Happy Friday! Although it already feels like an age ago, today I’m bringing you my British City Staycation – Newcastle Part 2. I left you last week as we were hit with the news of Mum-in-law’s diagnosis and everyone in the family was reeling. I’m grateful to all of you who’ve sent advice and links to the various organisations you recommend. The doctors have told us that the most urgent thing for now is to get the LPAs in order so they’ve been sent off which means we can now focus fully on her. A few people have said it would be helpful to have an LPA process update on here so once they’re approved I’ll add it to a post because it’s something we all should have in place really, not only for our parents but perhaps for ourselves too.
As you know my parents and Mr MC’s dad died almost ten years ago so since then Mum-in law has been the central tenet in our family. I think we all thought she’d be at the heart of things forever but now everyone is adjusting to the changes that are taking place. I’m going to write about it every so often on here because I think looking after elderly parents is a big part of most people’s midlife journey and so what we learn as we go along might be helpful. However I have to be sensitive to the fact that some of the family read and support this blog and it’s only partly my story to tell. As the wife of the youngest of six children in a strong and close-knit Geordie family I don’t want to make it any more difficult than it already is. What I can say is that at the moment she tells us she’s feeling happy and relieved just to have the diagnosis – with her wry sense of humour she added that she’d been worried she was going mad and so feels much better now it’s official! Of course there’s far more to it than that but as always she’s approaching everything in her humorous, strong and stoical way, saying that she’s enjoying having everyone rallying round her and that she wants everyone to get on with life as usual while she just takes each day as it comes.
British City Staycation – Newcastle Part 2
And so back to our break. We weren’t sure whether to go but after a long few days it was a good distraction when we were invited to the press launch of a new place that had opened up in Newcastle called Selfie Central. Now you know I’m hopeless at selfies so I was feeling a bit apprehensive as we set off…
Boden gold jacket (gifted AW20); gold metallic tee (now in sale, size down – I’m wearing XS); Hush jeans (SS21 – sold out); Gold sandals; Clutch (Midlifechic AW19)
…but actually we ended up having a great time. There were some very glamorous local influencers there who were skilled with their poses and knew exactly what they were doing… and then there was us. The way it works is that there are various booths, each with a different backdrop and you go along with a friend having a bit of fun in each one. So we did…
… and Mr MC, the man who usually spends his life behind the camera, found his moment as you can see!
Once you get into the swing of it it’s good fun – I can imagine teens really enjoying it if you were in Newcastle for a weekend.
It wasn’t as easy working with a pro photographer though but I did my best to do as he said and look sultry (although in the end I look more like I’m nodding off!).
So that was a fun way of edging into the weekend. The next day after a lazy start we went out for a bowl of soup at the superb Bridge Tavern which does great coffee and snacks during the day and relaxed with the papers…
And unfortunately I don’t have many photos of the Saturday night. Earlier in the week we’d spotted that Graeme Park was doing a set at Colonel Porter’s Emporium (if you’re not familiar with him he was the principal DJ at Manchester’s Hacienda Club in the 90s – and pre-lockdown he was touring the UK doing the brilliant Hacienda Classical concerts which you’ve seen me cover on here).
Now some people asked me on Instagram whether I felt nervous about being out and dancing but this was just a pub with a small dance floor and numbers were limited so it wasn’t crowded (as you can imagine Mr MC was greatly entertained by the sign above my head).
I stupidly wore new sandals and before too long the knots on the side of my foot were rubbing – I guess it’s going to take a while before our feet become accustomed to wearing something other than trainers again but I can’t move my feet properly on a sticky floor in trainers. Not wanting me to sit down Mr MC came up with a solution – beermats – which he insisted gave off a Converse vibe. It worked to stop the shoes rubbing but thank goodness it was relatively dark in there!
After a good but late night I was glad that Sunday held nothing more than a big roast diner and the promise of a few quieter days ahead. This was the perfect dress to wear on a cooler day, it hints at buffet style but has a neater bodice so it still has enough shape for me to be able to carry it off with my big shoulders.
Denim dress (15% off with code MLC15, gifted SS21); flat slingbacks; Sézane tote bag (past season)
And in the week that followed we did less holidaying and had more of an experience of what it would be like if we lived in the flat for a while. We found a local gym that we could visit with a day pass and so went a few times to keep up our Academy strength training. I’m wearing something different here to my usual Sweaty Betty. The leggings and top were sent to me by a new mother/daughter start-up that I’m keen to support. They’re called Lagatta and I absolutely love the attitude on their website – Stephanie the founder states:
“We’re the exercisers who got tired of wearing oversized, boring T-shirts to cover up skimpy sports bras. Not to mention wearing thongs under leggings. We wanted something supportive yet fabulous, comfortable yet fun. We are ageing actively, fabulously and unapologetically. And we deserve stylish activewear to do that in.”
They’re a brand focusing totally on the midlife woman and so I was intrigued to find out what adaptations they’d made to their sportswear. For starters the top has an inbuilt bra which is great for strength or circuits training as it’s one layer less to wear which helps when things get hot and sweaty. It would be good for yoga or Pilates too but I don’t think it would have quite enough support for running. The fit is flattering, it has an extra tummy panel that hugs (but doesn’t squeeze) your body and ensures it doesn’t rise up which is unusual for a top that isn’t long. Instead it’s cut to curve flatteringly over the top of the leggings, visually breaking up the midriff.
The leggings are ultra high waisted so there’s no risk of muffin top overspill and they have inbuilt shorts that come to the knee and help to contour your thighs and rear. They’re quite long so they’re particularly good for anyone who’s tall. You can probably see the split at the ankle which means they adjust over your foot if your legs are a more standard length like mine. Again I’d wear them for strength, circuits, yoga or Pilates but not for running because they don’t have the all essential pockets for your phone, keys and dog poo bags. So – a lovely new range from a company that very much deserves our support – if you’re looking for new activewear please do pay the Lagatta website a visit, even if it’s just to feel empowered by a brand talking so positively about this stage in our lives.
Gym top; Leggings (both gifted SS21)
What else did we do during our second week? We had an afternoon in Whitley Bay where Mr MC remembers spending lots of his childhood days. It’s a classic English seaside town that he says has been polished up quite a bit since his day but he still managed to find a rusty old bit of jetty that he remembered.
Fish and chips on the beach in a strong sea breeze was a must…
Midlifechic t-shirt (SS17); Jeans; Trainers
… followed by a stroll around the gift shops…
… and an ice cream – which got me into a few chats on Instagram about what merits a good one. They seem to like the soft Mr Whippy style in the North East whereas I like my ice cream to be a proper scoop and will always maintain that not even the Cornish make ice cream as well as we do in the North West.
And then, as it often does, work started to creep in to our break. One of the joys of being self employed is that your time is your own… except it isn’t because you so often have to jump when something important comes in. I ignored the emails for a while but in the end I had to sit down and get things in order – and I did have a laptop with me but I guess I’m showing my age when I say that for me, organisation and first drafts always start on paper. I like to note everything down and then spread it all out so that I have a full picture of what I’m doing – the boys and Mr MC think it’s a mad way of working but I’m banking on the fact that some of you will be like me.
Broderie blouse (15% off with MLC15)
Before we knew it, we’d come to the end of our time alone together because the middle one called to say that the next wave of the NCS programme he was working on in the North West was cancelled – thanks to Covid – so he was coming back to Newcastle early. I kicked myself because one day in early July I’d been chatting to the manager of the restaurant at The Baltic, asking why their opening hours were so reduced. She’d explained that she just couldn’t recruit enough staff and so I mentioned that the boy would probably be looking for a job after the summer. She interviewed him and told him she’d be keen for him to start whenever he could and so of course with his work at home coming to an end, he’d offered to move back to Newcastle a month early. Me and my big mouth!
He’d been feeling excited about his student house in Jesmond. We picked him up at the station and drove him over there where his friends were waiting in the kitchen with cold beers for his return so we left him to do his unpacking on his own. A couple of days later we got a bit of a low sounding call. You see he and his friends had only been able to look round it very briefly in between lockdowns when it was inhabited by girls and since then they’d been raving about how nice it was. Of course when he arrived it had been stripped of all the girls’ decorative touches and it wasn’t quite what he remembered. Lots of things were broken, the drains were blocked, there were rats in the back yard, the wi-fi wasn’t working… and the landlord wasn’t responding. So, it was Dad to the rescue…
…and we spent a few days popping in and out so he could whiz around with his toolbox and sort things out. We both agreed that it was no worse than the student houses we lived in but I think kids these days are used to much plusher interiors than we all grew up with in the 70s and 80s. He’d decided that he hated the room he’d chosen up in the eaves but we told him he was just going to have to get on with it.
There was a tatty canvas screwed to the wall that was particularly depressing but it was listed as a fixture which meant he had to keep it there. So while I helped him to sort out a plan for where he was going to keep everything, Mr MC popped back to the apartment for some of the paint we had left over and between them they had a bit of a Miro moment, transforming it with shades of blue and orange.
By the time we’d added some strips of LEDs and used the hats and masks from his ever growing student night out fancy dress collection to brighten the place up he was feeling much more at home so we left him to it. We only had one more day to ourselves and so we made the most of the glorious sunshine with a bit more exploring during the day…
Dress (now in the sale – extra 20% off with code 6T2C, gifted), espadrilles (now in the sale – extra 20% off with code 6T2C, gifted)
… and in the evening we watched the sun set with a cider at another great place to eat and drink – By The River Brew Co.
These trousers were one of those great finds that I’d forgotten I had until I discovered them at the bottom of a suitcase when I was having a clearout – and I’m busy stocking up on halternecks now that the 90s are back in fashion, it’s one look that does work with my swimmer’s shoulders.
Halterneck; Baukjen trousers (SS15); Stories sandals (SS19)
The following morning we were up bright and early because the youngest was joining us with his girlfriend for the last few days. We met them at the station and sat in the sunshine at Kafeneon which is my favourite spot for an outdoor lunch.
Pink City Prints dress (SS20), Ancient Greek sandals (SS20)
They spent their days exploring Newcastle and even popped down to Durham to acquaint themselves with the city they’ll soon know well. They’re just at the stage where life is really lifting off for them and their joy spills over, it’s contagious. This photo that Mr MC took when we were heading out for dinner made me stop and think though – it’s the first picture where the boy’s centre of gravity isn’t me, he’s leaning towards his love and I’m just the little old mum clinging on at the edge. It’s how it should be – but how did it all happen so quickly?!
And bear in mind that I’m 5ft 8 and wearing a low heel here so you can see how gloriously tall they both are.
Next denim jacket (SS19); Ivory racerback tank; Iris & Ink trousers (SS19); Sandals (SS19)
The following day was the middle one’s birthday and even though he’s a big, independent student he was still over very early to open his presents and munch on his cake!
We had a leisurely walk out for lunch and there was time to play on the musical seesaws on the way.
I hadn’t heard the term rainbow baby until it hit the news with Carrie Johnson while we were away. The middle one however is our rainbow baby – so longed for after three lost pregnancies and I do think it’s nice that there’s now a term for these very precious children.
We had lunch and being with the youngsters really rounded our break off well. I’d missed them – especially the laughter that really builds when we’re all together. And it’s great that they’re bringing along great girlfriends who slot in well with our family dynamic but also add a dimension all of their own.
So was it a holiday? The odd day here and there felt like it but really it was just a different way of living – and that, after all, is what we said we wanted from Newcastle. I missed the switching off element that I find comes with a holiday in the sun – reading books, swimming in the sea and having time to think about life and gear up for the months to come. I think for us to have a holiday we need to go ‘away away’ – it doesn’t have to be overseas although it does help when you can tell clients that the internet service won’t be very good so emails won’t be accessed! Even so it was a change of scene and we were lucky to have it. I’d be interested to know how those of you who usually have a big summer holiday abroad have found it if you’ve holidayed in the UK this year – did you enjoy it more or will you travel overseas again when you can?
I’ll be back on either Thursday or Friday next week with… the launch of the Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo Autumn collection. I’ve been turning down retailers’ autumn campaigns so far because it feels too early (even though the weather doesn’t agree) but as you know this is the one I love. You can see the preview here – as always it’s a very limited collection of her French classics with quite a few repeated staples. I’ll bring it to life for you next week with the outfits I’ve chosen but shipping is currently an issue so it will either be on Thursday or Friday morning depending on when the clothes arrive.
In the meantime, Boden are closing their sale this weekend with an extra 20% off everything on this page with code 6T2C. If you’re in the mood for transitional style, Hush have launched their pre-autumn collection here and Baukjen here – 15% off everything with code MLC15.
One last thing – I don’t usually bring the news into this blog but I don’t feel I can end today without mentioning Afghanistan, I’m sure we’re all thinking about the innocent people who are caught up in the terror of what’s going on. This picture has been doing the rounds of social media this week and it really struck me:
I think we all have an instinct to help and one way is to donate to the charities on the ground out there. You can find them through Google but if you’re not sure where to start this is the one I’m supporting, Women For Women International, as they try to find safety for the women and children who so urgently need it. And I know I’m ending on a sombre note but let’s do what we can to help and be grateful that an accident of birth means that we’re not facing that kind of terror. If you know of other things that can be done, please do add them in the comments.
As we head into the penultimate weekend of summer meteorologically speaking I hope you manage to make the most of it. My Inbox is groaning with Autumn / Winter press releases so seize the moment my friends and I’ll see you next week on either Thursday or Friday.
Diclosure: ‘British City Staycation – Newcastle Part 2’ is not a sponsored post