Blogmas, christmas, general, lifestyle, review

The Inventors’ Ball @ Enchanted Parks 2017

Tonight was the night myself and my two girls Jessica and Emily, have been really looking forward to. The opening of Enchanted Parks.

This annual 5 day event, once again sees the already beautiful Saltwell park come to life in another after dark adventure.

Last year was the first year we visited, being too late to purchase tickets previously. I was surprised to see feedback that it didn’t meet its usual standard, we thoroughly enjoyed it. So this year I expected they may have upped their Enchanted Park game

This years ‘Inventors Ball’ themed event tells the story of Ursula – the eldest daughter of William Wailes and Heiress to the Saltwell Estate.

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Ursula greets visitors upon the start of their magical adventure, and using image projection, Ursula is brought to life. Ursulas’ wandering mind reminds us all that ‘the body is a machine, a fleshy container for the intellect’, and whatever she thinks she is, she becomes, which she then goes on to demonstrate.  I was impressed already as I truly believe that, too.

Whilst mesmerised by the beautiful Ursula, thunder could be heard in the distance, along with lightning in the trees – and we could see electrical sparks and crackles projected upon the façade of Saltwell Towers.

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This was probably my favourite piece this year. We spent a good while just watching and taking in the atmosphere felt by the excitement of both children and adults.

We then continued our adventure through the park, meeting many characters on our way which my children loved and stopped to speak to every single one of them.

Throughout the park we winded our way through many more beautiful installations, including giant illuminated bunnies, and night creatures down by the stream.

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My girls particularly enjoyed walking up the winding path alongside flower stems which when we shook, fariesreleased a fairy.
My husband however, wasn’t impressed one of our girls was a little over enthusiastic and he suffered a few bumps on the head as Jessica gave it a shake shouting ‘Come on out, fairies. I want to see you’!!

Singing and dancing also filled the park, as we saw silhouettes of beautiful ballerinas, whilst enjoying the tones of a very cheerful pineapple.

The lake at Saltwell was lit up this year with the moon which Ursula cleverly managed to capture with a lasso to dazzle us all.

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After walking thorough the Apothercarist’s Garden full of enormous illuminated plants full of healing properties, an animal menagerie of a string quartet playing by the waterfall and the flowers for Ursula,

we’d reached the end of our Enchanted adventure, and joined a crowd of visitors gathered together, anticipating what was about to happen as a clock in the trees displayed a countdown. Then as the timer hit zero, a character appeared and began to pace up and down with a machine producing smoke. And then, we watched as the Spirit of the Cyclone appeared before us.

This was spectacular and happens every 15 minutes. We had just over a minute to wait, which was fine. But please don’t be put off if you have to wait much longer. It really is worth it and would be a shame to miss and it ends the magical experience just perfectly.

Well done NewcastleGateshead Initiative and Gateshead Council. You completely blew it out the water with this magnificent event. My two girls aged 6 and 9 loved every single second of it as did I. My husband although tired after a long and cold day at work and hungry, thoroughly enjoyed it too.

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Excited for next years already, although I have no idea how you can top this.

Thank you so much to Rachel Horton of Gateshead Culture Team, for the opportunity to blog about and share my experience of this fabulous event.

Tickets are still available for this event, running until sunday 10th December, and purchased here http://www.shopnewcastlegateshead.com/tickets/enchanted-parks-2017/

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Blogmas, christmas, general, lifestyle, review

A local festive day with my girls

One thing which I love about Whitley Bay, is the sense of community. With a large number of independent business owners and sole traders, everyone supports each other. I’ve lived here most of my life, and it isn’t till this past year I’ve got to know other locals and often spot a familiar face when out and about.

In summer I enjoy the festivals. The singing, watching children dancing and all the delicious food on offer. I also enjoy the evening events which seem to be becoming more and more of a regular thing in the area, which is great as there is always something to plan with friends to look forward to throughout the year.

I love a Christmas market. Think I’ve been to two already this year and we’re only on to December 2nd. This afternoon, along with my girls we went along to Whitley Bay Station Christmas Fayre, organised by Stephen Andrews of Newcastle Building Society.

We arrived around lunch time and it was pretty busy and saw a large array of tables showcasing some beautiful products and information of services, including The Fostering Company, Based in Killingworth and ran by a team of people dedicated to helping children and young people in creating supportive, consistent and enriching fostering environments.

We first of all took a look aroud, soaking up the cheery atmosphere and listening to the choir sing.

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First off, the sweet cones caught the kids eyes, and mine too. I’m actually sat in the Crab and Waltzer as I write this having just had lunch and now passing time waiting for my hubby to come meet us. The kids are in the play area, and I’m feeling very tempted to tuck into one of them..

We then went to check out the fabulous work of  Sea Tern Print. A creative print workshop, and had a chat with local artist, Michelle who told me a bit about the Social Enterprise set up to help people using creative print activities.

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Then I noticed the Virtual Reality area, hosted by Pirate Escape, and Jessica decided to give it a go. She took a seat and was immersed into a fully interactive 3d virtual world, on a rollercoaster experience as we could see on the big screen.

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She only lasted a few seconds however, before declaring she was scared, which I can quite imagine. This is something I’d  like to give a go, along with the Pirate Escape with friends. We did a similar escape experience last year.

We didn’t escape in the hour. Doubt we’d have even escaped in two without a lot of input from the lads who ran it. But mainly because it was after a few bottles of wine, so I definitely think we need to give Pirate Escape a go, whilst sober. We’d smash it!

Speaking of alcohol,  I then got to sample the really, really delicious V Gallery Vodka and Rubis Chocolate Wine.

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If you think chocolate wine sounds amazing, the vodka was Marshmallow and Toffee with Fudge flavour and devine. I think I really need to stop saying that I don’t like vodka, because I clearly do, and I shall be buying some of the gift sets for Christmas. For myself.

We then popped over to meet Katie who runs Fun Little Foodies, an activity class which promotes an enjoyment of food and cooking for children, and the girls made a mini Christmas pudding out of a chocolate crispy bar and teeny tiny decorations to go on top

I then spotted a Facebook friend who I’ve yet to meet in person, Jill from Daisy First Aid, and The Family Hub – a play centre which incorporates a range of play activities for children 0-4. Jill kindly gave Emily a beautiful glitter Tinkerbell tattoo. Then both the girls had their faces painted.

Other stalls which were there, but I didn’t get round to stopping at as the sugar rush began to kick in with my kids which meant it was time to leave, included Pureknead, a bakery which sells a range of artisan breads, cakes, biscuits, sweet goods and more.

Nord, a bottle shop and tasting room based in Whitley Bay. Edens Cafe, located on Park View and ran by Janice and Robert. If you haven’t already been to Edens, you have to go. I can highly recommend their sandwiches.

Jason Friend Photography, award winning professional travel and landscape photographer, and the Whitley Bay Brewing Company, ran by Gary who also owns 42nd Street, another place I like to go eat with my family, or drink with friends.

Thank you so much to Martin and Julie from Olives at the Station, for inviting me along to blog.

If you’d like anymore information on any of the local business mentioned, then check out their Facebook pages

food, general, lifestyle, review

Our afternoon at Loca, Whiltey Bay

When I noticed on Facebook that a new restaurant in my small hometown of Whitley Bay was looking for bloggers to attend their Press Event, I jumped at the opportunity. I’d never tried my hand at food blogging before, but I was more than willing to give it a go.

I arrived at 1pm along with my friend Jeannie, a keen foodie with an interest in the current ongoing regeneration of Whitley Bay, fellow cocktail enthusiast and bad influence (we were trying out a new eaterie in town monday afternoon with a voucher she won in my fundraising raffle) and we were told to go head next door to the Italian restaurant, as Loca was very much still under construction, where we were then each presented with a glass of Prosecco, and a press pack.

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We excitedly took a seat near the back of the restaurant along with other bloggers and a photographer, and had a look inside our press pack, where we found information about the Latin American Restaurant & Bar, Food and Cocktail Menus, a small plastic bottle containing an invite to the VIP launch the following night, and some photos of some rather tempting looking deserts.

We had a look through the menu, in the meantime was offered another Prosecco, which we gratefully accepted.

Within 5 minutes of scouring the menu, I had already decided what I would be ordering on my first visit (it’s got to be a Brazillian xim xim Chicken Rice bowl), then Jeannie and I sat and discussed what tapas we shall order when we go with our friends. This was before even trying anything. But with tapas dishes such as Salmon & Scallop Ceviche, Lime, Tofu and Mixed Bean Salad and Chipotle bbq Baby Back Ribs, there is something for everyone. And of course there is a selection of Bocadillos (or sandwiches on spanish bread – thank you Google), sharing dishes, Ensalada (salads, yes, I was about to google that too, then common sense kicked in) and a selection of Little Locas for the kids. Childrens usual favourites of Chicken burger, Chicken Strips, Cheeseburger and a vegetarian option of a Tofu Pitta. Along with impressive selection of sides

Ok, that’s the food. Now lets move on to the cocktails. Wow is all I can say. I will first of all point out that we only expected to be sampling cocktails in little shot glasses, just to get the general taste, which is why we went by car rather than endure the 5 minute walk in the rain. Generous bar staff presented us with a selection of full-sized cocktails. First off I tried a Loca Colada. A blended cocktail of white rum, coconut rum, coconut syrup, fresh banana and condensed milk. Delicious.

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Then I tried a Galapagos Iced Tea served in a tall glass and I must say it’s something I wouldn’t even think of ordering, but definitely will next time I’m in Loca.

Then onto a Sensation Sours – something else I would probably avoid as it contains egg white, but again, very nice.

Drinks are very reasonabley priced at £7 each, or 2-4-£8 before 7pm or after 9pm.

After then hearing from owner Steve Welsh as to why he chose to create his own ‘Latino Bay’ at Loca, we were then taken for a look around the establishment, which was still very much a building site at this point. We could see with VIP launch night happening in just over 24 hours, the builders had their hands full and were probably looking at pulling an all nighter.

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But we could still get the general feel of the bar with beautifully decorated walls and as we went back to the Italians next door to sample some food, I’d decided I’ d definitely be there the following night to see the finished result.

We then spent about half an hour sampling some Tapas. Dadinhos, Avacado, Corn & Black Bean Tostada, Empanadas which were without a doubt my favourite, and Chorizo, Jalapeno and Cheese Churros which may sound strange as a starter, but were really nice, although I did think how some Nutella to dip them in would be great right now.

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We then had one more cocktail for the road, another Sensation Sours for me and I have no idea what Jeannie had. At this point she was ringing her hubby to come get the bus down to drive both her and the car home. So a quick obligatory snap chat selfie, we thanked the staff for their hospitality, then left, impressed (no, I haven’t misspelt p*ssed)

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We returned the following night for the VIP launch, although we didn’t arrive till just before 9. I go to a dance fitness class on a thursday night for two hours, and missing it is just never an option. Instead I took a change of clothing, my make up, and baby wipes and ‘freshened up’ in the toilets (I know. I’m a minger) and Jeannie and I met up with our other boozy friend, Jenny.

The building work was complete, and the interior stunning. The place was buzzing, music playing and drinks flowing. I feel I should add we did wait half an hour for the barman to make three cocktails, and for that reason we only stayed for one, but I’m sure this was purely with it being opening night and service will improve.

Guests were again presented with a selection of food to try, we had chips, a really decent sized bowl full and very tasty

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Opening night slow service certainly hasn’t put me off and I am keen to return again soon. There is a wide selection of cocktails I plan to work my way through and the Chocotorta looks just devine

Thank you very much to all at Loca for a fantastic afternoon, and evening and wishing you all lots of luck and success for the future.

To check out the menus, opening times and book a table at http://locawhitleybay.com/