Sunday Strolls and Two Training Diaries

Bonjour friends! Hope you’re all well, and safe from the snow if you’re in the States! Apparently the storm is making its way across to us in the UK now…. but will be rain by the time it hits. Excellent! Wouldn’t expect anything else 🙂

Today has been a very satisfying Sunday. Started off with a nice early run; then went for a wander along Seaton Sluice beach with my beloved and finished up with a very late lunch at Ernest, a cafe-bar tucked away on an inconspicuous street in Ouseburn. We had just missed the end of their brunch menu; so I ordered the veggie chilli burger (delicious) while James opted for the chorizo and butternut squash taco. Mmmmm.

So, I fell at the first hurdle with my training diaries (zero puns) as I realised on Tuesday that I had forgotten to upload anything at all for last week! So, here is my diary for this week and the week before – neither is especially exciting in honesty though; so you haven’t missed much 🙂

W/C 11th January 

This one got off to a bit of a rocky start; as James was off work and struggling with a wisdom tooth extraction that became infected – ouch. We also had some pretty cold weather which hindered conditions underfoot, so a bit light on the running this week!

Wednesday – Tried to go out for a run; skidded to the end of my street and decided that it wasn’t worth a broken bone. Retreated back to our warm house for some ballet barre exercises and weights.

Thursday – SNOWDAY. I had booked a double at the gym – Bodycombat followed by Yogalates – however the snow brought our whole estate to a standstill; and there was no chance I’d get there in time. So, instead, I cancelled the classes and went out for a very slow 5K in our temporary winter wonderland. By 9.30 it was already turning to slush, so there was a lot of running through icy puddles, but it was very very fun 🙂

Saturday – More weights and core work at home.

Weekly mileage total: 3.1 miles

Weekly workout total: 3 sessions

W/C 17th January 

Another light week, no excuses but laziness really! Half Marathon countdown is exactly 10 weeks today (eek!) so still enough time to get back into good shape; but next week needs to see a bit of ramping up.

Wednesday: Spinning class at the gym. I haven’t been spinning for a good few months, and this session was with a new instructor who is not a fan of sitting down on the bike!! My heart was almost jumping out of my chest and I finished feeling like I might have actually died (I may be slightly prone to exaggeration when physically tired). I would hesitate to say I enjoyed it, but I definitely felt the benefit!

Friday: Barre work and weights at home. I used to do ballet in my late teens and I really miss it; so these exercises are a nice throwback to those days! There are some ballet classes running in Newcastle; I might have to carry out some further investigations….

Sunday: Long Run day. Today was about 4.5 miles around the Town Moor. It wasn’t what I’d call a ‘good’ run; but it was nice to be out – and I was back home by 10! Plus another mile and a half or so along the beach.

Weekly mileage total:  6 miles

Weekly workout total: 3 sessions

Next week, I have a wedding dress fitting (argh!) and my hair and makeup trials…. exciting! I also have no doubt these two things will give me a fresh kick up the behind and spur me on to a bit more action on the exercise front 🙂

DSC_1813

DSC_1815

DSC_1816

 

Lunching at Rosie’s

Our first full week back at work has been and gone in a heartbeat; and now here we are in the midst of a typical British autumn day….rainy and cold. Lovely!

Last weekend; both me and James had a craving for some nice lunch and cake. In need of shaking ourselves out of the ‘back to work’ shock; we wandered down to Gosforth High Street to try out Rosie’s Cafe. Hidden inside Gosforth shopping centre; we wandered past it by chance a couple of months ago and put it in the bank for some Saturday feeds further down the line.

It’s a gorgeous little spot; backing out onto a park via huge patio doors, with an ice cream corner for the summer! The interior is warm and cosy and the food is absolutely amazing. I went for hummus and chickpeas with flatbread, while James opted for a mountain of avocado and poached eggs with greens on toast. And the cakes! Wow. We ate them so fast there was no room for photos! Mmmmm 🙂

As well as the cafe food, they also stock lots of local produce like jams, preserves, and chocolate. I have a feeling I will definitely be back!

hummus and flatbread

DSC_1542

DSC_1544

DSC_1545

DSC_1543//

Cats, Cats, Everywhere

You may have heard of the cat cafe craze which is incredibly popular in Japan; where living space is so limited that having pets at home is just not an option. You go to a cafe and sip your coffee surrounded by feline friends who you can stroke and play with; a perfect way to reduce stress after a nightmare day in the office.

Mog on the Tyne, on Pudding Chare in the centre of Newcastle; opened up last month and has been flooded with bookings ever since. It is the brainchild of Katie Jane Glazier, a fashion design graduate who has worked for over a year to make her dream reality. The cafe is home to 10 cats who have been brought from local shelter Westgate Ark and adopted as permanent residents. Fresh food is brought on site daily (they can’t produce on site due to health and safety legislation) along with cakes from local bakery Pet Lamb Patisserie.

DSC_1262

As soon as bookings opened; I reserved a slot for a Friday evening and then sweet talked James into coming along with me. I have wanted a cat for a lifetime; but as we don’t have one (yet) I was very excited by the thought of spending an hour surrounded by them in this quirky little place.

As we queued up to take our slot, ourselves and everyone else in the queue entertained ourselves by watching a couple of the cats pawing the window, walking up and down in front of the glass staring at their next subjects. Make no mistake, the cats rule this joint! As you go in, you are asked to remove your shoes (take note, remember socks – I didn’t!) and take a pair of slippers if you so wish. You walk in to a catty paradise. A far wall is taken over by a painting of a cat in a top hat. Climbing ropes hang from the ceiling and, in the middle of the room, sits the largest cat play pen/scratch post/house my eyes have ever seen. You look around the place, taking it all in, and start to pick out the residents. Some are easy to spot; snoozing on the cat palace or claiming a chair by the window as the best place for a cat nap. Others are rather more adept at camouflaging themselves under tables and in corners, so you’re forever spotting new ones!

We claimed ourselves a spot on the sofa and ordered a pawnini to share (oh yes, there are puns!). The cats are very relaxed around their adoring fans and a number of them will come up and sit beside you or crawl on your lap….particularly if you’re eating some tasty morsel of food. We were given treats to feed them with and left to enjoy the atmosphere. It really is very relaxing, even if you’re just watching them play with each other or chase a ball around the room. James says that he found the whole thing a bit weird to begin with; but he also felt calm and chilled by the time we left.

The hour goes by very quickly when you’re distracted by cute little balls of fluff; and I definitely didn’t feel ready to leave. I will be back…. but probably not until next month, as they are completely booked up! I am also very excited to see what goodies pop up in their online shop….cat shaped teapot, anyone?

IMG_20150807_205918

DSC_1271

DSC_1266

DSC_1265

DSC_1269

DSC_1270

DSC_1263

Kielder Birthday Adventures

Last Friday was my birthday (my last as a Miss!) so we headed up to Kielder for a much needed weekend retreat.

On Friday evening we had tickets booked for Kielder Observatory. This has been on my bucket list for some time, and it didn’t disappoint. Sat beneath the largest area of protected dark sky in Europe, and the third largest in the world; this unassuming wooden building is accessed via a winding dirt road through the forest. It houses 2 telescopes and a central lecture room area which is used for the introductory talks and presentations. It is manned by some permanent staff and an army of volunteers. We were entertained by 3 staff members on our visit, all of whom were exceptionally knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Being something of a geek (and just for the record, geeks are cool) this was right up my street; but I can’t imagine anyone finding a visit there uninteresting. Even though it was too cloudy to do any stargazing, I don’t think either of us was ever bored. It’s so mind-boggling and humbling to think about how absolutely tiny we are in the grand scheme of things, and what lies within our galaxy and past it. One of the staff members, a recent astrophysics graduate, gave a talk on the recent ‘New Horizons’ Pluto mission. Did you know that they named sections of Charon, one of Pluto’s moons, after popular sci-fi names? There’s an area called Gallifrey, a Vulcan Planum, Mordor Macula….brilliant! I loved every minute.

DSC_1231

We had booked 2 nights on a farmhouse about half an hour from Kielder itself. We were the only guests there, and came downstairs on Saturday morning to the delicious smells of a full English cooking away. All fresh local produce as well! After a bit of a lazy start, we drove back along to Kielder village and hired some bikes for a couple of hours. I hadn’t been on a bike for at least 8 years, so it was a little hair raising to begin with; but we soon got into the swing of things and followed a nice 8 mile route through the forest. One part, in particular, was stunning; just before the end of the track, which is where this header picture was taken – beautiful, tall, dark trees and sunlight streaming through the branches. It doesn’t get much prettier or more Shire-esque than that! It really reminded me of the Robert Frost poem; The Road Not Taken. I love a good quote 🙂

DSC_1249

On Sunday it was time to head home, stopping off along Hadrian’s Wall on the way for a quick walk. We made it back to the car just before the rain started….the odds were in our favour this weekend! We finished off the day hibernating under a cosy blanket from the comfort of our sofa, staring out at the traditional August rain. Definitely my kind of weekend. Kielder,we’ll be back!

DSC_1233

_20150801_173958

DSC_1242

DSC_1248

DSC_1237

IMG-20150802-WA0006

DSC_1256

Films and Cocktails

Image of Browns Newcastle

Ahhh, Sunday. The day of the week reserved for sitting around in your pyjamas, drinking tea and keeping warm by the fire (as I am now). Bliss 🙂

Yesterday we had a bit of a date afternoon – ‘Saturdate‘ as it has been coined in our house. I know, I know – we’re too cool. We went to Tyneside Cinema to see The Theory of Everything, then went for some lovely food at Browns and rounded off the night with a couple of drinks. We were home with a cup of tea by 10pm! My kind of night 😉

The Theory of Everything is just…. wow. It’s outstanding. Little wonder that the lead actor Eddie Redmayne picked up a Golden Globe for his efforts, or that both he and Felicity Jones have been nominated for Oscars. The film deals less with the search for the theory and more with the Hawkings’ personal life, from his diagnosis with Motor Neurone Disease to his acceptance of a CBE in 1982. The film is sad, as would be expected, but very funny at the same time. Both James and myself came away from the film wondering if Professor Hawking still gives public lectures (it looks like he does, but not very often- trying to hunt out one that we could try to attend might be difficult!).

After we’d been blown away by the film, we headed to Browns for some sustenance, of both the food and liquid kind. We ate and drank very well! I had a lovely goat’s cheese and walnut starter, which could have done with a bit of bread on the side but was nonetheless very tasty! Main course was a burger (not very adventurous on my part; never mind) and for dessert I’d opted for the salted caramel chocolate pot, which was so strong and rich I couldn’t eat very much of it.

We rounded off the night with a couple of gins back at the Tyneside Bar and then retreated home to hibernate. I do hibernating very well – haven’t left the house yet today!!

Have yourselves a lovely relaxed Sunday folks 🙂

x

Image of Browns Newcastle
Browns, Newcastle
Happy with my cocktail!
Happy with my cocktail!

image of food

Living Local: The Milkhope Centre and Blagdon Farm Shop

Today, James and I went out for some lunch with his parents, sister and brother-in-law and their little boys. The destination was the Milkhope Centre on the Blagdon Estate in Northumberland; only a 15 minute drive from our our house and, again, a place I never knew existed. Exploring the local area in 2015: check!

We had lunch in the cafe at the centre, which was packed to bursting when we arrived – a good sign! Luckily we managed to commandeer a few seats. The food arrived quickly given how busy it was, and were very tasty. The jacket potato portions in particular should be applauded!

After lunch we wandered into the Blagdon Farm Shop, a veritable gold mine of local produce comprising everything from preserves and sauces, to cheese, to local meats and fresh baked goodies. We could literally have spent a fortune in there! We did manage to restrain ourselves, and walked away with some cheese and fresh eggs and nothing else….. this time!

There are quite a few businesses on the Milkhope Centre including a homeware store and an art gallery, which I will definitely be paying a return visit to! I’ll make sure I take more photos next time as well; as this time round you’ve got nothing to look at but the spoils of our hunting and gathering sat on the kitchen bench 😉

Our little haul…. mmmmm yummy local goodies

Sunday is Funday in Newcastle Town!

We’ve been living in Newcastle for almost 3 years now; and we have fallen into that predictable habit of not getting to know the city that sits right on your doorstep. A few months ago, while we were out for a couple of drinks; we started talking about the amount of things there are to do in the North East that we just don’t ever think about doing. My resolution for 2015 (and I can’t believe we are already at the point in the year where we can start talking about things like that) is to do a bit more exploring of this canny little bit of land we live in!

To give myself a kick-start, today we went out for brunch at the newly refurbished Tyneside Bar Cafe. Now, as long converted fans of Tyneside I don’t think this can really count as ‘exploring’; however the bar is a recent addition to the cinema and I wanted to test out the nourishment on offer 🙂

Tyneside Cinema is an absolute gem of a building. If you live in Newcastle or the vicinity and you haven’t been, I insist you visit at once. It is an independent, old style cinema supported by lottery funding, and which shows a variety of current, vintage and foreign films. At Christmas they are showing a lot of old favourites, including It’s A Wonderful Life…. sadly the viewing I was hoping to catch on Christmas Eve is all sold out; sob sob! The cinema has recently acquired and renovated the bar area; and runs a free film with Sunday brunch every week.

The brunch menu
The brunch menu

DSC_0145

I opted for Eggs Benedict (minus Hollandaise, because I’m weird!) and James went for the Spanish meat platter. Both were delicious and I’m looking forward to going back and trying more!

Yummy eggs
Yummy eggs

DSC_0148

Aside from the food, they also have an impressive selection of local ales – perhaps not an option for brunch but definitely something to go back and try later!

After brunch we hit the shops and started the Christmas shopping…. already the city centre is packed and it wasn’t long before we had to stop for more coffee and sustenance – cake, this time 🙂 We stopped off in the Oak Cafe, situated in Barker and Stonehouse; among piles of furniture I will forever lust over but will never be able to buy! White chocolate and Raspberry tiffin was the food of choice, and very tasty it was too.

I’m looking forward to exploring more sites across the North East in the not too distant future…. any suggestions for places to visit are welcome!

Coffee and tiffin in Barker & Stonehouse
Coffee and tiffin in Barker & Stonehouse