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

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:



Bottomless Prosecco at Newcastle’s No28

‘It is the hour to be drunken! To escape being the martyred slaves of time, be ceaselessly drunk’ – Charles Baudelaire

My hubby and I have a short history with bottomless drink offers. When we were in Vegas in 2009 we took advantage of the bottomless martinis from 4pm-8pm in the bar in our hotel thinking we would pre load before going to dinner. Needless to say I almost got into a physical fight with a 40 year old with a face like  a 70 year old who tried to pinch my bar stool and had a serious and vocal rant about Jesse McCartney’s blatant wish to become Justin Timberlake before both passing out in out beds and waking up the next morning having lost a night of out holiday. Good times!


Having learnt a valuable lesson that day (namely that drinking hard spirits at 4 in the afternoon will get me thoroughly kippered) and being  ever so slightly more sensible these days, we were pretty excited when we found out one of our favourite bars in Newcastle, No28 had introduced the concept of bottomless prosecco on a Saturday afternoon. Quaffing prosecco in Newcastle is way classier than getting piss-eyed in Vegas anyway. Besides, Dave had just done his latest running triumph and completed a 100K race the weekend previous, our super clever nephew graduated from Leeds University with a First and I, well I was just pleased to approaching my 34th birthday without having severely injured myself or anyone around me. We were celebrating!


The deal is 2 tapas dishes each, from a wide selection on offer and free flowing, unlimited prosecco, served every Saturday between 12-5pm. Reservations are essential so we made sure we arrived bang on time at 1pm. On arrival we were shown straight to our table and offered our first glass.

So here’s the scoop. The deal is available 12-5pm and you have 2 hours o enjoy your bottomless drinks. Due to Newcastle City Council licensing laws I must point out that management reserve the right to refuse or withdraw service to anyone they deem too intoxicated, so basically 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.

After your first glass you’re given the rest of the bottle to finish off, which is nice, as in my experience the first glass doesn’t even touch the sides, so asking for a top up after approximately 5 minutes would just be awkward for everyone. Choosing off the food menu was difficult, it all sounded amazing. You hear tapas and you automatically think patatas bravas, however the menu at No28 has an Asian persuasion to it meaning it all sounded like nothing I’ve tasted before, and I wanted it all. On the recommendation of Iain, the general manager Dave went for the roast pork dumplings and the risotto arracini (kind of like deep fried cheesy risotto balls) and I had the chicken won tons and chilli beef nachos.



The food was nothing short of exceptional. The spanish/thai fushion makes for a refreshing change when they could easily offer chunky chips and onion rings like everywhere else. The tapas style really fits with the cool quirky ambiance of the bar; real social sharing food that makes you want to drink more and talk louder. The roast pork dumplings were a particular Newman favourite, not gloopy or oil and jam packed with meat and flavour. Everything had the right amount of spice in too; spicy enough to taste and not too spicy that it’s over powering. Portion wise, it was just the right amount for an afternoon snack, the last thing you want is to be too full to fit in any more Prosecco.

I’m often wary about drinks offers like these as it sometimes smacks of somewhere that’s gotten hold of a load of ropy booze and are selling it off on the cheap but the Prosecco was really good quality, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s not the same quality that’s offered to all. Staff were friendly and attentive and after out first bottle kept us topped up whenever we needed it, although they say to go to the bar when you want some more, we never needed to as there always seemed to be someone walking around waiting to refresh you.


Of course deals like this always depend on how much you drink, If you’re a one glass wonder then it’s probably not the offer for you, however for a seasoned prosecco drinker like me, I certainly felt like we got our £20 worth, the food itself would have come to £16 had we ordered separately. As fair as I’m concerned it’s the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon with your other half or as a respite from an afternoon shopping with the girls. I’ve always loved No28 as it offers a classier more cosmopolitan feel than the many swanky hipster bars and Wetherspoons that Newcastle has to offer and now they have bottomless prosecco?! Well, that’s a sure fire way to win my heart for life.

Bottomless prosecco is available by reservation only. Call 0191 447 5590 to book

This has been a collaborative post but all views are my own. 


The Split Chimp gets a makeover

‘A pub can be a magical place’ – Rhys Ifans

A few months ago on a snowy February Saturday afternoon I dragged (well i say dragged, there was actually very little persuasion involved) my friends to the Split Chimp micro pub in Newcastle so we could could sample the £15 bottles of prosecco and perhaps I would get a blog post out of it too. Little did I know that that afternoon and that blog post would turn out to be one of the better ideas I’ve had in my life (certainly better than the idea I had once to so somersaults on a trampoline after a night of drinking neat Bacardi – that didn’t end so well).

Not only was that afternoon one of my favourite afternoons I’ve spent with my friends in recent memory but it was also the afternoon I discovered what was to be become my favourite pub in Newcastle.

Dave and I have been been quite a few times since and it was on our last visit that we got talking to the owner Mark, who told us he was moving premises, to the other side of the railway arches next door to the Herb Garden. It was great that business was doing well (so well I fact that he sold out of prosecco the weekend before thanks to my last post) but I was a little worried. The thing I loved so much about the original Chimp was that it was tiny, and that you could be in there with only a smattering of other people and you would inevitably start chatting to them because the likelihood was you’d end up sharing a table with them. I was worried that a larger Chimp would lose all it’s charm. And no one likes a charmless Chimp.


The Old Chimp

Luckily, we got the chance to find out for ourselves what the deal was with the new gaff as Mark invited us along to the launch night where all my fears were put well and truly to rest. If possible the new Chimp is even better than the old. Split Chimp 2.0 if you will.

Firstly, although the new premises if bigger, it’s still small enough to be defined as micro and the extra bit of space has definitely been put to good use. There’s a larger bar area which means more real ale pumps, which of course means more choice. They’ve even got their own signature ale (Clever Chimp) which, taste wise, stacks up against any of the other guest ales they have n offer as well as some cider choices – always good to see a bit of variation!

All the character ad charm form the old place is still there, the cute monkey paraphernalia dotted around, board games you just pick up and have a go at if you fancy, nice large comfy sofas and mismatched furniture that makes you feel like you’re just hanging out at your mates place. New additions include a kitchen to be able to produce food and more room for live acoustic music at weekends. The skittle alley upstairs is also a welcome addition, which can be booked in advance if you’re interested. I’m always a fan of anything that gets people interacting rather than sitting in a large soulless room ignoring each other.

The new large glass front lets a ton of natural light in – perfect from when summer eventually arrives in the North East (I believe last year it was on a Sunday) and the mezzanine floor means the atmosphere and music from downstairs filters up so you’re not completely cut off, even if you do want somewhere a bit quieter to sit.

I could of course go on and on about how much I love this place, but you’re probably just better visiting for yourself because, like New York City, there’s just a vibe about it that I can’t quite describe. The kind of place that if it was on your doorstep you’d be there every night after work for a quick pint and a chat, it’s just really, really cool.

Now that the Chimp’s on the other side of the bridge I’m hoping that means it’ll get more footfall and that they continue to do well because with more and more flash in the pan chain restaurants popping up in town (particularly up near The Gate) I have a feeling the Chimp is going to be the Newman’s waterhole of choice for a long time to come. Even if we have to keep them in business ourselves!

Of course the most important thing of this whole move is that the bottles of Prosecco are still only £15 #SplitChimpforthewin

Contact details:

The Split Chimp
Arch 7, Westgate Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1SA

Twitter: @SplitChimp


A Hen Do Fit for a Princess…

‘Nowadays, you can text 24 hours a day and be in constant contact, but every once in a while, it’s nice to just get out with your girlfriends and have fun’ – Amanda Schull

If you seach ‘Hen Party’ on wikipedia it says

‘A bachelorette party, hen(s) party, hen(s) night or hen(s) do, is a party held for a woman who is about to get married and despite its reputation as “a sodden farewell to bachelor days” or “an evening of debauchery,” a bachelorette’s party is simply a party, given in honor of the bride-to-be, in the style that is common to that social circle’

It wasn’t until one of my very best friends Steph asked me and Aileen to organise her hen do that I realised how much ruddy hard work Angela must have had to put in organising my own 3 years ago. I do, however organise other people’s lives for a living so Aileen and I were up for the challenge of giving Princess Steph a hen do she’d really enjoy.

The Location

At first we were looking for a city break, we’re lucky that we live in one of the greatest party cities in the UK so were quite happy to see what other cities had to offer. We were pretty set on Leeds as it’s not too far away from us and handy for anyone coming up from the south but Steph works there quite regularly and was quite frankly sick of the site of the place so that was vetoed. So we then dithered over Liverpool for a few days before finally settling on Windermere in the Lake District and I was lucky enough to find the absolutely beautiful Boston House which is part of the Terrace complex.


Location wise the house couldn’t have been better; easy to find (providing you don’t have the inability to read a sat nav like me) and so close to the train station I’m sure I was awoken one morning to an announcement that the 7:05 to Manchester was delayed – although that could have been a weird prosecco dream! It was very handy for people coming from different ends of the country and there was plenty of allocated parking spaces for the drivers.

The  house itself was perfect for what we needed; it had 7 bedrooms, some with twin beds, some with doubles but all with their own en suite bathrooms (thank god – I didn’t fancy having share 1 bathroom with 14 girls trying to get ready for a night out!) and the living areas were huge for us all to congregate in (the kitchen had a designated fridge just for wine – stick a fork in me, I’m done!). Everyone was arriving at random times on the friday so we had ourselves a little 90s themed house party where Bride was transformed into Britney and was joined by a couple of MC Hammer’s a couple of Uma Thurman’s, Clarissa (Explaining it all), overlooked Gladiator ‘Camelhoof’ and the Spice Girls.


One other great feature about Boston House, aside from the designated Prosecco fridge, was the cinema room which we showed a video of Steph’s betrothed playing a game of Mr & Mrs, to much hilarity.

The Actvity

Steph’s pretty outdoorsy so we took advantage of our location and booked into Brockhole Tree Top Trek just 3 miles down the road from Windermere to spend the afternoon swinging through the trees which was great fun!

The high ropes course was expertly lead by hen Steph who looked like a pro up there as we followed along behind here with varying degrees of success but all with good fun. As there were quite a few different sets of friendship groups it was a really great way for us all to get to know each other, and I tell you, having strapped each other into our harnesses, Laura – who I’d only known for 12 hours at this point, now knows parts of my anatomy pretty intimately!

The whole course takes about 3 hours to get round in it’s entirety and is finished at the end by a pretty impressive zip line (a personal fave of mine!)

The Night Out

All that fresh air made some of us sleepy and all of us hungry so we went back to the house for a few disco naps, a few Baileys Coffees (to warm up of course) and to slowly start getting ready for our night out. Now, the town of Windermere isn’t exactly known for it’s rambunctious nightlife however we donned our glad rags non the less and managed to find a fab restaurant called The Lighthouse which did great food and even better cocktails!

Then it was back to the ranch to make further dent into the Prosecco rations and eat even more cheese.

For those of us staying on the Sunday night as well we walked off our hangovers by having a hearty breakfast (at 1.30pm) and going to sit by the lake and drink even more Prosecco (hair of the dog and all that!) then fell asleep watching Shrek. Thankfully our little naps perked us up enough to fit in some margaritas and have another stroll into town for some fish & chips which we decided to eat straight out the contains at the massive banquet table in the dining room – just like they would in Game of Thrones.

I think t’s safe to say everyone went hope having had a laugh and perhaps making new new friends, albeit (certainly in my case) a few pounds heavier!

Booking info:

Accommodation: Cumbrian Cottages
Activity: Brockhole Treetop Trek
Restaurant: The Lighthouse
Brunch: Homeground Coffee & Kitchen

Partners in Wine do The Split Chimp

‘Prosecco: How classy people get shitfaced’ – Unknown

Diamonds, dachshunds and my good self (ahem) are all proof that good things come in small packages.

I’d first clocked Newcastle’s first micro pub, The Split Chimp, when we walked past on the way to the Spoiler Shop Steamer last September and always had it in mind to try. And try I did when Dave and I went for a few pre Bowling for Soup bevvies. It was then I noticed that they do bottles of prosecco for £15. So i thought to myself, who do I know that likes £15 bottles of prosecco?! Partners in Wine assemble!


l-r Ruth, me, Ang, Steph & Mum

It’s not called a micro pub for nothing; it’s pretty teeny inside, but that’s what I love about it. Especially on the cold snowy February afternoon we visited. It sounds like an estate agent cliche to describe somewhere so small as ‘cosy’ and ‘homely’ but that really is true of the Split Chimp which is built into one of the railway arches directly underneath Newcastle Central Station. It’s set over two levels though so is actually twice as big as first meets the eye when you walk in. Most importantly, there’s not a fruit machine or plasma screen in sight.

We arrived at about 2.30pm on a Saturday afternoon and there were only a few people in at that time so we took advantage of the benches and beer barrel tables at the front of the pub by the window, after all it’s a known trick that restaurants always but their best looking people in the window to draw more people in, and what real ale pub doesn’t want a gaggle of giggling lasses drinking prosecco in the window?! Surely we’re they’re perfect demographic!


Panoramic view of the whole downstairs – with Ang & Steph of course acting perfectly natural

It wouldn’t be a complete review without highlighting what else they have on offer, and of course their big selling point is super trendy hipster drink du jour; real ale, usually 4 cask ales ( at around £3.40 a pint) which rotate every fortnight or so. I happen to know from some mild twitter stalking that owner and ex paramedic Mark travels the world (most recently Lanzarote) looking for new ales to bring to the beer swilling connoisseurs of the North East. They also do wine by the pouch (£3.50 for 250ml) a variety of bottled lagers and beers and some really tasty bar snacks (the peanut butter pretzels are one of the nicest things I’ve ever put in my mouth).


If all that on offer wasn’t enough they also have a (very) small pavement licence so if it ever stops raining for 5 minutes or the temperature rises above 5 degrees, you can enjoy your drinks outside. Special mention has to go to the music being played; we heard Squeeze, Level 42, The Police, The La’s and The Cure over the 5 hours (don’t judge – we sipped our 5 bottles of prosecco and large glasses of wine very responsibly) we were there, which, if anyone knows my musical history, could have been right off my own ipod. In fact if they’d played some Backstreet Boys I’d have moved in.

I’ve always wanted a favourite pub that wasn’t a Wetherspoons and I think the Split Chimp has definitely 100% taken the place of the Five Swans. Their prosecco is only £2 dearer, and if we’ve proved nothing else it’s that you don’t have to be a bearded hipster or flat capped octogenarian to enjoy a real ale pub. Oh and if it looks like you’re there for a session they get more prosecco out the back to chill for you – that’s service!

Contact Details:

The Split Chimp
Arch 11, Forth Street
Newcastle Upon Tyne
Twitter: @SplitChimp
You can find out a little more about the PiW Gang here


Saturday at the Steamer

‘I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day’ – Frank Sinatra

It’s the first weekend in September, the mornings are getting darker and cooler. The only good thing about this time of year is that the dog over the back fence no longer gets let out at 6am to do its morning ablutions then yaps for half an hour to be let back in. So what better to do on an autumnal Saturday than hang out at the Boilershop Steamer with the rest of Newcastle’s hipsters and get drunk.


I heard a lot about the Steamer through Steph who’s been a few times, but I’d never really thought about it, the mix of my ever so slightly acrophobia husband and poorly reproduced street food (I went to a food festival in Bents Park in South Shields recently when the normally excellent Zapatista had a stand and the food was dreadful) doesn’t fill me with much confidence. I’ve often viewed these things the same way I’ve viewed music festivals, everyone else always looks like they’re having a great time but I’m always in the way, or too hot, or can’t see anything, or getting covered in someone else’s urine (ok, I’ll admit I would have been very shocked had that happened at the steamer, but you never know!). But I’m always up for trying new things and in the same way they say you’re never more than 6ft away from a rat in London, I try and never be more than 6ft away from some gin. Off me and my motley crew went.

We decided to go on the Saturday, got thee early as its free before 2pm (shout out to the cheapskates, woop!) and it was already starting to fill up. It was smaller than I imagined. People I know who’ve been before have said that it’s absolutely massive. The Boilershop it’s self though is impressive (the birthplace of Robert Stephenson’s Rocket – fact fans!) and an excellent use of space. We had a brief walk around to see what was there then settled on some drinks (doing nothing to banish any gender stereotypes we went for Real Ale for the boys and Prosecco for the girls). Prices for drinks weren’t outrageous (£3.50 for a pint of ale and £20 for a bottle of Proescco) and you got (albeit plastic) champagne flutes for the fizz, which is always nicer to drink out of than a crappy plastic half pint glass. There are very few places to sit so if you want a seat you need to get there really early and I’d advise if you do get a seat, don’t leave it!

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We stood around people watching for a while, it really was hipster heaven so i’m glad i was wearing my new checked shirt to blend in with the crowd. A game of ‘spot the longest beard’ is always fun after a few glasses of bubbly. It’s worth pointing out though that it’s really family friendly. Whilst there isn’t much in the way of entertainment for kids, there were lots of families there and they seemed to be made to feel very welcome, just watch where you put you feet as there might be a little person below your eyeline right behind you!

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When it came time to have something to eat there certainly was plenty of choice. Some went for pizza, some went for pulled pork burgers, some went for chilli and all of it looked very fresh and decent sized portions. I myself went for some sweet potato fries with sesame mayonnaise which was really tasty, although I wasn’t all that pleased to see them use frozen sweet potato out of a packet, especially for the £4 pricetag. The paying system was something else that bothered me. For drinks you could just pay cash but for food you had to buy tokens which were £2 each. To me it just seemed an excuse to charge more money. For example at the falafel stand where I got my fries, a lamb burger was 4 tokens. £8 seems a lot of money to pay for what it was. Dave’s mexican pulled pork filled taco bowl was 3 tokens and most of the taco bowl was burnt. Value for money, this place isn’t.

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I really love the idea of the steamer. I think it’s a great use of space there and there’s a great laid back atmosphere. I like that there’s something for everyone, you don’t all have to order off the same menu or drink the same drinks so it caters for all tastes. It’s something different from just sitting in a Wetherspoons all afternoon. However if you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful afternoon out with your friends then this probably isn’t the place for you. The food is over priced and there wasn’t half the vendors there that were advertised on their website; Longhorns, Papa Ganoush, Fat Hippo and Fat Friars were all advertised as being in attendance but weren’t there (I personally was looking forward to visiting the ‘Hip Hop Chip Shop just for the photo op alone!) so that was disappointing. For me they could also do away with the token system, as it serves no purpose other than an excuse to charge more than if they were accepting cash. Later on in the day they had some live bands on,which is a great idea, and provides a great opportunity to listen to some local bands however with the building because the size it is, they’re were just way too loud and you couldn’t really hold a conversation. Saying that there is lots of outside space as well if you wanted somewhere a little quieter. We left after the first band as we wouldn’t hear a word anyone was saying.


The steamer is on the first weekend of every month with special events on for bank holidays

The Boiler Shop
Sussex Street
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear

General Enquiries:
Food Trader Enquiries:
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Twitter: @steamerevent
Intsagram @steamerevent
Facebook The Boiler Shop Steamer