left as you walk through the main doors and a lounge to the right with a bar that snakes through the both rooms. It has traditional pub decor, which I keep on hearing is in decline in the north east now however I feel I type the phrase ‘traditional pub decor’ on a weekly basis in this guide.

There were a couple of ales on offer in the shape of Bishops Finger (at only £2.20 a pint – which feels like a steal these days) and a glass of my usual (a medium sauvignon blanc) was served just how I like it (ice cold in a large glass). And the staff were particularly good and patient when we all argued for about 10 minutes over which flavour of crisps we wanted.

Despite the presence of TVs showing sport and a couple of bandits (I know, I know, give the public what they want) they were also advertising live music, which I am a huge fan of so would definitely something worth checking out in the future.

I don’t think the Shipp Inn is going to blow anyone’s socks off however it would be a more than decent local if it was walking distance from where you live.

Contact:

Front Street, BentonNewcastle upon Tyne NE12 8AE
Tel: 191 270 9699
Find out where else we’ve been on our metro adventure here

Pick of the Year: 2004

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  1. Kelis – Milkshake
  2. Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out
  3. Maroon 5 – Harder to Breathe
  4. Snow Patrol – Run
  5. Blazin Sqaud – Here 4 One
  6. Busted – 3am
  7. Keane – Somewhere Only We Know
  8. Luther Vandross – Dance With My Father
  9. Lemar – Another Day
  10. Britney Spears – Toxic
  11. Kylie Minogue – Red Blooded Woman
  12. Blink 182 – I Miss You
  13. Enrique Iglesias – Not In Love
  14. B2K – Badaboom
  15. Usher – Yeah
  16. Will Young – Your Game
  17. JC Chavez – Blowin Me Up
  18. Streets – Fit But You Know It
  19. Natasha Bedingfield – Single
  20. Jay-Z – 99 Problems
  21. 411 – On My Knees
  22. Gabrielle – Stay The Same
  23. Kristian Leontiou – Story Of My Life
  24. Killers – All These Things That I’ve Done
  25. Mario Winans – I Don’t Wanna Know
  26. Brandy – Talk About Our Love
  27. Freestylers – Push Up
  28. Black Eyed Peas – Let’s Get It Started
  29. Shaznay Lewis – Never Felt Like This Before
  30. J-Kwon – Tipsy
  31. Ananstacia – Sick and Tired
  32. Mousse T – Is It Cos I’m Cool
  33. Kanye West – Jesus Walks
  34. Girls Aloud – Love Machine
  35. Beverley Knight – Not Too Late for Love
  36. Lucie Silvas – What You’re Made Of
  37. Bowling for Soup – 1985
  38. Destiny’s Child – Lose My Breath
  39. Steriogram – Walkie Talkie Man
  40. Gwen Stefani – What You Waiting For
  41. Band Aid 20 – Do They Know It’s Christmas