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!
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 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!
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.
I’d only had the opportunity to visit Newcastle a handful of times before I moved here last September for university, however it’s quickly become my favourite city in the UK! Steeped in beautiful architecture and with a rich culture for the arts, it’s hard not to fall in love with Newcastle. Unfortunately I felt that I hadn’t really got the chance to properly make the most of my time in this gorgeous city due to the amount of coursework and deadlines I faced. So with my first year complete I took advantage of having a Geordie for a boyfriend and made him my personal guide for the day! I’d seen photos of the graffiti tribute to David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust on instagram and knew that this would be the first stop on our day out! Located in Gateshead, just behind the beautiful mirrored Sage building, it was breathtaking to see this wonderful piece in person. The photos really do not do it justice -it’s such a fitting tribute to Bowie’s memory.
Since we were near the Quayside, it was only right that we visited the Baltic art gallery and check out the stunning views of the Tyne and Millennium bridges on the viewing platform! The Quayside is an area along the banks of the River Tyne, which was once an industrial area and busy commercial dockside, while the Newcastle side of the quay also hosted a regular street market, that still runs every Sunday. I got a chance to visit the market a few weeks ago and it’s definitely worth getting out of bed on a Sunday for, I even spied some gluten free food stalls! TripAdvisor lists visiting the Quayside as the second best thing to do on a day out in Newcastle and I couldn’t agree with that more, as there’s always something going on here especially on a sunny day, cocktails by the river are a must! Although it wasn’t the sunniest day on our visit, I still managed to get some great shots of these iconic bridges when we got to the top of the Baltic!
I feel so privileged to be able to say that I live in such a beautiful city, even more so after my day of exploring. The historic buildings, the cobbled streets, the people and of course the night life -the list is endless, there is nothing I don’t love about Newcastle! I’ll be sad to leave when I move home for the summer, but I know that come September I will be back to create more memories and discover more of the fantastic hidden gems that Newcastle has to offer!
Stuck for ideas on what to get him, I booked a day trip to Edinburgh as a birthday present for Johnny. I think these sorts of gifts are so much better to give and receive, when you can go out and make memories rather than get a box of chocolates that you’ll have forgotten about a day later. We set off early for the train station and leaving from Newcastle meant we didn’t have that far to travel. It was still pretty grey when we arrived, but after a morning of sight seeing and shopping, the weather soon cleared up in the afternoon and we were able to sit out in the parks listening to the buskers and street performers in the sun.
Our first stop was the Camera Obscura and World of Illusion, which meant walking through the Royal Mile… a place where you can’t help but stop and admire the old architecture of the buildings on the walk up as the old town is steeped in history and beauty. I’m not usually a fan of museums but the Camera Obscrua really makes you smile, as there is so much to interact with, it ensured our trip started off with on high. Although the ticket price is quite expensive, if you’re visiting Edinburgh for the first time I’d definitely recommend stopping by as it’s a one off experience and the exhibitions are nothing like I’d ever seen before. I especially wanted to visit to see the light room that looks like thousands of coloured stars, and this didn’t disappoint! There are so many weird and wonderful rooms to explore so make sure your phone/camera is fully charged before you visit because if you’re anything like me you wont be able to stop snapping pictures.
After we had spent we morning enjoying ourselves acting like little children at the Camera Obscura, we visited Edinburgh Castle which is just a minute walk away up the hill. Then as most couples do, we argued over where we wanted to eat for lunch. We decided we’d walk back down the Royal Mile and if anywhere grabbed our attention we’d see if they had a table. On the corner we spotted a Bella Italia and as I had not tried their gluten free menu, we decided to give it a go. I picked the Bolognese, their gluten free pasta in a traditional beef ragù. I felt the meal was pretty average, a simple chain pasta dish with no real flavour and a bit overpriced for what it was. Although they do offer a good selection of gluten free options, I probably wouldn’t chose to visit there again.
After a couple hours of shopping along Princess Street and visiting some of the beautiful art galleries that Edinburgh has to offer, we headed toCosta to pick up some fruit smoothies and sit in the sun before we had to catch our train home. Edinburgh has two gorgeous parks in the city centre and we spent the afternoon in both, relaxing on the grass. If you are lucky enough to visit on a day with weather like ours then I’d definitely pay a visit to one of these parks, just to sit for awhile and take in some of the beauty of this great city.
Although we were only in Edinburgh for the day, we managed to pack a lot in by planning ahead of what we wanted to see and do. It’s such a gorgeous city and living in Newcastle means that it is super accessible to reach by train, if you manage to book tickets in advance like I did then you can get two returns for around £30! So if you’re stuck for gift ideas for a partner or friend then I’d definitely recommend booking a pair of train tickets and whisking them off for the day to somewhere like Edinburgh, they’ll appreciate the thought much more than a box of Thornton’s chocolates aha!