Beckleberry’s Ice Cream at the Intu Metrocentre

Living in Newcastle Upon Tyne we are really spoiled when it comes to shopping.  In the centre of Newcastle we have a large undercover shopping centre, Intu Eldon Square. On the other side of the river in Gateshead is the Intu Metrocentre which is a large shopping and leisure centre. It opened in 1886 which is around the same time I came to Newcastle and I have seen it change a lot over the years. One thing you can be sure of is that you will find plenty to do in the Metro Centre, with it’s range of cafes, restaurants and shops as well as a cinema, it is a great place to stroll around for a while. With free parking for 10,000 cars and plenty of public transport going direct to Intu Metrocentre it is easy to drop into.


It had been a while since we last visited the Metrocentre but during the school holidays my son and I decided to have a wander around. There are four main malls, Red, Green, Blue and Yellow and the centre is now known as the Platinum Mall. There are two floors so it does take a while to wander round and see everything. If you want a quick tour before you start walking around you can hop onto the Metrocentre train which gives you a quick tour for a small fee.

MetroCentreIntu Metrocentre is a great place to browse round shops, there are plenty of maps to help you find exactly what you are looking for. We also found lots of other things to attract our attention. Lots of silver figures were placed in various places around the malls and we enjoyed discovering these.

Intu Metrocentre
Intu Metrocentre
My son was also fascinated to find information about famous people from the North East celebrated around one of the escalators.  He lingered for a while reading about George Stephenson, Grace Darling and Joseph Swan among others. Having visited the Stephenson Railway Museum and the Lit & Phil where Joseph Swan had demonstrated his lightbulb, he already knew quite a lot about these famous people.
MetrocentreOne of my favourite parts of the Intu Metrocentre is the village. It is filled with quirky little shops selling crafts, sweets, bath bombs and many other things. Whenever I enter this section of the metrocentre I feel like I am walking into a Christmas card. I almost expect figures in Victorian dress to be wandering around.

Intu MetrocentreIf you are looking for family entertainment then you can drop into Namco Funscape where you will find ten pin bowling, arcade games, a soft play area as well as a bar and pool area with sky sports. There are also plenty of places to eat and drink so you can easily spend a few hours here.


Beckleberry’s Ice Cream

While we were at the Intu Metrocentre I wanted to drop into Beckleberry’s coffee shop and try their ice cream. Beckleberry’s is a small family owned company based in Blaydon who create ice cream, sorbet and speciality desserts. They have even received 80 great taste awards which is an amazing achievement. I love good quality ice cream. When we went on holiday to Knockbrex Castle we visited the local ice cream producer, Cream o’ Galloway.  It was fascinating to see the ice cream being made and learn about the differences between cheap ice cream and high quality ice cream. I only learned fairly recently that Beckleberry’s was a local ice cream producer and really wanted to try their ice cream.

Beckleberry's metro centreBeckleberry’s coffee shop is located on the top floor of the blue mall. It is easy to spot, a selection of cakes and desserts placed in the front of the shop to entice you in. I could easily have eaten quite a few of these as they looked gorgeous, but was here to try the ice cream.

Beckleberry'sThere was a selection of different flavours of ice cream which you could choose to have in a cone or a tub. If you prefer you can have an ice cream sundae. It was really difficult choosing which flavours to try, they all looked lovely. In the end my son went for coconut and strawberry supreme in a cone.

BeckleberrysI decided to try the lemon sorbet and raspberry reprise in a cup. We were served quickly and efficiently and sat down to enjoy our ice creams.

Beckleberry's ice creamThe sorbet was lovely, the lemon  was really fresh and tangy and the raspberry was bursting with flavour without being bitter. It was a lovely refreshing treat. My son said his cone was lovely as well and indeed it did not last very long. I would have loved to have taken some tubs of ice cream home with me to keep in the freezer but sadly they only sell scoops at the moment. They do have local stockists though which can be found on the Beckleberry’s website. Be warned don’t look if you are hungry. If you want a place to sit down and enjoy an ice cream or cake whilst shopping in the Intu Metrocentre, Beckleberry’s is a good place to try.

Dragons and Fairy Dust

Out and About: August Round Up

It’s the end of the Summer holidays, the kids are preparing to go back to school. There is always the last minute rush getting uniform, lunch boxes and other essential items for the school year. It looks like everyone made the most of the holidays, visiting some interesting places and enjoying some fun days out. I have enjoyed reading about all your adventures this month and have added some new places I would love to explore to my ever growing list.

Adventures in the UK

The UK has lots of interesting places to visit and I would really love to take a couple of months and explore it’s length and breadth. Over the summer everyone managed to find some interesting places to visit. Cheryl from Madhouse Family Reviews visited the Stade in Hastings Old Town. She found some really interesting things, the fisherman’s musuem, a lifeboat and a cottage made from a boat. I went to Hastings many years ago and all I can remember is that it had a pebbled beach. I would love to revisit the town.

Image Credit: Madhouse Family Reviews

Image Credit: Madhouse Family Reviews

Eileen from ET Speaks From Home discovered plenty of things to do in Bristol. She managed to track down Shaun the Sheep, visit a science museum and even found the time to pop into Weston-Super-Mare. Bristol is a part of the world I have never visited and now I want to, it looks lovely.

Image Credit: ET Speaks From Home

Image Credit: ET Speaks From Home

Eileen also managed to visit Ripley’s Believe it or Not in London. This looks like a fun place to spend some time, I really love the Amazing Art she found.

Image Credit: ET Speaks From Home

Image Credit: ET Speaks From Home

I was also busy this month, at the start of the month I visited the British Street Food Awards in Newcastle. It was the North East and Scottish heat and street food vendors from these regions were competing for a place in the final. We got to try some lovely food and listen to some music while we were there.

British Steet Food Festival

I also stayed in Once Brewed Youth Hostel for the night which is right beside Hadrian’s wall. It was my first stay in a youth hostel for many years and I was pleasantly surprised that family rooms were available. It was lovely and peaceful and we even managed to walk to the wall and enjoy some lovely views.

Hadrian's wall

While we were at the youth hostel we stopped for dinner at Twice Brewed Inn and enjoyed some delicious food. It was lovely sitting in the beer garden looking over the countryside and watching the sun go down.

Twice brewed inn

Zoe from Splodz Blogz went off on her motorbike to explore Scotland. I love visiting Scotland and Zoe managed to pack in a lot on her trip getting all the way to Loch Ness. Sadly she did not manage to see the monster.

Image Credit: Splodz Blogz

Zoe also has some great tips about exploring nearer to home with her tips about how to make the most of local trails. I must admit I love going on long walks near to home with the dog and am always finding new things. Zoe discovered lots of pretty places in Lincolnshire.

Image Credit: Splodz Blogz

Image Credit: Splodz Blogz


Adventures Abroad

As well as adventures in the UK some of us had fun discovering other countries. Mel at The Diary of a Jewellery Lover visited the states. She has some great tips for the top things to do in San Francisco including visiting Alcatraz, China Town and Lombard Street, a street that always makes me smile. I definitely must revisit San Francisco one day.

Image Credit: The Diary of a Jewellery Lover

Image Credit: The Diary of a Jewellery Lover

Mel also managed a whirlwind tour of San Diego in forty eight hours She visited Balboa Park, did a seal tour and found lots of interesting historic buildings and monuments. It really does look like an interesting city to visit.

Image Credit: The Diary of a Jewellery Lover

Cheryl from Madhouse Family Reviews spent a lovely day rockpooling in Brittany. Her kids had great fun exploring the pools and finding all manner of sea life from shrimps to crabs.Image Credit: Madhouse Family Reviews

Cheryl also visited Daoulas in Brittany which looks like a lovely relaxing village, perfect for long walks. Cheryl even managed to discover something new on this visit.

Image Credit: Madhouse Family Reviews

Image Credit: Madhouse Family Reviews

I have really enjoyed reading about all your adventures this month and look forward to seeing where everyone gets to in September.

Out and About Linky

The out and about linky is a linky for places of interest you have visited, restaurants you have eaten out at, days out with the kids or holidays. Anywhere that gets you out and about. It is co-hosted with Chez Maximka and stays open until the end of the month. If you have been anywhere recently why not link up? We love to find out about your adventures.

Rules of the linky

  • You can add up to three posts per month to the linky below. Please make sure they are no older than three months old and feature somewhere you have visited.
  • Tweet your link using #outandabout, if you include @ali991 and @maximka25 we will retweet for you.
  • Do pop along and comment on a couple of other posts in the link up and share the love.
  • We would love it if you could add the #outandabout badge to your post so that other bloggers can find us.
  • Your posts will be tweeted at least two times during the month and added to the out and about pinterest board


Dragons and Fairy Dust

My Family Kitchen by Sophie Thompson and Bakewell Tart

Cookery programmes are very much in vogue at the moment. I love watching MasterChef and The Great British Bake Off. MasterChef give an idea of the range of skills that are needed to turn out good quality meals in restaurants. There is much more to it than just knowing how to cook, timing and preparation are the key. Recently I was sent My Family Kitchen by Sophie Thompson. Sophie is the 2014 winner of MasterChef and this is her recipe book. I was expecting the book to be a mixture of fancy recipes that you would see gracing the table of Michelin starred restaurants. I was pleasantly surprised, the book is a mixture of recipes from Sophie’s family and friends. The sort of recipes that you would prepare for family gatherings, taking your time and cooking slowly, enjoying time spent in the kitchen.
My Family KitchenEvery family has hand me down recipes, I have a selection of family favourites I learnt from my mum and grandmother. These recipes are often scrawled on bits of paper and tucked into recipe books to be taken out and cooked on special occasions. Many of them have memories attached, like my mum’s volcano pudding. It was actually a chocolate surprise pudding but the first time she cooked it the sauce came oozing out over the top and it resembled a volcano. It was delicious and became a firm family favourite. My Family Kitchen is a collection of Sophie’s family favourite recipes. Each recipe has a story attached and has been added into the book from a different family member or friend. Granny Annie’s Orange and Ginger Chicken, Mum’s Spare Ribs, Uncle James’s Pineapple Tarts are a few of the gems. Opening the book is like opening a snapshot into family life.

My Family KitchenThere are nine chapters in the book. The Introduction explains how Sophie gained her love of cooking with lots of lovely family photos to illustrate this. The chapter on Larder and Spice Stash is a good list of basics that should be in any kitchen cupboard. Then we get into the different recipes, these are divided into Soups, Starters and Morsels, Fish from the Briny Deep, Chick Chick Chick Chick Chicken. Lambs, Beef, Pigs and Game, Vegetabley Things, Who’s for Pud? and Cakes, Biscuits and Confections. It is a easy book to pick up and find a recipe to cook. In fact you will be spoiled for choice and tempted by the lovely pictures.
My Family KitchenI have to admit that I was tempted by the recipe for a Bakewell Tart. Bakewell tarts are one of my favourite things but I have never tried to make one before. I had all the ingredients listed including some ground almonds that had been lurking in the cupboard for a while. It seemed like a good opportunity to use them up.

Bakewell tartI thought the recipe would be complicated but in fact it was really easy to follow. The recipe used ready prepared shortcrust pastry which I didn’t expect. Most recipe books expect you to faff around and prepare your own. Whilst I can make shortcrust pastry, I have memories of my domestic science teacher intoning half fat to flour, it is easier to use ready made. I liked the fact that this book recognised that. Having lined the dish with pastry I blind baked it.  I then added a layer of home made raspberry jam and the almond mixture into the case and baked it in the oven for the requisite time.

Bakewell tartI was really pleased with the result, it was delicious and tasty. Perfect with a cup of tea in the afternoon.  My Family Kitchen is the ideal recipe book if you are looking for new ideas for family meals. Sometimes when you look at recipe books you only want to try a couple of recipes but this book has given me lots of ideas and I will be working my way though the recipes in it for some time to come. The recipes are easy to follow and it would be an ideal book for someone who is just starting out in the kitchen

Bakewell tart

Birchover Bakewell Tart by Sophie Thompson

Reproduced with permission from the publishers

Birchwell Bakewell Tart
Serves 8
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  1. 320g ready rolled shortcrust pastry
  2. 200g soft butter
  3. 200g caster sugar
  4. 3 large eggs, beaten
  5. ½ tsp almond extract
  6. 200g ground almonds
  7. 6 tbsp raspberry jam
  8. 1-2 tbsp flaked almonds, lightly toasted
  9. icing sugar to decorate
  1. Take the pastry out of the fridge about fifteen minutes before using.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C 160C fan, Gas Mark 4
  3. Roll the pastry out into a circle big enough to line a 22cm tart tin. Grease the tin and press the pastry into it. Let any excess pastry hang over the edge.
  4. Line the pastry with baking paper and add baking beans.
  5. Bake blind for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove the baking beans and paper and cook for five minutes to crisp the base
  7. In a bowl mix the butter, sugar, beaten eggs, almond extract and ground almonds until well combined.
  8. Spread the jam over the pastry base and add the almond mixture.
  9. Trim the overhanging pastry so there is 3cm all the way round then fold the excess pastry over the top of the filling.
  10. Place on a baking tray and bake for around forty minutes.
  11. Allow to cool completely then remove from tin and sprinkle with flaked almonds and dust with icing sugar
Dragons and Fairy Dust

I was sent the book in return for an honest review

Dinner at Twice Brewed Inn

Once Brewed or Twice Brewed is a small village just on the Military Road in the heart of Hadrian’s Wall country. It is a small village consisting of Twice Brewed Inn, the Northumberland National Park Centre and Once Brewed youth hostel where we stayed recently There are also a few farms nearby. It is the perfect place to explore Hadrian’s Wall, close to the main Roman sites of Vindolanda, Housesteads and The Roman Army Museum. The countryside around the village is certainly dramatic and Hadrian’s wall can be seen snaking along the hills in the distance.
There are a number of stories to explain how the village got it’s name. One of these comes from the building of the military road in the eighteenth century. The navies building the road wanted a nice strong ale but the beer in the local pub was weak so they demanded the landlord brew it again. This gave the pub the name Twice Brewed Inn. Interesting Once Brewed youth hostel, which was the first youth hostel in England was opened by Lady Trevelyan from Wallington Hall. She was a teetotaller and in her opening speech announced “Of course there will be no alcohol served on these premises, so I hope the tea and coffee will only be brewed once.” The youth hostel gained the name of Once Brewed.

Twice Brewed InnDuring our stay in Twice Brewed we went for our evening meal to Twice Brewed Inn. The inn stands right on the main road and has plenty of parking, as well as being walking distance from the youth hostel. The inn was filled with walkers who were walking along the Pennine Way or Hadrian’s Wall. When we were in there were a couple of American families who were sharing tales of their adventures and the best places to visit along the route. The pub itself has a homily atmosphere with small tables and stools to eat at and chairs to sit at around the bar. A range of locally sourced beers and ales are on offer at the bar including Twice Brewed Bitter.

Tiwce Brewed Inn

All the food is sourced locally and freshly prepared. There are two menus, the lunch menu is served till six pm and then the dinner menu takes over. We ate before six as we were starving, all that exploring makes you hungry. My husband and son both decided to try the local handmade sausage. (£9.25) . It arrived in a sesame bun served with chips, salad and tomato relish. You could add bacon or cheese for a small extra cost and my husband chose bacon whilst my son chose cheese.  They both said that the meal was gorgeous and indeed nothing remained on their plates. The meal was served on a wooden board, which seems to be the in thing these days but added to the rustic look of the meal

sausage twice brewed innI decided to try the wholetail scampi (£9.25). Again it arrived on a wooden board with the portions served in ramekins. The scampi came with a slice of lemon alongside so I could squirt it over them. Also on the board were chips, peas, salad and home made tartar sauce.

wholetail scampi twice brewed innn

The meal was gorgeous, the scampi were perfectly cooked and the chips were light and crispy. The salad had just the right mix of different ingredients to make it interesting and the home made tartar sauce was the ideal accompaniment to the scampi. My only complaint was the peas were a little bit overcooked but that was a minor point. I still enjoyed them.

We enjoyed the meal at a leisurely pace, at no point did we feel rushed. It was lovely to sit for a while and soak up the atmosphere. After we had eaten we took our drinks into the beer garden at the back of the inn and sat in the sunshine taking in the view of the hills around.

twice-brewedIt was lovely and peaceful, the only sound a distant bleating of sheep. If you are exploring Hadrian’s Wall I definitely recommend pulling into Twice Brewed Inn and sampling the food. It would be a great place to stop for Sunday lunch if you go for a Sunday drive in the countryside.

Hot and Spicy Chicken with Ackee Ratatouille

This week I have been experimenting with Caribbean food to mark Caribbean food week. Grace Foods kindly sent me some ingredients to experiment with and I have managed to make a couple of different recipes.  First I made a one pot chicken curry that used up a number of different herbs and spices as well as including sweet potato and butternut squash. It was delicious. I then made a coconut rice pudding using up a tin of coconut milk. I had been rather intrigued by a tin of ackee and I had to make a recipe using them, just to see what it was. It is a fruit that is used in the traditional Jamaican dish, ackee and saltfish. I decided to try making a fusion dish, ackee ratatouille. To accompany this I fried up some chicken in a hot and spicy seasoning. The resulting hot and spicy chicken with ackee ratatouille was delicious.

Hot and spicy chickenThe hot and spicy chicken was really easy to make. I cut some chicken breast into pieces and then dipped them into a bowl containing beaten egg. I then covered them in the hot and spicy chicken spice and then fried them gently until the chicken was cooked though. They could also be placed on a baking tray and cooked in the oven. The spice flavouring was delicious, a slightly hot taste but not too hot to eat and a lovely flavour. A can of ginger beer was the perfect accompaniment.

hot and spicy chickenFor the ackee ratatouille I used the tin of ackee and added cherry tomatoes, garlic, a spring onion, a red onion, and some chopped mangetout. To add some extra spice I used a teaspoon of garlic, ginger and pimento seasoning and a teaspoon of green peppercorns in brine. These were left over from when I made steak with peppercorn sauce. The ackee is bright yellow in colour which surprised me. It looks a bit like scrambled eggs and has an almost cheesy nutty flavour that works really well with the other ingredients. The ackee ratatouille was a lovely side dish to the hot and spicy chicken.

ackee ratatouilleThe whole family enjoyed the meal and the hot and spicy chicken was a big hit. I will definitely be making it again. I really enjoyed experimenting with Caribbean food and it has been fun to try some new foods in the process.

hot and spicy chicken

Have you tried Caribbean food? I would love to find some more recipe to try. Do let me know.

Joining in with the kitchen clearout linky on Madhouse Family Reviews as I used up the green peppercorns lurking in my cupboard.

kitchen clearout