TRAVEL// A Locals Guide to Newcastle

I imagine you are currently asking yourself what the above image has to do with Newcastle?  Well, its Jesmond Dene which is right in the city! Amazing, huh?  Newcastle is one of those cities I feel is associated with a big nightlife, filled every weekend with stags and hens partying along the quayside.  Well, there's a lot more to it than that! You may recall when we introduced this series (you can read our intro here) that we wanted to speak to locals and gain an insight into what's fantastic about each of the featured cities, steering away from the tourist traps and guide books to really get a view from a locals perspective? This is one city we really feel deserves to be seen from a different angle, its got so much more to offer than a night out. I spent a bit of time there in my early twenties visiting friends at Uni who live in the Jesmond area, but have also worked in the city on and off over the years, and it always amazes me how much green there is, how friendly everyone is, and also how many quirky little corners there are to discover.

This week we caught up with Nancy who grew up in the city and after a stint in London moved back to start a family.  Here's what Nancy had to say about her home town;

Nancy, thank you so much for speaking with us, tell us about yourself, how long have you lived in Northumberland and what do you love most about the Newcastle and the surrounding area?

Hi! thank you so much for letting me show off about how great the North East is! I'm a stylist and photographer, I live in Newcastle with my husband and young daughter. I'm from Newcastle but moved down to London after uni, when we found out I was pregnant I convinced my husband to move up to Newcastle, we've been here around 18 months. The main reason we moved was to have a larger home and be much nearer the countryside, which we love.

Describe your perfect day wandering around the city – where do you go, what do you do?

I'm not much of a city person which is why Newcastle suits me so much, it's a small city and incredibly green. I live around a 15 min walk out of town but in some parts, it feels like the countryside. My favourite thing to do locally is have a walk with my family in Jesmond Dene - a beautiful park in a valley.

Where would you take visitors to show them the ‘real’ Newcastle?

I love to wander down to the Quayside, it feels like you're going back in time. Newcastle's Grey Street is voted the finest in Britain, the grand Georgian architecture is stunning. It's a beautiful street that winds down to the River Tyne which is surrounded in stunning buildings and bridges.

Where’s your favourite area in the city and why?

I love Ouseburn. There are so many incredible restaurants. The food scene up here is just as good as London - I should know as I lived in London for 8 years and ate out a lot! My personal favourite is Cookhouse but there are honestly so many other great foodie spots in the area.  

What would you say is Newcastle’s best kept secret?

The food! There are so many indie food and drink brands that are run by very cool, young and knowledgeable people. Proven Goods doughnuts is a fave!

When you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre, where do you head to?

I'm desperate to stay the night in Kielder forest and do one of their dark sky, stargazing holidays. It's the second largest area of protected night sky in Europe and apparently one of the best spots to stargaze.

When in need of a little retail therapy, where do you head to?

I'm very lucky that I live round the corner from The Flower Folk which is a florist and beautiful homeware shop. I also love Refound Objects, it stocks a wonderful selection of homeware, stationery, cookware and bath products. It's a bit like a mini department store and it specialises in global and vintage pieces.

Are there any hidden gems you can recommend?

There is an incredible restaurant near us called The Patricia, one that we go to for special occasions.

What are you top 3 tips for visiting the city?

1. The Metro is really handy and can take you all over the city and up to the beautiful coast.

2. I'd bring clothes for any weather as it's so changeable up here!

3. If you head to Tynemouth market you'll be able to buy lots of great souvenirs like locally roasted coffee from OCC.

When is your favourite time of year in the city and why?

I love autumn as it is such a green city. The trees in October are just stunning.

Newcastle’s Best Bits;

Coffee: OCC or Kiln

Dinner: The Patricia

Brunch: Cookhouse

Drinks: The Left Luggage Room or Wylam Brewery

A little culture: One of the many national trust sites

A pamper session: City Retreat Spa

Push the boat out luxury hotel: Hotel du Vin

Somewhere to stay which is a little more budget friendly: I'd go for an Air bnb in Ouseburn

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