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

See Santa at The Kingslodge InnEarlier this year we had the chance to pop to The Kingslodge Inn, Durham to see what we thought of it. And we loved it so much that I now run a monthly networking event for ladies there!

Well, they’re celebrating their first Christmas this year and we’re all welcome to join them.

They have a packed programme of events for all ages. Santa Claus is coming to town on Saturday December 3, and bringing some special guests from the North Pole with him. Children will have the chance to meet the man in the red suit and his elves, and receive a gift.

The fun continues on Saturday December 10 with the band Soul Central, then pop and rock disco and funk from The Flytes on Friday 16th, pop, rock and soul from The Casinos in Saturday 17, and superb folk covers and originals from Guilded Thieves on Saturday 17.

Each evening includes a three-course meal alongside the entertainment.

Christmas Day celebrations are now sold out but there’s still time to book to join them on New Year’s Eve when you’ll be transported back to the ’50s with Ruby & The Mystery Cats, a rockin’ quartet, who play wild and energetic rockabilly, rockin’ blues and rock ‘n’ roll music.

With a fabulous three-course meal, this is the perfect way to see Inn the New Year! The team are a really lovely bunch and their new Winter Menu looks fab too.

If you’re heading to Durham to the Christmas markets or just fancy exploring the wonderful Heritage Coast, or go shopping in the Metrocentre the Inn has 23 bedrooms and provides a Taste of Durham breakfast as part of your overnight stay.

You’re in safe hands as they hold an AA Dinner Award and the Taste Durham Highest Quality Assured Award in recognition of the quality of its home cooked pub food made with local and seasonal ingredients wherever possible.

Check the Inn out, we know they’ll definitely Welcome You Inn! #WelcomeInn

Nic x

Gill from Central Healthcare
Our recent posts have featured how Nic and I are becoming the best we can be in 2016.
Both of us have decided to get well in our own way whether it be going through C.B.T (cognitive behavior therapy) or sorting out toe nails. So here’s the next installment and this time it’s all about cleansing.

You may have seen the tweets about going for colonic irrigation. This was the ‘in thing’ back in the day, everyone seemed to be talking about it and even though you might not hear it as a buzz word anymore it’s still well and truly alive in Newcastle at Central Healthcare. It’s something I’ve thought about doing for years and since I’m wanting a full cleanse of my life it seemed sensible to include my colon too.

I’ve heard lots of stories, the good the bad and the indifferent. Prior to my appointment I was called by the Gill a nurse of 27 years to go through ‘what to expect’ which put me at ease and I was able to ask questions. The questions that had prevented me from going in the past. Things like, ‘will it hurt?’, ‘what are the short, medium and long term benefits?’, ‘will it hurt?’, ‘will the water be warm?’, ‘will it hurt?’…..

Gill talked me through her experience and why she is so passionate about the treatment. She went through the ‘ins and outs’ so to speak. Appointments last one hour so this pre visit call is very beneficial so it doesn’t actually eat into therapy time. One thing that Gill highlighted on more then one occasion was that the treatment MAY not lead to weight loss. I accepted the statement but also thought that if poop was being irrigated then surely weight loss is a side effect albeit only until you replace it with more food.

One week after the call – appointment time

I ensured the appointment could be on a child free day and I arrived into Newcastle city centre (train station area). There is on street parking nearby and two multi-storey car parks in the area. Ensure you buy a ticket and display it (I didn’t display so got a lovely parking ticket which I successfully appealed).

Central Health care is situated in one of the newly developed railway arches and looks unassuming from the outside which I saw as a positive as I’m not sure I’d want everyone to know where I was headed (instead I’ll write it down in detail and tell 1,000’s about my experience).

Gill welcomed me in and immediately put me at ease. I completed a short medical questionnaire and we went through the process again. He’s an A to K – of the process;

a. Entered white room with two white beds adorned in red towels. I recognised one of the beds locations from a     review by Lisa of Tried and Tested for a vitamin infusion.

b. Gill then went through the entire process with me and showed me where I could undress from the waist down.

c.I lay on the bed and Gill got to work. The sterile parts of the equipment was opened in front of me and then the speculum was popped into where it needed to go. Although completely being put at ease I did feel quite             embarrassed.

d. It was now time for the actual irrigation to commence. Here a slow stream of water went up the tube and goes     inside to fill the colon.

e. This gentle process carried on for a few rounds but then the intensity increased. Gill massaged my tummy and   then turned the water pressure up and she asked me to hold it for as long as possible and then release. I’m not     ashamed to say it, I was crap rather rubbish at the hold and it was definitely my least favourite part of the process. It simply felt weird and uncomfortable (not painful).

f. After the initial site of the number two there was nothing for a while. The clear water went in and tinged water
came out but there was NO substance to it. I really thought there would be a never ending exodus of backed up     poop from my rather poor diet. A few minutes went by and nothing.

g. Gill asked me if I thought I could take the deeper pressure again, and because I wanted the best results
possible I said yes….Then the pressure was upped and voila more extract happened but this was nearing the end of the prescribed treatment time, however she continued until more came and then that was over. A very quick hour.

h. Now time to extract the speculum.

g. Gill cleared up and disposed of all of the now non sterile equipment used whilst and I went and got dressed.

h. I went to the toilet as recommended to ensure any movement came out then and there.

i. I entered the main room again. Had a drink of water and a probiotic (you can read about their benefits in a Central Healthcare blog post here) which I was recommended to take for 30 days. I could have bought a supply but I knew I had some unopened probiotics in the house.

Then it was time to say goodbye…. 

How did I feel straight after the treatment? I felt clear in my brain as I’d been suffering from a niggling headache for days. My bloating reduced and I felt more vibrant. Gill recommended some more sessions to get the full benefits of irrigation.

Within the hour after treatment

Stupidly I decided to enjoy more mummy time off and headed to the Metro Centre and embarrassingly I did a big pump and more….I was mortified. I needed to find a toilet really quickly and whatever got moved during the colonic came out quick smart.

Rest of the day

I spent quite a lot of time at the loo and I drank lots of fluids to ensure I stayed hydrated.

The next day

Again I was quite poo tastic and the contents of the loo were rather bright yellow in colour. Normal? It didn’t look normal but I reassured myself that it was. (NOTE: yellow poo can be down to lack of good bacteria in the body).

Later that week – Fat class weigh in

As for weight loss on my weigh in I got a ‘maintain’ rather than a loss, so Gill was right after all but surely there should have been pounds lost from my body, I guess not.

Would I recommend colon therapy? I am of the persuasion that you shouldn’t knock anything until you try it. Gill and I talked all of the way through the treatment so it was akin to visiting a hairdressers in that respect. Therapy for the mind not the body; What I would do before, during and after a second treatment;

  • Clear your day if possible
  • Relax during the treatment (easier said than done)
  • Eat some probiotic yoghurt
  • Do not go shopping
  • Go home
  • Rest and enjoy the clarity
  • Don’t go with the expectation of miracles or weight loss.

Treatments start from £75.00. You can follow Central Healthcare on Facebook and Twitter  To find or give them a call on 0191 222 0100.

Suzanne HarissaNow when it comes to lovely dining, Sandyford in Newcastle might not spring to mind but our recent trip to ‘Harissa Mediterranean Kitchen’ has definitely opened our eyes. In fact we were a little reticent to share this gem of an establishment but since the blooming ‘Secret Diner has outed it as, “being so good he visited it twice” I only think it’s fair to give our view too.

This place most definitely has curb appeal and we were greeted by the owner (James/Jamie – depending on what day of the week it is) and we instantly felt as if we were at home, quite strangely as if we were going to a friends for dinner. Jamie was so friendly we were sure we’d already met him but couldn’t place where!

With a glass of ice cold water in hand, I started to talk to Jamie whilst Nicola took photos aplenty. My first question was; “What is Harissa” as I had visions of bottles of Harissa sauce in my head as my partner is a lover of all things spicy!  I on the other hand am a bit of a wuss, so Jamie talked through the menu and helped to select flavours that married well but weren’t overly spicy on the taste buds.

flowersThe decor is clean and crisp with such fab attention to detail. Jamie let us into a secret about the copper piping on the ceiling housing the Edison lamps (we’re not going to reveal his secrets though!).

Once all in-situ we were introduced to the restaurant and the concept of Harissa Mediterranean Kitchen or Harrisa for short.  Jamie explained the history of sister company Food Nation (at which point Nicola and I turned to each other and remembered Simon Preston who we’d worked with when promoting The Great North Eco-Feast way back in 2009 and is a director of Food Nation). You can read more about it here to stop me going off in on a whole other tangent!

Now back to the food. I was starving. I’d done a round trip to Leeds and back that day and Nicola had had a mega busy day and still had some prep for her LinkedIn training she was delivering the next day. Two tired, hungry ladies meant ‘eyes bigger then belly’ food consumption!

We started with a melody of nibbles in the form of spiced roasted nuts (hint go for the ones with less dusting for less spice), Honey, Cumin, Coriander & Smoked Paprika Marinated Olives (they warned us they weren’t pitted so all was good) Lemon, Chilli & Fresh Herbs Harissa House Pickles (punchy and well balanced).

Alongside this we ordered some marinated and char grilled Halloumi and some hummus – great flavours but I don’t think I will ever get used to the squeak of that particular cheese.

Fresh and lovely food Harissa

Next, mains. Be careful not to over order; at one point we had everything on our table as we hadn’t yet finished the starters.

We both opted for slow roasted shoulder of spiced pork with apple, grilled spring onion and crackling – they got me at crackling as it’s one of my all time favorites. It was tasty, but there was something missing and Nicola hit it on the head; honey. The very savoury taste needed to be lifted just a little with something sweet.

Et voila, a squirty honey pot was given to us and it really lifted the meal. Thankfully, the team didn’t think we were cheeky in-fact quite the opposite; the chef is going to make this part of the dish.

Mains HarissaDesert. We weren’t going to indulge but couldn’t resist and went for the honey, tahini & pistachio parfait and sesame praline orange and saffron polenta cake. Both were super scrummy but we couldn’t help coveting Laura’s and Kayleigh’s chocolate torte it was a ‘special’ and not on the menu. As we had already ordered it was a tad too late to change so we’ll go for that next time.

honey tahini and pistachio parfait

Overall:

There was a nice blogging buzz in the restaurant and it would be amusing being a fly on the wall watching us all trying to get ‘that perfect angle’! What was even nicer though, was people who saw us eating started to walk in and sit down and were greeted with open arms and the waitress (I’m so sorry we didn’t take your name) looked genuinely chuffed to be helping, ‘real customers’.

Hats off to food, your mission and your fabulous customer service, we’ll thoroughly recommend Harrisa.

Love Suz and Nic. x

 

War Paint Makeup bag from Smudge by JillyWhen Jill sent this parcel to our office, I got to thinking about our first meeting and just how different things are now.

It was a couple of years ago, I was delivering digital training across Yorkshire and she was working on the same programme. We connected immediately, two northern chatty lasses having a right banter!

Time rolls forward and she’s been a busy lady designing websites for businesses but also following her passion to launch her own cosmetics and skincare range.

Which is no mean feat.

I was genuinely over the moon to receive the parcel, all beautifully wrapped in brand colour tissue and tied with raffia string. I felt really proud of this gutsy lass.

Hidden within the parcel was a 100ml tube of Natural Tea Tree and Lemon Face Wash, £12 and a fab makeup bag emblazoned with War Paint (true enough most days!) which retails at £10.

The face wash is lush. A really subtle mix of tea tree and lemon, the lemon fragrance wins out for me, handy as I love fruity fragrances. My face felt really clean after using it and it’s especially good for oily skin (mine isn’t so I’d probably use the product every other day).

Jilly is developing a full range of skincare products and hand poured soy candles which are cruelty free, only tested on humans, organic and the ingredients are sourced in the UK.  Next on my list to try; the scrumptious looking lip balm and glosses.

If you’re keen to support small, local businesses, then jump over to Jilly’s website and take a look around.