What I Wore – January 2018

‘You don’t need really expensive clothes to look cute’ – Christy Romano

So it’s no word of a lie that since I lost a bit of weight on Weight Watchers (albeit 10 years ago but i’m pretty much manage to keep all 3 stone of it off) it made me become a massive, massive clothes horse. I’ve always loved clothes but when I was bigger, shopping was not a fun experience for me, jeans and trouser shopping was particularly hellish and more often than not I would come home in tears because nothing fit.

Now that I’m slimmer, shopping is a joy again and I can spend hours (and I mean hours – just ask Steph!) trawling through sale rails or charity shops. I’m not the kind of girl who could ever have a capsule wardrobe – I change my mind too much and I like to have choice. I love a bargain and take pride in what I wear so since I was getting asked regularly where my clothes were from on Insta, I created #NewmansCloset and tagged were I get my togs from.

Another seemingly popular series of mine is when I do my seasonal ‘What I Wore’ posts on the blog where I run down what I stepped out in over December/Christmas/New Year seeing as that’s when I tend to go out the most. So I thought, since people seem to like it, I would extend that serious to a monthly run down of what’s been featured on #NewmansCloset for anyone who may have missed it:

So I give you, January:

Conference with work:

IMG_20180111_204850_588Dress & cardigan both George @ Asda

Being honoured to model the gorgeous Missuswolf’s new clothing line:

IMG_20180112_172124_187Jumper by Missuswolf, jeans: Matalan

New jumper from the January sales hanging out in a lift in Eastbourne:

img_20180117_095902_0111316630678.jpgJumper: Next

Out for dinner for my mum’s birthday:

img_20180120_095000_6321295228254.jpgJumper/shirt combo: GAP, necklace: Dorothy Perkins

Meetings in London:

img_20180124_223730_117904558384.jpgJumper: F&F at Tesco, jeans: Matalan

Lauryn Hill at Wylam Brewery (with the gorgeous Anna who puts me to shame style wise):

20180126_215039_0041596092966.jpgT-shirt: Amazon (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers), jeans: Matalan, blazer: Rise

 

Fellgate

One thing I never realised is how many metro station there are in Jarrow, which aren’t serviced by the Jarrow metro station, what do they think they are Jesmond or something?!  Fellgate is a relatively new station in terms of the Metro Network and was opened in 2002 along with the rest of the Sunderland extension. The metro came along at the right time really as there were already plans brewing to create a rail network connecting the good people of Fellgate to Newcastle and Sunderland (a la Chester-le-Street). And I don’t know about you but I’d always much rather hop on the metro rather than a network rail service any day of the week!20171228_153616

Fellgate is pretty residential and has a rather imposing metro station, which I’ll be amazed if it isn’t visible from space. Good news is though, with a structure this imposing can only mean one thing, a pub cannot be far away. And far away it isn’t. Coming from Newcastle exit the platform and towards Wark Crescent. Follow the crescent around until you come to Calf Close Lane. Turn left here and walk towards the large roundabout ahead. Come to the end of the road and you should see the Prince of Wales pub over the road on the right.

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The Prince of Wales is everything you’d expect from a chain pub (Flaming Grill being the chain du jour on this occasion) so in many ways you know you’re in safe hands. How bad could it possibly be? Hold that thought.

Inside is large, bright, warm and cosy so you know you’re probably not going to run into too much bother having the backing of a large chain behind them and it’s certainly a place than can be described as all things to all people. I can imagine whether you’re a family, a group of lads watching the sport on one of the (many) TVs or sharing a bottle of wine with friends there’s a place for you at the Price of Wales.

It was a freezing cold Thursday afternoon between Christmas and New Year when we visited and it was pleasantly busy.  Our friends were meeting us there and got there before us, sadly it took them a lifetime to get served (locals being served way before other customers) and when they were finally acknowledged the ale they wanted (and was being heavily advertised) was off. Pub rules 101, if a beer is off, turn the label round on the pump.

I don’t want to sound too harsh of course this could have been a one off, there were certainly plenty of people there to contradict my opinion that this place is mediocre at best. On the positive note they do serve real ales which isn’t something that can be said for a lot of pubs on this section of the network, there always seems to be some sort of drink, or food or drink & food offer on at any given time; their ‘Fizz Weekends’ where you get a bottle of Prosecco for £9.99 would certainly make me less salty about hubby not being able to get his ale of choice.

All in all, it was a ‘fine’ visit but not somewhere I’d be rushing back to. In terms of the WBMT though if it were party of a pub crawl, we’ve definitely seen worse. I’ll let you judge for yourself which ones those were though…

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

Review: The Post Box, Ponteland

‘I’m happy to just sit in a cafe and watch people. It’s my favorite thing to do, for sure’ – Zoe Kravitz

Because I spent the best part of my childhood growing up in Holland and Belgium I like to obnoxiously consider myself as ‘European’ rather than ‘British’ despite the fact that most of most personality traits actually sway more towards the american super friendly, super positive vibe. You know, the kind of person who uses super as an adverb. In fact there’s a running joke in our family that when we were little, while I could be appeased with some blue ice cream, my brother would ask for a cappuccino.

Anyway, point being, I love a cafe and one of my biggest dreams in life is to live somewhere that has a small, quaint, quirky cafe in walking distance that I can go and blog from every Sunday. When I dream, I dream big. Sadly there’s isn’t one quite on my door step however a short drive away from us in Ponteland is the gorgeous small, quaint, quirky Post Box.

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We visited at around 2pm on a Sunday afternoon and it was the perfect amount of busy, enough people to give it enough atmosphere but still plenty of seats left. There was a great mixture of clientele too, some cyclists in need of nourishment, families with children and couples ignoring each other reading the paper.

The menu is extensive with sandwiches, fresh soup, jacket potatoes and a favourite of mine; the all day breakfast. At the front counter there’s also a wide range of freshly made cakes, scones and tray bakes including gluten free options.

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We were only in the mood for some coffee so had a cappuccino and a gingerbread latte respectively and in the name of science and research I sampled the coffee and walnut cake – which was delicious. The perfect mixture of soft moist sponge and buttery icing without the coffee taste being too over powering.

 

They’ve got the shabby chic decor down to a tee and I love a lot of the local art that adorns the walls. It’s interesting to know that they open on a Friday and Saturday evening as a night cafe where they serve nachos, cheeseboards and a small but perfectly formed dinner menu all based around having a glass of wine and sharing food with your mates.

 

The one sting in the tail? It was almost £9 for two coffees and a slice of cake, which means my meagre bank balance couldn’t afford a trip every week, however this Ponteland; the home of the gillet and ‘ladies who lunch’ so i’m guessing their overheads go someway to explaining the pricing structure.

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The Post Box definitely earns a spot as one of my favourite cafes in the area and i’m excited to go back and see what their evening menu is like. If only they could consider relocating to the end of my street that would be ideal…

 

Bede

We wondered if this day would ever come. We’ve been metro pubbing for the best part of a year and have been to some really lovely places, some places we never thought we’d venture and some places we’d happily never venture again but we’ve always managed to find somewhere to have a drink.

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Bede is one of the few stations that’s in Jarrow, but not Jarrow of course and it services a large industrial estate with multiple factories and outlets and probably where learner drivers go to practice their 3 point turns, as that’s what most North Eastern Industrial estates seem to be used for.

 

It gets it’s name from a monk named Venerable Bede who kicked around in a monastery  nearby (St Paul’s) in the 7th century. The metro wasn’t around back then, obviously but old Venerable was obviously kind of a big deal so the name stuck.

The Last Chapter

The station was opened along with the rest of the South Shields line in 1984, a couple of months after Venerable’s death and is one of the least used stations on the whole network with only around 155K passengers in the last year.

All of this filler is quite clearly leading me to the fact that I was worried we has failed you, loyal WBMT fans. As a little glimpse behind the scenes of the WBMT, i feel it appropriate to tell you I try and do my research when visiting uncharted territory, of which Bede is to me. I put a call out on Twitter and Facebook for recommendations and asked people I know who live round that way and no one came out with a decide watering hole. Bede was to be a station where we sat out a round to re hydrate (re hydration is key afterall).

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However, it’s since been brought to my attention via the good people of South Shields via Twitter that in fact, you can get a very good pint or Moretti (thanks Brian!) at South Shields AFC (Also known as The New Mariners Club). If you exit Bede station walk south on Monksway towards Shaftsbury Avenue then turn right and the football club will be there on the right.

The bar is open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and anytime SSFC are playing at home!

So there you go, Bede isn’t quite the pubbing dessert that I was led to believe. Lesson learnt to do my research a bit more thoroughly in future!

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

 

 

Missuswolf launches her awesome debut clothing line

‘Every woman has the right to become herself, and do whatever she needs to do’ – Ani DiFranco

With everything going on at the moment with the ‘Me Too’ movement and the Harvey Weinstein scandal, never has being a woman been so in the spotlight. Airing my personal views on feminism and what it means to me is something I’ve always shied away from on the blog. Much like religion and politics, it’s such a complex and personal issue that without publishing a 100 page essay on the subject all that I would be doing would be opening myself up to criticism and again like religion and politics, it’s not a debate I’m willing to get involved in with strangers on the internet. I learnt that lesson he hard way as after what is now known socially as ‘The Mumsnet Debacle’.

One thing that has never been a secret though is my passion for women supporting each other. Throughout my teens and early twenties I didn’t always surrounded myself with the nicest people and have experienced my fair share of bitchy backstabbing women. As a result has often left me wary of trusting people. However as I’ve grown up and found my voice I’ve learnt to try and be the love and support I want to see in other people. And am absolutely in love with the supportive, empowering women I surround myself today.

So what a revelation when one of your favourite fellow north east blogging gals not only shares the same values as you, but has taken it one step further and created their own movement. Gemma from Misswolf was inspired by her days at pregnancy yoga class where the group of ladies she met there bonded and supported each other through their respective journeys into motherhood and started to refer to each other as ‘Warriors’.

I had a chat with Gemma about what led her to create the line and what feminism and the sisterhood means to her:

Feminism to me means empowerment.

Empowering females to become the best version of themselves. And in order to do that, it’s to build each other up and not knock each other down. Women work better together than pitted against each other. Social Media, especially platforms like Instagram, have become communities of support where groups of women are emerging, more so in business now, and fuelling each other along.

I believe it’s an exciting time for Feminism. Attitudes and working conditions of companies are changing, reverting from the archaic 9-5 and truly embracing work/life balance and agile working. We’re in an age where we now have the technology to work remotely and on the go.

This gives people, particularly women, the opportunity to pursue areas of business that they may not have been able to in the past.

As a little girl, I dreamed of writing books and sharing my content with the world. I used to write stories in journals, on typewriter’s and then, when I turned eleven, on a computer. We didn’t have one at home until then, nor did we have one at school. I’m part of a generation that has seen unbelievable advancements in technology and this has actually given people who once had a dream a chance of making it a reality.

So I started a blog. Then I wrote a children’s book. And now I’ve opened up an online clothing store. I appreciate the opportunity I now have to share my content and ideas with the world.

Therefore, feminism to me is setting this example to my daughter and to any other women out there. That if you have dreams and want to take control of your life, you can. Ideally I would love to work for myself and run my own business and I’ve always though this was a pipedream. But this now seems like an achievable target if I set my mind to it.

I would hate to look back on my life and regret anything I didn’t do because of fear of failure. I’d rather have tried and failed than have not tried at all.

You may as well start calling Gemma ‘Pink’ because she’s articulated my thoughts way better than I ever could! What’s the cherry on top of the sundae is that Gemma is planning on expanding the range. She’s rebranding and launching her Children’s Book, Ruby of Egypt, next month and ultimately there will be merchandise available on the website that relates to the book. She’s started small but perfectly formed at the moment and decided on showcasing 15 products to test the water but Teemill has the potential to house 500 products so the possibilities are quite literally endless.

Obviously being an entrepreneurial badass isn’t without it’s share of hurdles:

The biggest challenge I faced was getting it right. I had all these ideas that came spilling out and I designed them all in a short space of time. Then it was the time spent after that getting it right. Making sure the designs were sorted into collections and how they would appear on the website.

It was a battle of impatience and perfectionism. I wanted to share the project with the world, but I wanted to get it right. I did a lot of research online into marketing. I wanted the time to be right. I designed the collection on New Years Eve and thought early January was a good launch date – New Year, New Start and all that jazz.

But I wanted to pick my moment.

I felt sick at launching it as you never know how people will react and how well it will be received. Only time will tell but my biggest challenge was my battle of impatience and perfectionism. A very hard mental battle!

Hopefully one that will pay off. If not, I’ve had fun designing and launching the collection so it’s all good experience.

I always fall in love a little bit with people who actually go out and do all the stuff most of us just talk about. If i had a pound for every time I’ve drunkenly mused with Dave that i’s love to interview this person, or love to review this place or love to launch my own clothing line, but I never do anything about it. It just goes to show what you can do when you set your mind to something.
 Gemma very kindly sent me a jumper to try on and needless to say I’ve worn it to death since it arrived. It’s really true to size (full disclosure; I got a size 12) which is really comfy and long enough to ‘cover the crotch’ when wearing jeggings or leggings – a rule I live my life by. It’s 100% organic cotton and £1 from the sale or every item gets donated to the Children with Cancer Charity, which means guilt free shopping – hooray!
Of course the kiddies and the blokies haven’t been forgotten about, there’s a range for them too, all based on words and phrases that Gemma affectionately uses to refer to her own family.
To get you hands on anything from this fantastic range head over to https://missuswolf.teemill.com/ to get yourself (and the family) kitted out!

North Shields

You know what doesn’t fill me with much joy? When you google a pub to do some research and one of the first stories that come up is the Evening Chronicle headline ‘Two Bailed after assault outside North Shields pub’. However rules are rules and if the rules are to go to the closet pub to the metro station then the closest pub is where we’re going to go. In the case of North Shields; that pub is Charlie’s Bar.

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If you come out of North Shields station and turn left you will see Charlie’s on the corner 100 yards away. We visited on a Saturday lunchtime and there were a smattering of locals in and plenty of sport to watch on the TV. The décor is a standard working class North Eastern pub with the bar in the middle of the room, bar on one side and lounge area on the other.

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I make a point of visiting pubs we wouldn’t normally with an open mind and as with most places we’ve visited on the tour where their reputation has preceded them; you shouldn’t always judge a pub but its façade (or Chronicle headlines). We were made to feel welcome when we arrived earlyish afternoon on a Saturday in November; it was just over £3 for a glass of wine and  a half of Guinness and the barmaid was friendly when we asked for directions of how to get to the Ferry terminal. In fact, were it not for my inability to read a ferry timetable properly we probably wouldn’t have been in such a hurry and may have stayed for a second drink.

 

Yes it’s very rough around the edges and could do with some money being invested (neither of the female toilet cubicles had locks of the door for example) and I’m not entirely sure it’s somewhere I’d want to be at 10pm on a Saturday night but as somewhere to get a cheap drink or to start off a North Shields pub crawl it’s not too bad. The music on the jukebox was good too!

Contact:

60 Nile Street, North Shields, Tyne And Wear, NE29 0BG

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

The stories behind my most successful blog posts

‘The influence of blogging is overall a very positive force in the media’ – Garrett Graff

When I started this blog a couple of years ago I never imagined it would have taken off the way it has. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not one of the heavy hitters of the blogging world; I’m not in a position to quit the day job and write full time – much as I’d love to but it’s the creative outlet I’d been searching for for years and the fact that anyone is interested in anything I have to say is quite frankly astonishing.I

I find getting inspiration for posts tough and I’m always amazed at what takes off and what doesn’t. Blog posts I slave over and am rally proud of, posts I’m really excited to publish, will only get a handful of views. Then posts that I cobble together and use as filler because I have nothing else to say do extremely well. There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to what floats and what sinks.

So I thought I would have a look back and talk you through my top 5 most popular posts, the stories behind them, and why I think they’ve been the most read:

Kaspas v Creams
Original post date: 20/07/2016
Views to date: 4,290

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One thing I love doing for the blog is ‘research’ so when 2 ice cream emporiums that look like total carbon copies of each other opened up in Newcastle in quick succession, I needed to ‘research’ them. Turns out the reason they’re so similar is they were owned by a duo I’m London (as Creams) who fell out so a second brand (Kaspas) was devised. I had great fun with Ang, Dave, John, Carrie and Emma trying one after another one weekend, who doesn’t love ice cream for lunch two days in a row?! I think the popularity of the post is simple. The brands are SO similar that loads of people google to find out which is better, and I seem to be the only person who’ve reviewed them side by side rather than individually. After the restaurants respective sites, my post is first hit on Google. Which is pretty bloody cool.

Remington Hair Straighteners Review
Original post date: 09/08/2015
Views to date: 4,077

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This one genuinely baffles me as I seem to get loads of daily hits when you would imagine it would just be easier to o straight to the Boots, Superdrug or Amazon for some user reviews. I suspect a lot of the referrals are through google images as the post contains a before an after picture of my unstraightened/straightened hair. I’ve been a loyal Could Nine an since 2008 when it comes to hair straighteners because they work as well, if not better, than GHDs but have the added bonus of being able to adjust the heat settings. Sadly one August they gave up the ghost and ceased working mid straighten. Luckily enough they retained enough heat for me to finish doing my hair (phew!). Cloud Nine have excellent customer care and would fix them for £30 for me but I needed an interim pair to tide me over. I settled on the remmington ones as they got the best reviews for the cheapest price and, well if you want to know how I got on with them you’ll have to read the review…

Buying Clothes from China in eBay – An Experiment
Original post date: 25/07/2015
Views to date: 4,020

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This post all started so innocently. I wanted a yellow blazer to be able to wear in the spring to brighten up some of my dullest outfits and it kind of snowballed from there into my most viewed post ever. I decided to take a punt at what looked like the dream yellow blazer and ordered from China, i’d like to say pretty blindly however I did take some advice on sizing and quality beforehand. I ended up getting a pretty substantial haul for about £25 (including postage) with varying degrees of success as the results and comparison pictures range from the surprising to the ridiculous. I suspect the majority of views to this post again come from google images when people are looking for comparison pictures but hey, a view is a view and I can only hope that people who stumble across the post stick around and read some other stuff while they’re there.

Newcastle upon Tyne walking tour
Original post date: 04/04/2015
Views to date: 3,961

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The opening statement says it’s all, the best ideas are born out of necessity. Dave and I wanted to do something on a rainy bank holiday so I googled free walking tours of Newcastle and couldn’t find one. So we decided to create our own. We had great fun devising it and including our own favourite pubs and sights. I think without a doubt what’s helped it’s popularity is I cheekily posted it on a forum on TripAdvisor and whilst I got an email from then slapping me on the wrist telling me off for self promoting, they never actually took it down, so I get a lot of referrals form there. I also get loads of positive comments from people who’ve done it and even messages from people from all over the world asking if I’ll guide them round! I love my city but i’m not showing tourists round for free!

 

 

Whatever happened to Tescos Along Came Betty Range?
Original post date: 17/07/2016
Views to date: 2,530

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I wrote this after I’d discovered the holy trail of anti wrinkle creams in Forget Your Lines by Tesco’s Along Came Betty range, which is a blatant rip off of Soap and Glory (how ever the girl with two knock off Mulberry handbags has no room to pass judgement on that!) What was even better it was only £3.99. I then discovered that pretty much the whole range was being discontinued bar some bubble bath and body butter. I even tweeted Tesco to see wagwan who confirmed the make up range was no more. The success of this post was a surprising one to say the least but I think I have timing to thank for that. The post originally went live over the summer so had a few months to develop a decide SEO. I reckon come Christmas peoples stockings were laden with ACB gift sets and people googled to find out more about the brand. The post now ranks higher in some search engines than the actual Tesco website itself. Which is still pretty bloody cool.

What been your biggest surprise hit? Leave links in the comments!