Let It Snow…

“This was a lovely idea, to come for a Winter walk around the park,” Mum said.

“It’s bloody freezing,” I reply.

“I told you to put a hat and scarf on,” Mum scolded.

“I know. But I have some street cred. Not much. But some,” as I say as pull my collar up.

A Winter walk always seems like a good idea, until the temperature drops one degree too much – or you put a hat and scarf on.
I am in the latter, as Mum is snugly in her padded jacket, boots and hat.
This is why she’s the Mother…

We’re in Heaton Park, a tireless Victorian park, just a twenty minute slow walk from Newcastle city centre. It’s one of five linked parks that make up Ouseburn Parks. The other four parks are Jesmond Dene, Jesmond Vale, Paddy Freeman’s Park and Armstrong Park. The whole area was open to the people of Newcastle from 1884.

“Thought there’d be a few more people about,” Mum says as we more or less have the wide walkway that encompasses the entire park to ourselves. “Just the dog walkers, really.”

I nod, as I see a dog taking a dump up ahead.

The owner of which looks around for the dog and runs back with her poop bag to do a bit of scooping.

“It’s nice to hear how quiet it is,” I say.

“To HEAR how quiet it is…?” Mum laughs. “I know. Who would think we weren’t far from the city centre?” she agreed.

There’s no kids crying, parents shouting after them, gangs of people talking.

Heaton Park has a mix of promenades, hidden walkways and vast greenery. There’s a children’s playground, a Bowling Green and Victorian pavilion, which is now an Italian restaurant.

Plus the remains of a mediaeval mansion. All open and free to the public all year round. Though not, obviously, the Italian restaurant – you have to pay for your pizza.

Frost remains on the leaves of the bushes and hedges, as well as the grass. All of them glisten in the low afternoon sun.

“I love this kind of Winter weather, when everything looks peaceful,” Mum said thoughtfully.

Different types of birds sing their hearts out, which resonate around the trees, giving an ethereal feel as we continue our stroll.

“How lovely to hear the birds. They sound bright and happy.” I say.

“Don’t blame them when it’s so quiet. Bet they are loving it,” Mum said.

“Probably asking what each wants for their tea!” I joke.

Some people are sitting outside at the restaurant, eating – that’s real al fresco dedication for you!
No one was in either of the kiddies playgrounds.

I see another dog take a dump, this time immediately in front of us. As we walk by, I wait for the stench to hit my nostrils… The owner is quick off the mark and plucks it up into a bag as if it were a daffodil.

A flurry of snow begins landing on the ground. It begins to lie. The weather forecasters were right. Snow, ice, freezing temperatures, travel chaos and our last leisurely stroll for a while.

“Here comes the snow,” I say as I pull my collar up.

“I told you that you put a hat and scarf on,” Mum smiled as she pulled down her hat, holier-than-thou.


Restaurant Week – always

NE1 Newcastle Restaurant Week 2019 returned again, with over 100 restaurants involved, offering amazing food in Newcastle’s finest restaurants for only £10 or £15pp from the 21st – 27th January.

Logo © NE1 Get Into Newcastle

“What do you think of Restaurant Week?” I ask Mum.

“It’s very good but is it actually worth the restaurants putting it on? I was thinking do they actually get more people going? Do they actually make profit?” Mum said.

“That’s a lot of actuallys –“ I laugh.

“If they’re halving or taking a third off the menu prices, they still have to pay for staff and ingredients. I know it’s for people to try new places, get people into the city centre and it’s publicity. I wonder if it’s worth it in the long run for Restaurant Week,” she continues.

“It gets people back into the city,” I offer.

“Oh, it’s a good thing. But I think January is a bad month to have it in.” Mum says.

“That’s kind of the point. January is a depressing month so it’s to give people a boost.” I reply.

“I understand that. But there’s other elements – and I’m not just talking about the crap weather.”

“I see.”“People still don’t have a great deal of money after Christmas. There’s still long, dark, cold nights. I don’t like January,” Mum explains.

“Or Mondays,” I chip in.

“Very droll,” Mum retorted.

We’re at Beeronomy, a brand, spanking new bar and restaurant on Hood Street, off Newcastle’s Grey Street, where the art of beer and food are perfectly matched.

“This place, when we spoke to the waitress, she said it was fully booked tonight.”

“If it’s busy every night for Restaurant Week, then it clearly works. It’s great to bring people back into Newcastle. That’s always assuming that a venue’s food is good,” Mum tittered.

 “Why did we choose this restaurant today?” I inquire.

“I think it’s one of the few restaurants we haven’t been in,” Mum responded.

“One of the few? We’re not Jay Rayner.” I joke and we laugh.
We were sitting at one of the two taken tables. It was mid-afternoon. Post lunchtime and pre-after works drinks. It felt like we had the place to ourselves and that was nice. Plus it meant we got all of the staff’s attention.

Beeronomy’s Restaurant Week Offer was 2 courses for £10 or 3 for £15 – plus you got a drink, either a pint of house cask ale, a cocktail or a soft drink. You couldn’t gan wrong!

We plumped for cocktails and three courses. We were not disappointed. The food was excellent and the attention to detail of the interior and décor of the place is second to none.

Get yourself along to this new establishment, support an independent venue. It’s got something for everyone – you don’t have to be a beer drinker!

“Maybe they could make it Restaurant Fortnight to give us a chance to eat more delicious food?”
Mum suggests as she sips on a porn star martini.

I nod in agreement:
“So many restaurants, so little time.”

Well good news for us – as Beeronomy have extended their offer until Sunday 3rd February, two courses for £10, three courses for £15 and all cocktails are 2-4-1. So get on it like a car bonnet!

New Year – New Us???

How was your Christmas and New Year?

Official Man Flu Germ

Official Man Flu Germ

Ours’s didn’t get off to a great start, seeing as how both Mum and me, plus all of our immediate family, had the nasty cold virus that was doing the rounds over the Holiday Season. 
My other half had Man Flu, but let’s not go into that… 

It meant we didn’t get to celebrate Christmas or indeed New Year’s Eve a great deal. Nor did we enjoy any exploits. So we’ve not had much to write about. Obviously there’s only so many times we can say we’ve got snotty noses and please send us much deserved sympathy before you close your browser.
“Christmas seems so far away,” I said to Mum.

“Well it was last year,” she replied.

“We didn’t really get to do anything. No celebrating with extended family. No meeting up with friends. No nights out. No parties,” I lament.

“We may as well have been Nuns,” chipped in Mum.

“You’d know all about that,” I say, self-satisfied.

Mum frowned at me: “What, ’coz I’m a single woman?” she asked indignantly.

“No.” I reply. “Didn’t you want to be a Nun?”

Mum rolled her eyes “Oh god – “

“Is that you practising?” I laugh.

Now this is a oft repeated story amongst the family so Mum has it perfected.

“According to your Nana and Grandad, as a child I told all and sundry, including our priest, that I wanted to be a Nun. That I wanted to go live in a Nunnery and take vows of poverty and chastity –“

“The chastity went well, seeing as you have three kids…” I smiled.

“Exactly. Though thanks to Brexit, I may yet end up in poverty!”

Bloody Brexit, Mum makes a fair point!

I rolled my eyes “Oh god – “

“The only problem of me wanting to be a Nun,” Mum continued, “is that I have absolutely no recollection of it.”

“I suppose believing in God and the church would be a prerequisite,” I suggested.

“That too.”

“So, any New Year resolutions?” I ask.

“I don’t have resolutions as it’s a just a load of old tosh. But I do have a mind list of things I’d like to do.”

“What are they?” I pry.

“Just the usual, like so many other people,” Mum replies. “Lose some weight; maybe visit a few more places; make ‘Me Time’ to do things I want to do.”

“Our friend Marty, who’ll be guest posting for us soon, wrote a blog with the same take. A simple list of things he’d quite like to do – https://bit.ly/2Ml9MKX

“Think most peoples’ lists likely look similar,” Mum nods.
She paused: “Anyways, what are your New Year resolutions?”

“Well, “ I start, “in view of Brexit,  I’m waiting for the New Year’s Revolutions.”

The Birthday Night Before Christmas

We are out celebrating Mum’s birthday, which is inconveniently placed in the week leading up to Christmas. Just the two of us. For food and drinks.

“I don’t like that my birthday is just six days before Christmas but then I’ve had to live with it my whole life.”

Makes sense, as that’s usually the case with birthdays…

“Everyone is always skint leading up to Christmas,” continues Mum. “Everyone has family prep, work and parties to attend and are so busy rushing around for the big day.”

“Self, self, self,” I say.

“Exactly. I mean, there’s an element of boredom –

This makes me laugh: “An element of boredom?”

 “Yes,” she jokes, “an element of boredom waiting for Christmas Day coming so they can’t be bothered to celebrate birthdays or anything else. As a birthday is a big thing and Christmas is a big thing. People don’t want to celebrate both.”

“So people will wish you a happy birthday but then ask in the same breath what are you doing for Christmas and New Year?” I ask.

“Always!” Mum replies.

“I also get a birthday and Christmas present all rolled into one, usually wrapped in Christmas paper and linked in some way.”

 “Are you apathetic about your birthday then?”

“Well the older I get, the more I think I can’t be bothered myself! My birthdays just go by the by.”

“What’s been the worst birthday you recall?” I quiz.

“I had a big birthday, arranged a drinks party and hardly anyone came.”

“The bastards!”

“Indeed!” chuckled Mum then took a long sip of her birthday cocktail.

“I mean, it’s only as you get older that you really want people to celebrate your birthday with you. But, like I say, it’s good luck with getting people out!”

“Everywhere, restaurants and pubs, are always busy too – or only have their Christmas menus on.”

“Precisely. You can’t necessarily get booked up anywhere, or need to pay deposits or have set meals. It’s just far too much planning. I can’t be arsed.”

“What’s been your favourite thing on today’s birthday, Mum?”

“These cocktails!”

“They are delish.” I agree.

“I don’t think I could drink more than two as I may feel a little bit tiddly,” states Mum,

“You couldn’t drink more than two when it’s a shot of rum, shot of vodka and a shot of butterscotch liqueur? I think two is enough…”

We raise our glasses: “Cheers!”

“Do you feel outshone due to what Christmas actually celebrates, having to contend with someone else’s birthday on Christmas Day?” I ask.

“Yes, I do feel upstaged, but that’s the way life is,” Mum says matter of fact.

 “Upstaged by the Lord Jesus Christ?!”

“You can’t have it all ways,” says Mum. “On the plus side, because it’s my birthday in the week leading up to Christmas, I can be drunk every day of the week until Christmas Day!”

Happy Birthday Mummy – and Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animals!


Two French Tarts

Well, we did the Brum Christmas Market, hence had to do the one on our doorstep – Newcastle’s Christmas Market.

So we met at Grey’s Monument, a primary meeting point in Newcastle city centre and happens to be where the Christmas Market is set, being open until this Sunday, December 16th.

“I’m pleased it’s here at Monument, ‘coz if it was at the Quay, don’t think I could’ve been arsed,” said Mum as I walked up to greet her.

“Good to see you too,” I replied. “Shall we walk round?”

“Yeah, sounds good”

We pass the real Christmas tree and plant stands plus the roasted chestnuts and mulled wine fella, where we each buy one to peruse the rest of the market.  Newcastle’s International Market and Christmas Market have been merged this year to allow people to experience the best of both worlds!

There’s plenty of stalls selling Winter accessories, scarves, hats, gloves. 
Lots of baked goods stands.

“So pleased I don’t have a sweet tooth,” I say. “I can’t afford the calories…”

Crepes, waffles, French pastries – gorgeous tarts. Too much choice!

“Look at that, two French tarts for a fiver,” Mum says.

“You can’t go wrong,” Me and Mum say in unison.

We gasp and look away from each other. Have we been spending too much time together??!

The Pick and Mix sweet stall had the longest queue. Everyone getting their sugar fix. Sweets are always very popular. Explains those British Smiles…

There’s so much choice food wise, there’s all kinds – Greek, Indian, Chinese, Mexican. Plus the German market food, including the infamous bratwurst.

We plumped for the Yorkshire Pudding wraps.

“I wasn’t sure how they would serve the Yorkshire Pudding wraps. I thought the gravy would’ve splattered out all over the place whilst I was eating it,” said Mum. “And I wasn’t wrong.”

“Think I needed a bib!” I moaned. “It’s gone everywhere –“

“It’s on your shoes,” pointed out Mum.

“Oh god. I expect I look like a dog’s dinner.”

“Don’t you always…” laughed Mum.

To wash down the Yorkie Pud Wraps, and avoid any pooches, we nipped into the pop up Bavarian cabin style bar, took a seat inside and had a little drinkie each. I had a fruit beer while Mum continued on the mulled wine, adding a shot of rum to spice it up!

“What do you think of Newcastle Christmas Market compared to the Birmingham?” I ask.

“Well it’s a lot smaller for a start. But it also seems to have more choice,” Mum replied. “Birmingham seemed to have a lot of repetition with the stalls, more of the same. I mean, I enjoyed it – “

“Yeah, it was good,” I chip in.

“Absolutely but I felt it was quite corporate and samey.”

“We do things well but small up here,” I say.

“We do indeed,” said Mum with a self-satisfied smile. “ I mean, look at me – I’m five foot tall but perfectly formed.”


Don’t be such a Weiner

“Why would I want a foot long sausage?” asked Mum.

“You like a big sausage,” I said.

“But a foot long one?” Mum continued. “Why?”

“To see if you can fit it in your mouth?” I replied.

Mum stared at me in distaste.

“I think we all know the answer to that, Sharon,” she said dryly.

I love saying things about sausages – foot long or cocktail – to wind her up…

After a beat, Mum said: “You’re on a roll.”

“That’s the wurst thing you’ve said all day.” I answered.

“I’m pleased you brat it to my attention.” Mum reacted.

“You’ll only have a sausage if it has a good girth” I retorted.


“I think we’ve run out of sausage puns,” smiled Mum.

I nodded.
We were at Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas market. It’s the largest authentic German Christmas market in the UK and outside of Germany or Austria, offering a large range of traditional goods and gifts and a selection of Bavarian themed food and drink.

The Market runs along New Street from Victoria Square, where there is much going on, including live music and bands.

The group were going for it, singing their hearts out with cheesy songs. I say group, it was a fella standing singing over another man playing the keyboard.

A gang of teenage girls sat recording a phone video of themselves whilst joining in to ‘Is This the Way to Amarillo?’ Not truly a Christmas tune, but the girls had made an effort with enthusiasm and Santa hats.

There was a great, community atmosphere to the Market – though maybe that was due to the mulled wine…

We didn’t spot many children out and about at the Market. Though we saw plenty of babies and toddlers being forced to have their photograph taken in Santa’s Grotto scene, complete with being forced to sit on the inanimate Santa’s knee as the parents tried to get the best shot as the kids were screaming. I don’t blame them, as inanimate Santa was well creepy. As for the photos, we look forward to those pics appearing on the ‘awkward family photos’ website, or similar, in the future.

So many food and drink stalls, there certainly was a lot of choice:
Pretzels, waffle stands, crepes, fried cheeses, burgers, schnitzels, bratwursts of all sizes.  As well as roasted nuts – don’t worry, we’re not going to break out with the double entendres again.

‘Hot chocolate with SNAPS Shots’…

Drinks on offer include weissbeer (German wheat beer), hot chocolate – which could have a ‘snaps shot’ added. Surely German schnapps is spelt, well, schnapps?

Customer service at its best – place their drinks far apart…

Plus, of course, gluhwein in many flavours, as the menu read:
“Cherry mulled wine… Blueberry mulled wine… Apple mulled wine…

There was a deposit of £3 for every glass or mug with every drink. Not since being a student have I drank wine from a mug.

We eventually got our bratwurst.

“So you decided not to go for the foot long sausage?” I asked Mum.

She paused as she finished the last mouthful of her regular sized bratwurst.
“Well, I married your father – I was never going to get a foot long sausage.”

Bo Rap!

“What time does the film start?” asked Mum as we made our way to the cinema foyer.

“One thirty,” I replied. “It’s quarter past one now, so we’ve plenty of time.”

“Good. I hate to rush.”

We were going to watch Bohemian Rhapsody, the biopic of music icon Freddy Mercury and Queen.

Now one would think a city centre cinema would be empty-ish of a midweek afternoon for a matinee showing. One would think.

A queue of seniors awaited us at the ticket counters. I am not ageist and know I will be old myself one day. But that day is very far off.

Every senior who bought tickets – and yes, of course, they were going to watch Bohemian Rhapsody – had a chat about at least two of these topics:
The price of cinema tickets in their youth, why was it so expensive now; how much is pick ‘n’ mix; where was the best place to sit in the screen; did they have to sit in their allocated seat number; was there an usherette; how loud was Queen’s music going to be???

Eventually we get our tickets and make our way to the screen showing the movie.

Not actual cinema workman…lol

Unbeknown to us, however, the cinema was like a building site. The cinema’s website displays the disclaimer of: ‘We are working hard to bring you the best cinema experience… Please bear with us as ongoing works may restrict access to some areas…’

So some slight disruption we expected. We didn’t expect the whole place to look like the higher floors of Nakatomi Plaza – you know what I’m talking about Die Hard fans.

Obviously Mum and me were hoping Bruce Willis would swing down and escort us to our seats. Unfortunately he didn’t – not today at least.

As mentioned, many seniors were at the screening. There were discussions of were they in the right seats, the rustling of sweet papers and continuous talking throughout the ads and trailers. I had faith that they wouldn’t talk during the movie. As long as they didn’t sing along to Queen. Please god don’t let anyone sing along!

The film eventually started and was worth the wait.

© Fox Media & Regency

Rami Malek’s performance as Freddy was impeccable. He was wonderful, mesmerising, having studied and replicated the great man’s every move, habit, gesture. Surely an Oscar nomination must be his!

The supporting cast in the other Queen band members were great too.

Who would’ve thought that Ben Hardy, formerly Peter Beale from EastEnders, would look so good as glam rocker Roger Taylor, without even taking his shirt off (which he frequently did in EastEnders…)? Or that Gwilym Lee, bearing an uncanny resemblance to Brian May (it’s the wig for sure!) is the Sergeant sidekick in Midsomer Murders? Apart from that, John Deacon being played by Joseph Mazzello best known for his role in Jurassic Park as the little boy, Tim?

Excellent job by Susie Figgis the Casting Director!

Lovely moments of humour throughout the film, even during the dark moments.

The soundtrack? what can we say? There are no words for how fantastic the Queen music was – and is.

This outing reminded me of when I was given my first cassette recorder stereo one Christmas. Mum got me Queen’s Greatest Hits album.
Why would she do that? Being a kid, why would I want that music; why would I like Queen? 

She admitted years later, it’s coz’ she loved Queen and wanted the album.
Nothing like a mother’s love.


The One and Only…

“How many Newcastles are there?” asked Mum.

“Over one hundred,” I reply. “A hundred that we are aware of, anyway.”

“Bloody hell! I thought we were the only one.” Mum was surprised.

“Did you, why?” I queried.

“’Coz of Newcastle Brown Ale.”


“Newcastle Brown Ale says it’s ‘The One and Only’.”

“Right – ”

“So, as it made here in Newcastle upon Tyne, we’re the only one,” summed up Mum.
We were attending an event with the Newcastle upon Tyne Network of the Newcastles Of The World.

‘What’s Newcastles Of The World?’ I hear you ask.

It’s a friendship network to share experience and ideas on culture, heritage, education and business.

‘So what is ‘Newcastle’?’ you ask.

The origin of the name is often the same whatever the language – an old castle was destroyed or fell into disrepair and a “new” castle was built to replace it.

However, many Newcastles in the English-speaking world take their name from some connection with Newcastle upon Tyne – well of course they do…

‘What’s so special about these Newcastles?’

Nyborg (Newcastle), Denmark was from 1183 to 1413 Denmark’s capital and the Parliament – the Danehoffet – met at Nyborg Castle.

Nové Zamky (Newcastle), Slovakia, west of the capital Bratislava has a Mayor who  is an opera singer.

In our own Toon, a recent immigrant to the city became so enamoured with it, that he has legally changed his surname to Newcastle!

Some of the “Newcastles” have been meeting every two years for conferences. The most recent being staged in Shinshiro City Japan just this September for the Newcastles Of The World 20th anniversary.

“A Newcastles Of The World Cookbook,” I said, looking at the cover as we settle down for the event.

“Oh, what a nice touch – everyone who’s here is getting a free copy,” said Mum.

“What recipe do you think will be in from Newcastle upon Tyne?” I asked.

“Hmmm,” mused Mum. “I’m not sure –“

“What’s Geordie food?” I say out loud.

We both go silent as we muse.

“What about Pan Haggerty?” I say

“Pam who?” says Mum.

“Pan Haggerty,” I repeat.

“Think that’s a Northumbrian dish. Irish as well.”

A pause as we think again.

“Newcastle Brown Ale and steak pie,” I offer.

“Possibly,” agrees Mum. “Singing Hinnies?”

“Them scone things?”

“Yeah. Like a stodgy drop scone. Lovely with butter on!” smiles Mum. I can tell she’s now imagining a warm Singing Hinny with a nice cup of tea. She pauses: “What about pease pudding?”

Pease Pudding is something of a North Eastern delicacy, a savoury dish made of boiled split yellow peas, with water and seasonings. Sounds revolting – but isn’t!

“What would a recipe with pease pudding entail?” I ask.

“Well, I think most people have ham and pease pudding sandwiches, don’t they?”

“Someone told me their colleague has pease pudding and tongue sandwiches,” I say.

“Ugh. A tongue sandwich tends to go on and on…” smirks Mum. “I remember someone telling me to try fried pease pudding – “

“How do you fry pease pudding when it’s sloppy mush?”

 “Dip it in a bit of flour to give it a slightly crispy coating then fry it. They swear by it!”

“Sounds interesting.” I nod. “Though my fella told me that his Dad only ever serves pease pudding as a block, like cheese, on their Sunday dinner. As a garnish”

“Now I’ve heard it all!” Mum rolled her eyes.

“Let’s find out then,” I say as I flick through the book.

“Stop there, Newcastle upon Tyne,” says Mum pointing.

“Ah ha, I was right,” I am triumphant. “Newcastle Brown Ale Stew!”

“You said Newcastle Brown Ale and steak pie,” smirks Mum smugly. “Close, but no cigar…”



‘Newcastles Of the World – The History, Culture and Diversity of Places Called Newcastle’ edited  and compiled by Sue Wilson, CBE and printed by Tyne Bridge Publishing, is available to buy via Newcastle upon Tyne City Library for £7.99.

For more information and to get involved in Newcastles Of the World, visit https://newcastlesoftheworld.com/

Thanks to David Faulkner

Eins – Steins – Prost!

Christmas in November in Newcastle’s Times Square – what’s going on, like?!

We spoke to Mike, of the Christmas Village, along with our complimentary drink, to find out: “Christmas Village is a festive experience for everyone to enjoy. There’s a German food village. There’s the ice rink that’s attached which is open later than previous years. The German craft market. Fire pits. Everything is free entry.*

Now we are a little bit different to everywhere else as we’ve got a big, massive Bavarian Beer Hall. We’ve got live music on. It’ll make you feel you’re in Southern Germany!” Mike tells us.

“There’s a Christmas Log Cabin, which we imported from Germany, if you just want a quiet drink during the day or after work. So a brand new, unique bar in Newcastle!”

Our Bavarian Beer Hall is open to families. Kids are welcome in the Beer Hall until 8pm. There’s doors to keep the heat in, so you’ll be nice and warm.” he continues.

“We know that we’re a bit early for Christmas, but you can never be too early for Christmas as everyone loves it!” Mike smiles.

Mum and I are well impressed and feel like we truly are in Bavaria as we head into the Beer Hall and order our steins.

“Five pound deposit for each glass is needed,” the barmaid advised.

“Is that to stop people stealing them?” I asked.

“Exactly,” she replied. “You get the full refund back on returning the glass.”

This is fair enough we decide as we take our seats amongst the rows of wooden tables and benches.

“People stealing steins reminds me of when our friend Josie did that. Do you remember?” asked Mum.

“Oh yeah, when we attended that Oktoberfest?” I said.

“Yeah. She was dressed as a German beer maid and had a half a two pint stein left. We were last in the beer tent. The door bouncers were shouting at us to drink up – ”

I smirked: “So Josie decided she was going to walk out with the half full stein. We walked on ahead of her to the exit. The bouncers stopped her and said: ‘You can’t leave with that glass.’ She argued that she’d bought the beer so the glass belonged to her. Then she announces she is going for a wee and off she goes.”

Mum laughed: “The bouncers and us followed her to the portaloo as she went inside. They hammered on the door for her to come out.”

Mum and I were sniggering now.
“So she opens the door and comes out,” laughs Mum.” ‘I was just having a wee,’ she says as she walks in slow motion as if she’s got knock knees. The bouncers stare at her and say ‘Drop it!’”

“And the two pint stein drops from between her legs, from under her dress, spilling beer everywhere around her!” I cackled.

“As if she’s giving birth and her waters had broke!” hooted Mum.

By now, people in the beer hall were looking at us, so we calmed it down and giggled silently just as the German Ooom Pah music started up.

We grabbed our drinks, knowing this was the first visit to the Christmas Village of many, nodded to each other and raised the steins: “Prost!”

Eins - Steins – Prost!

Eins – Steins – Prost!


* bar the ice rink

  • Christmas Village Newcastle is open every day until January 5th 2019!
  • Every day midday till midnight, free entry at all times including the Bavarian Beer tent & hut.
  • Ice Rink Tickets are available to purchase at life.org.uk

Tables can be reserved online, for up to fifty people so your Christmas parties are more than welcome. Reserving tables doesn’t cost any additional charge, it’s simply an advance purchase of your food and your drink. You’re getting a lot of bang for your buck – so lock down your seats in the private reservation area.

For more info, see https://www.christmasvillagenewcastle.co.uk/ or email info@christmasvillagenewcastle.co.uk

Silhouettes In The Sand

“I haven’t been up and out this early on a Sunday morning since I can remember,” said Mum as she looked out of the car window at the landscape flashing by.

We were driving to attend Pages Of The Sea at Roker Beach in Sunderland from our native Newcastle. Now normally there is rivalry between us Geordies and them Mackems, thanks to our opposing football teams. But not today. Today we would all be as one to mark the centenary of the end of WW1.

‘On selected beaches around the UK, over the course of several hours, a portrait of an individual from the First World War will emerge from the sand. And then, as the tide rises, be washed away as we take a moment to say a collective goodbye.’ – https://www.pagesofthesea.org.uk/

We’d set off extra early to ensure we arrived for the 11am two minutes silence, as well as make sure we got parked.

We parked up at Roker Harbour View and were out of the car as a lady shouted at me: “Look out! Dog poo!!!”

Too late – I stepped right in it!

A massive s**t sat on the pavement, in front of a dog waste bin too. Like it was mocking me.

The lady who’d shouted at me had come closer: “You’re best off walking on the sand to get it off,” she suggested.

I thanked her and told Mum to walk toward Roker Beach and I’d cut across the sand to meet her there. This was a great idea, bar the sand having mini dunes protruding up making it feel like I was crossing the Sahara. I checked the time, nearly 11am, and then tripped, falling arse over tit.

I met back up with Mum just as the two minute silence began, covered head to toe in wet sand but dog poo free!

Pages Of The Sea began with huge sand portrait of Second Lieutenant Hugh Carr (born in Sunderland Street, Houghton-Le-Spring, County Durham) bring carved while members of the public created, from templates, silhouettes of loved ones on the shoreline sands.

Looking at these, I turned to Mum: “What made you want to come today?”

“It’s once in a lifetime event. Brings it home how brave the soldiers were.”
She paused. “It’s quite emotional, looking at the different notices people have placed around and on the silhouettes – watching people writing sand inscriptions, putting photos of their lost loved ones on the silhouettes they’ve drawn.

Mum stands amongst the sand silhouettes

I feel attending has made me think of connections between the WW1 and today as we wouldn’t have the life and freedom we have had they not fought for us.”

“It’s been excellent,” I said. “Really good that lots of people have attended.”

“Everyone seems to have enjoyed the event. People have shown respect; been thoughtful. It’s been a wonderful experience,” Mum continued.

“What have you liked best?” I asked.

“I’ve liked all of it,” Mum replied. “The choir singing was excellent, the atmosphere. I will remember the whole day. What a lovely thing it is for everyone to come together…I will always remember the silhouettes in the sand.”

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