Shiremoor

Shiremoor is one of the oldest station on the network having opened in 1980. It holds a special place in my family’s heart, partly because we had our car broken into in the car park in the 1980s and had our game boys and a case of Grolsch stolen out the back but mostly because it serves Shiremoor which is where my Grandma lived and close to where my Auntie Jan, Uncle Dale and cousins Ami and Alex lived. As such we would be round that way almost every Sunday.

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Coming from South Gosforth you exit the platform and turn left. Walk 5 minutes down that road and you’ll come to the Grey Horse, a large traditional white building on the opposite side of the road.

I knew instantly from the ‘live sport, pool and darts’ sign on the outside that this wouldn’t be chick pub, nor would you expect it to be in the suburbs of working class Shiremoor. We were greeted with a warm welcome though and I was really impressed to see a book swap library as soon as we walked in; the first I’ve seen on the tour so far and it instantly gave the pub a  homely, welcoming feel. Same goes for the ‘bar snacks’ incidentally.

 

As you walk in the bar is directly in front of you with the main lounge to the right and a smaller seating area to the left, both housing the ever present plasma TVs and bandit machines that seem par for the course in local north east pubs. The tartan carpet and the lightly painted wood however does give the impression that someone’s given the pub a little TLC and that’s gone someway to restoring it to it’s former glory.

 

Booze wise it was slim pickens. The only thing resembling ale on draft was John Smiths and my glass of white wine was a few degrees off chilled and extremely sweet, which is a shame as while it’s certainly a local pub for local people, it’s not actually a bad pub to spend a few hours in.

Contact details:

Address: Bertran Place, Shiremoor, Newcastle upon Tyne NE27 0HL
See where else we’ve been on our metro pub adventure here

Chillingham Road

Chillingham Road Metro Station was opened in 1982 and orginally called Parsons due it it’s closeness to Parsons engineering works. It’s also very close to Brough Park Greyhound racing stadium and Newcastle Diamonds Speedway.

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If you exit the station from Platform 1 and head straight ahead you’ll see a bridge to the right. Across the Bridge and on the other side of the road you’ll see the The Chillingham; which, if you’ever been a student in the city, you’ll be very, very familiar with!

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Yet another Sir John Fitzgerald pub, who are proving to have quite a presence on our guide so far, The Chillingham has undergone a massive refurb in recent years and for what was always classed as a student pub, it’s pretty swanky inside now. As you walk in you can either turn left or right into two large lounge areas; both of which have massively stocked bars. It was lunchtime on a Saturday for us, and a tad early to be going straight on the wine so I went for a Peach Tinnermans which was absolutely lovely. There were also lots of local ales on the handpulls and your standard lager options.

 

The decor is what you’d come to expect from a newly decked out SJF pub, lots of dark wood and tartan and whereas they do have quite a few TVs with sport being shown, it’s large enough that you’d be able to find a quiet corner away from the TVs if you wanted to.

 

The biggest draw for us when we visited was the small but perfectly formed beer garden out the back – it’s rare the big yellow ball in the sky makes an appearance in the north east so we had to make the most of it. Whilst the view of the traffic on Chillingham Road isn’t the most picturesque; the atmosphere when there’s big groups of you outside enjoying the weekend is infectious – it’s also airy enough that if people are smoking around you, it doesn’t really bother you too much.

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I could definitely see The Chillingham as a session pub, particularly with the reviews I’ve seen about the extensive food menu; which SJF pubs always have a good reputation for. Plus students always make for a good vibe!

Contact:

Address: 89 Chillingham Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE6 5XL
Tel: 01912653992
Website: http://sjf.co.uk/our-pubs/the-chillingham/

See where else we’ve been on our Wine & Beer Metro tour here

 

Walkergate

Originally opened in 1839 by the Newcastle & North Shields Railway simply as Walker, it was renamed Walker Gate on 1 April 1889 however when the station underwent complete conversion in 2014 the signage was changed to the single word from; Walkergate.

My dad was a Heaton lad growing up so Walkergate is familiar territory for us; Walkergate Hospital (which closed in 2011) used to host a lot of staff training for NUTH hospital staff, so I found myself there semi regularly in the early 00’s and locals will also know it’s an area made famous by being home to the Tizer factory on Benfield Road.

Walkergate station is near perfect for Wine & Beer Metro terms, as it’s one of the few stations that has a pub so close to the tracks that it’s practically in the station. We were coming from the coast on this occasion, and as you exit the platform you will see The Railway Hotel across the road directly in front of you.

It’s a traditional imposing red brick corner pub which is split into two sections; bar and lounge. We visited at about 6pm on a Saturday evening and the bar area was heaving, largely due to the fact there was a Newcastle match being shown, however we got the impression it was mostly locals, who would have been then regardless.

I was disappointed that the drinks seems overpriced for the local boozer atmosphere; it was almost £13 for 3 bottles of Peroni (which were on offer at 3 for a fiver) and 2 glasses of white wine.  We made our way out the the lounge at the back for a seat and to watch the end of the match.

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It was definitely the kind of place you imagine looks exactly the same as it did in the 70s, with little to no investment in it’s restoration or upkeep. Whilst we didn’t feel uncomfortable in the slightest and the barmaids were particularly friendly I do get the impression it’s very much a local pub for local people. That said, it’s not a city centre pub, and non locals are probably unlikely to be the area and in need of refreshment! All in all, it’s a decent place if you need to stop somewhere for a seat and a drink, however not really the kind of place what will blow your socks off!

Contact:

Address: 906 Shields Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE6 4QP

Find out more about where we’ve visited on our Wine & Beer Metro tour here

Percy Main

As with most stations along the Wallsend/North Shields section of the metro line, Percy Main can be found along what was the old Newcastle & North Shields Railway line and services the residential area of, well Percy Main. Obvs.

One of the things I’ve loved about doing our Wine & Beer Metro tour is not only discovering locations we never normally frequent, but also finding drinking establishments that are a little different from your average north east boozers. When you get off the metro, coming from Newcastle City Centre you’ll see there’s a large Sambuccas restaurant directly to your left. Whilst I’m sure they wouldn’t turn you away if you walked in and just wanted a few drinks, we were unconvinced that restaurants should feature on the guide.

So if you exit the metro and walk under the foot bridge onto Burdon Street, then turn left onto St John’s Terrace and follow the road round, after a couple of minutes you’ll find Percy Main Cricket Club. And this was to be our watering hole of choice for the afternoon.

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It was a sunny saturday afternoon when we visited, and although cricket season hadn’t started yet the club were hosting a charity colour run so there were a good few people milling around. The facilities are exactly what you’d expect if you’be ever been to a north eastern local cricket club. And i don’t mean that in any way negatively. I grew up spending most weekends at cricket matches due to my dad playing (and my mum making a mean cricket tea) so I felt right at home.

The bar area is in the large pavilion (bookable for functions) and had a couple of interesting different beers on, as well as the standards you’d come to expect and the white wine was perfectly chilled. One of the best things about clubs rather than pubs is that their pricing strategy is more akin to a Wetherspoons than Jesmond Dene House, so it was under a tenner for 2 pints and 2 glasses of wine.

It will of course be hit and miss as to how busy the club would be depending on when you happen to visit. We were disappointed we’d missed the start of cricket season by a mere week as it would have been very quaint spending the afternoon drinking in the sunshine. They accept walk ins up to three times before you’re asked to join as a member so it’s extremely welcoming and if you’re a cricket fan, or just a fan of sitting outside with your mates drinking wine, it comes with its own built in entertainment!

Contact:

St John’s Terrace, North Shields NE29 6HS
You can read more out the pubs we’ve visited on our Wine & Beer Metro tour here

Chris Montague Photography

‘In photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary’ – David Bailey

One of the best things about writing a blog, aside from it feeding my narcissistic need to be liked, is when you get to join forces with your mates when your individual passions collide.

Steph is one of my oldest friends from school (and by that I mean I’ve known her the longest). She met the lovely Chris in 2012, they married in 2016 and since then the Montague’s as a brand have become two of our best friends. It’s always a relief when your better halves get along however it’s amazing (and very rare) that they get along so well that you sometimes forgot how or where the original links began. We’ve all welcomed each other into our own individual friendship groups and as such spend a lot of time in the pub together!

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Despite Chris being hugely successful in his day job (building clouds – actual clouds I like to believe, there’s big business for them in the north east) he’s also a keen photographer and has recently started going semi pro. I’d been wanting for a while to get some more professional pictures on my blog as the random instagram selfies of my wonky duck face weren’t cutting the mustard anymore. So I asked Chris is he would mind taking a few natural pics of me to make me look a bit more polished. As soon as I suggested meeting one Saturday afternoon in a pub with a large bay window he was there setting up his tripod before you could say David Bailey. After all pictures always look more realistic when the subject is in their natural habitat.

Despite it all feeling a bit awkward to start with, not that I’ve ever been shy around a camera of course but when you know someone’s taking your picture it’s hard not to pose or look straight at them, I’ve watched enough ANTM to know how to smize and find my light. But as the wine flowed and Steph and I got right into gossipland I forgot he was there and he ended up taking loads of pics as we all chatted away.

I concede that he didn’t have the easiest of subjects, an oil painting i’m not however I was really pleased with what he took, they were so natural and unposed and even after he kindy touched up a few of my faves, the touch ups were very subtle so I don’t feel like I’ve been airbrushed to within an inch of my life. I still look like me. Like picking the most flattering instagram filter!

Here are my 3 favourites:

Looks like I was born with that glass of wine in my hand doesn’t it?

If you’re interested in working with Chris for your wedding, family shoot or even some headshots of your own you find find out more about him and his work here!

Ilford Road

Ilford Road is the 3rd station location in the Jesmond area of Newcastle and is served by both yellow and green lines. It’s predominantly residential and has relatively low passenger numbers compared to South Gosforth and West Jesmond which it’s sandwiched between.  It is however, handily located for the top end of Jesmond Dene but as such pub choices are poor.

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In fact, the only place to get a drink that’s remotely within walking distance is Jesmond Dene House. So Jesmond Dene House is where we went.  If you exit platform 1 and walk 350m to the road bridge then turn left and cross the tracks, you’ll be on Albury Road. Turn right here and walk down to Moorfield, which merges onto Jesmond Dene Road as you walk left. Stay on this road for 5 minutes and you’ll see a sign for Jesmond Dene House in a hedgerow. Follow that side street for a couple of minutes and the hotel will appear o your left.

JDH is a grade II listed building which was built in 1822 by John Dobson for Thomas Emerson Headlam who was a physician and Mayor of Newcastle between 1837 and 1845. In the past the building has been used as a college, a civil defence establishment, a seminary and a residential school, before it was fully restored in 2005 and becoming a 40 bedroom boutique, super swanky hotel to the rich and famous.

And rich and famous is what you need to be if you’re stopping by for a drink, well, certainly rich anyway. It is an absolutely beautiful building and the hotel bar, which you’re able to just walk into without being a hotel guest or dining in the restaurant is located immediately on the right as you walk past reception.

It’s small and intimate with low comfy seating and low lighting. It does however very much feel like a hotel bar and the clientele will undoubtedly be guests rather than walk ins like we were. The staff were great, you do feel very looked after despite not being a resident as it offers table service and your drinks are immediately placed on a tab for you (dangerous if you don’t look at the price list).  They also allowed you to sample different wines if you wanted (i didn’t – never found a bottle i didn’t like fnar, fnar) but i noticed others were, and they were generous with their samples, which is a good touch.

So our experience was overall positive and certainly felt a shift in quality and glamour compared to all the other pubs we’ve visited on our travels so far. However it was £12.49 for a bottle or corona and a small glass of wine, so not exactly a session bar. All that being said, for a treat, it was lovely and the chilled out relaxed atmosphere made me wish we were staying over because I could have sat there all night people watching and chatting with other guests.

Contact details:

Address: Jesmond Dene Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 2EY
Phone: 0191 212 3000

 

Le Petit Ballon wine Subcription

‘Wine is bottled poetry’ – Robert Louis Stevenson

I may not be able to recite Pi to more that 3 decimal places or know the names of the last 30 British Prime Ministers but wine? Wine I know.

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It’s probably the fact that I mention wine in almost every blog post I write that French wine subscription company Le Petit Ballon got in touch and asked if i would mind them sending me a couple of bottle to review. When someone sends you an email entitled ‘We’d like to send you some wine’ it makes you about a nano second to consider and respond.

Wine subscriptions aren’t a new thing and Le Petit Ballon have been hugely successful in their native France. They’ve decided to branch out to the UK and offer two different options of wine delivery; Grape Expectations at £24.90 per month for two bottles and Age of Raisin at £39.90 per month for two premium bottles of wine.

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Each month the wine is delivered direct to your door (or office or neighbour etc) and comes with tasting notes for your monthly offerings and The Gazette magazine which is packed with information about the company, the vineyards they use, that months selections and recipes. All wines are hand selected by Jean-Michel Deluc who worked for many years as master sommelier at The Ritz in London – so you’re in safe hands!

This month we received our package less than 48 hours after it had been dispatched which contained a bottle of South African red called Okoma and some French Sauvignon Blanc called Chateau Le Grand Verdus Expression

The Red:

To get the most out of our wines we tried to follow the tasting notes as closely as possible so as it was recommended that this particular red went well with red meats and BBQ’s we decided to cook up some gourmet hamburgers for our Friday night treat. I love my red wine, particularly in the winter; which lets be honest in the North East of England is 10 months of the year! This was a really full bodied fruity number which smelt great and went perfectly with the meat. It didn’t taste too tanin-y like a thick Merlot would so imagine it’s pretty versatile. It also had a really rich oaky after taste so would go perfectly with a cheeseboard! Being a Leo I absolutely feel in love with the bottle as well; i imagine it’s bold design would make it a popular choice were it sold in a supermarket.

The White:

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Savignon Blanc is my favourite grape so was really pleased that’s what we received for our first month. It said in the tasting notes that it’s paired well with meat, fish and cheese so, being unable to decide what to make, we went for a bit of all of it and had some swiss cheese Fondue! This one was on the dry side of medium, which I prefer over wine being too sweet any day, it it meant that the flavour wasn’t too over bearing of all the different flavours of the food we were eating. I would never normally drink white wine with cheese however this one complimented the fondue perfectly. On first sip it’s like an explosion of flavour in your mouth, which possibly says a lot about the quality of the £3 supermarket wine we normally drink, there’s no doubt that these wines are very good quality.

When it comes to wine we’ve always been quantity over quality people and I have no shame in admitting that we always shop at the low end when just buying for ourselves. The benefit of doing that is that when you get a really good bottle, you really notice the difference. It’s nice to have your wine chosen for you by someone who knows what they’re talking about a little better than you and that every month is a different tasting experience so you get to try things you possibly wouldn’t normally. If you find a bottle that you simply can’t live without you can order additional bottles of your faves on Le Petit Ballon’s website as a discounted price if you’re already a subscriber.

You can find out more, including how to get £10 off your first subscription here

And follow Le Petit Ballon on their social media channels here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lepetitballonuk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LPBallonUK

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