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!

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


Holy Crepe! Crepeaffaire is now open in Newcastle!

‘It’s hard to imagine a scenario where someone would say no to pancakes’ – David Levithan

I’m sure there are people in the world who’s only experience of the humble pancake is what they have once a year on shrove Tuesday, or possibly those thick American monstrosities you get in hipster diners, however during my meagre 35 years on this earth I’ve experienced quite a love affair with the Crepe. I grew up in Belgium, meaning Crepes and Pain au Chocolate weren’t just something you had once a year or when you visited Patisserie Valerie. They were something you had every Saturday morning when you went to the local market. So make no mistake, I’ve had some of the best crepes around so when Crepeaffaire invited me and Davy along to their new shop in the swanky Greys Quarter in Eldon Square, you can bet the Mons Monkey I was down to try!


Crepeaffaire have recently launched their Indulgence menu which means not only can you get the classics like Banana, Nutella and Lemon & Sugar, they’ve upped the ante and added combinations like Banana, Rum & Raisin, Fererro Rocher and Salted Caramel. If all that gooey deliciousness doesn’t float your boat they also do a wide range of savoury crepes which are much more lunchtime appropriate, if I weren’t there purely for the sugar hit I’d be all over the pesto and mozzarella.

Last time we were in Florida we visited Waffle House for breakfast where I had pancakes with chocolate and peanut butter – a perfectly normal choice I thought. However the family at the next table whose waistline and IQ stats where are polar opposite ends of the spectrum loudly expressed their disgust as they tucked into their artery clogging quadruple bacon and maple syrup 15 pancake stack. As such it took the shine off and I didn’t really enjoy my last pancake experience. So with their contempt in mind, and ever the rebel, I confidently ordered the Belgian Chocolate – because revenge is best served 3 years later on a different continent.

Dave, being the healthier and more sensible of the two of us ordered a salmon and cream cheese crepe, which let’s be honest is pretty standard and hard to get horribly wrong. His crepe had the a right balance of both ingredients and a hearty sprinkling of Dill in top for good measure. My Belgian chocolate was exquisite and made with real Belgian chocolate not sugary, watery sauce you get in some places.


We also had two fruit smoothies each, which were pretty yummy, if a little heavy on juice rather than actual pureed fruit. There were plenty of drink options to choose from though; all hot drinks come with free refills all day every day and you can even get a beer or a glass of prosecco if you fancy (which in itself id pretty fancy!)

We were both pleasantly full after our lunch which isn’t something that can always be said with crepes. I like how they have savoury options which are more healthy than the sweet ones if you don’t want to fill yourself with carb and sugar or want to have a lunch top in between shopping.

Prices start from a fiver and as it’s Crepeaffaire Newcastle’s 1st Birthday week the store will be randomly handing out 10 free crepe vouchers a day to purchasing customers. On 23rd November 2017, all customers purchasing a crepe after 5pm will receive a glass of Prosecco on the house!

Find out more at

*we received complimentary food and drink in return for an honest review

Partners in Wine do Karaoke at Cosy Joes

‘I love karaoke and totally hog the mic when I go out and do it with my friends’ – Charli XCX

Being an army brat and travelling around a lot when I was younger means it’s never been particularly difficult for me to make friends and I’m lucky that I’ve picked up friends and kept them from every job I’ve had in my adult life. There’s something intrinsically special though, when you get together with your school friends. They’re the one’s who’ve known you the longest, who talked you out of bright red parachute pants and were the first on the phone when you got dumped by your high school boyfriend over MSN messenger group chat.


Me and my 3 best friends from school Ang, Janine and Steph don’t see each other nearly as often as we’d like but when we d get together, I think we laugh consistently from start to finish. We were looking for something a little bit different for our most recent catch up and since every time we go on road trips together we end up belting out hits of the 80s in the car. Karaoke seemed the obvious solution!

Other than in a few chinese restauarnts in China Town the place to do karaoke in Newcastle is Cosy Joes slap bang in the middle of the bigg market. Despite what I like to think, Beyonce I ain’t so although you can do old fashioned karaoke in front of a baying crowd of drunk geordies, the safe option (for me and everyone else’s ears) is their private party pods which can be booked from between 4 to 20 people and they are. so. much. fun!

At a weekend it costs you £5 each for your first hour and £2.50 for each subsequent hour; we went for two hours as one didn’t feel like enough to really get warmed up and it was the perfect amount of time. The pods are dimly lit so have a really cool nightclub type vibe which really adds to the night out feel you’re looking for when you’re out with your mates. They have large plasma screens where the words are displayed, a small unit mounted on the wall where you pick your songs, large sofa to relax on while your mates are taking centre stage and two microphones (i’m sure the larger pods probably have more). There’s also a call button on the wall to press and a member of staff will come to your pod to take your drinks order  – that’s service!

The computer you pick your songs from is really easy to use; you can search my artist or song title, or alternatively everything is listed alphabetically if you just want to scroll through and see what takes your fancy. You can play songs immediately or add them to a playlist so can line them up and create your very own setlist. You’ll also be hard pushed to want to sing a song that’s not available, in our two hour wailfest we sang everything from Bowling for Soup, Backstreet Boys and Alanis Morissette to Pantera and Megadeth.

If you were looking to push the boat out a little ore they offer different pre paid packages included drinks, mixers and food if there’s a big gang of you. We absolutely loved our night at Cosy Joes and will definitely be going back to get a fix before Christmas. It’s the perfect way to hang out and be silly with your mates will singing all your favourite songs from your angsty teen years or would be the ideal venue for your work Christmas party!


Groat Market, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 1UQ


Charge! At the Discovery Museum

‘A museum should not just be a place for fancy paintings but should be a place where we can communicate our lives through our everyday objects’ – Orhan Pamuk

If you’d have asked me what my ideal way of spending a Saturday afternoon I’d be talking for a very long time before the word ‘museum’ ever passed my lips. However that’s exactly where I found myself last Saturday as I went along to the first day of the Discovery Museum’s newest permanent exhibition ‘Charge!’*

Of course it’s not probably something I would have ordinarily gone to had it not been the fact that dad works there and had a hand it putting the whole thing together. As such we were treated to a personal tour from the man himself, and whilst I may scoff at how middleclass I’ve sudden become, and I definitely did stress too much over what one wears to a museum on a Saturday afternoon, I ended up having a brilliant time (and I’m not just saying that because my dad will be reading this – I promise!)

I grew up in an Army family, living in Holland and Belgium for the majority of my childhood so I have always been a fan of anything Army related. Charge! Is the Story of England’s Northern Cavalry bringing together collections of The Light Dragoons and the Northumberland Hussars since becoming the Command & Support squadron of the Queen’s Own Yeomanry. Both regiments, which are formally affiliated to each other, are the only cavalry divisions today which exclusively recruit from the North of England.

Rather than following a traditional chronological format the exhibition is laid out in categories instead, which I find much easier to follow as you can see side by side the contrast between traditional and modern incarnations of the regiments. Despite the exhibition room being relatively small, there’s loads to see and read about. I also love how interactive it is (so definitely somewhere you can keep the kids interested for an hour or two). A real highlight for me where genuine copies of letters that had been sent home to family members from World War II (which were also available to listen to audibly).

There’s replicas of some of the regiments uniform to dress up in which displays perfectly the evolution of military fashion (if fashion is the right word!) and examples of different ration packs and that are taken into the field – something which brings back memories for Dave who took many a ration pack with him on his bike trip round the word in 2009 courtesy of the British Army – the fruit biscuits are amazing apparently!

The balance between interest for young and old is just perfect in my opinion, there are games for the children to play throughout, explaining about different animals who were kicking about during that time – the story of Peter the cat is my particular favourite. And ever wondered what a soldier smells like after 2 months in the field? Wonder no more as there are smelling pods which have recreated different scents of battle. Believe me when I say it’s not for the faint hearted – and I’ve smelt the inside of a cricketers dirty kit bag!

If you’re not particularly pushed for time, half an hour in the cinema room would be time well spent which has multiple short films on display featuring real soldiers and their families talking about their experiences – good and bad. Some of the films are difficult to watch but extremely well put together and really brings home what soldiers go through.


Much as my dad’s my biggest fan, likewise, I’m his and it’s lovely to see him able to work on something he’s so passionate about (he himself was a member of The Queen Own Yeomary before he retired a few years ago) and the team at the Discovery Museum have put on an excellent display.

* Don’t worry, we went to the pub afterwards!

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