Sunday, 30 September 2012

It's grim 'up North....

Whoever came up with that saying is talking rubbish as it isn't.  It's grim in Milton Keynes - perhaps that's what they meant.

In lieu of working on my birthday, I took a trip (a very long overdue trip I might add) to Newcastle to visit friends, stroke cats, eat food, and meet babies that were born since the last time I visited!

As I'm living on a budget these days, I had to rely on coaches to get me there and back again.  National Express uphill.....some kind of leg room, a plug for my phone charger, a 15 stop to use ancient toilets in Leeds Bus Depot, and an annoyance of a woman in front of me who reported back to her friend every 10 mins as to where she was on the motorway.  To said woman - we NEVER were on the A63 and it's GATESHEAD not Gatishead love!  Megabus downhill - an unfortunate name for a form of transport that so isn't mega.  Sitting in soaking clothes for 8 hours in a freezing bus next to a woman who ate cold noodles with a spoon, no leg room, flooded toilet the size of a matchbox.  Blah.  Train £86.  Total coach journey £18.

Day 1 in the Toon House:  Dinner at the Sky Apple Veggie Cafe' in Heaton.  Halloumi salad, Cuban Casserole, Plum & Gingerbread Cake, take your own wine.  Lovely place and great food.  Good company from a soon-to-be-married of which I swear was in the queue for the Brighton Rock castings all those years ago.

Day 2 in the Toon House:  I'm lucky to have friends who get up early so we went off to an interesting little antiques centre/flea market on a trading estate (unfortunately the name of which I can't remember).  Full of interesting things and wolf-whistling birds.  I imagine you'd only know about this place through word or mouth or by seeing a small ad in the local paper.  Off to Whitley Bay in lovely Autumn sunshine next.  Aah...Whitley Bay - a seaside town lost in time.  Beautiful sandy clean beaches, "proper" fish & chip shops, amusement arcades.....ruined at night (as every other seaside town is) by stag & hen nights.  Horlicks in a time-warp cafe' on the front called The Rendezvous....all banana splits & peach melbas, then a look round the shops.  Two interesting shops next to each other - a vintage furniture/bric a brac shop called Mods & Rockers, and vintage clothing at Dregs of Society.  Some nice hand-picked items at pretty good prices.  

Back into Newcastle for lunch at Ernest.  Another winner.  Big chunky potato wedges, and a Posh Dog (which I think was chorizo, veg etc. in a ciabatta), followed by some dessert or other I'm sure!  Newcastle certainly isn't short of nice places to eat at the moment.  I remember the days of Pizza Express as that's all there was.  Had a look in the Ouseburn Farm next....where they had fluffy bunnies we wanted to steal called Miffy and Dirk (Dirk????).  Yes, this is what I do these days!!!!  A long walk along the canal and the Quayside next, where we came across an infamous terrible busker whose wailing you could hear from miles away.  We googled him we came back and he's a YouTube star you know!  Went to a few pubs later.   I've realised I no longer like pubs at night these days - they're full of annoying, drunk people and I would rather not be around them.

Day 3 in the Toon House:  A broken down car, a bus replacement service, Tynemouth.  Stopped off at a little indoor market where we discovered a great vintage shop called Boys like Dolls.  I'd heard this name before but not sure where.  Tynemouth Market next which seems to get bigger every time I go.  Managed to avoid buying anything other than a muffin (a darn good muffin I might add).  Still fascinated & a little bit shocked to see stalls full of war memorabilia which includes nazi helmets & other nazi paraphanalia.   Sad to say that I can't remember the name of the restaurant we ate lunch in but once again, it was great!  Amazingly cheap prices - if I could have eaten dessert, I certainly would have - 3 courses for £12.50 (practically the price of a roast dinner in Crouch End).  Had a 20 mile hike along the sea front with a friend and her beautiful little boy after lunch, past rock-pools and places I would have ran to get to as a child.

Thank you Newcastle - I had a blast.  Now off to watch two tv chefs going to Rotherhithe...*cough*.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

When your boobs head South....

It's my birthday this week.  I'll be 46.  This is a scary thought.  46 is closer to 50 than 40, and that is well and truly middle-age.  Age is just a number I tell myself but I'd prefer that number to be 30 if truth be known!  Looking forward to hot flushes, Tena Lady and a free bus pass but in the meantime.......

Dear Catastrophe Waitress continues.  September meant Scandi Music special and an excuse to basically resurrect  Sweden Made Me for one night only.  Grateful to the Scandi Kitchen girlies for coming along and dancing lots.  You know it's all going to be ok when drunk swedish girls turn up.  Next month: 90s special.  I will be knotting up my hair, getting out that oversized "slippy shoulder" stripy jumper and re-piercing my nose in celebration. 

Thursday saw my pre-birthday day out with Mum.  Mum who seems to know London better than her daughter I might add!  We had lunch on a "party" boat at Embankment - The Tattershall Castle.  Cheap & cheerful on a beautiful sunny day.  Not so much fun at any other time I suspect.  I felt a bit seasick and it was moored!  Visions of what goes on at night after several pints are not pleasant.

Off to Tate Britain after a goats cheese baguette.

I'd wanted to get to the "Another London" photo exhibition for weeks and we managed to sneak in just before it closed any time now.  Really enjoyed the photos which are of 1930s to 1980s London.  Particularly love the photo of the perhaps homeless boyish-looking teenage girl holding a kitten and a sleeping bag, which has been used as the face of the exhibition.  We hoped she knew she was famous for a few weeks because of this and wondered what her story was. 

Went for a nice touristy walk after the Tate - past Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Horseguards Parade.  When you live in London, you only do the tourist thing when people visit.  I'm thinking I should do it more.  I'm secretly impressed with my photo on the right.  Only taken on my mobile phone, it's come out well.  Finishing off with ice-cream in Trafalgar Square, tourist pre-birthday day was done.

Yesterday was a sunny Saturday in Soho sort of a day.  Thank you Miss Warren for a fab-tastic lunch in my favourite "cheap as chips" cafe' in Berwick Street, the Mediterranean.  Rose', Spicy Sausage Salad, Cheese Borek, Banoffee Pie & Cappucino - Job well done!  The French House next.  I have yet to see any of these famous folk that apparently frequent it but I live in hope!  Finishing off at The Ship where we did a ton of catching up and putting the world to rights, and a bit of people watching.  Every Saturday should consist of these things.

Blog done.  I'm heading 'up North to the Toon next weekend.  Hopefully I will have some tales to tell upon my return.

Think of me on Wednesday when I hit 46 folks.  My boobs will never be the same again.....