When I saw that Friends Fest was coming to Newcastle I knew I had to go! I have been a Friends fan for as long as I can remember, often getting told to ‘shhh’ when watching episodes and repeating them word for word! Held in Castle Farm Fields on the outskirts of the city, fans get the chance to recreate a host of famous scenes such as the sofa PIVOT scene, the opening credits with umbrellas as well as getting the opportunity to visit 3 of the apartment sets! Various props are also laid around the festival in tents, my favourite being Phoebe’s 3d artwork. You can also stop by the famous Central Perk coffee shop, where you can hang out on the sofa and join in with a verse of ‘Smelly Cat’.
The 3 apartment sets that you can visit are: Ross’s (where you can recreate the UNAGI scene), Monica’s apartment, the setting of so many classic clips and Joey’s iconic apartment. It is any Friends fan dream to wander these sets and I was in complete awe to be able to get to experience them! Each year another new apartment is added, this year was Ross’s so be sure to look out for what’s new in 2019!
Fans are allocated a time slot for the set tours, as you can imagine it does get very busy once the group is allowed onto each set to take photos, so don’t be afraid to jump in the canoe or behind the curtain to get that photo you want as others don’t hang around! My favourite part of the tour had to be visiting Monica’s apartment, the backdrop of so many great scenes in the iconic TV show. There was so many great props laid out, a particular highlight was seeing the cookbook from which Rachael whips up her sweet and savoury trifle!
As well as visiting the sets, you can also grab some get iconic merchandise such as a bar of ‘mocklate’, your own real life Huggys or the poster that sits above Monica’s TV. I, of course made sure that I dressed for the occasion with a ‘we were on a break’ t-shirt that I picked up from Primark before the visit!
Most of the fest is laid out in large tents which is great as if like me you visit on a day of terrible weather – we even got stuck in Ross’s apartment on the tour due to heavy rain and wind outside! Though there is a huge screen set up with deck chairs playing episodes on a loop if you manage to visit on a sunny day! Although the tickets for the fest aren’t exactly cheap, it is such an amazing day out for any Friends fan, I am already waiting for the 2019 tour to be announced!
The travel video for our amazing holidays to NYC and Florida is now live! We got the chance to visit New York in February ask Jonny whisked us away to celebrate my 21st. You can read the full travel blog here. While we spent 2 weeks in the spring in Orlando, to celebrate Johns 25th – I am hoping to have the full blog post up soon! I had so much fun putting this video together, I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I do!
As a late birthday present my lovely aunty took us to the Malmasion on the Newcastle quayside for an afternoon of over indulgence and spa treats! First on the agenda, food! We were seated in the main restaurant of the hotel, the Chez Mal, which overlooks the quayside and the Millennium Bridge.
Once we were seated, we had a look over the mouthwatering menus and struggled to decide what to order! Thankfully they were very accommodating for gluten free dishes, with the chef able to modify almost anything to fit my dietary needs. To start, I ordered the sweet potato and halloumi salad, followed by a delicious homemade fishcake with spinach and a poached egg to top it off.
The whole meal was as gorgeous as it looks and we both thoroughly enjoyed it! Feeling full we made our way downstairs to their spa for our treatments. I opted for a manicure with gel nails, while my aunty treated herself to a massage. We had such a lovely afternoon at the Malmasion and felt very spoilt by their wonderful staff! I will definitely be back!
I have been wanting to visit The Herb Garden for as long as I can remember, so you can imagine my delight when my brother suggested it for tea! The restaurant is tucked away under the railway arches by Central Station in the heart of Newcastle and is very distinguishable due to the large white horse on roller-skates that sits outside! The gorgeous and very instatagramable interior is one of the main reasons I wanted to visit, and it did not disappoint! I was more than happy sitting and snapping away once we got inside. The tables are laid out in long sharing benches, which was ok for us as we went early so it was pretty empty, but I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much had it been busy!
The gluten free options were very limited – to just one dish! While the normal menu contained a feast of dishes, including their infamous pizzas, which my brother ordered. Our server informed me that the restaurant always makes sure their dish of the day is gluten free, so that’s what I settled for, a spicy vegetable aubergine bake with a side of new potatoes. Thankfully the dessert menu was more extensively catered towards gluten intolerance so at least I had more than one option there! I decided to get the gooey chocolate pot with fruit, while Matt got the chocolate brownie, which was also gluten free so I got a taste of that too, whether he liked it or not!
I am glad I finally got the chance to visit, but due to the limited selection for gluten free dishes, I don’t think I’ll be hurrying back anytime soon!
It was Johnny who suggested that we try the Fat Buddha for date night as he had eaten there before, and I am so thrilled we visited because it might be my new favourite restaurant in Newcastle! It’s marketed as an Asian Bar and Kitchen and decorated accordingly inside, with bold reds and gold’s splashed throughout and amazing feature lighting hanging from the beautiful celling in the main upstairs restaurant. Small Buddha ornaments are scattered around with a large golden fat Buddha sitting outside which is a great feature before you even enter the building. We had booked to sit in the upstairs restaurant; climbing the stairs you’re instantly struck with the beauty of it! Once seated we both ordered the restaurants signature cocktail ‘The Fat Buddha’, made up of; vodka, pineapple juice, apple juice, fresh passion fruit and a splash of their secret ingredient! I was so happy to see that there was a separate gluten free menu for diners like me to enjoy, and after much debate I decided to try the Wok Fried Sliced Chicken Breast with mixed vegetables and gluten free soy sauce. Johnny chose their Peking Chicken; crispy chicken breast cooked in Peking sauce with chilli, peppers and scallions. We also ordered some sides of salt and chilli chips and a bowl of egg fried rice for the table. When it all arrived, everything smelt and looked amazing, we both couldn’t wait to dive in!
We both had such a wonderful evening dinning out at The Fat Buddha. I can honestly say it’s some of the nicest food that I have ever eaten! The staff were also very attentive with our food and drinks and really helpful with any questions and concerns that I had over their gluten free menu.
After our meal we headed back downstairs to the bar to enjoy more of their gorgeous cocktails as we didn’t want our night to end! It’s such a perfect restaurant for a great night of food and drinking- we will definitely be back!
Cocktails are always a good idea, so me and my best friend Lucy jumped on a train and headed to Leeds for a day of drinking and shopping! We were desperate to try out the cocktails from The Alchemist in the Trinity shopping centre, which is right in the heart of the city and houses 120 shops, bars, restaurants! Located on the second floor of Trinity, this cocktail bar allows you to make the most of any weather, with its heated wrap around terrance showcasing the stunning city views. However we opted to sit indoors at the beautifully decorated bar. With the bartender only a few feet away to make our drinks, we definitely enjoyed ourselves, even if our purses felt very light by the end of our trip! For our first cocktail, we both ordered the ‘Screwball’ priced at £7.75 and filled with raspberry vodka, blue curacao, apple juice, lime juice, bubblegum syrup and white chocolate foam, its an adult twist on a childhood favourite! This drink tasted very different from any cocktail I’d had before, it was a lot heavier than the fruity ones I’d usually chose however it was my favourite shade of blue and filled with vodka so I think this has to be my favourite of the Alchemist’s cocktails that I tried!
Next up for me was the ‘White Chocolate & Raspberry Martini’ priced at £7.50 and filled with raspberry vodka, raspberry liqueur, cranberry juice and their special white chocolate foam. While Lucy opted for ‘The Colour Changing One’ priced at £7.75, containing reyka vodka, apple liqueur, sugar syrup and a secret ingredient to form a blue potion, then the addition of lime juice, apple juice and soda allows it to change colour! Although the bartender did advise me not to drink mine through a straw, I didn’t want to end up with chocolate foam all over my face!
For our last cocktail we both chose to oder a ‘Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri’ priced at £.725. These cocktails were a lot lighter, fruiter and were a great way to finish off our visit at The Alchemist!
With it’s unique and quirky interior, this cocktail bar is totally different to anywhere I’ve visited before! Situated in an ideal location to be able to grab a few cocktails whilst out shopping, their strong brand image and very individual identity, resulted in a such memorable experience for us! The bar staff were really friendly too and their recommendations were so helpful, it was also a plus being able to sit at the bar itself and watch them work their magic! Wether you’re living in Leeds or planning trip to visit then The Alchemist should definitely be on your list of places to visit!
I’ve been meaning to give Dominos gluten free pizza bases a try for awhile now, so when I noticed their lunchtime work deal offering small pizzas from £3.99 I decided to order myself a couple! Dominos gluten free crusts are only available in 8.5”, which is something they really ought to change, as it would have been nice to have the choice of a medium sized base at least- something that their competitors at Pizza Hut offer. If you look at the menu on the website all items containing gluten are clearly marked with a “G” which is really helpful when deciding which flavour to go for. The lunchtime deal offers small pizzas with only one topping from £3.99 which is a far cry from the regular prices of £10.99+ for a small gluten free base, so I decided to order two while they were so cheap; one ham and the other with chicken. Sadly none of their sides are gluten free which is shame as I felt something like their potato wedges could have been re-worked, offering more choice to gluten free customers. At least their famous garlic dips which sit in their pizza boxes are gluten free!
When my pizza arrived I was pleased to see the small bright yellow ‘GF’ stickers on each box, so I knew that mine hadn’t been mixed up with order pizzas and was the gluten free bases that I had ordered. They smelled great, however when I lifted the lid I was a little disappointed to see the bottom of each pizza covered with burnt cheese. I was also stuck with how small the pizzas were compared to the medium or large sized bases that I used to order before I was diagnosed as gluten intolerant. The overall flavour and taste was fabulous and I particularly enjoyed the chicken pizza! Each base was light and airy, not soggy at all like most other gluten free pizzas that I have tried. I definitely believe they are a lot nicer than the gluten free crusts that Pizza Hut offers, which are very dry and bland in comparison. The only criticism I have for Dominos is the price of their pizzas, paying over ten pounds for a small 8.5” base is mad, especially for a student as most of their deals don’t include their small pizzas as an option, although the lunchtime work deal does offer a good compromise. I will definitely be ordering from them again, however I hope to see more variety in the size of the bases and the choices of sides for their gluten free customers in the future!
I wanted to do something memorable for my last week in Newcastle before I moved home for the summer, so Johnny suggested that we give ‘Exit’ a go. Having not previously heard of it, I decided to do some research before we booked. Exit is a live escape game located in Newcastle where you are locked in with friends and/or family and you have to solve a series of puzzles and mysteries to escape. You are given 60 minutes to work together as a team and reach the exit before the time is up! The price is £60 per game so the bigger the group the less you pay per person, however if you play as a pair like we did then this fee is reduced to £50. After reading the reviews I booked us into the ‘Save the City’ room, which although is rated medium difficulty, is said to be the easiest out of the 3 rooms on offer. Unsure of what to expect, we were greeted in the quirky reception room by a lovely and enthusiastic staff member and she told us all that we needed to know before being locked in our room. I don’t want to give anything away to spoil the experience, so this extract describing Save the City is taken from the Exit website ‘Above the busy streets of Newcastle’s city centre only you can stop the evil genius Ignatius Gouge, diffuse the bomb, and exit the game before its too late. Will you solve the clues, crack the codes and find the exit before the time is up?’.
At first we thought £50 for a couple was quite steep but after taking part in the game, we decided it was worth every penny. It’s difficult to put the experience into words, the hour seemed the fly by and unfortunately we didn’t manage to escape however it was such a unique and thrilling experience we will definitely be back to try the other rooms! Save the City may be for beginners but it certainly wasn’t easy- it was so exhilarating working together to try and complete the game, with music subtly playing in the background adding to the drama and becoming more apparent the nearer to the hour you get.
It’s hard to write about something without ruining the experience for others as this is something you definitely have to try for yourself rather than just read about it! I think we were at a slight disadvantage going in as a couple as the rooms take up to teams of 8 people, so we will certainly be gathering our friends together when we tackle the next room so we can hopefully escape this time! It’s definitely a one off and unique experience that you wont find anywhere else and with 3 rooms to try it’s well worth a visit!