It’s just been announced that Pilgrim Street in Newcastle is about to have a facelift, which will include modernisation of the street and the introduction of new housing, offices and businesses. But there’s one business that has already seen the potential in the area.
Horticulture, one of Newcastle’s most trendy bar and restaurants, opened its doors in summer 2019 and has already made its mark as one of the most specialised cocktail bars in the city. Boasting a drinks menu that features over 50 percolators, there’s something for everyone.
The venue itself was previously Paradiso restaurant on Market Lane, and is made up of 3 separate floors. The owner, Mike Hesketh, has poured his heart and soul into the vision for Horticulture, and has crafted a beautiful setting. A mixture of modern street art, 70’s disco balls and outdoor/indoor vibes with greenery flourishing around the building, it’s unlike any other venue in the city.
Not to mention, their restaurant offers an incredibly unique menu. Featuring a wide selection of small plates, basically like tapas but not Spanish, they focus on organic, environmentally friendly and locally sourced ingredients. Chef Peter Breckon proudly presents seasonal dishes that have been lovingly and creatively crafted, described by Horticulture themselves as “modern British cuisine with international flavours”.
To make sure we sampled as much of the food as possible, my partner and I chose the ‘Earth, Land and Sea’ option, which was a collection of set dishes at £20 per person. We also ordered the scallops and halloumi fries from the main menu as they sounded too good to pass on.
As each dish was served it was obvious we’d made a great choice! The sweet potato curry and chicken thigh tangine were our favourite’s from the sharing menu and the scallops and halloumi fries were absolutely incredible. The assortment of flavours that packed every individual dish were amazing and clearly very articulately put together. The only downside was that our table was a bit small for the amount of food that we’d ordered! I did ask to swap the dessert on the set menu from strawberries and yoghurt to the chocolate creameux with black cherry gel, which the staff were more than accommodating about. Having a big sweet tooth, I think it may have been my favourite part of the meal.
We ended the night with a couple of cocktails on the first floor bar and soaked up the surroundings. Having such an extensive drinks list it can be hard to choose which to go for, so we’ll definitely be back sooner rather than later. But next time we might have to visit for brunch too!
In the heart of Newcastle is the iconic Swan House roundabout. A well known structure in the cities landscape. But what’s on that roundabout has changed numerous times since it was built in 1967. If you’ve been there recently, you’ll have noticed a small restaurant nestled underneath Metro Radio’s headquarters called Zucchini.
Zucchini Pasta Bar is exactly what its name describes. They pride themselves on serving “hand rolled fresh egg pasta to the beautiful people of Newcastle”. Their pasta is lovingly created every day using free-range eggs from Northumberland and they are the first dedicated pasta bar bringing an authentic Italian experience to the region.
The restaurant is designed with a simple interior and relaxed atmosphere. It’s also placed in the ideal location to people watch through the floor to ceiling windows. As soon as we stepped through the door we were greeted by friendly staff and given our choice of tables. Luckily we arrived just before the lunchtime rush so we picked our favourite spot.
Having visited before, we already knew how great Zucchini’s ciabatta garlic bread is, so this was a no brainier. But we both chose pasta dishes for our mains that we hadn’t tried before, and we were both very glad that we did!
I opted for the taglierini with smoked salmon, leek & crayfish tails and, I have to say, this is the best dish I tried here so far. The tangy sauce was absolutely delicious and the fish worked wonderfully with the taglierini pasta (which I would describe as a skinny tagliatelle). My partner chose the fettuccine spicy sausage and loved the subtle spiciness of the meat and crispy sourdough crumbs dusted on top of the pasta. I couldn’t finish my dish as the portions are very generous, but if I had a larger stomach I certainly would have!
The desserts looked too good to pass up though, so we couldn’t leave without a sugar fix. As tasty as the pasta was, the tiramisu was absolutely my favourite part of the meal. It’s probably the best tiramisu I’ve ever had, and it’s one of my favourite desserts so that’s saying a lot! It was a perfect combination of creamy with a hit of alcoholic flavour. Andy had the cinnamon sugared pasta snaps with Nutella & salted caramel dips, which were super sweet and completely unique.
Overall, as with our previous visits, the service was excellent and the food was hearty and incredible. It’s a firm favourite of mine in Newcastle’s foody scene and somewhere we’re lucky to have on our doorstep.
Newcastle has a been a well known shopping destination for years now, and we’re lucky to have a wide collection of stores to choose from. Although today we have an incredible selection of independent shops mixed in with larger brands, many chain stores, and some of our independents, have been & gone.
If, like me, you experienced shopping in Newcastle in the late 90’s and 00’s, lots of the following shops may take you back to a much simpler time. When Baby Spice made platform shoes popular, flavoured lipgloss was considered super fashionable and your collection of rubber bracelets needed to be longer than your actual arm.
Dolcis was the place to go for trendy shoes. If you were after a new pair of summer sandals or stylish school shoes, you had to head to Dolcis in Eldon Square.
2. Virgin Megastore
Remember standing in the little music booths in Virgin Megastore on Northumberland Street to listen to the latest chart topping singles, like Peter Andre’s Mysterious Girl? It was in direct competition with HMV, which was also just up the street at the time.
From what I remember, there was a Kookai concession in Fenwicks, and it also had its own larger store on Market Street, taking up part of what is currently Start Fitness. At the time it was considered high fashion… or at least the high streets version of it.
Kids today will sadly never experience the greatest pick & mix there ever was. Woolworths on Clayton Street was the go to for sweets, stationary, gifts and toys. *Sigh*, how we miss it…
5. Jane Norman
The best thing about Jane Norman was that you could use their snazzy plastic bags for your PE kit, and look dead cool at school. The clothes were pretty overpriced though, so it was best to go when there was a sale on.
Birthdays sat in between Haymarket bus station and Haymarket metro station for years. It was a tiny little card and gift shop which was super handy whenever you’d forgotten it was someone’s birthday.
7. Miss Selfridge
Now, although there is still a small Miss Selfridge above Dorothy Perkins in town, there did used to be a much larger version of the shop at the main entrance to Eldon Square. It had a lot more to choose from, and even a photo booth that printed photos as stickers.
8. Early Learning Centre
Many people around my age, *cough* early thirties *cough*, will remember the absolute joy of going to the Early Learning Centre to buy those amazing plastic toy animals and dinosaurs. It was one of the best shops in Eldon Square that a child could go to.
So, I’ve already mentioned the big Miss Selfridge that used to be next to the main entrance of Eldon Square, Quicksilver took its place afterwards and had a large store in town. Perfect fit you wanted to look cool and athletic.
10. The Disney Store
A lot of Newcastle’s regular shoppers will know that Disney had a shop in the new posh bit of Eldon Square recently, but years ago they had a dedicated Disney Store, close to John Lewis. It was either where Clinton Cards or Lakeland is now, but I’m not sure which.
11. Our Price
Now this is really testing my memory, but I’m pretty sure that Our Price used to be next to one of the entrances to the Green Market, where the new food quarter is now. It was SO cheap you couldn’t not come away with loads of random CD’s.
12. La Senza
La Senza was the lingerie shop that every girl bought their first (uncomfortable) push up bra from. No matter the season, La Senza was always stockpiled with underwear and flowery bras in every colour.
13. Gadget Shop
Remember the Gadget Shop? It was full of pointless gadgets that you never needed but always wanted. It was also a fantastic store to buy Christmas presents, or just waste half a day playing with stuff you didn’t buy.
I don’t remember going into Adams when I was a kid, but I may well have done. It was one of Eldon Squares few shops dedicated to just children’s clothing.
Morgan was another girls clothes shop that had fantastic shopping bags for PE Kits. They also sold large zip up tote bags and black & white t-shirts with just ‘Morgan’ written on them, which to be honest is the only thing I think I ever bought there.
Bay, or Bay Trading Co., was another clothes shop gone before it’s time. I had a pair of baby pink corduroy jeans that I absolutely loved from Bay, and I’ll never forget them.
There used to be a massive British Home Stores on Northumberland Street. Eventually Outfit took over the large high street shop, which has also, er, sadly now closed too.
Kathmandu is the odd one out here, as it’s the only small local/ independent shop in this list. But credit where credits due, it was a fantastic goth shop if you were into that kind of thing. Remember how busy hippy green on Old Eldon Square used to get? It certainly made Newcastle more interesting.
19. MK One
MK One was always full of bargain clothes. I think I was probably even wearing a top from MK One the first time I ever went drinking at Kiss in the Bigg Market when I was 16.
20. Green Market
I’ve already mentioned the Green Market very briefly, but I don’t feel like I can leave it out of this list as it feels so nostalgic. It was full of fruit stalls, a computer games shop, an ear piercing shop and a Greggs among others.
21. Tammy Girl
Tammy Girl was a young lasses glow up from children’s wear to FASHIONISTA. Their trendy t-shirts and funky accessories were all the rage, and you knew you were cool if you were wearing a Tammy Girl outfit.
Etam was slightly more grown up than Tammy Girl, and where you’d start shopping once you knew you were becoming a more elegant young lady. It was great for school trousers too.
23. Internacionale/ Au Naturale
Cast you minds back to a time when Eldon Square was home to a superstore that had both Intercionale clothes shop AND Au Naturale interiors. What a dream, what a time to be alive, you’ve never seen so many jelly candles in your life. Quite sure it was where Holland & Barrett is now?
24. Rebel Rebel
Who could forget Rebel Rebel? They had £10 trousers in every colour and every going out top and ridiculously short skirt you could dream of. Even if you didn’t shop there, their sparkly fake Burberry patterned t-shirts were unmistakable.
Have these shops brought back any memories for you? Are there any I’ve missed out that you wish you could step back in time to shop at again? Leave a comment or send me a message!
Although we are still in a state of lockdown and daydreaming about pints with our mates in the hopefully not too distant future, we’re beginning to see a very faint light at the end of the tunnel. While public safety is indeed the most important aspect in this situation, it’s nice to imagine what we’ll do that first weekend after lockdown has officially come to an end.
There’s so much about Newcastle that I’ve missed over the last couple of months, so of course I have a huge list of places I want to visit as soon as it’s safe. But how can I fill that first glorious weekend of freedom with as much about what I love in the North East as possible? Well, I made a map to help!
To prepare for a weekend full of adventures you need a good breakfast to get you started. So, on Saturday morning a trip The Naked Deli on Gosforth High Street is a must. I’ll order my favourite from their breakfast menu, a smoked salmon scrambled egg with chives bowl and a peanut butter and banana protein shake. While my sidekick and lovely partner, Andy, always goes for their protein French toast with crispy bacon and maple syrup. A perfect energy boost for the day ahead!
After breakfast we’ll take a walk through Gosforth and head to Jesmond Dene. As always we’ll take a sneaky look at Jesmond Dene House on the way and talk about how amazing their restaurant must be!
After strolling through the dene and enjoying the gorgeous greenery, we’ll come to an end at Armstrong Bridge and then head towards Ouseburn, past the Biscuit Factory and along Ouseburn’s archways. Our second stop of the day will be at one of the sweetest spots in the city, Dreamworld Cakes, which is nestled in Arch 3. As someone with a huge sweet tooth and a love for local businesses, I really can’t speak highly enough of this cosy little patisserie. I’ve never seen cakes so lovingly and intricately created, and the staff are always fantastic. The cakes taste as wonderful as they look, too.
Afterwards, we’ll pop across the road to one of my most favourite places in Newcastle, Ouseburn Farm. The farm is a particularly special part of the city as it’s an incredibly unique city centre farm, sitting in the middle of Ouseburn’s pubs and creative studios, below Byker Bridge. It’s just a lovely place in Newcastle to see animals and enjoy a small corner of farm life. It’s also completely free to go to, but it does act as a fantastic charity, so of course we won’t forget to leave a donation!
After a morning of eating, walking and making friends with Ouseburn farms lambs and cows, it’s time for a drink. As we’re already in Ouseburn, it only makes sense to head to one of the local pubs, The Ship Inn. In an ideal world, the first weekend after lockdown will be nice and sunny, so we’ll sit outside on the deck and enjoy a nice pint in the sun. A pint of cider for me, and a beer for Andy.
Now that we’re celebrating, there’s a venue in Newcastle that I haven’t visited yet that’s definitely on my to do list. So, we’ll take a quick walk up to Hoults Yard to find Full Circle Brew Co., which I’ve heard nothing but good things about. The venue itself is an active brewery, but also has its own bar to sit down in and enjoy looking into the brewery itself as you try their beer first hand. Being newbies, we’ll ask the owner, Ben, what he recommends;
“I mean, I’d recommend them all but it very much depends on the style of beer you like. We have three cores which have all been designed and developed for over a year with tweaks on each version to maximise the taste for all, they’re our crowd-pleasers. Our Hoop American Pale Ale is designed as a ‘gateway beer’ for the drinkers who are just getting into craft beer. Less hop bitterness and haze but still packing the expected flavours celebrated in an APA. The Repeater Session IPA is built for those who want more than a few in a day, great citrus hop flavour with a light bittering on the background. Now for the flagship, our heavy hitter and our best in my opinion. Our Hazy, Hoppy and Fairly Boozy IPA standing at 6.4%. It has a softening New England water profile and is packed with Citra hops, this is a real star in the making.” – Ben Cleary, Full Circle Brew Co. Owner & Founder
After a lovely couple of drinks at Full Circle, we’ll hit the road again and head straight down to the Quayside. It’s a lovely day, so we’re off to enjoy some more drinks and a late lunch at By The River Brew, overlooking the Tyne. This place is great because they have so many different food vendors in their Hawker Market, so there’s something to keep everyone happy. We’ll pig out on an authentic parmo from Parm-O-Rama, and some amazing fries with steak, known as the Steak Supper, from Shanty Town. Of course By The River Brew have their own great selection of home brewed beers too, and the selection sometimes changes. So it’ll be a beer for Andy and a crisp cider for me.
After enjoying the awesome scenes on the riverside, it’s time to head up into the city for some cocktails. And where’s best to go for a fine quality cocktail in town? Horticulture, of course! While it’s one of Newcastle’s newest additions to the bar and restaurant scene, Horticulture has already made it’s mark by specialising in an incredible selection of cocktails and percolators, as well an impressively creative kitchen. The drinks menu there is so boundless that I always have difficulty choosing which to order, so I’ll ask the bar owner, Mike, what he’d recommend;
“I would work your way through one of our world record amount of espresso martini flavours, or personally some of our signature cocktails are mind-blowing. My personal favourite is Wham Bam Rhubarb Jam which we use Rhubarb grown from our allotment, real tasty” – Mike Hesketh, Horticulture Owner & Founder
One Wham Bam Rhubarb Jam for me it is then, along with an Old Fashioned for Andy who likes his cocktails strong. A trip to Horticulture on a nice day also means sitting out on the gorgeous sun terrace, which is the perfect little sun trap in the city centre.
Once we’ve had our fill of drinking in the sunshine, in my ideal world, we’ll be off to see a show at The Tyne Theatre. Now, obviously there aren’t any shows lined up for the immediate future, but this is my perfect after lockdown weekend, so I’m going to pretend that Klub Kids are hosting a show starring some of the RuPauls Drag Race Queens. It’ll be a great night of entertainment and comedy and it means that we’ll get to spend the evening in one of Newcastle’s most enchanting buildings, as well as catch up with some of my friends working there.
Now after Saturday’s day drinking we’re likely feeling a little bit fragile today. So, what better way to freshen up than by taking a trip on the metro to Tynemouth? As it’s a Sunday, the famous Tynemouth Market will be in full swing as we get there, and it’s the perfect time for a bit of shopping and rummaging around antiques. I absolutely love the random mixture of things you find there, from stunning artwork to homemade candles to eclectic bric-a-brac.
After we’ve made our way around the market, we’ll head to King Edwards Bay for some fresh air by the sea and sandy toes, before heading back up the hill to the well known Marshall’s fish & chip shop for lunch. Their scampi & chips is a perfect hangover cure!
After picking up some chocolate from Gareth James Chocolatier (did I mention I had a sweet tooth?) and a quick look into Raspberry Bazaar, we’ll get the metro again and head to Monument. Now that we’re a bit more bright eyed and bushy tailed, we’ll grab a milkshake each from Shakeaholic. My favourite flavour is Black Jacks, sounds strange but it works, and Andy’s is a Milky Way. Shakeaholic has only just been renovated too, so the shop is all nice and shiny.
After getting our milkshake fix, we’ll make our way to Dog and Scone just off the Bigg Market, for a sit down with a coffee and some cuddles with the cafe’s lovely collection of friendly dogs. What could make a Sunday even more perfect then some quality puppy petting?
Next, we’ll pop up the road again for a movie at the historical Tyneside Cinema. Hopefully they’ll be playing some old cinematic favourites and we can watch a classic like Breakfast at Tiffany’s or Some Like It Hot on a Sunday afternoon. Watching a film like this in the Tyneside Cinema’s beautiful auditorium isn’t like any other cinema experience in the North East, and it’s the perfect way to spend a lazy Sunday.
Top finish up a wonderful weekend, we’ll indeed be going for some more fantastic food. Seeing as we’re being indulgent, we’ll obviously be visiting Lola Jeans on Market Street for some of the best burgers in town. Now, as delicious as their burgers are, one of my favourite things to order at Lola Jeans is their Philly Cheese Steak Spring Rolls starter. It’s amazing! But for our mains, it’ll be a California burger for Andy, and a Clancy Wiggum for me!
Before rolling home to our bed, there’s just enough time for us to walk off some of the excess calories from the weekend with a stroll across the Millennium Bridge to take in the views on the way back to our flat in Gateshead.
Without wanting to dwell on negatives too much, the last two months have been a strange, difficult and worrying time, not least for the arts and culture sector.
In Newcastle, it’s been both great and hard to see lots of our wonderful live performance venues coming up with inventive ways to stay engaged with theatre and music lovers, as well as developing initiatives to raise money while needing to remain closed. You’re hard work has been incredible.
Live music and theatre is part of the heart and soul of the North East. I can’t wait until shows can go ahead again for that wonderful stage magic and the buzz of an amazing gig. We may have to wait a bit before that can happen, but when it does and we can walk back through the doors of our favourite venues, it will be unbeatable.
So, to raise a glass, to applaud and to celebrate our incredible venues, their dedicated staff and the fantastic creatives we’re lucky enough to have right here in Newcastle, this piece of art is for you. Designed by my very talented friend, Amy Hall, this artwork is a gift to all of the live venues in the city, as well as everyone who enjoys them. It symbolises that this isn’t a time of sadness but a time of hope and strength in the face of adversity.
It’s a strange time in the events industry at the moment, with shows not going ahead for the foreseeable future for obvious reasons.
Venues are closed and concerts, gigs and productions have had to cancel and postpone performances and tours. Huge stars are in no way exempt from this, and even big upcoming tours from artists such as Harry Styles, Dua Lipa and Taylor Swift have all been affected.
There were also likely a number of big tours that have needed to be postponed that weren’t even announced yet, and I have a sneaky suspicion that a large scale tour from the Queen Bey herself may have been one of them.
I’m a HUGE Beyoncé fan. I’ve seen her in concert 10 times, and was also lucky enough to see Destiny’s Child live back in 2002. I’ve spent a lot of money on travelling to other cities to see her shows and have even held her hand from a VIP pit (or the Beyhive Pit as her fans will know). I wouldn’t change it for the world as I’m always blown away by her shows and her stage presence, but it would be nice to see Beyoncé play in my hometown of Newcastle again.
In fact, here’s 10 reasons why Beyoncé should bring her next tour to Newcastle;
1. She Hasn’t Performed In Newcastle Since 2009 –
Yes, it’s true. The last time Bey graced Newcastle with her presence was all the way back in May 2009, when she performed at the Utilita Arena (then named the Metro Radio Arena). It was part of the UK leg of the I Am tour, which showcased her Sasha Fierce days and Single Ladies dance routine. Of course, Beyoncé did bring her last solo tour, The Formation World Tour, to Sunderland’s Stadium of Light in 2016. The show sold out and attracted crowds from all over the North East… but haway man.
2. Geordie Crowds Are One Of The Best In The Country –
It’s absolutely no secret that Geordie’s love a good gig, and we’re not quiet about it! I can’t count the number of concerts I’ve been to here where the performers have been in awe of the audience. The atmosphere that a crowd in Newcastle can bring is like no other. We’re a canny bunch, and an eclectic collection of people. When we get together for a show, the scenes are incredible. Even if there’s a bit of rain, it never puts a dampener on the crowds here, and certainly never stops us from putting on our trendiest outfit and donning our sharpest winged eyeliner. One things for sure, when Beyoncé hits the stage in her Freakum’ Dress, we’ll be right there looking like Diva’s.
3. Geordie Fans Are Loyal –
A Geordie fan is a fan for life. We love what we love and we’re dear to it. Beyoncé has a lot of devotee’s here in Newcastle, mainly because we’re people of good taste. There’s a big music and fashion scene in the North East too, and Beyoncé is undoubtably a big influence on both of those. As she’s been a big player in the music industry for over 20 years now, her music has also been a popular staple of radio, bars and nightclubs in the UK for a long time, which has created fans spanning various generations. Have you ever been in Mushroom Bar swigging a double vodka and coke when Run the World starts playing? It’s wild.
4. We’ve Got Different Venues To Choose From –
Ok so, granted, we do only have one arena in Newcastle and it is a liiiittle bit smaller than other arenas in the country. But, the arena is an iconic music venue in Newcastle and there’s a lot of love in that building with a good act on stage. Bey could even do more than one date there and they’d all be sellouts. We also have The Sage, which is renown for some of the best acoustics in Europe. The Sage would be perfect if she wanted to host a string of smaller, more intimate, shows in a beautifully artistic venue. However, Beyoncé’s last two tours, The Formation World Tour and On The Run 2 with Jay Z, were both stadium tours. So, how about St James Park? It has a capacity of over 50,000 – so just imagine the amazing show that Beyoncé could hold there.
5. Easy Travel –
Newcastle City Centre, and each of the three venues I’ve just listed, are very easy to travel to. Newcastle has a great system of metros and busses for local travel, as well as Central Station in the heart of the city and Newcastle Airport for anyone travelling further afield. There’s also an endless amount of taxi ranks in town for if your feet are sore after the show.
6. It Would Be One Of The Most Anticipated Events In The Region Of The Year –
Even if times were more normal at the minute, a Beyoncé concert in Newcastle would be one of the biggest events of the year. The excitement, the local media coverage, the Instagram pics, the mini busses full of lasses buzzing to dance away to Crazy in Love. It would be amazing. And if she was to announce a tour date in Newcastle after the lockdown, the anticipation would be amplified ten fold.
7. It Would Bring Tourism And An Economic Boost To The City –
Beyoncé’s talents are so vast that they include tourist and attractions management. Big concerts attract fans and gig goers from all over, and I should know as I have travelled to Glasgow, London, Manchester and Sydney, Australia, to see Beyoncé live. Gigs are a great excuse for a weekend away, a trip with friends or for die hard fans, like me, to show their dedication. This will bring money to the region from tourists staying in hotels and enjoying Newcastle’s shopping, food and bar scene. It goes without saying that, after the current lockdown, the city would greatly benefit from this sort of financial boost.
8. We’re A City Of Art and Culture –
In her spare time, when Beyoncé’s not selling out stadiums, having children or winning Grammy Awards, she paints. She’s also a known lover of poetry, photography and art galleries. Thankfully, Newcastle is full of wonderful art and cultural venues such as The Baltic, Laing Art Gallery and The Biscuit Factory. Beyoncé even filmed her music video for Ape Sh!t in the The Louvre Museum when she was in Paris, so, you never know?
9. Newcastle Has Some Of The Best Bars And Restaurants In The Country –
Newcastle has always been known as a party city, but over the last few years the toon has also flourished into a mecca for independent breweries, cocktail bars, coffee shops, café’s and restaurants. Not only are the bars and restaurants in Newcastle perfect for pre concert refreshments, but they’re also fit for a Queen… Bey.
10. The After Parties Would Be Amazing –
Imagine; you’ve spent the last two hours dancing, screaming and crying to Beyoncé. Actual Beyoncé. On stage in front of you. The Queen has finished her concert and you have been truly blessed to have been in the same room as her and thousands of others living it up. You’re a bit drunk. Drunk in Love, to be exact. And you’re in the toon, surrounded by some of the most banging bars and clubs in the UK. Or, some of the worst if you’d prefer those. You step onto a sticky dance floor in Florita’s with your mates around you and a daiquiri in your hand. You’re ready to dance All Night.
So there we have it, at least 10 reasons why Beyoncé should bring her next tour to Newcastle upon Tyne. Can you think of any others? Let me know!