What I did on my holidays (trip up north, to be precise)


My week mainly consisted of naps, to be honest. However, during my week at home I also did the following:

Read books
I read War and Peace and the whole of the Enid Blyton ‘Adventure’ series. A bit of a contrast there. W&P was the Maude’s translation in a cute little three-volume edition by Collector’s Library. The Blyton series is the one starring Kiki the parrot, who was always one of my favourite characters, and inspired me with the desire to own a pet parrot (as well as somewhat unrealistic expectations of what parrots are actually capable of).

I also reread a book I discovered a few years ago, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, which is wonderful.

The Haunting of Hill House
The Haunting of Hill House

Thanks to my mam, who was on a health kick. In fairness it wasn’t too bad, and we discovered one recipe for macaroni cheese made from Primula Light cheese and mustard, which was amazing. I also ate much more fruit than I usually do, and enough miniature chocolate bars to form several whole ones.

Attended pub quizzes
Two, to be precise. One was my dad’s quiz, which we won, no thanks to me. My dad’s quizzes are HARD. The other was at a pub near to where my parents live. My mam and I went with one of her friends from the estate and said friend’s mother, who was eighty-nine, had never been to a pub quiz before, and was very excited about it. We did fairly well on this one, and I don’t think the three bottles of wine we consumed had too much of a negative effect.

Popped down to Seaham
My mam and I drove down to Seaham to go for a walk and check out the shops. The highlight was undoubtedly a trip to Lickety Split. They do GINGER NUT ICE CREAM.

Seaham harbour
Seaham harbour

Visited some new bars in Newcastle
Newcastle has really changed since I was last there. I went for a friend’s birthday and we started off in The Alchemist which does amazing cocktails.

Me at the Alchemist
Me at The Alchemist

Between us we had one that looked like a miniature bubble bath, one that resembled a science experiment and one that looked like water but which tasted of different things as you drank it. We then moved on to The Botanist which is simply gorgeous.

The Botanist, Newcastle
The Botanist, Newcastle

Celebrated Heritage Open Days
With a tour around Hetton-le-Hole, on which more in my next blog post…

Home, but not home

I recently spent a week at home visiting my parents. It was a bit different from my usual trips up North: my parents recently moved house, from the semi where I grew up in a large town to a new detached house in a much smaller village.

New house

It was a tad strange going into a completely different house, but once I was there, I was ok – seeing my parents so much happier in their new home made a lot of difference. The new place is bigger than the old one, and one room is going to be a LIBRARY.

The garden

I still keep the majority of my books at home, as I simply don’t have the room to have them in London. Therefore I spent much of the week visiting various friends and relatives, rescuing boxes of books that they had kindly offered to look after, and sorting them onto the shelves in the library and my own bedroom.

My room

I also found the time to sort out some old toys. Frankly, these deserve a blog post of their own, but here are a couple of pictures to be going on with.

Swan Keyper
GoGo My Walking Pup

I did find the time to get out of the house a few times. I spent a day in Durham with my mam: we visited an exhibition at Durham University and had the chance to see Bishop Cosin’s Library in Palace Green Library, which was a real treat. We had tea and cake at Vennel’s café and later went out to the pub quiz that my dad has been going to for years.

We visited my brother at one point, and the two of us had a great game of Blades of Steel, an amazing retro NES game that we loved as children. It has the most horrendous graphics, but it is really simple to pick up and loads of fun to play.


For many years, when I was younger, my parents, my brother and I, along with my parents’ friends and their two children, would go to Ambleside in Cumbria each year during the Autumn half term in order to visit the garden centre there, which had an amazing collection of Christmas decorations. Although all of us children have now grown up and left home, our parents still make the trip every year, and this time I was able to accompany them for the first time in about a decade.

Car park

I’m not sure this was such a good idea, however. I have brilliant memories of the place, but it’s probably a mistake to try and recapture old feelings. The garden centre is pretty much the same, and the Christmas section is as impressive as ever, but the play area where us four children would spend hours is long gone. Obviously, I’m a bit old to be going on the swings myself, but I still feel sad about this!



My final day out was to Newcastle, where I met up with a friend, had some hot chocolate and visited Fenwicks Window (another yearly tradition when I was small). It wasn’t as impressive as last year’s, which was Alice in Wonderland-themed, but I did like the Northumbria Police speeding ticket stuck to the side of the sleigh.




One of the strangest things about my parents moving is that I now need to get the train from Durham, not Newcastle. Still, it was nice to be able to wait on the platform with Durham Cathedral looming impressively from a distance.

At the station
Durham Cathedral

So that was my week at home: I’ll be back at Christmas!

Soundwave music competition at the O2 Academy, Newcastle

I went home for the weekend,  just for a flying visit so that I could see my brother’s band Public Secret perform in the final of the Soundwave music competition at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Sadly they didn’t win but they performed brilliantly. I was a very proud sister that night.

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Public Secret performing on the O2 Academy stage

I made sure to get right to the front when Public Secret were on. My parents were there too, along with our next-door neighbours, my auntie and uncle who’d driven across from Cumbria, my other auntie, my cousin and her husband who’d driven up from Sutton Coldfield despite a ridiculous amount of snow, and a couple of my friends.

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My brother rocking out during one of his solos

I had a great night and drank waay too much wine… unusually for such a venue, the rose wine was actually really nice, and I went to the bar an awful lot.

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Slightly blurred picture of a poster: Rita Ora, Funeral For a Friend, Train… and Public Secret!

This was the biggest crowd the band had played to, and I thought they did a brilliant job. Hopefully this will bring them some new fans and lead to bigger and better things.