For those who have followed my blog for a while now, you’ll probably remember that around this time last year I created a ‘2018 North East Bucket List‘, listing the places around the North East that I was dying to visit. I managed to visit over half of my North East bucket list last year, including some absolute gems such as the Lord Crewe Arms in Blanchland, Cook House in Ouseburn, The Potted Lobster in Bamburgh and a handful of wonderful National Trust sites in the region.
2018 was an incredibly busy year for me, as I gave up my job to return to university and start studying Medicine! Although I managed to visit many places on my 2018 bucket list, being so busy has meant that there are a few North East sites I haven’t yet been to. I’ve decided to create a 2019 North East Bucket List, with the hope that it’ll spur me on to take a trip to all the unvisited 2018 sites and all the fantastic places I’ve discovered in the last year or so.
Here’s what I came up with:
The Impeccable Pig, Sedgefield
This County Durham restaurant cherishes the motto, ‘Swine, Dine and Sleep’, offering guests a delicious bistro-style meal in their restaurant, an ‘impeccable’ selection of wines and real ales, and a good night’s sleep in their luxurious, themed rooms. The Impeccable Pig is high up on my list of places to go on a staycation in 2019 – not least because their Premier Suite comes with a 7-foot bed, hot tub and outdoor sauna! I can only dream… Saying that, I’d love to even just visit their restaurant; the menu looks like just my kind of thing, featuring dishes such as Venison Bolognese and Slow Roast Belly Pork.
Thali Tray, Ouseburn
Tucked away in Arch 2 of the Byker Bridge on Stepney Bank is Newcastle’s first craft brewery and Indian street food joint – Thali Tray! Josh from Thali Tray teamed up with Newcastle Brewing Ltd. to create this truly amazing place, where you can enjoy some great local, craft ales alongside a tray of authentic Indian food, inspired by Josh’s time spent in India. The food at Thali Tray has already won the ‘People’s Choice Award’ at Wylam Brewery’s ‘Argie Bhaji Curry Battle 3.0’ and I’m not surprised – compartmented trays showcase 6 wonderful Indian street foods and condiments, each selected with maximum flavour and authenticity in mind. Having seen pictures of the thali trays on social media, they really remind me of the thali style food I had when I visited India myself – I can’t wait to try it out! The outdoor eating area is complete with fairy lights and log fires – my kind of place or what?
The Victoria Tunnel
You might have realised that the Victoria Tunnel also featured on my 2018 North East Bucket List – no, I haven’t managed to visit this award-winning, historical attraction yet(shame on me!) Much to my dismay and jealousy, my family ended up doing the Victoria Tunnel Tour when I was away in Manchester for New Year and they said it was absolutely fantastic! The tunnel has served as both a coal wagonway and a WWII air raid shelter for the people of Newcastle, and it stretches all the way from the Town Moor to the Ouseburn Valley. The tunnel tour is informative yet family-friendly and I seriously need to block out an afternoon in my diary to finally visit – I don’t think I can confidently call myself a history buff until I have!
A Trip to Sunderland
I am both ashamed and disappointed to say that my blog largely neglects South Tyneside and Sunderland. At first you might think that this is because I’m from Newcastle and I’m paying into the age-old rivalry between the Magpies and the Mackems. But in reality, it’s largely because I don’t really know what there is to do in Sunderland, other than go to the historical Sunderland Empire Theatre! It’s at times like these that I love being part of the North East blogging community – I’ve recently discovered some great places to go in Sunderland and South Tyneside, including Blacks Corner, Cole Café & Deli and The Palm Sunderland (read New Girl in Toon’s blog post on The Palm here). I’m making it my mission in 2019 to give Sunderland and South Tyneside a chance and open my eyes to the great culinary and cultural experiences this area of the North East has to offer.
Visit North East Castles
I’m not afraid to say that I have quite the thing for castles! I always have the best time visiting these impressive monuments, walking around their grand interiors and discovering their fascinating histories. My personal favourites, castles that I always go back to, have to be Alnwick Castle and Bamburgh Castle! However, 2019 is the year that I branch out a bit and explore the other many impressive castles of our region.
Back in secondary school (seems a long time ago now!) I visited both Aydon Castle near Corbridge and Belsay Hall & Castle near Morpeth on school trips. I remember being in awe of both castles and I’m desperate to go back when the weather is a bit kinder to us, for days out full of sunshine, history and exploration (I best order my English Heritage membership card soon!) I also really want to visit Britain’s most haunted castle: Chillingham Castle in Northumberland, as well as the magnificent Raby Castle in County Durham. The North East of England is renowned for its wealth of castles and castle ruins – I can’t wait to be able to tell you more about them! Where shall I visit first?