My University Experience: went for the degree, found a home.

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I’m on the left, and Hannah and Ellie are two of my best friends

I don’t know where three years have gone, but I have finished my English Literature with Creative Writing degree at Newcastle University- and I would go back and do it all over again tomorrow without a second thought. My title is no joke: reading numerous books, writing on them, and writing poetry for three years straight in a beautiful city was absolute paradise. I love my family, but Newcastle definitely provided me with a sense of being at home that I have never had before- I think because I chose it for myself and built what I would go as far as to call my ideal life there. When I finally settle in one place, I plan on it being Newcastle.  Obviously if you have found this post you are probably considering going to university, or you have applied and been offered a place. Congratulations if you have (especially if you’re headed to Ncl). You’re in for what could potentially be some of the best years of your life. My own degree is what I’m focusing on here, as I know a few universities offer it, and I am of course a huge advocate for Newcastle, as one of their alumni. I’m certain that I’m going to forget something in this post, because how do I cram three years into one piece of writing? I’ve tried to cover some of the bits I think you’ll want to know, but if you have any more questions please do contact me via the form filling in thing on this blog, and I’ll get back to you right away. Continue reading

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Cake Stories: Jesmond’s equivalent to Heaven.

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If you live in Newcastle then chances are you have heard of Cake Stories, on Brentwood Avenue. For my final year of uni I have lived literally seconds from this place, and for a good month (I like to change this up regularly) it was probably my favourite creative writing spot. Tea, cake, creative writing. What more do you need?

Cake stories is adorable. Literally, it makes you want to go ‘awwww!’ every time you walk in. It’s not fluffy and pink by any strength of the imagination, just cozy and welcoming. There is a cabinet of cakes laid on trays at the back of the shop, each cake cut into a square and decorated elegantly. They once made unicorn cake, which I am told was very colourful, but I unfortunately didn’t get to try it. The staff are more than happy to recommend you a cake, because trust me: you will struggle to decide. I recommend the Maple-Pecan, the Red Velvet, Zesty Lemon, Cherry Bakewell, or Mocha. That sounds a lot of options, but there are many, many more than that. They make cake sundaes too. And you can get ice cream with anything. Anything. Cake Stories also serve breakfasts and lunches, including avocado on toast or beans on toast, which are two of my personal favourite options when eating out for breakfast or brunch.

Teas. Cake Stories does tea really well. Try the Cherry-Almond Rooibos (I think that’s what it was called, whatever it was, it was delicious). Expect a cute cup and tea pot, and loose leaf tea- and milk in a miniature milk bottle too. Coffees taste great, and I recommend the cappuccino. Before I leave Newcastle I am determined to get myself an iced coffee from here too, as I hear they are extremely good.

If you can then get yourself to Cake Stories on an evening, then this is when you should go. Most evenings they are open until 9:30pm. At this point the fairy-lights and bulbs hanging from the ceiling are on, and everything becomes 100x cosier- from the massive shelf of tea jars, to the mismatched vintage-y furniture, to the smell of cakes and coffee. A lot of students seem to bring work here on an evening for a bit more of a relaxed atmosphere, or dump the work and come to catch up with friends after a long day. But in-case you can’t get a table, they do cake to go, so there’s really no excuse not to try it.

5 More Newcastle Eateries You NEED To Try…

This week it is actually Newcastle Restaurant Week, and so I figured it was the perfect opportunity to celebrate four more brilliant places to eat by the Tyne. You can read some of my other recommendations right here, and if you’re local to Newcastle, then do let me know of anywhere I should be trying in the comments. Next on my bucket list has to be The Butterfly Cabinet, Shijo, and the new Chaophraya in Eldon Square- if you’ve tried these places already then feel free to recommend something I should be trying off of the menu!

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This is a brunch spot you don’t want to miss during a trip to Newcastle. It’s located in West Jesmond, outside of the city centre, but only a 20 minute walk, or a 5 minute metro ride. I haven’t tried the lunch menu here, but I wholeheartedly recommend you get yourself there for brunch- and order the avo and egg on toast with chilli jam, the granary bread with eggs and a side of salmon, or – my personal favourite- the porridge. The porridge is seasonal, and so in summer it had blueberries, honey, and bee pollen on it, and in winter the combination of banana, hazelnuts, honey, and bee pollen. I have a full review of Arlo’s right here.

 

Mantra Thai

This is the best Thai restaurant in Newcastle, but many I’ve spoken to didn’t know it existed because it’s tucked away behind the central station, just five minutes walk towards the quayside. This is my favourite pick of the restaurants in this post. The food is beautiful: lots of fish dishes and veggie dishes (meat lovers, there’s lots for you too), perfect flavour combinations, and friendly staff. They also make lovely cocktails. My recommendations are the steamed seabass fillets (the sauce is amazing), the mixed seafood grill, the jasmine rice, and the coconut crumbed deep fried banana with ice cream for dessert.

 

Violet’s

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This is my most recent discovery. Again, located literally next to the quayside, I was fairly hesitant to share this one as I wanted to keep it to myself! However, I needed to tell you all what a beautiful place it is. More of a girl’s brunch/coffee trip out location, the inside is exactly what the name ‘Violet’s’ brings to mind. Soft and relaxed décor, cakes under glass jars, a little fire in the corner…the staff are excellent, the food service is fast, and they have a great range of teas. I have yet to try the smoked salmon and egg waffle here, but the friend I went with ordered the seasonal fruits waffle with lemon-mascarpone cream, and it came with edible flowers too. Absolutely beautiful, and a lot of care and attention put into the food.

 

Scalini’s

Unfortunately I don’t have a picture for this, but Scalini’s provides great value Italian food. It’s located on Osbourne Road in Jesmond, so it’s a great pick for any students living in the area. Best time to visit is early evening, and I suggest you try the pizzas or pastas- especially the arrabbiata with king prawns. It’s very laid back, and the staff are friendly (I never revisit a place if the staff aren’t friendly, to be honest). Perfect if you’re wanting a chilled evening with great value Italian food. They also serve tapas, although I can’t comment on this as I haven’t tried it – yet.

 

The Herb Garden

One of the best pizza places in Newcastle. You can’t book here, but turn over is pretty fast, so you won’t have to wait long. And don’t stop at just the pizza- the salads are incredible, and they switch them up every now and again to keep things fresh. Wraps are also on the menu, and The Herb Garden does a great trade with officer workers nearby, as these wraps are great “to go” food. The ceiling is hung with hundreds of lights, and herbs literally grown in the walls here, in hydroponic cylinders. Full review right here!

 

There you go, five more places serving up delicious food in the Newcastle area- now you know about them you can get booking your table, and let me know your pick in the comments below!

 

 

Arlo’s Café & Bistro: Review

wp-1476299752207.jpgWhen my flatmates and I moved into our current home I immediately knew that we may not have chosen the best location. Because we live in very close proximity to a great second hand book shop, a mini-supermarket, a frozen yoghurt shop, sushi place, a Starbucks, cake and tea and coffee shop, Indian street kitchen I have yet to try- and Arlo’s. Ah, Arlo’s. This is where my money is currently going.

Arlo is a café and bistro on Brentwood Avenue, in the West Jesmond area. And it does one of the best brunches in the city. It’s decorated in a quirky-cool alpine fashion, with plenty of fairy lights, and blankets in case you choose to sit outside.

Arlo’s opens fairly early in the morning, which is ideal if you’re an early bird, or if – like me- you are someone who wakes up hungry, and get hangry within half an hour. Luckily, the brunch menu is amazing. Although Arlo open as a bistro in the evening- and serve amazing cakes all day long- I haven’t yet eaten there on an evening. So, this review will be centring around brunch. Although my flatmate, also sucked into the Arlo trap, has been for tea, and said the chicken burger more than lived up to expectations.

My personal recommendations from the brunch menu are: the avocado and egg on toast with chilli jam, the veggie brunch, or the hen’s eggs on toast with smoked salmon added. Because you can’t beat good quality toast with proper butter. If none of these sound appealing, then Arlo also make scones, waffles, teacakes, granola, and sausage stotties. The porridge is also something I can recommend, though it could use more berries. Continue reading