Shiremoor

Shiremoor is one of the oldest station on the network having opened in 1980. It holds a special place in my family’s heart, partly because we had our car broken into in the car park in the 1980s and had our game boys and a case of Grolsch stolen out the back but mostly because it serves Shiremoor which is where my Grandma lived and close to where my Auntie Jan, Uncle Dale and cousins Ami and Alex lived. As such we would be round that way almost every Sunday.

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Coming from South Gosforth you exit the platform and turn left. Walk 5 minutes down that road and you’ll come to the Grey Horse, a large traditional white building on the opposite side of the road.

I knew instantly from the ‘live sport, pool and darts’ sign on the outside that this wouldn’t be chick pub, nor would you expect it to be in the suburbs of working class Shiremoor. We were greeted with a warm welcome though and I was really impressed to see a book swap library as soon as we walked in; the first I’ve seen on the tour so far and it instantly gave the pub a  homely, welcoming feel. Same goes for the ‘bar snacks’ incidentally.

 

As you walk in the bar is directly in front of you with the main lounge to the right and a smaller seating area to the left, both housing the ever present plasma TVs and bandit machines that seem par for the course in local north east pubs. The tartan carpet and the lightly painted wood however does give the impression that someone’s given the pub a little TLC and that’s gone someway to restoring it to it’s former glory.

 

Booze wise it was slim pickens. The only thing resembling ale on draft was John Smiths and my glass of white wine was a few degrees off chilled and extremely sweet, which is a shame as while it’s certainly a local pub for local people, it’s not actually a bad pub to spend a few hours in.

Contact details:

Address: Bertran Place, Shiremoor, Newcastle upon Tyne NE27 0HL
See where else we’ve been on our metro pub adventure here

Regent Centre

When you live out in Bank Foot there’s nothing more frustrating than getting to a metro station and seeing the fatal words ‘next train terminates at Regent Centre’ ugh, so close yet so far. However more than once have we hopped on the train anyway and paid a visit to some of the great pubs that Gosforth High Street has to offer.

Despite Regent Centre interchange mainly servicing the small business park there, if you come out the metro station and turn right, you’ll find the first pub about 5 minutes down the road; The Gosforth Hotel.

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We visited on a rain soaked Saturday afternoon (is there any other kind in Newcastle) and due to it being a massive sports day; 2 rugby matches and a Newcastle game, it was absolutely heaving. It’s what my dad describes as a ‘proper Newcastle boozer’ and I think that sums it up perfectly. Yes it was packed to the rafters with rugby fans, but you’re in Newcastle remember and the atmosphere was brilliant.

There are actually two bars. The main bar straight ahead of you as you walk in an a kind of ‘overflow bar’ out the back, which I presume they only open when they have enough staff as it was shut when we went, despite it being so busy the windows had steamed up. Lovely.

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Down the the drinks. They always have an excellent selection of ales on, which changes regularly and there’s always a local brewery on offer such as Wylam or Mordue. The wine isnt going to win them any DWWA awards but it’s cold and less than a tenner a bottle. The decor is worn and traditional with dark wood and high tables with stools. There are a few lower tables and chairs round to the right as you walk in and more out the back if the second bar is open. They also serve basic pub grub daily and pretty reasonable prices.

It’s the kind of pub you can visit at 9pm on a saturday night or 3pm on a Tuesday afternoon and there will always be a nice atmosphere and there will always be someone in. I know, I know I always say I hate pubs that show non stop sport but hey, I’m a woman, I’m an enigma and I have exceptions to the rules. When you walk into a pub at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon and everyone is enjoying the beer, the sport and the banter, it’s impossible not to get swept away with the atmosphere.

The Gosforth Hotel is our favourite ‘start and end’ pub as we walk from and to the metro station for a night out on Gosforth High Street. Other pubs worth checking out along that Street is the Brandling, The Job Bullman (which is a Wetherspoons, but a good Wetherspoons) and The County down the far end.

Contact:

High Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE3 1HQ
Tel: 0191 285 6617
Website: http://www.greatukpubs.co.uk/gosforthhotelnewcastle

You can find out where else we’ve been on our adventure here

Gateshead Stadium

The only time I’ve ever been to Gateshead Stadium metro is the twice I’ve seen Bon Jovi there (don’t judge, it was the 90’s) and since the Stadium of Light down the road in Sunderland started hosting big shows, Gateshead has been demoted to the red headed step child of concert venues in the north east these days.

There’s no pub in sight immediately as you step off the metro, it’s all very residential and ‘urban’ (read into that what you will) however if you’re willing to put in the leg work, there is a really, really good pub about 15/20 minutes away from the station. Don’t let google maps fool you either, it will tell you the Schooner is only 0.5miles away from the metro, it’s not. Instead of type out all the route details below, here’s a screen shot of what I sent to Janine and Ang, who were meeting Steph and I there after work one Friday night (‘blur’ is supposed to say ‘blue’ attention to detail isn’t my strongest skill especially when I have a glass of wine in front of me)

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Once you eventually arrive at the Schooner you’ll be met with a warm welcome. It’s not often that pubs manage to get the balance right by being able to be an all things to all people kind of place but the Schooner ticks all the boxes for me. We were only there for drinks (two large glasses of wine was about £6 ish, which is reasonable, tick one!) They have a good food menu which is prominently mexican food, which happens to be my favourite cuisine (tick two) and there are no visible TVs showing sports or bandit machines (ticks three and four).

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All joking aside before we walked in i was worried it would be a local pub for local people and the music would stop as we swung the saloon doors open. That wasn’t the case at all though, there was a great ‘friday after work’ kind of atmosphere and there was a great mix of locals, friends having drinks  and couples enjoying some food.

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The bar is well decorated with quirky pop art adorning the walls but manages not to fall into annoying hispter joint territory, it still feels very much like a local boozer. They have a great selection of local beers and a bottle of house white is only £11. They have an amazing jukebox selection and local bands play there regularly which i’m sure creates a fantastic atmosphere.

If you really don’t fancy the walk back up to Gateshead Stadium metro (no matter how spectacular the views of Asda and McDonalds are) and have some time on your hands it’s located right on the riverside and if you continue along the path for about 20 minutes you’ll end up back at the Millennium Bridge in Newcastle. That said, if you do make the walk, it’s totally worth it!

Contact:

South Shore Road Gateshead NE8 3AF
Tel: 0191 477 7404
Website: http://theschooner.co.uk/

If you want to find out about more of the pubs we’ve visited on our travels you can do so here

Pick of the Year: 1999

‘They say two thousand zero zero party over, Oops out of time, So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999’ – Prince

1999

Dad’s ‘Pick of the Year’ tapes were always a firm family favourite where he would make a compilation cassette of his favourite songs form that year. He stopped in 1992 however, when music got a bit too modern for him. It’s something over the years I’ve tried to carry on, and did for a while but, no one listens to CDs anymore and they don’t have the same impact as mp3 playlists. I’ve often thought about restarting it all from 1982 on my blog though just so I have somewhere to put them all for prosperity sake.

The first rule of POTY is DON’T TALK ABOUT PICK OF THE YEAR, sorry, that’s the illegal underground fight club i’m part of.

The first rule of POTY is that you can only pick songs that charted in the top 75 in the UK. The second rule of POTY is that you can only pick enough songs that would fit onto an old C120 cassette (between 30-40 tracks). The final rule, one which I’ve imposed myself, is that you must include that year’s Christmas number 1 (highlighted in green)

  1. Fatboy Slim – Right Here Right Now
  2. Jordan Knight – Give it to You
  3. TLC – No Scrubs
  4. Vengaboys – We Like to Party
  5. Ricky Martin – Livin La Vida Loca
  6. Lou Bega – Mambo No. 5
  7. Enrique Eglesias – Bailamos
  8. Backstreet Boys – Larger than Life
  9. S Club 7 – S Club Party
  10. Will Smith – Wild, Wild, West
  11. Terrorvision – Tequila
  12. Madonna – Beautiful Stranger
  13. B*Witched – Blame it on the Weatherman
  14. Wandue Project – King of My Castle
  15. Robbie Williams – Strong
  16. Baz Luhrman – Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen)
  17. 5ive – Keep on Movin
  18. Geri Halliwell – Mi Chico Latino
  19. Cardigans – Erase/Rewind
  20. Moloko – Sing it Back
  21. ATB – 9pm (til i come)
  22. Eiffel 65 – Blue
  23. Bran Van 3000 – Drinking in LA
  24. Ann Lee – 2 Times
  25. Will Smith – Will2K
  26. Jennifer Lopez – If You Had My Love
  27. Eminem – My Name Is
  28. Semisonic – Secret Smile
  29. A+ – Enjoy Yourself
  30. Fierce – Dayz Like That
  31. Britney Spears – Baby One More Time
  32. Christina Aguilera – Genie in a Bottle
  33. Shaft – Mucho Mambo
  34. Beverley Knight – Greatest Day
  35. 5ive – If Ya Gettin Down
  36. Britney Spears – (You Drive Me) Crazy
  37. Sixpence None the Richer – Kiss Me
  38. New Radicals – You Get What You Give
  39. Backstreet Boys – I Want It That Way
  40. Westlife – I Have a Dream/Seasons in the Sun
  41. Bloodhound Gang – The Bad Touch
  42. Len – Steal My Sunshine
  43. Dr Dre – Still DRE
  44. REM – The Great Beyond

Backstreet Boys – Larger than Life in Las Vegas!

‘Bacstreet’s back, alright and this time they’re appealing to everyone’ – Meagan Morris

Back in the late 90s and early 00s the internet was a scary place, so imagine my parents shock when I tell them I’m taking a train to London to meet someone I met in a chat room so we can hang out and talk about boybands for the day? I’m amazed still to this day they let me go! I’m so pleased they did though because that day marked the beginning of an amazing friendship.

For years Meagan and I have wanted to see the group that made us so close together but for whatever reason could never make it work logistically. When The Backstreet Boys announced they were doing a trial residency in Las Vegas we knew we had to make it happen. Those boys aren’t getting any younger and we didn’t know when we would get the chance again.

It’s hard to review a concert of your all time favourite band with one of your all time favourite people objectively but i’m going to try….

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It was fucking amazing! They were seriously, seriously good. Between the two fo us we’ve seen them live about 11 times and we both agreed that their Vegas show was one of the most professional, polished show they’ve done.

Before I run out of adjectives to describe how amazing they were i’ll give you a run down of what actually happened. They took to the stage just after 9pm after a really cool remix of all their singles/music videos on the large screens, you forget how many songs they’ve released really! And kicked everything off looking dapper in white with Larger than Life. I won’t run through everything song by song (check out the set list at the bottom if you’re interested) but needless to say they got the crowd’s energy up as they went from one up tempo pop hit to the next.

Show highlights for me were As Long As You Love me, which was never my favourite single but they nailed the chair routine all these years later, We’ve Got it Goin On (which is one of my faves) which they updated and mashed up excellently with Bell Biv Devoe’s Poison and the fact that they included 2 of my favourite album tracks Undone and Get Another Boyfriend.

ALAYLM #chairdance #bsbvegas

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Meagan’s show highlighters were – the montage in the beginning which sounds weird but it got everyone amped for the show. Their version of We’ve Got it On was probably her favourite performance of the night because of the dancing and Shape of my Heart of course which is her all time favourite BSB song. They also came out into the audience and Howie was right in front of us, like touching distance from us, so it doesn’t get much better than that.

QPG #bsbvegas

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Fans will be aware of the recent voice issues that Brian has been struggling but they all killed it, singing completely live through the whole 2 hour show and Brian in particular sounded better than he ever has. They dancing was also super tight and the 10 dancers that joined them on stage were fantastic. The staging worked brilliantly in Planet Hollywood and there appeared to be no real bad seat in the house. We were sitting at the front of the first ‘normal priced’ seating, directly behind the ‘pit’ and VIP seating (we paid about £140 a ticket if you were wondering) and the view was amazing. It also helped that there were catwalks and walkways coming out into the audience so people further back had a better change of getting a good view

When I was bored in Heathrow waiting for my super delayed flight I did what I swore I wouldn’t do and I looked up the set list ahead of time. I was a little disappointed to be honest. I’ve said from the beginning of time that they never release the best songs off their albums (there’s a blog post in there somewhere) and with only 3 of the 20 strong set list being album tracks, they weren’t singing hardly any of my faves. HOWEVER (and this a big however, I wrote it in caps and everything) Whilst their singles may not be my favourites, there’s no denying their singalongability and their gravitational pull to get everyone in the room joining in and having an amazing time. Which made me have an amazing time, so no set list complaints for me any more!

Rocking our bodies right! #bsbvegas

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If i were to pick any holes (because the cynic in me jut has to find fault in everything) the second costume change (of which there were 4) bordered into boring territory where they sang too many ballads back to back in my opinion, although I’m  pleased my obligatory I’ll Never Break Your Heart toilet break came early in the show as my $24 Margarita was starting to work it’s way through. It also felt that they were racing through the set list a little bit and didn’t talk or interact with the audience very much. I get it though, they need to cater for everyone, not just fans like us who’d moved mountains to be there, but also for people who were in Vegas anyway and just fancied seeing them on a whim.

They’re just really minor points though and didn’t detract from the show at all. I’ll admit we were both dubious when we found out they were doing a Vegas residency. It felt like it was pretty ambitious for a group for the majority of common folk are only really known for one or two songs. However never under estimate the power of the Backstreet army as by all accounts it’s been a roaring success. Time will tell whether they lose momentum by the end of their run in July and whether it will be extended further, here’s hoping they do, although I’m not entirely sure my credit card could take it!

I really wanted to avoid using this chiche but Backstreet aren’t back, for us, and the majority of the people in the Axis theatre, they never left. Alright!

Set list:

Larger than Life
The One
Get Down
Drowning
Incomplete
Quit Playing Games
Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely
I’ll Never Break Your Heart
Anywhere For You
Darlin
Undone
As Long as You Love Me
The Call
We’ve Got it Goin’ On
Get Another Boyfriend
More than That
All I Have to Give
Shape of My Heart
I Want It That Way
Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)

 

 

Elliott’s Kitchen, Wylam

‘I like to be able to sit in a cafe and watch the world go by and observe people’ – Sophia Myles

There’s a lot of negativity on the world at the moment. Even on Facebook and instagram there’s people eye rolling at their so called friends who are at the gym or posting their slimming world meals. There doesn’t seem to be much bigging each other up anymore.

So let me buck the trend and take a moment to gush about our amazing friends Jill and Phil Elliott who after what feels like years of near misses have finally fulfilled their dream of owning their own cafe. And what a cafe it is.

Jill and I have been close friends for over 15 years when we worked as barmaids together at our local pub in Cramlington (she taught me everything I know about alcohol). She married professional chef (and all round lovely bloke) Phil is 2009 and they’ve been great friends to us ever since.

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Elliotts Kitchen on Main Street in Wylam is everything you’d want in a cafe and more. In fact to just call it a cafe is doing the a disservice. Phil has honed all his years in the professional catering industry to create a fantastic gastro cafe serving not only your regular coffees and traybakes but ever changing lunchtime specials like quiches and runny scotch eggs. All freshly made on the premises with local produce.

We visited at about 2.15pm on a Saturday and it was just nicely busy after the lunchtime rush, enough people in to create an atmosphere but even free tables to get a good seat. The decor inside is minimalist but classy, big windows letting the sun stream in and light wooden furniture and fittings.

We only went for coffee and cake; a latte (made with Italian coffee) and slice of rocky road for me and a pot of Earl Grey and a date scone for Dave. Both treats were a decent size (there’s nowt more frustrating that a small scone) the rocky road was stuffed with fluffy marshmallows and not to over powering with sickly chocolate, so you don’t have to worry about your kids bouncing off the walls after a slice. Two drinks and two sweets came to around £8, which isn’t unreasonable, particularly for Wylam.

We didn’t stay for lunch, although judging by the smells from the kitchen perhaps we should have! Their manu changes regularly if not daily and an example of some things they’ve had on recently are spiced parsnip soup, aberdeen angus shepherds pie topped with swede & potato mash, beef onepot served with onion bread & parsley dumpling and stilton and mushroom tarlets. Not to mention sandwiches and a different cake of the day.

Of course it’s easy for me to be bias, they’re my mates after all, however to be honest I think that just means I’d be more brutally honest if i didn’t think they were quite up to scratch (or at the very least just not say anything at all!) but I honestly honestly am super impressed and proud, not only in the hard work and sacrifice Jill and Phil have made but in the genuine quality of the food and the menu.

If you want a boring croque monsieur then go to Cafe Rouge. If you want quality, locally produced homemade food with a quirky twist. Go to Eilliott’s Kitchen!

Address: Main Road, Wylam, Northumberland NE41 8AQ
Phone: 01661 852422
Facebook: Elliott’s Kitchen
Twitter: @foodmatters07

 

Silidyn Rejuvenate Review

‘All those vitamins aren’t to keep death at bay, they’re to keep deterioration at bay’ – Jeanne Moreau

It’s that time of year isn’t it? Post Christmas, it’s started to snow and  the (quite literal) gallons of prosecco that has passed through my body over the last few weeks have started to take their toll on my hair and skin.  I feel fat, spotty and lank and no amount of avocado and lack luster gym efforts seem to be helping.

I’ve always loved the idea of multi vitamins but have always been quite laxidaisy in taking them. Like my skincare routine or using dental floss, I can be good for a week or so then just fall off the wagon because it all because too much effort. When I was sent some samples of new vitamin supplement Silidyn to trial from the lovely girls over at 30 Plus Blogs I was determined to give it a good go, seeing as my skin, hair and nail dramas have been well documented in the past.

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Unlike other multivitamins or hair, skin and nail supplements, Silidyn comes in liquid form, rather than tablet form and can be added to any liquid, once a day (although advises that before breakfast is preferable).  The science boffs who created it say that it’s scientifically proven to combat the signs of ageing and contains a clinically certified formula to replenish, regenerate and reinvigorate your body’s natural foundations.  Something I can put into my morning coffee that will make me look younger? Good times!

They also state:  ‘Silidyn Rejuvenate utilises the latest bio active technology to inhibit cellular breakdown and replenish Silicon where it is lost to the modern environment. After an 8 week programme, Silidyn produces visible benefits, strengthening hair and nails, and firming skin, while providing a natural boost to combat the internal symptoms of age’ – oh, so it only makes you younger on the inside? Bad times.

Still though, I am currently trying to grow my hair out so I don’t spend my entire 30s with a graduated bob so any help I can get is greatly appreciated, so after roughly 8 weeks of taking Silidyn, here’s how  me and some of my little lab rats friends got on:

The pros:

  • I love that you put it in your morning coffee, and feels less clinical than taking tablets
  • It really is tasteless. My of my test subjects said they felt that it left a slight greasy taste in their mouth (albeit not unpleasant) and another said they could taste it slightly. I found if you put it in first before the hot water in your drink it mixes better rather than putting in last where it tended to sit on the top.

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  • My nails looked ah-mazing after a week or so. I tend to suffer from splitting and peeling especially in the winter, however had nothing of the sort during the trial.
  • I got my hair cut at the beginning of the trial and often suffer from severe breakage on the underneath of the right side. Although I think this is a genetic thing that no amount of fancy shampoo or vitamins can fix, I have noticed less breakage since my last haircut. This could be just down finally finding a decent stylist, however seems coincidental that it’s been much better since taking silidyn.
photogrid_1484596930264Hair straight after a cut then 8 weeks later, not unusual that it’s only grown half an inch but the condition is almost identical
  • If you’ve ever taken multi vits or berocca you’ll know that one of the side effects if it turns your peepee technicolour. Silidyn doesn’t. Hurray for no hulk wee!
  • While one tester said they found the packaging to look too clinical it would put them off buying it, another said they liked the clinical packaging as it reminded them of Dermalogica branding, therefore would make them trust the product more.

The cons:

  • Aging wise I saw no visible change, it’s obviously going to take something much stronger than me to get rid of my crowsfeet and forehead wrinkles
  • Immune systems wise despite taking it for 4 weeks prior to Christmas and continuing right the way through it didn’t stop me getting the lurgy for the first week in January.
  • It’s not good in cold drinks. Even if you put it in first and add water too it, I don’t find it mixes in properly and creates ‘floaters’ at the bottom of the glass – to be used in hot drinks only IMHO.
  • It’s £19.95 a bottle, which fair enough is for a 2 month supply so on par with stuff from Holland and Barratt, it’s double the price of a month supply of Hair, Skin & Nail vitamins from Boots though.

So in all i think it’s a good product with some positive aspects and would certainly rate it higher than over the counter vitamins. I love that you can stick it in your coffee in the morning. I genuinely believe it’s tasteless, in fact I snuck it into Dave’s coffee one morning and he never noticed (and I promise that’s all I’ve ever drugged him with!) however not sure I saw a drastic enough change to warrant the £20 price tag sadly.

Find out more about Silidyn and how it could benefit you here