I woke up on 1st April at Walwick Hall, the new country boutique hotel and spa near Hexham. We went for one night, and enjoyed treatments in the spa and some really good food in the restaurant. I was also a big fan of their cocktails. So it’s safe to say it was a good start to the month. The rest of April has been just as fun, and it’s also definitely started to feel a lot more like Spring, although we haven’t escaped the odd freezing cold (and even snow/hail!) day in the North East too.
One of my highlights at the start of the month, aside from Walwick Hall, was our visit to Aveika to try out their new cocktail and food menu. I said it at the time but I was so impressed with it all, the place has totally improved since it’s opening, and it was one of the best meals in Newcastle I’ve had in a long time. That wagu beef!! What I realised from it through all the comments, feedback and messages I received, was that so many people assume Aveika is just a late night bar, and it put’s people off going for food that would probably really enjoy it. We went on a Wednesday night, and it was busy, had a great atmosphere, and the food and cocktails were fabulous.
Our night out to Aveika definitely got me in the Spring vibe, the lighter nights and upcoming bank holidays, so the theme on here was definitely very ‘springy’. I wrote my post on 10 reasons to visit Paris in spring, Easter city breaks around Europe, and a bit of fun post on houses in London that look like Easter treats. Here’s the ‘Battenberg’ for example. I enjoyed writing that one, even if some people thought I was mad.
Easter weekend itself was a busy one, starting with some food and drinks with Rachael. We went to Osaka for some sushi, still my favourite place for it in the whole of Newcastle, and Dacantus afterwards for some gin cocktails. That place will convert anyone into a gin lover!
Everyone I’ve taken there who thinks they don’t like gin has come out with a new found love for it. We drank way too much for what was supposed to be quiet drinks, and I wound up with the mother of all hangovers on the Friday. I was RUINED for the whole day, it was awful, I just wanted to cry. It was that which prompted me to write all the hangover cures that used to work for me, that now barely even scratch the surface.
Easter Saturday my group of girls went to Jesmond, deciding that we couldn’t deal with Osborne Road on the Sunday, so instead we booked a booth at 97 & Social and went for a Saturday of nibbles and cocktails. It’s such good value for money in there, we stayed all day and the bill was nowhere near what we expected. The cocktails are nice and strong too. We also ventured along to Jam Jar for a drink, and of course the Osborne’s happy hour. Spring was definitely in the air along there that day too.
Kieran and I both took the Tuesday after the Easter weekend off work, and it made such a difference in going back! The back to work blues were kept at bay for a while longer, and we spent both the Monday and Tuesday sitting in pubs having bar meals, and watching the sport. On the Tuesday we went up to Amble and Warkworth, for a walk along the river and most importantly an ice cream from Spurelli’s. If you haven’t been I definitely recommend it, it’s up there with Di Meo’s in Whitley Bay. I also took plenty photos of the cute little houses, obviously.
Rachael’s hen do was another highlight of the month, with 20 of us from all over the place going to Fairfield House in Stanhope for the weekend. Lots of hen do fun and games, as well as playing laser wars in the woods, and a lovely meal at Fat Buddha in Durham. It was so good to see so many old faces, and I’m so excited for the wedding in Belfast next month.
After having so long off work over the Easter break, I did the same for this bank holiday weekend too and took a couple of extra days off. I met Amanda for lunch at the new Alchemist restaurant on Wednesday afternoon, and had one or two cocktails there as well. I’ve seen mixed reviews of the Alchemist, from lots of opening night blogger opinions to subsequent visits by people just sharing their thoughts. I’ve enjoyed all the cocktails I’ve had there, and my steak sandwich on Wednesday was very nice too.
I do think the location could be better for a bar like that, I really don’t like the idea of going for food and being sat out in Eldon Square itself, it just looks like all the old fast food crappy places, and they all blend into one. I think nowadays with so many bars and cocktail bars around, they really need to get the balance of everything right.
Novelty and creative cocktails always stand out and attract people in, but if the location, atmosphere and all the details aren’t right I lose interest quickly. My opinion so far is that compared to the Alchemist in Leeds, it’s definitely not as good, but once inside, and from the entrance out on Grainger Street it feels like a completely different bar. I fancy a night out along there, to bars like No. 28, the new Billy Bootleggers dive bar, and the Alchemist to see how that goes.
Lunch at the Alchemist was just the start of this weekends cocktails for me, that night I attempted some home made ones myself, and they actually turned out quite nice! On Thursday me and Kieran went to Rockliffe Hall for a spa break, and I won’t give too much away here because there’s a full post on its way but it was amazing. We’ve also been to Allards in Tynemouth for tapas, which were also delish.
My eating out shows no signs of slowing down, but who cares when there’s so many nice places about even just for coffee. I pulled together some of my favourite cafes here.
I’ve got a lot going on in May, it’s a really busy month with the wedding over in Belfast, we are going to see Micky Flannigan at the arena, I’m off to Amsterdam for four days, and I’m going to London for the weekend with the girls for two more 30ths. Accommodation for London was a bit of a fanny on, we wanted to all be together, but a Saturday night in London does not come too cheap. After some deliberation over whether we go Air BnB or not, we’ve gone totally the other way and are staying in the Hilton. Muchos excitement for that.
As far as the blog goes, I have so much planned for it and I’m really trying to write posts on all the things that people contact me to ask. I got some emails asking about Paris costs, so last week I put out a post on ways to save money if you’re visiting Paris on a budget, and I know a lot of people heading to Palma this year so that was the inspiration for my Palma post.
I also wrote a post on being a tourist at the Santa Monica pier, and this is the first of a few posts coming on tourist stuff to do in a few different places. As we all know, I’m hardly a soul searching, losing myself in nature, off the beaten track backpacker (literally anything but), and I do enjoy being a tourist (even in my own country) sometimes. So there’s more of that on the way.
Just one word on this whole blogging scenario, throughout April there’s been a lot said in the media about bloggers and their value. It started with the CEO of a big fake tan brand commenting negatively on it, and having used bloggers to grow her brand plenty of people got pissed off. In addition to that there was ‘bot-gate’ on Instagram, and even on a much smaller level closer to home I’ve heard generalised comments on trusting bloggers and particularly ‘not trusting them as far as you can throw them’. I started to write a post on it all, especially on the whole issue of trust, but to be honest it was winding me right up and I decided not to bother as I was RANTING. Maybe that’s one for next month.
Anyway, if you read mine, thanks very much and I hope you continue to enjoy it.