Yesterday we visited the Maker Faire at the Life Science Centre in Newcastle. The event was held over two days -(Saturday 23 – Sunday 24 April 2016) and brought together over 300 inventors, crafters, DIYers and coders from around the world who wanted to wow the general public with their futuristic gadgets, ingenious designs and fancy robots.Makers-Faire-Life-Science-Centre-Newcastle-front

Makers-Faire-DroneOnce we’d collected our wrist bands from the main entrance we headed outside to the front of the Life Science Centre. We were greeted by low flying drones buzzing round our heads and a bubble master creating absolutely huge bubbles.  The little man was instantly impressed, as was his Daddy who was just as keen to create his own bubble masterpiece. Maker-Faire-Life-Science-Centre-Newcastle-bubbles

MakerFaire-bubbles

Maker-Faire-huge-bubble

Maker-Faire-Lords-of-LightningOne of my favourite parts of the event was the electrifying display from The Lords of Lightning. Two men dressed in chain mail suits who dueled whilst allowing millions of volts of electricity pass between them – an absolutely epic display, which I imagine would have looked even better at dusk. Maker-Faire-giant-drawing-machinesThe stalls inside were just as impressive. There was a great range of things to look at, gasp at and things to get involved in and make, even for our toddler. Maker-Faire-making-feltWe made felt from individual wool strands that we sprayed and rubbed together and a badge that the little man colored in himself and made by pulling down a lever. It was great that kids could get involved and touch things without the fear of being told off. Maker-Faire-making-badges

Maker-Faire-coloured-carMaker-Faire-coloured-blocksThere were displays and exhibits all over the Life Science Centre. Everywhere you turned there were machines, gadgets and brightly coloured ‘things’. Maker-Faire-robotAfter some initial hesitation,  little man loved this Edward Scissorhands -esque robot with his detailed costume and huge gun. Maker-Faire-exhibitions

Maker-Faire-propsWe found each  maker we spoke too, keen to talk and explain their story and the ideas behind their work. It was really interesting to hear more about their thought process as well as being able to see the finished product. Maker-Faire-taxidermyThere were so many different things too see, from wooden crafts, to tiny computers created using Raspberry Pi to the rather unexpected, but very busy taxidermy station. There was something for all ages to explore and enjoy.

I thought it was a fantastic way of engaging and inspiring the younger generation to get involved with technology and science and encouraging them to be brave and creative.

We had a fantastic day and we’ll definitely be back when Maker Faire UK returns to Newcastle.

You can check out some of our favourite parts of the day by watching the YouTube video below.

*I was provided with entry tickets in return for a review*

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Must see places – Newcastle

I always consider Newcastle my closest major city. I live smack bang between Durham and Newcastle but I always head to Newcastle if I’m looking for something to do, somewhere to eat or to try something a little more obscure.

Every time we visit, a new shop, bar or restaurant has popped up. Sometimes it’s hard keeping up to date with venues to visit but it’s always fun finding somewhere new.
 
The people at Daniel Footwear have created a great ’24 hours in Newcastle guide’ which you can check out for ideas on things to do if you’re visiting Newcastle. I’ve also listed some of my favourite hidden gems that you really shouldn’t miss. 

Food

The Sausage Emporium is probably one of my favourite eateries. Like the name implies, if you love sausage, you’ll love this place. Hidden away under the rail arches not far from Central Station is little restaurant is a firm favorite. It’s simple, not fussy and has a beautiful little in house sausage dog who likes a stroke!
 
Cal’s Own is located on Chillingham Road just out of the City Centre, It’s a bright and cheery pizza restaurant where the reasonably priced food is absolutely delicious. If it’s pizza we fancy, we wouldn’t go anywhere else because I know we’d feel let down. 

A quick cuppa

My hubby loves Quilliam Brothers. Located on Eldon Place it’s a tea lovers dream. As well as having a huge range of loose leaf tea they have a small cinema Must see places which has regular evening shows on KUBRICK SEASON is on at the moment. 
 
The Quay Ingredient at the Quayside is a little trek down from the hustle and bustle of the town centre but it’s definitely worth  the walk. It’s quite small and is usually very busy, but if I’m visiting Newcastle on a weekday (not lunch time) I’ll often call in. The food is delicious and the staff are lovely and friendly. 

Things to see

The Great North Museum is free to visit and filled with fab exhibitions and is a must for any dinosaur or animal fan. They have regular creative work shops and some lovely child friendly events such as story telling and animal handling. 

Shopping

The Glamorous Owl is a quirky shop on Old George Yard. It’s full of beautiful arts and crafts and the lady who owns it is really friendly and helpful. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for a one off gift. 
 
I love having a rummage through the rails in The Yesterday Society in the Grainger Market. It has a great range of vintage clothing and accessories and the staff are really approachable.
 
Have you got any favourite places I might not know about?
 
*A collaborative post with Daniel Footwear*
 
 
 
 
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Living North Christmas Fair – Newcastle

After scanning the internet on Sunday last week for some inspiration to fill up Hubby’s day off work I came across the Living North Christmas Fair at Newcastle Racecourse. I hadn’t seen it advertised anywhere despite it being on 6th – 9th November. 

Hubby and little man went for some kind of almost matching attire for the day and we trundled up to Newcastle Racecourse.

Parking and entrance was well organised with stewards directing traffic and giving information on where to park. Sadly, for me, it all goes a little down hill from there. 

The event was absolutely heaving, even though we arrived just before 11am. The event itself was spread throughout the inside of the Racecourse with parts under Tipis and marquees outside. 

You’re given a bag containing a map and leaflets when you arrive. It gives a brief run down on what you can expect to find. I was rather excited to see so many local business show casing their lovely products. 

I was able to get a few pictures of some of the stalls in the main part of the racecourse but it was too busy in food hall to get my phone out without fear of it disappearing under the stampede of feet. 

I found the beautiful Vintage Glow stall selling beautiful soya wax candles in an array of vintage knick knacks. 

The Illustration and Surface designer Laura Gee who was selling such sweet wooden dinosaur key rings which obviously Hubby needed to buy. Who doesn’t need a Terence the T Rex?!

I fell in love with the stunning handmade Nordic Christmas decorations from Tonttu Gifts which reminded me of my trip to Iceland a couple of years ago. 

Such stunning shabby chic decorative items from Amanda Mercer. The beautiful heart bunting is so sweet. 

The foodhall was home to a wide range of food sellers, including chutneys, cheeses and even Grasmere Gingerbread! There were some lovely things on sale but it was extremely different to get near most of the stalls. It was simply too busy.

Though there were so many stalls selling tasty goodies I didn’t think there was that much on offer to actually eat. I’d have liked somewhere to sit down and have a sandwich or something hot, but the choices were very limited, with the only option being the Park View Suite which is part of the venue. We did visit with the intention of eating and feeding the little man but there were no seats and the queues were ridiculous. 

I loved the things that were on sale at the event. There were so many different things on display and I think it was a fantastic way of finding out about new local talent. I’ve got a list of things I intend to buy online from some of the people we found.

We’d read online before we visited that you couldn’t take pushchairs into the event, fine we thought, we’ll use our baby sling, only to get inside and find so many people with pushchairs!  As the event event was so busy using the sling wasn’t the easiest, people were barging past and pushing others out the way, not ideal when you have a 9 month old baby attached to you who we really didn’t want to get squashed. 

My other gripe is the entrance price. I think it was scandalous!  Adults: £8, Concessions: £6, Children under 12: Free. My student card was still valid so it cost us £14 purely to get inside, which I think is very expensive! Had they included maybe a hot drink or redeemable voucher for something then it’d have made it more acceptable. 

I picked up quite a few little things, not necessarily anything for Christmas, though I did get a very rude and offensive Christmas card for my Brother in Law!

On the whole I enjoyed the event. I think better organisation to reduce the crowds and better food options would be a welcome addition for next time but I probably would return next year. 

There’s a York version of this too and it’s on 14th-16th November at York Racecourse.

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Review Ed’s Easy Diner, Metro Centre, Gateshead
After recently seeing this had opened in the Metro Centre we decided to call in for lunch. Until I did a little Google search I wasn’t aware this was a chain, with branches throughout the UK as well as an international restaurant in South Africa  (I’d have thought there’d have been at least one in America).
It saddens me but I’m always attracted to anything gimicky, so as soon as I saw this was a themed restaurant, I was straight there.
It was reasonably quite when we arrived and we didn’t have to wait more than a minute or so for a table, the staff were friendly, polite and helpful, albeit a little ‘for show’.
The restaurant looks great with it’s shiny red formica tables and checkered floor tiles. It looks the business. With a small juke box on each table, it’s a 50’s music lovers dream.
So … the food.
It was ok. That’s as exciteable as I’m going to get over the food. To be honest I was pretty disappointed.
We chose –
CHEESE OR CHEESE £6.45
ATOMIC AMERICAN FRIES £4.65
DELUXE BBQ DOG – £6.95
BACON AND CHEESE FRIES £4.50
They first thing the staff tell you when you’re about to order is that the burgers aren’t served with anything. For £6.45 I think that’s pretty bad. The burgers come on a side plate with a tiny amount of filling (in my case, one slice of lettuce, one slice of tomato, two small pieces of pickle, one cheese slice and a tiny dollop of mayonnaise and mild American mustard. It was edible, but pretty dry and lacking in flavour.
The Atomic American Fries were tasty, but £4.65 for some frozen chips and little pots of dipping sauce is quite expensive.
They food was the let down for us, although it was by no means awful, it was simply average. It lacked in flavour, presentation and value for money. 
On a more positive note, their milkshakes are pretty tasty – we both ordered one to take out at the end of the meal and they were lovely (The Nutella one is to die for).
On their website there is an option to sign up for their membership club, where for every £1 you spend you’ll earn 10p credit on your loyalty card, which can be redeemed during a future visit, there are also weekly offers listed and some of their branches offer student discount, though not the Metro Centre.
Personally, I wouldn’t return, I’d pop in for a milkshake to drink on my way home from the Metro but wouldn’t eat there again.
There are much tastier, cheaper and places with a more exciting menu in the Metro Centre than Ed’s Easy Diner.
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Review Hotel Indigo, Newcastle

After my hen do we stayed at the Hotel Indigo in Newcastle which is a 4 star boutique hotel in central Newcastle.

It cost £129 for a twin room with breakfast included. We had three rooms booked at the hotel, which were all on the same floor but we were advised wouldn’t be next to each other.

Hotel Indigo – Newcastle

From the outside I honestly don’t think the hotel looks all that. Although the signage looks a little better it does remind me of a much cheaper budget hotel.

The room we stayed on the third floor – an attractive room  on the inside with a view overlooking the rear of The O2 Academy and their bins! As we didn’t have much intention of staying in the room other than to sleep, this didn’t really bother us.

The room smelt of new carpets and paint.

The room had recently been decorated as everything still looked shiny and new, we had a huge double walk in shower which was fab, complete with complimentary Aveda minis in the bathroom.

Good points

  • Very central location – very close to train station and shopping
  • Nice spacious room
  • Very friendly and helpful check in, allowing us in two hours before we were supposed too
  • Large comfy beds
  • Large showers with soft towels and Aveda products
  • The complimentary mini bar (although it did only include two soft drinks, a kit kat and a packet of crisps)
  • The 12 noon check in

Bad points

  • The extremely rude night staff
  • The breakfast that was booked for 8am in the room which arrived at 10.20am
  • The lack of apology for the above.
  • The noise that started at 7am outside the hotel – some form of building work.
  • Expensive (you can stay in the Hilton for less).

It was a nice hotel and it was nice to stay somewhere more exciting that the Travel Lodge, but I wouldn’t stay here again. It was expensive for what it was, although the rooms were attractive and nicely designed the hotel still has a little way to go in my eyes for it to be a four star hotel.

It’s a great location for those visiting Newcastle on a city break as its very close to the train station, theres a Weatherspoons a few hundred yards away (should you decide against the hotels VERY expensive breakfasts) and the shops are a short walk away.

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