For my 21st I was surprised with a trip to New York, which in winter as you can see from the video isn’t the best time to visit – lots of jumpers and thick coats but we fully made the most of it, even if we did get grounded in a snow storm at JFK! A few months later we found a deal that we couldn’t resist for 2 weeks in sunny Florida for Johnny’s 25th so packed our sunnies and GoPro and off we went! Hopefully I’ll find time soon to share the some photos and foodie recommendations from both trips!
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!
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!
During a recent trip back home I stopped at Badgers for a catch up with my best friend over some cocktails! Operated and owned by Ed Raban-Williams and his mother Sarah Raban-Williams, Badger’s is a cool new cafe bringing the city coffee culture vibe to the market town of Guisborough (North Yorkshire) and is located in the busy village opposite the church and renowned Priory. This was my first visit to Badgers since it opened as I have been living in Newcastle for university the past few months so it was nice to finally spend some time at home and get to try out the cocktails that they offer! During the day this quirky café serves tea’s, coffee’s and sandwiches before turning into a cocktail bar on an evening. They also host a gin night every Thursday along with a live lounge on Saturday nights.
I love how this small little café come cocktail bar is styled, it’s very rustic with exposed brick walls, wooden panelling and fairy lights glittering from the ceiling it’s the perfect setting for catching up with loved ones! The menu has also been lovingly designed to tie into the interior, running with the rustic theme the menus have been printed onto brown paper and attached to wooden clip boards. I was hoping that the cocktails would live up to the beauty of the place, and they certainly didn’t disappoint!
All the ones I tried that evening were priced at £6.75 which I thought was reasonable as you’d usually expect to pay around six or seven pound a cocktail when you’re dining out. To start with we both went with a Strawberry Diaquiri, described on the menu as muddled fresh fruit with white rum and lime juice served in a frozen glass over crushed ice. It was fabulous, especially on a warm summer evening…it was the perfect way to start our night!
Our second and third drinks were both Mojito’s with Lucy choosing to try a raspberry one while I opted for strawberry, before we both gave passion fruit a go! Described on the menu as rum & fresh fruit muddled with muscovado sugar, lime juice, mint leaves and topped with soda, they were everything a Mojito should be! Our whole evening at Badgers was gorgeous, I can’t fault the staff or the atmosphere and will definitely be returning, perhaps on a Friday night this time to take advantage of the 2 for 1 cocktail deal! It was probably a good thing that Badgers has only recently opened, as just a stones throw from my old college, I think I would have spent most of my time there- sampling drinks from their cocktail menu and lusting over their dreamy interior rather attending classes!
It’s been a busy month after 2 amazing trips abroad with Jonny and moving back up to Newcastle to start second year, I have barely had anytime to blog! My holiday posts will be up soon but in the meantime I thought I’d share my visit to the street food kitchen, Dabbawal, located in Jesmond. This was our first date night since moving back to Newcastle and after hearing only positive things about their menu and the gluten free options we decided to book up for Saturday night! We struggled to find the restaurant at first, as its not sat on the main row of restaurants, instead located down the back street behind Brentwood Avenue. However, once we did find it we were blown away with the modern and colourful decoration both inside and out, which only filled us with more excitement to try their food!
After we were seated inside the gorgeous restaurant, we were given copies of their extensive menu, along with some poppadoms and a homemade chutney selection to nibble on while we decided what to eat and drink. To start, we both ordered cocktails, I chose the Mitch Martini made up of Bison grass vodka shaken with passion fruit syrup, apple and lemon juice which was gorgeous while Jonny went with the Kaffir Lime Cosmopolitan consisting of; Indian kaffir lime leaves, Wyborowa Lemon vodka, triple sec and cranberry juice. Their menu is made up of a variety of meals such as small tapas dishes for starters or sharing options as well as larger curries for a bigger main course. As it is a ‘street food kitchen’ we decided to get a selection of the tapas dishes and some sides to share so we could sample a mix of classic Indian street foods. Each item is clearly labeled (G) if it contains gluten, which is great for gluten free diners to be able to easily see which dishes to avoid. After much consideration we eventually picked 3 gluten free tapas dishes; the Chicken Supreme Pakora Fritters, the Dabawall Grill and the Punjabi Chicken Lollipop as well as Pulao Rice and Masala Chips as sides to the meal which were also gluten free.
As we had ordered the tapas options, they each came to the table separately with the sides not being served until we were half way through the dishes, meaning we didn’t feel that we were eating our main course as dishes kept being brought to the table and interrupting us. Although the food was pleasant enough we were a bit underwhelmed after hearing only good things about the restaurant, we didn’t feel that we had been able to enjoy ourselves or the food. With the restaurant decked out in quirky, modern furniture and fittings, it is a gorgeous setting for a meal however the dining experience was disappointing and sadly we wont be returning as the whole meal came to around £60 which we is something neither of us can justify spending!
A mouth-watering confusion of native Latin American Indian, Spanish, Portuguese and African influences, Las Iguanas is an adventure. You’ll discover new tastes, and fall in love with new favourites – and feel the warmth and welcome of South America. I hadn’t heard of Las Iguanas until I moved to Newcastle and once I discovered they offer a wide selection of gluten free options I knew I had to visit! I have eaten there four times now, with my most recent trip being to their new restaurant located down on the quayside. Every time I walk into one of their restaurants I feel instantly happy as the colourful mix of furniture and quirky decorations creates a great atmosphere. Their new quayside location is ideal to sit outside under the parasols enjoying their fruity cocktails and watch the river Tyne in the sun, which exactly what my friend and me did when we dined there. On each of my visits the servers are always more than happy to help when I tell them I’m gluten intolerant. Las Iguanas offers a separate gluten free menu for diners however on their lunchtime deal menu, they have small symbols next to dishes that can be cooked gluten free on request. Their crayfish salad is so light, but filling and definitely a great choice if you can fit it in during lunch. The blazing bird is also a gorgeous dish of spicy chicken marinated with a fiery sauce (I chose honey peri-peri), served with slaw and salad. I did originally opt for fries as my side, however after checking with the kitchen the waiter said they couldn’t be sure they were gluten free so salad it was! Both of these dishes are from their lunchtime menu, which offers main courses from as little as £6, with the choice to add a starter for an extra £2.95, an ideal option if you’re looking for lunch on a budget1
On my first visit to Las Iguanas as I read through the menu, I noticed they offered gluten free nachos on request so I knew I had to get them for a starter! Crispy corn tortilla chips with melted cheese, topped with pico de gallo, jalapeños, salsa, soured cream & guacamole, they were everything I had hoped they would! As a main course I decided to give their triple tacos a try…three corn & wheat lightly charred tortillas. So far I have had the chipotle chicken, soured cream & pink pickled onion option as well as their garlicky mushroom, chill, thyme and cheese tacos, which have both been fabulous! Just be sure to specify with the server that you want the gluten free tacos when you’re ordering!
Las Iguanas also offer great deals on their drinks menu with ‘HAPPY HOUR’ all day, everyday on 25 of their cocktails and coolers. They give diners the chance to get 2 for 1 on these drinks; the only drawback is that when you buy one glass, you get the same free, so be sure that you’ll like the drink you go for otherwise you’ll be stuck with 2 drinks that you aren’t fond of! These cocktails are priced at £7.95, which I think is more than reasonable for the simple fact you get 2 for the price of 1! While their coolers are £3.30, which again two fruit filled drinks for this price is amazing! Las Iguanas is well worth a visit if you’re in Newcastle as both of their restaurants (Greys Street and Quayside) are well furnished and their servers can’t do enough for you. Their food is of a high quality and always filling, and for such great prices you can afford to really treat yourself especially with their lunchtime menu, which runs daily until 6:30pm.
Often referred to as ‘yarn bombing’ or ‘yarn storming’, and involving colourful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn, is something that is celebrated each summer in my hometown of Saltburn. In previous years the Saltburn Yarn Stormers have displayed themes including the World Cup, the Olympics, the Queen’s Jubilee and Alice in Wonderland. This year however they celebrated all things Yorkshire! The identity of the yarn bombers is a total mystery but each year they decorate over 40 meters along the famous Saltburn pier railings with their beautiful creations. I was lucky to move home from university just in time to catch their fabulous new display, so I grabbed my camera and headed down to the pier to find it covered with knitted figures, landmarks and phrases linked to the much-loved county.
Although it was a typical cold British day at the seaside, the pier was still filled with people of all ages eager to get a glimpse of these wonderful knitted designs! The creations include pots of famous Yorkshire tea and cakes, Wallace and his loyal dog, Gromit and common Yorkshire phrases such as “bloomin ‘eck” and “it’ll be reet.” I also spotted a nod to the Yorkshire sport of ‘Welly Wanging’ which sees competitors hurl a Wellington boot as far as possible, along with a small knitted tribute to David Hockney, sat with his easel- who often painted the Yorkshire countryside. The Saltburn yarnbombing always brings the community together each summer as its something everyone can enjoy, I know that I definitely look forward to it each year!
Living away at university for the year has really made me appreciate my time at home whenever I return, especially with my house so close to both the beach and the countryside- it’s so easy to get sucked into the hustle and bustle of Newcastle and forget how peaceful it is back at home! If you’re ever in the area or simply want a day trip out but unsure of where to go, then Saltburn is just an hours drive or train ride from Newcastle and with a fabulous beach and a wonderful old Victorian pier and cliff lift, it’d be a shame not to visit!
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited away for the night to Whitby with my aunty, uncle and cousins, who had rented a revamped fisherman’s cottage in the heart of the old town. I caught the train from Middlesborough, and although I have always visited Whitby since I was little, it was my first time travelling there by rail which is something I’d really recommend as you pass through the beautiful North Yorkshire countryside!
Thankfully the typical British summertime rain held off and we were able to enjoy a few hours of sunshine as we explored the gorgeous sights and hidden treasures that Whitby has to offer! From the atmospheric Abbey towering over winding cobbled streets to the windswept beach which inspired Bram Stoker’s world famous “Dracula”, Whitby is not your traditional coastal town.
The first stop was the ‘Cranberry Swamp’ for some lunch- a small cafe that my aunty had found before I arrived as they offered gluten free options! Just a 2 minute walk up the road from the cottage, this was the perfect place to grab a bite to eat! Turning the corner, the cafe instantly stood out from the other shops with its deep purple exterior and wooden sign hanging above the door, the interior was also just as quirky with exposed hanging bulbs and bold colours splashed on the walls. The menu was very varied and great for gluten free diners, even I struggled with what to chose but eventually settled on a classic burger with onion relish severed in a gluten free bun with a side of sweet potato fries and salad. While my cousin ordered a toasted BLT sandwich on white bread which looked fabulous! The food defiantly didn’t disappoint and the staff couldn’t have been more helpful! Although fish and chips is the typical choice for lunch when you’re in Whitby, I really recommend breaking with tradition and heading to the Cranberry Swamp as this reasonably priced little cafe offers a wonderful dinning experience, no matter of your dietary requirements!
After a gorgeous lunch, I spent the day walking in the sunshine through the old cobbled streets and down to the working fishing harbour, marvelling at the colourful fishing boats and the hundreds of lobster fresh from the catch! You won’t find yourself struggling for things to see or do in this historic seaside town, from tackling the 199 steps up to the Abbey (something I didn’t attempt) to feeling like a child again at the classic seaside amusements with the 2p slots as well as being able to take in the picturesque views, it’s an ideal place for a weekend getaway! Whitby also plays host to Goth Weekend, a unique event that happens twice a year celebrating all things Gothic!
After an early start in order to pack up the cottage, we had a last walk through the town before heading home. As it was their last night in Whitby I was able to get a lift home with my family in their car, instead of getting the train back. We decided to drive home over the North Yorkshire Moors, where we stopped off for lunch. My aunty spotted a small cafe as we drove through the village of Castleton, called the Old Chapel Tearoom, which had once been a Methodist Church, however after renovations is now a clean and inviting tearoom offering a varied menu. Although they were dog friendly in the main dining area, we chose to sit outside in the sun. The staff were lovely and couldn’t have been more attentive, even bringing the dog a small bowl of water! I ordered myself a jacket potato with a generous helping of tuna mayonnaise and a side salad, while everyone else chose sandwiches and lasagne which all looked delicious too!
It was so lovely to get away to Whitby for the night with my aunty, uncle and cousins especially now that I live away for university its always good to catch up with the family whilst I am at home! I’m thankful that the weather held out for us and we were able to make the most of the sun in our idyllic seaside setting! It is always nice to be able to unwind for a couple of days and switch off from the chaos of everyday life and where better to get lost in the beauty and history of a place than Whitby.