A Boxing Day walk on frosty sands

Christmas in my family has been the same for years – there are only two places it can occur and it’s always the same ten or eleven people in the attendance. The years have slipped by though and now it’s the children rather the parents who are the ones with the responsibilities and complicated work schedules that celebrations need to be organised around. By pure coincidence, four of the family’s junior doctors are now working up in the north east, and by some miracle, they all had Christmas Day and Boxing Day off, so we decided to shift Christmas up…

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Japanese cookery class at Atsuko’s Kitchen

When KLM asked me if I wanted to take a Japanese cookery class a couple of weeks ago at Atsuko’s Kitchen in Shoreditch, I jumped at the chance. My favourite events are the ones where you can roll your sleeves up and get stuck into an activity, preferably before then proceeding to eat and drink the results of that activity. Twelve months ago I did a fantastic class at L’atelier des Chefs where I cooked a Christmas dinner and earlier this year I spent a wonderful evening learning to mix some mindblowing gin cocktails at the London Cocktail Club. Gin…

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Why glamping at a festival isn’t just a cushy copout

I was put off camping in the UK at quite an early age by attending a festival many British school teachers like to refer to as the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme. Oh sure, it was fun enough the first time — we walked a bit, set up our tents, lay out on the grass in the summer sunshine eating our supernoodles and marshmallows listening to Glastonbury on a portable radio. One boy even brought a guitar and as darkness fell we all sat around the fire solemnly singing Karma Police and mulling over whether to quit school and set…

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Jesmond Dene House: Newcastle’s foodie haven

You don’t need me to tell you that Jesmond Dene House Hotel is the best place to stay in Newcastle — you could just look on TripAdvisor to find that out — but it really is a haven of subtlety and elegance and northern warmth, and it just so happens that it’s also a very special place to me as well. Let me explain. As Newcastle spreads up the hill from the river, the city falls away very quickly, making way for parks and town moors and grazing land of the kind you’d expect to find miles out of town,…

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Secret beaches of the real Geordie Shore

I spent three blissful years living up in Newcastle, and while there were many things that made it, in my mind, the ideal place to spend my university years, the best thing about it was undoubtedly its proximity to the beach. When the weather was beautiful in the summer, we’d gather up our books and jump on the metro, and 20 minutes later we’d be stretched out on the sand revising. Admittedly, a lot of paddling and napping and ice cream got in the way of revision and those days probably weren’t productive in the slightest, but hey, we all…

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