Percy Main

As with most stations along the Wallsend/North Shields section of the metro line, Percy Main can be found along what was the old Newcastle & North Shields Railway line and services the residential area of, well Percy Main. Obvs.

One of the things I’ve loved about doing our Wine & Beer Metro tour is not only discovering locations we never normally frequent, but also finding drinking establishments that are a little different from your average north east boozers. When you get off the metro, coming from Newcastle City Centre you’ll see there’s a large Sambuccas restaurant directly to your left. Whilst I’m sure they wouldn’t turn you away if you walked in and just wanted a few drinks, we were unconvinced that restaurants should feature on the guide.

So if you exit the metro and walk under the foot bridge onto Burdon Street, then turn left onto St John’s Terrace and follow the road round, after a couple of minutes you’ll find Percy Main Cricket Club. And this was to be our watering hole of choice for the afternoon.

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It was a sunny saturday afternoon when we visited, and although cricket season hadn’t started yet the club were hosting a charity colour run so there were a good few people milling around. The facilities are exactly what you’d expect if you’be ever been to a north eastern local cricket club. And i don’t mean that in any way negatively. I grew up spending most weekends at cricket matches due to my dad playing (and my mum making a mean cricket tea) so I felt right at home.

The bar area is in the large pavilion (bookable for functions) and had a couple of interesting different beers on, as well as the standards you’d come to expect and the white wine was perfectly chilled. One of the best things about clubs rather than pubs is that their pricing strategy is more akin to a Wetherspoons than Jesmond Dene House, so it was under a tenner for 2 pints and 2 glasses of wine.

It will of course be hit and miss as to how busy the club would be depending on when you happen to visit. We were disappointed we’d missed the start of cricket season by a mere week as it would have been very quaint spending the afternoon drinking in the sunshine. They accept walk ins up to three times before you’re asked to join as a member so it’s extremely welcoming and if you’re a cricket fan, or just a fan of sitting outside with your mates drinking wine, it comes with its own built in entertainment!

Contact:

St John’s Terrace, North Shields NE29 6HS
You can read more out the pubs we’ve visited on our Wine & Beer Metro tour here

Pick of the Year: 2001

2001

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. Papa Roach – Last Resort
  2. Dr Dre – The Next Episode
  3. Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya & Pink – Lady Marmalade
  4. City High – What Would You Do
  5. Faithless – We Come 1
  6. Blue – All Rise
  7. Wyclef Jean – Perfect Gentleman
  8. Outkast – Ms Jackson
  9. Dream – He Loves U Not
  10. Texas – Inner Smile
  11. Crazy Town – Butterfly
  12. Janet Jackson – All For You
  13. Kylie Minogue – Can’t Get You Out of My Head
  14. Mary J Blige – Family Affair
  15. O-Town – Liquid Dreams
  16. Eve feat. Gwen Stefani – Let Me Blow Your Mind
  17. Gorillaz – Clint Eastwood
  18. Joe – Stutter
  19. Britney Spears – I’m a Slave 4 U
  20. Blue – Too Close
  21. Uncle Kracker – Follow Me
  22. Louise – Stuck In The Middle
  23. Jennifer Lopez – Play
  24. Wheatus – Teenage Dirtbag
  25. Matchbox 20 – Mad Season
  26. Faith Hill – There You’ll Be
  27. Alicia Keys – Fallin
  28. Backstreet Boys – The Call
  29. S Club 7 – Don’t Stop Movin
  30. Mis-Teeq – One Night Stand
  31. Usher – U Remind Me
  32. Dido – Here With Me
  33. Travis – Sing
  34. Shaggy – It Wasn’t Me
  35. Destiny’s Child – Survivor
  36. Missy Elliott – Get UR Freak On
  37. MOP – Cold As Ice
  38. Robbie Williams & Nicole Kidman – Something Stupid

Chris Montague Photography

‘In photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary’ – David Bailey

One of the best things about writing a blog, aside from it feeding my narcissistic need to be liked, is when you get to join forces with your mates when your individual passions collide.

Steph is one of my oldest friends from school (and by that I mean I’ve known her the longest). She met the lovely Chris in 2012, they married in 2016 and since then the Montague’s as a brand have become two of our best friends. It’s always a relief when your better halves get along however it’s amazing (and very rare) that they get along so well that you sometimes forgot how or where the original links began. We’ve all welcomed each other into our own individual friendship groups and as such spend a lot of time in the pub together!

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Despite Chris being hugely successful in his day job (building clouds – actual clouds I like to believe, there’s big business for them in the north east) he’s also a keen photographer and has recently started going semi pro. I’d been wanting for a while to get some more professional pictures on my blog as the random instagram selfies of my wonky duck face weren’t cutting the mustard anymore. So I asked Chris is he would mind taking a few natural pics of me to make me look a bit more polished. As soon as I suggested meeting one Saturday afternoon in a pub with a large bay window he was there setting up his tripod before you could say David Bailey. After all pictures always look more realistic when the subject is in their natural habitat.

Despite it all feeling a bit awkward to start with, not that I’ve ever been shy around a camera of course but when you know someone’s taking your picture it’s hard not to pose or look straight at them, I’ve watched enough ANTM to know how to smize and find my light. But as the wine flowed and Steph and I got right into gossipland I forgot he was there and he ended up taking loads of pics as we all chatted away.

I concede that he didn’t have the easiest of subjects, an oil painting i’m not however I was really pleased with what he took, they were so natural and unposed and even after he kindy touched up a few of my faves, the touch ups were very subtle so I don’t feel like I’ve been airbrushed to within an inch of my life. I still look like me. Like picking the most flattering instagram filter!

Here are my 3 favourites:

Looks like I was born with that glass of wine in my hand doesn’t it?

If you’re interested in working with Chris for your wedding, family shoot or even some headshots of your own you find find out more about him and his work here!

Ilford Road

Ilford Road is the 3rd station location in the Jesmond area of Newcastle and is served by both yellow and green lines. It’s predominantly residential and has relatively low passenger numbers compared to South Gosforth and West Jesmond which it’s sandwiched between.  It is however, handily located for the top end of Jesmond Dene but as such pub choices are poor.

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In fact, the only place to get a drink that’s remotely within walking distance is Jesmond Dene House. So Jesmond Dene House is where we went.  If you exit platform 1 and walk 350m to the road bridge then turn left and cross the tracks, you’ll be on Albury Road. Turn right here and walk down to Moorfield, which merges onto Jesmond Dene Road as you walk left. Stay on this road for 5 minutes and you’ll see a sign for Jesmond Dene House in a hedgerow. Follow that side street for a couple of minutes and the hotel will appear o your left.

JDH is a grade II listed building which was built in 1822 by John Dobson for Thomas Emerson Headlam who was a physician and Mayor of Newcastle between 1837 and 1845. In the past the building has been used as a college, a civil defence establishment, a seminary and a residential school, before it was fully restored in 2005 and becoming a 40 bedroom boutique, super swanky hotel to the rich and famous.

And rich and famous is what you need to be if you’re stopping by for a drink, well, certainly rich anyway. It is an absolutely beautiful building and the hotel bar, which you’re able to just walk into without being a hotel guest or dining in the restaurant is located immediately on the right as you walk past reception.

It’s small and intimate with low comfy seating and low lighting. It does however very much feel like a hotel bar and the clientele will undoubtedly be guests rather than walk ins like we were. The staff were great, you do feel very looked after despite not being a resident as it offers table service and your drinks are immediately placed on a tab for you (dangerous if you don’t look at the price list).  They also allowed you to sample different wines if you wanted (i didn’t – never found a bottle i didn’t like fnar, fnar) but i noticed others were, and they were generous with their samples, which is a good touch.

So our experience was overall positive and certainly felt a shift in quality and glamour compared to all the other pubs we’ve visited on our travels so far. However it was £12.49 for a bottle or corona and a small glass of wine, so not exactly a session bar. All that being said, for a treat, it was lovely and the chilled out relaxed atmosphere made me wish we were staying over because I could have sat there all night people watching and chatting with other guests.

Contact details:

Address: Jesmond Dene Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 2EY
Phone: 0191 212 3000

 

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.

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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.

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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:

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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:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lepetitballonuk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LPBallonUK

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lepetitballon

Wallsend

Despite Wallsend being home to two large housing estates (Battle Hill and Hadrian Park) and Silverlink Retail Park, the metro only really services Wallsend High Street. It’s another station which was originally park of the Newcastle and North Shields Railway and received a little facelift in 2013 adding some local art. It’s also the only station on the network which has it’s signage in English and Latin due to it’s proximity to Segedunum Roman Fort.

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Sadly that’s where the roman roots end as there and nothing historical or educational about the pubs in the local vicinity. If you leave platform 1 and turn left up Station Road the first pub you’ll get to (in about 5 minutes) is the Anson which is a Sizzling pub and as a member of our group said ‘probably the ugliest pub I’ve ever seen’. It certainly won’t be winning any architectural awards as it has all the charm of a cardboard box (which, incidentally is what I reckon it was modeled on).

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It was heaving when we visited on a Saturday afternoon as the Grand National was on as well as a late afternoon Newcastle away match and as such there were tables and chairs which had been pulled in all different directions to crowd around the many screens in almost all corners of the large open bar.

Being a chain pub they have a standard Wetherspoons-esque food menu with various different offers depending on what day you visit. They has a decent selection of handpulls, Dave had a pint of the Green King which was decent enough and their wine selection was what you’d expect; nice and chilled but pretty bland.

To be honest, ‘bland’ is probably the word i would use to describe our experience over all. Had we visited on a quieter afternoon it may have been a bit less frenzied and chaotic. It even has a plasma TV mounted into the wall in the beer garden just to make absolutely sure there’s nowhere to hide from the endless sport.

To be fair, the only other pub in the area really is The Ritz further down the High Street, which is a Wetherspoons. It doesn’t have as many TVs but still more of the same so your choices are limited in Wallsend sadly.

Contact:

Address: Station Road, Wallsend NE28 8QS, England
Tel: 0191 262 3012
Find out more about where we’ve been on our metro tour here

How to be Dead: A book series by Dave Turner

‘In the deepest hour of the night, confess to yourself that you would die if you were forbidden to write. And look deep into your heart where it spreads its roots, the answer, and ask yourself, must I write?’ – Rainer Maria Rilke

htbd

I’m not a natural when it comes to reading, I mean, don’t get me wrong, I can read, i just don’t enjoy it as much as some people seem to. I’m jealous of people who can curl up on a rainy weekend and get lost in a book (ahem Ang, Bev & Ruth), for me it’s binge watching old series of The Challenge! However I did get right into Dave Turner’s How to Be Dead series of novellas (nice and short, kept my attention span!) and now I feel the world needs to know about them!

Dave actually caught my attention on Twitter (it was the naked selfies he used to post back when there were no decency filters – fnar, fnar) – he started a parody  twitter account called @itsdeath which was based around Death as a character (called Steve – obviously) think of that scene from Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey when Death follows the old lady round the supermarket and you’re along the right lines.

PhotoGrid_1494753375093It doesn’t hurt that Mr Turner (right) and my hubby Dave, could have been separated at birth!

All the best comedians have the ability to make the strangest subjects seems funny. Tom Stade does a hilarious skit about market meat vans for example. And being a chronic over thinker with previously diagnosed medical hypochondria there’s nothing less funny to me than death. Dave put a face to my worse nightmare and suddenly Steve Death was someone I no longer feared but was someone I wanted to share a bottle of Pinot Grigio with. I also found myself sympathising with him, he would often complain about getting bogged down with paperwork and bureaucracy, when all he wanted to do was get on with his job. He also loves a chocolate biscuit.

So from the Twitter account came the novels, after a small kickstarter campaign (which I proudly sponsored myself) the adventures a Steve, his assistant Anne and reluctant hero, ordinary man (also called Dave) were born. Of course the great thing about social media these days is when you’re planning on a writing a blog about your favourite author, you can reach out to them in the vague hope they may wish to contribute. So, seeing as Dave himself can tell his story was more articulately and funny than I ever could, here he is:

I’d like to say that I had a five-year publishing master plan from the start, but really I started a Twitter account as Death because I was bored in a dull office job.

An outsider looking in would be a good way to make jokes about the human condition, I thought. He’d be bored, befuddled and have an odd sense of humour after hanging around us for so long. People liked it. It was also a very convenient way of making observations that I wouldn’t make myself.

Then I decided I should do something with those jokes. I had an idea for a series of 3 novellas telling the story of Death and the problems he had trying to sort out the undead. “I’ll bash them out over the course of a year,” I thought. “It’ll be a nice little project to keep me out of trouble.”

Four years later, I published the last part of that story. It all started easy enough writing the first novella. It was called How To Be Dead (after a Snow Patrol song). People really liked it. That made me very happy. “I should probably write the second one,” I thought.

Then I was diagnosed with a seriously massive heart condition. You know when a footballer drops dead on the football pitch? That’s the bad boy I’ve got. There were hospital visits. Medication. Implants. Wires stuck into my heart. But I’m now technically a cyborg. Which is actually the childhood dream come true.

I’ll be honest, there were grim days contemplating my own mortality. What would my wife and kids do if I wasn’t around tomorrow? Who’d remove the Billy Joel albums off my iPhone before people discovered them?

Then I thought, “Hang on. I’m writing comedy books about death. I can probably use this.”This may go some way to explaining the number of Billy Joel jokes in the books.

When you stare in to the Abyss, sometimes the Abyss stares back. So you wave to the Abyss. Then you realise the Abyss was actually staring at something over your shoulder and it all gets a little bit awkward. And then you just bloody well get on with it.

An agent got in touch to say that he loved the first novella and did I want to turn it into a novel and be represented by him? “Yes! Of course!” I said. So I signed with the agency with ideas that I would be An Important Novelist. And I wrote a novel. Which I wasn’t

completely happy with. Then the agent decided he didn’t want to be agent anymore.

So I was left agent-less and holding a novel I didn’t knowwhat to do with. So I decided that since I’d had an idea for 3 novellas, I’d better start the second one. That was called Paper Cuts (after songs by Nirvana and The Boy Least Likely To). People seemed to like that a bit more than the first one. “I’d better write a third one,” I thought. So I did.

It’s called Old Haunts (after a song by The Gaslight Anthem).

After I’d dragged a story that’s been banging around my head for half a decade kicking and screaming into the world, I didn’t know what to do next. So I’m writing a fourth story. Simple as that.

Writing. It’s basically about just bloody well getting on with it

I’ve read all 3 books (twice now) and I change my mind every time about which one is my favourite. How To Be Dead is all Steve Death, and that’s what I loved so much about the twitter account, you can see him sitting in his office on Crow Road in London rolling his eyes and talking about the good old days.

In Paper Cuts the story is developed more and we’re introduced to Deaths old mates (the other 3 horsemen of the apocolypse – naturally) who also have their own personalities. The banter between the 4 of them is hilarious and reminds me of my own Dave and his 3 best mates (I won’t go into who i think is who though!)

And I love, love, love Old Haunts. Mostly I think because you learn a bit more about Anne, Death’s loyal PA and how she  came to be Steve’s loyal sidekick. Having worked as a PA myself for doctors, surgeons and professors in the past, working with people who believe the fate of mankind lies solely in their hands is something I can relate to.

Oh, there’s also so zombies and suicide cults thrown in there for good measure too! If you’re looking for something to read this summer, the HTBD series won’t disappoint. All i’M waiting for now is for it to be turned into a TV series then I need never read another book again!

My favourite quote from the series:

Dave: Some people say dreams are visions that you can predict the future or see into the past
Death: Yeah well some people say that a rich tea is a good biscuit. People are stupid

You can buy all three books here

And find out more about Dave here:

Twitter: @MrDaveTurner

Instagram: @MrDaveTurner

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mrdaveturner/