Well I have a funny old post for you today, you see I was hoping to show you the pictures of our completed apartment but at the very last minute there was a delay on the curtains which means we’re having to go over again tonight to finish things off. As you can imagine this week’s been a busy one catching up with work and I haven’t had time to come up with any other ideas so I’m just going to chat about our summer staycation in Newcastle and I’ll pepper it with photos that Mr MC snapped along the way as a record of our first week alone there. They weren’t really meant for the blog so they’re all a bit impromptu but they’ll break up the words and show how packing for going away in the UK can go wrong when the weather suddenly surprises you.

Summer staycation in Newcastle – trying our new life for size

You may remember that our trip was planned as something of a romantic tryst. Mr MC had been in Newcastle all week working on the apartment while I held the fort here on the home and business fronts. I was travelling over by train and we’d planned to meet at the station so that we could wander back to our place from there, stopping off for food and glasses of wine as we went along. Because I didn’t want to be weighed down with luggage, I’d packed over a week earlier so that he could take everything with him in the car. At that point the weather was still unseasonably cold but I was pleased with the week’s capsule that I’d put together – each outfit had long sleeves and centred around a jacket or blazer. Of course during the week that he was away, the weather started to warm up and on the day that I was due to leave it was actually hot. However in over 20 years of going to Newcastle I’ve never known there to be a long run of warm weather so it didn’t worry me, I was sure it was just a blip.

The journey across The Pennines was spectacular. I haven’t done it before but it was a rural train that travelled at a gentle pace through lush spring countryside. The windows were open and the scent of blossom and wild garlic wafted in. Every so often we stopped for a while and it reminded me of the poem ‘Adelstrop‘ as the engine halted and the carriage was filled with birdsong. Cricket was being played on village greens as we passed and there was a frisson of life beginning again. And by that I mean in the general sense of lockdown lifting but also of being on a personal journey, able to sit alone quietly without sons asking unanswerable questions such as why weren’t we moving and how much longer would it take.

As we got closer to Newcastle the train started to fill with bank holiday fun seekers heading to the ‘toon’ – mostly dazzling Northern lasses laden with bottles of lurid blue WKD to fuel their journey. At other times I’d probably have lamented the shrill interruption of my pastoral idyll but actually, after lockdown, it was uplifting to be surrounded by so much collective effervescence. Of course everyone was masked and distanced so from my solitary seat it was like watching something on TV – on a glamour level, an episode of Love Island perhaps.

I know not everybody shares my love of train journeys so I’m trying not to go on about it too much but this has to be one of the most stunning in the UK. The first leg was up the west coast and through the heart of the Lake District. I then changed at Carlisle to go across the northern Pennines, bursting out of the countryside towards the crescendo – the arrival across the Tyne into Newcastle and its majestic station. Mr MC was waiting there smiling… pleased to see me I’m sure but having arrived an hour early he’d already had a pint of Guinness which had amplified his bank holiday bonhomie. He, too, commented on how good it felt to be surrounded by people with purpose; as he waited he’d been watching them heading off on different journeys and witnessing the reunions of people who had been parted for too long. I want to log this here because we’ll soon forget. We’ve all been so isolated for so many months and relative solitude has become such a normality that it feels wonderful seeing life resume, albeit at a cautious pace.

And so we headed off into the bustle of the city. Newcastle was very, very busy but serendipity was on our side and there was a table free at my favourite Greek restaurant so we sat in the sunshine with simple, good food and a bottle of wine, catching up on our week apart. We then meandered slowly home stopping off at a cocktail garden… and this is the only photo I have of the day… rather appropriate for these distanced times don’t you think?

Summer staycation in Newcastle

Mr MC had soon had enough of the wine and fancy cocktails so we ended the evening in a pub. We then hopped across the bridge to our new home where I admired all of his hard work with just enough enthusiasm before my head hit the pillow. Somewhat fragile the next morning, we blew the wine away with a long walk by the river doing a circuit and ending up in Ouseburn for lunch. One of our goals for the week was to map out a few good routes for future guests so we’re trying to find the best places to eat and drink as well as noting the points of interest along the way. We’re going to plot them all as an exclusive for anyone who rents our apartment – I’d like to say it’s a tough job but we’re really enjoying it!

The Monday was the bank holiday so we went out for a run and then got on with a few bits and pieces… and most days went on like that with the morning spent working and the rest of the time wandering, clocking up 20,000 steps most days. At this point my wardrobe planning was already starting to fall apart. As I said, every outfit I’d planned had long sleeves balanced by a jacket and it just wasn’t looking the same without one. It didn’t matter too much at first because there was still a chilly breeze as you can see by my hair. I think we were just popping out to Tesco in this one…

Summer staycation in Newcastle

Jumper – IdLF@Uniqlo SS15; Jeans; Trainers

… and here we’d driven out to the pretty seaside town of Tynemouth and found the most amazing cafe for lunch. Queues were stretching right down the street for the well known Longsands chippy but we had this place all to ourselves – until (to Mr MC’s delight) Tim Healy sat at the table next to us. I know him as Les, the transvestite in the TV series ‘Benidorm’ but as a fellow Geordie Mr MC’s excitement was all about Auf Wiedersehen Pet.

Summer staycation in Newcastle

Blouse (now in the sale – gifted SS21); Wide leg cropped jeans (15% off with MLC15); Boden shoes SS19

Anyway moving on, here we were going out to the cinema. Newcastle has an Everyman and I think the last time I went to one of those was on a date in Muswell Hill in about 1988. I’d forgotten how good it is to have a Philly Steak sandwich and a glass of wine brought to your sofa while you watch a movie on a big screen. I think it’s now my favourite spot in the city, especially as we can walk there in ten minutes.

Midlifechic Newcastle

Boden velvet jacket (gifted AW20); Boden shirt (SS20); Jeans; Boden shoes SS19

This was the day that lots of furniture arrived so we’d spent the morning unpacking it all and getting it into place. Here we were heading out to the shops. It was a grey afternoon but we’d seen that the forecast was really changing, the very hot weather that was sweeping the rest of the country was about to arrive so we both needed to buy something cooler to wear.

Summer staycation in Newcastle

IdLF at Uniqlo jacket (gifted SS18); Baukjen top (gifted AW20); Jeans; Trainers

Mr MC hates buying clothes, particularly if they’re full price – he goes to Cos twice a year during the summer and winter sales and buys whatever he needs in a dazzling palette of either black or white. There isn’t a Cos for men in Newcastle so we trudged round a few different shops and it was like shopping with the boys – because it wasn’t Cos he didn’t like anything, even though he really needed something cooler to wear. We ended up in Fenwick’s and I picked up a couple of t-shirts that I suggested he might at least try. You can see from his face how he feels about blue – and stripes too – way out of his minimalist comfort zone. I took these photos to try to show him that he looked nice…

Midlifechic husband

Blue striped t-shirt

… and here he’s happy. Back in black.

Midlifechic husband

Military style polo

So to avoid any further deliberation I bought them both and which did he wear first? The blue one. He quite likes it now (funny that!). And I’ve just looked online and seen that they’re now half price which will completely tip him over the edge if he reads this but I’ve added the links anyway.

I don’t particularly enjoy shopping in shops either and we’d both had enough by this point. I knew I could manage with what I had for a couple more days so I said I’d do an online order back at the flat. This dress is one I particularly love but haven’t really had a chance to wear and even though it’s last season it picks up on the crochet trend. We’d booked a table at a cocktail bar that I’ve wanted to go to for ages because there are always long queues outside but the service was bad and the drinks overpriced so we left after an hour and went to Mr MC’s favourite spot – the microbrewery next to our apartment.

Midlifechic striped dress, Newcastle

Boden dress (gifted AW20); Boden slingbacks SS11

My express delivery arrived just in time for the hot weather to really hit us – this halterneck midi was new in last week and has almost sold out already. It was a scorching day and we popped out to spend some time with mum-in-law in her garden.

Midlifechic halter dress Newcastle

Halterneck midi-dress; Slingback flats

We cooked when we got back and then popped out for few drinks. Given that we’ve just signed up to our year long academy programme at the gym it really wasn’t the healthiest of weeks but as it’s the nearest we’re going to get to a holiday for while we decided the gym could wait. It’s so exciting to have this great city on our doorstep with riverside bars just moments away and so many places where you can sit outside although you do need a jacket when the sun goes down.

Midlifechic going out outfit, Newcastle

Boden velvet jacket (gifted Aw20); Hush blouse (AW19); Jeans; Aeyde gold shoes (AW19)

There are proper greasy spoons too – this was the following morning when we were in need of fortification. I was looking a little guiltily at the queue outside the super hip and healthy cafe across the road while I waited for my bacon and eggs to arrive – but I should add that unlike Mr MC, I did resist the ‘belly buster’.

Summer staycation in Newcastle

This jumpsuit is another of the pieces ordered last week that’s almost sold out already. Some of you will be thinking it’s very like the Hush one I bought a while ago and it is but it’s less casual. The tailoring, the shirred sleeves and the pleats at the front make it easier to dress up for work (or a chic belly buster breakfast!). We spent the morning exploring this particular triangle of town and then went back to crack on with some flat work.

Midlifechic jumpsuit, Newcastle

Jumpsuit; Square toed slingbacks; Sezane tote (SS17 – this year’s version here)

We hadn’t seen the student at this point and I’m doing my best not to be an annoying mum when we go over but on our last day he woke up to the fact that we’d soon be going back home. He appeared pretty quickly with a big bag of washing and a rumbling tummy so we set the washing machine off and headed out for lunch. This was the last piece from  my delivery and it’s a great dress to wear for a British summer, just the right length with an adjustable shirred waist that you can place wherever you want it to sit. Looking at this I need to position it slightly higher next time.

Midlifechic midi-dress, Newcastle

Floral midi dress; Trainers (finally re-released with the silver flash heel)

Our boy has an aching heart at the moment and an afternoon with his mum and dad was just what he needed. Isn’t it hard as a parent when someone is lax with your offspring’s love? This year has been so tough for all young adults. At a time in their lives when they should be meeting hundreds of people their circles have been limited to just a few and my boys tell me that ‘situationships’ are occurring which is when you start seeing someone you probably wouldn’t have otherwise simply because you’ve been in a small lockdown group together.

Summer staycation in Newcastle

He left in the evening with a bag of clean clothes, feeling a bit lighter I hope. And that was the end of our week there which still wasn’t a normal one because half of it was spent on DIY but it gave us a glimpse of what life will be like in the autumn when we start to spend more of our time in the city. Of course we won’t go out as much when the novelty of having everything on our doorstep wears off but after spending so many visits looking down on a cold and sleeping city, it was lovely to be out in the sunshine enjoying it with other people around us.

I don’t know about you but I’ve concluded that I quite like the way that bars and restaurants are operating now. Mr MC says he misses the shoulder to shoulder throng of a busy pub but I can’t say I do. I much prefer only being able to go into a place if there’s a table available where I can sit down – plus I find it much easier ordering via an app and having everything brought to me. In a way it’s even good that the music can’t be loud because we found we could strike up conversations with people sitting across at the next table quite easily and I really enjoyed the exchanges we had with friendly Geordies who always take a lighter view of life and make me laugh.

It felt good to have the freedom to roam again and stop spontaneously if we found a table. Everything was very well managed and people seem to have adapted to Covid measures although obviously we weren’t in the wilder bars so I can’t comment on those. I understand that some people are fed up with the ongoing loss of liberty but for now, if we can get through the new Delta variant without being locked down again, I guess it just makes sense to work within the restrictions.

And now I must go and pack a bag again – just dresses this time because the weather’s still good and it’s only a quick visit. Hasn’t it been great to have a taste of real summer? It makes everything feel as though it’s filled with hope. Summer staycations may not be the same as an exotic escape but they’re better than lockdown. It’s disappointing not to have a big holiday to look forward to, especially after such a tough winter but the way I see it is that we have a choice – we can either waste this summer thinking about what isn’t going to happen or we can embrace it for what it is. We’re living through a pivotal point in the world’s history so let’s make sure that in the future when people ask us what it was like for us, we each did something that stands out and helps us to remember.

‘Summer staycation in Newcastle – trying our new life for size’ is not a sponsored post

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