Those Who Know

You may remember before Christmas I visited the pop up bar Miracle on Grey Street. Well, now the holidays are over it has transformed into an Alice in Wonderland theme, so my friend M and I decided to make a return visit.

Called Those Who Know, it’s quirkily decorated throughout with a thorough commitment to the theme, and offers a range of themed cocktails¬† – I tried the No Time to Say Hello and Black-Hearted Queen, both of which were nice.

The cocktails are good fun (and half price throughout January) and though they could do with adding some drier drinks (as far as I could tell, the menu veered towards the sweet), they are all in on the theme and it makes for a fun night out.

The front room was fairly busy and lively (though nothing like the Christmas rush, when queues were out the door) though we easily got seats in the back, a less atmospheric space on a quiet Wednesday but still decorated in the theme and dominated by a giant projected clock.

It’s a really fun use of the venue – I’d love to see more of this sort of thing!

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Newcastle Christmas Market

I haven’t been home for Christmas in a while, so not sure if this is a new thing or not, but very taken with the Christmas market around Grey Street. A lovely mix of food and gift stalls, it’s perfect for a browse on a winter’s eve, and though I am not sure of the weekday opening hours on a Thursday night it was bustling!

A Miracle on Grey Street

So, I was in an incredible grump today that was proving hard to shift. Luckily when I emailed my friend M to see if she was willing to meet up and shake me out of my mood, she agreed. We went for dinner at the newly revamped Carluccios, but not before a wander around the Christmas market and a couple of drinks at festive pop up Miracle on Grey Street. The bar was a bit rammed, though the atmosphere was friendly, and they do an inventive array of cocktails alongside mulled wine and cider. I plumped for the vodka and prosecco Tinsel Toon while M had a rum-based baubles for all and a good time was had…

Drinks at the Botanist

The Botanist is one of the most striking bars in Newcastle – its glass dome part of the city skyscape, moments away from Grey’s Monument – it’s one of the loveliest buildings in the city.

The bar itself has never quite lived up to its potential for me. The first time I went my friends and I accidentally sat in the restaurant bit, and the staff were slightly snotty about what was an honest mistake, which made me less than well inclined to the place.

Tonight was much better – the staff were friendly, though it was busy (I still can’t get used to the fact that after-work drinks in Newcastle start at 5). But it remains a hard place to warm to for me – striking and stylish, but without the buzz or atmosphere I want in my pubs. That said, it is stunning, so worth a visit…

Windows and Central Arcade

Newcastle is full of architectural beauties, and you usually don’t have to wander far to find them. Central Arcade – less than a minute away from Monument Metro and right next to Grey’s Monument – is one such delight.

Home to an array of boutiques as well as chains such as Space NK, Starbucks and Scribbler, it also boasts one of Newcastle’s oldest music shops, Windows (JG Windows, to give it its full name, by which no one ever calls it). It’s been there over 100 years! I remember it well from my youth – the shop where every boy you crushed on bought his first guitar – so I found myself oddly pleased to see such an institution still going strong. Do visit, if you are in town.

It’s a beautiful town

One thing people often forget about Newcastle is just how lovely it is. The majesty of the bridges, the silver ripples of the Sage. ‘Grey’s quarter’ is an effort to reclaim recognition for some of the most pleasing architecture in the country, and as I was walking back to the Monument from my aunt’s last night, belly full of pizza and heart full of love after many welcome-back hugs, it struck me how lucky I was to be here.

(If you want to check out some, um, much better pictures of the city, I highly recommend checking out my friend Simon Lowe’s photos. He does some gorgeous pics of the North East and surrounding countryside.)