Rosebery Hotel

It’s birthday time again and whenever our birthday falls on a week night we always choose to stay within an hour of home. Some may find this a little odd but we both love the North East. For just one night we relinquish the title of mummy and daddy and embrace being Suzanne and Richard.

SO was it daddy or chips (Durham of Newcastle)? We opted for chips and headed into one of our favourite suburbs – Jesmond. We are well versed in this area with still having a flat in the area (which we moved out of to become ‘serious adults’ back in 2010.)

Jesmond has a plethora of hotels from the tatty and dilapidated to the sleek and for our choice this evening ‘unique’. The Rosebery Hotel  has been receiving guests for around one hundred years and has been within the current owners, Janet Stansfield’s family for the last 40 years.

First impression – so then it’s not every day you see a bed in a garden but right from the start The Rosebery was out to make an impression. Whether you think it’s a good idea is simply down to taste but I truly embraced the ‘flower bed’ shocking pink and very in your face.

Flower bed

Parking – was a doddle with no permits or time constraints in place which is VERY unusual in Jesmond. We gave Janet a tinkle and we were welcomed by the lovely lady in a rather ta da way which we loved.

Her indoors –  Janet had had a busy day as she is well underway a whole hotel revamp and renovation of the hotel and she’s doing a mighty fine job (if you are a purist and want traditional Victorian interiors then this is NOT the hotel for you).

JS has an acute eye for the antiquities, curios and upcycling genius. She is a self confessed skip lover as am I (remember people always ask before you take)  and she let us into some places she sourced from but a lady has to have some secrets so I wont be telling you all here. Her design prowess doesn’t stay in her establishment but she’s been let loose on our tv screens too in Your Home In Their Hands – watch an episode with Janet in here .

The tour – We had a tour of as many of the available rooms as possible and we were even shown some that were occupied (the guests didn’t seem to mind). Each of the rooms had a different slant, some we liked, some we loved and some we weren’t so sure of. Janet let us in on her future room ideas and they are suitably luxurious.

A little tipple and an olive or two – a great touch is a drink on check in. With a lovely drinks trolley who wouldn’t say no to a G&T? This was teamed with a copious amount of lovely green olives.

Our room – room 18 – This room is a twin room and HUGE replete with two double beds so for us it was a happy bed and huffy bed (thankfully we didn’t need the huffy bed), en suite and a dining area too.

fabric-and-wallpaper

Our beds were ballooned filled with confetti too. Chocolates and perry to we really were spoilt, ‘Happy birthday Richard’.

Room 18 was most definitely cluttered but not in a bad way. Like many of the rooms they start with an inspirational wallpaper this one is Birdcage Walk by Nina Campbell.

The en suite was so pretty to look at. The turned wood on the footings of the bath was a simply work of art and sourced locally too. The mirrored, tiles, pale blue background and bathroom unit adorned with perfume bottles was perfectly curated. The only thing missing was a shower and I’d maybe strip back the toiletries.

bathroom

Our evening – I wanted to stay locally in Jesmond or in my new favourite restaurant in Sandyford, Harissa   but as it was Richard’s birthday it was his choice and he wanted to head into Newcastle city centre so we jumped in a cab and in 10 mins we were on Grey Street enjoying an evening as a couple. We couldn’t stay out too late as it was a school night though. Back to the ranch we headed at 11 bells.

Sleepytimes – we’d already chosen the ornate blue bed to sleep in but we had to heat the room as it was a little chilly but it soon warmed up. The bed was so comfortable that I was off to sleep very quickly and knowing I wouldn’t be awoken during the night was such a treat we’ve only had one other night away since Luke was born and that was at The Lowry in Manchester when he was three months old.

Richard didn’t sleep as well as I as he was worried about not waking up in time and the fridge was a little loud too.

Breakfast: This was an in room affair with a lovely selection of carb tastic treats (some of local supplier French Oven so we are told). I was a little surprised at the conserves not being local too this would be a welcomed accompaniment  but understand it’s not easy to do everything.

Breakfast

The croissant warmer did what it said on the tin and the juice kept nice and cold in the fridge. We got though a pot of tea and coffee and really wished we had more time to savour the comfortable silence that 10 years of coupledom affords you.

Time for work: When the devil did the road that leads from the Coast road to Jesmond Dene House close? It was definitely open when I was pregnant….. we had to do a detour to get to my work, thank goodness for sat nav!

A couple of things about the hotel.

1.      It’s dog friendly but doesn’t smell of dog and they can supply you with the cutest of dog beds.

Little dog bed

2.     Janet often has long term residents at the hotel. Some just like it others have it as their bolt hole whilst their loved one has treatment at the Freeman hospital. Some patients even come to the hotel to get away from the hospital and visit their beloved in nicer surroundings.

A little Q&A from myself to Janet

Q.        How does the old management feel about the (fantastic) changes?

A.        The old management love the new changes and pleased to see the building remain as a hotel, with it’s 100 year history of being a hotel    continue, rather than being converted into flats and loosing it’s aesthetic and charm.

Q.        Have long term guests welcomed the changes?

A.        Long term guests love the changes, as prices have not significantly increased, only slightly, so actually offer better value for guests money in a more stylish and unique environment.  Guests appreciate all the care and love that goes into the rooms, common parts and exterior and do get the humour behind the quirkiness.

Q.        What is your favorite room?

A.        My favourite room is room 5, as it’s vast, very light, quiet, has a beautiful      restful ambiance about it and you can see into Jesmond Dene, plus it has amazing wallpaper in Wisteria by Jocelyn Warner.

Q.        Does your furniture sourcing dictate the room theme or does theme come first.

A.        Depends what size, light, features are in the room and of course, what I can source for nearly next to nothing. Room 18, where you slept, the   fabulous oversized statement bed, I spotted at a vintage fair and it was horrible. But after a bit of TLC and imagination, guests have a fabulous, sumptuous king size bed to relax and get cosy in 🙂

We had a wonderful stay and a top tip is ‘BOOK DIRECT’ as Janet adds 30 percent to cover costs when booking through third parties.

Rates start from £40 and full rate prices can be found here

Thank you Janet for a fabulous stay.

*Accommodation was provided by the Rosebery Hotel, 2 Rosebery Crescent, Jesmond, Newcastle NE2 1ET in exchange for a fair and balanced review. All opinions are my own (and H2B’s when I let him have input).

 

 

International Women's Day Easyjet celebrates the day with an all female flight and ground operating crew.

easyJet takes to the air with all-female flight and ground crew operation in celebration of International Women’s Day.

EZY8275 left London Gatwick this morning bound for Madrid with a female Captain, First Officer and four female cabin crew.

The flight was captained by Kate McWilliams, 27, the world’s youngest female commercial Captain and co-piloted by first officer Sue Barrett. Cabin Manager Laura Marks was supported by three female cabin crew; Natasha Baker, Charlotte Carr and Nuria Belda Marco.

The flight was operated on easyJet’s special A320 aircraft named after renowned female aviator Amy Johnson.

Several female ground staff were also involved in getting the easyJet flight boarded and away from stand including;

Gate Agents Helena Curley and Ewa Alhutayfi – performing Boarding checks and procedures for each flight and pass final customer figures to the TCO and Captain.

TCO (Turn Coordination Officer) Lynne Pont – responsible for the turnaround of the aircraft itself.

Headset Operator Catherine Sims – responsible for the safety of the aircraft during the pushback from stand onto the taxiway and in direct communication with the flight crew and Pushback Tug driver.

Fueler Lucy Gorna – responsible for ensuring that the correct fuel is safely loaded onto the aircraft and in accordance with the figure requested by the Captain.

Cleaners Laura Heron, Emese Lenkey, Sheila Monteith, Marie Claire Lynx and Alison Seth– responsible for ensuring that each aircraft is cleaned internally.

De-Icers Maria Carr and Bethany Woods – When required, responsible for ensuring that the critical surfaces of the aircraft are clear of contamination such as snow & ice, prior to departure.

PRM Officer Kirsty Butler– When required, responsible for assisting all of our customers with reduced mobility from their arrival at the airport, until they are on board the aircraft. This includes use of motorised buggies, and scissor-lift vehicles to access the cabin.

Speaking prior to departure easyJet Captain Kate McWilliams, said:

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the achievements of women so we thought this all female flight would be a very fitting way to celebrate the achievements of the many women working in the aviation industry. There are more than 15 women who are making this flight possible today in positions from pilots and crew to gate agents and fuelers.

This year’s IWD theme is #BeBoldForChange to help forge a better working world which is more inclusive and gender equal. This year easyJet has set an ambitious target of increasing the proportion of its female pilots aiming for 20% of new intake pilots by 2020. The aviation industry is exciting and challenging and I firmly believe that there should be absolutely nothing to stop women from entering into a career in aviation.

The first woman to fly an airplane solo took off in 1908, only 5 years after the Wright brothers first took to the skies and most people will have heard of Amelia Earhart and Amy Johnson who are famous pioneers of the 1920s and 1930’s. Women have been involved in aviation’s history from very early on but since the war years whilst the total number of female pilots has steadily increased so has the number of male pilots, leaving the total percentage of female pilots largely unchanged at around 3 percent. It is hard to think of another high profile profession where women are  so under-represented so I would encourage anyone thinking about a career in aviation to do so – it’s the most rewarding career I could hope for.

International Women’s Day global campaign coordinator, Glenda Stone, said

easyJet is to be applauded for the way they have truly embraced the very ethos of International Women’s Day and are showing not only to their customers and industry, but to wider audiences, that women excel when there are no barriers to participation or involvement. International Women’s Day provides an important opportunity to accelerate gender parity, and here we clearly see the collective talent of women that inspires employees, customers, aspirational girls and many more.

Around 12 percent of Gatwick’s airfield team are women and Hayley Richardson, Airfield Operations Controller, was on hand to help guide the easyJet aircraft on the tarmac today.   Hayley said:

Working on Gatwick’s airfield is an exciting and rewarding job.  For obvious reasons our team has to maintain the highest professional standards and I really enjoy the responsibility.  I’d say the number of women I see working in other roles across the airfield is increasing and I would recommend a career on an airfield to any women who are thinking about it.

The activity is also being promoted on easyJet’s social media sites using a Female Pilot Emoji and  #FlyingHigh.

How will you be #BeBoldForChange this International Women’s Day?

 

Joan Collins Timeless Beauty

I still remember receiving my very first make up palates from my Aunty Chris. I think I was 14 and I got three perfectly beautiful pallets from Marks & Spencer. They were mine all mine and I coveted them as though they were the crown jewels. If I look hard enough in my old bedroom which is back to being the storage room I’m sure I would find these empty golden gifts.

Receiving that makeup made me feel so grown up, no more stealing mams (that didn’t last long of course). Fast forward almost three decades and I still feel special when I get new makeup. So whilst mooching around in Marks & Spencer’s beauty hall, which is an absolute must I must say as there are so many testers but there aren’t any of those assistants to turn your huge effort that you went to this morning seemingly pale to insignificance with their perfectly applied makeup.

There are 36 brands in place at M&S and I selected one of them to try; Joan Collins an icon if ever there was one. Strangely the year I got my first makeup was the last year Dynasty was produced but Joan seems not to have aged and Alexis Colby, will forever be etched in my memory.

The range by Dame Joan Collins who is 83 is named Joan Collins Timeless Beauty. Oh lordy if I look like her at 63 I’d be very happy. I tried out the foundation, concealer and a lip and powder compact. The packaging screams Hollywood glamour but will the contents live up to the look?

Fade to perfect concealer; Currently I suffer from puffy dark eyes so it was good to read that this concealer is to aid the reduction of dark circles, soothe irritation and calm puffiness around the eyes. This indeed worked to a point but I by no means expect miracles. This concealer comes in three shades; fair, medium and dark and I tried out fair which worked for me. I use concealer before and after foundation so I do go through quite a lot so will need to consider a repeat purchase as it is £18.

First base foundation; I go between powder and cream foundation for day and night. Cream is most definitely my go to evening foundation. First Base is said to be youth promoting skincare and a foundation in one. The finish is lovely, quite natural and breathable but the tingle I get from what I presume is the hyaluronic acid is a little disconcerting. Despite the tingle first base has never left my skin reddened and the tingles do die down. This comes in eight shades and is £25 it would be difficult to choose between this and Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Foundation.

I liked the coverage and the dewiness on my skin on my dry skin days though it did stick to the pores so more exfoliation needed for me.

Lipstick and powder compact duo; This is one of those products I like to flash as it looks so good. The opulent packaging is distinctive. Top tip: project it in your makeup bag as it does scratch easily.

I chose Katrina which is quite a deep brown shade. The lippy glides onto the lips and leave them instantly moisturised. I do wish I’d picked a lighter shade as this is one for an evening but the formula is so lovely I want to use it all of the time.

Katrina is combined with pressed powder and a mirror both of which have become a god send as recently the tip of my nose seems always to be red and the powder helps to combat it. I love the fact that you can marry any of the 16 shades of lipsticks with the compact. I think Marilyn will be my next choice and the lip stick retails at £18.

I’ve already chosen to try out Rosie for Autograph on my next Marks & Spencer visit. .

 

 

 

Joan Collins Timeless Beauty items were gifted for review purposes but all opinions are our own.

Victoria Sponge

We love baking in our house and when I saw ‘Children’s Book of Baking (Usborne Cookbooks)‘ sitting on the shelves of our local charity shop I simply had to buy it and got a little excited to try out some recipes. Since it’s Valentine’s we thought we make a Victoria sponge, well who doesn’t love cake?

Apron donned and hands washed let the cooking commence….

Here’s what you will need if you’d like to join in;

Cake

2 x 20cm cake tins

4 medium eggs

225 g softened butter

225g caster sugar

225g self raising flour

Filling

100g softened unsalted butter

225g icing sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

4 tablespoons of strawberry jam

Victoria Sponge making

Method

Heat the oven to 180 degrees C / gas mark 4.

Wipe the insides of the tins with cooking oil. Place parchment paper in the bottom of each tin.

Break the eggs into a bowl and beat together with a fork.

Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat them until they are pale and fluffy. Add the eggs a little at a time and if the mixture curdles pop in a little bit of flour.

Sift the flour over the mixture and gently fold in with a metal spoon.

Divide the mixture equally between the tins.

Smooth the top (Emily and I find this really tricky).

Bake the cake in the oven for 25 minutes. Pop on some oven gloves and carefully remove the tins from the oven.

Press the cakes to check they are cooked.

Leave the cakes in the tins for five minutes to cool. Then run a knife around the edges and turn them out onto a wire rack.

For the filling

Put the jam in a bowl and beat it. Spread it over the top of the bottom cake.

Make the butter cream by mixing the icing sugar and butter together until they reach a delightful texture then spread that over the bottom of then top cake (we ignored this and tried to pop it on top of the jam but this didn’t leave a nice clean typical Victoria sponge white and red line but more of a gorgeous pink marriage).

Sandwich both cakes together and gently press together.

Scatter some caster sugar on top. We decorated our cake with strawberries but this is optional.


TYummy cakeotal Time
: 70 mins Taste: Fabulous (if we do say so ourselves).

Check out Emily on Instagram.

Be our Valentine

Love from Sofa Stories x x

Topher McGrillis

I’ve always loved stories by Roald Dahl, I wish I could have jumped into his brain and listened to the whirring of the inventive musings. We are all so lucky that he put down on paper his thoughts and generously shared them with the world.  I simply can’t wait to share one of my favorites stories with Emily my six year old daughter.

My lovely little lady can watch Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp) and Matilda on loop but this is her first experience of the grasshopper, centipede, earthworm, spider, ladybug, silkworm and glow-worm of James and the Giant Peach. What’s even better is that it’s on stage rather then screen at one of Emily and my favorite places, Northern Stage.

Dahl’s first novel for children tells the story of a lonely little boy named James. He escapes in a giant peach after a magical encounter and finds he’s capable of much more than he ever imagined.

Director Mark Calvert says,

James and the Giant Peach is a massive show which deserves to be on a massive stage, so for the first time in Northern Stage’s history we’re using both of our stages combined into one huge space to tell one story. It’s so exciting to be working on this scale, taking the audience on an epic adventure that deals with being lonely and discovering how important friends and family are, which is not a bad tale to tell at Christmas time.

Adapted for the stage by David Wood OBE and directed by Mark Calvert (who first introduced me to Northern Stage with 40 Babies back in 2009/2010), this new Northern Stage production has been designed by the ever-inventive Rhys Jarman (Institute, Gecko£), with original music inspired by big bands and swinging Broadway musicals of the 1940s and 50s.

 

Recommended ages 5-11 years with a running time of two hours (including interval). The production runs until Sat 31 Dec so why not book your ticket here . We’ll be posting our review soon but keep an eye on twitter and instagram for photos of our evening.

james