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!


Had we done our research properly or put anything thought whatsoever into the order of which we were going to review all the pubs on the metro line, we probably might have decided to end in Newcastle City Centre or at the Coast to create some kind of celebratory atmosphere. We have no such organisational skills however therefore the very last pub; pub 60 of 60 if you will, ended up being Hebburn.

Hebburn was originally on the green line before the Sunderland expansion where it swapped over to yellow and is built on the site of an old 1872 British Rail station which had been out of use for some time.

If you exit the station (crossing the track if you’re coming from South Shields and walk down Station Road towards Aloysius Church. Keep the church on you right then turn left down Albert Street. Keep on walking until you see Wardles Bar on the left.


Much as we didn’t plan on having our ceremonial last drink of the whole tour in Hebburn, in a way it did feel like we’d come full circle and the fact that the last pub on the was a perfect representation of everything that this guide has come to be about. One of the things I have found most reassuring through this whole experience is that although there are many areas of the north east that I have never visited before (and probably have no desire to ever visit again) never once have we encountered any problems, hostility or felt uncomfortable in any way.

Wardles is a stereotypical north east boozer. It’s dark and still smells a little bit like smoke even though the smoking ban came into effect over ten years ago. It’s full of locals who are on first name terms with the barmaid. There’s not a pint of real ale in sight, you can get 2 bottles of blue wicked for less than the price of a coffee in Starbucks and the wine is always slightly on the warm side. HOWEVER, at only £6.99 per bottle, quite frankly I’d drink my wine out of an old boot for that price so our cosy booth by the bar was the perfect place to toast our success.


Find out where else we’ve been on our metro pubbing adventure here


Ever notice that the North East seems to have lots of places that are similarly named simply just to cause confusion? I was quite excited when I knew there was a Simonside on the metro line. I’d been wanting to climb up that big hill for ages. Imagine my disappointment when we alighted the train only to find a massive housing estate? Not for the first time I’ve fallen fowl of my basic grasp on geography!

Simonside station is relatively new having only opened in 2008, much to the disgust of many local residents who worried it would raise crime and thoroughfare in the area. None the less I’m sure Simonside residents are appeased with the fact that with great power comes great responsibility and where there’s a metro station, there’s a pub within walking distance.


If you come out of the  station onto Wenlock Road (if you’ve come from Tyne Dock then you’ll have to cross the tracks and turn left towards the roundabout. When you get to the bottom of the road turn right and you’ll see very soon Florence Bar & Bistro (formerly the Simonside Arms). And what a pleasant surprise this is.

We were there in the late afternoon of the Thursday between Christmas and New Year and it was relatively quiet,which could be down to the fact it was a Thursday or down to the fact it was between xmas and NY and most people were still eating their selection boxes in their pyjamas. It’s clearly a fairly new establishment and on first arrival we were unsure as to whether it was a restaurant, or a bar, or neither, or both.



Turns out it’s a bit of everything. Walk through the main doors and turn right to go to the restaurant or left for the bar. We weren’t eating on this occasion so took a seat in the bar, which is massive. The contemporary décor is set off nicely with lots of light wood, high tables and chairs (my mum would hate that) but also a few cosy sofas dotted around too (my mum would love that).

The drinks menu is contemporary too and offers on cocktails along with an impressive gin selection. Beer wise they have standard lagers as well as a few craft ales for the hipster bunch. Despite appearances and worries that prices would also be ‘contemporary’ we got 4 drinks for about £12 which doesn’t feel too shabby.


Because the pub is new it’s hard to tell what kind of shelf life it can offer but considering the only other option in the vicinity is the Cinder Path which is a Brewers-Fayre-by-numbers (and these kind of pubs makes my soul die a little inside each time I visit one) I hope Florence is able to stay afloat. The good people of Simonside have only just gotten over the metro station being built, they don’t this added to their woes too!

Find out where else we’ve been on out metro pubbing adventure here


I’ve said this week in, week out for the last 3 months that South of the river is uncharted territory for this Newcastle lass. We really should have done these pubs first but it’s always easier to visit your locals without much extra effort and hands held up I know very little about Pelaw other than it’s where the rice is from (ho ho!)

Pelaw station is the last southern station that can be accessed by both yellow and green lines before the tracks go their separate ways and was completely rebuilt in 2006 with a new ticket concourse and indoor waiting area serving those who may be using it as a transfer station.

If you’re coming from Sunderland exit the platform and cross over the tracks towards Croxdale Terrace. When you hit Croxdale turn left towards the Aldi Supermarket and you will soon see the aptly named Pelaw Inn on the right hand side of the road.


From the outside it reminded me  a lot of the pubs on around the Benton area. Pubs that look like they’ve been there for an absolute lifetime where the jukebox may well stop as you swing the saloon doors open. I was pleasantly surprised as we ventured inside as the inside was warm, friendly and well decorated. The bar is directly in front of you as you walk in with a bar/pool table area on the right and a lounge area on the right. Oh and did I mention the dance floor? It has a dance floor. A DANCE FLOOR! Amazing.

It might have been the friendly barmaid, it might have been the wide selection of gin on offer, it might have been the fact they serve roast beef Monster Munch or it could have been that I was already 4 glasses of wine into a day long session but I really, REALLY liked the Pelaw Inn. And it’s not really something I can put my finger on but it gave me the same feeling I felt when I visited the Carriage in Jesmond for the first time.

Of course we were there on a quiet Thursday afternoon so I’ve no idea what it’s like at weekends there they have bands and karaoke (putting that dance floor to good use!) but it had a really good community pub feel but based on our experience there was just something about it that felt welcoming, somewhere I could spend a good session in as long as there was gin and monster munch a plenty!

Find out where else we’ve been on our metro pubbing adventure here

Brockley Whins

I’ll make no secret of the fact the Brockley Whins may as well be on the moon as far as I’m concerned and has always been one of those stations that I’m always just passing through on my way to somewhere else so I was fully prepared for there not to be anywhere to grab a drink in this urban wilderness.

The original station was part of the Brandling Junction Railway and only had one platform (incidentally on the way to Newcastle – how did people ever get back?!) Turns out you had to cross the line to a different track for return journeys. This health and safety nightmare resulted in 5 deaths in 1870 so they built a second platform. These days it’s purely a commuter station for people travelling to Newcastle or Sunderland respectively and although some coal freight trains pass through the station, they don’t stop.


If you’re coming from Newcastle you need to cross the track and walk the length of Brisbane Avenue you until you bear round to the left onto Australia Grove. Turn right onto Perth Avenue (I am LOVING this naming convention!) then right again on to Tasmania Road and you will see The Jester at the end of the road on the left.

I’ll also make no secret of the fact that from the outside it didn’t look overly inviting; in fact we were unsure as to whether it was even open. We laughed in the face of any potential danger though and hauled ass inside. Having done some research (a quick Google search) turns out the Jester has recently been taken over and given a new lease of life from its previous incarnation which saw regular visits from the local boys (and girls) in blue and had a rowdy reputation with locals.

There was certainly no indication of any rowdiness when we visited during that lovely Crimbo Limbo period where you don’t know what day it is, whether you’re full or starving and wonder whether the grapes in Prosecco can count as your 5 a day. In fact it’s was really, really quiet with just a few locals propping up the bar chatting and listening to music.

We were greeted to a warm welcome as we tucked into our IPA (on tap) and glass of wine wine (which comes in its own miniature bottles so it’s a large glass or nothing – how terrible). It’s a really large, spacious pub with the bar in the middle; bar area and pool table to the right and large cosy tables and booths to the left for food. The bar area was tidy and modern and had plenty of drinks on offer to choose from.

They started a carvery on a Sunday which was so popular they’ve started offering it 7 days a week and even do home deliveries – how cool is that?!

Like many places we’ve found on our WBMT adventures it just goes to show you should never judge a pub by it’s outer shell. It looks like the new owner has really worked hard to restore the Jester to a family friendly establishment and here’s hoping their success continues.

Find out where else we’ve been on out metro pubbing adventure here

Aspire Lounge, Manchester terminal 1

‘Everything has changed. The flying has changed. The airports have changed’ – Eydie Gorme

My mum always said that holidays start at the airport and were as most of the time I would tend to agree, I’ve never been a massive fan of hanging around in busy departure lounges and paying twice the price for a whopper at Burger King.

Checking in to an airport lounge has become a relatively new thing for us since we treated ourself to the Aspire lounge in Newcastle when going on our honeymoon in 2013. Since then it’s something we do almost every time we fly. In fact I’m amazed more people don’t do it as well as it makes so much economical sense!


The last lounge we stayed in was No1 at Edinburgh Airport and I should have known better than to veer away from the trusted Aspire brand but the promise of hot food and the higher price tag swayed us into thinking it might be better. You can read the full review here but needless to say we were underwhelmed. Aspire in Manchester’s Terminal 1 is far superior in almost every way and certainly got our recently holiday to Thailand off to a flying start (see what I did there?)

The Food

Flying at 7pm meant were were almost certainly going to be in need of some nourishment before our 16 hour journey and there was plenty of food on offer. There are always 2 hot dishes available which changes on a monthly basis. We had the option of pasta carbonara or vegetable curry which were both tasty. I mean it’s not Michelin Star or anything but certainly decent enough. The showstopper for me is all the other snacks on offer; olive, nuts, cheese and crackers, a salad bar, crisps, scones and cakes all available to help yourself to as much as your little heart desires. The vanilla sponge cake was particularly delicious!

The Drinks

The Aspire Lounge in Newcastle always used to be self serve which suited us better as we could just help ourselves to beer wine and spirits without feeling judged however it was a staffed bar at Manchester. Not that we felt judged in the slightest of course as staff were happy to keep us topped up with gin & tonics beer and wine, all completely free, well, included in the price. There’s also tea, coffee, juice and soft drinks available which are self serve.

Other Facilities

The Aspire lounge is part of an executive lounge complex within the terminal so the toilets are just outside the main door. In terms of other non food & drink related services there’s free high speed wifi and plenty of sofas, booths or bar style table and chairs to sit at with charging points to keep all your precious electronics juiced up before your flight. If you happen to be visiting on the one day a year it’s not raining you’ll be treated to some nice air side views too.

The Staff

A special mention should go to the staff who really made our stay enjoyable. The lounge was kept spotlessly clean with tables being cleared away almost as soon as someone left and the bar staff were really friendly, asking where we were going and giving tips on what to expect. They even remembered our order by the end of the stay – a sign of a true professional!

I would say the only thing to be marginally conscious of is that because they want to maintain a quiet, chilled out atmosphere, you can’t her announcements in the lounges so be sure to keep an eye on the boarding screens; it would be easy to get carried away and miss your flight!

I get that some people may look at the £21.99 price tag and think that the best part of £50 for two people on top of what you’ve probably forked our for on top of your holiday is a little excessive. And if you’re the kind of people who are happy with a meal deal and a bottle of water from Boots in the departure lounge then you’re probably right. However if you’re like my mum and think your holiday really does start at the airport; and regularly shell out for a few pints and an over priced Burger then chances are you end up spending more than that already. See, economical sense.

And don’t get to have any vanilla cake. Sadface.

Our stay in the Aspire Lounge was complimentary but all views are my own.




The metro station in Jarrow was originally on the network’s green line before the South Shields and Sunderland lines were swapped over and first opened in 1984. Like many stations on the network it is home to some local art and a statue dedicated to the famous Jarrow March is displayed inside the station.

Town centre stations are a dream in terms of the WBMT as you don’t have to stumble far to find your first pub. If you’re coming from platform 2 you need to cross the tracks towards the taxi office. Turn left onto Sheldon Street then right onto Station Street. When you get to the end of the road turn left onto Ellison Street and you’ll see the Ben Lomond pub right in front of you.


On first impression walking through the doors you would be forgiven for thinking it was a Wetherspoons and anyone who knows me will know that that’s not a criticism in the slightest. There’s a big bar in the middle and seating areas circling around so I get the impression whatever time of day you visit you’ll rarely struggle for somewhere to sit.

We got a warm welcome from the barmaid who, when we ordered two glasses of wine, informed us it would be more economical to just buy the bottle. There’s not much more impresses me than a woman who understands the importance of good wine economics. Was it the best tasting wine in the world? No. Was it only £8 a bottle? Hell yes! And that’s the important thing to remember here.


We were there at around tea time mid-week between xmas and new year and it was busy enough to assume it was a Friday or Saturday late afternoon. Other than the barmaid, wor Ang and I were probably the only lasses in there and the lads watching the sport were getting on the rowdy side but were no bother really. What I guess I’m trying to say is if you’re out for a night with the lasses and want to be sitting prosecco and cocktails, this probably isn’t the place to do it.

However if you want a pint and a cheap bottle of wine  whilst painting the town red in Jarra then there are worse places you can end up!

Find out where else we’ve been on out metro pubbing adventure here