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.

market10

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.

seatern

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.

market

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.

market2

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

Advertisements
general, lifestyle

Gin and Vodka Tasting Event at Olives

This weekend saw Whitley Bays first ‘Weekend of Gin and Vodka’, providing an opportunity for local Gin and Vodka lovers to taste and appreciate the popular tipples.

Tying in with this event, Olives at the Station held a Gin and Vodka tasting evening last night, and I was kindly invited along to blog about the event.

Now I should probably point out that I never drink Gin, or Vodka. I stick to cocktails as I dread the actual thought of a hangover. My spirit drinking days are over. However, I have noticed a recent rise in popularity amongst Gin, and felt very tempted by all the different flavours so was more than happy to go along and see what it was all about.

I took along my friend who always sticks to Vodka on a night out, so thought it would be interesting to see her views on the range of Vodkas available.

This experience was a chance to sample a range of shots supplied from a variety of different brands, local business and distilleries including Hepple Gin, Gin and Vodka from Durham Distillery’s,  Alnwick Gin, The Geordie Gin Co, Black Cow Vodka, Graceful Vodka and ‘Old Tom’ Gin from Poetic License, and Tynemouth Gin.

Upon arrival, we were presented with a score card where we were able to rate a score 0-5, with 20 minutes to try each drink until the next was served.

card

I did my maths and worked out that if I was to drink every shot, I was going to be quite merry in about 40 minutes, and unable to find my way home by 10pm. Panic!

However, we all had the option to drink each shot neat, or with a variety of mixers including Tonic Water, Bitter Lemon, or Lemonade, which gave me faith I could just perhaps get through the event, or at least half way.

This was blind tasting, and the first shot I tried with Fentimans Rose Lemonade which I love, ice and a slice of lime selected from a wide variety of accompaniments, and it went down a treat.

o7

Feeling hardcore at this point, I was and ready for shot number 2 and feeling more adventurous trying with lemonade and raspberries.

I changed up my mixers between each shot, and some I could only manage a couple of mouthfuls, but I think that could largely have been down to my choice of mixer rather than the Gin. I sat at a table of 3 other Gin samplers and every one of us enjoyed each shot, and our scoring similar.

I also found that after a couple of sips, the tastes changed and the one which I didn’t enjoy the taste of initially, actually turned out to be my favourite, which was Whiltey Bay Seaglass by the Whitley Bay Gin Corporation.

It had a taste which I recognised but couldn’t quite work out what it was until I heard Mark from the Whitley Bay Gin Corporation mention Turmeric.

The vodka didn’t go down so well on our table unfortunately, again with very similar scoring. My friend enjoyed only two out of the eight shots. I’ve never been a vodka drinker (my one and only night on vodka and orange put me off for life) but I did have a taste of the Thunder Toffee Vodka as the smell was divine.. It was suggested on our table it could go well in a coffee. Not something I would’ve thought of, but then again people think I’m strange for having enjoyed Malibu with Chocolate Nesquick Milkshake back in my party days (try it – a-ma-zing)

At the end of a very enjoyable night, the score cards were collected in and results announced seeing Newcastle Gin coming out on tops along with Annos Vodka, which was my friends top choice.

This event was a brilliant opportunity to relax, and to mingle, meet and socialise, and once again, fabulous hospitality by Olives. I especially enjoyed meeting Wil and Jade from Boda Home who we sat with and hearing a bit about their independent family owned store which I really need to visit. And Mark from the Whitley Bay Gin Corporation who told us a bit more about Gin, and how to drink it regarding choosing the right mixers.

gin1

I know for sure, next time I am out (which is actually this weekend coming as my birthday approaches), I will defiantly be enjoying a gin or two. Maybe even more as I woke up with absolutely zero hangover. Result!!

 

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.

loca

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.

loca11

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.

loca3

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.

loca8

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)

loca12

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

loca14

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/

 

anxiety, depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, wellbeing

Don’t say ‘goodbye’ to January

Many people today may have just experienced their last ‘dry’ weekend after pledging to stay clear of alcohol for January, giving their bodies a much needed detox after a month of festive drinking and over indulgence.

If that is you I’m guessing you’re feeling more energetic, especially after the better sleep you should be experiencing. You may also be noticing your skin is clearer, and feeling less bloated and whether you weigh yourself of not, you’ve probably dropped a few pounds.

I would guess you’re currently feeling pretty awesome. Especially with the added sense of achievement. So if you are reading this and this is you, a massive WELL DONE

But, why stop now? Before you arrange a big night out next weekend, or a weekend blow-out, think for a minute how you’re feeling right now. How does your body feel? Your mind feel? Acknowledge the changes which have occurred in your life over such a short space of time.

I’m not suggesting anyone reading should completely kick the drink and sign up to a life of sobriety. Like everything, it’s fine in moderation. But now could just be the perfect opportunity to become more mindful of alcohol consumption and how it affects us both mentally and physically.

But along with staying dry this month, more than two thirds of us will have also started the year in the gym, with the intentions of making this the year we really will live up to the ‘New year, New you’ motto.

But research shows that by the end of January, over a third of us will have quietly cancelled our sparkly new gym membership before even working up a sweat.

With this in mind, what I would really like to do is to encourage anyone reading this who made that promise to change their lifestyle this year, to stick with it. Keep to your goals. Keep aiming for that healthy lifestyle you want to achieve. If you’re looking at your body and thinking you’re not seeing the differences you’d maybe hoped for, that’s because you haven’t given yourself enough time. We’re a month into a year. Four weeks. A healthy weight loss round about now would be around or just over half a stone (2lb a week is a healthy average, possibly more in the first week as we lose water). You’re not going to be seeing abs yet if that’s your aim.

But physical changes aside, this is not all about changing your body, but changing your mind. Have you found over the last four weeks you have woke up feeling happier? Less stressed? More confident? Less anxious? If you’ve been hitting the gym or taking part in some kind of physical exercise either high or lower impact, your answer should be yes to all of these

I’m not going to bore anyone with facts, or statistics but I will share that one thing I’ve learned over the years and found I’m really good at is completely pulling myself apart. I had a knack and skill of being self critical. I’d even do it through humour.  (I still do, but it’s mainly tongue-in-cheek)

However, I’m REALLY pleased to say, that I am now the very proud owner of a little thing I’ve lacked most of my adult life called confidence. I mean I’m still not going to walk into a room full of people and spark up a conversation (Urgh, I’m still shy) but just a ‘this is me, this is my personality, this is my body, this is how I carry and convey myself, and I don’t really care what anyone thinks of me’ sense. There is nothing more liberating than feeling comfortable in your own skin

I’ve gained it through taking control of my life. By eating right (there is often a slight blip once a month. Any girls reading this may be completely with me on this) and I exercise regularly. I’m not even sure of the last time I felt depressed, or down, or sad. I think it was probably around a year ago. I do have the occasional ‘episode’ where I feel I just need a good cry, into a bag of Maltezers usually, but again, what can I say except I’m a woman and I’m sure I’m not alone.

So tomorrow, don’t start February, but continue January. Don’t feel as if you need to drink at the weekend to have fun, you don’t. Don’t ditch the gym membership, or miss classes. Sick with it. Your life will change if that is what you really want.

I also want to point out that I have nothing to gain writing this. I’m not endorsing any products, sponsored or paid by any gyms. I’m speaking from personal experience. I just want to offer words of encouragement and inspiration