Out on the town

I did my long run this morning instead of going to parkrun, as I won’t have time for a long run tomorrow. I’m getting used to the treadmill now, and it feels a lot more manageable for hours-long runs than pounding the pavements, especially seeing as I’ve got all these BBC4 music documentaries that I need to clear off the digibox.

After my run, I did a bit of tidying and then headed into town to meet up with Mum and Dad (and Geth, who’d been at a gaming tournament all morning). We had a couple of drinks (and I was gratified to find that ginger beer was available everywhere I went) and then went for a meal at El Torero, a tapas place that is one of my favourite restaurants in Newcastle. There’s lots of veggie options and the food is quite Slimming World-friendly (I just need to syn the oil they cook it in…and the cheesecake I inevitably have at the end!).

More adventures about town tomorrow.

OOTD 16th February 2019
OOTD: slightly dressier than usual! Scarf Marks & Spencer (2017), dress Polo Ralph Lauren (2018), tights Pamela Mann (2014), boots Clarks (2016).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Tears For Fears – Change
Lewis Capaldi – Grace
Thompson Twins – Hold Me Now
Khalid and Normani – Love Lies
Halsey – Without Me
The Proclaimers – Throw The ‘R’ Away
The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
Dire Straits – Sultans Of Swing
Ariana Grande – Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored
Martin Garrix and Khalid – Ocean
50 Cent – In Da Club

Thirty-four

It’s my birthday today, but I didn’t go out tonight. I’m thirty-four years old now – I have far better things to do. Things I did do today:

  • Got up early and went to Slimming World, because it’s important to keep an eye on things over Christmas even when it is your birthday.
  • Opened presents and cards under Mum and Dad’s Christmas tree, just as I do every year. It’s the tenth day of Christmas and that Christmas tree is still important! Nobody’s ever got me any lords a-leaping for my birthday though.
  • Listened to my birthday number one – Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas? – more than once. Was inordinately pleased that the current chart rules mean that it is currently yet again sitting in the Top Ten a whole thirty-four years later.
  • Drank prosecco and blew out candles on my birthday cake – it was a New York style cheesecake as usual, made by the world’s best dad as usual!
  • Packed up and left Edinburgh to go back to Newcastle after ten lovely days spent at Mum and Dad’s for Christmas.
  • Got on a train. Geth was worried about travel stress spoiling my birthday, but it was actually a really relaxed journey.
  • Got home and put on the heating and both fires to warm up our ice block of a house!
  • Ordered takeaway pizza and drank more prosecco. It’s my last non-sober birthday, and it’s been a double-prosecco day. I am okay with this.
  • Spent a perfect birthday evening watching ’80s episodes of Top of the Pops recorded off BBC4. I’m very nearly at the point in the marathon where I’ll get to watch the episode from Thursday 3rd January 1985! So glad I was born on a Thursday. That one’s going to be staying on the digibox and constituting my birthday viewing for many years to come.

It’s been a good day.

OOTD 3rd January 2019
OOTD: favourite day, favourite jumper. Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), jumper Carlo Colucci (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2017), leggings Primark (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Alison Moyet – This House
Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf

And a bonus track that Geth was humming earlier:

Kraftwerk – The Model

Plus my awesome birthday playlist that I made on Spotify earlier:

will.i.am and Cody Wise – It’s My Birthday
50 Cent – In Da Club
Lesley Gore – It’s My Party
Bowling For Soup – 1985
The Birthday Massacre – The Birthday Massacre
The Crüxshadows – Winter Born (This Sacrifice)
Altered Images – Happy Birthday
Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas?

Cheesecake roundup

As promised, here’s a roundup of all the cheesecake I ate in Canada last week!

1. New York style cheesecake – Holiday Inn

New York style cheesecake
Divine, and beautifully baked.

2. Pecan and white chocolate cheesecake – Holiday Inn

Pecan and white chocolate cheesecake
I didn’t actually have this one until later in the week, but Geth had it on the first night, which is when I snapped the photo.  The cheesecake part was delicious, but I’m not the hugest fan of pecans.

3. Vanilla cheesecake – Pickle Barrel

I was so keen to dive into this one that I forgot to take a picture.  It was similar to the New York style one at the Holiday Inn, but the slice was a lot bigger.

4. Caramel cheesecake – Kalendar

Caramel cheesecake
I didn’t have this one at all – they have various cheesecakes at Kalendar, and when we ordered, Steff got the last slice of one type, and I got the first slice of a different type!

5. Blueberry cheesecake – Kalendar

Blueberry cheesecake
The blueberry taste on this one was gorgeous, but the rest of the cake was a little bland.

6. White chocolate and raspberry cheesecake – Pickle Barrel

White chocolate and raspberry cheesecake
Again, I didn’t have this one – we didn’t go to the Pickle Barrel enough times for me to sample all the cheesecakes! – but Geth assures me it was delicious.

7. Brown cow cheesecake – Pickle Barrel

Brown cow cheesecake
A huge slice of milk and white chocolate cheesecake.  Absolutely amazing, and so rich.  Good thing I skipped the starter!

8. Vanilla cheesecake – Scaddabush

Vanilla cheesecake
Even more ridiculously big than the ones at the Pickle Barrel – it’s basically a whole mini cheesecake!  Even though I’d forsaken the starter again, it was still a real challenge to finish.  Delicious though!

So that’s my Canada cheesecake roundup.  I’m starting to understand why I put on so much weight while I was away!

Arriving in Canada!

Canada part one…

 

Geth had left on the Saturday – he had a conference in Toronto that we had used to schedule a family trip –  but I headed off for my holiday the Sunday before last, carrying two very heavy bags that turned out to be a bad idea when I had to lug them up and down a railway bridge near where I live in order to get to the Metro station.  After a cumbersome Metro ride, train ride and taxi ride, I arrived at Mum and Dad’s in Edinburgh and managed to get a few hours’ sleep before a 4am wakeup call.

The flight from Edinburgh to Toronto was nice and straightforward – I read my Kindle the whole time – and after collecting our bags and meeting up with Malcolm at the airport, we got a taxi to the Holiday Inn, where Mum and Dad were staying, and I dropped my bag in their room before going to the St. Louis Diner, where Geth was meeting us after his morning conference session.

A couple of ciders later – logged here – I went with Geth to our hotel, the Grand Hotel, where I was really glad to get out of my comfy plane leggings and put on something lighter (Toronto was a bit muggier than Edinburgh had been that morning).  The Grand is lovely, and they’d upgraded Geth to a suite, which had an awesome view:

View from the Grand Hotel, Toronto
Downtown Toronto, as seen from the Grand Hotel. You can see the very tippity top of the CN Tower, just behind the tallest buildings!

The suite was great – it had a separate bedroom and loads of space for sitting around.  After I’d got unpacked, we headed back to the Holiday Inn for a meal to celebrate Mum and Dad’s wedding anniversary:

Family in Toronto
You’ve already seen this picture in the Now! #100 review, but it’s worth posting again!

The cider they serve at the Holiday Inn is Strongbow, but the bottle looks different in Canada, so I took a picture of it anyway.

Canadian Strongbow bottle
Canadian Strongbow bottle.

After some amazing pizza (the pizza at the Holiday Inn is of the perfect texture, and the sauce is insanely yummy), a couple more Strongbows, some cheesecake (see my cheesecake roundup) and a bit of a wait while a heavy thunderstorm was in progress, Geth and I headed back to our hotel, where it turned out the view by night was pretty awesome too:

Downtown Toronto by night
I love skyscrapers.

Then I got some much-needed sleep.  Part two tomorrow!

Cheesecake

I believe it was in New York City in 2004 that cheesecake became my favourite dessert.  This would make sense, as New York is of course famous for its cheesecake.  My brother Malcolm and I would go out at night to the street vendors that were selling it and bring it back to our hotel room.  Later that year, Dad found a recipe online, and for the last fourteen years he’s been able to make a pretty good New York style cheesecake himself.  I have it every year for my birthday.

Birthday cheesecake
My birthday cake from January 2017. The baking process usually results in a crack across the middle, but it always tastes amazing.

Probably the best non-New York style cheesecake I’ve tried is at Artisan Cheesecakes in Edinburgh:

Artisan Cheesecakes
So rich, so incredible.  We had these in June 2016.

I keep meaning to go back when I’m in Edinburgh but have not got round to it yet.  Being on Slimming World kind of gets in the way of being free to stuff your face with cheesecake, so I have to plan for it.  Maybe later this year.

I’ve got a lot of meals out to go to this week, so am sticking to my current strategy of ‘skip the starter so I can have cheesecake at the end’.  As such, I’ll probably have a cheesecake roundup for you next week.

Day out at Newcastle Quayside

Like the rest of the UK, we’ve been enjoying glorious weather here in Newcastle for the past fortnight.  Last weekend, we were able to make the most of it; as I mentioned previously, we were celebrating Geth’s birthday a couple of weeks late, and so on Saturday we went into town for some shopping and food, interspersed with a visit to our favourite beer garden seeing as how it was so nice.

Bridges of the Tyne
View of the bridges of the Tyne from the Free Trade Inn beer garden.

We were fairly lucky to get a space in the Free Trade Inn beer garden – it was a hot Saturday afternoon, which is a rarity, and so the people of Newcastle were out in force in the centre of town – but we did manage it, and Geth immediately made a start on the bar snacks.

Free Trade Inn beer garden
Geth with beer and some kind of pasty/samosa/thing? I wasn’t really paying attention.

I’m not quite sure what’s going on with the light in these pictures – I blame the sun.  Clearly my smartphone camera has become accustomed to British weather and can’t cope with bright light!

Free Trade Inn beer garden
Enjoying the heat! Also very pleased with the way my new Punk Masters T-shirt matches my tattoo.

We’d got all our shopping done fairly efficiently, so we were able to enjoy a good few hours in the sun before our restaurant booking.

Pints of beer and cider
I actually like plastic glasses, even if they’re not very solid to hold – they feel like summer to me!

We then headed to Uno’s Trattoria, one of our favourite Italian restaurants in Newcastle, which Geth had selected for his birthday meal.

Geth with birthday meal
Geth had been looking forward to that pork belly for weeks.

The reason Geth chose Uno’s Trattoria is that, for the last year or so, they’ve had pork belly on the menu, which is one of his favourite foods.  Apparently most Italian restaurants don’t cook meat dishes properly (being a vegetarian I’m generally unaware of these things), but this restaurant must be an exception, as the pork belly went down very well.

Pork belly
Just looks like meat to me, but I’m informed it was very special meat!

I, meanwhile, went for my favourite Italian restaurant treat of pizza:

Rocket and parmesan pizza
That rocket and parmesan topping was immense.

We also had dessert – we both went for the white chocolate cheesecake – but we were so keen to get stuck into it that I forgot to take a picture.

A lovely day out overall.  Happily the weather has continued, and it looks like it’ll be similar this weekend – so we’ll need to take it carefully when running the Great North 10k on Sunday!