Image: Kit Haigh
Date day with daughter we headed to the theatre for a production of ‘Snow White’.

Rewind to 2010 and Emily and I were involved with Northern Stage’s anniversary project #40babies where a living book was created and captured from bump to three years old so Northern Stage Newcastle always holds fond memories.

Fast forward to 2016, When I asked Emily if she’d like to go and see a ballet and that it was Snow White she bounced around the room shouting, ‘yes please mummy’.

Image: Bill Cooper

The production is by balletLORENT a leading UK contemporary dance company based in Newcastle upon Tyne, which regularly tours the UK. This version of was very far removed from the Disney version Emily is used to and akin to the darker side of the tale by Brothers Grimm which I’ve always preferred. So it was familiar to one of us but completely foreign to the other which led to lots of questions.

The set was simply beautiful and yet simplistic and was so adaptable throughout the whole production and was moved this way and that with what seemed like ease. The words by ‘Poet Laureate’ Carol Ann Duffy and a score by Murray Gold accompanied by balletLorent dancers and children from local primary schools took us to a magical place throughout the show. The score moved me lots and really hooked the emotion and the narration was fitting, dark in some parts and light and funny in others.

Here’s a snapshot of the story;

The Queen (Caroline Reece) creates a doll and she wanted to make a child in it’s likeness and the King was happy to oblige and baby Snow White is born (first divination from Disney as the Queen in Snow White’s Disney is ‘Evil Stepmother’ rather then Snow Whites mother). Children and adults alike come and greet the child. Alas soon after the King dies. The beautifully vain Queen is deeply saddened as well as the rest of the kingdom.

As the child turns from a baby (depicted by a doll) into a little girl (we loved how this was shown in the set but don’t want to give it away) then into a young woman (Natalie Trewinnard) the Queen shows her daughter the good things in life until she starts to see that the beauty of her daughter is now over taking her own. The modern dialogue mentioning hair dye and facelift made Emily and I laugh lots.

Here enters the magic mirror depicted by an exceptionally flexible dancer (Gwen Berwick) mirroring every move and told the Queen that her daughter was more beautiful. Her vanity could not cope with this at all and even though she had brought her daughter up in love she now could not bare for her to be on the planet.

The huntsman was sent to kill Snow White, the Queen is shown to eat what she thought to be heart of Snow White was a little intense.

No dwarfs but seven ‘stunted’ miners who like the dwarfs where in play and disliked the presence of Snow White at first but grew to love her.   With many more twists and turns along the way this is definitely a story worth telling.

Caroline Reece had me captivated and conveyed the part of a withering beauty with aplomb where as Emily loved Natalie (Snow White) although she was less than impressed that she ended up with the Huntsman and not, ‘a handsome prince’, whoops maybe I shouldn’t have said that?

The main actors where perfect but my eyes were continually drawn to one of the female dancers named Giulia Coti Zelati and the young girl partnered with her, their connection was lovely and it reminded me of Emily and I which made me smile on the inside.

We really enjoyed our our time and can’t wait to see what is next in store with  balletLORENT and Northern Stage.

Over the years we have seen many fabulous productions and can’t wait to see many more in the future too, infact our next visit is on Tuesday 5 April to see ‘Need A Little Help’.

 

 

 

 

Suz-and-Sandie

When I was a teacher, the holidays were planned for us. And let me say, they were always very much needed by the children as well as the staff!

Working for myself, I’ve made a conscious decision to stick to the school holiday timetable (without the six week summer holiday of course) but having a mini-break to look forward to every six weeks keeps me fresh and is just great I make sure we travel outside school holiday times.

Suzanne and I had the pleasure of attending the launch event of Barrhead Travel , an independent travel agents who have opened their first branch outside of Scotland in Intu Eldon Square, Newcastle. The staff were all super friendly, professional and knowledgeable, I’m looking forward to seeing what they can offer for a girl’s weekend away for us.

venice

Amongst all the nibbles and flowing wine, I found myself staring at the beautiful image of Venice on their wall, daydreaming about my next trip away, so far this year we’ve headed to Rome and have Nice to look forward too.

Amongst the guests it was lovely to catch up with Sandra Tang who is off on her own very exciting round-the-world trip in a matter of weeks (we really are VERY jealous Sandie!) she was also lucky enough to win one of the prizes on offer – a mini DFDS break. Suzanne had her fingers crossed for the Emirates flights, well who wouldn’t, they would have been perfect for a honeymoon! Suzanne has always loved to travel and realised she would be spending together forever with her H2B whilst travelling round the world. Although her plans are more moderate now having to accommodate two little ones taking time to travel will always be a priority in her life. STA used to be her agency of choice but Barrhead Travel is definitely more attune to the needs of a forty plus lady.

explore

Needless to say but we think it’s so important to take time out and travel, whether this be to the other side of the planet or just around the corner. To coin Nike – ‘Just Do It’.

Where are you heading to this year? We’d love to be inspired by your favourite trips.

 

Turtle Bay, Newcastle

As eating experiences go, this was a hot one! Turtle Bay, the Caribbean restaurant opened its doors in Newcastle with the same pizazz and panache as on their menu. When you think Caribbean, what comes to mind? I’ve never been before, but my imagination conjurers up balmy weather, white beaches, sunshine, cocktails and lots of coconuts! This new eatery had a lot to live up to.

As soon as we walked through the door, the well rehearsed staff greeted us personally, shaking our hands and introducing themselves. Nice touch. Immediately offered a cocktail, we were onto a winner.

So let’s start with those cocktails. Wow! They pack some punch (pardon the pun). With plenty to choose from, and some including a 63 percent proof white rum, you definitely need to leave the car at home when you’re having a night out in the Caribbean.

As a bone-fide rum lover, I was in absolute heaven as the rum stocked bar offers a choice of over 40 varieties.

Wandering around, there was a great atmosphere, busy, eclectic, colourful. I was already looking forward to trying the food. Having never eaten in a Caribbean restaurant, I didn’t have any expectations. But if you love all things spicy, I imagine you’ll want to move in.

Turtle Bay Cutters

To the food. The sheer volume we got to sample was staggering (thank you Turtle Bay Newcastle for looking after us so well). Deliciously spicy, the ‘Cutters’ (starters) are inspired by Beach Shacks & Street Hawkers across the Caribbean Islands… Jerk Pit Prawns, Duck Rolls, Jerk Chicken Wings, Pulled Pork Salads, Flat Breads, there are any amount of choices to nibble at and washed down with a soothing Banana and Peanut Butter smoothie, this first course was a real hit on our table.

(I wasn’t sure if that smoothie would work, but we couldn’t get enough of them. Like a pudding in a glass it tempered the spices).

The main courses kept on coming, ‘One Pots’ rich, slowly simmered & uniquely Caribbean of Goat Curry and the scrumptious coco-nutty Run Down; my personal favourite, creamy, flavoursome with just the right amount of kick. A variety of salads and Jerk Pit BBQ food, there’s enough on this menu to satiate any appetite.

Run Down

Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay to sample the sweets, but we left with brownies packed in a cute little brown boxes so we were happy ladies.

Nicola and Suzanne

As you’d expect, the staff were lovely, informative and friendly. We really did appreciated the time everyone took to greet us personally and shake our hands. Great customer service always makes the difference when dining out, and this service was great.

Unapologetic Caribbean really works. The décor is great, the eclectic mix of colours and murals represent the food; loud and made to be seen. This restaurant, like the food is not shy or retiring. Fun and frolics, a place to enjoy with friends and go cocktail-tastic.

This taste of the Caribbean in Newcastle has made me want to book my plane ticket to the real place. But in the meantime, I’ll be back to sample the other 39 or so varieties of rum.

Nic  x

 

 

View of Grey's Monument and Christmas markets from the Botanist

The setting; The Botanist. The occasion; Suzanne’s 40th birthday.

We were celebrating like we were 10 years younger. We’d left the house at lunch time after a hairdressing pamper session. We’d hit the Quayside, not so much like it used to be in the “glory going out days” but a more sophisticated affair (those of us over a certain age will no doubt remember ‘The Boat’ moored on the Gateshead Quayside?).

We enjoyed lots of merriment and drinking and by three ish food was absolutely the only option. Where oh where should we head? To ‘The Botanist’ that’s where. The Botanist is in Newcastle city centre, a beautiful bar and restaurant, where we could watch the Christmas lights being switch on and discuss the benefits of buying a windmill or three for our gardens.

From walking through the door, to leaving several hours later, the staff looked after us wonderfully. You can’t help but be impressed whilst inside The Botanist.  That enormous tree in the middle of the bar is always an attention-grabber, as is the sparkling dome.

botanist lights_edited-1

A bottle of house red got us started, and eventually we made a decision to share a starter, have a main meal each and share a sweet.

To begin Smoked Haddock Fishcake – this was packed with flavour and had plenty of fish which was lovely as so many fishcakes are packed with potato to bulk it up. As always Suzanne was hungrier than me so ate more than her share!

The Botanist cheese burgerI opted for a burger with fries covered in delicious garlic salt (lush) and after long deliberations and recommendations from our knowledgeable waiter, Suzanne chose the 9 oz ribeye with garlic butter and mash.

Suzanne loved everything about her medium rare steak (she assured me it was cooked to perfection) the little squishing out of blood doesn’t appeal to me but apparently it’s nice. And the mash was creamy and lumpless, always a bonus!

David, the restaurant manager, popped over to see us and have a chat whilst we were waiting for dessert. We got the impression that he really did love his job and treated us to some birthday cocktails.

I chose ‘The Botanist’ a concoction of Ketel One vodka, Bacardi Carta Blanca rum, elderflower liqueur, red amaranth, mint, jasmine syrup, lime juice topped with lemonade.

Suzanne opted for ‘The Chocolate Rose’ creamy loveliness filled with Ketel One vodka, rose liqueur, rose syrup, liquid chocolate, milk, cream – think Fry’s Turkish Delight in a glass.

Botanist KebabFor desert we shared the strawberry and marshmallow kebab with Sailor Jerry chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. This was heaven we both adored it – not one bit was left.

Suzanne’s overall opinion: “Lots of steps to the main floor but it was good to see the numbers as you walked up (there is a lift though!). I loved the experienced staff who informed us that they have to try the menu themselves so they can talk about with knowledge. The food was good and wholesome (but not to die for). the birthday cocktails were a fabulous treat, the Botanist is a lovely place to meet friends.”

My overall opinion: I loved it. I really like the decor and the feeling of space, the staff were wonderful and the food was delicious. The view is cracking, there aren’t many restaurants in Newcastle that can boast such an amazing vantage point over Newcastle.

We’ll definitely be back.

Nicola x

 

Premier Deluxe Suite Lounge, Beamish Park Hotel

When life is going super fast, it’s good to take your foot off the pedal and enjoy what’s on your doorstep. For us that’s Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and County Durham.

The Beamish Park Hotel, is a local, independently run business – just the kind we love to stay in.

A hidden gem, Beamish Park balances leisure and business needs perfectly, with the most helpful staff you could wish for!

Set in a beautiful rural location 15 minutes from Gateshead and Newcastle, Beamish Park is only five minutes walk away from the Causey Arch bridge, the oldest single span railway bridge in the country.

Although the bridge is only used as a walkway now, the sound of steam engines adds to the ambiance as they make their way along the Tanfield Steam Railway line. If you love a ramble, several routes pass the hotel and it’s within easy walking distance of the Beamish Museum (less than a five minute drive if you prefer).

The Room (42 bedrooms in total)
We stayed in a Premier Deluxe Suite, which was fantastically presented, clean and tidy. Alongside the super king sized bed (super comfy) and the usual offerings (tea, coffee etc), the Premier Deluxe has a separate lounge area with a desk to work from, two plasma screen TVs, a Bose sound system and a power shower cubicle large enough for two!

The room was very comfortable, suitable for a longer stay or a business traveller needing to spread out and work.

The Golf
There is a fully equipped, 9 hole, par three, golf academy on site next to the hotel. Being an absolute novice,  it was good to know that there was plenty of opportunity to practice in the driving range and on the putting green before setting out on the actual course!

Golf may not be my next big thing, but I had absolutely loads of fun, helped by the fact that my fella is an incredibly patient teacher.

Dining area

Food and events  
If you’re looking for somewhere to have a celebratory meal or event, the hotel offers a variety of deals and different facilities and hosts wedding receptions each year.

The food was absolutely delicious; a well cooked and thoughtful menu including many local ingredients all beautifully presented. The menu has altered since our stay but you can check out the new one here.

The Prices
Room prices start at £95 per night for the Executive Rooms and you can check out all the offers and availability here.

Thanks to Sandra and all the staff at the Beamish Park Hotel, we’ll be recommending you wherever we go!

Nicola x