Sunday, 25 November 2018

When in Atlanta, Georgia - Travelling in America

Atlanta Georgia Travel Walking Dead Skyline

It’s over a year now since we stepped foot in Atlanta. A place we weren’t planning on going but stumbled across it in a bid to go to another Southern destination. Thinking back now, I actually can’t remember what made our minds up about visiting but it was another great stop on our trip to America last year.

Atlanta is a big place and it’s not really your typical tourist location like New York or New Orleans but it does have some good places to visit and interesting things to see.

We’d booked tickets to go to an NFL game whilst in Atlanta and this was certainly a highlight. I didn’t know what to expect going into it as I had heard the games were long and to be honest I didn’t really get what was going on most of the time. The day before the game we wandered to the Mercedes Benz Stadium where the Falcons play and it was epic. First of all, it was enormous, second it was all new and modern and third it was just a breathtaking place to be. It definitely got me excited for the game.

The next day the stadium was packed. Floods of people arrived in red Atlanta jerseys and blue Miami Dolphins jerseys. It was a fantastic atmosphere. The opening of the game had us hyped for the next three hours with cheerleaders, music, video and pyrotechnics. There was always something going on throughout the time we were there to keep the audience engaged and when Atlanta scored, it was very exciting. Just a shame it was a low scoring game and at the end, the Dolphins took the win!

Atlanta Falcolns NFL Mercedes Benz Stadium Football Game
Atlanta Falcolns NFL Mercedes Benz Stadium Football Game
Atlanta Falcolns NFL Mercedes Benz Stadium Football Game
Atlanta Falcolns NFL Mercedes Benz Stadium Football Game

A gem of a find we came across whilst wandering around Atlanta was Ponce City Market. Here there were lots of shops and places to eat as well as on the top floor rides and carnival games. We had a look in the daytime and decided to come back on the night to really experience all it had to offer.

What was great about PCM was that you put money on a special card that you could top up whilst you were there and then whatever you wanted to eat, drink or do, you just swiped this card. We had some drinks, played lots of games and won cuddly toys and had a go on the different rides as well as a game of crazy golf. This was all against a stunning backdrop of Atlanta at night.

Ponce City Market Atlanta Georgia America The Roof Travel
Ponce City Market Atlanta Georgia America The Roof Travel
Ponce City Market Atlanta Georgia America The Roof Travel
Atlanta Halloween House Decorations, Georgia America
Atlanta Georgia Centennial Olympic Park America

These were the two highlights of our time in Atlanta although we did also visit Centennial Olympic Park, visited the World of Coca-Cola (wouldn’t recommend) and got to see lots of houses dressed up for Halloween! If you are stopping by Atlanta for a few days, I’d definitely make sure it’s when Atlanta are playing at home and get yourself to Ponce City Market.
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Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Getting crafty at the Make and Mend Festival

I've always thought of myself as quite a creative person; trying to find the best solution to a problem or making something look pretty. Although I wasn't really into crafts when I was younger, as I've grown up and got my own space, I'm always keen to do a bit of D.I.Y. Last month, I was invited to go along to the first-ever Make and Mend Festival, set up by two lovely ladies with a passion for creativity and mindfulness.

Held at Preston Hall Museum, the event brought together craft lovers from across the Tees Valley to take part in a number of workshops where we created some gorgeous and hand-crafted goodies. We were down on the morning to take advantage of the three different workshops we'd been booked on to. First up was glass engraving held in a classroom down the Victorian Street.

Make and Mend Festival Preston Park Hall Museum Craft Teesside Stockton
Make and Mend Festival Preston Park Hall Museum Craft Teesside Stockton
Make and Mend Festival Preston Park Hall Museum Craft Teesside Stockton Glass Etching
Make and Mend Festival Preston Park Hall Museum Craft Teesside Stockton Glass Etching

Led by Bloom in Art, the class allowed each participant to make either a pendant or a key ring. We each had to think of something that meant a lot to us, or that we want to be reminded of on a daily basis. I chose to etch 'Explore', as I love to travel and I want to do it a lot more. The process involved adding sticker stencils to you piece of glass, covering it in an acid paste and leaving it for around 15 minutes until the glass around your stencil had gone cloudy and your words remain clear and smooth. Once the acid was washed off, it revealed your design and we followed this up by drilling out a hole to then attach to our chosen fixing.

It was a very creative class which involved mediums I'd never used and methods I had never done. Although it was great to create my key ring, I don't think I'll be breaking in glass etching anytime soon. 

After this, we had some lunch from The Sitting Room in Guisborough's pop-up stall. They offered a number of gorgeous salads to be accompanied by meat or halloumi. I chose the tabbouleh with bulgar wheat, tomato, onion, parsley and mint, and the spicy tomato, onion and chickpea salad with a side of grilled halloumi and a dollop of mint yoghurt. It was so delicious and filling. I followed this up with a cheeky brownie but I ate this too quick to snap a picture.

Make and Mend Festival Preston Park Hall Museum Craft Teesside Stockton The Sitting Room Guisborough

After our lunch, we had a little bit of time before our next session which we used to wander around and have a nosy at what everyone else was doing. A few of the classes we spotted were brush lettering, floral painting and papercutting which all looked very interesting. Our second class of the day was embroidery which was led by Make and Mend's own Rachel. We all had the chance to embroider our own hoop which was pre-marked out with the words 'choose happy'. Rooting through Rachel's box of threads, all of our hoops came out very different due to the varied colours we chose. As I'd already done a bit of embroidery, this was familiar to me but it was great to be able to do more and practise the stitches I'd already learnt.

Make and Mend Festival Preston Park Hall Museum Craft Teesside Stockton Embroidery

The final class of the day took place in the conservatory which was unfortunately like a sauna as it was an extremely hot day. Nevertheless, we got stuck into making terrariums with Hoes & Ditches. As I'm not very green-fingered, it was great to have the chance to put together my terrarium adding stones, soil, picking the plants I wanted and then adding the finishing touches with pebbles and moss. I was really proud of my final effort which wasn't as hard to put together as I first thought.

Make and Mend Festival Preston Park Hall Museum Craft Teesside Stockton terrarium
Make and Mend Festival Preston Park Hall Museum Craft Teesside Stockton terrarium

I was extremely pleased to have been invited along to Make and Mend festival to try out all the exciting classes. There was a great turnout of advanced crafters and beginners, all wanting to learn new skills. Holding this in Preston Hall Museum was a fantastic idea and the venue worked wonderfully for what they needed. This was the first event that Make and Mend had run, and I'm hopeful they will organise others so I can try more crafts. If you want to keep up to date with Make and Mend, see if they decide to run further events or purchase one of their craft kits, follow them on Facebook or keep an eye on their website.

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Friday, 23 March 2018

Eating around the World with The Butterfly Quarter | Middlesbrough

One of my favourite things to do is go out and try new restaurants. I'm sure I may have said that once, or twice... This week one of Middlesbrough's healthy restaurants decided it was time to change up and become a cocktail and tapas venue. I have to say, I'm very happy about that. My friend Rachel and I love tapas, antipasto and charcuterie boards and we're pretty much on a mission to try all of them in Teesside. We've already been to Alchemy & Co., Lost Property and No.34, but we're always looking for something new so we were very excited to try The Butterfly Quarter.

The Butterfly Quarter - Middlesbrough - Tapas Review
The Butterfly Quarter - Middlesbrough - Tapas ReviewThe Butterfly Quarter - Middlesbrough - Tapas ReviewThe Butterfly Quarter - Middlesbrough - Tapas Review

The Butterfly Quarter is a quaint and striking space with an industrial edge. When we sat down we were given two menus each, one full of cocktails and the other laden with tapas options. We were in heaven. On the tapas menu, there was a deal which gave you three plates and a glass of wine for £15. We instantly knew this was the one for us and got to selecting six options for us to share. We chose Bruschetta Di Pomodori (Italy), Croquetas De Jamon (Spain), Arancini (Italy), Patatas Bravas (Spain), Funghi All'aglio (Italy), Mozzarella In Crosta (Italy) and as another extra we chose bread with three dips; Moroccan hummus, red pepper romesco and aubergine mutabai. As we'd chosen the special deal, our three choices each came on a wooden board with our bread as a cheeky little extra.

Each of the dishes were super delicious. My favourite was the Croquetas, followed closely by the Patatas Bravas and the Bruschetta. Oh, and the Mozzarella sticks and their dip was delicious too. We tried our best to clear our boards and did a pretty good job but we maybe aimed too high when we ordered the bread too.

Whilst we were there, they had an acoustic artist who really added a lovely vibe to the night without overpowering conversation. The staff at The Butterfly Quarter were friendly and very accommodating considering they were just getting used to the new elements as well.

There are quite a few local places coming around to the idea of tapas, but I think The Butterfly Quarter have really set a high standard and I would definitely be back again. If not to eat tapas, to definitely work through their cocktail menu.
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