Last month, Dan and I embarked on a little trip. He’d booked me a tour at the Edinburgh Gin Distillery as a Birthday gift, and since it’s a heck of a drive up there from the Midlands he’d also planned a stop off at a city en route that I’ve always wanted to visit – Newcastle! Since one of our goals for the year was to see a little bit more of the UK this was the perfect chance to do what we do best – aimless exploring! The weather Gods were smiling down on us and it was set to be a glorious weekend, so I was very excited indeed!
After a few hours travelling in a hot car (and getting very excited when spotting the Angel of the North!) we were ready to get our explore on, but not after indulging in our other major skill – eating and drinking! We decided to pop into one of our businesses and make the most of our staff discount, so headed to The Forth on Pink Lane – a quirky little pub with a great drinks selection and lots of cosy corners to chill out in – and gorged on katsu chicken burgers with beer. Obviously fueling up is vital for intrepid explorers like ourselves! Then we hit the road to see what we could find (SPOILER: we found lots more bars…)
We spent an hour or so strolling through the streets, taking in the architecture and I was surprised to find (God knows why, because I didn’t actually know anything about the city at all before we got there) that it was far more historical than I was expecting. I was particularly taken by the Central Arcade, a stunning Edwardian structure with a glass ceiling and intricate mosaic floors. We also stopped by Grainger Market to visit The Yesterday Society and browse their vintage dresses. Since it was so warm out, but this stage we were ready for a little pitstop (shocker) so nipped in to Colonel Porter’s Emporium, which I have to say might be the coolest place I’ve ever been. Rum is their speciality, with an overwhelming collection to choose from (and luckily, very friendly and knowledgeable bar tenders ready to guide you towards your ideal choice!) but there is also an impressive gin selection and extensive cocktail menu if rum isn’t your thang. After a little chat and sample with the team, Dan went for a Red Leg and I went with the delightfully named Dead Man’s Fingers! The best thing about this place though is the decor – it is crammed the the rafters with weird and wonderful artifacts. There is a bear wearing glasses. A zebra with a fez balanced jauntily on it’s head. The shelving units are actually old suitcases and there is blossom cascading from the ceiling. You could sit in one of the grand old booths for hours and probably not spot everything! I kind of wanted to sell the house and move in there, but we had exploring to do, soooo….
Next we decided we wanted to go and see the famous Tyne Bridge so took on the steep climb to get some photos. The sun was still blazing at this point so we decided to take a stroll along the banks bustling banks of the river, soaking up the scenery. I was shocked to find not one place down there was selling ice cream which seemed mental, so we headed back into town to see what the shopping scene was like! Sprawling, as it happens! There is a huge variety of shops, bars and restaurants to choose from and we could have entertained ourselves for hours! Shopping makes me thirsty though, so we did the most unexpected thing ever and found a bar to duck into! This time we went for something a little more well known and checked out The Botanist – we have one in Birmingham that is to be honest a little ordinary, but I’ve always heard great things so was curious to see if those in different cities were a bit more impressive. Well, I can’t speak for the rest of the country, but Newcastle’s is pretty spectacular! The multiple floors of the building are plastered with plants and flowers, with a whole section covered in faux wisteria. It was pretty busy so we headed out to their charming roof garden to enjoy our drinks, mine being an English Mojito – apple mint and cucumber with a generous splash of gin!
By this stage my feet were starting to ache a little, so we decided to wave goodbye to the city and head to our bed for the night. Another of the perks of our job is that we get a discounted room rate at a number of lodges attached to our pubs, and as luck would have it there is one based just outside Newcastle, The Snowy Owl at Cramlington. Here we treated ourselves to what seemed like a ridiculous amount of cheese even for us – but come on, fried brie?? We weren’t going to say no to that – and a bottle of wine before hitting the hay to recharge our batteries ahead of journey to Scotland in the morning! As we left the next day we realised we were right next door to a pretty big landmark – The Lady of the North – which is a huge sculpture of a woman carved into the landscape. I’m a little regretful that we didn’t realise until we were leaving as it looks well worth a visit!
Sounds like an excuse to book another trip to me….!