Newcastle city centre has had a major facelift in the last 5 years. I have always loved my city but for a long time it seemed very dated, and even though Newcastle has always been known as a great party/night out city, no big interesting brands had opened here in a long time. However we have noticed some incredible bars and fashion brands slowly popping up in the city centre in recent times, especially around the Grey's Monument area of town. The renovation of Monument Mall was the start of this renaissance, with the introduction of The Botanist cocktail bar, The White Company, Molton Brown, Hugo Boss and many more. Over the last few months, the entire Monument side of Eldon Square was revamped and opened as an amazing hub of restaurants and eateries. The newest and most anticipated addition to this is The Alchemist


Interior

Over recent years, more and more bars and restaurants have realised that their decor is extremely important and they now try to stand out with clever and unique themes and amazing interior design. The competition is fierce these days, so each establishment needs to have something very special else that entice new visitors and encourage them to return. It is so important for everything to be eye-catching and photogenic, social media is such a huge advertising tool these days with everyone sharing photos instantly, first impressions count more than ever before.

The inside of The Alchemist is gorgeous, they have fully embraced the science lab theme and gone all out to make it look and feel like you are somewhere special not just another bar. I am obsessed with all the copper, its everywhere even down to the copper cocktail shakers, which is a great touch. I also liked the fact that there is a lot of seating, this is a restaurant as well but even the bar area has lots of places to sit and relax while enjoying your drinks.

Cocktails

I love the look of the cocktail menu, you can tell that every detail of this bar's theme has been thought out, if the periodic table was like this at school I might have concentrated in science a little more!

The prices of the cocktails range between £7.50 & £8.50 for single cocktails, but they also offer sharing cocktails for 2/4 people from £20.50 up to £37.50. 

I didn't try the sharing cocktails but spied the Mad Hatters Tea Party being made and had to get a picture, it is made from KETEL ONE VODKA, CITRUS, ELDERFLOWER, COINTREAU AND SUMMER FRUITS. SCIENCE. 10 years ago if you told everyone that they would all be drinking cocktails out of teacups I think you would be laughed out of the bar, but these days since the Hipster Revolution (yes, I called it a revolution) we find ourselves drinking out of crazier and crazier objects every week! I don't mind this at all, I think it is fun and creates talking points. I do not, however, appreciate it when it comes to food... #bringbacktheplate.


Mad Hatters Tea Party - £20.50 - Serves two

Bubble Bath - £7.75

My first choice of cocktail was Bubble Bath, this one had been recommended to me by a friend that had been to The Alchemist in Leeds. It is made up of TANQUERAY GIN, APEROL, CHAMBORD, LEMON, APPLE, FAIRY LIQUID (not the soap) and is £7.75. When it was first made the bubbles just kept expanding, I didn't think they were going to stop! It was delicious but I love anything with gin in it, it also tasted like sweets which is never a bad thing. The bubbles made it hard to drink at first but added to the fun.


My next choice of cocktail to try was the Lightbulb Moment. I say 'choice' but I didn't actually choose it, I did that annoying thing where I asked the barmaid to choose for me (I hated that when I worked in a bar!). I was useless as a barmaid, but at The Alchemist all the staff are amazing and have fantastic skills. I didn't notice one person looking at any cheat sheets or instructions, this might have something to do with the 3-week intensive training course they go on. Now that is dedication!

Lightbulb Moment is made from TANQUERAY GIN, PIMMS, GINGER BEER, RASPBERRY, LEMON, MINT and is £7.95. This cocktail was the most fun to watch so much so that I had two of them, it also tasted amazing.









For my next choice, I actually studied the menu instead of letting the child in me pick the one that smoked the most. As soon as I saw the word 'Hendricks' I was sold on my next choice which was Tickle me Pink, this is made from HENDRICKS GIN, BRIOTTET ELDERFLOWER, LIME, NETTLES, STINGS and is £8.50. 

While the barman was making my drink I noticed some odd accompaniments on the bar, I wondered what they were for as they seemed very out of place for a bar setting. Once my drink was completed, however, everything became clear; the barman took a pink liquid filled syringe and placed it on top of my drink, telling me I would need to drink that first before the cocktail. The syringe had a Gin and chilli concoction in it which numbs the tongue as though stung by a nettle, the cocktail then acts like a 'Doc Leaf' which eases the 'sting'. There is a rather entertaining video of my reaction over on my Instagram if you want to watch it.


Tickle me Pink - £8.50
One of my favourite cocktails at the moment is the Porn Star Martini which is made of REYKA VODKA, PASSOA, PINEAPPLE, LEMON, PROSECCO, PASSIONFRUIT and is £10.50. Sadly I had put myself on a 4 drink limit due to having a long drive the next day but my lovely blogging friends Samantha (North East family Fun) and Naomi (Nomipalony) took one (and two, three, four, five) for the team and this is one that they ordered.  I absolutely loved the tiny beaker the shot of prosecco came in, a fantastic touch.




And if cocktails are not your thing there is plenty more drinks to choose from, this is a Hawaiian beer that Thom tried and loved. The cap of the beer even has a removable cover inside which, if you scratch off, reveals a Hawaiian word or phrase. Now you can learn a new language while you drink, perfect!


Final Thoughts

I will 100% be visiting again and adding The Alchemist to my bar list for a night out. I think it is a perfect starting point for nights out and even pre-dinner drinks. I think the prices are comparable with most 'fancy' cocktail bars in town and I am happy to pay that for one of two cocktails and then move onto normal spirits. I do think if they are busy and everyone is ordering cocktails you could end up waiting a while for a drink, but that is purely speculation as the bar staff were very quick and seamless at making the drinks when I was there. I believe they will also be adding table service for drinks in the future, so no standing waiting at the bar missing out on your friend's conversations.

The Alchemist also does food which I can not comment on yet as I haven't tried it fully however if the canapes at this event are anything to go by the food will be incredible. 

Opening Times


MONDAY 8AM - MIDNIGHT 
TUESDAY 8AM - MIDNIGHT
WEDNESDAY 8AM - MIDNIGHT 
THURSDAY 8AM - 1AM
FRIDAY 8AM - 2AM 
SATURDAY 10AM - 2AM
SUNDAY 10AM - 11PM

Make a Booking HERE
Food Menu HERE
Drinks Menu HERE

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When I got married in June I don't think I actually thought about the whole name changing element. Obviously, I knew I was going to change my name but the work involved never crossed my mind until I actually started doing it. I started writing a list of everything I could think of that had my name on and that list started getting longer and longer; so I thought maybe Thom could just change his name instead, that way he can do the work and not me! Unfortunately, he wasn't up for this idea.

As with anything in my life I needed to find the simplest and quickest way to get this done, and like magic (I am sure Facebook can now look into our minds) I saw an advert for My Married Name Change which claims to make changing your name after you get married an easy and quick process. I decided to take a look, as my list of 'things I need to change my name on' was making my head hurt. 

Navigating around the My Married Name Change website was really simple and easy and finding out what they could actually do for me was quick to see, which is always a bonus when you have an attention span like mine.

So what can they actually do? Well, My Married Name Change will provide you everything you need to change your name with all the companies/agencies/governing bodies that require the update. They supply pre-written letters, emails and even send you the correct forms for the companies that don't accept letters, for example your passport or driving license. You can either choose to print the letters off yourself or you can receive them printed in the post with envelopes to make it even easier to send out. 

When you sign up you complete a few form with all of your details and your new married name etc, you then select everyone you want to change your name with. This list is extensive which is fantastic as you can select everyone you have accounts with for example any of the UK Government Departments, Banking, credit cards, home insurance, TV packages, Energy companies... the list goes on.




I went through this full process and straight away I received the letter and email templates into my inbox, which meant I could start contacting any companies that accepted emails right away. Roughly 7 days later I received my pack in the post, all the letters were addressed to each company with my details printed on them. Literally, the only thing I needed to do was add in any account numbers and sign the letters, it was so simple.

This is a chargeable service and I know exactly what you are all thinking as I thought the same when I first saw this website "why pay to do this? Just write the letters yourself!" Now, if you have all the time in the world and love admin it is a fair comment, however, if you have no desire to scroll through websites or wait in call queues trying to find the right addresses to send name change letters to then this service is perfect for you.

I sent off all my letters gradually as some require your marriage certificate and even though we got a spare one on the wedding day it took time to send off and then receive back. Most companies don't need this, for example, our Energy and Water company, Virgin Media and most other companies that just provide a similar, chargeable service.

The price varies with how much you want them to do but the top package is only £34.99, considering how easy this service was and how quickly I got my name changed on everything I believe it is worth every penny. You can see all their packages here and they even have a basic free version.

Overall I could not be happier and I am now officially Mrs Hurst on all my accounts/ID with no stress and worry that I missed something.

I think if you have just got married or will be soon, you really need to look into this service with My Married Name Change.


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*I was provided with the top package for free to review but I am always 100% honest in my reviews

Sunday Dinner in Newcastle - Revolution Bar

This really shouldn't be something I admit to, but I have never been in Revolution sober. I realised this when I walked into Revolution in Newcastle last Sunday and couldn't believe how beautiful the building was, this photo really doesn't do it justice. The architecture is incredible, however this isn't something you really look at when you have had a few too many gins and you are fighting your way to the bar for a shot roulette! As much as I know you would all love to hear about my drunken escapades this post isn't about that; it is all about one of my favourite things in life, the infamous Sunday Dinner.

Quick question before we start, is it Sunday Dinner or Sunday Lunch to you? I have always said Sunday Dinner. I suppose tomato/tomato (I realise now that when written down that expression doesn't really have much impact, lol!) 

Sunday Dinner in Newcastle - Revolution Bar

Finally to the point. Last Sunday, Thom and I were invited along to Revolution in Newcastle for Soul on Sunday which is a Sunday dinner menu with a live band singing soul music. I love live music and I love Sunday dinner so we were hoping for good things. 

I never think about going into the centre of Newcastle for Sunday dinner/lunch. We always seem to drive to little pubs in the country which is lovely, but Newcastle is such an incredible city it was nice to wander around, do a little shopping, and then stop for a delicious Sunday dinner at Revolution.

*Spoiler Alert* the rest of this post is describing just how delicious.

Sunday Dinner in Newcastle - Revolution Bar

The band that brought soul factor was called Watson & The Elements. The lead singer had a beautiful voice which Thom described as being similar to Van Morrison's. I thought they were great and really easy to listen to. They played a lot of soul classics and it was funny hearing a live band on a Sunday afternoon serenade you and the rest of the bar with R-Kelly's Bump N' Grind (I had to put the link to the music video, its a classic. Enjoy!)

We were sat in a booth which was comfy and spacious. Thom ordered a coffee which came in a proper cafetiere which I thought was a lovely touch. I really liked the menus as they were simple mock newspapers which were easy to read and find what you wanted, they even had a bit of info on Watson & The Elements.

You have a selection of either 2 courses or all 3 courses. This style of menu has become very popular recently and I am not sure I 100% like it as sometimes you just don't want a starter or a dessert, you just want to devour as much meat and veg (yes I hear it) as possible before your jeans burst! Or is that just me?

Even though there were only 4 dishes on each course to choose from, the food options were good and I personally like this as it stops me staring at the menu for hours.

Sunday Dinner in Newcastle - Revolution Bar

Starters

I went for the Mango Chicken & Ricotta Salad, House Flatbread and Pomegranates. It was presented beautifully which actually took me by surprise as Revolution is effectively a pub but the food was high-quality restaurant food which was great to see. Mine was nice, nothing to write home about but I enjoyed it. Thom ordered the Breaded Halloumi with Hummus, Dukkah, House Flatbread & Pomegranate. As we always share our food I ate some of this as well and we were both in agreement that it was absolutely delicious, the hummus was creamy and flavourful and the Halloumi baked perfectly. I think that was the point we agreed we would definitely come back even just to eat that again.

Sunday Dinner in Newcastle - Revolution Bar

The Main Attraction


Luckily neither of us are "Joey from Friends" and we always get food that we can share, so as soon as we saw the Roast Chicken for Two with Balsamic Onions we knew that's what we were going to get. We weren't expecting a whole chicken, so when they placed the wooden crate (yes, an actual crate!) containing our dinner down in front of us we were very happy with the amount of food. To be honest, we struggled to eat it all! 

The crate is a nice touch I think, it contained all of the food which included roast potatoes, roast parsnips, carrots, Yorkshire pudding, and balsamic roast onions. As our eyes are bigger than our bellies we also ordered cauliflower cheese as no Sunday dinner is complete without it.

The food was delicious, the chicken was so soft and juicy and just fell off the bone, the roast potatoes were cooked through and crispy and the same with the veg. I loved that it was just root veg as well and there wasn't any soggy cabbage or over cooked greens. The Yorkshire puddings were huge and you could tell they were homemade. 

I love a home cooked Sunday dinner as there are always leftovers and loads of food, so when going out I don't like places that give you a set plate of food as there is always a worry you are just going to get one slice of meat and one of each veg. A carvery is a good alternative to this as you get to choose your own portions, but I hate having to queue up get your ticket, then walk back to your table trying to balance your plate so you don't spill the swimming pool of gravy you have drowned your food in. So Revolutions Sunday Dinner was a perfect combination of all 3. Delicious homemade food, table service and big portions... Perfect.

Sunday Dinner in Newcastle - Revolution Bar

Sunday Dinner in Newcastle - Revolution Bar

Sunday Dinner in Newcastle - Revolution Bar

Sunday Dinner in Newcastle - Revolution Bar

Dessert 

I think I have mentioned on here before that I am actually lactose intolerant so usually eating off any dessert menu is impossible, however, I recently discovered some tablets from Holland and Barret that help you to digest lactose. What better way to put them to the test then with huge dairy filled deserts? Unfortunately, these tablets don't take the calories out of food so it wasn't too great for the diet!

The photos pretty much tell you all you need to know, they were incredible. We went for the apple pie and the chocolate brownie and I have to say the brownie was one of the nicest ones I have ever had, soft and gooey and just delicious. I liked the ice cream as it was what I call 'fancy ice cream', which basically means you can see the little black vanilla pod seeds!

Sunday Dinner in Newcastle - Revolution Bar

Sunday Dinner in Newcastle - Revolution Bar

Overall we had such a lovely meal and the live band was a great touch. I am really happy Revolution Newcastle invited us along to experience their Soul on Sunday as I honestly don't think I would have ever thought to go here for Sunday Dinner, and it was a delicious and relaxing experience. 

Even though we got invited along I am always 100% honest in my reviews. Obviously, everyone has different tastes but I highly recommend trying Revolution Newcastle Sunday Soul for yourself.


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Sunday Dinner in Newcastle - Revolution Bar

Foreo Luna Mini 2 review

I have a problem when it comes to gadgets, as soon as I see one I just have to have it. If an advertiser tells me it will change my life or make mundane tasks quicker I am SOLD. However, they are usually 10 times out of 10 a total waste of money (I am still getting over the slap chop incident of 2009) anyway my failed attempted at chopped veg is not the point of this post, let me proceed.

Skincare is my life at the moment, since turning 32 I decided I want to do everything possible to keep my skin young and fresh. Previous to this epiphany I had not been looking after my skin well at all, I would regularly go to bed with my makeup on, rarely moisturize and drink hardly any water, which just manifested in bumpy, dull spot prone skin. So back in August, I made it my mission to learn more about my skin and what products were out there. Spinning all the way back to my love of crazy gadgets I discovered the Foreo Luna Mini 2, a face washing tool that is made of silicone and vibrates while you use it, sounds crazy but you have come this far so stay with me. 

I had always been interested in the Clarisonic but I didn't like the fact you always have to change the brush heads, I need things to be low maintenance for me to keep up with them, and I also wanted to try something a bit different. I stumbled upon the Foreo Luna Mini 2, like most things in my life via someone on YouTube and was so intrigued to try it out for myself.

There is a very big argument for and against electric face washing tools and I do understand both sides, they can be very abrasive on your skin but they can also clean deep for a more thorough wash, I am far from an expert though so I can only tell you how this worked for my skin and hopefully help you make a decision on whether to purchase one or not.  

Foreo Luna Mini 2 review


First Impressions


The Luna Mini 2 is made from silicone and on each side of the small gadget is different bobbly bits (technical) each of differing sizes. The different sizes are supposed to do different things to your face as it cleans but if I am honest I only ever use the flat smaller side as it just feels more natural holding it that way. The tip is for more precision cleaning for example around your nose.

Foreo Luna Mini 2 review
Photo from the Foreo website


You press it on, and it starts to lightly vibrate, the company call this T-Sonic pulsation and this is what gives you that deeper clean and supposedly will remove blemish-causing impurities significantly more effectively than washing by hand.

There is a plus and minus sign either side of the ON button which you can regulate the vibration speed, I feel these are totally pointless as I have always had mine on full and never needed it to be anything else.

You want to remove your makeup first and then use the Luna Mini as part of a second cleanse. Put on your usual cleanser and then rub the Luna Mini on your face in circular motions, it will pause slightly every 15 seconds to indicate you should move onto another section of your face.
At first, this will seem really weird and you do think "why am I rubbing this odd looking vibrating stone on my face" but eventually you get used to it.

The Luna Mini 2 is meant to last up to 7 months without needing to be recharged, I can confirm I use mine at least once a day and in 5 months it has still never needed to be re-charged.

Results


Right off the bat, I will say I absolutely love using the Luna Mini 2 and the biggest testament to this is that 5 months later it is still very much part of my everyday skincare routine and isn't sitting in a draw or back of a cupboard somewhere. My skin is a lot smoother and in much better condition. I also have not found it to be too abrasive for my skin or cause any damage.

The only problem with understanding the results is that at the time I started using the Luna Mini I also completely overhauled my whole skincare routine, using new products and adding in a lot more serums, retinol's, cleansing balms and exfoliators. There is no way of knowing if my skin would still be in just as good condition if I hadn't introduced the Luna Mini 2 and I had just used my new products with a normal face cloth. Personally, I do think the Luna Mini 2 has made a big difference, I have fewer blackheads, especially around my nose, and plus I just really enjoy using it.


Foreo Luna Mini 2 review

Value for Money


The Luma Mini 2 is expensive, like most electronic beauty tools. Currently, it is £95 on Amazon, which is where I got mine. I have to say though I have been using it nearly every day for 5 months and it has zero maintenance for example not having to change the brushes and not having to charge it all the time. I think it is 100% worth the money but I can't say 100% this gadget has changed my skin however, it has definitely contributed to its current good condition.

So to conclude, I do recommend the Foreo Luna Mini 2, and I think it is a skincare game changer where technology and skincare work hand in hand amazingly well.

Let me know in the comments below your favorite beauty gadgets, do you have a strange obsession with crazy gadgets like me?

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7th Heaven £1 Face Masks

If you are like me, you may have seen these face masks in the shops but just overlooked them or wondered what they would be like but never actually purchased them. Well, I gave these 7th Heaven masks a try and I was really surprised with the results.
Dobson & Parnell Newcastle Review

I am incredibly lucky to have met some amazing people through blogging, and my friend Chloe is definitely one of those people. Chloe runs the North East blog New Girl In Toon which is just fabulous and you have to check her out. Chloe was kind enough to invite me along as her plus one to review Dobson & Parnell; an amazing new restaurant on Newcastle Quayside from the people that brought you Blackfriars and Hinnies, two of the North East's most prestigious restaurants. 


I think I need to start this post with a confession! Thom and I caught the hiking bug recently but the only reason we did was because of Pokemon Go! Yes, the app that drove everyone crazy for 3 weeks then everyone got bored of it and stopped playing. Luckily, we kept hiking! 

Don't get me wrong, we are still immensely wet behind the ears when it comes to hiking, but we both bought a pair of hiking boots and an all-weather jacket, and now think we can take on anything!  We live in a perfect location for day-trips out hiking and I love discovering new places.  

I had never heard of High Force waterfall until recently and could not wait to go and experience it for myself after seeing photos. HighForce is located on the River Tees in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Beauty (how amazing does that sound?), and I have to say it does live up to it’s name.
We drove from Newcastle across the A69 and then through the Pennines which takes about an hour and 20 minutes but the view is beautiful, just watch out for the sheep that like to stand on the road or walk across at a moment’s notice… I was glad I wasn't driving!

High Force is really easy to find, when you arrive you pull into the carpark and purchase your ticket for the waterfall which is £1.50. I think this is extremely reasonable as it allows them to look after the waterfall and keep it accessible to everyone.

There are two ways you can go; you can walk across the road to High Force and see the huge waterfall from the bottom, or you can walk via Low Force and then look at High force from the top. We decided to do both, and so headed to High Force first.



It was absolutely stunning, the noise of the rushing water was exhilarating! There are some rocks down to the river that people were climbing on and I am sure when it is hot people get in, you just have to be so careful as the current is very strong and rocks are always falling from the cliffs surrounding the falls.

After admiring the falls and taking a few photos we walked back the way we came and then on to Low Force. This trail takes you along the river, over a bridge and upwards so you can see High Force from above. This view is not for the faint-hearted as there are no railings just a steep drop to the water below, does anyone else get that weird feeling like you want to jump (not in a morbid way) when you are high up like that or am I just a bit strange?












We wanted to stop for a picnic we had made and thought we would keep walking and follow the signs for the circle route. We thought as the name was circle’ we would be fine and find ourselves back where we began. Unfortunately, neither of us had a map or a single clue where we were going so we kept walking.....and walking......and walking! Once we ran out of trail and were climbing over fences and into fields with menacing looking cows in it we thought we may be off that so-called circle-route’.











Luckily we had some of the most incredible scenery to look at while we panicked about being lost in the Pennines forever, I couldn't believe this place was so close to home yet we had never been. Just as we were about to give up and walk all the way back the way we came (8 miles) we turned a corner and we were in the car park at High Force, I could not stop laughing as it was like something out of a comedy film. I have never been happier to see our little red car.

I hope you enjoyed this short, mainly photographic blog post. Let me know if you have ever been to High Force Waterfall and even if you have been lost in the wilderness thinking that you were about to perish!


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