Battle of the burger at The Tyne Bar

Who makes the best burgers in Newcastle? This weekend the battle of the burger commenced at The Tyne Bar. Five vendors took on the challenge to create a  signature burger. The burger had to cost £3.  They faced  three judges and the public over two days. The battle to see to who would be crowned champion commenced. There were barbecues at noon, tunes, sunshine and views over the Tyne. My son and I went along to find out what it was all about.
The Tyne Bar
The Tyne Bar is situated between two rivers, the river Ouseburn and the River Tyne. The Ouseburn valley is home to several interesting places to visit, including Ouseburn Farm and Seven Stories – a museum celebrating children’s books. It is an interesting walk along the Ouseburn valley down to the quayside to find the river Tyne and the Tyne Bar. The Tyne Bar is situated under a bridge with views across the Tyne. There are plenty of local ales on offer and bands often play there. When we went the Skyride was taking place  around the quayside so we had a great view of the people cycling past.
Tyne barIn the distance we could see the Millennium Bridge opening to let one of the cruise ships that go up and down the Tyne though. We wandered along the quayside a little way to watch. It is not often we see the Millennium Bridge swing and it is fascinating to watch the edges rise.

Newcastle QuaysideHungry after our walk we headed back to the Tyne Bar to enter the battle of the burgers. It was all very civilised, the sun shone down overhead and the five vendors had set up their stalls under the bridge waiting for the hungry customers. A tantalising smell of cooking wafted across on the breeze.

Battle of the burgersFood was purchased with tokens which were available inside the bar. I popped in to get some tokens and a couple of drinks then we had a wander to see what burgers were on offer. My son was very easily pleased, he decided instantly he was going to go for the Longhorns burger. They were offering a smoked beef and hogg double patty in a bun. It was cooked in the flamboyant Longhorns style on a big grill.  I ordered one while my son went and sat at one of the tables outside in the sun.

LonghornsI had a wander round the rest of the vendors trying to make up my mind which burger to try. It was a difficult decision, they all looked lovely. Jam Jar Jesmond offered a Jam Burger, 7 oz steak, crispy bacon, red Leicester and tomato jam.

Jamjar As well as hosting the battle of the burger the Tyne Bar were also in on the burger action. Facing the DJ they were cooking up their burgers in the kitchen.

Tyne BarQuay Ingredient are a coffee house based on the quayside. They had created an exotic sounding Brunch burger with a pork and leek patty, French brie, smoked bacon and white truffle oil served in a stottie.

Quay IngredientThe burger that got my attention was created by Lola Jeans, the Little California. A beef patty with smoked applewood cheddar, red onion marmalade, bone marrow ranch dressing and crispy pickle chips. Who can say no to ranch dressing?

Lola Jeans

We sat down in the sun to enjoy our burgers and enjoy them we did. The Little California was gorgeous, the red onion marmalade was really tasty.

Little California

The Longhorns burger was the perfect size for my son, it’s double patty filled him up.

Longhorns burger

So who won the battle of the burger? It was announced today, Lola Jeans ran off with the title. I had made the right choice. This was only round one though, there will be a round two soon and I can’t wait to see who turns up for that one.

Win learn to swim goodies

Did you know that 57% of children aged between 7-11 years old are not able to swim? I find this disturbing as under the national curriculum all schools are required to teach children to swim a distance of 25 metres confidently. It is a skill that can save lives, you read so often of children and young people falling into rivers. If they can swim at least they have a chance to save themselves. In a bid to change this Swimshop are running a ‘Save a Life, Learn to Swim’ campaign. The Learn to Swim campaign sponsors Swimshop, swimming costumes and equipment online.

I love swimming, it is a relaxing sport. I made a point of taking my son to swimming lessons from an early age and it really paid off. He is now a confident swimmer and often wins at swimming galas at school. It is an activity the whole family can enjoy together. There is a pdf download available of some fun swimming games that will help to increase your child’s confidence in the water. It also has some handy workouts for adults that will help increase your fitness.

If you have little ones who are learning to swim, I have a lovely giveaway from Swimshop for some equipment which will help them.

SwimShop Learn to SwimI would like to offer you and your readers a chance to win specialist children’s swimming equipment from Swimshop. Three readers can win a set of deluxe armbands and either a shark swimming float or a fish swimming float, shown in the picture above.

How do I win?

To enter the competition leave a comment on the blog below telling me where you would most like to go swimming. When you have done this come back and fill in the rafflecopter widget so that your entry is registered. This is mandatory. There are other entries available for following on twitter, visiting facebook and tweeting about the giveaway but these are optional.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Rules

  • There are three prizes of a set of deluxe armbands and either a shark or a fish swimming float – the prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
  • Open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding employees and relatives of Dragons and Fairy Dust and Swimshop
  • Closing date for entries is on 11:59pm BST on 10th July 2015
  • Only one entry per person
  • Entrants must log into rafflecopter and leave a comment on the blog answering the question.
  • Optional entry methods are to follow on twitter, visit facebook and tweet on twitter
  • The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
  • Automated entries will be disqualified.
  • The winner will be informed within 14 days of the closing date and will need to respond with a postal address within 14 days or a new winner will be chosen.
  • The winner’s name will be available on request.
  • Swimshop is responsible for prize fulfilment. The prize will be sent within 28 days of receiving the winner’s address.
  • This is a joint promotion between Dragons and Fairy Dust and Swimshop
  • Entry to this confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions




A gift of flowers from Blossoming Gifts

How often do you get flowers? I love receiving bouquets of flowers, the sight of a bunch of blooms in my living room always puts a smile on my face. They add a lovely scent into the air making the house smell of summer. You notice the scent when you walk in the door, it adds a feeling of freshness to the home. I love being surprised with flowers, they always make me feel special. There is something soothing about unwrapping them, taking out a lovely vase and arranging them for display. Recently I had a difficult week. My poor dog was in real pain, squealing in agony whenever he tried to get up. It was torture to watch, you know they are hurt but they can’t tell you where. To see a dog that loves running around and enjoys long walks in so much pain is distressing. We had to take him to the vet on the Sunday but two days later he was no better. When he had x-rays they showed that one of the discs in his spine was misshaped and pressing on his spine. Luckily with lots of rest and relaxation and painkillers he now seems fine. I was really worried about him and when I received a lovely flower delivery from Blossoming Gifts it really cheered me up.

Blossoming GiftsBlossoming Gifts are a company that provide online flowers. The flowers arrive in a box and are sent by post. The flowers are guaranteed to stay fresh for seven days. As well as flowers Blossoming Gifts also do a range of hampers, wines and gifts. The bouquet I recieved was from their range of summer flowers. Called Summer Delight it is a lovely mix of roses and carnations. When I opened the box containing the flowers the perfume was delightful and made me think of sitting in the garden on a summer day. I happily set about arranging them in a vase.

Blossoming giftsThe resulting display looked gorgeous and really brightened up the corner of my room. I smiled every time I walked past them. It was a splash of summer in the corner of my room.

Blossoming giftsBlossoming Gifts also do a range of cheap flowers which are all under £20 so you can surprise the special person in your life even if you have a limited budget. Did you know you can also cook with flowers? I have recently been experimenting cooking with edible flowers and produced the perfect summer recipe for jasmine ice cream with cornflower butterscotch sauce and orange and marigold shortbread. A combination that is perfect for a summer dessert.
Jasmine icecream with butterscotch sauce

Blossoming Gifts Discount Code

How would you like to surprise the special person in your life with the gift of flowers and make them smile. Blossoming Gifts have given me a discount code to share with my readers which will give you 33% off their beautiful bouquets. The discount code excludes the flowers by post range so be aware of this when you order. The discount code is BGIFTS33
Blossoming GiftsWhen was the last time you received flowers? Was it for a special occasion?
I was sent the flowers in return for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

A Visit to Jesmond Food Market

Jesmond Dene Park is an oasis of calm in the middle of the city centre. It is easy to spend a while there wandering though the woodland and visiting Pets Corner. Our last visit to Jesmond Dene was in the Autumn and the trees were full of colour. We took the dog and had a lovely time playing football. I have memories of visiting the Armstrong Bridge Craft Fair which used to take place every Sunday. It was always full of gorgeous paintings and crafts from local suppliers. It was a great place to source presents. Sadly it ended a while ago but recently I learnt that a new market was being held on the Armstrong Bridge. The Jesmond Food Market takes place on the third Saturday of every month from 10am to 3pm. The market brings together local food producers and street food traders and I was interested to see who would be there.

Jesmond Food MarketArmstrong Bridge is a stunning backdrop for the market, the ironwork railings and the view over Jesmond Dene Park set off the different stalls. The day was grey and rain threatened but the market was bustling and busy. We decided to stroll from one end of the bridge to the other and find out what was there before buying anything. There was plenty to choose from and the smell of food cooking soon made us hungry.

Zen BakerThere were plenty of bread stalls to choose from with a range of artisan bread and gorgeous looking pastries.  The Zen Baker displayed some gorgeous crusty loaves which would be perfect with a bowl of home made soup. The Sugar Down Bakery had a range of tempting looking pastries which would make a special Sunday breakfast. I was spoiled for choice and could easily have bought several of these pastries.
Sugar Down BakeryThe perfect partner for crusty bread is cheese and chutney and luckily both were to be found. The Northumberland Cheese Company had samples of their cheese made from cow, goat and sheep milk. They are really tasty cheeses and they would make a perfect addition to any cheese board.

Northumberland Cheese CompanyChutney is also a welcome addition to cheese and bread and Northumbrian Preserves have a lovely selection to choose from.  From red onion marmalade to plum chutney, there is bound to be something you will like. The only problem is deciding which one to buy.

Northumbrian PreservesI did end up buying some sausages from the Norththumberland Sausage Company and have to highly recommend them. We tasted their pork and pickled onion sausages on the stand which were really tasty. I bought some Northumberland sausages from them and these made a gorgeous Sunday breakfast. Two packs of sausages for £5 is great value considering they are really good quality. I was also tempted by the range of products on offer from the Northumberland Smokehouse and and range of wines and mead on offer from Spirit of Northumberland but my son was getting hungry. We went to investigate the food stalls.

northumberland smoke house

Spirit of NorthumberlandWe were spoiled for choice for food, many of our favourites were there. We watched the folk from La Petite Crêperie make crepes on large griddles. We have passed them in the Grainger Market but still have to pay them a visit. By all accounts the crepes are amazing.La Petit CreperieWe were also tempted by Longhorns, we loved the food in their restaurant when we visited. They have recently opened a new restaurant in Jesmond and we hope to visit soon.

LonghornsMy son decided he was going to try a sausage from The Feathers Inn. They had two types on offer, lamb or deer. He went for the deer sausage with mustard and a gherkin. We had to wait a while as they cooked, the lovely smell making us more hungry. It was well worth the wait, a really tasty and unusual sausage.

The Feathers Innsausage from Feathers InnAs we walked along the bridge we had noticed large queues forming at Di Meo’s who were serving gelato. We had to treat ourselves to a cone.

Di Meo'sThe ice cream was gorgeous, full of flavour and delicious. Served in a sugar cone it was the perfect treat to end our day.

Di Meo's

As we left it started to rain but that did not dampen the enthusiasm of the people visiting the market. Umbrellas were pulled out, plastic sheeting used to cover produce and everything continued as usual. We had a lovely time visiting Jesmond Food Market and have pencilled the date in our diary to visit next month.

Dragons and Fairy Dust

B-Qubed Beanbag Table Review

Has there ever been a time when you have needed an extra table? I often find when I have friends round I don’t have enough table space for them to place their drinks nearby. They end up using the floor and with an excited dog running around this can lead to spills.  When Room To Grow got in touch and asked me if I wanted to try their B-Qubed beanbag table I knew this could solve the lack of table space problem. The B-Qubed beanbag table is a really clever idea. It is a square beanbag with  six holes in. A detachable plastic table top can be slotted into any of the holes to turn it into a table. This means it can be used as a extra seating, a footrest or a table, as needed. It comes in a range of eleven funky colours so there will be one to match your colour scheme. I chose royal blue as it is a colour I love.

B-qubed beanbag tableThe first thing I noticed about the B-Qubed beanbag table was how light it was. This makes it ideal for transporting around to where it is needed. I can easily move it from the living room or to the garden to have beside a deck chair so I can have a cold drink in the sun whilst reading. The table is also perfect for a summer picnic in the garden, plates of sandwiches can be placed on it.

B-Qubed beanbag tableMy son also found the portability ideal and the B-Qubed beanbag table has now disappeared into his room where he is making good use of it for doing his homework on. The table is just the right height for this. Fortunately I can easily carry it back downstairs whenever it is sunny and I want to read my book. I am working my way though Ann Cleeves books at the moment. You may be familiar with the Vera series on television which are based on these books. They inspired me to make orange mousse with a raspberry sauce which was featured in The Glass Room and is perfect for a sunny day.

B-Cubed beanbag tableThe tabletop is plastic so it is easily wipe clean and sturdy enough to hold plates, cups and glasses. The hole in the middle section has a base which makes it handy for putting a glass in or holding television remote controls, which often go missing in my house. It is so annoying having to search the room in order to turn on the television. When they are stored in here they are easily found. My son also found a clever use for the hole when I was out. He and his friend filled it with ice and then stored a can of pop in it whilst the table was outside. This was an ingenious way to keep the can cool and the cold water could just be poured out after it had melted.

B-Qubed beanbag tableThe beanbag itself is covered in a water resistant and easy to clean PU fabric which is ideal. I can just wipe it clean when it gets grubby. The tabletop can easily be stored away in a cupboard when not in use and the beanbag used as a pouffe. My dog has decided it is an excellent place for him to sit and I often find him perched on it.

The B-Qubed beanbag table is available from Room To Grow RRP £79.99. It has been really useful having an extra table that is portable and can also be used as a seat. I think it is a really clever idea and every home should have one.

I was sent the B-Qubed table in return for an honest review.