Newcastle in the Sky – “stunning, seasonal fayre matched only by views from 100ft”


When you receive an invitation to enjoy dinner served to you whilst you’ll be suspended from a crane at 100ft, you can either panic and turn it down (definitely considered it for a hot second) or you can face your fear, tell ’em yes and brace yourself to conquer your (my) fear of heights. It’s kind of a fight or flight response; not the last of the air-related puns in this post, don’t worry.

The idea for Newcastle in the Sky was born out of Jacqui McKirdy’s university degree in Events Management and returned this year after it’s debut in 2016. It is a joint venture with her daughter Lauren, and I first met the two ladies at an event they put on earlier in the year – an exquisite ten-course tasting evening by Peace and Loaf, at the historic Alderman Fenwick’s house. I was instantly struck by how passionate they were, not only about food, but about hosting. It was kind of a no-brainer to want to take part in this event. This year, Newcastle in the Sky attracted chefs from eateries like Livello, Brown’s, Hawthorns, Red’s True Barbecue and Chaophraya, amongst others.

The VIP guests were treated to free champagne in the tent on the ground before we were given a safety brief and the experience was explained to us. Once strapped in, and once we realised our chairs could swivel basically 180 degrees, we were ready to take flight. The crane lifts the table to 100ft within about 10 seconds and once up there, you’re basically level with the roof of the Sage. In a word, it’s awe-inspiring. We were even lucky to go up in time for the sun to set over us.




Our particular flight was catered by the team from Artisan. Head chef Andrew Wilkinson was on hand to serve up a storm; a menu which included seafood, red meat, dessert and perfectly paired red and white wines.



Our starter consisted of a Lindisfarne oyster with apple, cucumber and horseradish, swiftly followed by North Sea crab salad with citrus cured salmon, fennel and orange. The oyster was the freshest I’ve ever tasted – my previous best was a tequila-soaked beauty from top Gosforth seafood gaff Loch Fyne. Andrew’s blew that out of the water (again, excuse the pun). The crab salad was also great – not something I would normally order, but was a triumph paired with that tender tangy salmon.

A hearty main of Navarin of Northumbrian lamb and seasonal vegetables was up next. There’s something very special about seasonal produce and the carrots, tender stem broccoli and potatoes here didn’t disappoint. And the lamb! The lamb couldn’t have been more tender and beautifully pink. I didn’t snap a photo of the main as my camera died on me. I did ask if there was facilities to charge it but I was met with confusion and a few laughs! Shy bairns and all that…


Dessert was a vanilla poached peach with champagne, raspberry sorbet and pistachio. Each layer offered up a different fusion of tastes and textures, the granola-like pistachio a clever accompaniment to the smooth tangy sorbet.


Chef Andrew was visibly a little frustrated at the logistics of serving up his food so high in the sky. With no facilities to heat the dishes (the food is loaded on to the table before take off and served once the guests are suspended) or indeed keep them cool, a couple of the elements couldn’t take, well, the elements. The lamb came slightly lukewarm, and when I say ‘slightly’ I really mean it. The drop in temperature didn’t affect the near-perfect taste of succulent meat but it was clearly frustrating for Andrew. Similarly, the sorbet began to melt once scooped into it’s serving glass. All the more reason to throw the pleasantries out the window, or off the side of the crane, and tuck in quickly!



An incredible experience I, and the lucky bunch of diners who also got to fly, are not likely to forget in a hurry, Newcastle in the Sky is not only a chance to eat fine food and take in jaw-dropping views of our fine city, it’s a chance to be part of something that feels so much bigger than that. It’s a culinary treat but it’s cultural significance feels much more important. The stunning food is matched only by the views from 100ft up. This is something that our region doesn’t see every day. Bravo Jacqui, Lauren, your whole team and of course the chefs.

This is a venture that has not only took off – it looks set to soar.


People’s Theatre to host Agatha Christie whodunnit The Unexpected Guest


The Unexpected Guest, Agatha Christie’s classic murder mystery, is the next play in the Heaton theatre’s new season.

The plot sees a young man’s car breaks down one foggy night near a remote country house. Seeking help, he finds his way into the study via the French windows, only to discover the murdered body of its owner Richard Warwick.

But all is not what it seems in this house full of secrets and there’s no shortage of suspects. Was it Richard’s bitter wife who killed him? Could his own mother have fired the fatal shot? Or maybe it was his unscrupulous manservant.


Christie is one of the best-selling writers of all time, outsold only by Shakespeare and the Bible. She wrote The Unexpected Guest in 1958, with The Guardian writing that the applause on the opening night “was the equal of that which welcomed her record-breaking triumph, The Mousetrap”.

A recent BBC TV adaptation of her Witness For The Prosecution was watched by millions. The two-part drama starred Andrea Riseborough, who started her acting career at the People’s Theatre.


Tickets are £13.50 with £11 concessions and are available from People’s Theatre box office or on their website.

Audiences are advised that this production contains smoking and language that may be offensive.

The Unexpected Guest is at running Tuesday January 17 – Saturday January 21. For tickets, call 0191 265 5020, or click here.

Lads and Lashes to serve up a post-Christmas festive spectacular at Boulevard


If you’re not ready to accept Christmas is over and can’t quite face those January blues yet, there are a couple of lad-ies who might be able to help.

Lads and Lashes, the cabaret act made up of drag performers Penny Arcade and Dixie Swallows, are gearing up to keep the festivities going with their one-off Christmas show next week.

Described as “a mix of old and new, Christmas and camp” it is the most recent of the Lads and Lashes shows. The north east-based act has performed previously at the Quayside Exchange in Sunderland and Newcastle’s Pink Room nightclub, amongst other venues, but this special festive show will see Penny and Dixie take to the grand stage of cabaret venue Boulevard, usual home of Danni Dee and the Broadway Dancers. It will be hosted by fellow drag queen Phyllis Tyne.


“It’s going to be an evening of traditional camp fun with all the usual favourites you’d expect from me and Penny,” said Dixie, who when not performing cabaret, can also be found DJing in The Bank Bar and The Pink Room. You can read our interview with Dixie from a few months ago, here.

Tickets can be purchased by contacting their Facebook page here or in person at The Bank Bar on Scotswood Road. Standing tickets are £5, seated £15 and front premier are £20.

Lads and Lashes Christmas Special is at Boulevard on Friday January 13. For more information and ticket details, click here

Get your Christmas all wrapped up by the Children’s Foundation and Intu Eldon Square


As Christmas Day fast approaches, shops are buzzing with people grabbing those last-minute gifts. But as you flash the cash and leave laden with bags full of presents, don’t fret about the dreaded wrapping because there’s help at hand.

The Children’s Foundation have teamed up with Intu Eldon Square and set up their annual wrapping stand to take some of the pressure off you this festive season. Shoppers can leave their gifts with the stand’s volunteers and have them wrapped up super fancy, in return for a donation. You can choose from a range of wrapping paper, ribbon and bows (the flashing bows are major, FYI). All gift wrap has been kindly donated by local businesses and the stand is run completely by volunteers.

The stand was launched this year by cast members from the Tyne Theatre’s pantomime, Beauty and the Beast, last Friday. They follow in the footsteps of other famous faces who have launched the scheme in the past, including Pam Royle and Ian Payne from ITV Tyne Tees, former Emmerdale star Charlie Hardwick and Heart Radio’s Justin and Kelly.

The Children’s Foundation aims to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people in the North East and North Cumbria by tackling issues like distress, disability and disadvantage. The charity is based at the RVI in Newcastle and last year helped over 30,000 children.


Above: The Children’s Foundation helps children across the North East and Cumbria

Jonathan Clegg is the Community and Events Fundraiser for the charity. “This is the tenth year of the wrap stand and so far over £25,000 has been raised,” he told us. “Last year it raised over £6,000 and we hope to beat that this year.

We always have the same people come back year after year and it’s always nice to see some familiar faces.”

I stopped by the stand to get the full wrap experience and was suitably impressed with Jonathan’s elf skills! See for yourself…



Make sure you stop by the stand and donate if you can. It really is all for a fantastic cause and what better time than Christmas time to give back. Any donations are welcome and will all go to helping The Children’s Foundation continue their brilliant work.

The stand is located outside of Kurt Geiger and opposite John Lewis in Eldon Square and is open 10.00-18.00 Monday-Saturday and 12.00-16.00 Sunday and Christmas Eve.

REVIEW: Cinderella – “great performances, sumptuous sets and intricate costumes have the audience spellbound”


Real-life father/son duo Danny Adams and Clive Webb are in their 12th year of entertaining the festive crowds at the Theatre Royal and they’ve become the main draw of the annual show and local celebrities in the process. Or at least, they are to the hordes of children who hang on their every word. This year’s effort, written and directed by super-producer and local lad Michael Harrison, is no different and the tale of the flighty girl with the blinged-out shoes has never been so good.


The whole cast put in strong performances. Singer and star of The Basil Brush Show Laura Evans (above) is a prim and proper Cinderella and her stunning voice melds beautifully with that of Will Richardson (below) who plays the dashing Prince. Both tackle both the original numbers and covers of songs like Hold My Hand with ease and have the audience spellbound. Wayne Smith somehow manages to hold his own amongst the mayhem as a very dapper Dandini and has some lovely scenes with Adams, where in this performance (and I’m sure regularly) the two couldn’t contain their laughter. The ugly sisters (a hilariously grotesque Pete Peverley and Steve Arnott) relished their roles as the villains of the piece and their take on the Geordie-lass-doon-the-toon stereotype is just as much for the grown-ups as it is for the kids, who boo and hiss to their heart’s content. Chris Hayward is also back as Rita, the Fairy Godmother, and is as warm and welcoming as ever. He, like Adams and Webb, is a legend of Theatre Royal pantoland.


The 3D portion of the show has become a staple of modern panto and always goes down a treat. Squeals of glee and tears of genuine terror – and that’s the adults! Some traditionalists may turn their nose up but it really is a spectacle. The show-stopping moment comes courtesy of Cinderella’s horse drawn carriage, which rises up into the gods led by incredibly life-like animatronic horses. I couldn’t help but wish I was seeing it through a child’s eyes.

Pantomime sometimes has a reputation as being a bit ‘chatty’ and isn’t taken as seriously as other forms of theatre. This production, with sumptuous sets and intricate costumes to rival a West End show, dispels that myth. The Fairy Godmother in particular has some beautiful costumes; gone are the wacky comedy frocks, replaced by sequinned gowns a la Boulevard that, actually, put Cinders’ outfits to shame.

The entire show is a treat but it really does hinge on it’s Buttons. Adams’ talent as an entertainer, whether that is physical comedy, charm or magic, knows no bounds. How he isn’t a huge star is anyone’s guess. Although if he was, maybe it would take the shine off the Northern star he has been to us Geordies for the past 12 years of Christmas.

Cinderella is at the Theatre Royal until Sunday January 15. For more information and to book tickets call 08448 11 21 22 or click here

WATCH: Bridget Jones is back in new trailer

Everyone’s favourite bumbling journalist is back and it looks like her happy ending may not have turned out quite like we last thought.

Last seen in 2004’s Edge Of Reason, Bridge looked all set for married life with the man of her dreams Mark Darcy after he finally popped the question. But, fast forward 12 years and it’s all gone a bit tits up – she’s single again. Oh, and PREGNANT.

Renee Zellweger and Colin Firth are both back for the third film in the series, but Hugh Grant is out for this one (we won’t reveal any spoilers) but Grey’s Anatomy and Enchanted hottie Patrick Dempsey is very much in.

Watch the trailer for Bridget Jones’ Baby below:



NOW PLAYING: The Sound – The 1975

the 1975

The 1975 don’t seem to be too preoccupied with being cool, which is precisely what makes them exactly that. The Sound is the latest teaser from the band’s forthcoming album, I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It.

Catchy title, mind.

But don’t let that put you off.

The song  is pure pop perfection – a near-perfect mix of ‘edge’ and tween appeal that One Direction would kill to have recorded – with clever lyrics to boot. Singer Matt Healy, who is the son of Geordie actors Tim Healy and Denise Welch, croons about a “sycophantic, prophetic, Socratic junkie wannabe” with a pounding choral hook to make the girls (and looking at Healy, boys too) squeal: “I know when you’re around cause I know the sound of your heart”.

The 26-year-old front man has admitted the band is just as influenced by pop and R&B than the music of their rock contemporaries.

matt healy

“I think one of the main reasons our band is so groove orientated is because our influences are from R and B and Soul. My Mum was big into Motown like Martha Reeves and The Vandellas, Kim Weston and stuff like that while my Dad was massively into the Stones, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, so that all played a part.” With last single Love Me sounding like an 80s INXS/Duran Duran love-in, and now The Sound, shrouded in pretty keyboards and punchy strings, adding another shade, this is one 2016 album we just can’t wait for.

The Sound is available to buy and download now. Album I Love It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It is out February 24

Bryan Ferry and Will Young announced for Mouth of the Tyne


Two more acts have been announced for this year’s Mouth of the Tyne festival.

The North East’s own Bryan Ferry CBE and Brit Award winner Will Young will take to the stage this summer when the shows return to the Tynemouth Priory July 7-10. Ferry, who was born in Washington and whose hits include Love Is The Drug and Let’s Stick Together, will perform on the Thursday whilst Young, will be performing songs old and new, including tracks from his latest number one album 85% Proof, the following night. The festival is shaping up to be all about the boys. The singers will join already-announced James Bay, who performs Saturday 9 July. The Grammy nominee’s Hold Back The River is certified platinum and debut album Chaos And The Calm won him the Critic’s Choice Brit Award in 2014.

Mouth of the Tyne is organised by North Tyneside Council and supported by Tyne Met College, Kier North Tyneside and Port of Tyne.

Get tickets from 9am tomorrow here



In a music industry where the boys are currently on top (namely Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran, new boy on the block James Bay and up and comer Jack Savoretti to name a few) former One Directioner Zayn Malik has decided to throw his hat into the ring by releasing his first solo single, PILLOWTALK. And we’re a tad underwhelmed.

It’s quite slick, with shades of the Biebs and Timberlake and his vocals are good enough. But, it just feels a little flat after all the hype. The Twitter rants, the in-fighting with producers, the shade he’s thrown at his ex-band mates; with the right track, this introduction to Zayn the popstar could have been explosive. The video, however, will prove to be a talking point – it features Zayn tomming about with new love Gigi Hadid, as well as ladies opening their legs to reveal lotus flowers and him crying black tears. Edgy.

But one can’t help but think that, a few months back, this video would have featured Perrie Edwards. He just seems the type. Perrie lass, you’re well shot of him. We’ll hang on for Harry.

Watch the video here:


WATCH: Lip Sync Battle welcomes Beyoncé

Beyonce performs during the "On The Run Tour: Beyonce And Jay-Z" at Minute Maid Park on July 18, 2014 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/PW/WireImage for Parkwood Entertainment)

(Photo by Larry Busacca/PW/WireImage for Parkwood Entertainment)

One is a Hollywood A-list hunk who made his name bumping and grinding as a male stripper in Magic Mike. The other is the biggest pop star in the world. But who has the best legs? You decide.

US comedy show Lip Sync Battle invites celebrities to compete against each other every week by miming along to hit songs. The latest episode, however, took it to the next level. In every way possible.

Actors and married couple Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan faced off this time and the results were jaw-dropping. Tatum’s ace card? Inviting none other than Queen B onstage to perform her hit Run The World with him. Watch Jenna, hosts LL Cool J and Chrissy Tiegen lose their mind here: