best cafes to work newcastle
lists, Writer's Life

The best cafes to work (or write) at in Newcastle

Ladies and gentlemen, bookworms, bibliophiles, casual readers, writers, and everyone in-between: hello and welcome to another blog post. Today, we’re talking about cafes, but not just any cafes – the best cafes in Newcastle to write or work at.

Why? Because I found myself Googling that exact phrase a few months ago and have since carried out the research and coffee-drinking necessary to write about it for you lovely people. Well, I assume you’re lovely. Hard to tell from here.

I’ve chosen these places based primarily on the quality of food/drinks, customer service, decor, and access to that all-important Wi-Fi and sockets for the writer, freelancer, or digital nomad on the go. Let’s get to it!

Flat Caps Coffee

Address: 9-11, Carliol Square

I adore the decor at Flat Caps Coffee. Warm, well-lit, and beautifully laid out with an industrial-style aesthetic, it’s a pleasure to sit here and work for hours on end in the company of fantastic coffee and the odd treat to keep your motivation levels up.

The food really stood out to me (please try the Turkish eggs), and the drinks on offer are spot on – even the filter coffee is yummy. Oh, and they’ve got really accommodating opening hours.

The Canny Goat

Address: 8, Monk Street

Nestled just seconds away from The Gate, The Canny Goat is home to perhaps the friendliest coffee-conscious folks in the city and has a really vibrant yet clean look to it.

The staff are knowledgeable about the coffees and teas on offer, and there’s a lovely personal touch to the service here – it feels like you’re being served by someone you know. Also: so many easy-to-reach sockets, and such great natural light streaming in on sunny days. Bless you.

Camber Coffee

Address: 33-35 Market Street

Camber Coffee Newcastle

You wouldn’t expect a cool cafe to be perched on top of an outdoor/fitness clothing shop, but I’m so grateful for the little surprise just a short walk away from the iconic Grey’s Monument.

Camber Coffee has an excellent coffee selection, and the staff certainly know their stuff when it comes to what they’re serving. For brain-fuel, you’ll find a great varied menu of snacks, sweet treats, and healthy plates to keep that productivity fire burning through the day.

Pink Lane Coffee

Address: 1, Pink Lane

Located just across the road from Central Station, Pink Lane Coffee is a sweet little cafe with a coffee selection to die for and baked goods that make the perfect treat after all your hard work.

Its proximity to the station makes this one ideal if you’re killing time before catching a train, and you’ll be pleased to know there are larger ‘desk-type’ tables towards the back of the shop where you can work in a group or write, type, sketch, and have stress-induced breakdowns with room to spare.

Tyneside Bar and Cafe

Address: 10, Pilgrim Street

My favourite place to sit at Tyneside Bar and Cafe – open every day until late – has to be at the window, where I can people-watch between paragraphs.

They’ve got a varied menu full of tasty options, ranging from light snacks to full-on meals and sweet treats, so there’s no risk of going hungry there. The odd glass of red wine won’t go amiss either.

The Teahouse (formally known as Quilliams Brothers)

Address: Claremont Buildings, 1 Eldon Place

The Teahouse is located in a beautiful, Grade II listed building close to Newcastle University, and is front of the pack in the ‘cosy’ category for me. There are three main seating options available (if you can get a space during busier hours!):

  • perched at the window, watching the world go by
  • sitting at one of the tables like you normally would
  • venturing downstairs to cosy central (i.e. where the sofas are)

No matter which option you choose, you’ll always get great customer service and find yourself working very comfortably with expertly-brewed teas and coffees for any taste, task, or mood. After you’re done taking care of business, you might even be able to stay on for one of The Teahouse’s much-loved movie nights! Treat yourself.

Laneway & Co.

Address: 17-19, High Bridge Street

If I could describe this sweet cafe in one word, it’d be ‘minimalist’. If you love a clean, modern look, freshly baked croissants, and top-notch coffee, this is a great shout.

It’s a friendly corner of peace and quiet in an otherwise busy city centre, so be sure to pop this one on your ‘to visit’ list. My only note is that the Wi-Fi can be a tad spotty, but hey – shit happens. And everything else more than makes up for the odd faux pas.


We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to cute cafes in Newcastle, so I’ll be sure to keep this list updated as I explore new venues all over the toon. If you’ve got any recommendations for me to try out, pop those bad boys in a comment and you’ll have my eternal gratitude!

-Kelly

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anxiety breathing exercises
Adult Life, thoughts

How I deal with anxiety spirals

As I type this out on the fly in my favourite coffee shop, I’m on day three of teetering on the edge of a cliff. Fall off that precarious ledge, ladies and gentlemen, and we plummet headfirst into that oh-so-annoying thing called an anxiety spiral.

This manifests differently in different people and it can be triggered by any combination of things; hormones, alcohol, changes in your life, being faced with decisions, public speaking, social interactions, the wrong word at the wrong time, something embarrassing you did five years ago, et cetera. The list is virtually never-ending, and the effects can be crippling to some, and plain inconvenient to others. I’ve experienced situations which had me feeling so helpless, I couldn’t leave my bed all day except to use the bathroom. It wasn’t great.

The anxiety spiral

Personally, the main thing that gets to me during one of these spirals is the obsessive part. If something sets me off, I get tunnel vision and can’t see anything or anyone else but that thing causing the anxiety. And to be quite honest, it can feel like my mind is unravelling at the time.

It’s the end of the world to me, even if to my friends or family it shouldn’t even a blip on the stress radar. I’m the worst person ever, how can anyone stand me let alone like me, I’m the most annoying thing ever to walk the earth, I’m probably too loud and talk too much, I’m not actually a good writer, I’m not really good at my job, I’m not a good person, I’ve probably offended someone today, I sound stupid, and that person who saw me drunk three years ago probably still laughs at me sometimes. This is just a snippet of the thoughts that swirl, quite mercilessly, around in my head when it’s happening; your reality is distorted, and even though what you want most in the world is someone to stroke your hair and say everything is fine, you know you also won’t believe a damn word of it. You’ll probably think they’re just saying that to make you feel better. I guess the best you can do in that situation is to trust your support system to be honest with you.

For people dealing with anxiety know that it generally comes with physical manifestations too – anything from a quickened heartbeat or nausea to a full-blown panic attack. Everyone has their own version of this personal hell, in varying degrees, and I can only tell you what it’s like for me. I’m lucky to have never dealt with a real panic attack, but having your mind obsess and your heart feel like it’s going to bust out of your chest is also deeply unpleasant. Logically, I know my ‘fight or flight’ is kicking in and the adrenaline is making my body feel panic, but that does little to help me at the time.

How I’m dealing with my anxiety

For a long, long time, I didn’t know that this thing that was happening to me had a name or that it was happening to countless others in the world. I was weird and panicky sometimes, that was it. It always passed – but it also always came back.

I got a little older and took time to really dig down into what it was I felt, what triggered those feelings and what made me feel better when it happened. Fast forward to this weekend, and I’ve actually written down, on two sticky notes, the things that aggravate my anxiety and the things that help me manage it. Almost like an ‘in case of emergency’ reminder. Here’s a snippet:

Things that make it worse
  • PMS. Lord Jesus, PMS.
  • Drinking more than two or three glasses of wine.
  • Indecision.
  • Too much coffee.
  • Being disorganised or messy.
  • Falling behind on deadlines.
  • Not taking the time to cook meals.
  • The possibility that I’ve hurt someone’s feelings.
    • And then overthinking this for hours on end.
  • Not being active.
  • Spending time on social media.
Things that (therefore) make it better
  • Regular exercise – get those happy hormones a-flowin’.
  • A clean bedroom and freshly laundered sheets.
  • Five-minute meditations – I use an app called ‘Calm’.
  • Cutting down on social media.
    • I highly recommend switching off notifications as a trial if you’re uncomfortable with completely ridding your phone of the usual suspects.
  • Reading for leisure.
  • Making lists (evidently).
  • Staying on top of my work.
  • Doing things to make other people happy.
  • Sketching, writing, or playing videogames.
  • Spending time by the sea.
  • Puppies. Lots of puppies.
  • Drinking less coffee, and avoiding it after 5pm.
  • Evening Primrose oil. That shit is legit.
  • Getting out of bed and having a shower even when it seems like the hardest thing ever.
  • Talking about it with someone I trust.

Of course, I’m not against the use of medication to help with anxiety and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Pharmaceuticals should absolutely not be demonized or viewed as some sort of necessary evil; I have loads of friends who tell me how their lives have been massively improved by anti-anxiety meds, and I’m happy for them. I’m just trying my own thing first, and that’s okay too.

tips to deal with anxiety

Anyway, I just thought I’d share what I’m doing to keep a handle on things and stay balanced when anxiety makes that difficult. Sharing this kind of stuff helps others who might be struggling with it, so I’m all over that.

I’d love to hear what you do when this demon scratches at your door, so feel free to share your tips in the comments!

-Kelly

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Adult Life, Living Abroad

4 quick tips for living in a house share

If you’re in your late teens or early 20s, you’ll probably be looking at flying the nest and moving into your first houseshare. The taste of independence only just out of reach, and you want it more than a drunk me wants pizza.

Living in a house share is obviously cheaper than living solo, but it’s also a lot more fun if you’re moving to a new city and makes the whole ‘I need new friends’ thing easier to navigate, so I’d definitely recommend it.

Renting in the North East

Property in the North East is known to be more affordable than it is elsewhere in the UK. I can testify to the fact that Newcastle, in particular, isn’t just affordable in terms of its accommodation, but the cost of living is cheap too. You can rent a lovely room, in a house or apartment bang in the city centre, for somewhere in the region of ¬£400 to ¬£500, bills included. I personally used Spareroom to find my place, but there are loads of options if you just hit Google with the right keywords.

Top tip: Always check reviews for the real estate agency you’re thinking about using. You’d be surprised to learn just how many shady agencies are out there, and if you’re a student, you’ll be an even bigger target for ‘questionable’ landlords.

Sidenote: why I didn’t want to rent a property in Malta

In Malta, this time tends to come along a little later in life because rent and property costs are extortionately high thanks to the obscene hike in prices we’ve seen following the gaming industry boom. The average cost of renting a property in a central location in Malta (by which I mean a room in an apartment or a one-bedroom ‘cosy’ apartment) would set you back around ‚ā¨700 to ‚ā¨1000 a month without bills.

Anything cheaper than that is either a golden nugget of a find or somewhere with questionable standards, to say the least. That’s the lion’s share of your typical Maltese salary, living very little for things like food, savings, and a social life after you’ve paid bills. No thanks. Moving swiftly on.

Tips for living in a house share

One of the best things about moving out of your parents’ place and sharing a home with people you’re not related to is that you’ll learn how to live alongside folks who come from different backgrounds to your own. You might become a little family unit away from home and watch Great British Bake Off together every week, or have an absolutely awful time because people are funny. Here are a few tips to avoid the latter, or at least help you handle potentially awkward situations.

1 | Always pay your share of the bills on time

Nobody wants to be that housemate. If one of you has taken responsibility for calculating and paying the bills each month, the rest of the house needs to put up their share sharpish.

The best way to avoid any dilly-dallying when it comes to money matters is to send out an email each month with a breakdown of the bills and the details for the account that everyone needs to transfer over to, with a deadline tacked onto it. Make sure the deadline you set for everyone gives you enough time for the money to come in before bills go out.

2 | Don’t leave passive-aggressive notes

You’re grown-ups. Kind of. You need to be able to talk things out, especially when they’re essentially nothing more than minor misunderstandings. Sticky notes and passive aggressive texts (especially ones that start with ‘can we please remember…’) just piss everybody off, so put on your grown-up panties and talk it out face to face before things get weird.

Before you get to the stage where you’re absolutely vibrating with rage because Brenda left her dirty dishes out longer than you’d like, take a breather. Remember that just because you like to live your life a certain way, doesn’t mean others have to adhere to your cleaning schedule and whatnot. That being said, if Brenda’s leaving her crap all over the house for four or five days at a time, it’s time for an intervention. Not over text.

3 | Organize house dinners

This is the perfect way to bond with your housemates, show off your cooking skills (or try and sharpen them up), and create a warm ‘family’ atmosphere.

Good food, good wine, and some background music set the scene for a little camaraderie and a lot of laughs. Also, it’s always kind of awesome to come back to a home-cooked meal once in a while when you’re no longer being fed by your mum on the regular.

4 | Respect boundaries and space

I’m going to say this one time and one time only: do not assume you can wander in and out of anyone’s bedroom. It doesn’t matter how close you are, and it doesn’t matter if Wendy left her Netflix running and you can’t stand the murmur of Orange is the New Black leaking out into the hallway. It doesn’t even matter if Brenda left her bedroom light on. You do not. Go in. Their rooms. Okay? Okay.

Beyond your bedroom, every other space in a house share is communal. Having a private space that you know people aren’t going to have access to (unless you’ve expressly given that permission) is essential if you’re going to hold on to that precious sanity and zen. For those of us who might struggle with such things as ‘personal space’, ‘boundaries’, and ‘basic human decency’, here are a few quick bits to remember:

  • It’s not your room.
  • If you’ve knocked once or twice, to no avail, do not just walk in. Silence ain’t consent (THIS ONE WORKS ON SO MANY LEVELS).
  • Just because you’re fine with people wandering into your room, doesn’t mean the rest of the world feels the same.
  • Why do you even need to get into that room? What’s so urgent? That’s what I thought. Take your hand off the door handle, Bernice.

Oh, and while we’re here, respect for spaces also applies to communal areas. Other people use that space, so make sure you leave things clean and ready for the rest of the house to use it.

Right, my fellow twenty-somethings, that’s it from me. I hope these quick tips save you some awkwardness in the long run, and if they don’t, well, I tried. 10 points to me.

If you have any tips on living with people you’re not related to, hit me up in the comments!

-Kelly

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things to do in barcelona
Travel

Arguably Abroad: Barcelona

Well, it took us a while to get to this one, but here we are! A few weeks ago I flew over to Barcelona with a couple of girlfriends to watch Ed Sheeran in concert, then, just one day after returning to Malta, I was off to Catania with my parents. I don’t think I even needed to unpack (never mind the fact that it takes me roughly a month to full empty a suitcase). Here are some of the highlights from Spain!

Barcelona

We arrived early on Saturday afternoon and really hit the ground running. After checking into our gorgeous, Pinterest-worthy hotel, we were off again, looking for some much-needed tapas and wine. Every meal I had the pleasure of eating was just delicious, and service was always friendly Рeven when we struggled a bit with the language barrier.

Art in Barcelona

Barcelona is¬†often affectionately referred to as¬†the ‘artisan city’ – and I’d say that’s¬†a spot-on description.¬†The city is an open art gallery, and Gaudi seems to be¬†everywhere.¬†I could¬†sit and type about all the incredible art and architecture¬†Barcelona has to offer, but I’ll save you (and myself) the time and¬†suggest a few¬†things that you definitely shouldn’t miss, even if you’re only¬†there for three full days, like we were.

The Sagrada Familia

Unfortunately, we left it a little too late to buy  tickets to get inside Рbut we still made time to visit and appreciate this stunning piece of magical architecture from the outside. My top tip? Book. Tickets. Now.

The Picasso Museum

You just can’t go to Barcelona without spending a couple¬†of hours appreciating Picasso. Even if you’re not particularly into art, I promise you’ll find the main exhibition¬†really interesting. It’s incredible to see Picasso ‘grow’ from a young artist, just learning the ropes, into the fully-fledged, confident master who gave us artworks like¬†Guernica.

what to do in barcelonaPark Guell

I first found out about this beautiful, mosaic-filled park thanks to¬†Tony Hawk’s Underground 2¬†on my PlayStation.¬†No, not joking. It was kind of surreal seeing Gaudi’s¬†flamboyant park in ‘real life’, and it was not as close to the centre as I thought it would be (for some reason). Anyway, plan your route there in advance and¬†try to get there before sunset to get maximum photo-op time. To see the best bits at the best times,¬†you can pay a small fee to get in before 8ish – after that, it’s free, but you’ll have loads of other tourists contending for the perfect photo spot.

things to do in barcelona

The Gothic Quarter

The Gothic Quarter is¬†Barcelona’s old city centre, stretching all the way from La Rambla to Via Laietana and filled with some serious sight-seeing spots. If (like me) you’re a bit of a history dork, you definitely need to spend a¬†couple of hours wandering around the area. My top tip? Plan your visit to The Gothic Quarter, The Picasso Museum, and La Boqueria market on the same day, because they’re all within walking distance.

Something Extra Special: Montserrat Mountain

This one was a definite highlight¬†and I’m pretty sure you’ll feel the same.¬†Just a train ride and cable-car trip away from Barcelona city centre, you’ll find Montserrat, an incredible mountain range with its highest peak hitting 1,236 m (Sant Jeroni). This idyllic place is home to¬†Santa Maria De Montserrat, a Benedictine abbey where you can visit the Virgin of Montserrat sanctuary, the rumoured location of the Holy Grail of Athurian legend. Oh, wear comfortable shoes ¬†because you’ll be walking quite a bit if you¬†really¬†want to enjoy this piece of paradise properly, and if it’s sunny you’ll need a hat and sunnies to protect you during your little trek. Stay hydrated, kids.

things to do in barcelona

How to get there (well, this is how we did it anyway)

  • Go to Plaza Espanya train station – it’s in the same building.
  • Look for the signs leading you to the R5 Train.
  • Stop at Monistrol De Montserrat – a cable car (funicular) will arrive/leave to coincide with train times.
  • You can get tickets there, but¬†the cable car might be included in your train ticket depending on which option you went for.

Remember to check train and cable car times to make sure you don’t end up stranded there! Not that you’d complain…

Something Extra Tasty: La Boqueria Market

If you love food then this is an absolute must-see. This huge, public market is located in the Ciutat Vella area and is probably one of the most colourful markets I’ve ever seen. You’ll find anything from freshly-squeezed juices, fruit cups, amazing fruit, vegetables, fish, and meat, to dried goods and artisan chocolates you can take ¬†back home. It’s all ridiculously well-priced, well-presented, and so fresh the fish might just jump up and make a run for it. I got to see real ostrich eggs! (I’m very easily amused).

things to do in barcelona

Unfortunate timing, butt you get the idea. Pun fully intended.

Quick Tips

Here are a few ‘top tips’, collected from friends, the internet, and my own experience:

  • The city has a bit of a reputation for pick-pocketing (like any big, European city), so be¬†extremely¬†careful and aware of your surroundings.¬†Forget those cute, just-a-flap-no-zip-to-protect-you bags, and make sure your phone, wallet, and ID are¬†safe at all times.
  • If¬†you do end up getting pick-pocketed,¬†make a report at the nearest police station for insurance purposes. There’s one down the steps¬†in Plaza Catalunya, the same place as the station.
  • Getting around ¬†on foot is easy, but you might want to use the (really efficient) Metro system too. Buy a T-10 ticket from any station for just ‚ā¨10 – it cover 10 trips and will serve you well.
  • The Gothic Quarter¬†seems to be a pretty popular nightlife spot – check it out!
  • Shops open at around 10 am, and close pretty late.
  • Do not leave without trying tapas and sangria!

That’s all for now – if you have any questions or tips for future trips to Barcelona, leave them in a comment!¬†

-Kelly

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