Scrapbook: A Pure Baltic Roadtrip

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In my last post, I was excited to share the details of the jewellery making workshop and talk given by accessory queens, Tatty Devine, and I mentioned that the visit to Newcastle was part of a surprise roadtrip to celebrate my birthday!

I adore seeing new places and enjoy documenting everything from the little trips to the far-flung holidays – and all the experiences in between. I love putting together photo albums, silly collages and scrapbooks (blame this on watching far too many programmes like Art Attack as a child!) so Scrapbook is a feature where I can share photo diaries and memories.

So today’s Scrapbook is all about our recent roadtrip! Enjoy…

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The first thing you should probably know about our roadtrips is that they ALWAYS start with three crucial components: Elaine in the driving seat (her car is called Baby Blue on account of its soft sky blue colour. It’s our very own version of the Mirth Mobile – except it doesn’t have fire painted up the sides. Yet.), a themed Spotify playlist (usually lovingly put together by Craig) and a pit stop for coffee n’ doughnuts!

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This time we opted for Dunkin’ Donuts, the building blocks of any balanced breakfast, right? Yum!

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After a few hours in the car of belting out song after song, we pulled up at BALTIC. The building itself is super impressive, and still has the original mill lettering on the exterior (it was a mill for both flour and animal feed for decades originally). Nowadays, the landmark building is an international centre for art and design and has a changing programme of exhibitions.

BALTIC is a really inspiring space with a lot of energy and was the ideal location to spend the afternoon with Tatty Devine – which Elaine and I enjoyed doing while the boys went off to Game On 2.0; a massive gaming exhibition held in the city’s Centre for Life.

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The rooftop terrace at BALTIC was amazing for views!

We stayed at the Premier Inn down by the River Tyne and could even see the BALTIC building from our hotel room window – as well as the river itself. The location was lovely and quiet, but only about a ten minute walk from the hustle and bustle. It also meant we got to enjoy a couple of walks at the Quayside, with great views of massive bridges and boats in every size imaginable.

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Down by the river we also spotted this colourful miniature beach – complete with palm trees, a volleyball net and these striped beach huts. Too cute!

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The buildings in the city centre are also really eye-catching, inside and out…

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Food-wise, we certainly didn’t go hungry during our time in Newcastle! On the first day, we ate in the BALTIC Kitchen, which serves up a mean lunch menu and to-die-for milkshakes. That evening, we headed out to the city centre and ate at The Botanist, a stylish bar and restaurant that had shabby chic down to a fine art!

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I love this chandelier at The Botanist – made from an eclectic collection of glasses.

We also had a long, lazy brunch at the Tyneside Cinema cafe the next morning. I really enjoyed hanging out in this place – the menu was delicious, the staff were friendly and their choice of cult movies was just perfection. Plus, they had beautiful floors! Next time I go to Newcastle, I’m making a beeline for it again.

On the second day, the weather took a turn for the worse, so we headed to the Metro Centre for a snoop around the shops before hitting the road home.

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And speaking of the journey home, it was another cracker! I don’t think I’ve ever sang, danced (albeit sitting down dancing!) and laughed so much in a car in my life. I really do have the best friends a gal could ask for, and our Pure Baltic roadtrip was really special – I’ll be talking about it for a long time!

Have you ever taken a birthday roadtrip? And if you have any must-see spots in Newcastle, don’t forget to share ’em below!

With doughnuts, car journeys and sing-alongs,

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Scrapbook: Happy 14

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London is somewhere that feels very much like a second home to Gary and I. Over the years, we’ve had many happy trips there – for concerts, events, relaxing, shopping and catching up with friends. Sometimes we’re even booked a stay ‘just because’! So it only felt right that we mark our 14 year (!!) anniversary by hanging out there.

I often compile these Scrapbook posts as a photo diary from our adventures, and also to serve as a mini travel guide – in case any of you guys are thinking of visiting a place yourselves. So, even though I’ve shared a London Scrapbook in the past, we did visit quite a few new places on this trip and I wanted to share the details…

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Where We Stayed

On this particular jaunt to London, we stayed at the Citizen M hotel at Bankside, instead of our usual haunt in Hoxton. Staying in a new area was brilliant, and it was really well-placed to either walk or hop on the tube (London Bridge station) to anywhere we wanted to explore.

The hotel itself was beautiful – with sleek, contemporary design and fun amenities. Also, the bed was RIDICULOUSLY comfortable – it might not seem like much, but it’s a total godsend if you’ve been walking around all day and want to relax!

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Shopping

It wouldn’t have been a trip to London without hitting a couple of stores. I love the well-merchandised stores and specialist boutiques in Carnaby Street – it’s such a pretty part of the centre of town. We stumbled across We Built This City by accident, but we were very glad we did. With its bright, airy interior and massive range of independent designers (including Scotland’s very own cutie, Karen Mabon) it’s well worth checking out.

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I really enjoy popping into stores that we don’t have back home – Selfridges and Liberty stock almost everything you can imagine, and I picked up a cute flamingo tee from high-street chain, Monki.

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We also hit Shoreditch (of course!) a couple of times during our stay and visited favourites like Tatty Devine and Beyond Retro. As you might already know, I also took a fun-filled tour of Lush Oxford Street – you can check it out here!

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What I packed

The day before we left, I got a new Canon DSLR camera and this trip gave me a great opportunity to get familiar with it. It’s super lightweight and has an excellent zoom – ideal for shooting from the hip and taking quick snaps on the go (like the two photos above).

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You never know what you’re gonna get with hotel toiletries (unless you’ve stayed there before), and when I travel I like to know I have good-quality beauty products with me. This ace travel set from Gordon Castle feels and smells amazing – and I reckon that has something to do with the fact that some of the ingredients come straight from the gardens at Gordon Castle itself. I’ve been keeping a tube of their Flower Garden hand cream in my bag lately and at under 100ml, it was also ideal for hand luggage (and silky soft paws!).

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Markets We Visited

We arrived at lunchtime on a Sunday, which gave us plenty of time to check in, freshen up and head back out. On a Sunday, Brick Lane and it surrounding streets really comes alive with its vibrant markets.

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Old Spitalfields market is also a must-visit, and has a really eclectic mix of fashion, crafts, food and much more.

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A stone’s throw away from our hotel we found Borough Market, which was mainly food and flower-based. Crowded with hungry locals and tourists, it was also home to Chegworth Valley’s fruit, vegetables and fresh juices.

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Street Art Spotting

I’m a sucker for anything colourful and creative, and London is brimming with unique and intricate street art. I couldn’t resist taking a few snaps while I was there.

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What We Ate

Gosh, what DIDN’T we eat?! I won’t share every single morsel but I recommend checking out a few places – mainly for your breakfast and brunch needs!

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These include The Breakfast Club (I’ve mentioned my love for this place before, too!) for breakfast, brunch, dinner, drinks – anything really; Cereal Killer Cafe for retro kitsch and cereal concoctions; and my new favourite, The Table for – are you ready? – sweet potato, almond and toasted coconut pancake with Valrhona chocolate sauce! I could happily eat this bad boy all day…

We also hit The Diner with our gal pal Erica for milkshakes and a catch up – hooray!

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Elvis Escapades

Once we heard about the Elvis exhibition at the O2, our mission was clear! We spent our anniversary day snooping around The King’s clothing, vehicles and other memorabilia at this excellent event. It was difficult to take clear photos inside the exhibit due to how low the lighting was (and we weren’t allowed to use flash), but it was a very impressive collection and we had a lot of fun checking it out.

For the rest of the day, we relaxed, ate pizza and went for a lovely walk along Southbank in the sunshine. Bliss!

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Coffee n’ Donuts

Brooklyn Coffee in East London does the most delicious coffee – I grabbed an iced latte to keep cool in the sunshine, and a yummy glazed ring from Vicky’s Donuts who had a pop-up in the store. Dum Dum Donuts at Boxpark are also well worth cruising over to as well if you can’t get enough of the sweet stuff!

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Phew! I think it’s fair to say we had an awesome time celebrating our anniversary, and I’m sure it won’t be too long before we are back in London again. If you seeing a bit more of where we went, you can see more of our Happy 14 fun times on Instagram (under #happy14).

I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of my Scrapbook series, and if you are planning a London adventure, that it might inspire you to add a few places to your itinerary list. And if you think there is somewhere I must visit next time, let me know!

‘Til next time, London,

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I Heart Instagram!

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Remember when Instagram was considered the newbie social media app? With the tagline Capturing and sharing the world’s moments, its no-muss-no-fuss approach (simply click and post…Oh, OK fine – click, filter and post!) to photo-sharing caught on FAST! Today, Instagram has a huge following of over 200 million active monthly users, and keeps on growing. The app itself keeps growing too. With video posting options, editing apps and photo challenges a-plenty, it’s really no wonder that Instagram has become the darling of social networking! I like to think of it sort of like a photo album and a little peek into people’s worlds, wardrobes and wanderings.

Alexis from Strange and Charmed recently posed me a few questions about how I use Instagram, and asked me to answer them here on my blog. Like most people, I am probably a creature of habit, but it was fun to take a step back and look at how I use everyone’s favourite photo app…

What’s your Instagram handle? @misswestendgirl

How many people do you follow? 395

How many followers do you have? 1720

What are your favourite hashtags? I love assigning a fun hashtag to an event, project or holiday (like #floridafun or #spanishadventures), but I’d say my most used hashtags are #WIWT, #scotstreetstyle, #disney and #glasgow

What is your favourite genre of pictures? I’m a big believer in embracing personal style, and I love to see people showing off awesome ensembles, hair and tattoos on Instagram. That said, I’m a sucker for a beautiful plate of food and cute pets! I also adore being able to view snapshots of weird and wonderful buildings in far-off cities, they make me reach for my passport…

How often do you post? Sometimes I’ll post daily, or a couple of times a day – especially if I’m somewhere really visual like a theme park or gallery. But it really just depends on what I’m up to!

How often do you check Instagram? I’ve found that Instagram is like a rabbit hole – sometimes I fall down it and suddenly 40 minutes will have passed! I also tend to check it more in the evening than during the day.

What’s your favourite filter? This is a loaded question, but I’ll let you into a little secret – my favourite filter isn’t even an Instagram one! Scandalous! My favourite is ‘Beach’ from an app called Camera+.

iPhone only, purist or rebel? Total rebel! See above, for further evidence!

What are your three current favourite Instagram accounts? This changes ALL the time! Right now, my favourites are @helloholiday (amazing style), @theconfettibar (like a constant party on my timeline) and @prince (because, it’s PRINCE!!).

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I think the beauty of Instagram is in its sheer simplicity – it’s like the old saying, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’! I can’t imagine I’ll stop using it any time soon, how about you? Thanks Alexis for including me!

Tell me your Instagram secrets! Are you a Valencia or an XPro kinda person? What are your favourite types of photos?

With #love and lomographic filters,

Miss West End Girl x