A Birthday Ode to ‘My Friend Carrie’

‘At every stage of my career I have had interesting and cordial colleagues, some of whom have become very close friends’ – Daniel Nathans

One of the benefits of being an army brat and moving country every 3 years for most of my childhood means I’ve always been pretty good at making friends. I have a core solid group of friends from high school but have also picked up and collected amazing friends from every job I’ve ever had and friends of friends who have also become good friends


‘My friend Carrie’ is one of my newest, but quickly becoming one of my closest friends. We met at work and despite her having probably worse (self-confessed) resting bitch face of anyone I’ve ever seen, I quickly won her over with some creme egg brownies and a mutual love for early 00s hip hop.


‘My friend Carrie’ is undoubtedly one of my biggest fans when it comes to the blog and we were discussing recently how many mentions she needs to have before she graduates from ‘my friend Carrie’ to simply; Carrie. In same conversation I asked her what she wanted for her 30th birthday this year and she jokingly said ‘a blog post about how wonderful I am’.  Problem with me is I tend to take things a little too literally sometimes, not to mention it made me instantly regret splashing out on that bottle of premium rum.


They say be careful what you wish for.

So in honour of one of my best besties joining the 30 club. Here are, in no particular order, 10 things that make her so wonderful:

She has a depth of 90s pop culture knowledge which is rivalled only by me. I can drop some 90s or early 00s quotes like ‘Steps ain’t no square dance’ or ‘who loves orange soda?’ And she will know exactly what I’m talking about.


Had I not seen it with my own eyes I wouldn’t have believed it but Carrie can Irish dance really, really well, like B*Witched standard well. And because she’s not a wallflower like me (ahem), she’s not averse to throwing some Irish shapes on the dance floor on a night out. Which leaves me as impressed as it does jealous.


They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and when it comes to fashion; my style is straight out of the Cosgrove look book. She introduced me to the concept of the skinny jean/bomber jacket combo, and a scarf as a statement necklace and my life was forever changed. She also brings me black clothes from America (where she goes quarterly) and picks up jumpers in GAP for me she knows I’ll like. She’s a keeper for sure.


On the subject of statement necklaces, Carrie has more jewellery than Goldsmiths and is very generous in lending it out. A staple is this H&M number which goes with absolutely everything and everyone who knows Carrie has probably worn it at some point in time.necklacecollage

When I ran the Great North Run last year, her, Emma and Jayne stood at the top of John Reid Road to cheer me on. Due to Carrie’s afore mentioned resting bitch face, when I did see them I was expecting a sarcastic remark about what took me so long or that I looked like shit (both of which would be valid points). However she was quite possibly the most excited I’ve ever seen her. Which means that although I may be met with a barrage of daily insults and her own unique brand of tough love, she shows up for you when it really counts.


Who needs Susie Dent when you have wor Cazza around? She was clearly a lexicographer in a previous, as well as kind of in her current life. If ever I’m stuck for an analogy or synonym she’s the first person I contact, which, despite the fact that she (wrongly) loves an oxford comma, comes in very handy when your side hustle revolves solely around writing.



One thing I’ve learnt over my adulthood is that you have different friends for different reasons. If I’m having a pathetic stress about something trivial like dying my hair rose gold I will go to different people depending on what I want to hear. If I want to be pampered and told that I’m amazing I’ll go to Ang and Emma, if I want someone to actually solve my problem for me with some straight talking, no nonsense advice. I’ll go to Carrie. And she. Is. Always. Right. Curses.



Believe me, as far as I can remember Carrie has never been a big fat fatty but she decided she was one day a few years ago and decided to do something about it. 2 years and 3 stone later she’s gone from regular fittie to super slim world class megababe. And as someone who has always struggled with her weight and is always on a diet, I have the utmost respect for her for sticking with it. I mean just look….


She knows me annoyingly well. She notices things and remembers minute details about me and my psyche all the time which, although can blindside me that she knows me so well after such a short time, makes me feel like she’s super invested. She knows when I’m starting to stress about ridiculous things it’s because I’m massively PMS-ing, she knows that one innocuous comment from someone random will make me overthink myself into oblivion and she knows that if I get my hair dyed rose gold I will end up hating it and getting it corrected almost instantly. I mean, on this one I’m very likely to ignore her, but she will be right.



She has a confidence and self belief that I wish I had. She is sure of herself and her abilities and apart from occasional smugness about being right all the time, she’s not a dick about. To quote the great Will Smith ‘she’s not conceited, she’s as good as she says she is’

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I think it’s safe to say after an entire blog post written in her honour she will no longer be referred to as ‘My friend Carrie’ on the blog any more. Possibly because she will never speak to me again after she reads this.

But hopefully she will continue to be mentioned as she joins me on more drunken adventures, documented or otherwise. Or at the very least she now knows how much her friendship means to me and fabulous I truly thinks she is….


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When dogs and joggers collide

‘I’ve turned into one of those people who go jogging in parks that I used to hate’ – Sam Taylor-Wood

If I’m going to go for a jog, which i’m trying to do more often these days; I heavily prefer to do it outside rather than on a treadmill in a gym. The fresh air does you the world of good and I find it much more motivating to have a visual end point to run out and back to rather than staring at my sweaty pink pig face in the mirror for an hour.


Running outside of course isn’t without it’s hazards though; adverse weather conditions, waiting for traffic to pass before you can cross the road, and, as I found out recently, being bitten by dogs.


I’ve never been afraid of dogs in the slightest, in fact, I have two close friends whose dogs I’ve made wee on the carpet because I’ve gotten them so over excited playing with them. So they’ve certainly never bothered me too much when I’ve been out running.

I did however get a little fright whilst out the other weekend with Dave where a woman with her little westie was walking towards us, she pulled him over to the grassy verge to let us past, however the retractable lead clearly wasn’t locked, the dog became taken with the toggles at the bottom of my leggings and went for me. And when I say he went for me, there was absolute teeth to bare skin contact.


Now, I appreciate i’m not a dog owner, however, I don’t have to be a singer to know when someone’s out of tune, and I don’t have to own a dog to know that they shouldn’t go round biting strangers. Thankfully no skin was broken so other than a bit of a shocked/heated exchange and some profuse apologies on her part along with the insistence that he’s never done that before, we were all on our way with no real harm done.

It did leave me very, very annoyed though. I’ve been jogging outside for about 3 years now and 99% of the time dog owners are brilliant; they pull their dogs right over to the side, on a teeny, tiny lead and make them sit down as I run past, and I’m super appreciative of those people. However, sadly it’s the small minority that ruin it for everyone else.

It’s incidents like this that make people frightened of dogs, and dog owners wonder why people get frightened by their dogs running up to them despite them swearing blind ‘he’s just a softy really’. Problem is dog owner, I don’t know your dog’s ‘just a softy really’ I don’t even know you, so how can I be expected to take your word for it? All I can see is this salivating, snarling wolf beast with teeth bigger than a great white shark bounding towards me.

I also appreciate that dogs have an animal instinct and if they see something they don’t like (like the tassels on the bottom of my leggings for example) they will go for you. However what about my animal instinct that kicks in when something attaches it’s jaw round my calf to boot it into the middle of the road? I kid of course because I accept that I do have the developed sense of consequence that dogs don’t, so I would never actually do that, but you see my point?

We love hanging out with Dyna…

If you are a dog owner, please, please be like that 99% that are courteous and keep you little drooling bite monsters on a short lead when someone’s jogging past trying to run off the bottle of wine they polished off the night before. It would make us all much happier!

*Thanks to Caroline and Janine for letting me use pictures of Nanny and Dyna to illustrate my point, who are the lushest dogs in the whole wide world!

How to humidity-proof your hair on holiday

‘The key to beautiful, frizz-free curls in the summer is to keep hair healthy’ – Jillian Hervey

Once upon a time, not so long ago I was obsessed OBSESSED with my hair and how it looked, not being happy unless it was absolutely pa pa pa poker straighter. Problem is, it’s got an annoying natural wave to it that’s not one thing or another.

photogrid_15187154126041991045571.jpgMake no mistake; 2005 was the year of the layer…

As I embark on my mid (ahem) 30s where I’m in bed by 11pm most weekends and hangovers past 2 days I’ve started to realise that sleep is more important to me these days than faffing on with my hair so last year I decided to embrace my natural waves thus giving me and extra half an hour in bed every morning.

Not only does my hair have a natural kink but it’s also incredibly fine (and not in a damn girl your hair be fiiiiine) kind of way in an uncomfortable frizzy humidity hating nest bomb. Don’t let the Scandinavian looks fool you.

On a recent holiday to Thailand I knew I had to beat the humidity before I let the humidity beat me as I didn’t want to spend the whole 2 weeks with my hair in a migraine inducing topknot and refusing to have my picture taken so with a bit of help I managed these (almost) perfect beachy waves

with a little help from some friends:

Using the right products


It’s hard finding anti frizzy products that don’t leave your hair looking too greasy. Tresemme is a brand I usually stay away from because they use a lot of silicon and the last think I needs is a plastic coating on my locks. But desperate times and all that. This shampoo and conditions has keratin in which science boffins say is good for keeping hair smooth. And from what I could tell it worked well. More hair felt nice and soft afterwards


I’m a massive Superdrug fan, way more so that Boots and their own brand products are amazing. This Style Expertise Anti Frizz Serum is infinitely better than frizzease and is a fraction of the price. It smoothes my kisscurls down without being too greasy.

Also from Superdrug us their Texturising Curl Creme which is isn’t quite up there with salt spray which is what I usually use at home but the sun dries my hair out enough without needing extra salt so this is a more nourishing compromise!

Braids braid braids!


It’s a trick as old as time but it saved me on this holiday for sure. Normally Ang is my personal hair braided but until I’m rich and famous I can’t afford to fly her away with me so have to make do myself. I would shower every morning (only washing every ither day) and add 2 pumps of serum and a or a sized amount of curl cream then braid my hair into bunches while still wet.

I prefer a french braid style so the curl starts further up but they’re quite fiddly so just normal braided bunches work just as well. They don’t have to be perfect either, in fact the messier they are the more natural the curl will be. Plus it keeps your hair out your face during the day when it’s hot!

My top top is not to let the braids get bone dry otherwise they will end up looking frizzy. Like this:


A quick dip in the pool or dampen them again in the shower before you get ready so they’re damp but not soaking will make th curl much more defined.

Don’t wash every day

It’s a hard habit to break as I way my hair every day at home but humidity loves freshly washed hair so if you can avoid doing so the better. If you’re looking for the beachy waves look then curls are more likely to hold the second day anyway. You can always resort to some dry shampoo on your roots if you’re worried about them looking too greasy!

Now, i know that not everyone has the same ‘not one/not the other’ frizzy mop as me so I asked some friends what works for them:

My hair crush Sam from North East Family Fun said:

My hair is super thick and actually always improves on holiday. I can get away with washing my hair every 2-3 days at home but because of the heat it needs to be daily on holiday. I don’t use any product at all and my hair ends up a lot softer and less flyaway. This is my hair after a ‘wash and go’ job after doing zero to it in Cuba. It would not look like this at home – it would be double the size!

Queen Pixie from Fashion Voyeur is all aboard the braid train too:

I live in braids on vacation! I start with dry hair then in my hand I mix regular conditioner with Kerastase Sun Protective CC Cream & rub it through my hair. Not loads & loads but enough to stop the flyaways from flicking up. Then I French braid it back & let it set – job done. If you are using heat to dry it then I use Anian Liquid Keratin Spray (available in European supermarkets but not the UK) if I’m in Europe, or if I’m in the States I use Infusium 23 liquid which is super cheap in Walmart & Target.

And gorgeous Alexis from Newcastle Sparkles gets her luscious tresses as thus:


My hair is naturally really wavy so when on holiday I tend to put it in low bunches during the day and use an intense conditioner when washing it. I then allow it to air dry – and embrace the waves!

What are your top tips for keeping your hair looking tip top in the sun…?

My Year on the Metro: A Review

Since starting the blog I’ve always been looking for new and interesting things to write about. A lot of the local stuff I’ve done like the Newcastle upon Tyne walking tour and Ouseburn pub crawl have both done consistently well and I enjoy creating content that people find useful.

Back in 2013 someone actually started a metro pub guide called the Tyne and Beer Metro and started off visiting pubs along the top end of the airport line. They hadn’t updated in almost 3 years by the time I got round to thinking it would be something that the people of the north east could really use and enjoy so I contacted them asking if they would mind me taking over the baton.


No one ever responded and in fact the original site doesn’t exist anymore so whilst I never claimed it was my original idea, it was something I was keen to see through to the end and do something that hadn’t been done before.

We live a stone’s throw from Bank Foot metro and are in and out of Newcastle city centre almost on a weekly basis so airport to central station was relatively easy. It was going further afield that was going to be more challenging. However were lucky to have friends who live out at the coast and down Sunderland way who we roped in to help us out. Funnily enough suggesting a pub crawl on a random Saturday afternoon didn’t usually leave us without any willing volunteers of help.


We did our research when and where we could and we tried to visit multiple pubs in one day get best use out of it metro tickets (the most pubs we visited in one day was 9 – fact fans!) And usually limited ourselves to a half in each place. The metro app also came in handy to avoid waiting round on platforms too long.

So how did I find the whole experience? I learnt a lot. I now know all about the Branding Railway, which is what most of the network is built upon. I know what an island platform is and which stations have them. The date 11 August 1980 will be forever etched on my brain as the day the metro started operating. And I learnt that on a whole, the people of the north east are a warm and friendly bunch.


It was never my intention to be overly critical of anywhere we visited. That’s not really the point of the guide, the idea was and will always be to say factually and geographically which pubs are closest to which stations and what type of pub you’re likely to find. I made clear which pubs I loved and which ones I’d not be too jazzed about being in at 10pm on a Saturday night but I can honestly say, hand on heart that I never felt unsafe or unwelcome in any of the 60 pubs we visited.


Publishing week after week has also been an eye opening experience especially half way through when metro themselves got involved and stared sharing my posts. When you have a post reach of over 10k on a weekly basis it’s inevitable that you get a bit if backlash and the critics didn’t hold back whether it was my opinion of a pub, my spelling and grammar or what top I was wearing that day. The trolls really came our from under their bridges when the Chronicle published an article about what we’d done and everyone seemed to have something to say from how long it took to why we went to the Victory instead of The Brandling Villa in South Gosforth.

I’ll be honest I stopped reading the comments pretty quickly. The urge to defend myself was too strong and got tired of reiterating that I also have a full time job and Dave is allergic to dogs (the answers to the two hot topics of criticism). I was never trying to break (or set) any world records, so if there’s anyone who thinks they can do it quicker, or make a more thorough job, they have my full support, this is my story, my journey, my guide.

It’s been a great experience getting out and about and seeing places in the region that we would never normally visit and having the support of such a north eastern institution like the metro has been fantastic. On 28th December 2017, just over a year after we started, we visited our final pub in Hebburn, pub 60 of 60 with the same friends we visited our first pub in South Gosforth with.


So huge thanks to everyone who came along and helped us out:


To everyone online who have shared with us us their suggestions on where to go. And to the Tyne and Wear Metro and Newcastle Chronicle for their support!

Everyone also keeps on asking what’s next and whilst I’m proud that we achieved what we set out to, i’m also quite pleased to see the back of it to be honest, I can do without the constant criticism and nit picking that comes from publishing something that turns out to be quite successful.

I’m looking forward to getting back to the day job, writing articles no one reads about the Backstreet Boys and how much I hate my hair. And my liver is off for a well deserved rest!

You can see the complete guide here

Stay tuned for the Wine & Beer Metro Pub Tour awards coming soon!

Helen, Georgia

‘If I’m gonna tell a real story, I’m gonna start with my name’ – Kendrick Lamar

It’s a well known fact that in The Simpsons they chose the name Springfield because it’s the most popular town name in America and they never had to divulge (or decide) which state it’s in. When you have a country the size of the US you’re bound to come across some weird and wacky place names, however it’s pretty much a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit somewhere that shares your own name.

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Last time we went to Florida we found it cheaper to fly in and out of Atlanta and drive down. This meant we needed somewhere to stay in Georgia a few days before our flight back home so we weren’t driving some 6 hours just to catch a flight. Imagine my glee to find out that only an hour and a half away from Atlanta airport, was a town called Helen. For the photo opportunities alone, we had to visit.


Dave was skeptical at first, he was concerned that once we’d driven through, had my picture taken with every street sign possible, made various jokes about how expensive it is to park in Helen, there’d actually be very little to do and would be a waste of a few days that could have been spent exploring somewhere actually cool.


Turns out there isn’t a place in America that’s cooler than Helen. It’s an amazingly quaint, kitsch former logging down that was in severe decline so they decided to rebuild it as a Bavarian alpine village and that’s how it still looks today. You can tell it’s super touristy and mostly serves as a weekend get away retreat for the people of Atlanta. We stayed at the Riverbend Motel which is situated directly on the Chattahoochee River where you can do tubing and canoeing and is a 10 minute drive away from the  Anna Ruby Falls, part of the Chattahoochee National Forest, which is a lovely little walk.


When it comes to dining options, Helen is a delight; we wanted some wurst, and some wurst we had. We decided on Bodensee Restaurant, because they seemed to offer a decently priced sausage. Saying that, I let Dave take on the sausage fest while I plumped for the equally Bavarian but less artery clogging Schnitzel. However Helen has a lot to offer when it comes to German sausage, mostly of the Bavarian persuasion but they even have a Wendy’s and a couple of Mexican restaurants should you not be a fan of fatty, salty meat.


It was quite an experience being able to visit a town with the same name as me; and in many ways there are similarities. We both have strong European roots, with a nice amount of American in us and we both love a good sausage (steady).

We visited off our visit eating pizza and cake in bed. Well, when in Helen….




Had we done our research properly or put anything thought whatsoever into the order of which we were going to review all the pubs on the metro line, we probably might have decided to end in Newcastle City Centre or at the Coast to create some kind of celebratory atmosphere. We have no such organisational skills however therefore the very last pub; pub 60 of 60 if you will, ended up being Hebburn.

Hebburn was originally on the green line before the Sunderland expansion where it swapped over to yellow and is built on the site of an old 1872 British Rail station which had been out of use for some time.

If you exit the station (crossing the track if you’re coming from South Shields and walk down Station Road towards Aloysius Church. Keep the church on you right then turn left down Albert Street. Keep on walking until you see Wardles Bar on the left.


Much as we didn’t plan on having our ceremonial last drink of the whole tour in Hebburn, in a way it did feel like we’d come full circle and the fact that the last pub on the was a perfect representation of everything that this guide has come to be about. One of the things I have found most reassuring through this whole experience is that although there are many areas of the north east that I have never visited before (and probably have no desire to ever visit again) never once have we encountered any problems, hostility or felt uncomfortable in any way.

Wardles is a stereotypical north east boozer. It’s dark and still smells a little bit like smoke even though the smoking ban came into effect over ten years ago. It’s full of locals who are on first name terms with the barmaid. There’s not a pint of real ale in sight, you can get 2 bottles of blue wicked for less than the price of a coffee in Starbucks and the wine is always slightly on the warm side. HOWEVER, at only £6.99 per bottle, quite frankly I’d drink my wine out of an old boot for that price so our cosy booth by the bar was the perfect place to toast our success.


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

Pick of the Year: 2010


  1. Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind (part 2)
  2. Owl City – Fireflies
  3. Rihanna – Rude Boy
  4. Florence & The Machine & Dizzee Rascal – You Got The Dirtee Love (Live At The BRIT Awards 2010)
  5. Leona Lewis – I Got You
  6. Jason Derulo – In My Head
  7. Ellie Goulding – Starry Eyed
  8. Tinie Tempah – Pass Out
  9. Usher featuring Will.I.Am – OMG
  10. Scouting For Girls – This Ain’t A Love Song
  11. Plan B – She Said
  12. Professor Green – I Need You Tonight
  13. Adam Lambert – For Your Entertainment
  14. Train – Hey Soul Sister
  15. Aggro Santos – Candy
  16. Christina Aguilera – Not Myself Tonight
  17. BoB featuring Bruno Mars – Nothin’ On You
  18. Eminem – Not Afraid
  19. Tinie Tempah featuring Labrinth – Frisky
  20. Example – Kickstarts
  21. Kylie Minogue – All The Lovers
  22. Robyn – Dancing On My Own
  23. Kelly Rowland – Commander
  24. Katy Perry – California Gurls
  25. Eminem featuring Rihanna – Love The Way You Lie
  26. Yolanda Be Cool – We No Speak Americano
  27. Usher – DJ Got Us Falling In Love
  28. Travie Mccoy featuring Bruno Mars – Billionaire
  29. Flo Rida – Club Can’t Handle Me
  30. Roll Deep – Green Light
  31. Taio Cruz – Dynamite
  32. Kesha – Take It Off
  33. Shontelle – Impossible
  34. Bruno Mars – Just The Way You Are
  35. Cee Lo Green – Forget You
  36. Take That – The Flood
  37. Pink – Raise Your Glass
  38. Far East Movement – Like A G6
  39. Jessie J – Do It Like A Dude
  40. Usher – More
  41. Matt Cardle – When We Collide