Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Dacia Magic Weekend - The VIP Treatment*

If you saw my post on Saturday (here) which was all about day 1 of the Dacia Magic Weekend then you should have a good idea how great of a day it was.

Me and Michael were very lucky to get VIP tickets for all of the games on Sunday. These included Catalans Dragons V Huddersfield Giants, Leigh Centurions V Salford Red Devils and finally Castleford Tigers V Leeds Rhinos (or as I kept calling them, Captain America). The Tigers V Rhinos was one of the most of anticipated games of the weekend with fans travelling from all over England to cheer on their teams.

With it being a Sunday the first kick was at 1pm so me and Michael thought we would have a look around the Fan zone which was situated in St JamesPark car park. This included options to win a number of large competitions, to buy replica team shirts and other merch. There was also a stage where they were doing interviews with cheerleaders and ex players and the chance to win prizes.
There was also the chance to buy hats, shirts and underwear from ODDBALLS with money going towards the charity that rasies money and awareness for testicular cancer. You could tell that this was a popular charity with rugby league fans as the odd balls hats were everywhere.


We weren't sure what to expect with our VIP passes but we definitely weren't expecting the treatment we got. From walking through Milburn reception where we were greeted and directed up to level 3 where we were shown to the Heroes Suite.  If you are a Newcastle united fan then you will know that the heroes suite is a big deal and definitely a perk we weren't expecting. We were given our VIP wrist bands and our itinerary for the day.  When we walked in to the suite you knew you were in a room with important people this included chairmen of the rugby clubs, ex players and even one of the directors of the league.

After some food and drinks we made our way to the directors box to our seat and let's just say we definitely had the best seats in the house. With the seat being right in the centre we could see all the action happen both on the pitch and off. I will say that I've only ever been to one other rugby league match in my life and I didn't have a clue what was happening but with the help of Michael I started to get it and, being a girl with a tactical mind, I started to really get in games.

After watch Catalans Dragons V Huddersfield Giants we headed back in to the heroes suite and were given little steak pies and chips which I believe is a tradition of NUFC hospitality. We went out for the 2nd match of the day which is where the game pace picked up with Leigh Centurions playing against Salford Red Devils. Leigh Centurions were the underdogs but they didn't let that stop them  from putting up a good fight even when they lost one of their players through a tackle that wouldn't have looked out of place in a wrestling ring. This game definitely had a different pace from the first, you could see how much the Centurions wanted to win but Salford played the better game and the Salford fans were loving every moment of it.

Final match of the day was Castleford Tigers V Leeds Rhinos this was the game that a lot of people were here for. The fans were not let down and the Tigers fans must have been loving every moment as their team delivered try after try in the 2nd half. The atmosphere at this game was crazy the fans from both teams cheered, chanted their team songs and did what every fan does best and made lots of noise.

I have to say that this day was defiantly a high light of 2017, from getting the VIP treatment to seeing fans from all over the England coming together to cheer on their own teams but cheer on other teams along the way.

I would definitely recommend Dacia Magic Weekend to anyone, you could go with the family with the fan zone entertaining every member of the family to the half term entertainment (I'm sure we saw a pillow fight in the middle of the pitch). You can go along with a group friends and soak up the atmosphere with a beer and some chips.

Even if you didn't get to go to Dacia Magic Weekend you couldn't have missed the 65,407 fans that were running around Newcastle throughout the weekend. This is the 3rd highest magic weekend attendance with all 3 highest attendance being in Newcastle.

 The next thing to do is wait and see where the 2019 Magic Weekend, you never know it could be back in Newcastle or it could have a new home for a few years. 

I hope you enjoyed reading this post all about Magic Weekend. 

This was a gifted post but all views are my own. 

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Dacia Magic Weekend is here and what a weekend it has been already

If you have no idea what Dacia Magic Weekend is then I don’t know what rock you’ve been under for the past 3 years. Magic Weekend is a 2-day event where the best in the world of rugby league come up to Newcastle to play some of the biggest games of the season at the historic St James Park.

Following the record-breaking success of the Dacia Magic Weekend in 2016, there was no reason why it wouldn't be coming back in 2017 so when the announcement came that the event would be returning to St James Park, you could feel the excitement in Newcastle.

I and Michael were very lucky to be able to get tickets for the full weekend but due to work commitments, we couldn’t make the Saturday games but the 2 family members I sent along instead loved every moment. My uncle is a massive Newcastle football fan so being in the stadium for any reason is always a bonus for him and his son.


They were really lucky as they got to watch all three games on the Saturday: Wildness Vikings V Wakefield Trinity, Hull FC V St Helens and finally Wigan Warriors V Warrington Wolves.

Everyone knew that some of these games were going to be great games to watch with Wigan Warriors V Warrington basically being a rematch of last year's Super League Grand Final (definitely a game I was gutted to miss out on seeing).

My uncle took along his son who has become really interested in rugby league and this was the perfect opportunity for him to get to see some great games. With his son only being 9 years old he was really glad the atmosphere and the event itself was really made for families, with the crowd full of families cheering on their team or soaking up the great atmosphere from the crowd.

For someone who had never been to the Dacia Magic Weekend, My uncle and his son loved every moment. From the welcome, they received when they arrived, to the family friendly atmosphere throughout the games. He recommended the event to everyone and said that it was worth every penny.

If you fancy getting some last minute tickets for tomorrow games which include:
Catalans Dragons v Huddersfield Giants (13:00)
Leigh Centurions v Salford Red Devils (15:15)
Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos (17:30)

You can get tickets from here:

Have you ever been to a Dacia Magic Weekend?

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

This Girl Can: Jackie's Story to falling in love with Basketball

My name is Jackie and I have the great privilege of writing a guest blog post for Melissa about my favourite sport – BASKETBALL!
I thought that it was such a shock that Melissa asked me because she wants ‘Women in Sport’, I thought she had a made a mistake! I was NEVER one of the sporty girls at school, frequently being on the ‘D’, ‘E’ or even ‘F’ team at school, preferring volunteering to games lessons and even winning a wooden spoon for being the worst at badminton! 

Jackie's women basketball team at university.
However, when I got to university, I thought that nobody knows how rubbish I am at sport, basketball is something I have always wanted to try and it was only about two minutes away from my halls. They advertised it as something anybody of any ability can try’, no need to try out and best of all? It was free. So I thought, why not have a go? 

Much to my delight, basketball was very fun and easy to grasp; the other women were also extremely kind, supportive and welcoming and it was great for both my mental and physical health. Not only was I exercising regularly and becoming fitter, but it also gave me an opportunity to make new friends across subjects and years. It even managed to get me out of my room – something that I always tried to avoid doing at university. 
This Girl Can Social Basketball - Leazes Park
Three years later I moved back to Newcastle and I am now raring to join another club – a big city with two universities and a great city team – how hard could it be?
However, I couldn’t find any that were suitable – either you had to try out (be a certain ability to make the team), or they were too expensive, at the wrong times, exclusive to certain age groups, difficult to get to, just a series of irritating barriers that prevented me from playing.

I knew some people in Newcastle who played basketball and I would sometimes meet up with them to play at a local park but our busy lives often mean these opportunities are few and far between.
When playing on my own at a local court I thought that there might be women around Newcastle who might feel the same as me; who wanted to try a new sport but couldn’t due to some obstacle or that they used to play but couldn’t find an opportunity to do so.
This Girl Can Social Basketball - Leazes Park

I was nominated as a This Girl Can Ambassador through some volunteering for Streetgames and Factory Dance Academy. I had just taken part TGC activities previously, but I thought –why not do something about this?

With the TGC Play Basketball Club I hope to create a fun and social atmosphere where girls and women of any age and ability can come and make new friends, and learn something new or even share tips with each other. It’s free, with no gear or experience needed and easily accessible in the middle of Newcastle City Centre. 

I know that basketball isn’t for everyone but I really recommend you do some sport or exercise, even just 30 minutes a week or walking/cycling/running/jogging/table tennis or football. There are some wonderful local parks with great facilities you can use for free. Bring a friend, get some fresh air, take in the view, get the heart pumping a bit – it’s good for you mentally and physically.
This Girl Can Social Basketball - Leazes Park

Hope this has interested you and if you want to play some basketball - male or female – let me know. Hope to see you at Leazes Park Basketball Court soon!

This Girl Can Play Basketball Club meets every Saturday from 3-4pm at Leazes Park Basketball Court. Just wear some comfortable clothes, bring some water and get ready to have some fun! For more information please join the This Girl Can Play BASKETBALL group on Facebook (here). 

If your interested in trying out basketball, Don't be afraid to join the Facebook page or if you fancy trying out something different why not check out the Active Newcastle Facebook page to see what other This Girl Can activities are happening in Newcastle. If you would like to see other women's only activities happening across Newcastle you can check out Active Newcastle's Website for tones of other activities happening in Newcastle.  

Monday, 10 April 2017

Top 3 places to eat at Lunchtime in Newcastle

In December my workplace moved our office to Newcastle City Centre (Civic Centre). As everyone knows Newcastle's city centre is full of places to eat and I won't lie I'm a sucker for eating at restaurants and cafes. With this I thought I would list my top 3 places to eat on my lunch each restaurant/cafe has it own reasons for being on this list and I'll explain them along the way. 

1. Meet and Treat

Top 3 places to eat at Lunchtime in Newcastle
Meet and Treats Interior 
Top 3 places to eat at Lunchtime in Newcastle
Meet and Treat Fish Bowl and Beef Flank Noodles.
Meet and Treat has only recently been put on my radar. If you follow the #Neblogger hashtag on twitter and Instagram then I'm sure you would have seen lots of photos of this place including it's incredible floor (blogger heaven). Meet and treat is at the end of China Town and is for me is somewhere that is just within walking distance from my office which makes it great if you are looking to get away from all the shopper. The thing I love most about Meet and Treat is that the atmosphere is calm and the staff are lovely.

I've been 3 times now and every time I've tried something different. I've tried the the Deep Fried Vegetable Dumplings Japanese Style, Fish Ball Noodles, Malaysian Style King Prawn Noodles and finally the Teriyaki Chicken Bao. 

Everything I've tried I've loved. If you fancy checking Meet and Treat out then here is the menu and there Facebook.

2. Tyneside Cinema Cafe

Top 3 places to eat at Lunchtime in Newcastle

Tyneside Cinema Cafe has always been one of my favourite places to go and relax. When I was at college and I got sick of sitting in the library tyneside cinema cafe was my place to go. With free wifi and sometimes a film on in the cafe I found it was my go to place to get away from the stress and that hasn't changed since moving into my current job that sometimes can be stressful. 

With the tyneside cinema cafe being located on pilgrim Street which is about 5 minutes work from my office. It's one of them places I go when I might not actually have that much time but I don't want to be stuck in the office. 

My favourite thing to have at the tyneside cinema cafe is normally the soup of the day or the Tyneside Hot Dog and Chips. The service is normally quite quick which is essential when you want something quick but I've also used tyneside for meetings and it can be quite quiet through the day. 

You can check out the menu for Tyneside Cinema Cafe here it has the brunch menu and the evening menu just incase you fancy going after work. 

3. Fat Hippo Pop Up

Fat Hippo - Top 3 places to eat at Lunchtime in Newcastle
The Fat Hippo at the moment is definitely a highlight of my week, so every Thursday around 12noon Fat Hippo set up their pop up Burger Bar at The Quad within the ground of Northumbria University. I remember seeing this on my twitter feed and jumping around the office in excitement. The Fat Hippo has always been one of my favourite places for food but I love them more when they are at pop u including Wylam or The Cumberland Arms for there Beer and Ale Festivals. 

My favourite burger that is always on the menu is the The Little Hippo (I wish I had a photo to show you) which is a single 4oz patty, topped with chorizo, cheese and Fat Hippo sauce which I won't lie is my favourite part. Another item on the menu that is a must is the signature cajun fries. 

You can see when the burger bar is coming close to your workplace by checking out there events page to see where there heading next. 

Well that is my top 3 places to eat at Lunchtime in Newcastle. I hope you have enjoyed it and like seeing a little bit of a restaurant review. I'm hoping to do a few more of this type of post. 

Why don't you tell me below where you favourite places to eat at lunchtime? 


Friday, 17 March 2017

Guest Post: Triathlon is for everyone – My triathlon story

With the launch of This Girl Can happening in February, I wanted to find local women in the North East that empowered what This Girl can is all about and that is when I started talking to Michelle. Michelle to me empowers everything that This Girl Can is about. Below she is going to tell you about triathlon and about how she got involved in the sport. I hope you enjoyed this post.

I am a triathlete. It gave me a massive thrill and sense of achievement to be able to say that when I completed my first event in 2011.
A triathlon is made up of a swim, a cycle and a run. You do all three sports one after another, with no rest.
You may know about it through the Brownlees, brothers Alistair and Jonny who are Olympic medal winners and World Champions for Team GB. They compete at the very highest elite level and push themselves to the limit, but triathlon isn't just a sport for the super fit. It's the fastest growing participation sport in the UK. Anyone can do it - even me.
My triathlon story starts back in 2008, when I began running as part of a bid to get fit and lose some weight. I hated it at first, and couldn't manage more than a few hundred metres without getting out of breath. My first milestone was to be able to run continuously for 20 minutes, and it took me a while of running and walking to work up to that. 
Somewhere along the way I started to enjoy it. Within a year, I went from being unable to run a mile without stopping, to running 13.1 of them on the Great North Run. It was an amazing transformation. I was fitter, slimmer, and more importantly had made a whole new group of friends through running, so I was happier too.
I loved the challenge. I found I enjoyed training for races and then running as fast as I could, chasing better times, and the feeling of the adrenaline rush when I crossed the finish line.
I worked with a personal trainer, Ian from Inspire Fitness who has helped me stay strong and avoid injuries. He did triathlons too, so I went along to watch him and some of my running friends race at the QE2 Park in Ashington. Just like the running community, I saw a bunch of friendly, enthusiastic people, doing something slightly crazy and challenging on a weekend. And I knew then that I had to give it a try.
I took lessons to improve my swimming, cleaned up my old bike and started training. In 2011, I took part in my first triathlon and I loved it so much, that I signed up for another one two weeks later. Since then, I've challenged myself to do triathlons that involve swimming in lakes and the sea, and done longer distance events.
Triathlon is an amazingly inclusive sport. Ordinary people like you and me can race on the same courses as the elites. I’ve swum, biked and run on the same route as the Brownlees in Leeds, and then stuck around afterwards to cheer them on. There’s not many sports that give you that kind of access and experience of being close up to the best.
There's nothing to beat triathlon for a feeling of satisfaction, for the sense of really having achieved something. And because it involves three sports, you get three times the adrenaline rush.

Anyone can give triathlon a go

I am nothing special. I am not particularly fast, or especially fit. I've found triathlon to be very friendly and I encourage anyone to give it a go.

1) What if I can’t swim/I can only do breaststroke?

If you can’t swim, then it's a great skill to learn. It could save your life. Swimming is great exercise and yes, it can be hard to learn, but it’s well worth it.
Most people swim front crawl in a triathlon because it’s faster, but there's no rule to say you can't do breaststroke.

2) I don’t have a road bike

Some people spend a huge amount of money on the latest go faster carbon fibre, streamlined machines that weigh less than a bag of sugar. But you don’t have to. I did my first triathlon on an ancient old mountain bike, that I could only just lift into the car. I do now have a lovely road bike, but any decent working cycle will do. You must have a helmet though - that's in the rules.


3) It’s expensive

Like all sports there’s always a fancy bit of kit, gadget or gizmo that promises to shave seconds off your best time, but ryou only need a few basics of a bike, helmet, running shoes and something that you’re comfortable to wear to swim, bike and run in.
Bear in mind that you'll be getting straight out of the water and onto a bike, so you need to wear something that's comfortable and won't chafe. A pair of lightly padded bike shorts, or specific triathlon shorts is a good buy.

For open water swimming, you may need a wetsuit, but you can often hire these for a day, week or season.

Race entries can cost a bit more than a run, because there's a lot involved in making sure races are safe and well organised. You can get a discount on entries by joining a triathlon club that's affiliated to your National Triathlon organisation.

Here in the North East, VO2 Max Racing, who organise the very best triathlon events I've taken part in, will offer a free entry to one of their events if you volunteer to marshal at another.
Find out more about triathlon events and clubs in the UK:
Welsh Triathlon

4) I’m too fat/too unfit/too old/ I’ll come last

If you feel fat and unfit, what better way to change that than to add some exercise to your lifestyle and start training? Having a goal or event to aim for is a great motivator to get out there. There are short distance triathlons, including novice or super sprint events that are easily achievable with a bit of training.
Don't worry about how you think you'll look. Everyone’s too focused on swim, bike, run to give it a second thought. And if you don’t fancy a tri suit, you can throw on a T-shirt and shorts before the bike.

There are often a great range of age categories at races and some will even award prizes for different age groups, so getting older doesn’t have to mean you’re at a disadvantage.

If you think you’ll be way behind the rest of the field, remember, the only person you’re really competing against is yourself. Even if you do find yourself the last to cross the line, I can guarantee you’ll get a bigger cheer that the speedy person who came through in first place.

Michelle Nicol is a writer and triathlete. When she’s not swimming, cycling or running, you can find her at, and on twitter @I_am_wordstruck
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