I have long adored the city of Newcastle. While doing my teaching PGCE in Durham it was the nearest big city, and I spent many happy weekends in Newcastle, making the short hop across on the train to head out to the theatre, or the shops, or the clubs of Newcastle. Fast forward a few years and I fell in love with a man from the north-east, and Newcastle was back in my life in a big way! I visit several times a year and it's where Matthew's family are based, but it had been a good long while since I'd visited the city solo.
Until last week.
The lovely Chloe from Talented Talkers had dropped me an email last month, asking if I'd like to visit a city and have my hotel stay provided by Travelodge. When I saw the list of cities (so many great options and I've read really fun write ups on Bournemouth, Birmingham, Liverpool....), for me it had to be Newcastle. What a fun way to revisit a favourite city.
I do like a Travelodge, I must confess. I also like an Aria suite, a Malmaison, a Premier Inn...don't you just love the luxury/budget/middle of the road mix? I love the range of accommodation available and how different hotels are perfect for different breaks. In this case the Newcastle Central Travelodge was perfect for my plans to catch up with friends and family, explore a little of the city, do a bit of Christmas shopping....and sleep an awful lot!
One of the great things about Newcastle is how easy it is to travel to by train - jump on at Kings Cross and in a few hours you are in the heart of Newcastle. I had a very jolly journey reading my Kindle, watching downloaded shows, noting down a few post ideas and generally relaxing.
Once in Newcastle it was a fifteen minute bimble down to the Quayside to find the hotel. It was a beautiful, crisp November day, so I took the chance to take in the lovely views and take a few snaps. Here's the famous Tyne Bridge from a rather different angle!
Check in was swift and speedy and I was soon in my lovely big king size room. It was the usual Travelodge arrangement - clean, roomy, neat and comfortable. There's a lot to be said for knowing what to expect. What was unexpected was being able to glimpse the famous bridge from my room - a lovely touch!
Once I was all unpacked, I headed around to the Bridge Tavern to meet my friend Jo for dinner. I'd heard good things about the pub and thought it was a nice spot to meet for a girly dinner and a good catch up. Jo and I taught together for three years here in London before she relocated to the north-east. Her husband Alan has opened a fabulous pub in Hexham, The Heart of Northumberland. Whenever I'm in the Newcastle vicinity we try to get together.
I had the venison burger for dinner - SO good! The chips were also splendid, as were the brownies we enjoyed for pudding. Apologies for the slightly fuzzy image - low light made for a lovely cosy ambience but poorer pictures.
Such a lovely spot for a dinner together. I loved getting to hear all Jo's news in person!
After bidding Jo farewell I went for a walk along the quayside. At the weekends this part of town can get a little lively, but on a Monday evening it was calm and chilled. It was quite moving to see the Millennium Bridge lit up in the tricolore to remember the victims of the Paris attacks a few days beforehand.
After my walk I went to the store for supplies and then curled up in bed with treats, magazines and the news. The bed was really comfortable and I wound up sleeping for ten hours solid! I rarely get the chance to do so at home, so this was one of the highlights of the trip.
A big day requires a big breakfast. I love places like Travelodge where you can pick and choose your options. On the Tuesday (pictured above) I was ravenous, whereas on the Wednesday I stuck to yogurt and toast.
Another lovely walk along the river, and the Sage looking lovely in the late autumn sunshine!
That street art walk really comes in handy - I can spot it everywhere and anywhere now!
I spent a great morning looking at some of the sights - I popped into Newcastle Castle, had a wee look in at the Life Centre, and then headed off to the Lit and Phil, which had to be one of the highlights of my trip.
The Literary and Philosophical Society is a true Newcastle gem. A stone's throw from the train station is a building crammed with books, magazines and research materials. I couldn't believe that despite visiting the city for over a dozen years I had never been! I wanted to curl up here and write for hours. I took lots of photos which will probably make a whole new post when I get them from my other camera. If you are of a literary bent, you must visit!
After bidding farewell to the Lit and Phil, I headed into town to meet my sister-in-law, Elly, and our two niecelets. I love being an auntie, so am always up for niece time! We had a nice time doing a little shopping and then went to the Botanist for lunch. I went for the 'double-starters-instead-of-a-main' option and enjoyed a lovely goats cheese tart and some fair calamari.
Late lunch done with we drove over to Elly & Nick's for some family time, and spent the rest of the day chatting, playing, and generally having a ball. One of the great things about Newcastle is it's quick Metro system - once it was time for the niecelets to head to bed and me to head back in to town it was so simple to jump on the train and be back in the city centre in no time!
On Wednesday before I checked out I had one more job to do....a few of my friends had sent me this buzzfeed piece and had highlighted the Newcastle option for next time I visited. Always one to oblige where possible when it comes to my gorgeous friends, I bimbled down to the Great British Cupcakery and enjoyed one for the team. SO good, and so impossible to eat anything afterwards for ten hours! The salted caramel delight above was £5, remarkably easy to deconstruct and enjoy, and so yummy. Well worth a try, but I'm very glad it's several hundred miles away...or we'd have a problem.
Full, happy, and exquisitely well rested I headed back to say goodbye to the hotel and to get to the station. I had a splendid time in Newcastle and found the Travelodge a good base for my northern adventures. Thank you for having me!