Dabbawal and Stack

Belated birthday night out last night for my lovely friend S. Reconnecting with him since moving back – after so many years out of touch – has been a real joy, and it doesn’t hurt that he always has great recs for restaurants (Kiln was also his idea).

Last night we went to Stack for a quick drink before dinner. I’ve been, as you know, in the summer, but was interested to see how it fared in winter. I was slightly disappointed to see the covered gin bar replaced with a beer tent – it looked slightly dark, fusty and unfinished inside so we decided to brave the outdoor tables instead. These are certainly well-heated – the table heaters were so hot I couldn’t keep my coat on – and I can imagine nearer Christmas the whole fairy lights vibe will feel very festive.

Next up, Dabbawal, on High Bridge Street, which is becoming my local. I’d actually been here years ago with L of Raven in a Graveyard – she’d suggested it on one of my previous visits back from London, I think – so I had vague memories of liking it. And, mmmmmm, was I right.

The food – which is comprehensively labelled for allergies and diets, which always gives a nice sense of comfort – is Indian street food, and the choice is enormous, with a ton of vegetarian dishes. S and I plumped to share, and ordered a selection of sides and starters, all of which were delicious, though my eyes turned out to be too big for my belly, and that, combined with still feeling a tad ropey from the other week’s cold, meant I had to call it a night quite early – which, disappointingly, meant I didn’t get to try their advertised Espresso Martinis!

But the service was friendly, the food lovely, the vibe nice and low key – and, best of all, I discovered they sell their own notebooks. I’m definitely going back!

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Loving my birthday notebooks

Alas I am taking all my housewarming and birthday cards down this weekend – they are making it hard to get into my cupboard. The place will look a little bare without them, but at least I have lots of gorgeous presents to distract myself with.

Today I started using two of them: these gorgeous notebooks, both of which are lined, high quality and with lovely interior details so exactly in my wheelhouse…

Geordie giftage and notebook love

It’s my birthday at the weekend so after being inundated with lovely housewarming cards and gifts, I am now enjoying an influx of birthday stuff (I am keeping all the cards up, I don’t care, it makes me feel wanted and I look super popular if you don’t look closely enough to spot they are from the same people). God knows I will be facing the emotional equivalent of a sugar crash when the gifts stop but for the minute I am very much enjoying being spoiled.

And what gifts! As well the always welcome Amazon vouchers – which I am using for a mix of house stuff and pre-ordering books, which stretches out the whole present thing a bit longer, and champagne and chocolates (because, dahling, one must have champagne and chocolates in the house) I have had a stash of wonderful notebooks. People often ask if I regret saying I love notebooks because that means they are often a default gift, to which I say: hell, nah. I write most things in longhand and I journal, which means I get through a huge number a year – easily over 100 – and while I love buying them, there is also a particular pleasure in using ones people have sent.

So I am rather thrilled with this stash. I also love that my friend U chose a Geordie theme for my birthday gifts (and included some Halloween chocolate, which I am utilising for shameless promo…

Paperchasing

As anyone familiar with me knows, I am a bit of a stationery fiend. The good thing about this is, as a writer, notebooks are a justifiable tool of the trade – my collection is enormous, but none of them go to waste. Also, having a reputation for loving notebooks makes me super easy to buy presents for, and every birthday and Christmas brings a glorious stash (not to count the steady stream of ‘I saw this and thought of you’ gifts from around the globe).

Since returning to Newcastle, I have of course been on the look-out for new stationery shops. Old favourites like Fenwick’s (which now contains a Paperchase concession) and Waterstone’s are still a treasure trove; and I got a great haul in the Scribbler sale. Geeky themed notebooks abound in the Geek Quarter, and I was delighted to discover Blackwell’s glorious stationery department, where my friend had to physically restrain me from buying all the shiny Leuchtturm1917 notebooks. So, in fairness, I am spoiled for choice so far… but if anyone has any tips they’d like to share…