20 May 2016

The Late Shows 2016

Last weekend the 13th and 14th May was The Late Shows 2016 Newcastle/Gateshead's ultimate weekend of after-hours culture. And this year marked it's 10th annual event with over 70 arts, culture and heritage venues taking part. Venues that are normally closed after hours open their doors from 7-11pm and welcome you in to experience what they have on offer and all are completely free!

I usually instantly head straight for the Ouseburn area (you can read about last years event here).  However this time around I decided to check out the other side of town and first stop was Commercial Union House on Pilgrim Street. Here you will find a multifunctional space for artist, performers, workshops and so much more all under one roof.

On the 6th floor I met Amy Jones of The Artwear Emporium. It was a nice surprise to see Amy as I went to Uni with her way back when I was studying Fine Art. Unfortunately I had to take time out from studying due to chronic illness but it was fantastic to see that Amy was working within the creative industry. She is a Costume Maker, Artwear Designer and Installation Artsit, check out more of her work here.

Above is the work of Chris Folwell aka Dabble Dabble. Chris was doing printing making workshops on the evening and you could create your very own spaceship! I have known Chris for many years I first met him and his lovely girlfriend Simone at the Make & Mend Market held at Newcastle Grainger Market. He is a screen printing wizard! 

After Commercial Union House my next port of call was the wonderful Glamorous Owl on High Bridge.  The Glamorous Owl is a unique gift shop showcasing the work of over 80 local artists and designers including Dizzy Miss James. Above is the work of Glass Artist Lauren Wilson who had a pop up stall on the night selling her wares.

Paul Goldsmith author of Visions of Newcastle was painting in-hous creating this beautiful watercolour portrait.

Heading upstairs of The Glamorous Owl it was jammed packed with people waiting for Ring Making and Origami Workshops.

My last stop for the evening was the marvellous Whosit & Whatsit on Sandhill, Newcastle Quayside also another stockist of DMJ and a pretty awesome shop. On the first floor you could meet the WHO behind the WHAT with a selection of the designers  available for you to chat to and watch them in action. Above Aissa Anderson of the Beast Couture  was customising greetings cards with whatever you wanted and she had produced the 'Wey-Aye Aye Man!' print exclusively for the event.

The lovely Lauren Shepherd was there live drawing and selling her wildlife, wildflower and bone inspired cards and prints. Below is the infamous 'Gaptooth Gang' by the talented Jacqueline Fryers.

And lastly I got to meet the delightful Kingsley Nebechi . I first came across his work when he collaborated with Anyforty on their Seven range. We had a good little chat while he was drawing the above bit of awesomeness. 

The Late Shows is an annual event held over two days however it is impossible to see everything in that time. You need to check out the lineup in advance and plan what you want to see. I'd highly recommend checking it out even if its not something you'd usually go to. It's a fantastic experience for all ages! Overall I had a brilliant evening I got to meet creatives, got involved in workshops and got to explore new places. 

Will you be visiting next year?

12 May 2016

Ladies that Lunch - Cafe Royal Newcastle

Yesterday I took some time out from work and headed to Newcastle City Centre for cake, a cuppa and a catch up with my lovely friend Lisa. Its honestly been months since we've seen each other and a lot has happened since then (I won't go into that now) but this was most definitely way overdue. And what a wonderful day it was for us to meet. The sun was shining, the Continental Market was in full swing at Greys Monument, the city almost had a holiday feel about it. That meant I could pretend that I had escaped overseas, leaving everything behind even if it was for just a few hours.

We headed straight for Cafe Royal as we wanted to enjoy the sunshine as much as possible and they have an outside seating area. Sunshine can be a rare thing up North, it was even snowing a few weeks ago so you need to take any opportunity you get. I've never actually eaten at Cafe Royal before although I've passed it many times thinking 'ooo that looks nice'. And you know what it was very nice indeed! Alongside the obvious choice of tea (a must for a tea obsessive like me) I went for a Chocolate Caramel Brownie (OMG you need to try this!) and Lisa had the more traditional Fruit Scone with cream and jam. Both were splendid examples of cakey loveliness and quite frankly I  almost struggled to finish mine. I even had to have an interval in the middle to help me get through it.

After a good couple of hours catching up on life, love and work I headed home and hit the studio for the rest of the evening. When you work from home it can be really easy to get lost in your job and forget about breaks. That means time off with friends and family is essential, you need to get out and about otherwise you'll start to lose the plot. Yesterday was lovely and today I'm left feeling recharged and have had a most productive because of it.

I hope you are having a great week so far!

10 May 2016

Lola Jeans Newcastle - Menu Preview Tasting Event

At the end of April I was invited over to Lola Jeans - Newcastle to try out a preview of their new menu. Having never been before I was excited to check them out. I have to say I was in awe of the interiors. It has been stylishly decorated with quirky features, mismatched chairs and stunning art murals, the place almost has a botanical feel about it. The skull pictured below has to be my favourite piece. I bought along a plus one to the event. I was accompanied by my lovely friend Georgi who had previously eaten at Lola Jeans and was looking forward to tasting their new evolved menu. 

The event itself was being hosted downstairs in their Speak Easy in the basement. On arrival we were given a *Lady Eleanor cocktail to tease our taste buds. This was a delicious summery fresh drink, with apples, raspberries and prosecco. A perfect way to start the evening.

Our 'just a little taste menu' was handed out allowing us to see what we were going to be tasting. I had emailed Lola Jeans before the event to let them know I was veggie. They confirmed that it would be a meat heavy menu but it would not be a problem. I was still however very disappointed not to see one single vegetarian option available on the tasting menu that evening!

I let the staff know I was vegetarian  on arrival as requested and I was very excited so see what the chef would be making up for me. In the meantime I got to catch up with press and blogger friends old and new and enjoy the cocktails. 

The carnivores around me soon started to get to their chops around the sample dishes. Lolas Surf & Turf, Chicken Cleanser, Baja Fish Tacos and James P Sullivan Burgers. However I didn't get anything to eat for 2 hours and had to watch the rest of them eat all the above.

The cocktails were a pleasant distraction while I waited for my food. *Endless Summer - a gin based cocktail with lime, mint, apple and rhubarb. As a massive gin lover this was right up my street. And *China Rose Petal made with white rum served in a vintage tea cup shown opposite. This was a little too sweet for me I think it may have been the pineapple and rose syrup. Everyone else loved it though it just wasn't to my taste. 

There was another veggie at the event but  I think they gave up and had ended up leaving. As a result  I got two massive portions when the starter finally came out. Which was fantastic as by this point I was famished and quite merry from the cocktails and lack of food! I have to say that *Cauliflower Buffalo Bites are my new favourite thing! Totally delicious and moreish and something I will be making my own version of at home.

Next up was the *New Green House Burger filled with goats cheese, portobello mushroom, chargrilled beetroot, shoestring onions and balsamic reduction. This was truly flavoursome with fantastic textures and I would most defiantly have this again. The night was  then finished off with Hot Fudge Cake Spring Rolls - gooey chocolate fudge cake served with raspberry dipping sauce.

I have attended a few menu preview events in the past and have been well catered for as a vegetarian. I did contact Lola Jeans 4 days in advance to check they were able to cater for my dietary requirements so they were aware I was attending. However I ended feeling completely left out and more of a hinderance than a guest. I appreciate that this wasn't the usual restaurant experience and the chef had to cater for a room full of bloggers and press.

Saying that I would like to return at some point to try out the vegetarian options in a more normal situation. The venue itself is somewhere I would choose to go with my friends. It has the kind of vibe I like, great tunes and the cocktails are fabulous. I just wish they had more veggie options available on their food menu. 

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