A Quick Pip Stop…

There’s only one way to brighten up a boring old Wednesday, and that dear readers is a delivery of wine. Yes. wine delivered directly to your door.

 

 

Take a seat (or should that be a sip?) and sit back as we introduce you to two very different, delicious world class wines from local business The Pip Stop.

Hallelujah I hear you cry?!

Housed in a charming former 1950s garage whose exposed brickwork walls are filled with well-stocked shelves of wines, ciders, beers and spirits – the aptly named Pip Stop strive to fuel our curiosity for the perfect drinks-with-the-girls pinot grigio, date night drinks or something to squirrel away for Christmas.

 

This lovely local business host a series of wine tasting events throughout the year and P&P was invited to one of their recent events. Unfortunately we were unable to attend, but to our sheer joy the company offered to put together our very own personalised wine tasting kit to enjoy at home!

It would have been too easy to send us a bottle of prosecco, so we particularly enjoyed the team taking their time to personalise our wine tasting kit with something new for us to try.

 

Wine 1: La Vue
In our initial email, we mentioned we liked to indulge in a Provençal rosé (a multi-award winning Côtes de Provence wine made from the Grenache and Cinsault grapes – which tends to be pale in colour and dry) when on holiday in the South of France. In response, The Pip Stop sent us a beautiful bottle of La Vue Grenache produced by an Australian company McPherson Wine. The pastel pink colour was a sure-fire indicator of the delicate nature of this wine.

So how did it taste?
This little beauty certainly lived up to expectations! Light and crisp with a slight fizz, I’d like to say we enjoyed this wine with something equally light and civilised but I’d be lying. The truth is slightly more down to earth – but just as enjoyable – crisps and dips and a good old catch up the with best friend.

According to our guide, prepared for us by The Pip Stop, La Vue is produced in Victoria, Australia in less than 6 weeks hence its light and fresh taste. Produced by McPherson’s Chief Winemaker (er hello, how do we get that job?) and busy mum of four Jo Nash – this wine is definitely a keeper and we can’t wait to try a chilled bottle with fresh seafood in the summer.

La Vue is rated a “2” on The Pip Stop’s scale (1 being very dry, 9 being the sweetest) which explains why we liked this one. Dry wine all the way for us!


Wine 2: Unruly Red Zin
Our second wine was a bit of a wildcard – almost black in colour, this incredibly dark, fruity wine comes from the Delicato Family Vineyards in California we’re told. Beautifully depicted with “thunderous bursts of blackberries and spice” I couldn’t have put it better myself.

How did it taste?
Heralding from the Zinfandel grape (according to my guide) this was quite a heavy red, with a deep spicy aftertaste. Tasting almost like Christmas spice, we enjoyed Unruly Red Zin with homemade steak and ale pie served with buttery veg, mashed potato and homemade pastry. A perfect Sunday afternoon drink with family or friends, sat preferably in an armchair by the fire (dog by your feet!?) – it’s a real scene setting wine that’s good for the soul.

Sharing this bottle with my mother, for whom red wine has been her go-to tipple for as long as I can remember, we both enjoyed our first glass savouring the intense flavours but I’m not sure I could have polished off a full bottle given its spice and intensity. According to The Pip Stop’s guide, this wine is rated a “D” which on a scale of A-E (A being the lightest, E the most full bodied and powerful) I think I’d like to try a B or C.

It’s been a real pleasure to sample some new wines and receive an education about what we’re actually drinking and why we like what we do. I can see myself getting lost on The Pip Stop’s website in future, looking for something nice to be delivered to my door.

Fancy trying something new? 
Sign up to The Pip Stop’s email newsletters to receive 10% off your first order and discover something new this Christmas/New Year! Ben – I’m sure the team at The Pip Stop would be more than happy to give you a recommendation – it’s seriously good grown up fun this wine tasting business.

Even better, take a 360 degree tour of The Pip Stop from the comfort of your seat…

Prosecco and Party Dresses

It’s always lovely when a really special invite lands in your inbox out of the blue…

 

One of the perks of writing this blog is that you never know when you’re going to get invited to a party, exhibition or launch event that adds a little sparkle and excitement to your diary. This weekend’s blogging adventure is a perfect example…

To celebrate the launch of the new standalone Coast store in the Metrocentre’s Platinum Mall, myself and several other lucky ladies were invited to a private shopping event at the store before it had even opened to the public!

 

Accompanied by a champagne breakfast with pastries and sweet treats from nearby Carluccios *Prosecco and Pie heaven* – we were given the opportunity to swish and twirl our way around the new store, prosecco in hand and take a look at the gorgeous A/W16 range of party dresses styled by their muse Olivia Palermo (who I love!).

Each of us were very kindly gifted £100 to spend in store, which was an unbelievably generous gift and gave way to levels of girlie hysteria as we carried several outfits into the beautiful (almost bridal suite) changing rooms with their plush curtains, floor to ceiling mirrors and chic coffee table books to twirl a little more. Furnished with state-of-the-art iPads to take a look at what else is available online, the Digital Marketer in me admired the fusion between online and offline here in the bright new store.

I couldn’t think of a lovelier way to spend a cold, grey Saturday – the event was perfect timing as we’re about to make our way into one of the biggest party seasons of the year and Coast are without doubt a perfect go-to for something special, aren’t they?

 

After much deliberation, I chose a beautiful satin black midi skirt which will go perfectly with the Belle Party Glitter Clutch we were gifted in our goodie bags(!)  – take a look at my shortlist below and tell me that this isn’t just the most beautiful collection of party dresses.

 

L-R: Rhian Skirt, Diane Velvet Maxi Dress, Maneela Jacquard Dress
(click images to enlarge)

I can’t wait to debut my new skirt and love the fact it’s such a versatile piece I know I’ll get so much wear out of it.

As someone who loves dressing up for different occasions in my life – whether that’s as a business woman meeting with a new client, a night out with the girls or weekend away with my other half, getting to experience Coast in such a personal way has definitely made me feel like they’ve got my wardrobe covered and it was a pleasure to attend their debut launch event on behalf of Prosecco and Pie this weekend.

 

The Enchanted Roof Terrace

Securing one of the best rooftop spots in Newcastle, The Botanist invited us for a sneak preview of their new Winter Wonderland roof terrace earlier this month…

 

Think mugs of spiced cider and warm mulled wine, cosy log cabins and twinkly fairy lights under a blanket of stars. Thoughtfully furnished with patio heaters that keep you warm and toasty (tried and tested by us personally!) suddenly you needn’t worry about not being able to find a seat at the bar indoors, you can head upstairs and enjoy a view like no other surrounded by your nearest and dearest.

The outdoors bar is bedecked in baubles, making it feel extra festive, while mini Christmas trees adorn the picnic benches and cubby hole seating areas around the terrace which is a lovely touch.

It feels like another world up here, away from the busy streets and Christmas shoppers – perfect if you’re in need of a large glass of prosecco after a long day!

 

We heartily approve… *helps self to another mince pie*

P&P On Tour: South of France

Off-the-beaten-track bijoux bakeries, freshly baked pastries, jambon et fromage baguettes, street side cafés perfect for sitting and people watching with a frothy cappuccino before drifting along to pop up art, crafts and flower markets…

Grab yourself a cup of tea and a biscuit or two dear readers, because we are off to the South of France!

 

First stop: Nice 
For me, Nice is the jewel in the Côte d’Azur’s crown. It has everything I need: culture, a city buzz, beaches, wine bars, shopping and heritage. There are some beautiful boutique hotels and apartments to stay in but plenty of budget-friendly spots that tick all of the boxes if you’re watching your pennies.

Tip: We planned on travelling further afield so staying near the train station (Gare Thiers) is recommended. 

Only two hours(!) away from Newcastle, Nice feels a million miles away from the soggy British weather which suits me just fine.


The weather is still beautifully hot even in late September, and we sure made the most of it wandering along the promenade, stopping for a glass of chilled white wine at Le Beau Rivage beach bar or going for a dip in the sea.

Wander along the promenade to the Old Town and you’ll find  a labyrinth of cobbled streets filled with bars, restaurants, little shops and charming apartments you daydream about living in. Pop along before 6pm during the week (except Monday’s from what I remember) and you’ll find the local flower market too.

For some, the Fontaine du Soleil on Place Masséna is a favourite – but for me the fountains along the Promenade du Paillon are beautiful! A five minute walk from the popular designer department store Galeries Lafayette, they’re a perfect spot to sit and watch the world (or get a soaking).

 

Cannes. Monaco and Villefranche
A day ticket on the train cost us around €12 and we headed half an hour along the coast to Cannes for the day. It’s a town of two parts – there’s the yachts, designer shops, manicured lawns and palm trees at the Port and then the winding and cobbled streets of Le Suquet, the Old Town of Cannes where some buildings dating back to the 11th century.

Grabbing breakfast at a local café near the train station, we hopped on one of the little tourist trains for €20 each which took us on a tour of Cannes and up into the Old Town before wandering around the shops and stopping for lunch. Luckily, there’s a Zara here which meant I can now say I bought something whilst in Cannes! Pity it wasn’t a designer handbag, but maybe next time…

 

Villefranche-sur-Mer
Blink and you’ll miss it, Villefranche is only a couple of stops from Nice, in fact the railway line runs right along the cliff along the coast you’re so dazzled by the view we almost missed our stop.

According to Google, “The Bay of Villefranche is reputed as one of the five most beautiful bays in the world” and oh my goodness I’d have to agree! With Monaco on one side and Nice on the other, it’s hard to believe that it can retain such olde-worlde charm and the authenticity of a little village where everyone knows each other with such cosmopolitan neighbours where new people arrive or leave every hour.

 

We spent the day at the beach – quite literally the whole day – having rented loungers at the local bar/restaurant. A little reading, sunbathing, a dip in the warm turquoise waters followed by a little snooze…. and repeat – before heading for a wander into the Old Town. Sunlight trapped between the tall buildings (some of them 13th century!!) only served to add extra charm.

It’s like life has no pace here (in a good way!) –  time stood still and you had time to just stop and catch up with your thoughts, or that book you keep meaning to read. You feel a million miles away from emails and social media notifications. Heaven!

 

Monaco
20 minutes or so from Nice, we spent an afternoon in playboy paradise Monaco. The world’s second smallest country (to the Vatican I believe?) Monaco squeezes in serious attitude in such a small but beautifully furnished spot. Aside from hosting the world’s largest yachts, there’s the famous Cafe de Paris, the Casino de Monaco and the Hotel de Paris sandwiched between an array of the world’s fastest supercars.

I highly recommend grabbing a front-side seat at the Café de Paris, ordering a coffee and just watching the world. We played eye-spy the supercar and got to something like 23 in 40 minutes!!

Unsure of what time the last train was, we played it safe and headed back down the hill to the station back to Nice after a brief, but lovely wander through the gardens past Celine, Chanel, Prada and a few other well-heeled neighbours.

 

There are surprises and character around every corner here, it’s a place I find I can visit time and time again and still find something new to fall in love with… 5 days of sunshine, sea and plenty of good food – until next time!

 

Wild Weekends

 

If you’d asked us this same question two or three years ago, our answer would have been very different…

“Want to scale rocks and get your hands filthy this weekend?” 

Our answer? “Dear god, no way. Who the hell would want to spend their weekend doing that?”

Only those of who were with me at the time know the truth when I idiotically agreed to go hiking in the baking hot desert that is Runyon Canyon in LA. They know the pain, misery and inner-tantrum I was having the whole way up while freshly blow-dried tanned goddesses jogged past me up the near vertical hills.

I felt like sh*t, I was hot, sweaty and tired. I felt inferior compared to everyone else and completely out of my comfort zone the whole way up. Getting to the top of course, was a complete different story. Suddenly all of the panting and puffing melted away and I forgot about feeling crap.

Fast forward a couple of years and guess what I now like to do on a weekend…

Funny how things change, isn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong, I still huff and puff my way up, my inner voice telling me “we are never doing this again” but then you get to the top, and it’s wonderful.

Best friend Ashleigh has signed up to climb Mount Kilimanjaro so in the spirit of friendship, we decided to create our very own Sunday Adventure Club to help her with her training and me with my inability to not work on weekends. We pick a walk we fancy doing, pick up a picnic at M&S (no one said we had to scrimp when we got to the top!), chuck my (dusty) old walking boots and we’re off!

 

After spotting several beautiful shots on instagram, this week we headed south down the a19 in search of the cutely-named Roseberry Topping. Aptly described as a “challenging ascent”, we pulled up in the car park and surveyed our way for the day.

(Bugger, I thought to myself… that looks pretty steep)

A word of warning to those who haven’t been to Roseberry Topping before, it’ll cost you the pricely sum of £4.50 to park for the day which you deposit into the waiting hands of Ken/Dave the parking warden who sits in a little hut on the sidelines and probably uses all of our money to pay for his supply of tea and biscuits he had stashed in the back of his hut.

Nevertheless, we paid up and went on our way… along with a 30 strong group of eager climbers, dog walkers, gaggling groups of fundraisers in fancy dress and super keen parents carrying small children on their backs. Maybe we’d come on a bad day and it’s usually a very quiet spot because making your way up that “challenging ascent” in a queue with seven other climbers at the same time aint easy let me tell you.


The climb didn’t take long, but certainly gets your heart racing! The views of the North Yorkshire National Park(?) as you climb are beautiful. Though we jostled for space at the top of the Topping, stepping over people having their picnic and taking sweaty selfies we eventually found a quiet place to sit and rest.

Far off in the distance we could see a hot air balloon drifting across the bright blue sky, as we sat in the baking hot sun feeling proud of our aching legs for carrying us determinedly to the top.

By the time we reached the car park we were starving so headed 20 minutes or so to Saltburn-by-the-Sea for fish and chips! It was a beautifully hot day, unseasonably warm for mid September but we bloody well made the most of it.

Spotting a pretty looking roof terrace in a beachside cafe called Vista Mar, Ashleigh and I sat in the sun eating our well-earned fish and chips before grabbing an ice cream and walking along the pier. Heaven!

 

 

Hot, sweaty and tired we made our way back to the car and headed home. I’m now sat curled up on the sofa with a glass of red wine in hand and a bar of my favourite chocolate going down very well – a Sunday well spent I’d say!

 

Grown-Up Getaway

We’ve been on another adventure here at Prosecco & Pie to a woodland lake lodge near Thirsk…


With nothing but eating, drinking and exploring on the agenda for three blissful days, 7 good friends came together and filled one Landrover with as much food and drink as we could carry and shut ourselves away for the weekend.

No work, no meetings, nothing to do but relax.

It took us an hour and half’s drive down from Newcastle to arrive and we promptly popped open a bottle or two of prosecco before diving in the hot tub. After enjoying a “family dinner” (and possibly too much wine) we headed to bed for a good night’s sleep in the countryside (before waking up and eating our own bodyweight in bacon sandwiches, coffee and chocolate croissants to remedy the situation.)

 


Our days were spent catching up on old issues of magazines we never had the time to read, the Sunday papers and chatting over a bottle of wine in the sunshine sat on our little terrace that overlooked the fountain in the lake.

We didn’t eat on-site or venture to the communal areas so can’t comment on that side, but the lodge we stayed in was enormous with super comfy beds.

Sunday dinner at The Black Lion in Thirsk was a particular highlight, the food was fantastic and such good value for money. Despite it almost being mid-September the weather held out just long enough to enjoy a ginormous ice cream for pudding. This of course, paved the way for “Champagne Sunday” – where we sat and toasted to our friendship and other lovely things in life, like not having to go to work in the morning.

I’ll forever remember our little dinner parties and alfresco dining on the picnic bench overlooking the lake, the feeling of the warm early Autumn air as I sat drinking my morning coffee watching the ducks, lying in the hot tub drinking a glass of red wine on a Sunday evening looking up at the sky and spotting shooting stars…

Now that’s what adventures are made of. Wouldn’t you agree?

(P.s – if you go and do happen to find my lost car keys and prized Chloe keyring I bought in Hollywood let me know!!)

 

Mary Poppins The Musical

Image Credit belongs to: http://www.marypoppins.co.uk

She’s a firm family favourite made famous by Julie Andrews’ practically perfect performance – so how would Mary Poppins fare on the stage?

Prosecco & Pie popped along to Newcastle’s Theatre Royal last night to find out more… 

Image Credit belongs to: http://www.marypoppins.co.uk
Image Credit belongs to: http://www.marypoppins.co.uk

 

The curtain rose, the stage was set, the orchestra playing an old familiar song…

It took me 15-20 minutes or so to decide whether I liked the “new” Mary Poppins, played enthusiastically by actress Zizi Strallen – not because she wasn’t a talented performer, mostly because it took my brain a little while to rewire and imagine someone other than Julie Andrews in her place. Once you get over this initial comparison (don’t compare – they’re two very different beasts) you’ll love her.

Her perfect prim outfits, her trademark up-do and touch of magic were all wonderfully present and preserved in the stage production while still leaving room for Zizi to make her mark as Mary. Witty, self-assured and sometimes sassy, she made even the most hardened of us laugh and smile at this family friendly comedy. In fact, looking around I noticed there were distinctly more adults than children here to see the 7.30pm weekday show.

Whats more, the creatives behind the stage production made magic with the lighting, sound and set. I really don’t want to spoil it too much – but you’ll notice the little touches and find yourself thinking “wow…”

For me, the true magic lay in the audience’s reaction. An older gentleman sat behind me with his family couldn’t help but hum and sing along and tap his feet as the familiar soundtrack blared out into the auditorium. When the time came for the curtain to fall one last time, my heart almost burst when a younger guest jumped up out of his seat in rapturous applause – the best part came when he unbeknown to him, he looked around to see if he was still the only one giving a standing ovation and thought he’d inspired the whole auditorium to stand up too!

Priceless.

A joyful, totally feel-good, family friendly night out – Mary Poppins the Musical definitely hits all of the right notes in terms of cast, costume and stage production.

The production is here to stay for a mammoth run at the Theatre Royal from the 9th September until the 29th of October so you have plenty of time to grab a ticket.

 

 

 

Chasing Waterfalls…

Swapping ballet pumps for walking boots.. wild swimming, sparkling wine, chasing waterfalls, river rapids, mossy carpeted woodland and more… 

Welcome to the Lake District, Prosecco & Pie style…

We indulged in a girls weekend like no other earlier: fresh air, wind in your hair, getting your hands dirty and faces hot and sweaty walking through wind, rain, clambering up hillsides and scrambling across rocks in search of waterfalls – all washed down with generous helpings of delicious pub grub and plenty of prosecco. Just what the doctor ordered…

Swapping busy city life for a slower pace 80+ miles north west to the Lake District, we were staying in Cockermouth nearby Wordsworth House (who just so happens to be a distant relative of a relative of mine which means we’re practically related) – Cockermouth a perfect base for exploring the lakes.

 

Day 1 – 
We had a route planned in search of a particular wild swimming spot around the Stanley Ghyll Force waterfall walk and spent several happy hours wandering in wonder off the beaten track…

Finally we found it: a shimmering chute dropping 20 metres or so into a deep, dark plunge pool enclosed by mossy rocks and tropical-looking ravines. We scrambled on hands and knees up nature’s staircase of rocks, over wooden bridges and across rivers to reach the very top. The braver of our group might have thrown caution to the wind and jumped off the top but we decided to retreat back to Dalegarth Bridge and take a look at its rocky pools below.

Trees 1,000 times taller than you, a soft mossy green carpet covering the woodland floor beneath your feet, the sound of silence was punctuated every so often by rushing water or lone sheep on the hills.

Nobody around us but the ancient beauty of crumbling dry stone walls and fellow walkers eating their sandwiches overlooking the enormous valleys beyond. I could feel the peace and tranquility sinking into my bones, our day made when we stumbled upon the most perfect beauty spot by accident and spotted a lone heron sitting gracefully, unknown he was being watched on the water before us.

 

We packed everything we could into this three day trip over Bank Holiday weekend – walks, lazy wanders around Cockermouth and Grasmere, ice creams in the sunshine, leisurely pub meals and chatting to locals before a hilarious and unforgettable canoeing trip on Ullswater.

Ashleigh and I have never laughed so much in our lives as we did that day. Both absolute beginners at canoeing, we weren’t about to let that stop us and that’s the spirit of our friendship, the glue that sticks us together.

Day 2 –
Hopping into our canoe and figuring out how to work it after a few spins around the lake we were instantly hooked. The British weather was perfect for once, rays of hot sunshine hitting the water so it sparkled, with just the right kind of gentle breeze brushing past our faces as we giggled and rowed, grinning from ear to ear.

We learnt so many new things about ourselves on this trip, tasted new food, drank divine wine, witnessed new natural wonders, experienced new feelings, got muddy, got wet, got sunburnt and spent the whole weekend without so much as looking in a mirror…

What a weekend.

 

 

Sisley and Little Miss Sunshine…

 

Something strange has happened. I’ve swapped prosecco for sparkling water…

Ha, just kidding. I’m definitely still on the fizz, but in the interest of hydration and the theme of skincare I swapped my usual favourite tipple for sparkling water during my extra special Sisley-Paris skin consultation earlier this month.

Now I know what you’re thinking – what the heck is with all of these beauty/skincare posts? I come to Prosecco and Pie for the food! Bear with me. There is method behind my madness.

Maybe it’s the universe trying to tell me something, in the same month I was invited to two skincare pampering events. This kind of thing wouldn’t usually come under my remit – but in the interest of “eating, drinking and exploring” (this blog’s motto) I decided to be less of a “no” girl and say “yes” to something a bit different, if not just to give you advice on how to reduce those eye bags after a night of serious prosecco drinking and pie eating

 

Cheers!

I’d describe myself as very much a “soap and water” kind of girl. Very, very rarely do I fill my basket with the latest moisturiser or foundation and it’s not because I’m offended by anyone who chooses to do so, of course not – I just find I have little interest in the beauty industry.

Sure I wear make up, moisturise and clean my face but I have zero loyalty to any particular brand. In fact, I’m a bit of a skincare brand nomad which results in me always looking for something that ticks the boxes and never sure if I’ve found it. Cue Sisley, the very lovely Michela and my beauty prescription.

Tucked behind the big beauty names on the ground floor of House of Fraser Metrocentre, you’ll most likely stumble upon Sisley near the perfume section at the back. For such a prestige, iconic brand I’m not sure why House of Fraser have plonked their beautiful counter here but hey, now you know it’s there it can become a go-to destination rather than an accidental discovery.

Michela is counter manager at Sisley’s new counter in House of Fraser Metrocentre and I think I’m a little bit in love her with her. Not only is Michela originally from elegant and fashionable Milan, her accent is so delicious to listen to I was even more intrigued. Genuinely passionate about Sisley products and supremely knowledgable, I instantly liked Michela’s friendly approach and even more so when she told me what would work for me and what wouldn’t so I didn’t spend money unnecessarily.

“The skin is the mirror of the soul” – Sisley Paris

 

I don’t want to spoil the magic of a Sisley “facial protocol” because it really is something you have to experience for yourself, especially if you book an appointment with Michela(!) so I’ll try give you a taster without spoiling it…

Imagine you’re sat comfortably, eyes closed, shoulders relaxed. Your tired skin is being gently draped in a light cleansing milk before a delicate toner with a delightful floral bouquet scent is applied. Next, a hydrating mask is massaged around your temples, cheekbones, forehead and oh so gently around your eyes… finished with a deeply luxurious moisturiser infused with cucumber.

My skin doesn’t feel greasy, sticky or oily but plumped, soft and comfortable.  Could I become a beauty convert after all? Thanks to Michela’s honest, charming self – no jargon or spiel – I left feeling knowledgeable about my skin and what it needs and instantly resolved to drink more water.

Prosecco is good for the soul too though. Life’s all about balance.

(click the images to enlarge)

Above are just a few samples of Sisley products I was given to try at home to see if I liked them thanks to Michela’s “prescription” – yours may be slightly different but I loved the moisturiser with cucumber and floral toner the best.

The treatment I experienced was the Eye and Express Beauty Treatment. The products used were:

Sisley Eau Efficace

Sisley Eye Contour Mask

Sisley Express Flower Gel Mask

Sisleÿa Essential Lotion

Sisley Moisturiser with Cucumber

Sisley Phtyo Cernes Eclat N1

Sisley Nutritive Lip Balm

Sisley So Intense Mascara

Sisley is a prestige brand which doesn’t come cheap, but it does specialise in science and plant extracts that are 100% natural and I’d highly recommend getting your own introduction to the brand by having a chat with the lovely Michela at Sisley in House of Fraser, you won’t regret adding even just one part of their range to your routine once you understand how it works and why it will help you!