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Student’s Guide to Newcastle

7 Sep

Are you a fresher in Newcastle? Lucky you! Follow my guide on where to go…


BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art: Gateshead Quays, Southshore Road, NE8 3BA. Tel: 0191 478 1810. Open Mon, Wed-Sun 10am-6pm; Tue 10:30am-6pm. Free Entry. If contemporary art is your thing, a visit to the BALTIC is a must. What’s more, after a look around the gallery you can enjoy amazing panoramic views of the Tyneside over a coffee in the modern rooftop restaurant.

Angel of the North: Low Eighton, Gateshead, NE8 7UB. Tel: 0191 433 3000. Have your photograph taken at the feet of a 66ft steel angel. An asset to the Gateshead landscape, Antony Gormley’s creation is cherished by northerners. Take a picnic if it’s sunny as there’s lovely greenery around it to eat your sandwiches whilst admiring the breathtaking view.

Discovery Museum: Blandford Square, NE1 4JE. Subway: Central Station. Tel: 0191 232 6789. Open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm; Sun 2pm-5pm. Free Entry. Get to know the history of the city you’re living in by visiting this treasure trove of exhibitions and fun activities. Don’t miss the ‘Chronicle Exhibition’, with fascinating photos from the local rag from the last 100 years.

1st Bowl: Westgate Road, NE4 8RN. Tel: 0191 256 8736. Open daily 10am – 12am. In between lectures and parties, why not play a few rounds of ten pin bowling. Tuesdays and Sundays are student nights, so that means games are only £1.50, and grab yourself a pint for £1.50, with 10% off food.

Life Centre Ice Skating Rink: Times Square, NE1 4EP. Tel: 0191 243 8210. From November 12th until February. The Life Centre will get you in the festive spirit this autumn, as they’re hosting the regions favourite ice rink. You can even relax after with a mince pie and a cup of mulled wine. What’s not to love?


Al Basha: 7-9 Bigg Market, NE1 1UN . Tel: 0191 222 1303. Open 12pm-1:30am. Whether you fancy home cooked, Lebanese grilled food, or just want to grab a sandwich, this is the place for you. You’re guaranteed to get your money’s worth with the generous sides. All the dishes are taken from the chef’s mothers recipes.

As You Like It: Archbold Terrace, NE2 1DB. Tel: 0191 281 2277. If comfy chairs, proper organic beer and tasty delights are your thing, then you’ll certainly like this. Voted the 7th sexiest restaurant in the world, this honest home-style cooking ticks every box. Enjoy a sharing platter with friends and free comedy nights in the autumn months.

Gekko: The Gate, NE1 5TG. Tel: 0191 260 5005. Does your course mate love Chinese, but you prefer Mexican? End all dinner time arguments, and head to Gekko. For £4.99, students can pick and choose from the all you can eat buffet, with anything from grill and light soups, to patisserie desserts.

Munchies: 5 St Mary’s Place, NE1 7PG. Tel: 0191 221 0707. No night out in Newcastle is complete without a trip to Munchies. A favourite amongst students, the fast food restaurant boasts the best chips ‘n’ gravy in the city.

Sky Apple Cafe: 182 Heaton Road, NE6 5HP. Tel: 0191 209 2571. Whether your vegan, veggie or just a great fan of inventive, seasonal cooking, the Sky Apple offers a range of culinary delights. With a menu that changes every month or so, enjoy some autumnal apple doughnuts with cinder toffee sand.


Basement Treble’s Bar: 118 Grey Street, NE1 6EE. Tel: 0191 261 5587. With the world’s longest bar, you won’t be waiting long for your drink. Don’t be alarmed if you hear someone order a ‘Golden Shower’ – it’s one of the bars specialty drinks with an unusual blend of peach schnapps, tequila, apple juice and lemonade.

Hancock: 2A Hancock Street, NE2 4PU. Tel: 0191 281 5653. With pints for a pound and classic pub grub, it’s no wonder Hancock is a regular meeting point for societies and pub crawls. The pub caters for a wide range of music tastes, with 4 DJ’s featured on different nights.

Crows Nest: Percy Street, NE1 7RY. Tel: 0191 261 2607. If you fancy a change from the university canteen, head to the Crows Nest and make the most of their two meals for £7.

The Boulevard: 3-9 Church Street, NE1 4HF. Tel: 0191 250 7068. For a night to remember, visit the faboulas Boulevard, where “burlesque meets Broadway”. Professional female impersonators will keep you entertained, with outrageous comedy that would give Priscilla a run for her money!

Shearers Sports Bar: St James’s Blvd, NE1 4ST. Tel: 0191 201 8688. A must for football fans, the sports bar named after Newcastle’s ‘number nine’ has student nights on Monday and Wednesday.


Tiger Tiger, The Gate: Newgate Street, NE1 5RE. Tel: 0191 235 7065. Whether you’re out for a bite to eat or karaoke with course mate, Tiger Tiger has loads of offers and discounted deals for students. Sign up to the Tiger Tiger online newsletter for free, to get exclusive vouchers and free drinks.

The Cluny: 36 Lime Street, NE1 2PQ. Tel: 0191 230 4474. The converted warehouse offers the perfect mix of funky décor, craft ciders and live music. If you’re an ale fan, sample all 8 of the pubs real ales.

The Hyena Comedy Club: 17 Leazes Park Road, NE1 4PF. Tel: 0191 232 6030. If you’re game for a laugh and fancy a change from student pubs, make use of the ‘free membership’ available at the Hyena Comedy Club.
The Metro Radio Arena: The venue attracts big-name bands and artists, so keep an eye out for your favourite. The venue offers occasional free workshops and events for students, so a trip to the arena doesn’t have to rinse your student loan.


Tyneside Cinema: 10 Pilgrim Street, NE1 6QG. Tel: 0845 217 9909. Sick of the usual box office giants and fancy a change? Head to this independent marvel and enjoy films from right across the world in a comfy leather arm chair.

Odeon, Metro Centre: 48 Garden Walk, NE11 9YG. Tel: 0871 2244 007. Caters for all your IMAX, 3D and other blockbuster needs. Head to The Gallery for complimentary popcorn.


Live Theatre: Broad Chare, Quayside, NE1 3DQ, If you enjoy interaction with performers, this is one for you. Audience’s can meet leading writers or even showcase their own scripts.


The Metro: A convenient, fast and cheap way to travel. If you want to escape from essay stresses for the day, the yellow line will whisk you between the city and the coast.

Transfare Tickets: Available at the train station. These will allow you to travel on both bus and metro.

Quayside Sunday Market: NE1 3RT.Tel: 0191 277 1924. Buying local produce is often cheaper than supermarket fruit and veg. Head to the market at the end of the day for great bargains.

Blue Line Taxi’s: Fisher Street, NE6 4LT. Tel: 0191 262 6666. Cheap, reliable, a favourite amongst students.

City Library: 33 New Bridge Street West, NE1 8AX. Tel: 0191 277 4100. For a change from the university library, head to this faboulas glass building, where you can have a coffee whilst using their express email facilities. Also, very useful if your university library doesn’t have that book you need.


Newcastle’s gay scene is expanding rapidly, with the re-development of the area. The Gay Village or Pink Triangle as it’s otherwise known is just near Newcastle Central Station. The Number 52 Sauna on Scotswood Road is free to students on Wednesdays, so why not head there before watching a cabaret show at the outrageous Eazy Street Bar on Westmorland Street. Eazy Street is aimed at the bohemian gay scene, so if chandeliers and chic interior is more your kind of night head to @ne Bar on Marlborough Crescent. The bar promises live music on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays, and boasts a flash baby grand for those who enjoy listening to a tinkling of the ivories. Want to let your hair down after a hard day of lectures? Head to Switch and the Loft on Scotswood Road… with the £1 drink promotions on ‘Shag Tag Mondays’, it would be rude not to!

Chavtastic Snob

5 Jun

The word ‘chav’ has had a lot of scrutiny over the past few weeks.

Pippa Middleton mockingly dressed as a chav during her university years. As did I.

Some argue that the word is a middle class term invented to sneer at the working class. I initially found this to be the usual overreacting PC behaviour we see so often in the media.

For example, last night my brother and I were mocking the racist Prince Philip. His comments are so ludicrous, he’s actually a joke. Yet, we could be accused of laughing at the subject of racism itself, which of course we weren’t.

When someone says the word ‘paki’ it is as though they’ve spat it out. It truly revolts me. Yet I’ve never thought twice about using the word ‘chav’.

But when I decided to try and describe what ‘chav’ means, it became painstakingly obvious how snobby the word is.

Unlike many peoples illusion of chavs, I’ve never associated the term with ‘working class’; anyone can be a chav. The wealthier chav is in their element, with their pick of Lipsy and nail jewels to Burberry and sovereign rings.

When I dressed as a chav for a fancy dress night I wore large pieces of tacky gold jewellery, a tracksuit, lots of fake tan and my ponytail on top of my head. Quite shameful; such blatant mockery.

Yet I always feel dismay when I hear that politicians have used the word in ridicule. They act as though the subjects they deem as ‘chavs’ are in no position to better themselves. But we only need to look at The Only Way Is Essex to disprove this theory. We don’t look at working class comedies from decades ago such as The Likely Lads and sneeringly say ‘chav’.

Because just as there are goths and emo’s, chav culture is a trend.

So maybe I’ll thing again before using labels.

You got a fast car, I want a ticket to anywhere

5 Jun

Like a lot of things in life, there are obstacles we try to avoid.

Maybe it’s quitting smoking. Or perhaps swallowing your pride and rekindling a friendship with a family member.

For me, it’s passing my driving test. From living in a large town to moving to Leeds and London I’ve never needed to drive.

Of course, at college it was the thing to do. Like most seventeen year olds, I started lessons at seventeen.

My first few lessons were with a teacher called Bob. He was a very strange character; whilst driving down the motorway he once offered me a bite of his banana and a swig of Tesco’s coke.

When stalling outside of my house he said, “I bet all your family are watching.” Nice.

Then I had Chris, who put up with my strange ramblings and lack of concentration. All my friends passed with Chris, but I turned to jelly in my two tests.

I blame the ferocious examiner Eileen; when I delved into some nervous chit chat she said, “Keep your eyes on the road.” Uh-oh.

With everyone passing their tests, it became a little bit embarrassing being the token ‘bus pass’ of the group. I told myself that driving simply wasn’t my thing. There were obviously huge pluses; a suggestion of a trip to the country pub always equated to me being the drunkard.

Not so great on dates; when waking up with a dreadful hangover and the realisation that my date must have had half a shandy at the most.

Yet, at that time it didn’t feel important as I knew I wouldn’t have to drive for a long time, if ever. As a modern woman I hate to admit how I imagined a kindly husband who would drive me to where ever I needed to be.

Slightly naïve for someone going into the world of journalism. It recently occurred to me that I must pass in order to work as a reporter.

I aim to be passed by July, and had my first lesson this morning. Last night I laid in bed feeling terrified of my 9o’clock lesson. I had visions of colliding with a tree or going the wrong way on the motorway.

The longer I left it, the worse it became.

Yet, as they say, driving really is like riding a bike. The instinct of checking mirrors came straight back, and although I shrieked every time a bird came within a hundred feet, I felt strangely confident.

I’m glad I faced my fear. Two days ago I didn’t even want to discuss driving; now I’m looking forward to my next lesson, which is scheduled for tomorrow.

It’s easy to say, “I’ll start tomorrow”, but taking the plunge really does pay off.

Timeless Tales from a Victorian Pen

4 Jun

Recently I feel as though I have been cheating on Mr Blake with Charles Dickens.

For the past few years I have been pretty obsessed with William Blake. From reciting his poetry to anyone who will begrudgingly listen, to seeking out the home where the young William lived when he saw his first vision.

I have now shifted my energies to Mr Dickens. Much to my delight, I recently stumbled across the Great Expectations episode of South Park.

Yet, I was left disappointed. Trey Parker and Matt Stone managed to stay close to the actual story, recreating Pip’s loveable optimism. But it seemed that they felt too restricted to the original plot, failing to delve into the weird and wonderful world viewers are used to.

I can’t imagine viewers who hadn’t read the book would find much of the episode amusing.

However, it reminds us of Dickens genius. His stories written over a hundred years ago are still accessible to the modern readership. A Christmas Carol being the obvious choice, recreated in countless ways from my personal favourite, The Muppets Christmas Carol, to a Doctor Who adaptation.

Like Shakespeare, Dickens creates timeless plots that can be appreciated and understood for generations to come.

Mr Practical, meet my friend Fashion

27 May

I’m forever misplacing my USB stick, and gadgets aren’t really my thing.

Fendi USB

That’s why I need the Fendi USB stick, modelled on the iconic bag.

I’m sure I’d never misplace it again.

So they took it away, and were married next day, By the Turkey who lives on the hill.

27 May

I remember going to bed at nine o clock as a child and keeping a tiny creak in the curtain opened so I could

The Owl and the Pussycat

read Matilda. Not that my mum would have minded that I was sat up reading books.

Along with pretty much every child in the country, I was enthralled by Roald Dahl books. It was an absolute pleasure to meet his biographer recently, along with the genius illustrator Quentin Blake.

Dahl fled from the ‘nice’ yet slightly dull stories of the Famous Five, and took us into a world of couples who were gruesomely nasty to each other in The Twits, and the terrifying world of The Witches, where a small child was made into a painting.

I remember the horror when reading about how the parents of the child kept the painting and could see her growing old, until she eventually disappeared. A rather terrifying concept of death for such a young mind, yet undeniably creatively genius.

I was interning at Channel 5 recently, and likened the image in my mind to the gallery, where all the different journalists are in their tiny boxes moving around before going on air.

My love of poetry started at a young age. My tutor introduced me to Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, and I recall the gentle explanation that he may have been influenced by some ‘greater force’. It was only later that I was to understand that the greater force was opium.

Also, who could forget The Owl and the Pussycat, which I still remember the words to this day. Extremely romantic, and who cares about the cross breeding; it never really did seem strange to me that an owl and a cat had fallen in love.


I adored my sisters dusty copy of Charlotte’s Web, regardless of the fact that I had, and still posses, a phobia of spiders. Whenever I see one I scream, “GET RID OF IT!”, and have even been known to wake my brother in the middle of the night to remove one from my room.

When I was teaching English in Austria, there was one in the classroom. I will not lie to you, it was the size of a tarantula. I tried to hide my fear, yet when all the children handed their forms at the end of the week, they all filled the ‘my worst part’ section in as ‘das spinnen’, the spider.

Yet, I recall crying when Charlotte died, an attribute to E.B. White’s writing.

The Secret Garden was another favourite. I particularly enjoyed the film, which was truly beautiful. My oldest Suzy and I were completely inseparable at school and college, and only don’t see each as often now because we live at different sides of the country. I remember our sleepovers, how often we’d watch the film and laugh at the spoilt rich master in it as he screamed round the house for attention.

I remember rewinding the film to laugh when the local boy would let out a little too much excitement over seeing a bird. Looking back now, I’m not quite sure why we found it so hilarious, we just did.


Reading Jane Eyre I had the young and superficial fear that I would end up like Jane; very plain and slightly pathetic. Especially after reading the Wide Sargasso Sea, I realise that ‘Mad Bertha’ in the attic was the project of the cruel Mr Rochester. I adored the early film adaptation. I remember at the end Mr Rochester falling down a hill because he was blind, and Jane laughing hysterically. I never did like Jane.

My mum and I visited the parsonage where the Bronte’s lived a couple of years ago. It was a grand old day, beautiful scenery and a fantastic house. A far cry from the ‘penniless Bronte’ accounts we hear.

An old woman invited us into her home to see the scene of Haworth from her hilltop house. Beautiful scene… but it was slightly uncomfortable having the old lady follow us around for the rest of the day saying inappropriate comments about people.


I couldn’t forget Goodnight Mr Tom, the first piece of war time literature that embarked me on my love affair with Siegfried Sassoon. Years later, I saw Sassoon’s house for sale on ‘Escape to the Country’, and have since fantasised about having enough money to live in the home that once belonged to Sassoon.

Now, I have a two year old nephew. He is just starting to look at books, and I love it when we point at different animals and shout ‘QUACK!’ or ‘MOO!’

Also, I love putting Mr Men adventures on the television. He gets bored and runs away, I sit and watch it over breakfast. From a selfish point of view I look forward to when he’s old enough to read, so I can re-embark on my journey through children’s literature.

Home is where the heart is

27 May

Cath Kidston

For a while now, I’ve decided that when I eventually have my own house I would like the spare room to be decorated completely in Cath Kidston.

Who wouldn’t want whimsical, “vintage chic” in their back bedroom?

I love the palette of pretty pinks and blues, combined with clashing turquoise.

At the Spitalfield’s market Woman’s Day Event I felt drawn to the Shoreditch Women’s Institute stand, decorated with pretty Cath Kidston esqe designs.

I am at the start of my career, and it will be a long time before I even consider having children. Yet I’m slightly drawn to this idea of homeliness.

Whilst studying for my masters, we’ve had a cleaner for the kitchen yet I have never made anything in there more adventurous than pasta.

I knew I would only be living there for a year, so it seemed silly to spend all my money on a rainbow of food dyes and a spice rack. If my mum reads this, she will definitely have a laugh. Living at home, I never made anything in my life… ever.

When I was studying in Leeds I had a dinner party, where I made a stew. None of the vegatables were cooked, and one of my good friends kindly said, “This is delicious but I’m not a huge fan of raw veg… could I just have the pasta?” Dessert was a bought apple pie and ice cream.

Yet I’ve always lived by the mentality of, “give them enough wine, they won’t notice.”

My mum, on the other hand, is a fantastic cook. She makes the most amazing cakes and flans, and whenever she would make a batch they’d be gone in minutes amongst my university friends.

Her decorating skills are next to none, and I really think she should open a bakery, and I can be the honorary cake sampler. There would be a tiny tea room attached, with tastefully mismatching antique furniture and china.

As much as I have adored my London life, I am looking forward to spending a while at home. I will be moving back to the North-East tomorrow, and am looking forward to day trips around the beautiful dales and meeting friends for picnics in York.

In a world that is so uncertain, I know that home will always be there.

Bluebell Fairy

26 May

It turns out the event that was downstairs from my pilates class was Jo Malone’s new fragrance launch.

Model Iekeliene Stange was there dressed as a beautiful blue fairy. She’s the star of the dream like film directed by Vogue photographer Tim Walker shown at the event.

The fragrance Wild Bluebell is a mix of cloves, lily of the valley and jasmine. It sounds like the kind of perfume I’d adore. I’ve always been a huge fan of bluebell woods, a feature of the countryside that’s so quintessentially English.

Copyright of

When I was ten I went to a small wedding in the middle of a forest. My mum took photos of my brother and I dressed in wedding attire with the beautiful bluebell woods in the background. The distinctive scent of bluebell is bound to invite fond memories.

I’ve recently become obsessed with Tokyo Milk’s Song in D Minor. The bottle is beautiful and the melody of white orchid, orange blossom, gardenia and amber notes is summery and deliciously feminine.

One World Media Awards

26 May

Two weeks ago I attended the One World Media Awards, thanks to fellow journalist Lucy Laycock who has been given funding from the organisation to make a documentary in India.

The ceremony, held at Kings Place where I saw Quentin Blake last Autumn, started with wine and canapés. We saw a lot of interesting people, including Unreported World’s Jenny Kleeman and John Pilger.

When I was 14 I won a competition on an essay where I was to write who my hero was. I wrote about John Pilger, and the prize was to shadow the editor of the Northern Echo, Peter Barron, for the day. It was a strange feeling being at the same event as him years later.

The award ceremony itself was completely inspirational. Lucy and I felt emotional hearing some of the stories; particularly the Kenyan based community radio station, who have managed to build such a successful sense of community through the power of radio. We were fortunate enough to talk to the people behind the station after the ceremony.

We were also especially pleased for Jenny Kleeman who won the Television Award: Phillipines – The City With Too Many People.

Afterwards we had a glass of wine with Jon Snow, who was very funny and interesting to talk to. I had such a fantastic night, and it was definitely worth the sore head at work the next day.

Chanel, Warhol and Bardot: The Greater Evils

26 May

Andy Warhol's Mickey Mouse: Whose creator 'Disney' was a Nazi

I’ve come to the realisation that amongst the things I most admire in the world of art, I also have a deep loathing for the creators.

Aside from Edie Sedgwick, another icon I adore is Brigitte Bardot. The timeless southern French style, the bed hair so loved by Sienna et all, and the curves that attracted the cult-like following.

Andy Warhol sits comfortably at the top of my artist hierarchy; the man is a genius. Since I was very young I have collected Andy Warhol prints, from the shoe cards I picked up in Chicago, to the images of the man himself larking around that I found in an Austrian museum.

Chanel epitomises elegance with the basic yet luxurious silhouettes, and the iconic interlocking C’s which so many lust after.

I loved Bardot’s birthday message to Sophia Loren:

“I wish a happy birthday to Sophia Loren, my splendid twin, and I ask her to stop wearing fur – that is the best gift she could offer me.”

Yet alongside Bardot’s work for animal rights, she also happens to be a raging racist. In 2004 she was fined for inciting racial hatred in a book where she aired her disgusting views on acial mixing, immigration, the role of women in politics and Islam. She is also reportedly homophobic. Sarah Palin… here’s your match.

Andy Warhol refused to help his friend Edie from her own self destruction, resulting in her break down and tragic fate. He even refused to acknowledge their friendship years after her death, saying “it was just so long ago. I hardly knew her at all.” As an Edie fan, I found Guy Pearce’s portray of the artist in Factory Girl disturbingly cold, yet sadly accurate.

Coco Chanel was a Nazi sympathiser, who had a relationship with Nazi officer Hans Gunther von Dincklage. As much as I loved reading about the Cannes Chanel show, it’s hard to shun the fact that the lady behind the name spent the second world war in the snug bosom of the far right. After all, it was those in the Nazi-infested Ritz who bought her perfume. After the war, Coco and her perfumes went into exile in Switzerland; she most certainly wasn’t wanted at home.

Yet with this knowledge I’m reluctant to say that I still adore Coco Mademoiselle; the perfume that reminds me of going on holiday, spraying it liberally all over my coat in duty free at the age of 12 with the early established connection of luxury.

When I last got my haircut I asked for a ‘Bardot’, and when I visited the Tate a couple of months ago my heart skipped as I came across some Warhol goodies in the shop.

How far can we allow the actions of our idols influence how we view their art?

Should we always condemn their evil, or is it wrong to break the wounds?