Byker

Travelling to Byker is a surprisingly pleasant journey if you’re coming from the centre of town as your travel past Ouseburn and over the Byker Viaduct which offers really pretty views of the Tyne and bridges.

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As you arrive at the station and exit through the main doors turn left towards Shields Road and you’ll see the pub that’s geographically the closest pub to the station which is The Raby.

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For reasons unknown to me, as we didn’t go in, but various people warned us off going there, so we turn left onto Shields Road and walked 5 minutes to The High Main, which is a rather large, bright and airy Wetherspoons pub.

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It’s a long thin pub with the bar on the right and, well if you’ve been in one Wetherspoons you’ve been in the all so you know the drill. They had a lot of ales on offer when we visited; not just your standard offering of Shipyard or Blonde Star that you often find in the North East, Dave had a pint of the Mosaic which was recommended by a woman at the bar and thought it was the best pint he’d had in a while. Me and Ruth were starting of gently with a half of cider which cost a mere pound – and there’s not much you can get for a pound these days!

Love them or hate them you can’t deny that Wetherspoons have a good knack of picking interesting buildings for their pubs and The High Main is no exception. It’s a very spacious with high ceilings and loads of natural light and the arches over the bar – apparently the building used to be an old Woolworths store so guessing the steel arches were once a warehouse or stockroom type affair.

The massive floor to ceiling windows were welcome when we visited as it was a glorious sunny Saturday, I only wish I’d noticed the beer garden at the back sooner – you have to make the post of any outside space in the North East whenever you can!

There are a couple of other pubs in the vicinity of Byker metro as well at The Raby; The Heaton Hotel and The Butchers are also along Shields Road should you fancy your own little Byker pub crawl however can’t comment on their facilities or indeed suitability!

Contact:

Address: 63 Shields Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE6 1DL

Phone: 0191 228 4900

Website: https://www.jdwetherspoon.com/pubs/all-pubs/england/tyne-and-wear/the-high-main-newcastle-upon-tyne

You can see where else we’ve been on our metro adventure here

 

Is it possible to drink yourself sober?

‘Don’t you know there ain’t no devil, it’s just god when he’s drunk’ – Tom Waits

It’s no secret that I enjoy a glass bottle of wine or two on a weekend so I believe I’m able to speak with some authority when it comes to being drunk. I’m afraid to say as well that I’m probably one of those annoying drunks who speaks too loud, has an opinion on everything, exposes everyone’s secrets then ends the night crying.

20160227_165357Who doesn’t love being in the pub at 2pm?!

My absolute favourite type of drinking is daytime drinking. Having a glass of wine with lunch in a pub on a Saturday (or Sunday if you’re not at work the next day) afternoon is the stuff dreams are made of. Of course that glass of wine with lunch inevitably leads to a few post drinks and before you know it it’s 5pm and you’re eyeballs deep in a session! So in my vast experience in all different types of drinking, it occurred to last Christmas day when we were cracking over the 6th bottle of wine (there were 10 of us!) is it actually possible to drink yourself sober?

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First, in true L’Oreal style, here comes the science bit so concentrate…It takes your liver approximately 1 hour to metabolise 1 unit of alcohol so technically if you drink less than 1 unit an hour you’ll never really be drunk (and where’s the fun in that?) so if you drank 5 pints it would take you 15 hours to fully sober up. In short, no, it is not medically possible to drink yourself sober.

We/I turn to alcohol for almost everything, if I’m celebrating, commiserating, bored, tired, can’t sleep, hungry, the list goes on. And we have quite a unique drinking culture in the UK as well, daytime and binge drinking are perfectly acceptable ways of passing the time (I’m not saying it’s a productive way to spend your time; it’s just acceptable). Every time I see my American friend Meagan and we open a bottle of wine she’ll inevitably end up saying something like ‘you’re so tiny but you can drink so much!’

I am of the belief that the longer period of time you’re drinking over, the more you pace yourself therefore the less drunk you feel. For me, it’s the Christmas day effect. We start drinking (albeit very slowly with a bucks fizz at about 11am) and continue through until perhaps midnight/1am. But because you don’t have as much of a time limit as you do when you’re just out for the evening, there’s no real rush and you’re just nicely keeping the alcohol levels steadily topped up thus giving your liver chance to metabolise it a bit better. As such I usually crawl into bed on Christmas night full of turkey and bubbles and bash out a solid 11 hour sleep.

Enjoying the all inclusive lifestyle back in January

We’ve also been on a few all inclusive holidays over the last few years and whilst we’ll no doubt have put away an obscene amount of units each day, I very rarely have hangovers on holiday because it’s nicely paced out throughout the day and when you can have whatever you want whenever you want, there isn’t the rush to get absolutely piss eyed. As with Christmas, you learn very quickly what’s appropriate to drunk when for example, bucks fizz, mimosa or bloody mary; very much a breakfast drink, after 1pm pretty much anything goes then you have your whiskeys and your baileys for the strasse.

This is all very tongue in cheek and I’m of course not trying to advocate excessively unhealthy lifetsyles. I try my best wherever possible to stay fit and healthy by going to the gym regularly, eating sensibly and almost never drink 5 days out of the week unless it’s a really special occasion. I just find it interesting that after I’ve been drinking slowly throughout the day have zero hangover the next morning whereas a few too many glasses on a Friday night because I’ve had a busy week at work and the Beer Monkey* has absolutely paid a visit and opened up the gates of hangover hell.

*Beer Monkey – n. Mythical Simian like creature that magically appears during the middle of the night to ruffle your hair, crap in your mouth and steal your money while you sleep. Often visits after you’ve been out on a heavy Friday or Saturday night and is known to favour between 3-4am whilst you’re totally wankered.

Central Station

Central Station is one of the more unique station on our guide and by that I mean that it is a perfect example of what the guide stands for, it has a pub practically inside the metro station. The station has entrances both inside and outside the station so it’s easily accessible to people transferring from National Rail services or people who are using the metro to get to where they need to be. Interestingly it’s the least busy of the city centre stations but is the third busiest of the network overall.

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Ok so Centurian isn’t inside the metro station, but it is inside the train station, which the metro station is also inside of, make sense? To access the pub you can either turn left and exit via Neville Street and the exterior door will be immediately on the right, or continue up the second set of escalators  into the train station and the interior entrance will be immediately on the left (a handy option if it’s raining or you need to use a cash machine!)

The building is absolutely stunning. It was built in 1893 when it was used as the first class lounge for the train station. It’s tiles are estimated to be worth a cool £3mil and is the only Grade 1 listed building on the tour so far.

You’ll see the bar either on the left or the right depending on which entrance you use and it’s a chameleon kind of pub that has varying degrees of business depending on what’s going on. At 10pm on a Friday nights it’s a swanky ‘night out’ bar with blaring pop music and bouncers on the door. On a match day Saturday afternoon the giant projector screen comes down and you’re shoulder to shoulder with the black & white army. Call in on a Thursday evening and it’s a calm, low key, dimly lit snug of a place which is perfect for catching up with friends, or a cheeky one while you wait for your train. They also serve food, and their Sunday lunches are pretty good from what I hear, which again is handy if you have a train to catch and some time to kill.

I had it in my mind that they used to have a departures board on one of the screens, which i couldn’t see when we visited on a Saturday night in January. If they’ve done away with that it’s a real shame. Personally when we visited I could have done without the Smash Hits TV on the plasma screens; just playing music would have done, it’s distracting when you’re trying to enjoy a glass of wine with Little Mix gyrating in leotards all over the place.

Booze wise it’s your standard fayre and they didn’t have anything that blew our socks off, wine was fine, beer was fine, selections of ales, whiskey and gin were all fine. But it’s only fine, not outstanding. A round of a pint and a glass of grape juice was about £8.

I just think it tries to be all things to all people and it’s pot luck as to whether it will be the type of bar you prefer when you happen to visit. With The Head of Steam and Union Rooms across the road and the Split Chimp micro brewery round the corner to the right, they have a lot of competition.

You can see some of the other pubs we’ve visited on our adventure here

Jesmond

Jesmond station as we know it now has, believe it or not, been knocking around since 1864 as part of the Blyth and Tyne railway which rain from New Bridge Street in Newcastle to to Blyth in Northumberland. That ceased operation in 1978 but the station remained and two years later was used by the newly created Tyne & Wear Metro system.

Come out of the stations main doors and down the stairs through the underpass on the left and the first pub you come to will be The Carriage. This has been the 10th pub we’ve visited on our tour and (so far) has been my favourite. Since Jesmond station was once such an integral part of North Eastern railway history, what better way to utilise the old station house by turning it into a pub?

We visited at tea time on a Saturday night in January where it was on a the quiet side however the many ales on offer, the large glass of wine for the price of a small and the roaring open fire was more than was needed to make us feel at home. It’s a shame really that we had dinner reservations that nigh because i would have happily tucked my feet under myself and settled down for the night, and with Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and New Order pumping gently through the sound systems, well all the needed to do was serve some marmite and cheese toasties and i’d have moved in there and then!

Walk in the main doors and the bar is directly in front of you with different rooms offshooting in either direction. It’s extremely old fashioned in it’s decor (or ‘vintage’ as i would call it’) and some of the tables and the upholstery on some of the chains could do with an upgrade, however it’s not messy or dirty and I’m sure there’s next hipster pubs less than a mile away that pay a fortune for that kind of nouveau traditional vibe. Some of the old station paraphernalia like the original ticket booth are quirky touches that gives it even more atmosphere.

While there were bandits and TVs present (grumble, grumble) the bandit wasn’t in the main bar, it was in a corridor on the way to the loo, and the TV was switched off so I was a happy bunny. Useful to know though that they quite possibly do have sport on show on a weekend.

Drinks wise they have loads of local ales on offer, as well as your standard wines of all three colours (prosecco was absent from what I could see but it’s not really that sort of pub), a generous whiskey collection and (randomly) offers on Jaeger Bombs, so quite literally, something to cater for all tastes.

It’s easy to walk past this place, which lets me honest isn’t much to look at from the outside and head for the more all singing, all dancing, polished, sparkly As You Like it further down the road, but since they tried to pass off 5.5% wine as the ‘house white’ I’ve gone right off them. The Carriage is the perfect session pub and if marmite and cheese toasties suddenly appear on their menu you have me to thank!

Find out more about our pub adventures here

 

 

Haymarket

Haymarket is probably one of my favourite metro stations although I’m not entirely sure why. Possibly because it’s the first one of the Newcastle stations so once you reach here, you know you’ve arrived in our gorgeous city. It’s probably more because it’s right next to Primark though to be perfectly honest!

In 2006 it underwent a drastic refurbishment which saw the introduction of some retail units and an all you can eat buffet upstairs (however that didn’t last long and soon closed down). It was one of the original stations when the network was opened in 1980 and now sees an average of over 6 million people a year pass trough it.

Geographically the closest pub out side the doors at the top of the escalators is the Junction however it’s somewhere I’ve boycotted ever since my friend was told she couldn’t breastfeed in there unless we ordered food so crossed over the other side of the road to the far far superior Hotspur.

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With the centre of Newcastle awash with trendy new bars popping up all over the place and The Gate Complex just down the road it’s nice that some old school traditional pubs are still knocking around.

It’s very much a drinking bar, with a smattering of tables around the edges however does serve toasties and burgers etc if you’re peckish. It has a really wide selection of cask ales (Wylam Collingwood, Wylam Galaxia, Billy Mill 3 Kings Ale and even their own Hotspur Bitter) but they’ve also joined the 21st century and you’re able to grab a glass of Prosecco or some fancy gin should that be your tipple.

It’s proximity to St James’ park means there’s always sky sports on the TVs positions in the corner of the room in the main bar and widescreen plasmas in the back they’re not too overbearing and creates a lively atmosphere, especially on the rare occasion that Newcastle win a game! There’s enough areas away from the screens where you can sit peacefully and enjoy a drink and some conversation if you’re not interested in the sport.

It’s so named as it’s located on Percy Street and  Hotspur was the nickname of Sir Henry Percy the eldest son of the 1st Earl of Northumberland (there’s nothing you can’t learn from wikipedia!). So it’s steeped in local history and even have USB phone chargers behind some of the booths, so even the Earl could charge his ye olde iphone.

All the city centre stations have a lot of competition, The local Wetherspoons (The Five Swans) which is opposite the Civic Centre on St Mary’s Place is worth a visit, it’s always comfortably busy, with lots of different seating areas and standard Wetherspoon prices and The Three Bulls and The Goose are also quite canny if you fancied a mini Percy Street pub crawl!

Find out more about the pubs we’ve visited on our adventure here

Northumberland Park

Northumberland Park Station has only been knocking around for the last 10 years or so, so in Metro terms is relatively new. It was built to service the ever growing Northumberland Park housing estate and was the first new station to be built after the Sunderland expansion in 2002. It’s a popular commuter station offering good links into Newcastle on the yellow line with a massive car park to boot.

Come out of the station and turn left down Algernon Drive. Once you reach the end of the street you’ll see The Pavilion pub across the other side of the busy dual carriageway. The Sir John Fitzgerald pub chain seem to have the market sewn up when it comes to pubs near metro stations as the own the Pavilion, along with the Twin Farms at Bank Foot and the New Bridge at Manors.

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I dragged Ang along on this visit as she lives round that way and we were long overdue a catch up and her arm usually takes minimal twisting to get into a pub. We went on a Sunday afternoon and I was nervous it would be heaving with families tucking into their Sunday dinner. While it was busy it wasn’t overwhelmingly so and we found a nice high table to tuck into our bottle of Pinot Grigio (£15). They also have a wide variety of cask ales and Peroni on tap, which is a refreshing change from constantly seeing Carling and Stella.

The decor is modern yet comfortable with a good range of ordinary tables, high bar tables and low sofa style seats. There’s a fully stocked square bar in the centre of the room which you can also sit around if you just wanted some casual drinks, and the bar staff are extremely friendly. In fact my stomach thought my throat had been cut as I waited ages for my drink while Ang chatted to the barmaid about their favourite rums.

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The only downside of the Pavilion I would say is it’s very much a food pub erring on the side of being a full on restaurant and as such doesn’t feel like it’s all that well equipped as a session pub. Perhaps it’s different mid week or on a Friday night, but for me there’s just a tad too much open space and not enough nooks and crannies to feel like somewhere you;d go to while the hours away with your mates, no one likes a group of giggling wine soaked lasses while they’re trying to enjoy their burger board!

Find out more about the pubs we’ve visited on our adventure here.

 

 

Monument

Once you’re in the centre of town you’d think that there’d be a smorgasbord or decent pubs to visit right? Sadly not if we’re wanting to hop of at Monument; I mean, there are plenty of pubs around, i’m just not entirely convinced any of them are all that decent. Monument Mtero is the most central metro station in Newcastle right next to Greys monument and it’s slim pickings!

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There are two options within eyesight of the two different entrances to the station and they’re both at the complete opposite end of the spectrum.  Use the Blackett Street exit and you’ll be right next door to the Botanist, which is located above Jamie’s Italian and is built in what used to be the food court of Monument Mall. The interior is spectacular with the fairy light adorned dome, seating for food around the edge and the bar area in the middle meaning there’s always a lively atmosphere. It also has beautiful views down Grey street and an outside area with blankets and space heaters for that extra shot of hygge should you want it.

Sadly the fancy fixtures is were it ends. We visited at around 7pm on a Saturday night and it was shoulder to shoulder busy. They bar is way too small and understaffed to cope with the size of the room and as such it takes an absolute lifetime to get served, when you do get served the drinks are severely over priced and the staff are cold and unfriendly. Unless you’re a gaggle of 21 year girls in tiny dresses you don’t seem get a look it. It’s far to loud, bright and manic for my liking and as such we left before we were even served.

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Come out of the station’s Grey Street exit and look to the right and you’ll see The Charles Grey. As a complete contradiction to the Botanist this place seems to have been there since the beginning of time and it shows. It’s dark and dingy yet a little too over priced to be classed as a dive bar. Granted we got served the second we walked in, despite it being a bust Saturday night, they do have real ale on tap and we just generally felt more comfortable in there. Price wise though we paid almost £7 for a pint and a diet coke!

I have a feeling that both places would be better during the day for spot of lunch and a drink or two whilst doing a bit of shopping and both offer great views to sit and watch the world go by. I just think with the fantastic No28 and the Gate Complex right around the corner; location, location, location is the only thing that makes them desirable in any way.

Contact:

The Botanist, Unit 12-13 13 Monument Mall, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7AL, England
Tel: 0191 261 6307
The Charles Grey, 118 Grey Street, Newcastle upon Tyne
Tel: 191 261 5587
Twitter: @TheCharlesGrey
Find out about more of the pubs we’ve visited on our journey here