Christmas in Newcastle

Like I said in my previous 'Christmas in York' post, I am lucky to live in two amazing citites, the first being York, the second being Newcastle.

I have lived close to Newcastle all my life, and since I was a small child I have been going to Newcastle every year to view Fenwick window, buy presents and generally get into the festive spirit. Even at the age of 18, I still jump up and down with excitement as I look upon Fenwick window. Wandering through the beautifully decorated arcade, and the bustle and festivity of Grainger Market always remind me of my childhood, when everything seemed so much bigger and brighter.

One of the great things about Newcastle is the recent opening of beautiful luxury shops, such as Michael Kors and Hugo Boss, which provide you with the perfect opportunity to spoil your loved ones. Newcastle also has a great range of one off restuarants and cafes, such as Pink Lane Coffee, or The Sausage Emporium, which allow you to refuel and get your shoppping mojo back on.

And perhaps my highlight of shopping in Newcastle over the festive season has to be meeting Monty the Penguin in John Lewis (even if everyone was looking at me strangely as I giggled and patted him...)

Being Alone

There will most likely come a point in everyones lives where they have to make a decision. A decision that requires trust in yourself, bravery, and a good deal of thought, and that decision is the decision to be alone. Choosing to be alone when you are in a steady, and relatively happy relationship seems like a somewhat foolish and selfish thing to do, but that is not always the case.

There comes a point when everyone has to step back, step outside themselves and ask some tough questions. Who are you? Are you who you want to? Is the person you are with helping you to become the person you need to be? Once you step back from a relationship, from the warmth and safety that that relationship has provided for you, all these questions come crashing down.

For me this is exactly how it happened. Don't get me wrong, we fought like every couple, and it was particularly hard as we were in a long distance relationship. But moving to a new city, a new home, and starting a new chapter of my life really began to make me question who I was, and who I wanted to be, and when it came down to it, I didn't have an answer. I didn't know.

Then came the weeks of guilt, of worry and not eating as my own doubts knawed at me day in day out. I didn't want to step out of my little cocoon of comfort, my relationship, and nor did I want to hurt the one person I loved, and who loved me in return. But it was becoming unhealthy, and my doubts about myself were beginning to show, both physically and on the scale. I knew what I had to do, I had to rip the band aid off, take the plunge into the unknown, and it is the most selfish decision I have ever made.

I never thought that the person I loved, and had just hurt would understand, would want me to take some time to myself and figure out my next move. Not only that, but he supported it. That support made me realise that this was the rigth decision, for me, for my health, and my life. And although I have been happier, and I miss my old relationship, especially around the festive season, I know that this is the right move for me, in the long run.

Christmas in York

I am lucky enough to live in two amazing citites, both in terms of historical sites, scenery and shopping. Recently I moved to York in order to study Histroy at York University, and the quaint cobbled streets and sloping buildings have certainly lured me in. I love it!

What I was most looking forward to about York was seeing it at Christmas time. I had heard that it was an amazing destination for Christmas shopping, and I couldn't wait for December to arrive, when the twinkling lights and garlands would go up, and I could truely get into the festive spirit.

What I love about York is not only the abundant amount of individual and unique shops, but also the amount of brands that have their own individual little shops, such as Jo Malone and Kiehl's, which are so often housed in larger department stores. I have always loved hopping from shop to shop, cocooned in my coat, mittens and hat, and this year sipping my York Cocoa House hot chocolate!

The cobbled streets and bustling of people, coupled with the St Nicholas Market really make it feel special, as well as making you feel as if you are in 'A Christmas Carol' (sans Tiny Tim, Scrooge and the Three Ghosts...).

I highly recommend a shopping trip to York, for a day filled with festivity, carols and the most amazing hot chocolate (I am talking about you York Cocoa House). And whilst you are there, why not check out York Minster, and all the fantastic and unique opportunities York has to offer. And if you are still stuck for the perfect Christmas gift for a loved one, then check out my Afternoon Tea at Betty's Post, which would create the perfect end to your day in York!

Lunch at 'The Sausage Emporium'

Recently when out Christmas shopping with my Mum, she said she would treat me to a spot of lunch. As a recently returned student, I was super excited about the prospect of eating something other than eggs and bacon, so I waited in anticipation as we trawled past Greys Monument and into the depths of Eldon Square.

When we arrived outside The Sausage Emporium I was initially disappointed. I had been expecting Thai, or Japanese, not a restuarant that specialises in Sausages, which I imagined to be totally Germanised, and not at all somewhere I would enjoy.

However, upon entering the restuarant, my mood was immediately changed. The Sausage Emporium is situated in one of the old railway arches, and the somewhat industrial interior really appealed to me. The atmosphere was warm and friendly, with the owner and chef engaging in conversation and telling us all about Hannah, the restaurants very own Sausage Dog (who unfortunately was out on an errand whilst we were there).

Now down to the good stuff, the food. The menu had a wide selection, including a Christmas Menu, which would be perfect for those festive days out. I was amazed at how much could be done, and how many flavour combinations the humble sausage could have. From chilli, to onion bhaji, to the traditional Wylam Ale sausage, there was a range of dishes to choose from. I mysef opted for a sausage and scallop kebab with meditarranean vegetables, whilst my Mum tried out the Wylam Ale sausage, with roast potatos and gravy. I also just had to have a side of their creamy mash, which was absolutely divine. The sausages themselves were flavousome, and were much more meaty than the regular sausages that I have bought before from the supermarket. My Mum's roast potatos were also scrummy, and her gravy came in the cutest little teapot, which was even wearing its own tea cosy!

After stuffing ourselves with sausages, we just couldn't help but try out the Melt in the middle Chocolate Souffle (which the owner had told us was one of the reasons his wife married him!!). Piping hot and dusted with icing sugar, no words could describe the chocolatey heaven we were in, and the owner even gave us the recipe, so I can bake my own little pot of heaven whenever I want to!

I would highly recommend The Sausage Emporium for its great service, scrumptious food and quirky details (from whisky bottle lights downstairs to Hannah the Sausage Dog), and if you are a lover of dogs the restuarant is even dog friendly! I know that I will be going back there soon, partly for the food, and partly to meet the infamous Hannah, who even has her own twitter page here.

Afternoon Tea at Betty's Tea Rooms: The perfect Christmas Gift

Betty's Tea Room is an old fashioned tea room, bakers and chocolatiers, set up in 1919 in Yorkshire, which specialises in fine quality dining and top notch service.

Recently I took my Mum to have Afternoon Tea at the Belmont Room in York as an early Christmas present. Lined with wood panelling and filled with thick white clothed tables and shiny silver cutlery, the Belmont Room defined luxury. The soft sounds of the grand piano keys tinkling in the background accompanied the clinking of china and hushed murmurs of the numerous parties in the room.

At £26.95 per person, Afternoon Tea at Betty's comes with a choice of 17 types of tea, with a range of specialties, from black tea, to white and Green, all served in little silver pots on sparkling silver trays. The cake stand comes layden with little finger sandwhiches (from ham and mustard, coronation chicken, egg and water cress to prawn and salmon with marie rose sauce), Sultana Scones with jam and clotted cream and a selection of beautifully baked and decorated cakes and patisseries.

Afternoon Tea is the perfect christmas gift for a relative who deserves a little bit of pampering and opulence, and I could not recommend it enough! With 4 tea rooms in the Yorkshire Area (Harrogate, York, Northallerton and Ikley) there are plenty of beautiful towns/cities to explore and enjoy. Betty's also have the option of Champagne Afternoon Tea, for that added bit of grandeur. So go on, why not spoil your Mum, Sister, Aunt, Grandma or girlfriend, and give them an elegant and sumptuous gift for Christmas.

University Life: Part I

There is something kind of momentous about pulling your first all nighter at University. Sitting in the Library till the small hours of the morning, fuelling yourself on coffee and copious amounts of Haribo, whislt there is worringly still a lot of people up and working around you.

Then there is that point, that impassible point where you know working has become just a little bit unfeasable (or you start writing a blog post), yet you still keep working, because for some reasons you just feel invincible. Dog tired, but invicible.

And so, as my first term at Univeristy rolls to a close, and my lack of blog posts becomes all the more apparent, I sit in the Library (in the wee hours of the morning), and reflect on how much University has changed me so far, without me even realising it.

I now enjoy going out to bars, clubbing, and being that girl who always insists on going to her favourite takeaway after a night out (that just so happens to be on the otherside of town). I have made friends with people I never thought I would make friends with, and I have completed work that I thought was beyond my capability.

But the feeling I get from being here, from living and working on my own is so much more than that. I feel proud of myself, proud of how well I have coped on my own, and excited to see what is to come.

That's not to say all has been rosey. I have really struggled to make friends, and other than the three girls I knew from high school, I have only made two friends outside my flat, and both of those are guys. I have also struggled to use the Library, the sheer size and amount of people using it sending me into a panick, and forcing me to leave again.

But I know that as the work load piles up, and the nights become darker and colder, things can only get better, and maybe, just maybe, I will make more friends as I learn and grow (and maybe also learn not to keep using off-milk in my tea...)