UK Travel - A Day in Newcastle

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

By the time I'd been in Newcastle a morning I'd been called 'pet', eavesdropped on a heated conversation about Alan Shearer and, although the sun was shining, it was definitely cold. If this were Newcastle Bingo, I'd fancy my chances.

Beautiful Newcastle

The early May Bank Holiday was a chance for my first UK escape of the year. Just over three hours away from Birmingham by train, my now resident sister had promised me that Newcastle Upon Tyne was a city worth braving the weather for.

The seahorse - a symbol of Newcastle as a port city
Newcastle might have been living up to some of its reputation, but it was offering up some surprises too. For a start, it's a seriously attractive city - the centre's wide streets lined with tall historic buildings, punctuated with green copper roofs and decorative brickwork. With cherry blossom in full bloom throughout the city, even the gloomy skies couldn't spoil the effect.

The city centre itself is fairly compact, so to begin any visit an easy couple of hours wandering takes in the key sightseeing spots - from the Quayside to the Cathedral and Castle. To complete my Tyneside bingo card, the wind and rain began in force as I ventured towards the quay; quashing entirely any intention of crossing the bridge into Gateshead.

Sadly, an entirely accurate colour reproduction of the sky at this point...
Independent Newcastle

Sights ticked, time for lingering must be given to Newcastle's impressive assortment of independent businesses; from the vintage shops and delis tucked in the recesses of Grainger Market to the bars and coffee shops dotted throughout the city.

Perhaps the favourite stop of my trip was Tea Sutra - a tea and vegan food hangout hidden above a costume shop on an unassuming street. If you can, take your shoes off and grab a spot on the sitting platform - the floor cushions and low tables conducive to settling down for a few lazy hours.

We began with a round of teas, picked with difficulty from a list of over 100 specialist varieties. For both taste and presentation, the headily-scented Lavender tea comes strongly recommended; spiked with blue flowers, the turquoise liquid turns purple when it hits a slice of lemon.

Despite a more limited choice, the tempting options on the food board made choosing one of those tricky too. My sister's beetroot and carrot soup was standout in taste and texture, but I avoided food envy with a huge bowl of dhal, lentils and a seed-studded salad. Reluctant to leave, we extended our stay with another pot of tea and a wedge of earl grey and lemon cake.

Newcastle at Night

When it came to experiencing Newcastle's nightlife, I'd been planning on trying out at least a couple of different bars. But by the time I'd settled into my radiator side seat, comic book style cocktail menu in hand, I knew I wouldn't move from Alvinos. Southerner friendly heating arrangements aside, the cocktail menu is extensive without being overwhelming - and the drinks themselves original, inventive and delicious. Happily, the cool interior and styling belies a relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere.


Newcastle is accessible by train, plane or road - around 3 hours by rail from Birmingham, and the same from London.

I stayed in the pretty suburb of Jesmond, Newcastle's efficient metro system making staying outside of the centre both easy and an opportunity to explore another area. Standout features of Jesmond? A slew of independent cafes, a tranquil cemetery, and the best Oxfam bookstore I've had the pleasure to peruse.

Tea Sutra can be found at 2 Leazes Park Road. I paid £16 for two pots of tea, a generous dhal & salad bowl, and a slice of cake.

Alvinos is at 88 Pilgrim Street. Prices are up to £6.25 for a cocktail.


  1. Your pictures make me want to visit Newcastle! I love your blog and I wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Liebster Award.
    You can find more details here: http://www.wanderlustnlove.co/liebster-award/

    P.S sorry if you got this message a billion times, but the comment box was not working for me !

  2. Thank you for your lovely comment Anna (which only appeared once...!) Very happy to have made you want to visit, I had such a fun trip there.


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