Throughout November I really tried to avoid anything too Christmassy, it still felt just a bit too early for my liking and I hate the long drawn out wait. I had Philadelphia and New York at the end of the month so I was way more excited about that than how many sleeps until Christmas.
I didn’t avoid it completely though, as I was invited to Slaley Hall to see their Christmas showcase. Rachael and I went over and enjoyed mince pies, pigs in blankets, a lovely hand massage and some mulled wine.
The biggest Christmas event in Newcastle obviously happened in November too, the Fenwick’s window big reveal. I didn’t go on the evening, but I got to see it early the next morning before the crowds arrived. I love this years, Paddington is too cute and the Marmalade Jar cafe in Fenwick’s is very cute too.
I didn’t see the Christmas lights switched on in Newcastle, but I was in London when Oxford Street turned theirs on. I was down there for World Travel Market with work, a huge annual travel conference, but it has some great lectures and seminars on the travel industry and social media. One of the speakers was from Facebook, and the bottom line is they really don’t give a shit how much we all hate the new Instagram algorithm. I did learn some great stuff though, thinking about doing a blog post on some of the best social media and influencer tips…whaddya think?
While I was in London I met up with my cousin and one of my oldest friends. We went for Dim Sum and then to the funniest little bar in Kingly Court called Cahoots. I’m a big fan of quirky themed London bars (see Swingers Bar – it’s not what you think), and Cahoots was a 1920’s style bar done out as though you were on an old fashioned train. It was great and all the staff are in character too. Definitely worth a visit but put your name on the guest list, we had to queue even on a Tuesday night at 6pm.
One of my other London highlights has got to be my visit to Peggy Porschen Cakes. The most delightful little cake and coffee shop you could possibly imagine, near Harrods and Sloane Square. You’re bound to recognise the outside from Instagram, but I wrote all about my visit that also gives you a glimpse of inside too. Read my take on Peggy Porschen and that red velvet cupcake for more info.
Back in Newcastle I’ve enjoyed food at a fair few places as always. The girls and I went for a last minute afternoon out in Tynemouth, where we enjoyed a lot of cocktails at Allards. Has anyone else noticed the Madagascar Martini has been taken off the menu?! It’s absolutely divine and thankfully the staff are great and were happy to make us a fair few on the day.
I also went along to help Crepeaffaire celebrate their one year birthday since they opened in Eldon Square. They have a luxury range of crepes and milkshakes, so if you’re Christmas shopping stop by for some sugar! We also went to the Ahar in Whitley Bay which is always good, I’ve had lunch at the Herb Garden Harbour, and I’ve also enjoyed a lot of sweet treats from Mason & Rye in Fenwick’s food hall.
I got a few more Florence posts written through November, including where you can find some luxury in this fabulous old Italian city, and a detailed post on the iconic Duomo and surrounding areas. I’ve got loads more to share on Florence but I think I’ll save them for the new year.
Was it just me or did anyone else think Black Friday was more like Black Friday week this year?! It was absolutely mental. I never get too excited for it, but this year I did hope to get a bargain for a new black bag. With my sister living in the US she let me know when the Kate Spade sale began over there, and the savings were incredible. 70% off was way better than the 20% off over here. Sadly it didn’t arrive in time before we came home from our visit, but she’s bringing it back next week and I’m very excited. Happy Black Friday to me!
So, on to the most amazing trip that we had to Philadelphia and New York. With Caroline over there and Jet 2 putting on direct flights from Newcastle in winter, we took advantage and went over to see her for Thanksgiving weekend. I got fully in the spirit of Thanksgiving with this post, and we had such a good time over there.
There’s plenty posts to come, but we did so much in our time there. We spent a few days in Philadelphia exploring where she lives, the City Hall, the Liberty Towers and the Liberty Bell. I didn’t realise how historical the city is, until we did a tour of the old town as well. Of course we also went to the Rocky Steps and saw the statue, and had a Thanksgiving meal in a lovely restaurant called Parc on Rittenhouse Square.
Then came NYC for a couple of days. We stayed in The London Hotel which was fabulous, and we actually got to see a lot more of it than I thought we would in the time we had there. I’d been a few times before, but it was fun to do all the tourist spots with my family. The whole place was getting very festive, but my favourite thing of all was going to Top of the Rock. It was sunset, and I’m sure you’ve seen it on literally every platform I could share it on but I took my most favourite photo ever.
I’ve been sharing loads of photos over on Instagram, and I took them all with my iPhone. Recently I’ve been asked a few times how I edit my photos, so I put together this post with all the details.
There’s plenty more to come on New York and Philadelphia too. Is there anything you want to know about specifically?
I got back last week and then before I knew it we are into December. I’ve got a few Christmas events coming up, but before we all get lost in the food and alcohol there’s a few things I wanted to mention. Firstly, don’t forget Christmas cards. Everyone focuses so heavily on gifts that cards can get overlooked and I still love getting them just as much as I did when I was at school and you got one off the entire class. My lovely friend Laura of Laura Jayne Designs is creating personalised cards this year so give them a browse.
I also want to mention some of the amazing local initiatives currently happening. If anyone listens to Steve & Karen in a morning you’ll know they’re supporting Mission Christmas – Cash for Kids again this year. It’s really heartbreaking to hear some of the stories about kids in our area and how little they have. I was stunned to find out theres over 47 thousand of them that won’t get anything for Christmas. If you can, please help this amazing cause that aims to make sure every child in the North East wakes up to a present on Christmas day.
Another initiative I really love and keep seeing is the NUFC Fans Food Bank folks on Twitter. Follow them at @nufcfoodbank. They’re trying to raise 50k before Christmas Day for those in our area living in poverty as well. They’re also often doing collections and fundraisers on match days, and it’s amazing to see how much they get in for the food bank from generous fans.
Lastly I wanted to mention the Ethical Superstore. They’re donating 3,279 essential items to Newcastle West End Food Bank, and whenever you purchase off their site you have the ability to make a donation to various causes including Newcastle West End Food Bank, Medecins Sans Frontières, RSPCA, Whale & Dolphin Conservation and Trees For Life. This year nearly £40,000 has been raised through customer checkout donations, so it’s another option to give something back this Christmas.
Just to be clear, I wasn’t asked or paid to mention any of the above charities or initiatives in any way. They’re all things I’ve seen or heard of myself, they’re all local to me, and I think they’re very much worth highlighting at this time of year when we are all over indulging and over spending.
I have a reeeeally busy December, and I’m sure you do too. I have a few festive nights planned, and I’ll be bringing you some Christmas menus from Newcastle restaurants soon, as well as more on my trip to New York and Philadelphia.
Have a great month and enjoy the festivities – cheers!