Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Christmas wishes (and confessions!)

Chriiiistmas time, mistletoe and (lots of) wine...



Sitting here with a cup of tea and an empty 'share' packet of Malteasers (which I absolutely did not share because who does), with the Christmas tree lights flickering in the background and the Michael Buble album blaring out, I'm feeling pretty content.

Content and completely ignorant to the fact that I have not wrapped a single present yet, woo...



Apparently people enjoy wrapping and I don't know whether I'm a complete grinch but I despise it. Like truly, truly despise it. In fact, if money was no object (dreaming this will be the case sometime soon, c'mon Father Christmas, you know ya wanna make my wish come true), I would definitely pay someone to wrap my presents. I love buying presents, and not just because of the 'one for me, one for you' logic, but wrapping is just the worst.

I actually am the grinch in (a slight) disguise though... I'll give you a little list of reasons why:

1. I only tried my first ever mince pie yesterday
2. I've never watched any of the Home Alone films
3. I think Elf is possibly the least funny film I have ever had the displeasure of watching in my life
4. Love Actually is alright
5. When people above the age of 13, say 5 more sleeps until Christmas', I want to flick them. Who says sleeps? Stop.
6. I'm really not a fan of cinnamon or gingerbread scents or tastes and don't even get me started on the Yankee Candle Christmas Cookie scent *voms*

Yep.

I am the grinch. I know you're questioning if I'm human right now or if actually, I'm grumpy old man in disguise (would be a tad creepy, promise I'm not).



So now I've made you feel super Christmassy and got you right into the festive spirit (ahem), I do want to take a little moment to say thank you for reading this year. Frequent posting has dropped off slightly towards the end of the year but y'know, life happens and third year is currently (unfortunately) happening so... oops.

I hope you've enjoyed the posts here on Written by a Girl this year though because I know I've loved writing them. I'm so excited for the new year and what it brings with it.. April sees me finish my final year at university (say whaaaaaat, where has that time gone, seriously) and May sees me take a one way flight to South Africa which I am psyched for - I've been waiting so long for the right time to go travelling and it's finally come. YAY. So I hope you stick around and maybe even tell a friend if you think they'd like a little read for when they're meant to be doing work or revision or something productive, but just don't wanna but most of all, I hope you have a lovely Christmas in which you eat too much, drink too much and laugh a lot.


Merry Christmas you guys, and let's have a really fabulous new year.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

5 reasons you absolutely have to visit Winter Wonderland

As I'm writing this, it is just 10 sleeps until Christmas Day and depending on how organised you are this year, that thought will either make you want to do a little skippy dance and crack open the mulled wine or groan very loudly as you think about everything you've been putting off for the last month that you still need to do...and therefore crack open the mulled wine. And the mince pies. And the box of Quality Streets you were attempting to save until Christmas Eve.


Recently, I took a trip down to the capital city, and amongst other places (which I'll be posting about soon so you'll totally want to come back/press follow/join me on twitter...ahem) I visited Winter Wonderland, which has gotten me firmly in the festive mood.

Along with all this festive spirit that I seem to have brought back with me to Newcastle, I've also come back approximately 17 stone heavier because apparently my brain thinks calories don't count in London, and y'know, it's December, the most wonderful time of the year so... I ate and drank my fair share, okay and there are absolutely no regrets. 

None. 

Not even a little teeny one. 

Anyway.

Winter Wunderland, situated in Hyde Park, is just the perfect place to visit in London around Christmas time, and here are 5 reasons why you absolutely have to visit...

Food
What would a post be on here without food being the top priority? Nothing, that's what. Upon entering Winter Wonderland, you could definitely mistake it for food heaven. Because that's exactly what it looks like. And smells like. And feels like. From German sausages and salted beef, to donuts and churros ladened with milk chocolate, if you enjoy food (and if you don't, are you okay?), you will definitely not be disappointed - in fact, the only problem that you may find, is choosing what to try first! 

(Let's also just take a moment to appreciate this classy photo, accentuated by an overflowing bin, yay for my photography skills, woo woo)


Atmosphere
If, like me, it sometimes takes you a little longer to get in the festive spirit, this is the perfect place to head too. Singing Mariah Carey's 'All I Want For Christmas' into your hairbrush just doesn't cut it at times, but with gorgeous lights everywhere you look, the smell of mulled wine and hog roasts in the air, accompanied with music and the chattering of (lots) of merry people, it really won't take long to dive head first into all things Christmas.

The view from the Artic Lodge bar balcony
Drink
Mulled wine = Christmas, right? Pimms to summer, is what mulled wine is to winter and I for one, am pretty happy with that arrangement. One of my favourite parts of the whole park (even if they did run out of prosecco, booo) was the Arctic Lodge bar. With fairy lights in every direction you looked, great live music which people were singing and dancing along too, as well as little heated huts which you could attempt to warm up in, it just had the most lovely atmosphere you could wish for at this time of year. 

(I actually uploaded a little video of just how great the atmosphere is on my Facebook page, which you can see here!)

Rides
If what screams Christmas to you, is rollercoasters and rides that go so fast, you'll be walking like Bambi on ice, after 3 too many mulled wines, then guess what, you're in luck! Perhaps one of our best ideas whilst we were there actually, was going on two rides pretty much immediately after eating, yep, didn't think that one through but it's such a laugh all the same...

Unique gifts 
The park is split up into a number of different sections, decorated in slightly different ways, and offering a variety of food, drink and games. Parts of the park though, are dedicated to festive wooden chalets filled to the brim with lots of gifts and goodies, perfect if you're looking for a little something for a loved one.

If you're around London over the next few weeks, I really couldn't recommend visiting Winter Wonderland enough. There's so much there that I couldn't possibly mention everything, but there is also an ice rink, an ice bar and even a 'Santa land' - I mean, what more could you ask for, really?

The nearest tube to this Christmas destination is Hyde Park corner, the park is open daily from 10am-10pm and is here until 3rd January 2016.

Let me know if you've visited before in the comments!


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Wednesday, 9 December 2015

24 hours in... Newcastle

I was about to start this post by typing 'you only got 24 minutes to save the world' but then I realised the song (by Madonna and J Timbers) is actually 4 minutes and that neither of the two are even in the title so what a FABULOUS start this is...

Hello. I keep disappearing recently, 3rd year really isn't fun is it.

But what is fun, is Christmas. It's finally that time of year where you can eat all the mince pies and chocolate, drink ALL of the wine whilst hitting those high notes of All I Want For Christmas, all before noon, without even the slightest bit of judgement (kind of).


As you already know, Newcastle has been my home for the past 2 and a half years and I'm a little bit in love with the place and need everyone to visit immediately just so we can all appreciate how great this city actually is.

With that in mind, I thought I'd put together a '24 hour guide to Newcastle' with a little Christmas kick and it is JAM-PACKED. I just couldn't cut down what to do and see (who am I kidding, I obviously mean where to eat and drink but I'm trying okay...).

AM -

So, you arrive in Newcastle by train, bus, plane or sleigh (I think I'm funny, humour me) and with such a long journey behind you, you are positively famished.

Where to go for breakfast is difficult. You could hop on the Metro and venture to ARLO's in Jesmond, but with such a short amount of time, every moment is precious so your tour guide for the day leads you to Quay Ingredient, a quaint little cafe near, you guessed it, the Quayside.


After a rather fabulous breakfast, it's time to hit the road again, with a leisurely stroll along the Quayside. An obligatory tourist selfie will be taken because have you not heard, you get thrown out of the city immediately if you don't take a photo of the infamous bridge, it's just the rules.

So close to the BALTIC, you absolutely have to pop over the Millennium bridge, take the lift straight up to the fourth floor and go out onto the glass balcony, which gives you an incredible view of the Quayside, as well as glimpses of Newcastle too.

You're feeling a little dizzy so far up in the sky, and what's that? You need your first beverage of the day to keep you going? If you say so... Pitcher and Piano is always an option if you're fancying a drink looking out on the waterfront but if you're fancying heading into the city centre for a lunchtime cocktail, heading to Pleased To Meet You on High Bridge is a good shout. If coffee is more your jam, Garden Kitchen, situated in Eldon Gardons within Eldon Square shopping centre is lovely, there's actual CAT cafes in Newcastle, like you know, with actual real life furry cats and Quilliam Brothers is fab if you want to chill with a hot drink and a sweet treat on beanbags - you can even play a board game if you so wish..




If you're thinking, hang on, where's the Christmas spirit disappeared to? Fear not...

City centre's don't always 'do it' for everyone and around this time of year, shops basically resemble hell. If you have a car and are fancying a little drive, Blaydon Rugby Club are holding the most perfect event to get you in the mood for Christmas.

Polar Express. Hot Chocolate. A visit from Father Christmas. Could you ask for more?


PM -

After milling around the Christmas markets, juggling a German sausage with a huge helping of caramelised onions and ketchup in one hand and a mulled wine in the other, it's possibly time to go and see a show. Newcastle have an amazing selection of local theatres, including Theatre Royal, Live Theatre and Northern Stage which have incredible productions right the year round. At this time of year, a pantomime is a pretty festive way of having a good old laugh, with Theatre Royal currently showing 'Dick Whittington'. (FYI, they're showing Hairspray in January and it's a pretty safe bet that I will be there, front row, because DUH.)

If you're thinking that a pantomime is possibly the worst idea in the entire world, then do not worry my friend, because I have other options before you go and snaffle a delightful meal at The Forth Hotel near Newcastle Central Station which really is the most perfect, cosy winter pub.

Other options meaning POSH. BOWLING.

Yes, okay, you still have to wear those ridiculously horrendous shoes which make your feet look so big they are like actual boats, but it's such a good laugh and Lane 7 really is a great addition to the city. It's basically bowling for grown ups aka with alcohol (and incred food).



So you've whooped everyone's teeny tiny asses at bowling meaning, obviously, the food at The Forth is on them and now you're maybe, possibly, definitely fancying a little night cap, it's time to head to The Botanist. And No28. And Poison Cabinet. Maybe Jam Jar or 97 & Social if you're heading to your hotel possibly in Jesmond? Newcastle has an amazing nightlife, you're basically spoilt for choice and I just can't choose.

Then it's bedtime and you've not even achieved a quarter of what Newcastle has to offer you! You could visit Ouseburn, Jesmond Dene, the Life Science centre, St James' Park... So. Many Places. I actually made a little bucket list of things to do in the North East on my Pinterest page (plug plug) and I mean it would be rude not to go and have a little look...right?

I hope you enjoyed this post, and I really really hope you're planning a visit to Newcastle soon! If you  feel like you need a few more recommendations, I actually created a 'Guide to Newcastle' which is partly targeted at students but has lots of great places to visit, eat and drink. If not, send me a little tweet and I'd love to help you if I can. On the other hand, if you're a local business wanting to promote an event, Eventbrite is the perfect place to promote it and you could even drop me a line on charlotte_hall95@hotmail - I loooove finding out about the fabulous things going on in the city!

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