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When it comes to burgers, there's one place in town that instantly comes to mind: Fat Hippo. A North East institution nestled in Jesmond, it's the sort of place you queue for a table. Because you know that no matter how long it takes, it's always worth the wait. So you can imagine my excitement when I found out about the owner, Mike's latest venture, Fat Hippo Underground. Taking the same Fat Hippo ethos, but bringing it to the city centre (and a bigger venue), fixing it up with neon lights, and the retro diner complete with red plastic trays, The Fat Hippo Underground is already well on its way to cult status. I visited with a couple of old colleagues to catch up over the ultimate in burger porn, and see for myself if it would live up to the hype..
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fat-hippo-underground-newcastle
fat-hippo-underground-newcastle
fat-hippo-underground-newcastle
Getting into the new place, the first thing you notice is the size. The Fat Hippo in Jesmond is renowned for their food, but infamous for its lack of space.. usually leading to having to deal with a wait for your table. With Fat Hippo Underground, the number of tables has literally doubled. It's nestled in the basement venue that previously housed Starters and Puds, and most recently a Turkish place. It sounds dark and dingey, and to a certain extent it sort of is, but Mike makes it work. Complete with old school style greasy burgers, that would make Rosie from The Londoner proud, it's the sort of place you start getting meat sweats just from looking at the menu. There aren't many places up here whose menus make me hungry just at a glance.. and there's certainly nowhere that does a burger which is even a patch on the Fat Hippo!

The new menu is certainly something to behold too, with each of the burgers being served as a double patty, and a couple new additions to the classics inspired by the Jesmond restaurant's menu. Taking inspiration from his new venue, formerly a bank vault and characterised by its grungey feel and arched rooms, Mike has took burger porn to a new level. Unlike the rustic feel the Jesmond one has, the new Fat Hippo is a little more grown up. And a lot cooler. But not in a way that a lot of hipster places are trying to be right now. It's more effortless. Like here, take this giant burger on your plastic tray, and these triple fried handcut chips and stuff your face. No judgement.

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fat-hippo-underground-newcastle


After spending all day staring at the menu while I was at work, I still had to leave it until pretty much the last second before I ordered. Pretty much relying on the manager, Arthur, to help me pick what to have. Starting with an enamelware dish of chilli nachos and an order of buffalo chicken fingers with hot sauce, we were treated to an insight into the sheer scale of the portion. Definitely not for the faint hearted. The chicken was a fair size for a starter, but be warned, the nachos themselves pretty much constitute a full meal for two! So I was a little apprehensive about how much of my burger I'd actually make it through but I think I coped pretty well. Especially considering that I had selected the Born Slippy burger, an epic combination of rib meat, two 4 oz beef patties, chilli jam and jalapenos (and of course I added cheese to be extra greedy..). Even now, going through the pictures for this post, my mouth has been watering. What makes Mike's burgers so good is that all the food is cooked fresh. The meat is ground and blended in-house on a daily basis. And while they're definitely the ultimate in burger porn, they don't leave you feeling vile. You have everything that's good about a proper dirty burger, but served fresh in a soft brioche bun. Accompanied by their triple cooked, soft and flavoursome fries, it's definitely the sort of place you need to have a lie down after visiting. Just make sure you wear something baggy when you go.
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Fenwick-Dermalogica-MicroZone
The other week I had my friend Sarah staying over and while she was hunting around for a cleanser, we got onto the subject of beauty bloggers and people who recommend products. She wanted something to remove her foundation and other than eye make-up removers and my Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish I didn't really have a lot to offer because I don't tend to really use them (bad I know, but I find the detergent in most soaps and cleansers tends to strip my skin and leave it feeling parched). When it comes to beauty, I always think I'm a bit of a novice. I'm never the one in the know for new brands or the latest treatment and I'm fairly uniform in my routine. But Sarah told me that I was always a person who she'd ask about products, and when I asked why (because I'm definitely no expert) she told me that it was because she knew I'd tell the truth. So in the spirit of spreading good word about things that work, I thought it was about time to post about my recent afternoon with the Dermalogica girls in Fenwick, after being treated to one of their microZone skin treatments. I wanted to hold off posting this straight away, to see how my skin reacted to the product. It seemed only right that after seeing great results almost immediately, I waited a little while to see the benefits and give Dermalogica my seal of approval. But I think it's pretty safe to say that having been faithful to Clinique for the past ten years, I'm now a convert.

Dermalogica is a brand I've heard a lot about but I wasn't really sure about their ethos of using naturally acidic products - having been so used to the Clinique approach. Since the skin is naturally acidic, Dermalogica developed their products to suit. Whereas brands like Clinique use more alcohol and alkaline, working in opposition to your skin's PH. It sort of makes sense that you'd want something working with your skin, rather than against it, but it's not something that I'd ever really thought about. After meeting Katie, my Dermalogica skin therapist, and chatting she explained that the Dermalogica approach was more focused on getting great skin in the long term, not a quick fix solution.

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So confession time: I've never had a facial. But really I probably still haven't, since Dermalogica don't like to refer to their treatments as facials. They don't provide an off the shelf 'sort your skin out' solution, instead each treatment is tailored specifically to your skin's needs. When I got to the Dermalogica counter, Katie started off with a consultation and skin mapping session. We went through my main concerns, (dry skin and scarring from picking my face..), and how to target them. After a brief chat, Katie agreed that one of my main skin issues is that my face is very dry and generally dehydrated, so set to work identifying a custom treatment that would target that. As well as addressing the post inflammatory pigmentation (from picking spots and causing them to scab. Bad habit!) and how best to reduce the scarring. Katie started with the PreCleanse, an oil that you massage into the skin and then dampen with water to create a milk. This was quickly removed and followed by Essential Cleansing Solution, a slightly more creamy, nourishing cleanser that left my skin feeling polished. Cleansing is a really important part of any great skincare regime because it's critical to skin health. The concept behind the double cleanse is to use the oil to remove excess makeup and take off the day, then the creamier cleanser leaves your skin feeling its cleanest ever.

Fenwick-Dermalogica-MicroZone


After cleansing and giving the skin a quick examination, she decided on a course of treatment, applying a thick mask. One thing that I find really interesting about the treatments is that they blend their products together, so the solution applied to my face was designed for my skin needs. After creating a mask and painting it onto my face, Katie asked me to hold onto this electrode thing. The concept behind it is that it uses a positively polarized continuous current in conjunction with ionically charged facial mask product to allow absorption of its nutrients to the skins dermal layer. So the two positive charges repel each other, pushing the product deeper into your pores, where it will stay for at least the next 5 days and work its magic. Although it was a bit strange at first, the coolness of the mask and roller felt amazing on my skin, and after it was removed I could feel how hydrated my skin was.

Although I'm pretty good with moisturising, one thing I always tend to neglect though is exfoliant. I know I should exfoliate, but having such dry skin, I'm naturally put off using any abrasive product. To address this, Katie introduced me to Daily Resurfacer, a combination of alpha and beta hydroxy acids and enzymes which work to smooth the skin. I've not used any sort of acid or enzyme exfoliant so I was a bit nervous that it might feel a little strange, but Katie reassured me that it was actually more gentle on my skin than abrasive exfoliants. It felt slightly tingly on the skin, but amazing once I'd had the Skin Smoothing Cream applied. Afterwards, I could feel my skin literally glowing and it definitely made me feel more inspired to take care of what I was eating for the rest of the day and drink loads of water. At only £20 a pop for the treatment, I'll definitely be going back in a few weeks (I even bought my Mam a voucher for one of the MicroZone treatments for Mother's Day!).. as well of course as investing in some of the products. I left with a generous goody bag of samples so I could keep up the routine, and can honestly say my skin has never been in better condition.. although now I'm all out, I've noticed that I'm starting to break out again. So it seems like the right time to make the investment and switch my skin care regime. I'd never thought about it before, but skin care is very much like haircare, in that every 6 weeks or so, you need to give it a little TLC, whether that's at home or at the hands of a professional. If I've tempted you to try it out, give Fenwick a call and get yourself booked in! Twenty quid is a small price to pay for great skin and half an hours worth of pampering..
joules-floral-tunic
Despite the greyness of the weather, today officially marked the start of British Summer Time. I'm preferring to focus more on the fact that this signals the coming of bare leg weather, rather than the fact it means I'm losing an hour of sleep. With the promise of warmer weather ahead, I can't help but start to think about updating my wardrobe. And what better way to welcome in the new season than by introducing a little more floral into my closet? Well as if by magic, (or excellent PR strategy), this little floral number dropped through my letter box from the tunic dresses range from Joules. Made from a light weight linen and viscose blend, it's the sort of fabric that's perfect for the sunshine. I can already imagine it paired with Ray Bans, simple leather sandals, my favourite handmade basket and a tan. Since it was Mother's Day, I spent the afternoon out with my family for lunch and was hoping it may get a little outing. But it's still pretty cold up here and I thought it was a little too thin to wear this afternoon so expect an outfit post soon! Although let's face it, it's probably going to be paired with tights and a pair of ankle boots the way the weather is behaving right now.
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msa-newcastle-music-slash-art
msa-newcastle-music-slash-art
msa-newcastle-music-slash-art
msa-newcastle-music-slash-art


Since I'm pretty much still in recovery mode after a busy weekend, I thought it was maybe a good time to share my (pretty long overdue) post about Newcastle's latest offering on the pubs and clubs, and the place where I've started to find myself most Friday nights: MSA (Music Slash Art). Usually in the company of Miss Archer and Miss Bosson. A relative newbie in the Toon, most people will remember MSA as one of the many trampy trebles bars from their uni days, Bar 42. However, after being acquired by the guys behind Unit 44, it's undergone a complete overhaul. Take some leather sofas, a few leather booths and a few custom carved tables, and an eclectic art collection, and all of a sudden you've transformed what used to be a total dive, into Newcastle's latest hotspot. Gone are the two quid trebles in favour of a cocktail list to rival Alvinos. Of course they serve up all the classics, but if you're feeling adventurous then you can try out one of their more unusual offerings like the popcorn martini. (Although it's worth adding a disclaimer that this one is only for those with a VERY sweet tooth, as Miss Bosson found out). I decided to play it (fairly) safe though with the MSA margarita, made with Patron tequila so guaranteed to make you feel as though you belong in some kind of R&B or rap video.. or on The Hills.

With its mix of music that's guaranteed to get you on your feet, it's become a kind of go-to place that you know isn't going to be full of idiots. The revamp it's undergone since falling into the hands of Danny and Steven is a thing to behold.. gone are the sticky floors of 42s in favour of trendy art and custom carved wooden tables. Every time I go, I feel as though I spot something different. Whether you're looking for somewhere to let loose on the dancefloor, or sit in a corner sipping your drink and looking cool, MSA is definitely the place to tick those boxes. Sitting somewhere between a bar and a club, it's the sort of place you can go if you fancy a bit of a dance and want to stay out late, but can't really be bothered with the hustle and bustle of a club. Perfect.
fenwick-vintage-chanel-collection
It's not every day that Chanel drops onto your doorstep. So you can imagine my surprise when I found out about the carefully curated collection of authentic vintage Chanel bags that have appeared in Fenwick's window.

There are certain things that I feel as though I will be forever lusting after, and vintage Chanel comes pretty high up on the pile. According to my dad, I was about 12 when I first started going on about the 2.55. It's still on a pedestal as the ultimate little black bag. And despite all the years of lusting, it was only last summer that I eventually saw (and held) one in real life. Needless to say my longing only increased, but the guilt of spending THAT much on a bag has delayed me from making any rash purchases on a credit card or fleecing my savings account. It is a lot to spend on a handbag after all. Still it doesn't stop me window shopping...
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Although the weather is still refusing to cooperate, I'm beginning to feel Spring creeping up on us. I still need to wear a big coat, but bare arms and legs are only a few weeks away (I hope). I headed back to the rents this afternoon for the first time since I moved into the flat.. mainly to bake cakes, and thought this dress deserved an outing. I've not been up to much today, other than lounging about the flat drinking tea and reading fashion magazines, but I felt like dressing up. You see, I've just been offered a brilliant opportunity, and so I'm leaving my current position, to pursue a path (slightly familiar but I'll tell you all about it soon) which is more what I can see myself doing in the long term. And it's my last day in my current role on Tuesday, hence the cake-making! And hence, the wanting to celebrate bit. The dress is one of those that I instantly fell in love with but somehow never got around to wearing. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that it's been hanging in my wardrobe ever since I picked it up in the Boxing Day Sales! I'm not really sure why, but I think the lack of sleeves made it feel a little too dressy for work, and a little too formal for just day to day. I'm hoping that as the warm weather comes, I start to find more excuses to wear it. Although I'm tempted to try it pinafore style soon with my crisp Oxford shirt underneath... thoughts?

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Outfit details:
coat: Zara, dress: New Look, necklace: Accessorize, shoes: Kurt Geiger
helping-others-help-themselves

It's been a long time since I've wanted to write anything. Longer than my posting habits would let on to be honest, because in the last few weeks there's been times where I've forced myself to write something albeit sporadically. But I can't remember the last time I actually sat down to write because I wanted to. Recently a colleague asked me about my writing, specifically on my blog, and it prompted me to think about why I wasn't. He asked me if there was a certain tone I adopted specifically for my blog, a blogging voice for want of a better term. And when I asked why, he told me it was because that it had a certain style, aspirational and upbeat, that he recognised in other blogs, particularly lifestyle ones. Thinking about it, I realised straight away that he was right, my blog writing has a very particular tone of voice: it's conversational, friendly and optimistic. Much like my own personality. But it wasn't consciously constructed. It was more that it became an extension of me, a way of expressing my thoughts (in a strange sort of way to a load of strangers). But on a more basic level, I realised it was obvious for me to adopt that kind of tone of voice - even if just because I know that when people want to read something, it's very rare that they don't enjoy reading something that's positive and upbeat. People (a lot of them strangers), don't want to know about my problems, or the dull days which inevitably form part of our existence. They want to read something that engages them and inspires them, so it's only natural that if I'm telling a story, I'll edit it or convey it in a way I feel would want to be read. Considering all of this though only made me think more about why I wasn't writing. Instead of writing, I've been reading. And maybe more interestingly (and something pointed out by a friend because it had completely escaped my attention), I'm reading books about helping yourself, and helping others to help themselves.

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