Meet Maisie, Our 9 Week Old Cairn Terrier Puppy

I have wanted a dog for a long time and this time last week my dream finally came true. After months of planning and a few false starts John and I picked up our Cairn Terrier puppy from a lovely breeder in mid Wales.

When we arrived our puppy was in a crate waiting for us and we fell in love as soon as we saw her. We had a cage set up in the car and everything we could possibly need for the four and a half hour journey home. We knew it might take a while for pup to settle and were surprised when she slept for most of the way only waking when we stopped to give her some water.

Maisie, 9 Week Old Cairn Terrier Puppy

Maisie, 9 Week Old Cairn Terrier Puppy 2

Maisie, 9 Week Old Cairn Terrier Puppy 3

Maisie, 9 Week Old Cairn Terrier Puppy 4

Maisie, 9 Week Old Cairn Terrier Puppy 5

Maisie is now 9 weeks and 2 days old and is full of energy. So far she has slept through every night, is doing well with her training pads and is learning quickly. We’re working on getting her biting under control and can’t wait till we can take her out for walks.

Amsterdam Mini Cruise on DFDS Princess Seaways

What do you get the girl who has everything? A mini cruise to Amsterdam! It was my 27th birthday recently and John decided to whisk me away to Amsterdam. Knowing I love boats he booked the Amsterdam Mini Cruise with DFDS Seaways where you spend two nights on-board and 5 hours exploring the Dutch capital.

The ferry leaves from Royal Quays, North Shields which is near Newcastle and pretty easy to get to from the A1. My birthday was on a Monday so we chose the cruise which left on Sunday afternoon and returned on Tuesday morning.

We checked in at 2.30pm and had plenty of time to explore the ship before our 5.00pm departure. First we went to find our cabin and see where we would be laying our heads. John had upgraded to a room with a window so we could enjoy the view and the cosy cabin had everything we needed.

Cabin with Window, DFDS Princess Seaways

Once we were settled in we headed to the upper decks to watch as our voyage got under way. On the top deck we found the Sky Bar, ordered a drink and enjoyed the sea air.

Departing from Royal Quays, North Shields

North Shields from DFDS Princess Seaways

North Shields Harbour from DFDS Princess Seaways

In the evening there were plenty of restaurants to choose from and we settled on Little Italy which is also the cheapest except for the cafe. It offers fresh stone-baked pizzas and classic pasta dishes. A margherita with fresh basil set us back €15.50 while a large portion of spaghetti bolognese was €18.50 so it was on the pricey side but we were expecting to pay over the odds for food on-board.

Spaghetti Bolognese, Little Italy, DFDS Princess Seaways

Pizza Margherita, Little Italy, DFDS Princess Seaways

After dinner we had a few drinks and listened to music in our cabin before heading to the Columbus Club to see what entertainment was available. We had brought our own bottles of wine but needn’t have bothered as the shop was duty free making it cheaper than the supermarket at home.

The Columbus Club is the main bar and spans the width of the ship. It has a stage, dance floor, casino and even offers table service. We watched the live band while we drank and left when the bingo started, it’s really not our game!

Our 2-berth cabin had an en-suite bathroom, air conditioning and bunk beds. We had already agreed John would take the top bunk (he was worried I might fall out after a few glasses of wine!) but the bunk beds were a decent size and very comfy so we both slept soundly.

In the morning the ships tannoy woke everyone up an hour before we arrived in Amsterdam. We grabbed something to eat in our cabin then went out on deck to watch as we docked.

Onboard DFDS Princess Seaways

Amsterdam Harbour from DFDS Princess Seaways

The buses were waiting for us after we came through passport control and we began the 45 minute journey to the centre of Amsterdam.

We had five hours to explore so first thing was first. Cheese!

So. much. cheese.

Cheese Shop, Amsterdam

Cheese Shop, Amsterdam 2

Cheese Shop, Amsterdam 3

Then we took in the sights and smells of the world famous flower market.

Flower Market, Amsterdam

These ones didn’t smell quite as good.. and I didn’t notice they were wooden until after I had taken the photo!

Wooden Tulips, Flower Market, Amsterdam

At 12 noon we were surprised to hear an air raid siren blaring. We had no idea what was going on but since none of the locals were batting an eye lid we decided everything must be fine. When we returned home we did some research and found that on the first Monday of every month at noon a network of 4200 sirens are tested all over The Netherlands. It’s called Waarschuwingsstelsel and no matter where you are in the country you should be able to hear the sirens. If it’s not the first Monday of the month you should go instead, shut all doors and windows and turn on your radio!

After that little drama we decided the best way to see the rest of the city was by boat and booked ourselves a canal cruise. We chose Lovers Canal Cruises which was €16 each and spent an hour touring the harbour and the many scenic canals. Unfortunately my camera was having a wobbler so I had no choice but to sit back and relax. Lovers Canal Cruises also offer evening cruises with dinner and drinks and if we stay overnight in the future I would love to go on a candle light or even a pizza cruise!

Amsterdam Canal Houses

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the city centre, enjoying the architecture and dodging the April showers.

On A Bridge in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Canal 2

At 4.00pm we headed to our pick up point and took the coach back to the ferry terminal. Boarding was much quicker when we were getting back on the boat and before long we were heading home.

Wake of DFDS Princess Seaways

Back of the Boat, DFDS Wake of DFDS Princess Seaways

The evening was spent watching the sunset and enjoying a few drinks. We ate in Little Italy again and watched people gamble in the Casino before calling it a night.

Sunset from DFDS Princess Seaways 2

Sunset from DFDS Princess Seaways 3

Sunset from DFDS Princess Seaways 4

We docked in North Shields at 9.00am the following morning and immediately started thinking about our next voyage on the high seas!

If you want to have your own adventure Amsterdam mini cruises with DFDS Seaways start at £85.00pp.

Big Kid Circus 2016

The circus has been back in town! Last month I went to see Big Kid Circus for the fourth year in a row. Yup, four years running! I’m choosing to blame the fact that I never went as a child and have a lot of catching up to do. You can see last year’s post here. This year there were new acts as well as some old favourites like the Wheel of Death and Spiderman who always wows the kids.

One of the most impressive performances was Cascade Troupe with their incredible perch act. This awe-inspiring show of strength and balance involves one man holding a very long pole on his shoulders while the other shimmies up it and performs amazing balancing acts at the very top.

Strength and Balancing Act, Big Kid Circus

Strength and Balancing Act 2, Big Kid Circus

A few familiar faces from the film Monsters, Inc. made an appearance during one of Georgie the clowns’ performances and a balance and poise act featured some amazing flexibility and an incredible number of candles.

Monsters Inc, Big Kid Circus

Balance and Poise, Big Kid Circus

The Three Wheel of Death was even more death defying than last year with one of the Moroccan group doing a full flip while standing on top of one of the moving wheels.

Wheel of Death, Big Kid Circus

Another crowd pleaser was Vasyl the strong man whose act revolved around some very heavy kettle bells and yet more examples of balance and agility. Marianna performed an aerial silk act, the Agadir acrobats took skipping to a completely new level and Cascade Troupe performed again with a Russian bar which is effectively a narrow trampoline held between two people who have to move to ensure the flyer can complete their tumbles without hitting the floor!

The show was busier than I’ve ever seen it so the word about these spectacular gymnasts and performers must be getting around. We really enjoyed the show again this year and are looking forward to seeing what Big Kid Circus come up with next.

Go Ape at Whinlatter Forest and The Proclaimers

For John’s 29th birthday I bought him a voucher for Go Ape and for my 26th John bought us tickets to see one of my favourite bands, The Proclaimers. We decided to book Go Ape for the same date as the concert and make a day of it.

We went to Go Ape at Whinlatter Forest in the Lake District, just 50 minutes from Carlisle. Since I was convinced the highest Go Ape in the country would get the better of me we asked John’s friend and business partner, Ben, to come along.

The boys were shown the ropes (literally) and began making their way around the course. With my feet firmly on the ground I watched them navigate through the trees and over all sorts of obstacles high in the canopy.

Tunnel, Go Ape, Whinlatter Forest

Cargo Net, Go Ape, Whinlatter Forest

Crossing, Go Ape, Whinlatter Forest

The course at Whinlatter features tunnels, bridges, crossings, cargo nets and more. Some of the obstacles look easier to tackle than others but looks can be deceiving. At one point Ben was pretty much horizontal after choosing the trickier way round.

Crossing Fail, Go Ape, Whinlatter Forest

Since it was raining and my camera and I were getting a bit damp I decided to retreat to the visitor centre for a cup of tea and a bite to eat. When I walked back into the woods I thought it might be difficult to find John and Ben again but I soon caught sight of John whizzing through the trees on one of the zip-wires before crashing onto the bark covered landing area.

Small Zip Wire, Go Ape, Whinlatter Forest

Tall Zip Wire, Go Ape, Whinlatter Forest

Final Zip Wire, Go Ape, Whinlatter Forest

The whole course took John and Ben around 2 and a half hours to navigate although they had no idea they had been in the trees for that long!

Finish, Go Ape, Whinlatter Forest

After dusting themselves down they were presented with a certificate to acknowledge their achievement (John was particularly chuffed!) and we headed back to the city for the concert at The Sands Centre.

Certificate, Go Ape, Whinlatter Forest

John and I had seen The Proclaimers once before at Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival but this was a very different environment. John had asked for advice on the best seats so we were able to enjoy the show from the very centre of the audience and this time The Proclaimers had a full band in tow.

The Proclaimers Stage Backdrop

The Proclaimers were on top form and sounded album perfect. They played all of my favourites including most of the songs from the Sunshine on Leith album and a few of their most recent releases.

The Proclaimers, The Sands Centre, Carlisle

I absolutely loved the gig and John couldn’t get the smile off his face after his adventure in the trees. All in all I think we did pretty well with our birthday gifts!

Cueva de los Verdes – The Green Caves, Lanzarote

Cueva de los Verdes or the Green Caves is one of the attractions John was keen to take me to see while we were on holiday in Lanzarote and it didn’t disappoint.

The caves were created by lava flows from a nearby volcano over 3,000 years ago and two kilometres have been opened up for tourists to explore. The lighting in the caves was designed by Lanzarote’s beloved artist Jesus Soto and combined with the sound is used to tell the story of how the unique tunnels were born.

Path Through Cueva de los Verdes, The Green Caves, Lanzarote

In times of slavery and piracy the islands inhabitants would hide in the caves. Its vast caverns known locally as a jameo offered protection but locals were often snapped up when setting foot outside to gather supplies.

Cueva de los Verdes, The Green Caves, Lanzarote

Nowadays the caves house a concert hall which can seat up to 500 at any one time.

Concert Hall, Cueva de los Verdes, The Green Caves, Lanzarote

Concert Hall Seating, Cueva de los Verdes, The Green Caves, Lanzarote

The tour climaxes with “the great Secret of Lanzarote” which you’ll probably be able to figure out by looking at the photos below!

Reflection at Cueva de los Verdes, The Green Caves, Lanzarote

Reflection 2 at Cueva de los Verdes, The Green Caves, Lanzarote

The Lanzarote Express Caves Tour is run by Last Minute Travel and is €20 per person. It runs on Wednesdays and Fridays and you get a choice of visiting Cueva de los Verdes or Jameos del Agua. I would love to visit again and see Jameos del Agua, the world’s longest lava tube where a rare species of blind albino crab has made its home.

Snorkelling in Lanzarote with David Swimwear*

While on our winter holiday in Lanzarote we decided to buy some snorkelling gear and venture into the sea. I had my new bikini from David Swimwear to try out and John was excited to test the underwater camera I had bought him for his birthday.

We found a beautiful bay about 20 minutes’ walk from our hotel, made sure our things weren’t going to get swept away by the tide and dipped our toes in the clear blue water.

Snorkelling Cove, Lanzarote

Snorkelling Cove and Windmill, Lanzarote

It was freezing! Tentatively venturing further we could see fish swimming past our feet and as we moved deeper into the water the fish got bigger and distracted us from the temperature of the water.

Snorkelling in Lanzarote

There were so many different types of fish and they certainly weren’t shy. People were feeding them in the shallows and huge shoals circled us to see if we had anything for them.

Snorkelling in Lanzarote

Snorkelling in Lanzarote

We swam around the rocks getting up close and personal with the sea life and even spotted a star fish!

Starfish, Lanzarote

And what about my new bikini? I was really pleased with the comfort and fit it provided and it looks great. It stayed on without any problems and didn’t hug my curves too tightly, perfect when you’re doing your best breast stroke trying to catch up with a particularly pretty fish!

David Swimwear Bikini

The bright pattern of the bikini is eye catching too, ideal when your snorkelling buddy is trying to find you in a sea of other swimmers.

David Swimwear Bikini

The gem details add to the luxury feel and it’s obvious from the quality of the material that this bikini is a piece of high fashion beachwear. It was a real treat to wear something so lavish!

David Swimwear Bikini Gem Detailing

David Swimwear Bikini Bottoms

I was hoping I would feel confident enough to share a photo of myself in the bikini but here’s a photo of it on a stunning model instead! I was also given a beautiful Iconique cover-up in blue to complete my beach look. The image on the right is the same style and it’s plain to see that Iconique pieces are inspired by the Mediterranean coast and are designed to be easy to wear.

David Swimwear Bikini and Iconique Cover-up

The David Swimwear collection for 2016 features more bold prints inspired by Italian design and focused on comfort.

David Swimwear

David Swimwear

Patricia Eve is the UK distributor for David Swimwear so if you would like to see more from the new range you can visit www.patricia-eve.co.uk.

Lanzarote South Tour – Timanfaya National Park

In November John turned 30 and we decided to celebrate by spending a week in the sun. We chose Lanzarote as John had visited before and really liked the island. We decided to stay at the same hotel he had stayed at previously, Santa Rosa Apartments in Costa Teguise and flew from Newcastle. After a few days of relaxing and trying to acclimatize (I am useless in the heat!) it was time to explore.

For our first excursion we chose to go on the Short South Island tour, mainly because I got a little over excited at the prospect of riding a camel…

The tour took us to Timanfaya National Park in the southwestern part of Lanzarote where we saw the stunning scenery created by eruptions in the 18th century. Brimming with different colours and textures the lava fields look unearthly and photos of the area where apparently shown to Nasa astronauts to prepare them for what the moon would look like.

Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

To demonstrate how hot it is below the surface of Montañas del Fuego we were shows geothermal experiments.

Geothermal Experiments, Timanfaya National Park

Geothermal Experiments, Timanfaya National Park

At the restaurant in the heart of the Fire Mountains they even cook the food with the natural heat from under the ground.

Cooking on a Volcano, Timanfaya National Park

Next we were taken to the base of Fire Mountain where the camels were waiting.

Camels, Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

We took our seats on either side of our camels hump and up it got. The camels were all connected and in convoy took us round a track on the side of the mountain.

Camel Rides, Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

Camel Rides, Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

Camel, Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote

The last stop on our tour was a traditional vineyard where we tasted some very sweet wine.

Traditional Vineyard, Lanzarote

Traditional Vineyard, Lanzarote

The vines are grown in sunken pits surrounded by semi circular walls built with volcanic stones. This protects the vines and means that around 2 million litres of wine are produced each year.

Traditional Vineyard, Lanzarote

Traditional Vineyard, Lanzarote

The Lanzarote Short South Tour is run by Last Minute Travel and is €20 per person. It runs Monday-Thursday and if you’re visiting Lanzarote I really recommend it.

The Really Useful Chocolate Teapot

How useful is a chocolate teapot? Recently I was given the opportunity to find out by reviewing the Schokolat Chocolate Teapot. As a chocoholic I was pretty pleased and the answer? It’s more useful than you might have thought!

Schokolat Chocolate Teapot and Saucers

The teapot is hand-made in the UK and is made with real Belgian chocolate. It’s much heavier than it looks and would make the perfect gift for family or friends with a sweet tooth.

We decided to use ours to make hot chocolate but you can also use it for fondue by adding hot water and dipping marshmallows, strawberries or anything else you fancy into the teapot and topping it up with more hot water whenever the chocolate starts to run out.

Schokolat Chocolate Teapot

To make our hot chocolates we put two teaspoons of organic cocoa powder into the teapot then filled it two thirds full with water and stirred. Holding the lid John poured the thick chocolate drink into our teacups and we savoured the rich flavours.

Pouring Hot Chocolate from the Schokolat Chocolate Teapot

Then we couldn’t resist taking a bite.. You can refill the teapot as many times as you like and once you’re finished you can break it up and eat it or do what we’ve done and store it in the fridge for whenever you fancy a nibble!

Bitten Schokolat Chocolate Teapot

The chocolate teapot is available to buy here and maybe the next time you hear the phrase “as useful as a chocolate teapot” it will remind you that sometimes they really can be. However I wouldn’t recommend using one to make a cup of tea.

#Bloggerlodge at Travelodge Gateshead Hotel

The North East is one of our favourite places so when we were given the opportunity to spend two nights in a hotel near the Metrocentre in Gateshead we jumped at the chance.

After work on Friday we made the relatively short trip over to Gateshead. We were staying at Travelodge Gateshead Hotel just 3.1 miles from Newcastle City Center. The hotel is just off the A1 and is pretty easy to get to. When we arrived we were given some tips on where to eat before heading up to our room to get settled in.

The room was a good size, nice and clean and had everything we needed. Stomachs rumbling we headed out in search of somewhere nice to eat. The lady who had welcomed us had recommended the pub next door for tasty homemade food so we decided to give it a go.

Travelodge Gateshead Hotel

The Skiff Inn is a typical local pub with a wide range of dishes on offer and friendly, attentive staff. The Skiff is named after the boat Harry Clasper, a professional rower from Tyneside, used to race and is decorated with nautical items including a rowing boat that hangs from the ceiling.

The Skiff Inn, Gateshead

For our starter we chose to share a portion of calamari and we were so glad we only ordered one as there was more than enough for both of us. It was crispy, tasty and came with a spicy tomato dip.

Calamari at The Skiff Inn, Gateshead

For our main courses I opted for a garlic chicken pizza and John chose a chicken burger.

Chicken Burger at The Skiff Inn, Gateshead

My pizza was huge and very tasty and John really enjoyed his burger although wasn’t that impressed with the chips.

Chicken Kiev Pizza at The Skiff Inn, Gateshead

Feeling pretty full we headed back to the hotel to relax.

The hotel doesn’t have a restaurant so in the morning we got ready and headed to the Metrocentre to get something to eat before getting the train into Newcastle.

The area around the hotel is mainly retail park so there are lots of busy roads but there is a path by the river that takes you directly to the Metrocentre. It takes about 20-25 minutes and delivers you to the transport interchange.

We decided to get something cheap and cheerful for breakfast so popped into Wetherspoons. John had his typical full English while I had a bagel with salmon and cream cheese.

Full English Breakfast at Wetherspoons, Metrocentre

Salmon and Cream Cheese Bagel at Wetherspoons, Metrocentre

Fenwicks had just opened a Christmas pop up shop so we had a look around and even bought our first Christmas present. After a quick look around the Metrocentre we caught the train to Newcastle City Center and spent the next few hours shopping, something we don’t usually do and aren’t very good at! (We mainly played with toys and looked at tents!)

Before long we were ready for a bit of refreshment. I had wanted to show John The Botanist for a while so I thought we could pop in for a cocktail but it was absolutely packed.

Instead we decided to go for a drink and a snack at dAt bAr on Market Street. dAt bAr is popular for it’s urban style, craft beers and tasty food and I love the relaxed atmosphere.

dAt bAr, Market Street, Newcastle

dAt bAr, Market Street, Newcastle

dAt bAr, Market Street, Newcastle

dAt bAr, Market Street, Newcastle

We ordered some shoestring fries and sourdough bread with french butter, mainly because I couldn’t remember having ever tasted sourdough bread and we weren’t that hungry.

Sourdough Bread at dAt bAr, Market Street, Newcastle

Shoestring Fries at dAt bAr, Market Street, Newcastle

The shoestring fries were amazing. Honestly. And the sourdough bread was very tasty. Next time we visit we’ll be sure to bring our appetites and sample some more of the menu.

All shopped out we got the train back to the Metrocentre and made a beeline for somewhere a bit more exiting than the shops… Namco Funscape! We played a few games, won plenty of tickets and got way too excited when we discovered we could trade them in for a prize. (We chose a minion slinky and three maoam bars, easy pleased!)

Namco Funscape, Metrocentre

No trip to Gateshead is complete without a trip to everyone’s favourite Swedish furniture shop, IKEA where we picked up some bits and bobs before heading back to the Metrocentre in search of some dinner. There are over 50 restaurants and you’re sure to find one of your favourite chains. We found one of ours, Nandos, and treated ourselves to some Afro-Portuguese chicken.

On Sunday morning we had a bit of a lie in (check out isn’t till 12 so you’re free to make the most of that king sized bed) before grabbing some breakfast at Frankie & Benny’s just around the corner from the hotel. Breakfast is served till 12 but the food was very slow to come out.

Typically John had another full English and I decided to try the eggs royale which was a toaster muffin, two poached eggs and slices of smoked salmon topped with hollandaise sauce and chopped chives.

Full English Breakfast at Frankie & Benny's, Gateshead

Eggs Royale at Frankie & Benny's, Gateshead

The eggs royale was lovely but very rich, especially after such a food filled couple of days!

We had a lovely weekend thanks to Travelodge although I’m not sure my waistline will be as appreciative!

My Style Icon with Boohoo – Jessica Alba*

When boohoo.com asked me to choose my celebrity style icon I knew instantly who I would pick. Jessica Alba has been one of my favourite actresses since I first saw her in James Cameron’s Dark Angel and her effortless and classic sense of style means she often appears on the pages of magazines and acts as inspiration for fashion conscious women worldwide.

After scrolling through hundreds of images I found the perfect look to steal for Autumn/Winter with the help of Boohoo.

A photo posted by Jessica Alba (@jessicaalba) on

My weekend style is fairly laid back and I wanted a look that I could wear whether I’m heading out for lunch or traipsing around a DIY superstore (something we’ve been doing a lot recently!) so this outfit Jessica Alba wore for a day in the office really appealed to me.

To recreate the look I chose the Yazmeen Belted Mac, the simple white Alice Swing Vest, high waisted jeans from Oasis (old season), crocodile print Olivia Zip Side Skater shoes, the Melissa Winged Bag from Accessorize (old season) and a Maria Bar and Coin Layered Necklace to complete the look.

The Yazmeen Belted Mac is a bargain at just £25 and looks great with jeans and a simple white top like the Alice Swing Vest. The Alice Vest is light and hangs beautifully hiding any lumps and bumps, plus it’s only £5. I think I’ll be investing in a couple of other colours for my holiday!

My Style Icon with Boohoo - Jessica Alba - Yazmeen Belted Mac, Alice Swing Vest, Olivia Zip Side Skater and Maria Bar and Coin Layered Necklace

My Style Icon with Boohoo - Jessica Alba - Yazmeen Belted Mac,  Boohoo

I’ve written about the Melissa Winged Bag from Accessorize before but unfortunately it seems to have been discontinued. Although not as bold as Jessica Alba’s bag I think it works well with the outfit.

My Style Icon with Boohoo - Jessica Alba 2

The Olivia Zip Side Skater shoes are just £15 and I love the zip detailing and subtle crocodile print.

My Style Icon with Boohoo - Jessica Alba - Olivia Zip Side Skater,  Boohoo

Since Jessica Alba tends to layer necklaces I opted for the Maria Bar and Coin Layered Necklace to finish off my celebrity style icon challenge.

My Style Icon with Boohoo - Jessica Alba - Maria Bar and Coin Layered Necklace,  Boohoo

I really enjoyed taking part in this challenge and I think it’s only increased my admiration for Jessica Alba. Thanks to boohoo.com for making it possible and to my amazing boyfriend John for playing fashion photographer.