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.

Contact:

No28, 27-29 Nelson St, Newcastle City Centre, NE1 5AN
Tel: 0191 447 5590
Facebook: www.facebook.com/no28ncl/

 

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!

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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.

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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 www.crepeaffaire.com

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

Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm

Cornwall is famous for 3 things; pastys, cream teas and cider. My waistline was already full to bursting with the first two so on the last day of our recent Cornish staycastion we found ourselves with a free day so headed to Healeys Cornish Cyder Farm to see if we could get wasted on fermented apples.

I became most aware of the Healeys and and their apple crushing ways when I was given some Rattler on a hen do back in June, which sounds like some underground slang for something illegal however, is merely just cloudy cider, and isn’t too bad at all!

The cider farm itself has varying tour options depending on how much you want to spend or how much you want to see. You can get a fall guided tour around the orchard and the production room on a tractor for about £15, you do a self guided tour for £4 or you can just have a wander round yourself for free (without seeing the orchard or production room). An educated guess lead us to believe cider production was probably nothing more than apples go in, press, press, press, cider comes out, we decided to just walk around ourselves.

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There’s certainly enough to keep you occupied for an hour or so too; there’s a non working example of a cider press to see (turns out our educated guess was pretty accurate by the look of the machinery), a cafe serving traditional Cornish cream teas, a restaurant if you wanted something more fancy to eat and a jam making room – they were making sweet chilli and Rattler jam when we were there and it smelt amazing!

There’s also a little farmyard to keep the kids (old and young) occupied with a couple of Shire Horses, pigs, rabbits, ferrets and some super SUPER cute pygmy goats.

The best part of the visit however has to be the gift shop and tasting area, which is completely free (Well, the gift shop isn’t free, you can’t just help yourself to anything in there) but the tasting is and we’ve done enough alcohol tours and tastings in the past to know this is one of the letter ones. It’s very rare that organisations will give away much for free so it’s refreshing to see initiatives being employed to create positive reviews and good word of mouth at very little cost to the company. In short, you very rarely get something for nothing.

The staff dishing out the tastings were all knowledgeable and great fun as they talked you through all the different types of cider they make and how long each one is brewed? Distilled? Matured? (Perhaps I should have gone on that tour afterall) for. You only get a little sample of each but there are quite a few to sample so must have had the equivalent of half a pint by the end.

I’m not entirely sure I would spend £15 for a full ticket, especially if you’re taking the family however the self guided tour at £4.50 wouldn’t break the bank and would certainly keeping the little ones entertained for another hour or so, it’s just a shame they wouldn’t be able to drive you home afterwards!

Contact:

Address: Penhallow – Truro – Cornwall – TR4 9LW – United Kingdom
Website: https://healeyscyder.co.uk/ 
Email: info@healeyscyder.co.uk
Phone: 01872 573356

JustSO release debut album

‘All music is escapism for me, but I like the way that, on a good night, that sense of escapism can be shared’ – Jamie xx

One of the best parts of my job is being able to talk passionately about things I love and discovering new music has always been a great love of mine. Writing this blog has given me many amazing opportunities, and none more amazing than being offered the opportunity to work as press officer for local North East rock band The Longsands after they read a review I wrote of one of their gigs. It helped that I was mates with them at school of course; having an already established relationship made the job so much easier and it was a dream come true for me.

Guitarist from The Longsands Stan had always had a side project in JustSO, a more laid back acoustic offering with vocalist Olivia Morley which he managed concurrently with The Longsands but when the boys decided to call it a day in 2017, Stan moved forward with JustSO and started recording their own material rather than just relying on a popular wedding band repertoire.

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They’ve now just released their first self titled album full of original material and although it couldn’t be more different from The Longsands back catalogue, on just first listen it sounds like a perfect laid back pop album.

The change in direction (for Stan at least) is a refreshing change of pace and his distinctive voice shines through as he shares 50% of the vocals. As soon I heard his guitar kick in I instantly thought ‘there’s Stan’. His voice melts like butter with Olivia’s who although may vocally lack the power of Beyonce or Adele, she certainly more than makes up for it in soul and reminds me of some of my favourite female singers from the 90s like Paula Cole and Jewel.

The album is track after track of polished classy radio friendly hits with a distinct modern americana vibe. Stand out track from me is Stay, which could have been pulled straight off the Dawson’s Creek soundtrack and believe me when I say I hold the Dawson’s Creek soundtrack in very high esteem!

History hasn’t been too kind to male/female bands however I think JustSO manage to pull off the musical credibility of Fleetwood Mac (without being too mumsy) and the energy of The Beautiful South (without being a bit rubbish). I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you heard them on radio 2 in the very near future!

Download the album from amazon and find out more about the band on their Facebook page.

Billy Bootleggers, Newcastle

‘Whiskey will always be a part of my life’ Artie Lange

I’m sure that people who consider themselves to be real pub connoisseurs would want to burn me at the stake when I openly admit how much of a lover of a Wetherspoons I am. Cheap food, cheap wine and real ale, what’s not to love? The problem with Newcastle upon Tyne is that apart from the couple of Wetherspoons they have, and a sprinkling of decent authentic one of a kind pubs(Lady Greys, Split Chimp, Crowne Posada) it’s almost wall to wall swanky champagne bars where it takes an hour to get a cocktail and the only beer on tap is Stella.

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Another favourite pub of mine which is neither a Wetherspoons or a long standing staple of the the city is No28, which I visit frequently and was very honoured to be able to try out their Unlimited Prosecco offer before it was launched last summer. Imagine my joy when I found out that they were expanding and adding a sister underground Speakeasy.

 

Down at Billy Bootleggers, believe me when I say there’s nothing else like this place in Newcastle. A dive bar in the truest sense with its’s dark cubbyhole corners, Americana decor and bourbon whiskey by the jar. The graffiti filled walls when you walk in reminded me on CBGBs in New York (the original dive bar). So far this place is ticking all my boxes, if you pardon the phrase.  The best bar in Newcastle just got even better.

We finally visited at about 10pm on a Friday night and it was nicely busy but not so heaving that you couldn’t get moved. We sought advice from the barmaid as to what to drink as we were just looking for a nightcap before heading home. She recommended their flavoured whiskeys (at 3 for 10) so we went for Raspberry, Cranberry and Banana and they came in really cute little jam jars. Mixers were also available with them if we felt we needed them but they were tasty enough without. The Cranberry was definitely my favourite, I could have drank me a million and a half of those little glass beauties! They also brew their own secret recipe of Apple Pie Moonshine which will be the first thing I’m trying on my next visit.

The band who were playing at the time (who’s name escapes me – I blame the whiskey) were really good, not too loud that they were over bearing and playing a mixture of original material and stripped down covers all with an acoustic rockabilly feel.

The food and drinks menus are totally on brand and there are no bells and whistles. If your sipping whiskey and listening to an Americana version of Billy Jean, do you really want foi gras or hispter kale and kombucha? No, you want hot dogs (from £7) and wings (from £5) and fries (from £3.50) and stuff you can eat with your hands. They have an extensive cocktail menu if bourbon ain’t your thing, along with wine and beer too.

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Much like No28, I have a feeling Billy’s is going to be one of those places that I drag everyone along to for some enforced fun. It’s also probably the only place in the city that makes me wish there was no smoking ban; whiskey and cigars. So bluesy!

Billys is open daily from 5pm to 2am with live music at weekends.

Contact:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/billybootleggers/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BBootleggers

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

 

 

Excalibur Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas

‘Las Vegas is the boiling pot of entertainment’ – Don Rickles

I’m lucky that throughout my travels in my adult life I’ve been able to visit Las Vegas 4 times now so by all accounts you could safely say I’ve ‘done’ Vegas. However when Meagan and I found out the lifelong childhood heroes The Backstreet Boys were doing a residency there, I knew I’d be heading over to the strip indulge in the craziness once again.

In previous trips I’ve stayed at the (now defunct) Sahara and the Stratosphere, both at the north end of the strip, which you usually find is the cheaper end. We almost booked into Circus Circus which always comes up the cheapest of all the big hotels in the strip, however the Trip Advisor reviews were putting me off and as lady luck would have it, Booking.com had a 40% discount on some better options so we plumped for the Excalibur.

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Visually, Excalibur has always been my second favourite hotel on the strip after New York New York; cheesy and tacky and built to look like a Disney ye olde English castle and the red and blue turrets stick out a mile off, but it’s Vegas, and unless you’re a millionnaire or won big and can afford to stay in somewhere a little more classy like the Bellagio, then you need to embrace the tacky.

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We booked a queen room, which came with two free buffets, for 4 nights which came out at about £250 each. The day we arrived I was sent an email with the option to check in remotely, this helped a ton as we ended up getting slightly delayed getting there so when we eventually did arrive, we were all checked in and all we needed to do was collect our keys.

 

The room (26126); which faced south so you could see the majority of the strip, was a decent size with two large queen beds, a TV and separate bathroom with toiletries. It was basic (no fridge for one) however spotlessly clean and in all honesty, for the amount of time you’re going to stay there, what more do you really need? The room was serviced and cleaned every day and once you’re up in your room and away from the chaos of the casino and strip downstairs it’s like a different world – so quiet and peaceful!

Throughout our stay we visited some of the newer hotels like The Cosmopolitan and Planet Hollywood, whilst in comparison they did make Excalibur look a little old and tired, they were all a bit too shiny, glitzy and trendy for me. I loved Excalibur’s old school feel, with it’s 1970s carpets and brighter lighting. Let’s be honest, we’re not in out 20s anymore and weren’t going to be strutting around in skimpy dresses and heels. The Excalibur was exactly the kind of vibe we were going for.

 

The entrance level is the extensive casino as you might expect along with a couple of bars, the front desk, guest services, Dicks Last Resort restaurant and Johnny Rockets burger joint (top tip: Johnny Rockets serves wine and beer which is a good couple of dollars cheaper tan the bars so if you want a drink to walk around with this might save you a few $$). Up one level is a food court which is where the buffet is as well and lots of other fast food type places, an Italian restaurant, Starbucks, Cinnabon etc. The level below the entrance level is where the Medieval tournament is held (this level is referred to as The Fun Dungeon – which just founds like a euphemism for something if you ask me!) and there’s also a Dairy Queen down there, just in case you haven’t have enough calories already!

 

Facilities wise, there’s everything you would expect. We were lucky with the weather and despite it being March, managed to spend an afternoon by the pool, which has plenty of facilitates for all; a kids pool with a water slide, and an adult only pool area (for an extra cost). Towels are free or you can use towels from your room. There’s a couple of pool bars where you can get wine, beer, spirits or cocktails in plastic cups (if you keep your cocktail cup you can get a refill for half price). There’s also a gym, which we did’t visit because you know we were on holiday but it looked a decent size and well equipped!

 

Location wise we couldn’t fault it, you’re right next door to some of the biggest hotels on the strip; New York New York is connected by a walk way and across the road is the MGM Grand which has a monorail station in if you wanted to go down to the other end of the strip without walking the 4 miles. To get to Planet Hollywood, where the concert was, it was about a 15 minute walk, but there’s so much going on along the way it really doesn’t feel like it. This means you’re an only 20 minute walk away from the fountain show at the Bellagio, which really is worth a watch!

I’m really struggling to find fault with anything about our stay, it was exactly what we needed for the perfect girls trip away, and I’d definitely go back, once I’ve paid off my massive Kate Spade credit card bill!

 

Bahia Principe, Costa Adeje Tenerife

‘A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking’ – Earl Wilson

When it comes to spending money Dave and I are at polar opposite ends of the spectrum. He would happily live the minimalist lifestyle if it meant he’d saved enough to retire at 45 where as cash burns a physical hole in my pocket as soon as I get it. One of the few things we can both save or make sacrifices for though is our holidays as we both adore to travel.

Over the last few years we’re tried to work on the power of 3 concept; 3 foreign holidays and 3 weekend breaks. I wanted to kick off this year by going skiing. I skied a lot as a child and Dave has been snowboarding but we’ve never been skiing together. However having both been royally fed up with work, and not really that keen on going somewhere even colder than the North East of England so we packed up for a week in sunny Tenerife at the end of January.

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Tenerife would never traditionally be my first choice of destination, I went to Playa de las Americas when I was 18 on a girls holiday and it was basically Whitley Bay in 30 degree heat. However we were only able to get a week off work so it seemed the best shot of nice weather without having to fly longer than 4 hours from Newcastle.

The Resort

 

We chose the Bahia Principe in Costa Adeje because it was the cheapest 5* resort that got decent reviews. We’ve stayed in All Inclusive places before which have been on the cheaper end of the scale but food and drink reviews came up good on Trip Advisor and the fact that you got to visit 3 of their 4 a la carte restaurants per week was a big sway for us to break up the monotony of  the buffet every day.

It’s a massive complex with over 400 rooms which all sit around the edge of 3 large swimming pools (1 is a infinity pool – swish!) and also boasts 3 bars, 4 a la carte restaurants, a gym and spa and little shopping village which includes a pharmacy and tourist shop.

 

Visually it’s stunning, overlooking the Atlantic ocean and the grounds are kept impeccably clean. We didn’t see one bug or creepy crawly, which meant no annoying bites or stings. All the staff are also incredibly friendly and attentive, we even had our lunchtime waiter trained to just top up my wine without me even having to ask. I half considered offering him a job as my personal wine butler back home but not sure he would want to cope with the temperature change!

The Rooms

 

We stayed in a standard room (room 8004 to be exact) which was situated at the far end of the complex furthest away from the reception and near the sea; a small block of 6 bungalows. Despite being right outside one of the main pools, the room was absolutely silent (apart from the aircon – which is free) and for being a standard room was really big. The king size bed was one of he biggest we’ve ever slept in, there was a fridge and small mini bar which was stocked with beer, coke and fanta each day as well as a litre bottle of water.

 

There was a  large bathroom with double sinks, jacuzzi bath with shower head, toilet and bidet. A sign of a super posh hotel for me is a phone next to the bidet should you ever come into peril whilst washing your bum – now that’s living!

Rooms were cleaned and serviced daily with new towels and linen.

Food and Drink

As I say we’ve done AI before with varying degrees of success but the Bahia Principe is all inclusive done properly. Despite them saying that the bars are open from 11am to 11pm you could get an alcoholic drink 24 hours a day if you really wanted one as they have self service cava and bucks fizz laid out at breakfast time. Wine and beer are served in plastic cups around the pool area which is understandable, however you can get proper classes at the main bars and restaurants which feels so much classier. Wine and beer is also self serve, with spirits and cocktails available at different bars around the resort and spirits and mixers are self serve in the main bar in evenings.

My only small gripe (and this is going to make me sound like a right plonky) but I’m pretty convinced that the wine is watered down. For what is supposedly 13%, if i’d had two large glasses of that at home i’d be smashed in half an hour however I was drinking multiple, multiple, glasses on holiday without feeling much effect at all. I’m not saying it’s necessarily a bad thing, it meant I was never really too drunk, therefore never really had a hangover, but it feels a little dishonest if that is in fact what’s going on.

 

The food was also pretty spectacular and apart from some marmite for my toast at breakfast I can’t imagine what you’d want that isn’t provided. There’s 4 a la carte restaurants; an italian, asian, brazilian and mexican. We tried all but the asian and all were really high quality, especially the Brazilian where the waiters come round with swords of meat cutting it off fresh for you until you tell them to stop! The buffet restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and although have theme nights to keep things interesting, there’s also always staples like pizza, paella, pasta and fish dishes should you want something a little less exotic. Everything seemed incredibly fresh, nothing looked like it had been sitting out for hours and I got very used to having donuts and churros for breakfast every morning!

 

 

The Amenities & Entertainment 

The problem with winter sun is that it can be a bit risky. I don’t like lying out if the sun isn’t out as it turns sunbathing into essentially lying outside in your bra and knickers. We were lucky with the weather which although has cloudy patches, the sun was pretty much out most of the time at a very sunbathable 20-ish degrees everyday. If the sun isn’t out there’s little else to do than sit around and drink (which is pretty much what we do every Saturday anyway so not too much of a stretch!) there’s a gym (which i went to once for research purposes) and a beauty spa (which is chargable). They also have a very lively animations team organising table tennis, archery, bingo etc round the pool during the day.

We went with Thomas Cook who did offer different excusrions from the hotel. If we’d been staying longer than a week we possibly may have ventured out but I don’t get chance to top up my vitamin D as much as i’d like these days so we just stayed by the pool the whole time. It bothered me that wifi was only available in the reception area, which only has a few seats in. If you wanted wifi throughout the resort you had to pay daily for, boo, skinflints!

 

The evening entertainment was good. It was all live music of varing quality; singing wedding band favourites but all seemed to be able to get everyone up dancing night after night (or perhaps that was all the wine?!) The highlight for us was without a  doubt a Beatles Tribute band who were really excellent

 

There wasn’t much we didn’t like about the Bahia Principe to be perfectly honest. It was exactly what we needed to escape the dreary January blues and for the amount of free flowing food and drink it was extremely good value for money. I would hate to see what it looks like in peak season, it was hard to get a seat for the entertainment as it was in January however i’m sure they make provisions for that and put out more tables, it will undoubtedly create bigger queues at the buffet though I’m sure.

Despite that though we would definitely go back, and I’m absolutely converted to the idea of winter sun over skiing too!