Here in Geordieland we’re currently in the middle of a month long celebration of our region’s culture with a calendar of events that is so jam packed it’s hard to know where to begin! The poster for Festival of the North East sums it up nicely by saying ‘There’s a lot going on up here’ and it’s certainly not wrong, so I thought I’d put together a little post highlighting just some of the diverse events happening across NewcastleGateshead that have taken my fancy.
It’s Playtime: Ouseburn Valley – 23rd June 11am-5pm
FREE event no booking required
Rumour has it that levels of playfulness have fallen critically low across the North East, I find this very hard to believe don’t you? So jump aboard the festival bus and prove to The International Ministry of Play that the Geordies know how to have fun! There’ll be play challenges issued via IMP’s official Twitter feed @ItsPlaytime_NE
Beneath the Boards: Mill Volvo Tyne Theatre - 17th June – 26th June
£8 – Advance Booking – 0844 493 9999
I’ve walked past the Mill Volvo Tyne Theatre hundreds of times and have to confess to taking for granted this historical building that’s been at the heart of North East Culture for over a century. Well never again thanks to this unique opportunity to take a sneak peek behind the scenes of the magnificent 19th century auditorium and see the original Victorian under-stage machinery (unique in Britain). There’s also the chance to meet some of the characters that have brought this venue to life over the decades.
Frozen By Sight & Barographic: Sage Gateshead – 26th June
£10 – Advance Booking - 0191 443 4661
I have not one, but two big reasons to be excited about this event, namely Paul Smith and Peter Brewis. The two north-eastern Mercury Prize nominees have come together in a departure from their respective work with Maxïmo Park and Field Music to create what promises to be an unforgettable musical collaboration in Frozen by Sight.
There’ll also be informal DJ sets in the concourse of the venue after the performances. Paul Smith has DJ’d quite a few events round these parts and from what I’ve heard has a really eclectic taste in music, he’s also the festivals artistic director so expect this evening to be one of the highlights of the month!
Dear Angel: Globe Gallery, Necastle - 1st June – 29th June:
Every time I drive past the Angel of the North after a brief spell away from the North East, I can’t help but say hello to her on my return. Ignoring her would be like not saying ‘Morning Mr Magpie’ to a lone magpie in the garden! Just Me? Oh well, anyway, I was delighted to hear that as part of Festival of the North East, local people were being invited to write a letter to the cultural icon that has presided over our evolving region for the past 15 years.
Dear Angel is an emotionally charged, interactive artwork that captures how people feel and think about the North East of England. Over the past month, hundreds of participants collaborated with artist Stevie Ronnie, to handwrite, type, record, make or illustrate a letter and throughout June you can add your own letter at the Globe Gallery in Newcastle city centre.
Well these are some of the events that I’ll be heading for first but there are literally dozens more taking place right across the region, not just NewcastleGateshead but also Sunderland, Durham and Northumberland. Get your full guide HERE. The whole festival is inspired by the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels to the region but more about that in a future post, for now, just get out there and get involved!by Rachel Kershaw
So hands up if you’re addicted to the ‘Geordieland’ Twitter Map yet? It’s the brand new website from the local tourist board, NewcastleGateshead Initiative and since its launch a couple of weeks ago I’ve been hooked!
If you haven’t checked it out then let me give you the low down on what to expect…
The map plots Twitter content from venues, attractions, shops, bars, restaurants and individuals on an illustrated map of NewcastleGateshead, I’ve used the artwork as my background, isn’t it fab?
The website works really well on mobile platforms like smartphones and tablets, as well as desktop computers. So whether you’re looking for a bit of desktop distraction or you’re out and about across the region, it’s well worth a look!
You’ll find tons of inspiration about what to do and where to go by filtering content using the suggested themes including food & drink, accommodation, nightlife, shopping and things to see & do. You can also see live Tweets from users who have their Twitter location services switched-on, so use #Geordieland in your posts and share the love for NewcastleGateshead.
Once you’ve tried the the site for yourself let me know what new discoveries you’ve made by leaving your comments below, it would be great to know what hidden gems you’ve uncovered!
by Rachel Kershaw
With a plethora of awards and celebrity fans, local family run company Beckleberry’s has gone from strength to strength in recent years. It’s no wonder really with creations like ‘banana and ginger ice cream’ and ‘blackcurrant and kirsch sorbet’, how delicious do they sound?
When I heard about the latest innovation from Beckleberry’s, I thought it was a genius as it combines two of my favourite things, afternoon tea and local producers!
The Beckleberry’s coffee shop can be found in Gateshead’s Metrocentre, so with the prospect of indulging in another of my favourite things (shopping!) I headed there as soon as I could. I soon realised that there’s a lot more to Beckleberry’s than the ice-creams and sorbets I’ve heard so much about. Yes, they are rightfully renowned for their inventive and tempting flavours and yes, there is a counter full of frozen delights to eat in or takeaway but the modest little cafe is also a mighty fine patisserie!
Beckleberry’s Geordie twist on afternoon tea is a chance to sample some of their delicious hand made delights including cheese scones, fruit scones, choux pastry buns, raspberry and pistachio sponge cake and my absolute favourite… a rich, smooth and oh so moorish dark chocolate torte! Let’s just say it’s a good job everything was produced on a dainty scale or I would undoubtedly have over indulged!
So next time you’ve shopped till you’ve dropped at the Metrocentre, take the weight off your feet at Beckleberry’s in the blue mall and treat yourself to some locally made treats from our mates down the road in Blaydon!
Do you know of any other local producers I should check out in Geordieland? Leave your comments below and who knows, maybe I’ll be featuring them in a future blog post!by Rachel Kershaw
If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my decade as an honorary Geordie it’s that the North East is an absolute hot bed of creative talent! Over the last two days, you couldn’t fail to notice the talents of our inspiring artistic community as The Late Shows took place across NewcasleGateshead.
A record number of museums and galleries opened their doors after hours to give us a cultural experience like no other. There was Bollywood glamour at the Great North Museum, a ‘human library’ at Gateshead Central Library, giant installations at the Discovery Museum and quirky arcade games at Ouse Street Arts Club.
I’m barely scratching the surface of the amazing line-up of events that enthralled and impressed visitors over the last couple of days!
Bill Griffiths, project manager for The Late Shows, said:
“The Late Shows is now into its seventh year, and still the programme is as original and imaginative as when we first started, if not more so – the creativity and diversity of the events created by the cultural community on our doorstep is mind-blowing!
Where else in the UK can you take tea in the oldest dining room in Britain, see a fire show and puppet makers, play an Enid Blyton quiz and traverse the old coal transport tunnels beneath Newcastle – all in the space of an evening?”
Did you venture out on after hours culture crawl this weekend? If so I’d love to know what you got up to, please share your experiences of the Late Shows below.
by Rachel Kershaw
There’s one week of the year when I feel suddenly quite fashion-conscious, I spend a little longer than usual choosing my outfits in the morning and question whether my spring/summer wardrobe is really up to scratch… It is of course NE1′s Newcastle Fashion Week!
From the 11th till the 18th May, fashionistas from far and wide descend up on the fashion capital of the North for a jam packed week of stylish shenanigans! There are events taking place all over Newcastle city centre including catwalks, workshops, exhibitions and of course, plenty of special shopping events!
I’m really starting to wish I’d checked out the events calendar sooner and cleared my diary to make the most of this monumental week. I may not be at every single bash (definitely booking the week off work next year!) but there is absolutely no way I would miss Fashion Front Row! It’s one of the main highlights of the week long programme and is a chance to check out the next big trends from hotly tipped designers including Francesca Air (Wor Donna’s little sister). She’ll be joined by a shed load of other big names from fashion and beauty for the shindig at As You like It on the 15th of May.
I love people watching so I can’t wait to check out what everyone’s wearing and do a bit of celeb spotting. The only trouble is… what the heck do I wear?? If all else fails I’ll just throw on my limited edition NFW T-shirt, designed by Electrik Sheep. To get your hands on this season’s must have get yourself along to Fenwick and pick one up for the bargain price of just a tenner. All profits from the cool printed tees go straight to Metro Radio’s Cash for Kids so not only will you look bang on trend, you’ll be giving a helping hand to local kids too!
NFW Essential Info:
#NFWby Rachel Kershaw
I’ve always been a big fan of High Bridge and it’s abundance of independent retailers but on Saturday the 20th of April I was among over 12,000 people who descended upon the cobbles between the Bigg Market and Grey Street to enjoy a special event that celebrated the best that this special area has to offer.
The poster promised live music and street food and I was pleased to discover that both were in strong supply! The sun even made appearance to create the perfect excuse for food lovers and culture vultures to come down and soak up the atmosphere!
I was in my element rummaging for vintage bargains in Retro and Attica and I couldn’t resist a hot pork sandwich from Piggin Lush, although there were plenty of other tempting eateries to choose from too. It really was a lovely afternoon!
I’m not sure if the High Bridge traders are planning on repeating the event but this was the third time they’d organised it so fingers crossed we can persuade them to plan a fourth festival soon! To be among the first to find out, be sure to follow High Bridge Quarter on Facebookby Rachel Kershaw
Jurys Inn Newcastle has recently been given a complete make-over worth a mammoth £1.5 million! The refurbishment was finished just in time for the hotel’s 10th birthday, so what better way to celebrate than with a prestigious party?
On Thursday 18th April I made my way down to Scotswood Road and was greeted with cocktails and canapés on arrival. Much better than the jelly and ice-cream I had at my 10th birthday party! But with VIP’s on the guest list including Emmerdale star Tom Lister and local rugby hero, Newcastle Falcons’ Matt Thompson, I should have known this was going to be a sophisticated affair!
The entertainment included a presentation from Noel Jackson on the ‘Science of Booze’ where I was given the chance to sample even more cocktails including the delicious ‘Jurys Red’, a fabulous concoction that tasted like a cross between a Cosmopolitan and a Strawberry Daiquiri, be sure to try it if you get the chance! I also got to decorate my own donut thanks to the guys at Krispy Kreme Gateshead and I gorged on traditional sweets from the complimentary sweetie cart too!
Just like the cake, the party games were designed to impress with guests invited to play indoor bowling, get dressed up for the photo booth and pop balloons for the chance to win exciting prizes including city breaks! I may not have walked away with a prize but I loved my goody bag full of Jurys Inn branded products and my stash of sweeties and donuts went down a treat with family back at home!
With 274 bedrooms, nine meeting rooms and a sumptuous restaurant and Costa coffee bar, Jurys Inn Newcastle is ideal for everything from a quick cuppa to a stylish city break. The location is perfect for anyone visiting the Metro Radio Arena as it’s literally just a two minute walk so I’ll be back for a drink in the hotel bar when I go see Mark Knopfler in May.by Rachel Kershaw
I’m not going to claim to be some kind of jazz aficionado but I did get a little but giddy when I saw the line up for this year’s Gateshead International Jazz Festival. Mainly because the name Ruby Turner was at the top of the list and after seeing her perform with Jools Holland at the City Hall in December I jumped at the chance to see her again. When I logged on to buy tickets and realised the gig was a double header with The Brand New Heavies I couldn’t type my card details in quick enough!
The Sunday night concert was the epic finale of the three day festival which brought other big names to the Sage Gateshead including Soweto Kinch, Phronesis and Christine Tobin plus, for the first time ever, the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. Thrifty jazz lovers were able to save money on tickets for two or more events with a ‘Jazz Pass’ but even without a discount, I thought £25 for the Ruby Turner and Brand New Heavies gig was superb value.
I managed to get seats on the second row but even if I’d have been sat at the back of Hall Two in the Sage I could not fail to be moved by Ruby Turner’s emotional performance. With the amazing tone of her big soul voice and her infectious bubbly character, Ruby was able to make me laugh, dance, sing and cry all in the space of 40 minutes.
Then after a short interval the Brand New Heavies blew me away with a load of 90′s anthems that I’d almost forgotten all about! The material from the new album was also just as good and I can’t wait to buy a copy when it comes out in May. My feet were aching from all the dancing by the end of their set but I couldn’t resist hoping on the Quaylink bus and heading over the river for the after party at Hoochie Coochie. It’s one of my favourite bars in the city because the music is always soulful and you’re guaranteed a party atmosphere every time. Sunday night was no exception, especially when Jan Kincaid, drummer and founding member of the BNH turned up to perform a DJ set with the rest of the band hitting the dance floor. Needless to say my head was a little bit sore the next morning!
Next year will the 10th Gateshead International Jazz Festival and it’s got a huge reputation to live up to but something tells me it’s going to be even bigger and better!
Did you see any of the events in this year’s festival? If so, I’d love to hear what you thought!by Rachel Kershaw
Good food and great mates are the perfect ingredients for a lazy Sunday afternoon so last weekend I was in my element as one of my best friends made the journey up from Rochdale to join me for Sunday Brunch at Hotel du Vin, Newcastle.
I’d heard that the lavish four course menu was enough to satisfy even the biggest appetites and as my eyes are often bigger than belly, I decided to wear jeans with a stretchy waist – definitely a wise move!
We kick started the afternoon with cocktails in the Bubble Bar where Ross, our bartender, recommended a light and refreshing Gin based drink called Garden of Eden for my mate Gemma and mixed up a classic mojito for me. There’s a nice relaxed atmosphere in the bar and despite Hotel du Vin being the favourite of many high profile celebs (One Direction were checking in later that day!) it certainly doesn’t feel pretentious and the staff are really chatty and down to earth.
So let me tell you about the food… quite honestly I didn’t know where to begin but that didn’t matter because the four courses of Sunday Brunch can be enjoyed in order! After a bowl of hearty vegetable soup I headed to the French Market Table where I was spoilt for choice with an array of freshly baked breads, a selection of seafood including mussels, mackerel and salmon plus cured meats, pâtés, and loads of fresh salad. This style of grazing is absolutely my cup of tea and I loved chatting to head chef, Stuart Donaldson about the preparation for the feast.
It was Stuart who persuaded me try an oyster and after the all the effort he put in to shucking it (that’s the proper word for opening an oyster don’t you know!) it seemed rude not too. My verdict? A big thumbs up! Although to be honest, one or two would be enough. Besides, I had to save room for the star of the show… a proper Sunday roast!
There are plenty of other dishes to choose from for your main course at Sunday Brunch including a Bistro Burger (not for those with a small appetite!), Salmon Hollandaise and Steak and Chips to name a few. For me though, Sundays are just not complete without a roast dinner and as soon as I saw rib of beef was on offer my mind was made up. I’m a bit of connoisseur when it comes to Yorkshire puds and Hotel du Vin did not let me down, they were light and crispy and almost the size of my head!
Despite being full to bursting I managed to find room for a traditional trifle too, it was boozy, fruity and oh so moorish! Told you my eyes were bigger than my belly! I think it’s fair to say I’ll be returning to Hotel du Vin and for family occasions, the intimate dining room just off the main bistro is perfect, mainly because it’s located right next to that brilliant market table.
What would you choose from the tempting menu at Hotel du Vin?by Rachel Kershaw
Exciting times… Evolution Festival returns to NewcastleGateshead Quayside for the Spring Bank Holiday Weekend 2013 and I reckon this year’s line up is the best yet!
The Vaccines, Paloma Faith, Jake Bugg (LOVE HIM), Ellie Goulding, Rudimental, Sub Focus Live, Modestep, Bastille, Aluna George plus many more will grace the stage at either Spillers Wharf or Ballast Hills over two glorious days.
We’ve got the acts, we’ve got the amazing setting now let’s just pray for the sun to shine!
Tickets are just £29.50 for one day or £39.50 for the weekend, which is a bargain considering how many fantastic live artists you get to see for that! However, if you’re a bit strapped for cash you could always consider volunteering at Evolution and in return for an eight hour shift you’ll get a weekend ticket.
Sadly I’m away on the Sunday but I’ll be dancing my socks off down at the front on Bank Holiday Monday, hope to see you there!
So tell me, who are you most looking forward to seeing at Evolution Festival?by Rachel Kershaw