Holidays (Vacations)

Travel diaries and reviews

Premier Suites Newcastle | Review

As part of my current job, I have been staying in a variety of budget hotels around the UK. But one of the drawbacks of staying in a hotel, is going out for dinner alone, which is not something I always feel like doing. Inevitably, I end up having a “bed picnic”, which sometimes means I can go a whole trip without a hot meal. Not ideal. So when a last minute trip to Newcastle landed at my door last week, I decided to stay at Premier Suites instead. As I booked the 1 bedroom apartment via our work travel agent, it cost around £55 per night and I booked for 2 nights.

I arrived at about 5:30pm and the suites are about a 7 minute walk from Newcastle Central Station here:

The first thing I noticed is that the street it’s on isn’t particularly well lit and with just a single door entrance, it was a little hard to spot in the dark. But once inside, the receptionist gave me a really warm welcome and with a simple check in, she  gave me the key to my home for the next few days.

The apartment I booked was only a 1 bedroom, but they actually gave me the keys  to a 2 bedroom one. However, there was a note on the bed of the 2nd bedroom to say that if I used it, they would charge me an extra £35 a night. Message received, door shut. Room ignored.

I’d have to say that the apartment had it’s good points and bad points.

Good Points
  • Good size lounge with large couch in living room.
  • A small tray of essentials, i.e. tea & coffee.
  • A large fridge.
  • Very comfortable bed.
  • Free Wifi.
  • Central location.
  • 5 minute walk from The Prince’s Trust In Newcastle (where I was working)
Bad Points
  • Whilst the couch was large, there were…… stains…. which I tried to ignore.
  • Both the kitchen and bathroom looked good from afar but close up they both showed signs of age with the bathroom in particular showing wear and tear.

When I put my key in the door, the apartment was cold and dark as bizarrely for January, all the radiators were turned off and the windows were all open! I was already cold due to a frozzy train journey and damp walk from the station, so a cold apartment was not a good start. I turned all the radiators on and closed all the windows and things did warm up, however, I didn’t realise until the following day, that I missed one of the open kitchen windows, which fully explained my slight chill before bedtime!

But it was great to stay in an apartment as I was able to cook for myself both nights and eat breakfast in my PJs in before I left for work. This is a great upside to hotel stays as I am not sure PJs in a communal breakfast situation is really acceptable!

Overall though, the apartment was very reasonably priced at around £55 a night and was clean and tidy. I would give it 3/5 stars 🌟🌟🌟 as it was value for money, but it lacked a bit of something special.

However, if you are looking for an alternative to a hotel in Newcastle, then why not give Premier Suites a look! I reckon this would be nice, flexible way to see the city on a budget.

G x

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Best and Worst of 2017

So Christmas is over, hope you had a good one, mine was pretty good as it goes 😄 It’s funny though, as the end of the year approaches, it’s my tendency to get quite reflective and as such, I thought I would put together a Top 3 list of all the things I have loved, but also the big misses of 2017 to me. I mean, who doesn’t love a good list?! Here we go:

Top 3 – Highlights of 2017

  1. Getting to the top of Dodd Wood/Fell in September. I have been on something of a fitness journey this year and when I tried to do a much less strenuous walk in May, I nearly cried as I couldn’t do it. This time around, despite it being really hard, I did manage the walk! Thrilled.
  2. Starting my secondment at work and spending 5 weeks working in London. I am very much a home bird and so to be away so much was an adjustment, especially being in such a busy city, which is definitely not my cup of tea.
  3. I started my weightloss and fitness journey in May this year and to date I have lost 2 ½ stones (35 lbs/15.9 kg). I have struggled to keep a healthy weight most of my adult life, but I love the fact my weight has started to come down.

Top 3 – Telly Finds of 2017

  1. Fleabag – I stumbled upon this BBC series whilst working from home one day and ended up binge watching it in an afternoon. It’s a tragi-comedy featuring Phoebe Waller-Bridge and it was just fab. Strong female comedy, so good that I watched it all for a 2nd time whilst we were away in Harrogate. Highly recommend.
  2. That Day we Sang – It’s no surprise to hear I am a Northern girl and so was in love that anything Victoria Wood created. I was so sad when she passed away in 2016 and so I was beyond chuffed when I discovered this comedy/drama about a Manchester choir, written and directed by the glorious VW.
  3. Little Boy Blue – This ITV drama about the real life shooting of Rhys Jones. It was utterly compelling and brilliantly acted. M and I were hooked from the first 5 minutes. It was made all the more poignant as we both remember this happening and it was only about 15 miles away from where we live.

Top 3 – Rubbish things in 2017

  1. Donald Trump became President of the United States. After almost a year in office, I have yet to see him do a single useful thing. He is crass and uses Twitter like a teenager,  complaining about what people are saying about him on the TV. The least presidential President the USA has ever seen.  What a tool.
  2. Sorry I can’t think of a 2nd and 3rd, No 1 is bad enough.

Top 3 – Gorgeous Restaurants I’ve visited in 2017 

  1. Vigour Kitchen is a place we discovered in 2017 in our local town of St Helens. St Helens itself is quite neglected and so to have a fab new place to eat is brilliant. It’s serves nutritious and gorgeous food with a focus on healthy eating. We can’t get enough.
  2. Armathwaite Hall is where M and I went on Honeymoon and we were lucky enough to visit and stay again this year. They do simply the BEST afternoon teas and my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
  3. Ok so this last one is a cheat, as is wasn’t a restaurant, but someone that does outside catering. We visited the Lake District in May to celebrate a family birthday and as part of the celebrations, we organised for an outside caterer to come and do us a meal. The caterer was Laura in the Lakes who also have a cafe in Keswick. The meal Laura made for us was delicious and she also coped brilliantly with my Lactose Intolerance by making me a scrummy lemon and blueberry cake! Yummy

Top 3 – Instagrammers for 2017 

  1. The incomparable Susie Verrill. She makes me smile or laugh or just gasp with delight on daily basis. So funny, so irreverent and all the whilst coping with being a new mum and the also delightful Greg Rutherford.
  2. The unbelievably funny Anna Whitehouse, aka Mother Pukka. She has been through some tough times this year, but is honestly one the funniest person to ever Insta Story.
  3. You might be able to spot a theme in this category, but number 3 is another funny woman in Celeste Barber. She is the pioneer for #challengeaccepted in which she copies the narcissistic posts that top social media and Hollywood people post in an hilarious fashion.

I am sure there are a million categories that I could add to this list and maybe I will as I think of them. I’ve had quite a good year overall and I feel quite happy going into 2018.  Someone asked me what my hopes were for the New Year and this is what I came up with:

  • Continue with my weight loss journey and get even more healthy in 2018
  • Kick start my YouTube Channel and start getting creative again
  • Visit Barcelona in September (already booked!!!)
  • Do a Couch to 5k programme
  • Make some landscape changes in the garden
  • Get a dog!!

The most important one of my hopes is the last one. My whole blogging story started in 2009 when I started a blog documenting our beloved Peggy Dog. We lost her in 2013 and 2018 is the year we adopt another furry friend into our home. I can’t wait, although I really will have to, until my secondment at work is over and I am home a little more.

Anyway, this year has been the right side of FAB and may it continue in 2018.

Thanks for all your support in 2017 and see you very soon.

G x

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It’s so good to be home…

Oh yes, it’s so good to be home! I have been away for 21 days out of the last 42, with my last week away this year being in Leicester. This time I stayed at the IBIS in Leicester, but I wasn’t that impressed and I won’t be back. It was one of those hotels, where nothing MAJOR went wrong, but lots of little things did which meant I didn’t particularly love it. Namely….

  • The batteries went on my TV remote control and I had to get out of bed, get dressed and go down to reception as I couldn’t turn the TV off.
  • I am pretty sure the housekeeping team broke my vanity mirror.
  • During breakfast I couldnt make the drinks machine work because the drip tray was full, which took far too long to figure out.
  • During another breakfast there were no plates and I had to chase staff down to replace them.
  • The sheets were scratchy.
  • The loo in my bathroom didn’t flush properly and when reported, the hotel didn’t do anything about it.
  • The pillows were hard.
  • The toilet door didn’t close properly, or at all.

One morning, whilst eating my toast in the hotel bar/cafe, I saw a prostitute come out of the lift. “How do you know it was a prostitute?” you ask. Well it might not have been, but I don’t know how many women sport thigh high boots and pigtails at 7am.

Also, I went out for dinner on my own on my first night there, and on arrival at Nandos, I found it had inexplicably closed 3 hours early! So I had to walk a little further into Leicester to find something to eat. On that walk I became a little uneasy and as someone that isn’t easily spooked walking on my own, I wasn’t happy. The town had a very odd vibe and to be honest, even though it was 6:45pm, it felt more like 2:00am. Needless to say, after that I didn’t bother and just ate at the hotel.

I did like the decor of the hotel, it was sort of Ikea meets Japanese pod. Also randomly, there was an android phone in my room to use.  I didn’t use it. The ONLY good thing about the hotel was the super-fast internet, which meant I could FaceTime M and it worked perfectly.

Ibis 3/10 🌟🌟🌟 – I won’t be back.

G x

 

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Climbing Dodd Fell | VLOG

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Keswick Adventures | VLOG

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Slight Height Difference!

height difference by Gill Lysons

(Made me smile)

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Edinburgh We Loved You | Part 2

If you haven’t already seen it, go catch up with Part 1 >>here<<

On day 2 of our Edinburgh trip, we started our day off with a special breakfast with our lovely friends Elizabeth & Carol who are visiting the UK with their friends Emily and Gennie. We decided to meet at a place called Urban Angel and we had a wonderful time chatting and catching up. We hadn’t met Emily or Gennie before and so it was really interesting to hear all about them and their adventures. Very cool ladies. Also it’s important to point out that M wasn’t the least bit intimidated by having lunch with 5 women – he grew up with sisters, I think he felt right at home!

After breakfast we decided to go to The Royal Yacht Britannia, which is docked at the port in Leith, about 4 miles outside the city centre. We had been given a 10% discount card by out hotel (v cool) and excellent bus directions, but between me and you, I REALLY wanted to try Uber. For those of you that live in cities and Uber is something you’ve had since the beginning of time, I am going to sound like the biggest country bumpkin, but I honestly wanted to give it a go as we don’t have it (properly) in N-le-W.

I am happy to report that I summoned the app, found the taxi, and paid without a single hitch, tracking the journey the entire time on my phone – very cool. On we go!

So The Royal Yacht Britannia was the Royal family’s Yacht till 1997 when it was decommissioned. The Port of Leith won the bid to get it and they set up a charity which looks after it and there is a whole mall around it, presumably for the tourists that come to see it. It was £15 each to get in and was WELL worth the money. There are 6 decks(floors) to look at with almost everything preserved as it was when the Royal Family actually used it. You get a free audio guide and after you’ve seen a small exhibition, you start at the top in the fancy part and end up at the bottom in the crew quarters. I am a Royal Family Fan and so to see where she actually slept and the many dining rooms  etc where they entertained was FASCINATING!!

The whole thing was wonderful and it really gives you an insight to what life was like onboard and the reality of being the head of the Royal Family. It also felt like it might have been the only place where they could ever properly relax.I would loved to have seen it in its hey day!

After the Royal Yacht we tried to go and visit the Scottish Parliament, but it the debating chamber was closed for the Summer and so, apart from a mural, there wasn’t much to see. It had also started to rain a little bit, so we decided to just walk up the Royal Mile back to our hotel to pick up our suitcases and grab a small snack. The Royal Mile is an actual mile (or so) between Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle – both Royal Buildings. It’s also a huge hill and quite the most touristy place in Edinburgh. In places it just had corny souvenir shops and places to get whiskey – so not really my thing, but the international visitors seemed to be lapping it up! Good for them.

I was so hungry by this point (around 4:30pm) as we had walked 10,000+ steps by then and I had only had some toast at breakfast – so we had to  have an emergency snack stop half way back and we almost inhaled the dried fruits and nuts we had in our back packs. But after the much needed energy boost, we made it back to our hotel, picked up our cases and made our way back to the station for our train at around 6:30pm. We wandered slowly back, taking in the city vibe and made plans to visit again and see much more.

Cities are totally not my choice normal, especially big ones as all the people and noise and things gets me down. But Edinburgh was very chilled as cities go and I felt relaxed almost the entire time. In fact, I felt more relaxed than I do in Liverpool and I go there every week!!

So thanks for a great 2 x days Edinburgh – we loved you (and will be back)
G x

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Edinburgh: We loved you | Part 1

So as I write this, we have been back from Edinburgh for just a couple of days, having spent just 2 days in bonnie Scotland (soz). M and I decided to have an “M’s 40th birthday” style trip to Scotland as part of our week off and by “M’s 40th birthday” I mean a quick 2 x day & 1 night  trip somewhere that’s just go go go. Up early, arrive in place, dump bags, go do stuff all day, overnight stay and then another full day of activities. Exhausting, but a lot of fun and with a single night stay, it keeps the costs down.

SO… on Wednesday we got the 7:30 train from Warrington Bank Quay Station, bizarrely bumping into one of mine and one of M’s work colleagues on the platform! Early booking meant that we had cut price 1st class tickets and therefore comfy seats with complimentary breakfast, tea & coffee.

After just under 3 hours on the train, we arrived into Edinburgh Waverley and make our way to the Premier Inn on Prince’s Street. I intend to leave a detailed review on Trip Advisor, but in a nutshell, great location, amazingly helpful and friendly staff, decent room, comfy bed and view of EDINBURGH CASTLE from our room. Would definitely go back.

We dumped our bags and set off for the park, directly across from our hotel and we sat on a bench in the sunshine eating our Bagel’s which M had lovingly prepared at 6am!! We had pre-booked our tickets for Edinburgh Castle (this is my TOP TIP as the queues were HUGE to buy tickets at the entrance) and we walked up the enormous hill to the entrance, which at this time of year was almost covered by the seats erected for the Edinburgh Tattoo. Of all the places we visited over the 2 days, this was the busiest and was filled with the most international visitors. In fact, I could definitely hear more American than Scottish voices!!

The castle was fascinating! I expected some fancy state rooms to look at and more glitz that substance, but the exact opposite was true. The castle was a prison and the cells and recreated conditions were fascinating. The views from the castle walls were stunning and I was more than a little blown away.

After the castle we went back to the hotel to properly put out stuff in our room and after a micro rest, we went off to Camera Obscura, which kept coming up in my google searches for good things to do in Edinburgh. It’s a little hard to describe what it is, but here goes. It’s 6 floors of sciency optical illusions and sensory fun things to do. Think magic eye pictures, holograms and camera trickery. It’s definitely the kind of thing that if I had been shown at school, I would have loved science a whole lot more!

 

For dinner, we ended up at an American diner, which was great as by that time we were starving. But I did fancy a small dessert, but the diner had nothing that I could eat, i.e. without dairy. So we ended up switching venues for dessert and went to a vegan restaurant called Hendersons and I had a chocolate cake and M had a raw Raspberry cheesecake with a coconut base.

It has to be said though, that by about 9pm, after getting up at 5:30am and walking over 17,000 steps, we were shattered!!! So we went to bed… happy, knackered and already in love with Edinburgh.

Part two >> here <<

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