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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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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Newcastle- The Baltic and The Bridges

Baltic We just popped into the Baltic art gallery and spent our time mainly in the shop!  But we did head into one gallery where there was a fun exhibition about the moon.  Further up there’s a viewing platform with a great view over the Tyne.  The sky was so clear but our big problem all day was the sun in our eyes! Would you believe it was January when these pictures were taken?

Below is a view of Millennium Bridge with the Baltic to the right hand side of it.


These are pics of the Tyne Bridge (Newcastle is very bridgey!).

And The Sage which is a music venue and quite an eye-catching building. Very shiny.The Sage Newcastle

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Newcastle and The Angel Of The North




Collages1Well we couldn’t go to Newcastle without visiting the Angel of the North. It’s a pretty awesome sculpture by Anthony Gormley that’s been up since 1998.  It’s just south of Newcastle off the A1 but we managed to miss it on our way into the city.  But when we caught it on the way back we got the sunset as a great background.

It’s 20m tall, has a wingspan of 54m, and weighs 200 tonnes.Angel of The North

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Scrumpy Willow and Singing Kettle in Newcastle

Scrumpy Willow NewcastleWell I always do a bit ‘o research prior to leaving the house as to where I will be able to eat..especially (but not limited to) when I go somewhere new.  So before heading to Newcastle for the day I looked up veggie restaurants and found Scrumpy Willow and Singing Kettle.  The name is off-putting in my book but it looked good on the website so we went there for lunch.

It isn’t actually all veggie, there are a couple of eat/fish options so you’re weird meat-eating friends, who would happily wrestle a cow to the death for dinner but are terrified of a cheese sandwich, will be taken care of. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon and there was a laid back atmosphere.

Scrumpy Willow

I got feta and spinach crepes and boyfriend got sausage and mash.  Mine was delicious, boyfriend said he was ‘ok’.  So maybe their strength lies with the veggie cooking, although as usual I could have eaten 3 portions!

We both got smoothies which were really nice and motivated me to start smoothie-ing again when I got home.  I also ate the lime and coconut cheesecake which I found a bit too sweet but other people may like that.

In summary: I liked this place.

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