The Waterline, Newcastle Quayside

When it comes to pub grub I’m a firm believer that it’s better to have a small menu with everything done brilliantly than trying to be all things to all men. So when I heard that The Waterline had revamped their menu, concentrating on pizzas and burgers ‘done better’, well, I had to check it out!

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The Waterline has an envious location, just yards from the Millennium Bridge on the Newcastle side of the river Tyne and it’s usually the first place that springs to mind for a drink on a hot day as the small outdoor seating area is a real sun trap!

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As part of the recent improvements, the family of owners have even added some fancy new rattan furniture to the patio but I had no need for it on the day of my recent visit as it was absolutely throwing it down! Oh well, at least the food brightened my day!

waterline burgerI ordered the Hot Chick Burger, described as ‘Crunchy cornflake chicken, American cheese, iceberg, pineappleslaw, pickled onion, shirracha hot chilli sauce’. Thankfully it wasn’t too hot for me and although the pineappleslaw made the brioche bun quite soggy, it was really tasty, I’m one of those weird people who loves pineapple in savoury food.

waterline pizza

My boyfriend James went for the Godfather pizza (Parma ham, salami, chorizo, pepperoni, jalapeños and olives) which I was secretly pleased about as I remembered the Waterline had a wood fired pizza oven and always made brilliant pizzas so I was hoping for leftovers. I should have known better though, he barely made eye contact with me while he devoured the whole delicious looking thing!

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Alongside the new food menu, there is also a daily specials board and tempting cocktail menu so I made James promise to be the designated driver next time!

Will you be heading to NewcastleGateshead Quayside over the summer? If you are I hope the sun shines for you because when it does there’s no where better to be!
By Rachel Kershaw


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Restaurant Review: Freya’s at Aspers

Newcastle is not short of great places to eat but when choosing a restaurant to dine in, a casino might not be the first place that springs to mind! So I guess even though it’s located in one of the cities’ busiest entertainment venues, The Gate, you could say that Freya’s is a bit of a hidden gem!

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As you enter Aspers it’s easy to be distracted by the bright lights of the slot machines and the buzz of the blackjack tables but after a hard day at work the other week I was much more interested in eating than gambling so my other half and I headed straight to the restaurant at the back of the casino to peruse the menu.

freyas menu

Freya’s has plenty of British classics to choose from like Fish and Chips and Braised Belly Pork plus locally sourced steaks and signature burgers, it was a dream menu for two famished food lovers! We spent ages choosing from the menu, enjoying the warm bread and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc and I couldn’t help but partake in a bit of people watching too… In the restaurant itself a group of about 18 women were kick starting a hen do by taking advantage of the great value Table D’Hote Menu which offers three courses from a set menu for just £12.95.

As the restaurant is only separated from the gaming tables by a low wall, I could also watch from afar at the people playing poker which I found really intriguing, or am I just a nosey parker?

freyas starter salmon

freyas starter beef

After some encouragement from my impatient boyfriend I finally settled on a starter of rare beef salad (£6.50) and main of cumin spiced lamb rump (£14.50). He opted for smoked salmon and crab salad (£6.95) followed by a 10oz juicy rib eye steak (£17.95). One of my biggest bug bears in restaurants is overpriced sides and sauces but I certainly didn’t have this problem at Freyas, where you can pick any three for a fiver. We got a sauce for the steak, a rocket and parmesan salad and some of the biggest onion rings I’ve ever seen!

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Due to the epic failure of forgetting to put a memory card in my camera (fellow bloggers will sympathise!) I had to use my boyfriend’s knackered old phone to capture a few pics, so massive apologises to you (and to the chef at Freya’s) because unfortunately these blurry images really don’t do the food justice. Every mouthful was delicious, the portions were hearty to say the least and we needed a bit of a rest before finally choosing to end our meals with a deliciously gooey chocolate orange brownie (£4.95) and a zesty lemon posset topped with meringue (£3.95). It was a really relaxing evening, although if we had have been in a bit more of a rush I definitely would have taken advantage of their ‘cakeaway’ menu!

Next time I’m looking for somewhere great to eat in Newcastle city centre, Freya’s at Aspers will certainly be a safe bet! (Sorry I couldn’t resist at least one gambling pun!)

My meal at Freya’s restaurant was complimentary but the blurry images and positive opinions are based on a very enjoyable evening that I would have happily paid for!

By Rachel Kershaw

Welcome Back Hoppings!

As I made my way towards the Town Moor on Friday night, the skyline looked like something from a movie! The white knuckle rides stood out like skyscrapers and I could hear music pumping to the rhythm of the bright, dazzling lights. As I got closer, the smell of candy floss, hotdogs and popcorn wafted up my nostrils and my made my hungry belly growl, but there had been no time for tea because as soon as I finished work I’d jumped straight in to the car to welcome back The Hoppings!

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Europe’s largest travelling fun fair, The Hoppings, has a long history in Newcastle, some say you can date it back to the 1800′s! Now I’m not entirely sure about that but you can certainly ask any Geordie about The Hoppings and no doubt their face will light up as they recall fond childhood memories at the annual fair!

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I was first brought here about 10 years ago by my boyfriend and remember being completely overwhelmed by the number of rides and attractions, I think we probably walked around just people watching for about an hour before actually going on any rides! A decade on and I was no different but I think that’s half the fun really!

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There are over 300 rides and attractions to choose from but the one that stands out a mile is the huge Star-Flyer, towering over the rest of the rides and promising views across the city. I’ve bungee-jumped, I’ve done roller-coasters and I’ve even flown a gyrocopter so I thought this would be a doddle but I must be turning chicken in my old age because I barely opened my eyes as I was elevated above the fields! Shame really because my boyfriend reckons you could just about see our house from the top!

me on merry go round

I was much happier on the merry go round and even tried my hand at Hook-a-Duck! I would have liked to have my palm read too but the queue was massive! I think that’s one of the great things about this event, there’s a mixture of traditional and modern rides and attractions. The list is as long as your arm but includes the log flume, dodgems, arcades, bingo, ghost train, fun house, heter skelter and giant wheel!

My photos really don’t do the scale of the place justice so check out this video made by my talented colleague from Metro Radio, it’s amazing!

If you get the chance to visit The Hoppings before it leaves Newcastle on the 29th June then you’re sure to have a great time. There’s no entry fee and the rides start from £1. You can also get discount vouchers online http://hoppingsfunfairs.com/vouchers/ to save yourself a few quid, oh and parking is £3 but you can easily get to the Town Moor by bus and metro.

If you’ve already visited the Hoppings this year what was your favourite ride?
By Rachel Kershaw

Coca-cola ParkLives – Free Summer Fun!

A free summer activities programme is underway in Newcastle thanks to Coca-Cola Zero!

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The initiative is called ParkLives and it’s offering around 90 different activities between now and September in outdoor spaces across Newcastle including Paddy Freeman’s Park, Heaton Park, Jesmond Dene, Gosforth Central Park and loads more!

It’s the perfect excuse for me to get out and get active, especially as I’ve been sampling lots of new restaurants recently! Plus it’s an ideal opportunity to enjoy the many lovely parks on my doorstep!

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There’s loads of different fun sports to try for FREE and something to suit all ages and abilities. The diverse list includes Zumba (if you’re never tried Zumba, it’s a great laugh!), tai chi, yoga, basketball, hula-hooping and rounders. All equipment is provided too so no need to go and spend a fortune, perfect!

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Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives is delivered in partnership with Active Newcastle and the City Council. For more information on Coca-Cola Zero ParkLives activities across Newcastle visit:  www.parklives.com or www.activenewcastle.co.uk

By Rachel Kershaw

Where to Watch the World Cup

Apparently there’s a rather popular footy tournament kicking off today and I’m getting the distinct impression that I’m about to become a World Cup Widow.

I’m not exactly jumping for joy at the prospect of a summer of football but I suspect that if I want to socialise with my boyfriend over the next couple of months I better figure out the best places to go where he can still get his football fix!

So these are some of the places you are likely to find us watching the World Cup, I’ll be the one looking a bit out of place and questioning the offside rule!

Lane 7

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You might be surprised to see a bowling alley on the list but as I’ve said before, Lane 7 is no ordinary bowling alley! The basement has been transformed in to quirky BierKeller with a HUGE screen and it promises to be like no other venue in Newcastle! I’ve heard that the furniture has been shipped in from Munich where it was last used for Oktoberfest! There’ll be no chance of missing a goal while stuck in a queue at the bar because you have to pre-order and pre-pay for your drinks. 24 cans of Craft Ale/Beer will cost you £55 and they’ll be chilled in a Kanga Cooler Box for you at a reserved table so all you have do is sit back and enjoy the game! Check out www.lane7.co.uk for fixtures and booking details.

Shark Club

Shark Club is a proper sports bar opposite St James Park, well known locally for its weekly event Wing Wednesday. As well as about 30 flat screen TV’s there’s also a massive 3D projector so I reckon this place is going to be a big favourite with footy fans which should result in a fantastic atmosphere!

O2 Academy

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They say size matters, if you agree then the O2 Academy is definitely where you want to be to cheer on England! The live music venue at the bottom of Westgate Road is claiming to have the BIGGEST screen in Newcastle and it’s free to get in! The drinks are pretty cheap too, it’s just £2.50 for a pint a of Calsberg but based on my experience, it my well be served in a plastic cup!

Warerooms

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It’s been a while since I last visited the Warerooms but I have been a few times when there’s been a big match on and it attracts quite a friendly crowd. They always put on decent offers too like selected bottled beers for £1.50 and when you’re watching an England game you can enjoy half price pints before the first England goal (which let’s face it, might lead to a rather cheap night out!). To reserve a table for a World Cup game, just give then a call on 08454900371 or comment on The Ware Rooms Facebook Page.

World Cup Screening Map

world cup logoThis is a little update to my original blog post as I’ve just discovered that the tourist board have created a fab map with EVERYWHERE (that they know of) that you can watch the World Cup in Geordieland so if any of the above don’t take your fancy check it out…

www.newcastlegateshead.com/things-to-do/whats-new/where-to-watch-the-world-cup-in-newcastlegateshead

If you know of anywhere else in NewcastleGateshead that should be on my list of places to watch the World Cup, let me know!

By Rachel Kershaw

Tea and Cake Planet is Coming!

You might remember a little while back I celebrated Charles Grey’s 250th birthday by heading to the top of his monument in Newcastle City Centre, it was a great adventure and one I’d recommend to anyone! 

Rachel at the top of Grey's Monument

Me and my mate Gemma at the top of Grey’s Monument

If you haven’t quite got a head for heights though, don’t worry, because the creative folk behind NewcastleGateshead’s EAT Festival have come up with a more relaxing way to commemorate the man whose name is synonymous with a nice cup of tea…

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My first reaction when I heard about Tea & Cake Planet was verging on hysteria! Not only does it involve plans to create a giant edible map of the whole planet made out of yummy home-made cake (wowzers that’s going to make Cake City look tiny!), the event also champions our region’s finest purveyors of tea, including Ringtons, Pumphrey’s and The Teashed.

Tea & Cake Planet 2014 TeaShed Gold Award Winner

There’ll be tea dances, tea-themed cocktails, hands on workshops where you can make your own cake stand and some fabulous pop-up tea rooms serving mouthwatering tiers of afternoon tea. It all takes place at one of my favourite North East venues, The Boiler Shop! – Doesn’t it sound like the most marvellous summer tea party you’ve ever heard of?

The more I read about Tea & Cake Planet, the more excited I got, until I discovered when this unique event is planned for – Saturday 28 & Sunday 29 June. The reason for my disappointment? I’m not going to be in the North East that weekend – Massive sad face! I shouldn’t complain really as I’m heading down to London for my company’s annual awards do and as my employer is footing the bill for the train I’ve arranged to make the most of it by visiting a friend for the weekend.

Carol Bell and Simon Preston at Monument

Organisers Carol Bell and Simon Preston at Grey’s Monument

Hopefully there’s still time for you to get the event in your diary and go and enjoy my share of that edible planet! Just so you know, the weekend will be divided in to four sessions, each lasting three hours and it’s recommended that your book your afternoon tea in advance to make the most of your visit. 

Here are the session times:

Saturday 28 June 11.30am-2.30pm
Saturday 28 June 3.30pm-6.30pm
Sunday 29 June 11.30am-2.30pm
Sunday 29 June 
3.30pm-6.30pm (this is when the edible cake planet will be devoured)

And these are the pop-up tearooms you can choose from:

The Finest Afternoon Tea on the Planet from Fenwick Newcastle
Perrier-Jouet Champagne Afternoon Tea from The Vermont Hotel
Cocktail Afternoon Tea from SIX @ BALTIC
Picnic Afternoon Tea from The TeaShed (includes a Teddy Bear’s Picnic option for the kids)

To find out everything you need to know visit: www.newcastlegateshead.com/eat-festival you can also follow EAT Festival on Twitter @Eatng something I definitely urge you to do because believe me, Tea and Cake Planet is just the start of this year’s foody festival and there’s loads more to come including EAT OUT’ 8-17 August (no way am I missing out on that!)

By Rachel Kershaw

NE1′s Newcastle Fashion Week 2014

It was back with a bang but felt like it was over in the blink of an eye, NE1′s Newcastle Fashion Week promised nine jam packed days of fashions shows, shopping events, activities, workshops and networking opportunities from 9 till 17 May.

I had intended on making the most of the varied schedule of events, however, as often happens, my workload got in the way. I didn’t want to disappoint you though, so this week on the blog, as well sharing my thoughts on the one event I did attend, I’ve also picked out some of my favourite posts from other bloggers.

Fashion Front Row

This headline catwalk event took place on Wednesday, smack bang in the middle of Fashion Week and I deliberately invited one of my most fashionable friends along to join me beside the runway. We both fell in love with the floaty, summer dresses created by F6 Studios and Nisha Vedhara

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As for the men’s fashions, well my friend and I couldn’t hide our puzzled expressions as male models strutted their stuff wearing odd shoes (was that intentional or a backstage mix up, who knows?)

newcastle fashion week male model odd shoes

When it comes to my own fashion statements I’m all about the accessories so I loved the quirky hats from The Libertarian, certainly one to remember if I get a ticket to Ladies Day at Newcastle Racecourse!

Newcastle Fashion Week HatThe highlight of the evening was definitely seeing the outrageous latex creations from Dayne Henderson who has recently designed for Lady GaGa, I can just imagine her wearing outfits like these on her upcoming tour can’t you?

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Newcastle Fashion Week

Other blog posts about NE1′s Newcastle Fashion Week

Sandra Tang is chief organiser, catwalk host and all round fashion week super star so who better to bring you an access all areas perspective on the whole shebang! www.chicest.co.uk

I’ve often wondered what life must be like as a model, to be pampered and preened as part of your job must be marvelous and then there’s the clothes! But what’s it really like?What goes on backstage at a fashion show? How do they walk in those skyscraper heels? Now you can find out thanks to the official face of NE1′s Newcastle Fashion Week, Laura Nicholson, who kept a diary of her hectic schedule. www.fashion-north.com/author/laura-nicholson/

Tasha Steel is one of my favourite North East based fashion bloggers, her ability to put outfits together is something I really envy. Tasha makes it look so easy whereas I agonise over  what to wear for hours and still get it wrong, so I was keen to read what she got up to during the most fashionable week of the year! www.hello-freckles.com

Did you enjoy NE1′s Newcastle Fashion Week? Were there any events you think I should have been at? Go on, let me know what I missed by leaving your comments below.

By Rachel Kershaw

Dirty Dancing on Stage at the Theatre Royal

I’ve probably watched the film Dirty Dancing over a hundred times, I know all the words to every song and like most thirty something females, I had one of my first ever major crushes on Patrick Swayze who played hip-shaking Johnny.

Dirty Dancing on stage at the Theatre Royal

So it’s fair to say that my expectations of the stage rendition were pretty high! I was even a little bit nervous in case the actors (all of which I’d never heard of) would be good enough to fill the dancing shoes of the stars I’d admired for years.

I needn’t have worried… from the opening scene to the final curtain I was in awe! 

Roseanna Frascona as Baby Houseman - photographer credit Chris Nash

The two leads do an outstanding job of playing Baby and Johnny. In fact, Roseanna Frascona was so similar to Jennifer Grey, the actress who played Baby in the film, that I had to do a double take! Her mannerisms, as well as her looks, were absolutely spot on. I got the feeling the talented actress may have watched the film as many times I have!

Gareth Bailey as 'Johnny Castle' on DD international tour - photographer credit Chris Nash

Gareth Bailey plays the part of Johnny and although he didn’t quite ignite the same spark for me as Swayze, I still found myself wolf-whistling along with the rest of the enthusiastic audience at his eye popping dance moves!

A special mention should also go to Claire Rogers who plays Johnny’s dance partner, Penny. Her amazingly toned legs seemed to go all the way to her neck and if I had only 1% of her dancing talent I would live my life on the dance floor!

I don’t want to say too much about the storyline in case I spoil it for what must be a tiny minority of people who haven’t seen the film (have you been living under a rock or what??) But for those of you who, like me, are so familiar with Kellermans that it almost feels like you’ve been on holiday there yourself, I can safely say… you will not be dissapointed!

Dirty Dancing is at the Theatre Royal till Saturday 31st May, tickets start from £16.50 Click HERE to book.

Big thanks to staff at the Theatre Royal for arranging my tickets to the press night and supplying the images for this post. Photographer credit Chris Nash

By Rachel Kershaw

Gateshead Beer Festival & The Imperial Restaurant

OK, OK, So it’s another post about eating and drinking, please try not to judge! I have a really good excuse though, the Gateshead Beer Festival only happens once a year so it would have been rude not to pop by.

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Truth be told, I’m not the biggest real ale fan and usually much more likely to opt for a nice glass of wine but I’d heard Smoove and Turrell were playing at the festival on the Friday night and I love those funky music makers!

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Smoove and Turrell have played at all the major festivals, they can regularly be heard on Craig Charles’ Funk and Soul Show and have even supported Nile Rogers and Chic on tour, so there was no way I was missing out on the chance to see them perform live in a relatively small marquee right here in Geordieland!

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Being South of the river also gave me the chance to try out a restaurant I’d never been to before but had heard lots about, the well established Imperial Chinese Restaurant in Low Fell.

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When we first arrived it was pretty quite and I wondered where everyone was, it was Friday night after all. However, by the time we were leaving to set off to the Gateshead Beer Festival a short walk away, the restaurant was full to the rafters. It’s obviously a firm favourite with the locals and after tasting the crispy duck starter I could tell why, it was peking perfect!

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I’m sorry that I don’t have more or indeed better photos from the beer festival but some of those ales were pretty strong and there’s a chance I may have neglected my camera, I was also far too busy dancing and soaking up the fantastic atmosphere!

Keep an eye for the return of the Gateshead Beer Festival in 2015 when it ill be in its sixth year, it’s not just for beer lovers, it’s for music, banter, and all round fun shenanigan fans!

By Rachel Kershaw

Four New Bars, One Lovely Afternoon!

Last weekend I dragged my long-suffering boyfriend round town for an afternoon of his least favourite hobby, shopping! Feeling a bit guilty, I made the hazardous suggestion of interspersing our shop visits with bar visits and before I knew it we were sipping our fourth cocktail of the day, oops!

James is not a fan of shopping (pic taken in City Tavern)

Needless to say my head was a little bit fuzzy the next morning but I can remember enough to tell you that Newcastle has some fantastic new bars to add to its already great list of watering holes! This is where we ended up on our bar crawl…

City Tavern

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Sipping champagne in the City Tavern, I’d soon forgotten what I wanted to go shopping for!

Just round the corner from Primark at the top of Northumberland Street, City Tavern is the perfect pit stop for shoppers. It’s recently been transformed from a bit of a dingy pub in to a stylish venue with real character and a fantastic choice of food and drink. The decor is really sumptuous and the vibe is laid back and friendly, not pretentious at all. City Tavern is dog friendly too and even has a special menu for pampered pooches!

Dat Bar

Dat Bar Decor

Dat Bar Decor

Dat Bar was formerly Pasquilinos, a lovely Italian bar/restaurant attached to Theatre Royal. It was one of my faves and I was sad to see it go but equally intrigued to see what it had become. The layout inside is pretty much the same as before but the decor is a lot more modern,  it features bespoke artwork from talented North East folk giving the place a unique character all of it’s own.

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Just SOME of the rather strong beers available!

As for the drinks, well, the De Giorgi family, (who have previously opened some of NewcastleGateshead’s best bars including Popolo and Alvinos) have pulled out the stops to offer something for everyone with a list of craft ales as long as your arm! There’s about 20 taps behind the bar, rotating over 50 types of ales and beers! The food looked pretty decent too, I was glad to see the sourdough pizza I used to love coming here for was still on the menu!

Harry’s Bar & Brasserie

Just across the road on Grey Street, we saw groups of people heading for Harry’s Bar and eager to continue our discovery of Newcastle’s newest bars we followed the crowds to see what all the fuss was about. First impressions were great, the atmosphere was really relaxed and friendly with a slightly older crowd, I think my James was the only person under 30 other than the staff who were all quite young and rather beautiful. The female staff wear shirts emblazoned with the words ‘beautiful, intelligent, cute, talented, Harry’s girl’ (this deliberately spells out ‘Bitch’ which seemed a bit out of character for what appeared to such a stylish place to be honest).

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I really fancied an Espresso Martini and was disappointed to see it wasn’t on the cocktail list but the bar staff happily offered to make me one anyway and it was perfect. So I’m giving Harry’s a thumbs up on the basis of excellent customer service!

Bonbar

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Bonbar’s main bar area

I had a sneak peek of what Bonbar had to offer when I was there for a bloggers preview of NE1′s Newcastle Fashion Week a few weeks ago and I was keen to go back and sample the menu* as it looked fab. James ordered a burger and I opted for chicken with a side dish of an ‘onion flower’ – I had no idea what this was going to be or whether it would go with my dish  but curiosity got the better of me and I’m pleased to say it tasted as good as it looked!

The curious 'onion flower'

The curious ‘onion flower’

Needless to say James was happy with his burger!

Needless to say James was happy with his burger!

The bar area also impressed, I could have happily worked my way through the whole cocktail list but as evening approached and people started to arrive in their glad-rags, I felt a bit under-dressed. I got the distinct impression that Bonbar is where the glamorous, party loving people of Newcastle come to show off their latest designer threads on a night out. I’ll definitely make a return visit but I’ll make sure my heels and my hair are both a lot bigger next time!

(*Our food at Bonbar was complimentary)

Have you tried any of the new bars, pubs or restaurants in Geordieland, what did you think? Where should I go next? Do you know about any others opening soon? Keep me posted people!

By Rachel Kershaw