Friday, 29 January 2016

10 reasons why wine will always be your best friend

So we're coming to the end of January, which has been pretty much the longest month of my entire existence, and having decided to stupidly think I was some sort of hero by taking part in 'Dry January', I got to thinking (mainly because I didn't have anything else to do because I wasn't drinking.)

You know what I realised over the past four weeks?

I realised that I like wine, okay. No actually, I don't like wine, I love wine.

I mean, don't worry or anything, I'm not cracking a bottle of Echo Falls open at 7am every morning or substituting milk for prosecco in my cereal (although actually, now that I think about it, that could be a fantastic business idea right there.. watch this space) but a glass or three of wine, socialising with friends is nice, it's an enjoyable pastime, it's... okay I was about to say it's sort of like a hobby but I realise how sad that sounds so let's move on very swiftly.



If you've read this blog for a while, you'll know by now that the way to my heart is predominantly through wine and chocolate and anything that is accompanied with melted cheese (yes, my body is a temple, but what are you gonna do about it) so it really was a very stupid idea to give up alcohol for an entire month. I mean, what was I thinking? All I've done is eat more, which is just absolutely fabulous for the waistline, yep, real good strategy Charlotte, well done.

You see, wine and I have a great relationship, we really do. It's always there for me, come rain and shine, and I know, that if the world has annoyed me that day, I can always count on that bottle glass of wine to be there for me. Without a shadow of a doubt.

My fellow wine lovers, we may be jokingly called alcoholics from time to time, but ignore the hates because, deep down, we know that we were born to do this, to appreciate the pop of the cork, to appreciate that first heavenly sip (mainly because we can't remember the last most of the time) and so,  here are 10 reasons why you'll always find a best friend in the good stuff...

1. Always there to comfort you
Whether you've had a crappy day at work, are stressed out with uni deadlines or just aren't feeling the absolute top of the world that day, you can always rely on wine to comfort you.  


2. Would never, ever judge
Weirdly, sometimes somehow, you maybe end up having a little too much to drink and sometimes somehow, you maybe end up doing or saying pretty silly things but unlike people, wine never judges you. 


3. Will never disagree with you, ever
You can talk and talk and talk and talk, and wine will always listen and never disagree with you. Unless you've had some dodgy prawns or something, it might disagree with you then...


4. Completely relaxes you
It's the perfect companion in relaxing on the sofa with lots of food and if you've never had a glass of wine in the bath I mean, what are you doing? Really?


5. Improves your dancing and singing abilities
Somehow, you get a couple of glasses of wine in the system and you're popping shapes like you've walked straight out of Drake's latest music video, and can belt out a couple of Beyonce classics just like the Queen herself. 


6. Tastes bloody good
No but who wants a jaeger bomb or a double vodka when you can experience a taste sensation in the form of a glass of wine? 


7. Instantly turns you into an independent, classy gal
Glass of wine in hand and you're basically the classiest human being alive, no questions asked. You could swear and people be judging you but wine in hand = classy as shit. End of. 


8. Can always be depended on after you give up a new fad diet
We all try and say that we're giving up the good stuff and going on this all new, ultra effective diet where you live on air and dust for like 7 weeks and you lose 3 stone, and wine accepts you need to do this for yourself... ...but 2 days later when you've cracked and ordered a Chinese takeaway and picked up a bottle of White Zinfandel on the way home, it's there, waiting, just for you. 


9. Is the perfect companion alongside all cheese related food
If eating pizza and drinking wine on a Monday evening is wrong, then I don't want to be right. Simple.


10. Will always love you
Unconditionally. Always and forever.



Thanks wine - you da best,

Love and best wishes,

Fermented grape lovers everywhere.

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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

4 places you absolutely have to drink a hot chocolate in Newcastle

Growing up, I used to love winter. I loved when the nights started to pull in, when the woollen knits were hauled out from the back of the wardrobe, when you'd wrap yourself up in a blanket with candles flickering in the background.

Now, I've grown up... And I hate winter.

I mean really, what was 12 year old me thinking? 

Once Christmas departs, along with the , winter really sets in but fear not, there is something that can get us through this tough time, in the form of a hot, liquid based drink. Preferably accompanied with heaps of squirty cream, marshmallows and a minimum of two chocolate flakes. It's a tough time, it's a necessity.

Yep, our good old friend, the classic hot chocolate, is here to help so here are four places you absolutely have to drink a hot chocolate in the city of Newcastle...

1. ARLO
ARLO has fast become one of my favourite places to eat and drink in Newcastle. Like super fast. Like visited once, fell in love and am now addicted. After a day of revision, a couple of my housemates and I decided to treat ourselves, and I mean really treat ourselves, to a WHAT hot chocolate. And oh boy. Ohhh boy. Accompanied with warm rocky road and chocolate brownies, as well as vast quantities of cream and marshmallows, this hot chocolate is basically a meal in itself and is without a doubt my number 1 favourite in Newcastle.
Location: 36-38 Brentwood Avenue, NE2 3DH
Visit their website



2. Jam Jar
Having only previously been to Jam Jar for food and cocktails in the evening, I wasn't quite sure how the morning vibe would be. I needn't have worried though, as with the same relaxed atmosphere, plus possibly the largest hot chocolate I've ever come across (this photo doesn't even do it justice, it was literally a PINT), I was pretty damn content.
Location: 88 Osborne Road, NE2 2AP
Visit their website



3. The Great British Cupcakery
When you ask someone for a recommendation of a cafe in Newcastle, a large number of people will immediately urge you to visit The Great British Cupcakery. With the cakes, as you can imagine, being to die for, and the hot chocolate pretty top notch too, it has to be on your list of places to visit in this North East city. If you need more convincing, just have a look at their instagram tag feed and thank me later for the best photos of milkshakes you will ever see. Need to consume one of them for myself, pronto.
Location:15 Queen Street, Quayside, NE1 3UG
Visit their website



4. Scrumpy Willow and the Singing Kettle
After recently failing (miserably) at ice skating, the walk home would not be a happy one unless a hot chocolate pit stop was made so when we happened to stumble on this place, there was never a doubt to whether we were going in. Being a vegetarian and vegan cafe (by day, restaurant by night), there were no nasty additives, but instead, just pure cocoa with lots of cream squirted on the top, and it tasted so, so good.
Location: 89 Clayton Street, NE1, 5PZ.
Visit their website


I don't know about you but I am now ready to consume all the hot chocolate created, ever.

Where have you tried your favourite hot chocolate?

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Sunday, 24 January 2016

Eating in London #6 | Sticks N Sushi

Of all the cuisines in the world, Japanese food is without a doubt my absolute favourite. After hearing so much about Sticks N Sushi in recent months, it would have practically been a crime to not try it out for myself on a recent trip to London.



After being surprised with tickets to see Les Miserables in the West End that same evening by my best friend for Christmas, it was pretty much always going to be a night which started and ended with prosecco (24 days into Dry January and it literally pains me to even type the word) so after the lovely waiter took our coats and bags, we wasted no time in ordering a bottle whilst deliberating over what to choose.

When it comes to sushi, it can be quite overwhelming, with so many different combinations and types, and the menu at Sticks N Sushi is just incredible. Every page in the menu had something either myself or my friend 'oohed' and 'aahed' at and just when we thought we had maybe decided on a few dishes to get started, the waitress came over to talk us through the set menu.

The set menu.

Honestly.

It's what dreams are made of.

The waitress, who by the way, was so lovely and friendly, explained each dish well enough that I was *this* close to saying yes to all of it, as in every single little thing (but then I looked at the prices and remembered, oh yep, money is in fact, not growing out of my ears). There was one particular dish that caught both of our eyes, and obviously, with just the two people ordering, you'd think it was maybe a little sharing platter or a few dishes to keep us going and you'd be so right in thinking that because that's most probably, what normal people would order.

But no.

We decided to order.. 'the upgrade'.





I've never seen two people smile so much when, what can only be described as the most gigantic platter of sushi I've ever seen, was placed in front of us.

When they say an upgrade, they really do mean it.

Included in the platter, was 2 salmon nigiri, 2 tuna nigiri, 2 shrimp nigiri, 8 pink alaska uramaki, 8 crispy ebi uramaki, 6 slices of salmon with a lime marinade along the top, 6 duck rice papers, 2 tsukune chicken meatball yakitori, 2 tuna yakitori, 2 lamb chop yakitori and yasai sticks with seeds and miso dip.

Yep.

We really went for it.

It even got to a point where they kept bringing different dishes out to our table, and then having to take them back for a little while as we didn't have enough room on our table to fit everything.

I'm really not exaggerating when I say we upgraded.

We went to town.

I can honestly say though, without one single doubt in my mind say, that so far in my life as a sushi eater, I have never tried anything better than this platter. My favourite part of the platter was the crispy ebi uramaki which was basically, crunchy tempura shrimp and avocado in a spicy sauce, wrapped in sticky rice along with a sprinkle of sesame seed. So good, so good... If you find yourself
there, you absolutely have to try it.







Whilst the food was fantastic quality, this was reflected in the price so I would say that if you're looking for a budget sushi restaurant, this maybe isn't your best bet. We definitely could have spent much less but... it was a celebration of life (my excuse for everything).

We got our money's worth though, and there really were no regrets. I don't think I've ever been so full because all the food that was on that platter, disappeared. Yep, the two of us, ate everything.

Everything. 

You know when you get to the point where you know there is absolutely not one bit of space in your stomach for any more food, and yet you still carry on eating. Oh yeah, I surpassed that flawlessly.

It was not just my greediness skills which were flawless though, because the staff that served us were just so good. Efficient without being overbearing, friendly and chatty to the point that you'd want them to pull up a chair and have a drink with you, they were really lovely, and made us feel like royalty.

We ate like queens and we were treated like queens.

What could be better than that.

Sticks N Sushi can be Wimbledon, Covent Garden, Greenwich, Canary Wharf and Cambridge, whilst also providing a takeaway service. For more information, click here.



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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

10 ways university makes you a better person

As I sat on the train last week, making my way up to Newcastle once more, I realised that this would be one of the last times I would come back to the city as a student. It seems crazy that almost three years have passed since I moved out of my hometown and into student halls; in some ways it feels like 3 seconds, and in others, about 30 years. 

See, I was very different when I started university. Not necessarily in a bad way but I was...sheltered. It was probably for that reason, that I was so ridiculously homesick for the first couple of weeks, and when I say homesick, I mean crying approximately 784 times a day, begging my parents to let me come home and eating a lot of chocolate. Like a lot. Like buying a multi-pack of milky ways, melting them all in the microwave and eating every last piece.

But I didn't quit. I wasn't allowed to quit. And now? Now, I can honestly say that not being allowed to go home was the best thing that could have happened to me.



Here are 10 reasons why university makes you a stronger and better person...

1. Gain independence
Surely one of the greatest gifts is life is pizza independence? To have the ability to live your life the way you want to, isn't something that is necessarily a given but university gives you the key to unlock  so many doors, holding so many opportunities, and the decision to which one you take, is yours. Gaining your independence is scary as hell (and also means you have to do your own laundry, ffs) but it sure is worth it.

2. Become more mature
Okay, so when I say become more mature, its not that you no longer have an immature fibre in your being because c'mon, where is the fun in that? You do become more mature though, in the way you handle situations, whether that be a confrontation with a friend, an important meeting with your tutor or in a job interview that you really, truly want. You learn how to handle yourself.

3. Learnt the art of patience
Can I have a raise of hands for all the people who have at one point or another, found living with other people hard? Yep, okay, that's everyone within a seventeen hundred million mile radius. It can be hard living with other people; we all have different ways of doing things, different ways we want to live and funnily enough, we all think our way is better. If you clean and tidy the house and it's instantly messed up, you let it slip, you're patient. If you go to make a cup of tea and someone's stolen your milk, you go out and buy some more, you're patient. Throughout university, there is a decreasing presence of passive aggressive post it notes lying about in the kitchen because you become more accustomed to the ways in which others live, and Christ, life is too bloody short to be angry over a few dirty pots in the sink, right?

4. Grow in confidence
A huge one. A really big, massive, giant, monumental reason why university makes you a stronger and better person. The confidence you gain at university is something that is at first, invisible to you yet slowly but surely, you are growing and not in the physical sense (a shame for me at 5'3 but whatevs). You are no longer the quiet one in the corner not daring to speak up in a conversation, you stand up for yourself, you form strong opinions, you aren't afraid to look silly. It doesn't mean turning into an egotistical monster but instead, becoming who you are as a person, realising your worth, growing into who you want to be, growing into you.

5. Friendliness
When you first start university, you're basically surrounded by a bunch of strangers and if you don't put yourself out there, making an effort to form friendships, it's going to be a pretty lonely few years. Throw in the dreaded 'group work' and you've got yourself some real effort to be made yet even if you've previously been shy, university makes you become personable and friendly (and hate group work for eternity and beyond, but let's not go there).

6. Become more appreciative 
The majority of people move to university straight from home which can come as quite the reality shock to many. Who knew that the dishes don't magically get washed, that the bin fairies don't take the rubbish out, that what, you actually have to learn how to use the hoover? Let's not lie, we were taken care of pretty damn well, without even properly realising how hard it is to run and maintain a clean and welcoming home. That chore of unloading the dishwasher once a week that you used to moan constantly about, really doesn't seem so bad anymore because once you're going it alone, you become much more appreciative of how much your parents did (and do!) for you.

7. Better at time keeping
You have deadlines, lectures, work, a social life and your own wellbeing to balance throughout university and whilst this perhaps is a breeze compared to what it's like when you enter the dreaded world of work, it's a great learning curve of how to effectively and sensibly manage your own time. (I'm still working on the whole, being punctual and on time thing though...)

8. Open mindedness
At university, you become much more aware of different experiences, situations and lives of other people, many of which, you might never have even imagined before. Meeting new people with different lives to you and learning about a whole range of things happening in and across the world, opens your mind and thoughts and signifies the importance of the phrase, 'never judge a book by its cover.'

9. Become more responsible
From living at home, where the only responsibility was getting to school on time, doing your homework and occasionally attempting to make the bed, university is a tad different, and makes you grow up and become more responsible, fast. You need to budget, set up energy and gas tariffs, make sure you pay the bills, look after the property you rent and a whole lot more. Hello adulthood.

10. Creativity
Forget the cheap nights out and the lie ins, you're at university because you've chosen to study a subject you (hopefully) love. University allows you to let your creative juices run riot, to work on projects, to read about topics that truly interest you, to join groups and clubs that excite you. You have a lot of freedom and time, inside and outside of your degree, to become more creative and do what you want to do, fearlessly. 

One of my favourite quotes that I think really does apply to university, and starting new chapters in general actually is, 'life begins at the end of your comfort zone'. Because what's the point really, if we don't constantly test and better ourselves, to lead the life we want to live.

How do you think university changed you for the better?

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Sunday, 17 January 2016

Eating in the North East - Simply Greek Tavern

On a scale of one to I can't feel my toes, exactly how cold are you today because I know what my answer would be.

As I write this I can actually see my own breath and although you may be thinking that's my own fault for being stupid enough to sit outside, which you would be correct in doing, I'm in my actual bed in my actual bedroom. Oh yeah, it's real glamorous in a student house when the heating is rationed, real glamorous.

I suppose though, not everything has to be glamorous in life, for it to be good and that's where the Simply Greek Tavern comes in. Situated within Bigg market, just a stone's throw away from much loved Kafeneon, lies a Greek restaurant which could perhaps become a contender for must underrated restaurant in Newcastle.

Through the doors, and down the stairs lies Simply Green Tavern, which aims to 'let you relive your holidays' with a relaxed atmosphere, great music and incredible food. Having heard great things about this restaurant from friends, I was excited to try it out for myself so when one Friday night it was suggested we venture there instead of actually cooking ourselves, I practically leaped out of the house and ran there. (Side note: I hate cooking, just incase you hadn't already guessed from the amount I eat out.)

When you are first led to your table, you could perhaps question the decor a tad however the phrase not judging a book by its cover is particularly apt in regards to this place. After ordering a bottle of wine (obviously), it was down to deciding what to order... which took a while. As in, we were basically any waiter's nightmare, possibly apologising that weren't we weren't ready maybe two...three times.

When a menu is this good though, who's fault is it, really.

After a long time deliberating (such martyrs, I know), we came to a decision. That decision was that we were basically going to order everything.





For our starter, we ordered haloumi saganaki, calamari and pitta bread with a tzatziki dip, which were all so good, we had both pretty much inhaled it (minus the salad because why waste room?) within two minutes of it being placed on the table. The haloumi in particular, was just incredible and by far my favourite part of the entire meal.

Our eyes were perhaps a little bigger than our bellies, hard to believe I know, as upon the main course arriving, we were both pretty full.

I mean, obviously that didn't stop us eating because y'know, food is food and if I could transform this blog post into one in which you could smell how good the Kleftiko dish was, I totally would because then you would know exactly why I entered a food coma after being unable to leave one single piece of food on my place.





I have to admit, I was incredibly surprised by the quality of the food; it really was fantastic and the lamb in particular was perfectly cooked. Soft to the touch, succulent and complimented with some trusty old potatoes, I would definitely recommend trying this dish out if you visit there anytime soon.

It's not just the food though, that has shot the tavern straight up my list of favourite places to eat in Newcastle, but the staff and the ambience of the place too. If you could find friendlier and more charismatic staff, then please let me know because I will be at that restaurant like a shot, as the people we were served by were just the loveliest and most helpful people you could wish for. I question people who believe that it doesn't matter about how the staff treat you, for only the food matters, because for me, if a member of staff is rude or unfriendly, it puts me on edge and no longer makes me feel comfortable sitting in their restaurant.

Whilst we were eating, other restaurant goers were getting up onto their feet and dancing to the live music, and this just made the atmosphere even better. Okay, so it was a Friday so perhaps on a weekday this wouldn't happen but to be surrounded by so many people having such a great time, lifted the mood of the restaurant even more. It was just great, really really great.

With great quality food at affordable prices, I would definitely recommend Simply Greek Tavern to anyone.

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Friday, 15 January 2016

Exciting news!

I know this is painfully British but... How cold is it at the moment? I mean, it is winter and it does happen every single year therefore I'm not quite sure why we all seem so surprised each and every time it rolls around but... it's so... cold.

I've had one of those moments this week. One of those moments where I stop and think about why I'm holding myself back over starting things and writing things and doing things that I want to do. I see other people venture off on to new projects, whether it be on their blog or something different and I love it and I'm like YEAH, GO YOU but when it comes to me, I seem to shy away from it, telling myself I can't. But if everyone said 'I can't' we'd be in a real old pickle wouldn't we. I mean we currently have a guy walking on space, don't we? I mean, that's pretty awesome. Imagine if he'd said, 'nah, I can't do that, I'm not good enough to fly up to space on my own..', what would the ...space...scientists (not really my forte and I'm not even going to google fancy words and pretend it is) do then? 

I've gone off track.

But, I think what I'm attempting to say, is that too often, the only thing that holds us back is ourselves. Our thoughts. Our worries about if we fail. Our reservations on whether we can handle it or keep it up or commit properly to it.

This has taken quite a deep turn but it's basically a dramatic way of saying... I'm starting something new! I'm starting a weekly newsletter! Woo! Yay! Woo!

Over the past couple of months I've seen a few of my favourite writers and bloggers start a newsletter and I have absolutely loved them. Emma Gannon, who is basically the Queen of newsletters, literally makes my Sunday with hers, and for a while now, I've thought about starting one too. Because if I enjoy hers so much, then why not give one a go myself. What's the harm in trying. I mean, it could be a complete fail but it could be a great success and everyone has to start somewhere, right? 

I just think, I may as well put all the time I spend reading web articles to good use, and let me tell you, if there's something I can do well, it is spending long periods of time staring at my computer screen reading articles on things like, productivity, getting ahead and not wasting time. Irony, huh. It now even gives me an excuse to carry on doing this, how jolly well marvellous.


So, yep. If enjoy reading my blog and my tweets etc, then I really think you'll enjoy my newsletter. It won't just be about food (I promise) or travelling (double promise), instead it will include articles and links I love, book recommendations, videos and podcasts, inspiration, life updates and EVERYTHING ELSE. It's basically a round up of everything I've loved on the internet that week.

It isn't just for students or people living in or around Newcastle. It's for thinkers, bloggers, feminists, creative peeps.., Basically, if you like this blog, if you like my tweets... You'll like this newsletter.

So, join me? PLEASE? Just pop your email address in the link below and every Sunday, this piece of gold dust will drop into your inbox, accompanied by a bar of Galaxy cookie crumble and a glass of prosecco*.


>>> SIGN UP HERE<<<



*It will not be accompanied by a bar of Galaxy cookie crumble and a glass of prosecco. But imagine if that could actually happen. Wowzas. 


Wednesday, 13 January 2016

6 (unhelpful) tips on how to survive university

I don't want to sound smug anything but this week I sat my last ever exam at university. IAMSOSMUGIAMSOSMUGIAMSOSMUG.

Imagine if I have to resit it now.

So I've sat my last exam at university and am about to start my final semester and I've only almost died like 3 times since becoming a student so if this doesn't qualify me to give out some pretty great advice, I mean, I don't know what does.
University is...

Exciting.
Terrifying.
Empowering.
Hilarious.
Frustrating.
And... Gut wrenchingly expensive. Seriously.

At first I hated it, then I loved it, then second year came around and I realised that I loved it even more than I love melted cheese, then I realised that is absolutely ridiculous because I don't love anything more than melted cheese and now... Now I'm happy it's coming to an end but all good things do, don't they.

Here are 6 extremely helpful ways to survive your time at university. You are welcome. 

1. Learn how to justify things
Forget Harvard referencing and critical reading, one of the most important things to learn to do whilst at university is to justify things. So you want that sassy fur coat from Topshop but in reality, you don't have enough dollar? No problem, because remember that one time 3 months ago you saved £1.80 when you didn't buy a packet of crisps and a diet coke whilst at the library and then you walked home instead of getting the bus? Yep, exactly, you've basically saved enough money that really, the coat is free.


2. Eat a lot
You're young, you're independent, you're free and you know what this means? You can eat whatever you want, whenever you want and there are no limitations. If anything, it's necessary to eat everything in sight because it actually helps your brain to focus on that assignment you have due in next week (see how justifying things comes in useful:take note) so is it acceptable to eat an entire packet of custard creams in one sitting? My friend, not only is it acceptable, it is commendable.


3. Find a drinking routine that works for you
It's really very important whilst at university to find yourself a drinking routine that suits you. Whether that be drinking a bottle of £3 acid own brand vodka at pre drinks, going 'out out' 4 times a week and becoming best mates with the takeaway man, going to the local pub and socialising over a 4 or 5 drinks in the space of one happy hour or sitting at home with a glass of wine in your pyjamas, it's personal choice.


4. Master the art of patience
Patience when living with other people, is key, particularly in a student house. Looking forward to that cheese and ham toastie that you've been dreaming about since you last ate 37 minutes ago and then go to the fridge to find it gone? Be patient. Feel like an absolute domestic goddess when you've done the washing up, cleaned the sides and  taken the rubbish out to find approximately 3 seconds later it looks like an actual bomb has hit it? Be patient. Living with people can sometimes be a tad testing but it's fine because they're your friends and you love them and it doesn't matter and you have learnt the art of being patient. And how to scream into a pillow on a daily basis without a single person hearing you.


5. Climatise yourself to the Antarctic 
First year students are thinking, 'what's this weirdo on about? I'm lovely and toasty and warm in my room in halls with the heating permanently on 24/7, in fact, I'm actually too warm'. But don't get too comfortable, for second year will be upon you in no time and you know what that means? Paying for central heating. And you know what that leads too? Not turning central heating on. And you know what that brings with it? A house so cold you can see your own breath as you lie in bed. A house so cold you will permanently be wearing 3 pairs of socks, 2 jumpers, leggings, tracksuit bottoms, a dressing gown, gloves and a ski hat. A house so cold that the outdoor temperatures in January are practically tropical compared to your own living room. So yeah, climatise yourself to the Antarctic, it's pretty much the same thing.


6. Prioritise yourself
Life is too short to not do you. Not feeling going out and getting crushed in a loud, smelly nightclub? Don't go. Everyone you know joining the uni gym and you aren't feeling it? Don't join. It really is very simple; think about the idea, evaluate whether you want to spend your time enduring that idea, make a decision.


So there we have it, 6 of the most helpful tips on how to get through university like an absolute breeze.

You're so welcome.

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Monday, 4 January 2016

Is going travelling stupid or sane?

So we’re 4 days into the new year now, which for many people means ‘back to work’ and for students means ‘cramming in all the revision you’ve forgotten about whilst stuffing yourself silly with pigs in blankets and left until the last minute’.

I do enjoy how universities in England organise exams to be sat in January. Like first you dollop about 40 grand of debt in our back pockets, and then you ruin our Christmas time, thanx guys.

It’s not all bad though, well, for me anyway, although I do hope you aren’t hitting breaking point just yet either, especially you third years, we’ve got a whole dissertation to write yet, #staystrong. But nope, it’s not all bad as the end is in sight, it’s moving at a swift pace closer and closer towards me and before I can say ‘daily breakdowns in the library’, I will have finished university.

 No, sorry…

WHAT? Where have those three years actually gone? I know it’s painfully cliche but, WHERE DOES TIME GO? One minute I was attempting to enjoy freshers (how god awful is it though, seriously) and the next I’m thinking about what actual job I want, where I’m going to live, what I’m going to DO…

 …Except, I’m not.

Taken on my trip to Nice, August 2016
In case you hadn’t guessed, or read any of my blog posts from the previous 2 months where I appear to have annoyingly mentioned it in pretty much every single one (sorry about that), I’m going travelling.

Yep, I’m like, no thank you society, I’m not quite ready for my 5 year career plan, council tax, the prospect of attempting to save money to buy a 2 up, 2 down (lol, who am I kidding, I was born in the 1990s, we’re renting for life aren’t we), then getting married, having kids, to then work for the rest of my life until I finally retire (if retirement is even a thing in 50 years) and then eventually die.

Nope, I’m not ready for any of that.

But am I stupid? (That’s a rhetorical question, for any of you comedians out there…)

Am I stupid for going travelling for a year? 
Because some days, little doubts creep into my mind about how when I come back, what if I won’t be able to get a job? What if I forget the knowledge and skills I’ve developed in the job I’ve been lucky enough to have gotten alongside being at university, so my CV, is basically… a little bit crap compared to all the other twenty somethings, who stayed here, and worked? What if I can’t find jobs when I’m away and I screw up and have to come home early?

What if, what if, what ifffffffffff…

But most days.. Most days I think about the fact I’ve been wanting to do this since the age of 15 and now it’s come round, and I have the opportunity to go and see the world this year, I would be pretty damn stupid not to go for it. Most days I get excited every time I think about where I’m going and what I’m going to do and see and the people I’ll meet.

Taken on my trip to Amsterdam, Sept 2015
And then I tell myself to quit worrying about things that probably aren’t ever going to be problems and appreciate the position I’m in to be lucky enough to have been able to save enough money on my own, to be able to actually even think about going travelling for the year. That, finally, I won’t feel envious on instragram at how other people are leading their lives, travelling, because I’ll be doing it too. I’ll be following my dreams too.

Hell, it doesn't mean it’s not scary. In fact, not to be hugely crude, but I could do a teeny tiny poo at how scary it is but that’s good. Being scared is good, because it means you’re pushing yourself to do things out of the ordinary. Throwing balls to the wind, quitting the chat and actually doing what I’ve been bending people’s ears off for the last few years, is exactly what I’m going to do and need to do.

Because, as I speak to more and more people about what i’m going to be doing, I’ve realised something. Or should I say, I’ve realise something I never want to do in the future. The amount of people who reply with ‘I always wanted to go travelling, but never got round to it, never got the chance and now it’s too late’ is insane.

And I never, ever want to be that person. Ever.

We just make it so difficult for ourselves. Find what you love and do what you love. Life's too short to do anything else.

What are your thoughts about this? I'd love to hear your views in the comments!

Want to chat? Let's get social...

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Best eateries of 2015: Newcastle

HELLO 2016. 

Yesterday, you treated me terribly merely for celebrating your entrance but it's okay, I suppose you didn't force me to stay up until 6am drinking prosecco, so I think it's something we can move past and eventually, I think we'll become the best of friends. 

In just over 5 months time, I'll have finished university and left the UK, yep, no hanging around for me, and 2016, if you're anything like your predeseccor, 2015, I'm guessing you're going to whizz by and I'll be on that plane to Cape Town in no time. 

Once more though, it's time to look back and if my first post of the new year wasn't centred around food, I would be pretty disappointed with myself and can I really start a new calendar year feeling that way? No, no I can't.

So here are my top restaurants and cafes in Newcastle...

Restaurants:

Francesca's
If hearty, home cooked Italian food is your jam, then you need to get to Francesca's, pronto. What makes it even better is the fact that it's probably, if not the, most affordable and budget friendly restaurant in Newcastle. Don't just take my word for it though, as when you turn up, there's a 99.9% chance you'll have to queue for a while for a table, even on a Monday. Yep, it's good.

Personal recommendation: Lasagne


Osaka
If you've been reading Written by a Girl for a while, you'll know about my love for Osaka. If you love Japanese food, and you're around the city centre of Newcastle, it's almost basically a food crime (yes, that's an actual thing okay..) if you don't visit Osaka. Named as the best sushi restaurant in Newcastle, it's a toon favourite and definitely mine.

Personal recommendation: Salmon or chicken teriyaki bento box


Fat Hippo/Byron's 
Before going to Fat Hippo, burgers just didn't particularly appeal to me. Now though, that seems to be a long, long time ago and when Byron's came to town, Newcastle became a burger heaven. I couldn't choose between the two, especially as Byron's courgette fries are basically my spirit animal, but they both do a pretty spiffing burger, and what more could you ask for. 

Personal recommendation: Classic Byron burger with courgette fries/Texas burger at Fat Hippo



Simply Greek Tavern
You could definitely walk past this restaurant and not even realise what it was, yet tucked away down the stairs of building in Bigg market, lies Simply Greek, the best Greek restaurant Newcastle has, in my opinion. With incredibly tasty food, lovely staff and great prices, I was so impressed (and full) with this restaurant that I was already planning my next visit before I'd even left the premises!

Personal recommendation: Kleftiko 


Cafes:

When I first moved to Jesmond, this was the first cafe I visited, and was in fact, the first of my 'Eating in the North East' posts. Scattered with ornaments, flowers, books and the daily papers, this is a cafe that dreams are made of and the cake, well, you just need to try it, and you'll know exactly what I mean. The coffee is great quality, the staff are lovely and the atmosphere is perfect for sitting back and relaxing.

Personal recommendation: Latte for a coffee fix or the green juice if you're feeling a refresh


ARLO
Infamous in Jesmond, ARLO Bistro and Cafe provides great quality food, and can guarantee a buzzing atmosphere, whatever the time of day. Whether you prefer to sit outside, sipping a coffee, wrapped in a lovely soft blanket provided, or sit in the uniquely decorated cafe, it's a great place for a little treat.

Personal recommendation: ARLO's open sandwich or the large hot chocolate



Garden Kitchen
Situated in Eldon Square shopping centre, many people are a tad put off by the fact it's probably very loud, very busy and not in the slightest bit relaxing yet this is completely wrong. You'd be forgive for for forgetting you were in the city centre prime shopping area, as, even on a Saturday, Garden Kitchen provides a great place to escape from the madness, and whether it be an alcoholic beverage, a coffee or lots of food, it's the place to be.

Personal recommendation: ANY of the cake, seriously. 



Well, I don't know about you but I'm now very hungry...

What are your favourites restaurants in Newcastle? Let me know in the comments...


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