Blakes- Newcastle


It was getting later in the day and we were both tired from walking.  With around an hour before our train we looked for somewhere to stop for some tea and cake.  Blakes popped up on google maps as being ‘cosy’.  Which is how they describe themselves on their website, ‘everyone is made to feel welcome in this cosy hipster coffee shop.’

It was actually a little larger than I anticipated a ‘cosy’ cafe would be, and pretty empty (it was about 4:30pm on Friday).  I also didn’t feel overwhelmed by hipster-ism.  They don’t even seem to have avocado on their menu (maybe that’s too mainstream now?), but they do have soup and ‘artisan’ bread.


Anyway, we weren’t really eating properly and I just got a mint tea and chocolate muffin.  The muffin was good (it had some kind of chocolate goo inside it), and the tea hit the spot.  Although they boast a large selection of locally sourced loose leaf tea on the menu it merely says ‘herbal tea’. So you have to ask what they have in stock. As well as being a bit annoying, it means your choice of drink is partial determined by whether the member of staff can remember all the flavours of tea they stock.

It’s part of a larger pet peeve of mine; when places don’t have soft drinks on their menu. Lucky for Blakes they do put their other soft drinks on the menu, and I wasn’t the one ordering so they didn’t have to feel my wrath.*

Apart from that we found Blakes to be very pleasant!  I was recommend if you’re passing along Grey Street.  Although it did seem that there were quite a few interesting looking places along that road.  Newcastle is spoilt for choice.


*My wrath sounds a lot like someone politely asking ‘what types of tea do you have?’

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Redhouse- Newcastle

On our recent trip to Newcastle we stopped at The Redhouse for one of their special pies.
Firstle, the exterior of the building is very cute. The Redhouse is indeed red (or pink at the least) and quite an old building. Inside the original features have remained so it is like a warren, be fore warned this means it’s quite dark due to low ceilings, small nooks, and low lighting levels.redhouse.jpg

Paper menus are on each table, and I ordered at the bar. The ordering process is reasonably simple; chose your pie filling, chose the type of mash potato, chose how you want your peas, and chose your gravy (they confusingly call it liquor). I was pleased that they have a couple of nice sounding vegetarian options (neither were vegan).

I got the sweet potato, spinach, goats cheese and onion pie which was nice although the pastry was a little tough. When the pie split open it did seem that the filling was essentially a slice of goats cheese, but it taste nice. The dijion mustard and honey mash was pretty perfect, the peas pudding was good (never had it before so can’t really compare it but it tasted like peas!), and the parsley ‘liquor’ was nice.  My mum got the chicken and chorizo pie and loved it, she very much enjoyed her meal.

I was impressed by the restaurant options I found online when researching Newcastle.  In the end I’m glad we went for pies.  It was a lovely old building, and the food was tasty.  On a cold November day it was just the ticket.
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Baltic Art Gallery- Newcastle

Long time- no write.

Sorry,  I haven’t been 100% recently, so I haven’t done much blogging here.  And my other blog and Youtube channel have been monopolosing my time (and also my actual full-time job).  Anyway, I’ve not done any real traveling but I did go on a day trip to Newcastle.


The Baltic Art Gallery in Newcastle is housed in a former flour mill and is now the largest dedicated contemporary art space in the UK.  It opened in 2002, and has since had 6 million visitors and 190 exhibitions.  This is on their website by the way, I’m not stalking them…

Viewing platforms on floors 4 and 5 give a great view of the Tyne and Millennium Bridge.  Technically, I think the gallery is in Gateshead as it’s on that side of the river but you can look out over Gateshead and Newcastle.

Oh and it’s free!


When we were there there were three exhibitions.  Our favourite was a retrospective of Rasheed Araeen.  Araeen was not an artist I was familiar with but the exhibition showed six decades of his work.  Most notable were the deceptively simple geometric structures in bright, bold colours of the 1960’s, and his much more political work of the 1970’s and 80’s.


The Baltic’s ‘mission’ is to ‘create greater understanding of the world through outstanding, experimental and inspiring contemporary art which has power, relevance and meaning for individuals and communities.’

I can see the experimental side coming out in the Heather Phillipson exhibition, The Age of Love.  Again, according to the Baltic’s website Phillipson, ‘presents a series of videos, sounds and objects that operate as landmarks in a remixed geology.’  I literally have no clue what that means and I walked through the exhibition.

‘Somewhere between agricultural vista and lunar wasteland, BALTIC’s galleries become a spatio-temporal ‘field’, punctuated by functioning farm equipment, holding pens and the noise of circling gulls.’

Yeah, sure.


My own interpretation is that it was like being inside a migraine.  Quite like a club but with no people (on the day we were there).  It’s pretty low light, but with flashing psychedelic imagery on numerous TV screens.  There was a giant screen of a cat with spinning eyes, and a large sculpture of a foot.  Also there was a noise.

The poor staff that have to work that exhibition…

The last exhibition was BALTIC Then and Now, a history of the Baltic gallery itself.  I wonder if 16 years is really long enough an existence to warrant a historical exhibition.  Perhaps a little self-indulgent, and the space could have been given to an actual artist?  Well, in a way the space has been given to a few artists as the exhibition is mainly a collection of short films showing the different exhibitions the gallery has showed over the years.  This includes some artist interviews as well as behind-the-scenes shots of the exhibitions being erected. There’s a timetable of the films which is worth taking a gander at when you arrive so you don’t miss your artist of choice.

This the second time I’ve been to the Baltic and I do think it’s worth a visit.  Despite being the largest dedicated contemporary art thingy in the UK, it doesn’t feel that big.  The key word is ‘dedicated’, so art galleries show casing contemporary and traditional are disregarded.  Also there are two restaurants, a nice shop, and two viewing spaces which all takes up a bunch of space.

The result is a visit-able gallery that won’t totally exhaust you.  And it’s free!


Heather Phillipson
The Age of Love
19 October 2018 – 24 March 2019

BALTIC Then & Now
3 November 2018 – 4 January 2019

Rasheed Araeen
A Retrospective
19 October 2018 – 27 January 2019

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Analogue Photos of Glasgow

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On my recent trip to Glasgow I took a disposable analogue camera and got a few cute pictures of my 3yr old niece and baby nephew.  I’m not going to post those photos but, you know, that would be super weird.  But here are a few non-child photos I got.

There’s a few of my trip on train up there, beautiful countryside whizzing past the window.  And a couple of the park we had a little picnic, and I got sun burnt (in Scotland, can you believe it?).  And there were a couple that my niece took, she actually got a nice one of her dad (again weird to put on the interwebs) but struggled with the tiny field of vision you get on an analogue camera so she was getting too close to her subjects.  Still she has an eye…

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Packing For Glasgow

Packing For Glasgow

I took a very quick trip to Glasgow recently to visit my new baby nephew (and some adults).  I arrived lunchtime on Friday and left about 4pm on Saturday, and was traveling by train.  I didn’t need to take too much with me, although I did have a few presents that I needed to cram into my backpack.

It was very hot when I went up there, but this heat wave has been so unprecedented it was hard to believe that it would stay warm, in Scotland of all places. I went up there in my jeans and long sleeve dino top, the air conditioning on the train made that an OK travel outfit.  But on arrival we sat in the garden and it was very necessary to shorts up.  I threw in some new shorts (not pictured), as well as shorts to sleep in (which it was far too hot to wear)! I also took some fluffy slipper socks which my niece quite enjoyed stroking and grabbing hold of.

My non-clothes items were fairly minimal; some toiletries, sunglasses, sun block, a book to read on the train, a day bag (which sister had bought me and my niece pointed to and said ‘we bought that’), my purse, and then I also took my phone and camera.  It was fairly successful packing I’d say!


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Analogue Photos of Beamish

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Durham Scrapbook


We took a mini city break to Durham over the Spring Bank Holiday, and I’ve done a mini scrapbook for it.  I used a random little note book I had been giving free at an old job, I think it was just a little sample we were sent, but it’s fun because all the pages are different colours.


I’ve got a new(ish) printer, the Canon TS8152 which I do like quite a lot.  I bought some new photo paper from W. H Smiths which I’m not crazy about as it’s quite thin so tears a bit when I cut it.  And this little scrapbooks are quite hard to work with because you have to print out tiny photos.


I used some of the ephemera I had collected over the weekend, such as note paper from the hotel, receipts, and train tickets.  I also used my 1 inch circle hole punch and went to town on my Durham Cathedral brochure.  This time around I left a sensible amount of space to write in as I never really have much to say, but feel I should write some stuff!


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Leeds 10km Run

I did it!  I completed the Leeds 10km!


It was tough at times, it was very hot and we were under the direct sun for much of the run.  The last 200m was quite enjoyable though, I’d run through the finish line of any race!  I’m very glad I did this, I feel like I’ve achieved a goal that a few years ago I would have thought impossible for me.  I also raised over £200 for St Gemma’s Hospice which supports people with terminal cancer.  And I got a little medal!


I signed up in December (or possibly early January) when it all seemed very far away and tried to start my training.  It was difficult to know how much training to do, but a 10km is a walkable distance and I was running about 5km a few times a week so I was in better shape than a lot of people.  Winter was cold and rainy, and there’s an annoying lack of street lights where I live. I managed to maintain a reasonably consistent regime.

I struggled in Spring as the weather was still terrible, with regular heavy rain but slowly increased the distances I was running and did a few 10km before the race.  I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to go the distance.

In the run up to the big day I felt that there was a lack of information coming from the race orgnisers.  St Gemma’s sent me a fundraising pack and said the event organiser (Run For All) would send my race pack.  My ‘race pack’ turned out to be my bib (the race number I needed to pin to my top), with no accompanying letter or instructions.  Two days before the event I received an email from them with some more details about when to arrive and where to go.  But, to me, that’s too short notice.

For the most part it was fairly obvious, but we had been split into three groups based on estimated finish time and each group had a different assembly point and start time.  In the ‘green’ (slow poke) assembly area there were many reds and blues hanging around and people didn’t seem to have got the message about the different groups.  We were also told to get to our assembly points at 8:45am, but we didn’t cross the start line until 9:40 and it was never clear what you were supposed to be doing for those 55mins.  After going to the toilet there wasn’t much to do but stand in the hot sun.

Leeds 10km

I feel like I’m complaining a lot, these are small issues but they annoyed me.  As a first time runner I needed some more clarity in what I was to expect on the day.

But I am very glad I did the run.  I got my medal, and a goody bag with some protein bars, cheapo chocolate, and protein drink all courtesy of ASDA, the chief sponsor.  We were also given a free T-shirt. No fitbits though, shame.  I received a tank top to run in from St Gemma’s so that’s what I wore on the day.  Once that’s gone through the wash I’ll frame it along with my medal and bib.

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Durham Castle


We decided to visit Durham Castle on Saturday afternoon, and rocked up about 2pm to wander around.  Although it turns out you can’t do that.  You can only look around on a guided tour so we walked around the corner to the visitor information centre to buy our tickets (£5 each) only to be told that the 2:15pm tour was fully booked but there were two places left on the 4:15pm.  So we had a couple of hours to wander around Durham before returning for our tour.

Our tour was done by a very confident Durham University maths student, who did a good job of taking us around a few key rooms.  The Castle is in use as student accommodation so there are plenty of areas we couldn’t look around as they were student bedrooms.  We also weren’t allowed to take photographs inside for the same reason.  It was a little strange being shown the great hall and it’s portraits of University patrons while some poor students were trying to do their revision.

The Castle dates from C11th, construction start in 1072 under the orders of William the Conquerer. Modifications and alterations were added throughout the Middle Ages and beyond.  We saw a little chapel with carvings that indication to illiterate worshipers where to stand.  That room has incredible thick walls to protect against assault on the Castle. We also saw the Black Stairs which were added in 1660 by Biship Cosin who was the last Bishop to make major changes to the Castle before the University took over.

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Analogue Photos Of Durham

I took my Analogue Camera with me when I went to Durham recently so I could shoot some 35mm photos, and here’s how they turned out!

We also went to Beamish which is an open air ‘living’ museum, where there is an 1820’s colliery, a 1940’s farm, and a 1900’s town etc. Here are the pics I got back when I got the film developed.

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