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.


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.


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.


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…


More Bottomless Prosecco at Newcastle’s No28

‘I enjoy a Prosecco. It’s bubbly; it’s fun’ – Danielle Schneider

About 18 months ago one my favourite bars in Newcastle started a Bottomless Prosecco offer and the classy ladies (and gents) of the toon rejoiced! Since then the offer has gone from strength to strength with the bar being jam packed almost every Saturday and Sunday and while other bars have since followed suit with similar offers, No28 remains the original (and the best in my opinion).

When we originally visited back in July 2016 the offer was two hours of free flowing fizz and a choice of thai inspired tapas however since then they have introduced their own in house burger kitchen; Meat: Stack and as such the deal has changed slightly to now involve a burger and beef dripping fries (but still two hours of free flowing fizz – hurrah!)

I was a massive fan of the thai tapas (you can read my original review of that here) because it was the perfect amount of food for a snack to break up a shopping trip so i was initially concerned when I heard they’d swapped that out for burgers which with places like Fat Hippo and Byron right around the corner, there’s a lot of competition. HOWEVER these burgers haven’t been voted the best in Newcastle for nothing. They. Are. Delicious.


The menu is small but perfectly formed  meaning you’re not bogged down with loads of choices which are essentially the same thing (I’m looking at you Byron). We went for the West Coast Classic (the original cheeseburger with all the fixings – including their own secret sauce which puts anything Ronald McDonald can produce to shame) with beef dripping fries and our veggie pal had the Southern Fried Paneer and regular fries. In hindsight, these delicious burgers work perfectly with 2 hours of hard drinking and serve as ideal booze soakers – way more than the tapas did.

The ‘rules’ remain unchanged; Due to Newcastle City Council licensing laws the management reserve the right to refuse or withdraw service to anyone they deem too intoxicated, so again as long as you’re not a knob about it, the booze will flow as long as you’re in an appropriate state to accept it.

Bookings are opened up on a 3 month rolling basis and are available on a Saturday and Sunday, however if you’re planning a large party or stag or hen do send them a quick message on Facebook and they’ll probably be able to accommodate! Let’s be honest, you don’t get much for £25 these days and the fizz is as free flowing as you can get – the staff are super attentive and for the whole two hour we were there our glasses were never empty. And everyone know that empty prosecco glasses make the baby Jesus cry.


No28, 27-29 Nelson St, Newcastle City Centre, NE1 5AN
Tel: 0191 447 5590


Newman’s Mexican Burrito Pie Recipe

‘It’s okay to treat yourself once in awhile. I’m not going to stop eating Mexican food!’ – Jennifer Aniston

Us Newmans, we like to eat, and one thing we like to eat more than anything in the world is Mexican food. In fact, if marmite didn’t exist, if only I could only eat one thing for the rest f my life it would be mexican food. It’s meat, cheese and some kind of flour/bread item, what’s not to love?


So you know all those food porn videos that seems to be doing the rounds on Facebook at the moment, where someone makes a 6 tier rainbow cake in a 2 minute sped up video and makes it look as easy as putting your socks on? Well we actually attempted one of those recently after realising we had the majority of the ingredients in the house anyway. We substituted what was in the recipe to what we had in the cupboard and made so many swap outs that I believe we can now legitimately say we’ve crested our own dish.

So ladies and gentlemen allow us to introduce you to Newman’s Mexican Burrito Pie; a massive concoction of Mexican awesomeness including tortilla chips inside the pie – whaaat?!

Here’s the recipe, enjoy!

What you’ll need:


  • 8 tortilla wraps
  • 500g mince
  • Mixed peppers
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 packet fajita mix
  • half a bag of tortilla chips
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • loads of grated cheese

How You Make It:

  • Chop onions and add to an oiled pan. Stir around on a medium heat for a few minutes (I believe this is called ‘sweating’)
  • Once your onions are nice and sweaty add the mince and cook until part browned
  • During this process if it looks like there’s any access water, drain as much out as you can, there’s nothing worse than a wet burrito!
  • Add the seasoning then additional veggies and continue to fully brown the mince (took me a long time to learn ‘brown’ and ‘burnt’ are two very different things)


  • Add chopped tomatoes
  • Again drain out any excess water
  • Grease a large pan with oil and lay down 7 of your tortillas, overlapping, in a flower formation, like thus:


  • Go in with your cheese, half your meat mix, then a tortilla chip layer (crunch down to flatten). Top with the remaining half of meat mix, the rest of the cheese. Like a beefy, tortilla-y cheesy lasagna


  • Place a final wrap on top in the centre and fold the rest of the wraps over.


  • By the time you’ve built this behemoth it should be pretty much cooked on the underside but have a check to see if it’s brown on the underneath. If so then flip over and cook in the pan for another couple of minutes until brown


Et voila! When done, cutting into it should look a bit like this:

If anyone else tries it let me know how it turns out!

The Split Chimp opens new Rum Bar!

‘Wine is crying juice. Rum is worse’ – Retta

When you think back to about 5 years ago and all the empty units that seemed to be dotted around Newcastle City Centre it would be safe to say that there’s been somewhat of a rebirth pubwise recently. For my personal taste there has been a few too many Harry’s type places springing up but one place I have always rated and has gone from strength to strength over the last 18 months has been the Split Chimp on Westgate Road (next door to the Herb Garden).


The Chimp micro pub started out life round the other side of the railway arches opposite The Telegraph. They moved round to the lighter side in 2016 to a larger unit all the while keeping their micropub feel and I don’t think there has been a time I’ve walked passed where there hasn’t been a good handful of people inside.

Despite other micropubs starting to pop up, The Split Chimp still remains my favourite with it’s perfect mix of real ale (including their own Clever Chimp – a great session ale) and £15 bottles of prosecco – which is what drew me there in the first place. So the question really is – how do you improve in perfection?


You install a rum bar, that’s how! Owner Mark Hall, a former paramedic, decided that there was a market in a city awash with swanky gin bars that he would offer something different for the pirates among us so opened up the Top Chimp. Renovating the upstairs area with a rum bar open on Fridays and Saturdays and adding some comfy sofas and softer lighting for a more cosy atmosphere. Not only do they have a vast selection of rums with names I can’t even pronounce, Mark has painstakingly produced his own Rum Cocktails (rum mixed with flavoured ciders and ales) which are pretty amazing! Needless to say if it’s just Bacardi you’re after you might want to try somewhere else..

It’s so lovely being able to see your favourite pub go from strength to strength without having to adopt any fancy marketing plans or corporate brewery chain input creating an oasis in a city jam packed with pretentious ginnery’s (is that a word – it is now!). I love the big leather arms chairs that have replaced the skittle alley and wooden benches, especially with the darker nights drawing in, even more reason to snuggle in for an evening with friends. If only I can now convince Mark to open on Sundays…


Address: Arch 7, Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1SA
Twitter: @SplitChimp
Instagram: @thesplitchimp

Hotel Du Vin’s new Bistro

‘Seafood was always my favorite food. I mean, lobster? Come on!’ – Adrian Peterson

If being a July birthday has taught me anything (and it hasn’t) it’s that dare to utter the word ‘barbeque’ and it’s guaranteed to rain. I swear every time I try and arrange a birthday cookout we end up popping bubbly in the conservatory and grilling all the meat in the oven.


So imagine my delight when the day of Hotel Du Vin’s summer barbeque and launch of their new bistro, the weather gods were obviously looking favourably upon me for a change and the sun made a very welcome appearance!

Hotel Du Vin has always been one of those places that have been on my radar to visit for a lifetime but for one reason or another have never quite made it. The Ouseburn area has always been a favourite of mine; close enough to be walking distance from the Quayside but remote enough that it has a quirky laid back vibe of its own. So suffice to say I was honoured to be able to attend their Bistro launch with some of my favourite blogging girlies for a little mate date.  Katie and I arrived a little early so had and had a drink in bar, which is a fab mixture of classy and cosy with lots of stylish dark wood and comfy arm chairs to recline in whilst enjoying a chilled glass of wine.

Once out on the terrace we were treated to some summer cocktails (the strawberry margarita was a particular favourite of mine) and some live music whilst they fired up the BBQ.  As is a full bbq all with locally sourced Northumbrian meat there was a seafood market cart jam backed with dressed crab, crab claws and lobster as well as a fresh Lindisfarne Oyster boat. I mean, with Brexit just around the corner it’s reassuring to know that with these delicacies on our doorstep, we’ll probably be ok with locally sourced food!

Oysters is definite the marmite of the seafood world; you either love them or hate them however it’s well documented that I’m a huge lover of marmite so am equally a lover of oysters too!  Smothered in tabasco sauce I could have eaten me about a million and a half of those bad boys! I didn’t though – they’re not all that well known for their stomach lining properties after all!


Thanks to Katie from so use of her pictures

I could go on and on about the juiciness of the prawns or the succulence of the meat but to be honest, it’s probably just best you head along and try out their new bistro menu for yourself. The currently do a particularly good value al fresco summer set menu for £17.95 for two courses or £20.95 for three. If you’re particularly lucky, and happen to pick the day that summer falls on this year, you may even be able to treat yourself to a seat outside!


Allan House, City Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2BE
Tel: 0191 389 8628

Le Petit Ballon wine Subcription

‘Wine is bottled poetry’ – Robert Louis Stevenson

I may not be able to recite Pi to more that 3 decimal places or know the names of the last 30 British Prime Ministers but wine? Wine I know.


It’s probably the fact that I mention wine in almost every blog post I write that French wine subscription company Le Petit Ballon got in touch and asked if i would mind them sending me a couple of bottle to review. When someone sends you an email entitled ‘We’d like to send you some wine’ it makes you about a nano second to consider and respond.

Wine subscriptions aren’t a new thing and Le Petit Ballon have been hugely successful in their native France. They’ve decided to branch out to the UK and offer two different options of wine delivery; Grape Expectations at £24.90 per month for two bottles and Age of Raisin at £39.90 per month for two premium bottles of wine.


Each month the wine is delivered direct to your door (or office or neighbour etc) and comes with tasting notes for your monthly offerings and The Gazette magazine which is packed with information about the company, the vineyards they use, that months selections and recipes. All wines are hand selected by Jean-Michel Deluc who worked for many years as master sommelier at The Ritz in London – so you’re in safe hands!

This month we received our package less than 48 hours after it had been dispatched which contained a bottle of South African red called Okoma and some French Sauvignon Blanc called Chateau Le Grand Verdus Expression

The Red:

To get the most out of our wines we tried to follow the tasting notes as closely as possible so as it was recommended that this particular red went well with red meats and BBQ’s we decided to cook up some gourmet hamburgers for our Friday night treat. I love my red wine, particularly in the winter; which lets be honest in the North East of England is 10 months of the year! This was a really full bodied fruity number which smelt great and went perfectly with the meat. It didn’t taste too tanin-y like a thick Merlot would so imagine it’s pretty versatile. It also had a really rich oaky after taste so would go perfectly with a cheeseboard! Being a Leo I absolutely feel in love with the bottle as well; i imagine it’s bold design would make it a popular choice were it sold in a supermarket.

The White:


Savignon Blanc is my favourite grape so was really pleased that’s what we received for our first month. It said in the tasting notes that it’s paired well with meat, fish and cheese so, being unable to decide what to make, we went for a bit of all of it and had some swiss cheese Fondue! This one was on the dry side of medium, which I prefer over wine being too sweet any day, it it meant that the flavour wasn’t too over bearing of all the different flavours of the food we were eating. I would never normally drink white wine with cheese however this one complimented the fondue perfectly. On first sip it’s like an explosion of flavour in your mouth, which possibly says a lot about the quality of the £3 supermarket wine we normally drink, there’s no doubt that these wines are very good quality.

When it comes to wine we’ve always been quantity over quality people and I have no shame in admitting that we always shop at the low end when just buying for ourselves. The benefit of doing that is that when you get a really good bottle, you really notice the difference. It’s nice to have your wine chosen for you by someone who knows what they’re talking about a little better than you and that every month is a different tasting experience so you get to try things you possibly wouldn’t normally. If you find a bottle that you simply can’t live without you can order additional bottles of your faves on Le Petit Ballon’s website as a discounted price if you’re already a subscriber.

You can find out more, including how to get £10 off your first subscription here

And follow Le Petit Ballon on their social media channels here:




How different do you look after 3 glasses of wine?

‘Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy’ – Benjamin Franklin

One of my favourite quotes is that alcohol is what makes the good times better and the bad times bearable. If I knew who first said it I would have it at the leading quote to all my wine related posts because I think it’s so true. And I’ve never been shy in admitting that I love a bottle of wine or two.

When I was idly trawling through Stumbleupon one Sunday afternoon (probably hungover from the previous nights wine) I came across an article about Brazilian photographer Marcos Alberti who did a series of photos of his friends after they’d drank 1, 2 and 3 glasses of wine and the results were fascinating.

I mean, there was an element of ‘people look more relaxed after a couple of glasses of wine’ shocker. However what I did find fascinating was the really subtle differences in some of the subjects faces. Some people were noticeably more relaxed, they tied their hair back or removed items of clothing. There was definitely caution to the wind being thrown. However what amazing was the people who were so obviously trying not to look any different, yet their faces told a completely different story. In the first picture, where people were fatigued and stressed by the end of the working day, there was a vulnerability and dare I say sadness in some of the peoples eyes. Yet after a couple of glasses of wine the smile was reaching their eyes again and they looked 100% more relaxed.


Some being me, I thought I would completely steal this idea, take my Samsung Galaxy S6 and see how different me and all my friends look after 3 glasses of wine. I’m unclear as to whether Marcos’ subjects knew what the purpose of the photo session was for, however my lasses knew from the start. It would have been weird making them pose up against my living room wall without telling them what was going on, so I’m not sure if that’s skewed the results slightly. There were a few ground rules to this experiment though; we all drank the same drinks, and we used Prosecco instead of wine (carefully measured out into 125ml glasses).

Whilst the results may not be surprising, they are bloody funny!











All we seem to hear these days is how bad alcohol is for you, and yes of course if we all lived macrobiotic, wheat free, gluten free, sugar free, taste free, fun free diets I’m sure we’d all be very virtuous and live to 150 but where would the fun in that be? While this experiment probably won’t win me any Nobel prizes (mainly because I didn’t think of it) it was still great fun to do and a brilliant excuse to get the lasses round, drink a shed load of wine and dance around my living room to boyband videos after a long working week – like we needed an excuse!

Oh, and the outtakes are pretty funny too: