Monday, 30 September 2013

Fielding throws a curve ball

So, Mark Darcy's dead - is he? Is Helen Fielding for real? All we (the Bridget adoring female population) have to go on is an extract published in The Sunday Times, where we find the heroine aging, widowed and dealing with the singles (toyboy)scene with two children in tow. Hardly full confirmation, and I'd hope the book might have a little twist, even a predictable one such as this: Mark Darcy was a humanitarian lawyer. Suppose he went to see a client abroad in some godforsaken hellhole and there was an incident. All presumed dead. Perhaps even remains have been repatriated and buried. But it's not him. He's a prisoner somewhere. Perhaps even when he escapes and comes home, he observes Bridget at a distance and can't bring himself to intrude on the life she's forging since his 'death' - after all, he is a little bit of a drip, perhaps it's all only revealed on the cusp of her marriage to someone else...
Pic: The Guardian

Sunday, 8 September 2013

So not a one off for Esso

Since I mentioned on this blog and to anyone I came across about the practices of Esso appearing to register one amount at the petrol pump which 'magically' increases by the time one arrives at the kiosk to pay, several people have confirmed that this has also happened to them, to the point that they will no longer use Esso. As previously stated, a pump clicking an extra penny seems hardly newsworthy, but given the number of customers passing through every day, this sharp adds up. Unfortunately I can't see Esso doing anything about it unless the public push for it. Their prices seem obscenely inflated anyway, without factoring in an extra rip-off.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

How Low Can Esso Go?

Thieving little b#@*!^ds. As if petrol wasn't expensive enough. Yesterday the petrol light came on and as I've done a fair bit of running around since then, I thought it best I pop a bit in the old tank. Asda has the best deal price-wise but also the longest queues so I resorted to an Esso station nearby. Very carefully I put in exactly £10 - EXACTLY £10, yet by the time I'd got to the kiosk to pay it'd clicked another penny. Complaints fell on deaf ears. It's only a penny. I know it's only a penny today, but if it's a penny every time I go there, a penny for every customer they have, that's a lot of pennies extra they're clicking.
original image: wikimedia

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Entour -RAGE

What is it with people that seem unable to spend even 30 seconds apart. And I'm not talking about lovey-dovey couples here. Yesterday at the MetroCentre, I witnessed someone waiting for a lift. They were pushing a wheelchair. They had to wait for a second time because when the lift arrived, it was filled by a woman with a pushchair (fair enough) and several women that were with her. Now surely anyone with any sense would realise that the other women could have gone down the escalator (right next to the lift)and met their friend/relative at the bottom, thus freeing more space for those who actually need it. Indeed, the lady pushing the wheelchair had another companion with her that did just that. Are they afraid they'll get lost? Under some sort of contract that requires them to remain in such close proximity? Selfish, unthinking oiks? Mmmm, I know which one I'm going with.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

7 for all womenkind including me?

Y'know I haven't bought a pair of jeans for 5 years? For the most part, quite simply because I haven't found any to fit. Leg length, waist vs hip fit - it's a minefield, and since I've long legs (36" inside) and most stores appear to have reduce their 'Tall' lines to online only, buying has become an even more arduous task than before. I do like to try before I buy as all the faff sending stuff back if it isn't right just contributes to elevated blood pressure and a sending back to square one. Enter the new(ish) jeans-mart within House of Fraser. John Lewis has one too, where there's a pretty good selection of high-end jeans with longer leg lengths as standard. And I've found the perfect pair, only at £170 they're not exactly perfect on the wallet when it's just taken a hammering on holiday. But as I mentioned before - no jeans for 5 years, and since most people buy what? a pair a year at at least 50 quid a pop I reckon I've more than covered what will surely be an investment pair. That's how I'm justifying it anyway! (For anyone who notices I made reference to a pair of Biba jeans a while ago, I did find some through the MetroCentre's Jean Genie service - they fit really well apart from the length but I was assured they came in a longer fit. They didn't. Boo to Biba.)

Friday, 16 August 2013

Paris Can Can Can't

My recent sojourn in Paris was a little disappointing. All work and no play. The closest I got to play was a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower from my train window and a quick dash to Sephora. My little bolthole near the Gare du Nord was serviceable but certainly not glamorous, and 12hour working days not conducive to living the high life. I made few purchases, amazed at how expensive things were. Who'd have thought that French brand make-up etc would be cheaper in the UK! On the plus side, Sephora's own brand is very reasonable and smells divine - they even ship to the UK for a small fee and compared to US prices it's a steal! The real highlight thought was probably in the Prada shop at CDG en route home. I could have had a 'Pretty Woman' moment, you know the one where the shop staff won't wait on her - I probably looked like a scarecrow's less attractive sister, but the assistant was very charming, telling me all about their new line, did I want to try a bag on... I declined the try on, I might have dirtied it and been forced to buy it, but it was lovely, definitely on my Christmas list if anyone's thinking of buying me anything, and...I managed to conduct my whole week in French.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Terrific Tenerife 3

As more and more hotels make the move to half-board or even all-inclusive as standard, you may feel as though you're missing out on the local cuisine. You'd be right, but since most places are more than happy to allow a little flexibility (swapping some dinners for lunches etc) you can get the best of both worlds. The first place I'd love to recommend is a little place called 'Capri'. It's in a pretty little arcade at the back of the Playas Fañabé and Torviscas. The baked Camembert is to die for, along with the breaded oyster mushrooms. I also highly recommend the sautéed broccoli. The pasta dishes are a real treat too. The Fettuccine Paraiso and Fusilli Paulo in particular and the pizzas are light as air and generous in size and topping. The menu doesn't stop there. There's also a wide selection of both fish and meat dishes - something for everyone. The Gran Reserva restaurant just around the corner from the Guayarmina Princess hotel is another one to put on the list. Their speciality is meat, lots of it, those who prefer to think of their lambs gamboling look away now! Suckling pig is the house special, I haven't sampled it personally but am told it's fantastic. The selection of fish, meat, steaks... I could eat there every night, and then wouldn't have been able to squeeze on the plane to come home! At both restaurants (esp. Capri) it's the quality of the service that makes them stand out even further. Good service is something I find establishments in the UK are lacking in - a lesson or two could be learned from our Canarian friends.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Terrific Tenerife 2

Our hotel in Adeje was ideally placed for two other fantastic places - the first being the pool club (swimming pool) and bar at the Jardin Tropical sited near Puerto Colon. Although this belongs to a hotel, the bar and restaurant are open to the public, as is the pool, complete with loungers and parasols (for a price of course). It's perched right on the edge of the cliff with spectacular views across the ocean, and conditions permitting, to La Gomera. The second place sits a little further towards Americas, at the back of the Las Cuevitas bay. The Gelatomania icecream parlour has a dizzying array of flavours from watermelon to Red Bull to Smurf!! It appears that this year even Hello Kitty and Sponge Bob got the icecream treatment. Delicious.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Terrific Tenerife 1

A lot of people get a bit sniffy about Tenerife. Sure, the Las Americas area has a reputation for boozy lads/lasses clubbing holidays and some of its hotels are somewhat faded, but there's more to South Tenerife than Americas. Head north and you'll come to the much more salubrious resort of Adeje. The hotels are newer and of much better quality; you'd struggle to find any with less than a 4star rating, the streets and the promenade are noticeably cleaner and the restaurants geared for finer dining - fewer 'all day breakfasts' on offer. Of course it comes at a price. If you want the all night nightlife whilst staying in Adeje, it requires a long walk or splashing on a taxi and day to day it's more expensive too. Our round of drinks comes in at a good 2 or 3 Euros more than in Americas, which seems like little per round, but can quickly add up over the course of a fortnight for those on a tighter budget. It's worth it though. Having been to the resort a couple of years ago, we decided to revisit and stayed at the Guayarmina Princess, a 4star hotel right on the front. Its sister hotel, the 5star Bahia Princess sits just behind it and we'd considered staying there but after consultation with a family member who has stayed several times at both, chose the Guayarmina. The room was pretty bog standard really but had a cracking shower (very important) and great views over the pool and sea. The food was lovely (don't ask how much weight I've put on - diet starts tomorrow) and the staff were polite, courteous and very helpful. The pool area, including its dedicated loo facilities, was spotless with plenty of sunloungers on terraces overlooking the sea. The one gripe I have, and it's not with the hotel or the resort but with the people in it. I know they're on holiday, but you don't take a holiday from keeping your children under control. I've never seen such unruly children or parents so disinclined to keep behaviour in check.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

A cut above at El Coto

I was a little apprehensive about a girls' (sorry, girls and one token boy's) night out which included eats at El Coto. Tucked away behind Newcastle's Labour Club, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was merely a small bar, and a bit of a drab one at that, but the modest entrance leads to a corridor which leads to a world where the most wonderful things happen. We all opted for the same fixed price menu (there were four to choose from ranging in price from £14.95 to £23.95 a head). For a table of four that would mean one of each dish on that particular menu, for eight people, two of everything - odd numbers get a proportionate amount of dishes. The concern is that it's tapas, and if the portions are small, one might go hungry. I worried needlessly. There was plenty to go around, dishes like the obligatory cheese, tomato, chorizo, calamari, the tenderest beef, spicy chicken..., no-one felt as though they'd missed sampling any of the dishes and there was food left over. AND, with drinks for the table - couple of glasses of wine, pitcher of sangria etc, including tip, it came in at a very respectable 20 quid a head. (This was based on the £14.95 menu as it had the most vegetarian options on it!) Definitely one to go back to.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

The pleasure's mine - PTMY

With its NY industrial loft style interior straight out of the pages of a design mag and the hype surrounding its launch at the end of May, I did worry that PTMY (Pleased To Meet You) in Newcastle would have more than a hint of pretension about it. Despite my fears, I popped along anyway, a whole 5 weeks after its opening to see what the fuss was about. Gin seems to be the in thing right now but having never been a fan I settled on a bottle of cider, my friend on the 'not quite pale ale' of Magic Hat No.9, and sat back to peruse the menu. One plate, or rather wooden board of burger for me, pulled pork of the friend later, and I've decided it's probably going to be a regular on the circuit. The ambiance is a bit, modern-day speak-easy - the music not too loud, the newspaper rods are a nice touch rarely seen these days, the display cases of beer and the menus written on old glass doors. The food was superb, the service equally so. I'm looking forward to my next visit.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Invisible Me

I'm feeling lucky to be alive. Thought I'd take a little time out this morning to go buy food. Tootling home and came within inches of being wiped out by some dozy bitch pulling into my lane without looking. Even when I blared my horn and flashed my lights at her she still appeared oblivious, as did the man in the passenger seat. Thing is, this happens quite a lot. It's only a few weeks since someone else pulled out on top of me at a junction - I had to call the police - she claims not to have seen me at all! A couple of months before that, another idiot trying to pull into the space that my car was then occupying. Again claiming "I didn't see you". Either there are too many people driving around with their eyes shut - which is a very frightening thought - or they really did perfect the invisible car, and it's mine! Perhaps James Bond might like to borrow it for his next mission.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Mail Manners

Whether one has any intention of acting on information in an email or not, how difficult is it to fire a quick reply at least acknowledging receipt? I get that people are busy, but surely that was supposed to be one of the benefits of email - that they were quick and easy. No real writing involved, no posting or searching for someone's in-tray in which to drop a printed note. Automated responses stating something has been read don't really cut it either. I have a friend who clicks open every email she gets from colleagues which then triggers the 'read' email being sent back. Has she read them? Has she hell! But here I am, not even an automated response in my inbox, not a brief, 'thanks but I haven't the time to deal with it' or even 'thanks but no thanks' - simply nothing. I feel I wouldn't get far if I played like that.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Summer's Flop

Actually, Summer hasn't quite been a flop yet. The sun has been shining and it's been warm, not that I've seen much of it - work work work. The sun however, does bring out that most heinous of fashion trends in men - the flip-flop. Not content to be relegated to holidays in the Med or pool-side, it appears they can (really?) be sported with everything. Evidently the men wearing them possess neither a full-length mirror nor a partner willing to tell them how naff they look. This week I have had the misfortune to subject my eyes to several men wearing the offending footwear with thick tracksuits, all grey with elasticated ankle cuffs, and one poor man in a suit and flip-flops. Ick. And, FFS, if men really have to wear them, at least get a pedi!
Pic. Men What to Wear 2012

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Plough's in a furrow

The Plough at Dipton has been a favourite of mine for a while now. It touts fresh local produce and inventive menus at a very reasonable price and has built up a good reputation. However, once a place has achieved something good, it is required to maintain that standard and unfortunately, The Plough is allowing things to slide. The specials are uninspiring and unchanging and the quality of the food, its preparation...disappointing. Undercooked, overcooked, skimpy's fast becoming run of the mill. Sort it out Plough People - get back on the ridge!

Monday, 17 June 2013

Claude and Aud land a good'un in Landes

After a year of waiting since its premiere at the Cannes Festival last year, I finally got to see Thérèse Desqueyroux. The intimate 'Roxy' screen at the Tyneside Cinema had me feeling as though I was watching it in the comfort of my own home albeit with a few more people than my front room can accommodate. Director Claude Miller died shortly before it premiered and the public has endured a further year before seeing it on general release. It tells the story of Thérèse, daughter of a wealthy landowner from the Landes 'departement' in Aquitaine. Intelligent and headstrong, she believes that marriage to the older brother of her childhood friend Anne, will 'sort her out', that she will become accustomed to the banalities of life as a wife and mother. Jealous of her friend's passionate romance with a young Portuguese man and confined in her marriage to a man content with the union of the two wealthy landowners; he is eager for a child and is happy to play out the expected social conventions of the time, Thérèse is stifled and resorts to desperate measures, but is not necessarily in control of her actions. Beautifully played by Audrey Tautou; she captures the disappointment, bitterness, resignation in the situation in which Thérèse finds herself; Gilles Lellouche as Bernard is an imposing character, and there's delicious eye-candy in the form of Stanley Weber as Anne's Portuguese lover whom some may recognise from the series 'Borgia'. The backdrop to the whole story is the land, around Argelouse in Landes, Aquitaine. Anyone who's visited this area, or even further north into the Gironde or Charante-Maritime will recognise the sandy soil, the pine trees, heather and the lovely blue sea. The houses are stunning, as are the costumes. The film is never loud or showy, it is slow and gentle, but that is all it needs to be. It reminds us that for all the special effects available nowadays, it is still possible to produce a great film without them.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Byzantium -er -er

Well, having seen the trailer for this a few weeks ago, it was on the 'one to watch' list, but since its release on the 31st May, very few cinemas seem to have shown it, and few for more than a week. How bad could it be? Actually, it's not 'bad' at all, just mediocre. The plot is ok, Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan, the undead, but hunted by a Brotherhood as Arterton, as Clara, broke the rules by becoming a creator, but there's a fair bit of over-acting and some cringe-worthy dialogue as well. You've probably missed it on the big screen now, wait for it hitting your TV sometime next year.

Stressed? Get desserts

The new GBCupcakery on Queen Street in Newcastle is divine. There's a 'parlour'; it's not huge, just a few tables and chairs. The décor is delicate; the cakes are delicious. I'm almost sorry I found it. My waistline is not going to thank me for it but gosh, it's a little piece of melt-in-the-mouth heaven. Cakes to order for Weddings and Birthdays too. The picture shows the lemon and raspberry cupcake and the millionaire brownie.

The quay to wedded bliss

It's been a busy weekend. I'm glad I didn't go mad Friday night, being pretty tired after another hectic week (is there any other kind?). I'd intended going to the Steamer event at the Stephenson Building, but blew it off in favour of a curry from the local and a glass of red. Saturday, and we popped along the Quayside to the new GBCupcakery - see separate post - and then, finally to the Steamer event. Should really have scheduled more time for this and am glad to see it's a regular; will also leave the car at home next time in order to sample more from the Wylam Brewery. Music provided by Northern Monkey Brass Band, a funky take on classics/popular/soundtracks - lots of fun, and the food, I'm sure I gained weight from the aromas alone!! Gorgeous. Definitely worth a visit next month. Night, and it's on to The Gate for cinema, Studio B, this is my home cinema when I drop the EuroMillions - to see Byzantium - separate post - then home for a quick few hours respite before the wedding. The nuptials of, let's call them Sarah and Mike, were lovely. Simple, elegant, a reading by the bride's brother moved the entire room (including the bride's brother) to tears, a reading about a zombie apocalypse brought laughter, but was still sentimental and heartfelt; the flowergirls were adorable, the colour of the older bridesmaids' dresses the sort of cornflower blue of a Mediterranean sky; *sigh*, almost makes one wish it was one's own wedding! Gentlemen, form an orderly queue! I'm sure "Sarah and Mike" will be very happy. I do admire people willing to still take that step, despite the statistics.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013


The post-birthday blues. The night(s) out, the cards, the presents - all over and done with; this week sees me feeling a little flat. Not depressed, just flat - a bit 'meh' 'blah', you know what I mean. Work is really busy, deadlines to meet, the weather has been pretty good which means I'd rather be doing anything but working and I'd really like a holiday. On the plus side, I'm going to a wedding (another one) this weekend which should be nice and am looking forward to the steamer event in Newcastle this Friday night. Little things!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Fabba Saba-tini

Today is my birthday. I've had a lovely day - sedate, thanks to overdoing the vino just a teeny bit last night. Starting with drinks in Brown's (it's about the only thing I'll have in there as the twice I've eaten I've been disappointed - see previous posts), we moved on for a quick one in the Slug and Lettuce before nipping out the side door, across the street and into Sabatini's. I've never been before but know many who have and many who love it. I am now one of those who love it. From the delicate batter coating my calamari to the last dregs of Limoncello, it was quite simply fantastic, and very reasonably priced to boot! I'll be back.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Try, try again

My friends say I'm somewhat of a pedant when it comes to language - grammar etc. I agree, especially over the use of the apostrophe and when we appropriate foreign languages for use in this country. If we must, we must get it right. The latest error/misprint being found on a canvas at Next. I did refrain from speaking to anyone in the store about it and simply emailed instead. If you want to check it out for yourselves, it's the Eiffel Tower canvas!

'Counter' assistance

So, I bought another lot of YSL BB cream today - fab stuff - highly recommend it. The counter assistant in House of Fraser was attentive but not overbearing, and commented on how the product would suit me without having to use foundation over the top as I had no skin imperfections. Walking away from the store, having made my purchase, I said to my friend how jolly nice that was, selling me the one product, saying how good my skin was, and not trying to flog me more products on top as not 5 minutes before, the assistant on another counter had told me how awful my skin was and that I needed at least 3 of their products to cover my imperfections! Shan't be calling at THAT counter again, but have found a best friend in YSL.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Much a duel about Belsay

Belsay has been rocking the Regency period displaying costumes worn by the stars in various Austen productions. They're lovely. The attention to detail is amazing, for something that might only be glimpsed for seconds on screen. What was also interesting was just how tiny these costumes are. The dress Gwyneth Paltrow wore when she played the eponymous 'Emma'; we all know how slender she is, but I was under the impression that our Gwynnie was quite a tall lass - this dress indicates otherwise! Or this purple number (pictured) worn by Dame Judi Dench. Tiny! Costumes available to view til end of August 2013. Out front on the lawn, spectators were able to see performances of Regency dance and both pistol and sword duels. And all in the glorious warm sunshine - er, this is a British Bank Holiday weekend isn't it?

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Daisy Wilts in Aussie Sun

I saw The Great Gatsby this week. A big fan of the book, not of Leo, I'd been waiting for this since last year when its release was delayed due to technical problems and then to avoid a clash with Django Unchained, also starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The critics at Cannes fairly panned it, the BBC reporting that Fitzgerald's "delicate prose" had been obliterated and overwhelmed by Australian director Baz Luhrmann's gaudy spectacle. (Thursday 16th May 2013) I disagree. Yes, some aspects changed, but they usually do between page and screen; Nick's appearance in the hospital being advised to write down his experiences, so traumatised is he by the events of summer 1922, and the subsequent flashback/forward scenes; the downplaying of the relationship between Nick and Jordan Baker - exquisitely played by Elizabeth Debicki, to name but a couple. The party scenes, with the swirling aerial shots, trapeze artists, fan dancers and the music. Nevermind that it's modern music: Beyoncé, Lana del Rey, Florence and the Machine; none of it seems out of place. What does seem out of place is Carey Mulligan as Daisy. I thought in the first scene in which she appears, "Yes, she's going to nail this!", but unfortunately she lost pace, sparkle and became wooden, bland and certainly not the sort of girl Gatsby would spend 5years obsessing about. Leo does a much better job than I expected; assured in the beginning; anxious and nervous at the prospect of meeting Daisy again and then finally desperate at the realisation that one cannot simply erase time, that the idealised perfection is not perfect. Full of metaphors, the film gives a snapshot of the age of Jazz, Art Deco and the corruption of The American Dream. Watch out for Isla Fisher - a show-stealer as Myrtle.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Better late

The past two nights in Newcastle and Gateshead have seen The Late Shows taking place - venues normally closed, opening late til 11pm, entry free to all. It was a fantastic opportunity to take a peek inside places I'd not usually frequent due to exorbitant prices or through lack of time etc. First up was Seven Stories - The National Centre for Children's Books in Ouseburn. I've resisted going before - the prices are astronomical, and as an adult sans enfant, I felt I didn't have enough of a reason. This year however, they're hosting an Enid Blyton exhibition which I really wanted to see, remembering The Famous Five, The Magic Faraway Tree and Noddy. It's an impressive building and I loved the exhibition, spending a few minutes talking to a member of staff about the modern printings of the books and how the publishers have thought it necessary (unnecessarily in my view) to change certain things for the modern reader. Next up was 36 Lime Street, just next door, home of creatives a-plenty, in particular Jim Edwards whose paintings of Newcastle and the environs will look lovely on my wall, and the fantastic glasswork of Zoe. I also got my very first glow stick here! Sheltered life! Moving on to St. Nicholas' Cathedral back in the heart of Newcastle. The exterior of this building gives little clue as to the marvellous interior. The carving of stone, wood and marble, the stained glass... I confess I had a moment. It's beautiful. Last, but certainly in no way least, the Lit and Phil. Just down from the station, this public library is one of the town's best kept secrets. Last night it was a little over-crowded to be appreciated fully (shame) but it is open to all. You need only be a member to take books out,and I'm told OWNE have had the odd night there too! Looking forward to next year's Late Shows already.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Monk's all white!

Thus far I haven't been able to write a food review without complaint. This marks a first. The White Monk Tea Room is currently the only place in Blanchland to eat since the Lord Crewe is closed for refurb. Popped in while dodging showers on a stroll around the village. Great service, attentive but not overbearing, lovely soup, thick hot and seasoned, and proper home-made scones and jam. All washed down with thick rich coffee. Just what I needed to warm up before nipping across the road to check out the local church. Worth a look; for such a small building, the interior is really exquisite, carved wooden ceiling, enormous organ, and small internal chamber, all with intricate carving and moldings. Then the sun came out.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

A Light Touch

I don't know about anyone else, but I hate shopping for foundation. No sooner do I find one I like than it gets discontinued (Clarins Souffle de Teint) and the 'replacement' is never quite right. One of the main problems I have is that I'm very fair, coupled with cool (read very pink, not a hint of yellow) undertones, with a tendency to dryness, does not an easy buying task make! Nor am I fond of the overly-made-up look. I still want to look like me, not some plastic or wax version, so it was with a little trepidation that I sat down at the Lancome counter to try their Teint Visionnaire, when the assistant looked like a marionette. More is not always more, and I really don't like assistants who feel they have to advertise EVERY product in the range on their own face. Unfortunately, while the colour match seemed adequate, the consistency of the product was thick, coverage heavy, and that was even without the concealer that comes with every pot (the concealer, I was told, is too heavy to use around the eyes, thus necessitating the purchase of another product). I wore it out, peered into a mirror a couple of hours later to a waxy unnatural appearance, heavy and artificial. I shan't be buying any. I've been using YSL Teint Touche Eclat, it's never going to hide every imperfection, but it's light, softening of the imperfections, a great colour and I still look like me.

Monday, 29 April 2013

When the chips are down...

Well, there weren't actually any chips. They'd run out. They being Harry Ramsden's in Scarborough, but we'll get to that in a mo. A smashing Saturday in Whitby, busier than Whitby usually is because of Goth Weekend (everyone dressed up in an exciting array of costumes from Victorian Funeral Directors to Steampunk Time Explorers) despite the wind and occasional downpour, then on to Scarborough, for a reminisce of not only my childhood days away with grandparents, but those of my mother too, seeing the places she stayed in the late 50s and early 60s. The rain torrential, we jumped on board the cliff lift next to the Grand Hotel, a little faded these days in its grandeur, but still a recognisable landmark. Down on the seafront we dashed into the nearest café - the Harry Ramsden's, up the steps and sat in anticipation of hot food. Ok, so it was Harry's, we weren't expecting anything of Michelin star quality, of course not, but there are still standards. Unfortunately a party of under 8s from a rugby club arrived, all 20-odd of them, with one mother-type supervising, and numerous dad-types who appeared to think the place was a pub and sat down, sinking pint after pint, getting louder and louder. Guess where all the chips went. Somehow their order got filled first and we were left waiting and putting up with the increasingly obnoxious behaviour of the dad-types. After voicing complaints, we were offered 15% off the bill, which my friend agreed to while I harrumphed saying I'd have preferred 20%. Then the food did arrived and it was ok - it was fish and chips - and then the bill arrived - with 50% off!!! It was the best fish and chips ever!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Tick tock...

I know one shouldn't really wish one's life away but isn't it Friday yet? After a dreadful start to the week with more technology woes (I really was starting to panic), no sense of achievement in anything since, stuff piling up at home because other things are taking priority (my kitchen resembles a launderette before anything's been run through the machine) and I'm so tired I almost fell asleep in a meeting, I still can't believe it's only Thursday. And in half an hour I have to dash out for another appointment. I might have to pick up a bottle of wine on the way home. And Maltesers.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Seaton's sittin' pretty

Sunday, in between the showers, I took a little trip to Seaton Delaval Hall. It's undergoing a lot of essential maintenance works and much is closed, but the main hall has re-opened and the gardens, despite the wet, were lovely. Of course, it's not so long ago, that the whole future of the hall was in doubt due to funding, but now it seems well on the road to becoming one of the region's finest National Trust properties. Well worth a look, especially once the works have been completed.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Testing times

After the Fabb Events meet last Saturday I've been sorely short of time to test and review any of the goody-bag products until this weekend where I've had a good go at a few of them. First up, the Elemis Bath and Shower Creme and the Macadamia Hair Mask, both smelling wonderful, the mask in particular reminding me of holidays in the Caribbean. 7 minutes later and my hair is soft as silk. The sachet contains enough for at least one further application - I'll try the oil mixed in next time as well. Today also saw me try out the Posh Polish from Beauty UK in Moonstone - one coat went on a little patchy, two coats much better and it's survived 3 lots of washing up completely chip free! Also on trial the Lush eyeliner - great colour for summer in an iridescent blue but unfortunately a little smudgy. Ah well, not everything can be perfect! A few products still to try but as next week looking a lot less hectic that this last one I may get round to them sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Wine? No, just a little Tonic

Clarins Tonic range. I can never decide exactly what it smells of, only that I love it. The body polisher is a thick but soft scrub which spreads well and even applied to damp skin, won't start dissolving until saturated under the shower. It rinses well to leave skin silky soft. It's my little treat for tonight instead of indulging in Wine Wednesday since tomorrow's an early start!

Tech terrors

I feel I've missed out. A couple of days without fully functioning technology and I'm a wreck. No way to check email or texts, or catch up on Twitter feeds or Facebook. Our lives are ruled by electronic gadgets, updating us of every detail of the lives of others, and them of ours. And then when it fails us, we could miss that one piece of terribly important life changing information. It's overload. Experts claim it can lead to a low self-esteem and feelings of low self-worth, constantly checking social media, measuring oneself against others. We did, not too long ago, manage quite nicely, to live without all of this. I'm going to try to switch off. Allocated time for the essentials of email replies etc and a full day a week with no tech at all. Except in an emergency.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Wind swept but interesting?

So, armed with an enormous bottle of Evian, a couple of paracetamol and the camera, I headed up the Northumberland coast. Yes it was warm, which after the past few weeks was a welcome change, but the wind meant lunch consisted of mouthfuls of sand whipped up from the beach (does sand have a nutritional content?). Stayed long enough for a decent walk, strenuous enough for me to justify the mid-afternoon cream tea at The Copper Kettle. Settling in back at home with the Sunday papers.

Late review but FABB all the same!

So, while all other NE bloggers were busy writing about the FABB Event in Newcastle yesterday, I unfortunately, had to scurry off early for a wedding do. This has left me feeling delicate to say the very least, and something not publishable to say the very most! I was also suffering lack of camera yesterday due to SOMEONE ELSE!!! having taken it away with them, but I'll not dwell on that, or the fact that I was left with the poxy excuse for a camera that resides within my Blackberry - so no pics of the event but... All were welcomed by Ray and Tor, who I must say did a stellar job of circulating, ensuring everyone was ok etc. I resisted the cakepops, stayed on the cola (good thing too!) and settled in to hear from Really nice to hear about a fun young business that's proving a success in these difficult times - just shows that if the product is good enough and the team behind it is committed then anything's possible. Moving on to Newcastle Fashion Week - Sandie spoke about the events and the fashion to support it - Tshirts from Fenwick, May 1st. One little downside to Fashion Week - I notice a lot of the events run into the evening which is great, but some, like the Royal Wedding, aren't. For those bloggers or indeed anyone else with daytime job/school/college/uni, we may not be able to just ditch and come along. Lovely goodie-bag to come away with, thanks Ray and Tor, looking forward to there being another local event soon.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Orion's Hat? It's a belt-er!

It was with a little hesitancy that I sat down to read 'Orion's Hat' by David W. Bryan. I'm always wary when people ask you to read stuff they've written; they're obviously hoping for positive feedback and I'd hate to not be able to give it. I needn't have worried. Despite the simplistic stage setting, and the fact that the play has so few 'real' parts, I enjoyed it immensely. It was one of those experiences where I could actually see the action being played out as I was reading it, using different voices in my head for the different characters, actually re-reading a section a second time with a different accent (in my head)! For me, the play translates as a look at the transient nature of life, seeking meaning and validation for one's own life and in relationships with others, and the consequences of the choices we make. Find it at

Monday, 8 April 2013

True Blue

RIP Margaret Thatcher. I'm pretty angry actually. Regardless of whether or not you agreed with her policies, she was nonetheless, a person, with a family and one of the most difficult jobs we could imagine. Some acquaintances of mine, have seen fit to splash banners about parties and celebrations on social media outlets Twitter and Facebook. I am ashamed to know these people. How would they feel if others were saying that about a member of their own family. Thatcher's reign may not conjure happy memories for many, but as any politician knows, you can't please everyone all the time. There will never be enough money in the public purse to provide the levels of service we would wish in all areas - that's just the way it is. No government, whether Tory or Labour has succeeded in getting it 'right'. Someone somewhere always loses. These 'acquaintances', who are borderline Communist, seem to forget, that even in the 'equal' regime of Communism, there's still always some fatcat at the top. So, I'll remember you fondly Maggie - yes, Poll Tax wasn't your finest moment, but you saw the country through some difficult times, helped make Britain strong again, and helped end the Cold War with Russia.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

What to do, to do

I love a list. In this age of iphones and Blackberries, ready to remind us of every aspect of our lives, a digital to-do list would be most people's first choice. A task can be listed as 'started' 'completed' etc, alarms set so as to ensure nothing is forgotten. Yet I still love the paper list. There's a great deal of satisfaction to be had from physically ticking or crossing things off a list; transferring things from one list to another as the paper becomes full or unreadable. I read once that lists should be arranged with a couple of easily achievable tasks at the beginning, the idea being that it gives the holder a positive 'spur on' for the rest of the day. Of course, that way one could find that one never gets around to the really difficult unpleasant tasks further down the list. It's about balance, and the expert list maker knows just how to balance the easy while ensuring the hard still get done. The other side of that is a couple of weeks ago, the Sunday Times Style mag had an article about procrastination, and how it wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Apparently, while we're putting off the important, our imaginations can run riot, leading us to think things we'd perhaps otherwise not. That flash of blinding inspiration that comes while I'm messing about with the easy, putting off the more difficult, mundane tasks - I've yet to have it, but I'm hoping.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013


I enjoyed my few days off, I even took an extra one (naughty), but now it's back to it. I did manage an hour of sublime peace with the camera this morning at the Derwent Walk. I saw few people, a couple of Granddads pushing strollers, no Grannies! And an odd cyclist, but apart from that - no-one. The frost was still lying, the moon still high in the sky and it was just lovely. Unfortunately an hour was all I had to spare, I've been tied to the desk since, with an afternoon of appointments to follow, but thinking about this morning will keep me smiling all day.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Wallington's no wally!

A lovely day at Wallington in Northumberland - National Trust property near to Cambo. Set off early to avoid the crowds gathering for the Easter Egg Hunt. The walled garden was eerily quiet and deserted, all the ponds and lakes frozen, then after a welcome latte, a walk around the house, counting fluffy lambs as I went. The knitted William Bell Scott looking scarily like Edgar Allan Poe!

Badger's Drift

Well, the pie was great! Beef and merlot, chunky chips and some green stuff on the side (melange of green beans, broad beans and peas0 and the carrot and coriander soup went down very nicely before it. The crumble, however, was just that - crumble, yet I'm sure the menu stated there should have been apple and cherry in there somewhere and the accompanying custard was skimpy to say the least...and...I'm not sure a busy Saturday evening is the time to be inducting new staff, but hey ho - I've had worse experiences and I'll certainly be going back. Oh yes - this is The Badger at Ponteland!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

And the winner is...

Well, after a crazy week, culminating in a super-crazy Thursday of interviews for the new PA post, I'm really ready for the weekend. Interviews went very well, met some great and interesting people, and one of them even got the job! I'll keep it under wraps just a little longer though until all the paperwork is done! So now, with four blissful, work-free (almost) days upon me, I'm left considering how much I can cram into them and still feel rested. Shopping, food and film at the top of the list, with perhaps a spa day to round things off. Lovely.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Howling with delight

A round-off to the night with a trip to the Tyneside Cinema to see Howl's Moving Castle during Studio Ghibli week. A beautiful film, much watched but still has me sobbing into my hanky. Looking forward now to Dans La Maison.

Leaping Lizards

My poor head! Silly mistake really - Iguanas Cosmopolitan cocktails (totally yummy) followed by red wine, does not a clear head make! Poor drinks choices aside, the food at Las Iguanas Newcastle was really good, the service equally so, and, most impressive, they took notice of the requests made when booking the table. Teeny tiny little gripe - the over-sensitive auto-loo-flush system.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013


I could do with a couple to hold my eyes open. I slept through the alarm this morning - never good - losing half an hour, which I never seem to have quite made up. As yesterday, the to-do list just keeps getting longer with nothing actually being crossed off. There are still plane tickets to book, hotel, meetings to confirm, deadlines here that I'm just about managing to meet, and I daren't look at the laundry basket! I'm hoping that should the weather develop a spring in its step, that I might follow suit, but a quick glance out the window tells me not to hold my breath.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Blue Monday

Is it Friday yet? A 14 hour day so far and I haven't managed to get half the things done that I wanted to today. Ever get that feeling you're just going round in circles? That's me today. It's not good for the mood. Small tasks should have been crossed off the list, leading to some sense of achievement, but no, they're all still languishing there, waiting for me tomorrow. Along with the bigger tasks, plus all of tomorrow's jobs I hadn't even thought about today. I need a PA.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

St. Agnes Smooth

Tuesday was the Gateshead Schools' Dance Festival at The Sage. A day-long event of 3 sessions, showcasing both primary and secondary school talent, and boy is this region talented! The 6th formers at both Whickham and Emmanuel gave great performances, but the highlight was really St. Agnes' Primary from Crawcrook. Their dance to Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal was simply superb. One tiny little complaint about the night event - the families of the kids from St. Augustine's. I know you're only really there to watch your own kids, but there really wasn't any need to shuffle, kick the back of my chair, and talk through every other performance. Shame on you!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Skin Fix

So, what with the weather and central heating and a few days (weeks) of less than saintly eating, my skin has been pretty awful. Dry, flaky yet oddly shiny at the same time. My usual moisturizer appears to have been discontinued (hate when that happens) so I was left feeling a little panicky at the thought of having to buy a new one. Not wanting to spend £££ for something to irritate my ever-so delicate skin, I happened upon an ad for the new Olay 2-in-1 moisturizer and serum combo. And Thandie Newton radiates good skin health in those ads. Does she really use Olay? I hope so; I've invested in it. It is a bit of a snip - even more so with the Superdrug £5 off (could have done the Boots 3 for 2 but then I'd be stuck with 2 more if I didn't like it), but already I'm really happy with it. Non-greasy, lightweight but still packing a punch and it smells like summer!

Monday, 4 March 2013

Manic Monday

What is it with Mondays? After a perfectly respectable Sunday, making use of my lovely camera again, the onslaught began at 6am and has not yet ceased. This wouldn't happen on a Wednesday. Only Monday. I need a wide open space in which to scream. Or a holiday.

Street Spice

So, I was pretty annoyed to have missed the Street Spice event in Newcastle, in aid of Brain Tumour UK. By all accounts - Twitter was going mad for it - it was a fantastic few days and for such a good cause. I hope to see the event again next year.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Sunglasses for Sun

When one is seriously famous, a gangsta rapper or a Parisienne Doyenne or one recovering from eye surgery, it may be deemed acceptable to wear sunglasses on a cloudy day or indoors. I, regardless of the status of the wearer, find it rather silly-looking, especially when the wearer is the imbecile, who on this very overcast day in the North East - and it's February for gawd's sake nearly drives her car straight into mine. She may simply be an appalling driver, with or without the sunnies, but they surely can't help!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Living North Live Event

Get yourselves along to the Living North Live Fair at Newcastle Racecourse 8-10th March 2013, for Interiors, Fashion and more...


Bit late getting this one in (those pesky gremlins!)now that it's Wednesday and things are back to normal! Both sides of the Atlantic had been whipped into a frenzy of frocks and wagers on who would win (the awards and in the fashion stakes). Biggest disappointment had to be Anne Hathaway's insipid pink number. My lovely dress of the night award goes to Alicia Vikander wearing Elie Saab - just beautiful.

Tech Trouble

Well, thanks to a few gremlins, there haven't been any updates for a few days. Hopefully they're all sorted out now! So, it's nice to be back, and welcome back all!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Sorry Service 2

Pasqualino's at the Theatre Royal. Their blurb states "family friendly, five star fresh food and service" - hmmmm, I think not. The ballet (see previous post) came with pre-show dinner, and the dinner was.....ok. Certainly not 5 star. For starters (forgive the pun) there was a young child in our party and the menu wasn't really suitable, yet despite being "family friendly" we were told they'd have "to see" whether it was acceptable for them to make her a pizza instead. Family friendly as long as the kids don't want to eat anything? Happily, the pizza was deemed a reasonable request, but then the drink order wasn't right, and the food order wasn't quite right, and some of the food wasn't cooked properly... Anyway, what might have been lost by the restaurant by having an inclusive dinner and show package, was made up for by the price of drinks - high. Oh, and I haven't even mentioned the service yet; I don't really want to, the restaurant doesn't want me to either.

Ballets Trockadero

I had a really lovely time at the ballet last night. Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo are quite simply not to be missed. Comedy mixed with beautiful dancing, some of these strapping men make lovely ladies. I've always appreciated the strength required of dancers, particularly those throwing their partners around with what appears to be great ease, but to see these men, lift another man right above their head and carry him, not only making it look effortless, but also graceful and beautiful...well, hats off to you guys. A fantastic show, well worth going to see if they're touring near you!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Fashion loses its edge?

Despite cooing over the VVB collection earlier in the week, I can't help but feel a bit let down by fashion of late. Where once eagerly awaited collections promised daring, the often brazen and avant-garde, there is now a same-ness, season after season. There is nothing with such a gob-smacking wow factor, that the masses are like cats on hot tin roofs, waiting for the look of the moment to filter down to the high-street; we know, without fail, that we'll have the choice of both military and cocoon coats in winter, the 'in' colour might be a surprise, ice-cream pastels in spring... I've just been alerted via Twitter, that there's a trend afoot - Rosie, Juno and Rita, all wearing...wait for it...suits! The nerve of them! I can hardly contain my excitement (sarc).

Monday, 18 February 2013

#VVB a/w 13

Absolutely loved the new collection, simple, elegant, want want want!

New Shoes

How lovely it would be to say I'd just bought a pair of Citoyenne Specchio Louboutin Heels, but alas, no. What I have bought is a staple, from that often maligned store, Clark's. So they might also cater for the slightly older, wider of foot customer, but..., they also so a very nice range of modern, practical, and more to the point, comfortable footwear. When one is running around all day, one likes to be smart; one doesn't like to be displaying agony lines from ill-fitting shoes on one's face. These are the best-fit shoes I've bought in ages.


So it's happened again - being over-charged in a store. I don't lnow about anyone else but it happens at least once a week to me. Fortunately I tend to be rather anal about checking receipts so any mistake is quickly rectified by customer services (the cashier has long been unable to handle this problem), but how many people don't bother? Just walk away without so much as a glance at the ticket? I worked out that last year, if I hadn't been so vigilant, I'd have been out of pocket to the tune of about £250. If that's happening to even just a small percentage of consumers, how much are stores making from their errors? Get checking - before leaving the store.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Sony NEX5

This camera has changed my life - it's my new best friend. Love it!

Fashion Fail

What a disappointment! Fashion at both the Baftas and the Grammys seems to have hit an all time low. Really hoping there's a raise of game for the up-coming Oscars.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Sorry Service

So, this first one of 2013, Happy New Year all, is a little moan. Twice now I've been to Brown's in Newcastle, and twice I've been disappointed. From not fulfilling table requests, to cold food, I'm left distinctly under-whelmed. To their (slight) credit, alternative tabling was found and the bill adjusted but these things shouldn't happen to start with. Do I take a 'third time lucky' approach and give them one last try, or seek culinary satisfaction elsewhere?