48 Hours in Newcastle!

I’m back! And, as promised I will be sharing with you my time I had in Newcastle at the end of October.

Newcastle will always be a special place for me. If you didn’t know, it was where I did my undergraduate degree. I decided to move 300 miles away from home, a decision which to this day was probably one of the hardest, yet best decisions of my life. Newcastle was my first ever home away from home, so in this post I’m going to share with you some of my favourite places to go in Newcastle and why.

My first stop in my 24h here was Quayside πŸ™‚ Quayside is quite possibly the most recognisable part of Newcastle, with the Tyne Bridge, Swing Bridge, The Sage and The Baltic. But Quayside is also home to lots of other places, including lots of great little bars and restaurants (I was totally unadventurous and went to Pizza Express) as well as Quayside Seaside (which I thought was only there in the summer… turns out it’s there year round!). Quayside holds quite a few memories for me and it definitely a place I’d really recommend going to visit both in the day and in the evening πŸ™‚Β IMG_3870IMG_3874IMG_3881IMG_3886IMG_3891IMG_3897

Also worth catching down on Quayside is the swing bridge opening. You can generally find the times of this online (nb these 2 photos were not from this visit).

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From Quayside a great place to visit is The Baltic. The Baltic is an art gallery, but it is also home to a pretty cool little shop and 2 pretty impressive viewing Galleries. Not forgetting its cafes/restaurants. In the summer it (and the Tyne Bridge) is also home to a breeding colony of Kittiwakes.

Walking up towards the town from Quayside you may come across Newcastle’s Castle. The castle has quite recently gone through quite a lot of restoration and has received quite a lot of lottery funding. It’s a really interesting visit, as well as that it has more great views of Newcastle from the top πŸ™‚

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Next up is the Town itself. Newcastle is a great little city. And I mean little. You can be from Quayside to the other side of town in around 15-20 mins. The architecture of Newcastle is lovely, particularly as you wander up Grey Street. Where quite a high percentage of buildings in this area are listed buildings.

Finally, my visit to Newcastle wouldn’t have been complete without a trip to the uni to reminisce. It is actually a lovely campus situated in the city and is well worth a visit.

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Have you ever been to Newcastle? Are there any places you’d recommend visiting? Would you like to visit Newcastle if you’ve never been before?

 

 

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One in a Million

I’m back with another book review πŸ˜€ I feel like my reading has picked up again the last few weeks. Maybe that’s because of the weather. Colder, snuggle up weather is definitely more book weather!

One of my latest reads is “One in a Million” by Lindsey Kelk. This is Lindsey Kelk’s newest release and I couldn’t wait to read it as I love all her books.

Everyone wants that special someone….

Annie Higgins has one goal this year: to get her tiny business off the ground. But – infuriated by the advertising agency across the hall making fun of her job – Annie is goaded into accepting their crazy challenge: to make a random stranger Instagram-famous in just thirty days.

And even when they choose Dr Samuel Page PhD, historian and hater of social media, as her target, Annie’s determined to win the bet – whether Sam likes it or not.

But getting to know Sam means getting to know more about herself. And before the thirty days are out, Annie has to make a decision about what’s really important…

I really enjoyed reading “One in a Million”. It was quite a different read compared to some of Lindsey Kelk’s other books. In fact, as much as I love all the series like the “I Heart” Series, sometimes it is great to have new standalone books.

“One in a Million” was very focused on the use of Social Media and how quickly things can go viral/how quickly someone can become famous online. OK, I know this isn’t a “normal” situation, but I suppose it highlights how much we rely on social media these days!

I really enjoyed the characters and Dr Samuel Page grew on me throughout the book. As well as that Annie was brilliant and I loved how she faced up to all the stick, criticism and downers that everyone was putting on her.

Without ruining the plot this was a great, easy but funny read which I’d recommend to anyone who loves this kind of genre πŸ™‚ I apologise it’s such a brief review! I just don’t want to ruin it!

Keeper for a day

Firstly I wanted to apologise for the lack of posts last week. Life was busy and I didn’t get round to writing anything. But I’m back today with a post I’m really excited to share with you.

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to take part in the “Keeper for a Day” experience at the zoo. They were filming it for the website and I was one of the ones asked if I’d like to take part in this. My boss was great coving a shift for me meaning that I could become a Keeper for the day.

Our day started with breakfast and a little briefing about what we’d be getting up to during the day, as well as meeting the others who were taking part in the day with us. It was lovely to meet some of the London Zoo team and we all had a great day together.

After breakfast our first stop was the Chimpanzees. We were making up some enrichment for them. Enrichment is basically little activities for the animals to do which keep them busy and active during the day. We made up some plastic containers of fruit and veg, as well as some containers of porridge and jelly. We then went outside to throw these in for the chimps and it was great fun watching them try to find it all.

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After the chimps we headed on around to the Asian Rhinos. Now, I’d already had an encounter with one of the Asian Rhinos as part of my induction when I started working at the zoo. We spent a little bit of time cleaning out the rhinos before getting to meet Behan and give her some food. Asian Rhinos (along with all rhinos) are beautiful animals and I loved getting to feed one of them again.

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After feeding Behan we headed to the bird show. We had the choice of 2 birds to fly and I picked Gizmo our little White Faced Owl. She was so cute but struggled flying in the wind!

Next up was the elephants. Again, I’d already been part of the meet the elephants experience for the zoo but it was great to see them again. We spend a while helping to clear out their enclosure before preparing some enrichment for them. Then we had the chance to go and see them and feed them some food. We had the chance to throw some food in for Sam, Mya and Emmett, as well as learning about them from some of the staff.

From the elephants it was time for lunch. Where we enjoyed some time together chatting and sharing stories about our respective jobs at the zoo.

Then it was time to visit Colombo our sloth bear. Colombo is the cutest animal ever (but you wouldn’t want to get in with him), and we again prepared some enrichment for him before throwing it in for him. It was the cutest and funniest thing watching him grab the piping then rolling on to his back to suck all the treats out.

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The next part was something I was very excited for. We got to go and see the penguins and feed them. When I say feed them, we at Whipsnade don’t hand feed them. We simply throw the food into their pool and they have to go swimming for it.

After we’d fed the penguins it was time to head off to see the lions. We have a group of 6 African Lions at the zoo and we had the chance to feed them. We were quite lucky here in that we had a lot of opportunity to feed them as they were trying to get quite a lot of video footage of this. I was actually quite surprised how lazy all the lions were, but I suppose at the end of the day they are getting old.

The last part of our Keeper for a Day experience was to visit and feed the giraffes. This was so much fun and I loved every second of it. The one thing I was so surprised about was actually how strong they are. Our male giraffe was actually lifting me up as he was stripping the leaves off the branches.

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All in all I had an incredible day making new friends and meeting more of the animals at the zoo. Would I recommend this? Yes, definitely! Especially if you love animals and want a chance to see some of them up close. I’ve linked the two youtube videos below where you can see what I got up to for the day.

London Zoo

A couple of weeks ago I decided to head up to London Zoo for the day. It had been a while since I’d last visited and since I work for ZSL, just at the Whipsnade rather than London, I decided it was time for a visit.

I had a great day out but unfortunately I wished that I had longer up there. So many people told me that I could get around it in just a few hours, so I decided to arrive at around 1pm. Although I managed to see everything, it was definitely a rush towards the end.

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London Zoo is definitely a fraction of the size of Whipsnade Zoo (in fact our rhino paddock would fit London Zoo in it), but that didn’t stop it from being a great little zoo. I really enjoyed my day there and would definitely love to go again and have longer there. I’d also love to spend longer there having seen they do history tours. I love a bit of history and the history of ZSL fascinates me, so I think maybe one day I’d like to do that.

What I also really loved was that here around 90% of my photos were taken on my little Canon G7X rather than my Canon 40D + 300mm lens. At Whipsnade a lot of the enclosures are still old, with fencing between you and the animals. London makes much more use of moats and glass in their enclosures.

Have you ever been to London Zoo? If so, what did you think? πŸ™‚

If We Were Having Coffee #8 (October, 2018)

I swear this year is disappearing in a blink!! I can’t believe it’s October already. I know I say this every month but how!? The weather has definitely turned (although actually it’s been warm again this week) and I’m enjoying my slippers, winter duvet and winter boots so much!

If we were having coffee, I’d definitely be having hot chocolate! What would you be having today? πŸ™‚

If we were having coffee… I’d tell you how I enjoyed my trip to London Zoo last week. One of the perks of my job is free entry to ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos, and I hadn’t yet got around to visiting London Zoo. So I took my grandad up to London for the day and we had a wander around London Zoo. I’ll probably write a whole post about it, but I really enjoyed myself πŸ™‚

If we were having coffee… I’d tell you how I’m still absolutely loving my job but I’m absolutely gutted that it’s all coming to an end in 2 weeks time. I also spent some more time with the Tiger Cubs this week and they’re growing up too fast! πŸ˜₯

If we were having coffee… I’d tell you how I’m so excited for some things I have coming up. I’m excited for Christmas at London Zoo with the light trail, and I’m also so excited for Take That next year πŸ™‚

If we were having coffee… I’d tell you howΒ I’m so excited for my role in Brownies now. It’s all official, I’m now an assistant leader!

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If we were having coffee... I’d tell you how I finally had a hair cut last week! It had been around a year since I’d last had my hair cut and I really needed it cut. You might notice that I had the absolute minimum cut off though!

If we were having coffee... I’d also tell you how I’m really excited for a little holiday I’ve booked at the end of the month. I’m going back to Newcastle for a few days πŸ™‚ I miss Newcastle really badly and I’ve not actually been back since I left in July 2015. It’s kind of where I grew up as a person and was my first home away from home and I can’t wait to go back πŸ™‚ And also look out for new blog content afterwards πŸ™‚

If we were having coffee… I’d tell you how amazing the garage were at fixing my car. When it went for its service and MOT they found an oil leak on the gearbox. Anyway, they agreed to fix it under warranty and at the same time they replaced the clutch for me because it had got oil over it from the leak! So I can’t complain for the Β£1000 ish that would have cost me to fix it all otherwise!

If we were having coffee… I’d tell you how I’ve been so busy at work but I’m really looking forward to a rest soon and catching up with the 1000001 things I really need to do.

If we were having coffee…. I’d ask you how you are and if there’s anything you’d like to share? πŸ™‚

Rivers of London

This book took me far too long to read but I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to read some of the others in the series!

I’d heard about the novel “Rivers of London” a few years ago now, and everyone was recommending it and saying how great it was. But no matter how many times I read the blurb I couldn’t quite convince myself to pick it up.

Anyway, last year while I was in WH Smith, I found it in the clearance section for Β£2 and thought “what the hell” and it then sat on my shelf for almost a year. Then my good blogging friend decided to pick this book for her book club and it was the excuse I needed to pick it up!

My name is Peter Grant and until January I was just probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service (and as the Filth to everybody else). My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit – we do paperwork so real coppers don’t have to – and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from someone who was dead but disturbingly voluable, and that brought me to the attention of Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England.

Now I’m a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years, and my world has become somewhat more complicated: nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the Thames, and digging up graves in Covent Garden … and there’s something festering at the heart of the city I love, a malicious vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair.

The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city, and it’s falling to me to bring order out of chaos – or die trying.

Loads of people have described this book as kind of Harry Potter like, and I suppose in some ways it is… But I thought Harry Potter was better! Anyway, from the first chapter of this book I was gripped! It was such a change from the usual romance/chicklit stuff that I usually read but I loved it. It did require quite a lot of concentration at times and I was slightly disappointed at how flipping long some of the chapters were but at the end of the day I loved it. So much so that once the end was in sight I couldn’t put it down and finished the last 3 chapters in one sitting.

I definitely think I’d like to read the other books in this series at some point in the future πŸ™‚

Have you ever read “Rivers of London”? What did you think of it?

September Favourites 2018

Can you believe I’ve not written a favourites post since June?! Anyway, I enjoy writing a favourites post, so today I thought I’d share with you what I’ve been enjoying throughout September and since June really πŸ™‚

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First up is my puzzle book, I actually keep this in my car. I tend to arrive at work on average an hour early (I always give myself loads of time to get around the M25) so I like having something to do when I get there. I tried a generic puzzle book, but I’ve now discovered I prefer the Kriss-Koss ones

The second thing I’ve been enjoying is my work and the baby tigers. I’m still absolutely loving my job and I’m gutted that it is quickly approaching the end of the season, but I absolutely love what I do. Also, I love the baby tigers. I need to try to get some new photos of them but they’re getting so fun. They’re getting bigger, braver and more adventurous and are so funny to watch.

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While I was working all through the summer I kept seeing this sloth in the shop at work. I passed them every day and I loved them. Anyway, I couldn’t justify Β£20 (well Β£16 with staff discount) for it. I took several friends to the zoo over the start of September and my aunt bought it for me as a little thank you.

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I was a bit bad during September in that I bought a few new clothes. I didn’t really need them but I haven’t bought new clothes in so long! I bought a couple of tops and some dungarees from Fat Face as well as this jumper from Next. The jumper is amazing. It is so warm and fluffy πŸ™‚

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I’ve been enjoying learning more about photography too during the last few months. I’ve been enjoying taking photos at the zoo, but also I took my first night sky photos the other day too which I’m in love with πŸ™‚

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I’ve been suffering quite a lot with eczema over the summer and there is one moisturiser which is like a miracle moisturiser for me. Child’s Farm moisturiser is amazing. It smells great and it really clears up any dry skin and eczema.

I’ve also been enjoying a couple of TV shows this month, including Teen Mom UK, Ultimate Beastmaster and Great British Bake Off πŸ™‚

The last thing of my favourites this month is “Ellie and Anna Have Issues” podcast. Ellie and Anna have a show on London Heart Radio on a Sunday night and I always catch it driving home from work. Anyway, they’ve made a podcast of it all, which I’ve been loving πŸ™‚

What have you been enjoying recently? πŸ™‚Β