Luxe Issue 80 - Mar/Apr 23

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£5.00 luxe magazine


772042 193002

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2042-1931 ISSN



LE ADI N G L A DY. Ea s te r happ eni ngs . COOL CR EATIV ES . Sweet treats. LOCAL HE RO E S . Mo the r ’s Da y d el i ght s. KID S AND ED UCATION. Natural beauty. F LO R A L C R E AT I O N S. C o u nt ry charm. S AFAR I S T Y L E. Wed di ng inspiration. HIP HOT E L S. Bi g n a m e s. LUX E.


The north east’s first in bespoke affordable interiors 10TH AVENUE WEST | TEAM VALLEY | NE11 0HL | 0191 491 3836 OPPOSITE RETAIL WORLD G R E ATLOOK . C O. UK



contents 8>> The agenda Time to fill those diaries

16>> 10 things luxe loves What we’re loving this season Oh how wonderful it is to be seeing the world awaking from its winter slumber. The first sightings of daffodils, leaves bringing life to the trees and splashes of colour popping up around us. The little joys of spring never get old. With the new season comes great optimism and the opportunity to ‘start again’ - perfect if, like me, you gave yourself permission to have a slow and steady start to the new year. Spring is the real turning point for me, and I hope you can join me in embracing that joyful turn of events as we bring these pages to life. As we reflect on 80 editions of Luxe, thousands of pages and hundreds of stories on the people and places that make the region tick, we’re marking the occasion with another glossy guide to living the luxe life in the North East - plus a special ‘oak’ themed interior feature to mark the big 8-0. All of that, plus a chat with TV legend Dame Joanna Lumley, interviews with some seriously inspiring business people, Mother’s Day spa retreats, chocolate treats and more. We’ve also got some stunning wedding inspo and our Education Special, featuring the North East’s leading education establishments. Our 80th edition is an extra special one for me as it’s my final issue for a while before handing over the baton to my wonderful team as I swap deadlines for diapers on my second chapter of maternity leave. It’s goodbye for now as I sign off these pages for printing, but I hope you continue to live it up ‘luxe style’ as we move into the sunny months. Brighter days ahead! Remember to check in with us online at See us on social at: Twitter: @TheLuxeMagazine Instagram: @theluxemagazine Facebook: @luxemag

THE LUXE TEAM Christopher March publisher EDITORIAL Elysia Fryer editor Nicole Wood Johnathan Ramsay

22>> Let there be light Introducing a Northumberland-based artist

26>> Leading lady We catch up with TV legend, Dame Joanna Lumley

30>> Nature calls Enrique Azocar is a Chilean artist who now calls Northumberland home, where he is inspired by the lush landscapes and the emotions triggered by the natural environment that surrounds him. His luxe things in life include: meeting new people, dogs and the way in which fashion and decoration can show expression and personality.

A look at Brunello Cucinelli’s SS23 collection

38>> Au naturel Beautiful handmade artisian soaps with Zenoté

44>> Community spirit Discovering Ad Gefrin Distillery

46>> Sweet like chocolate Tucking into the sweet stuff with Zoe Robertson

52>> The suite life Checking in at Hotel TwentySeven

54>> Big smoke staycation A luxe guide to our capital

57>> Luxe wedding essentials Our guide to tying the knot

66>> Blooming lovely Discovering floral creations with Bloomhead

68>> Interior inspiration Oak-inspired furniture to celebrate our 80th edition

72>> Hot property The luxe home of Christina Brion

76>> At the wheel Bob Arora test drives the Alpine A110 Coupe Renée Fraser-Shepherd is the brains behind Sloobie - an all new fashion brand taking the skiwear industry by storm. When she is not growing her brand, studying or hitting the slopes, her luxe things in life include: exploring new places, eating at nice restaurants and winding down at home with a book and a candle.

81>> Social diary Eyes and teeth time

SALES Debi Coldwell director Lucy Andrews

Scan our QR code and keep up-to-date with the latest luxe moments.

PHOTOGRAPHY Kevin Gibson Nicky Rogerson Cover image ©Rankin DESIGN David Stubbs creative director Euan Underwood Ariyan Mojarab

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If you wish to advertise with us please contact our sales team: Debi Coldwell: / 07910 918366

Allies Group Ltd, Enterprise House, Kingsway, Team Valley Trading Estate, Gateshead, NE11 OSR All contents copyright ©2023 Allies Group Ltd. All rights reserved. While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, no responsibility can be accepted for inaccuracies, howsoever caused. No liability can be accepted for illustrations, photographs, artwork or advertising materials while in transmission or with the publisher or their agents. All information is correct at time of going to print, February 2023.

This issue, we chat to the wonderful Eileen Ferguson, co-founder of Ad Gefrin Distillery in Wooler, Northumberland. Her luxe things in life include: fragrance and the memories and emotions that perfume can trigger, enjoying good food with friends and family, and the art of not taking life too seriously.

luxe is published bi-monthly by Allies Group Ltd



AL FRESCO Dining Indulge outdoors at Grantley Hall this spring



W I N : A T I M O T H Y O U LT O N C A B A N A C H A I R W O RT H £2,695 FROM BARKER AND STONEHOUSE This spring sees the launch of Barker and Stonehouse’s new flagship furniture store in Gateshead, set to become the ultimate interior destination in the North East. Bringing together the very best in sustainable design, striking architecture and inspiring home interiors, the new lifestyle store will open on Good Friday (7 April 2023) with a showstopping launch event not to be missed.


To begin the countdown to the launch, we’ve teamed up with Barker and Stonehouse to give one lucky Luxe reader the chance to win one of its most loved designs - the Timothy Oulton Cabana Chair in Yeti Beige worth £2,695. As you’d expect from Timothy Oulton, the Cabana chair is a real design icon - and a wish list regular. Expertly crafted and sumptuously soft, this piece will never go out of style.

Closing date: Sunday 30 April 2023

T&Cs: The giveaway is open to residents across mainland UK aged 18 years or over (exluding Northern Ireland). The prize has no cash alternative and is non-transferable. Prizes are subject to availability and Barker and Stonehouse reserves the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice. Entrants must check measurements of furniture before entering the competition. No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason. Details of the winner will be passed on to a representative at Barker and Stonehouse who will arrange delivery of the prize. Additional T&Cs may apply, please check with Barker and Stonehouse.


HELLO SPRING! Gosforth 0191 217 0217 Jesmond 0191 281 6714 Ponteland 01661 821 004 Wynyard 01740 644 690 Facebook: hooker&young Twitter: @hookerandyoung Instagram: hookerandyoung


The agenda: spring highlights >> Put a spring in your

step this season with a whole host of hip happenings across the region - from theatre and live music, to food and family fun… FOOD & DRINK


Soul Sunday Service EVERY SUNDAY

Pellow Talk 15 APRIL

Book a table at Middlesbrough’s sparkling new restaurant and show hall for a ‘Sunday Service’ like no other. Bloom’s Soul Sunday Service invites foodies and music-lovers alike to join the congregation for the biggest, soulful Sunday roast in town. Sit back and enjoy live soothing soul classics while you tuck into a show-stopping roast with all the trimmings.

You are invited to spend an intimate evening with Marti Pellow at Yarm’s Princess Alexandra Auditorium this April. Get up close and personal with the singer/songwriter and Wet Wet Wet legend, understand the DNA of the hits you love, and laugh as Marti talks through his journey from childhood to today.

MUSIC KT Tunstall 11 MARCH

ART Hew Locke: The Procession UNTIL 11 JUNE Don’t miss this inspiring exhibition at BALTIC, straight from its spell at Tate Britain, commissioned by Tate. Hew Locke: The Procession invites visitors to ‘reflect on the cycles of history, and the ebb and flow of cultures, people, finance and power’. Locke makes links with the historical after-effects of his artistic journey so far, including work with statues, share certificates, cardboard, rising sea levels, carnival and the military. You’ll see figures who travel through space and time, taking inspiration from real events in an enlarged vision of an imagined future.

THEATRE Disney’s The Lion King 16 MARCH - 6 MAY Set against the majesty of the Serengeti Plains and to the evocative rhythms of Africa, Disney’s multi-award winning musical comes to Sunderland Empire this spring. Join Simba on an epic adventure to his destined role as King of the Pridelands. Throw in some enchanting musical numbers, stunning special effects and a gloriously colourful set, and you’re in for the ultimate theatrical treat. Don’t miss it while it’s here in the North East.


Don’t miss the chance to hear hits from KT Tunstall’s new album ‘NUT’ live at Sage Gateshead this March. As part of her first full UK headline tour since the pandemic, it’s a fantastic opportunity to see the BRIT Award winning and Grammy-nominated artist at the top of her gamet. A must-attend for must-lovers.

WORKSHOPS Stargazing in the Garden 10 MARCH



Titanic The Musical 27 MARCH - 1 APRIL

Springtime Masterclass with Jonathan Moseley 28 MARCH

The devastating tale of one of the most tragic disasters of the 20th century is coming to the Theatre Royal stage this spring, and it’s a must-see for theatre-lovers. Based on real people aboard the most legendary ship in the world, Titanic The Musical is a stunning and stirring production that focuses on the hopes, dreams and aspirations of her passengers; who each boarded in Southampton, heading for New York City in April 1912.

Start spring in the best way we know how - with a blooming beautiful workshop at Grantley Hall. Join celebrity florist Jonathan Moseley for an exclusive masterclass on how to create your very own seasonal floral displays. The day kicks off with tea and coffee on arrival, followed by a creative flower arranging class, Q&A session and a delicious two-course lunch. The afternoon will include a demo and interactive workshop, where you’ll create your own arrangement to take away to bring light to your home this season.



Spring Garden Tour 1 APRIL

Easter Afternoon Tea at High Force Hotel 9 APRIL

Celebrate spring’s beauty at Middleton Lodge’s whimsical walled garden this April. Meet at the Coach House for tea and coffee before the estate’s head gardener, Andrew Webb, and his team, take you on a colourful tour of the gardens, providing insight on what to grow for the best possible results at this time of year. You’ll leave with plenty of expert tips and tricks to grow your own garden paradise at home.

Easter is the perfect opportunity to indulge, and our friends at High Force Hotel are inviting us to do so with their Easter Afternoon Tea. Tuck into a traditional afternoon tea with all the trimmings, with plenty of Easter-inspired sweet treats alongside fresh scones, dainty sandwiches and a choice of Yorkshire Tea or Earl Grey. A delicious way to celebrate spring!

The Lord Crewe Arms is the place to be this March when it comes to discovering the dazzling dark skies. Join stargazing expert Andy Gray at the Gatehouse for an evening of starry sky inspiration. Wrap up warm, grab a hot chocolate and look out into the realm of the galaxies. A delicious two-course supper will follow, where you’ll be able to warm up and take in all of your newfound knowledge.

FOOD & DRINK Easter Egg Making (Children’s & Adults) 5 & 6 APRIL Make Easter egg-stra special this year by joining an Easter Egg Making course at Swinton Estate. With classes available for adults and children, you’ll master the skills of tempering chocolate, glazing and decorating fabulous Easter eggs with edible glosses, glitters and paints. Adult courses will create three eggs, each using a different chocolate - white, dark and milk. This delicious, chocolate-fuelled event includes a lunch and three egg moulds to take away with you. Delicious.



Tilly Bailey & Irvine welcomes new Residential Property Solicitor to Wynyard office

Tilly Bailey & Irvine Solicitors is delighted to welcome the latest member of its residential property department, Olivia Potter, who joined the Wynyard Hub of the Teesside law firm earlier this month.

TBI’s latest recruit brings with her a wealth of experience to add to an already well-renowned residential property department. Olivia graduated from Northumbria University in 2018 with a First-Class Honours degree on the MLaw Exempting course.

Since graduating, Olivia has completed her training contract and worked as a property solicitor at a prestigious law firm in Mayfair, London, where she gained vast experience in dealing with complex and high value residential and commercial property transactions. Olivia had previously undertaken work placements at Tilly Bailey & Irvine, and when she decided to return to Teesside, Olivia was excited for the opportunity to return TBI. Olivia commented: “During my work placements I found that the firm had a very friendly and supportive working environment. With this in mind, I wanted to work for TBI on my return to the North East, to work alongside such excellent lawyers and have the opportunity of good quality and diverse work especially given TBI is the largest firm in Teesside meaning there are numerous opportunities to work on a wide variety of complex matters.” She added: “TBI also offers great progression opportunities and would allow me to mentor junior members of staff starting out in their legal careers and participate in business development.” Carolyn Tilly, Managing Partner at Tilly Bailey & Irvine says: “It’s wonderful to have Olivia join us. She brings with her

valuable knowledge and experience from her time representing clients in London and advising on complex matters. Her experience will bring significant benefit to our clients and I wish her every success in her new role”. Tilly Bailey & Irvine has a successful thriving residential property department spanning across their offices in Hartlepool, Stocktonon-Tees, Barnard Castle, and Wynyard, offering a range of services including sales; purchases; re-mortgages; lettings; lease variations, extensions, and surrenders; declarations of trust; licences to occupy and transfers of part of land.

If you’d like to speak to Olivia or a member of the residential property team at Tilly Bailey & Irvine, contact them on 01740 646 000 or fill in an online enquiry form available via their website:




21/22/23 APRIL


Contact the commercial team to purchase by emailing or calling them on 0191 214 2892.






Book it now >> Pop these dates in the diary… Sister Act 19 - 24 JUNE

Lord of the Flies 3 - 6 MAY

Everyone’s favourite nun on the run is heading to the Theatre Royal in a glittering show you won’t want to miss this June. See Broadway sensation, Sister Act, play out live on stage, straight from a successful run in London. Disco diva Deloris’ life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a murder. Placed under protective custody and encouraged to help a struggling choir, she helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she unexpectedly discovers her own. Featuring original music inspired by Motown, soul and disco, expect to be toe-tapping the night away as this joyous musical comes to town.

The tale we all know and love, live at Northern Stage this May. Lord of the Flies tells the story of a group of British school children left stranded after surviving a devastating plane crash. As tensions rise and hunger for power grows, the group divides and becomes wildly out of control. This theatre spectacular is a must-see - a modern staging of the William Golding classic. Don’t miss your chance to see it in Newcastle this spring.

Spring Demo & Dine 16 APRIL Get inspired with seasonal delights at Arches Cookery School. Join a fabulous demonstration of the dishes you’ll be enjoying for lunch, picking up some expert kitchen know-how, handy hints and knife skills as you go. Prepare for a feast of fine flavours and textures as you sit back and enjoy all that spring has to offer in the beautiful Mill Dining Room. Dishes include Beetroot, Goat’s Curd and Walnut Salad; Pollock Saltimbocca, Slow Roasted Shoulder of Lamb, Torta di Ricotta and more.

FAMILY Pinocchio 15 APRIL Gather the gang and head to Theatre Hullabaloo this April for an enchanting production of Pinocchio. Expect puppetry, shadows, illusions and music in an inventive and witty show for all ages. Geppetto uses the objects of a carpenter’s workshop to tell the tale of the puppet that wants to be a real boy. A small show with a big heart.

MUSIC Michael Bublé 1 & 2 MAY Bublé is back, and he’s heading to the North East this May! Don’t miss the chance to see the singing heartthrob at Newcastle’s Utilita Arena, 20 years after the release of his self-titled album. Performing his most-loved hits alongside new songs from his No.1 album, ‘Higher’, you sure are in for a treat.

Easter fun >> Easter holiday hits! Fun for the whole family… FROGS Easter Trail THROUGHOUT THE EASTER HOLIDAYS

Kynren: An Epic Tale of England 29 JULY - 9 SEPTEMBER Travel through time and watch legends come to life at Kynren: An Epic Tale of England. The outdoor stage will be set once again in Bishop Auckland to bring Kynren to life every Saturday from 29 July until 9 September. Performed by a 1,000-strong cast and crew on a 7.5 acre stage, this live action show is like nothing you’ve ever seen before - delighting and dazzling the senses with stunts, horsemanship, pyrotechnics, special effects and more.

Adventure Cinema: Elvis 28 JULY Dust down your deck chairs and pack up a picnic for the ultimate outdoor cinema event at Raby Castle. Experience the magic of the movies like never before with an outdoor screening of Elvis. Overlooking the medieval fortress and seated within the glorious grounds, you’re invited to sit back and be blown away by the tale of a music icon.

Sarah Millican: Late Bloomer 28 & 29 OCTOBER Sarah Millican is back in the North East with her latest comedy show, Late Bloomer. Don’t miss the chance to see her take to the Stockton Globe stage this October, where she’ll be exploring how she went from a ‘shy bairn’ at school, to a loud ‘late bloomer’ humouring the twists and turns of life. Guaranteed giggles from start to finish.


Everybody’s Talking About Jamie 19 - 23 SEPTEMBER The coming-of-age musical everyone is talking about is coming to Sunderland Empire this September and it’s a must for North East theatre-lovers. Jamie is a 16-year-old living in a world he doesn’t quite fit into, but instead of hiding in the shadows, he beats the bullies and steps out of the darkness and into the spotlight. With an original score that promises to have you dancing in the aisles, and a cast that will wow from start to finish, make sure you bag a seat at this sparking show as it arrives in Sunderland.

Sh**ged, Married, Annoyed LIVE! 15 & 16 DECEMBER Our favourite Geodie couple are back at the Utilita Arena this December, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store as they share stories and interact with a live audience. This brand new 2023 show is sure to have audiences in stitches from start to finish. Don’t miss it!

Lambing Time 20 MARCH - 1 MAY Head to Hall Hill Farm this spring to see Easter chicks hatching and pet lambs leaping through the fields. It’s a great day out for the whole family, with plenty of opportunities to feed animals, ride tractors and let off some steam in the Adventure Play Area. An Easter holiday must.

Giant Easter Eggs 1 - 16 APRIL Stockeld Park has a whole host of Easter happenings to keep you busy during the school holidays, one of them being a Giant Easter Egg hunt. Explore the Enchanted Forest and find the giant, colourful Easter eggs as you go.

Get ready for the ultimate Easter trail around the whimsical woodland of Swinton Bivouac. Follow the trail and explore the many landmarks and hidden treasures of the Druid’s Temple woodland walk. Finish your walk with something sweet at the Bivouac Cafe - you deserve it. Available throughout the Easter holidays from 10am until 4pm. £5 per child (including a completed trail gift) - all money raised will go to the Friends of Grewelthorpe School (FROGS).

Children’s Easter Egg Making 9 APRIL Little chocolate lovers should book a place at Blackfriars Cookery School’s Easter Egg Making workshop this April. Children aged 9-14 are invited to come along and produce their very own chocolate Easter eggs - mastering everything from chocolate making and how to mould a chocolate egg shell, to creating simple chocolates to fill the egg. This delicious afternoon of sweet fun includes refreshments and recipes to take home. Aprons at the ready!

Easter Panto 2023: Rapunzel 10 & 11 APRIL Join Wally, Dame Dolly and Fairy Tale for an enchanting Easter panto at Playhouse Whitley Bay. The trio embark on a quest to break the spell that keeps Rapunzel locked away in her tower… but the wicked sorceress Gothel has other plans. Will she escape? Find out at this fun-filled, family-friendly production this Easter.



Luxe reads

Nicole Wood picks out eight books to inspire your spring cleaning this season... The Folding Lady by Sophie Liard Is your underwear drawer cluttered and messy? Are your towels folded in big squares taking up too much space? Or perhaps you need to pack away your winter clothes to make room in your wardrobe? If so, this one’s for you. Social media superstar, Sophie Liard - better known as The Folding Lady - has created a handy guide featuring need-to-know hacks for organisation. The book, published by Yellow Kite, features a step-by-step, room-by-room guide to the best folds and storage tips - including how to fold sheets and towels, how to pack for travel, how to wrap gifts and how to organise your drawers, desks and cosmetics. She shares with us the inner joy that good organisation can bring.

Kurashi at Home: How to Organize Your Space and Achieve Your Ideal Life by Marie Kondo Create an oasis of calm and find what sparks your joy with Netflix’s Marie Kondo. Over a decade from the launch of her bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo is back with new wisdom on how to transform your life and home into spaces of calm. This guide introduces the concept of kurashi - meaning way of life - and encourages readers to spend every day in the pursuit of joy. Now, the mother of three young children, Marie moves her focus from the physical act of tidying towards an even more holistic and personal approach to curating our environments. Inspiring stories from Marie and her clients bring her concepts to life, illustrating how kurashi can be applied to all areas of our own lives.


Project 333 by Courtney Carver Ever ask yourself how many of the items in your wardrobe you actually wear? Introducing Project 333. When it comes to creating more space in your wardrobe, Courtney Carver has the answer with her approach to living simply - starting with your wardrobe. The aim? Wear just 33 items for three months and get back all the joy you were missing while you were worrying about what to wear. With tips, solutions, and a closet-full of inspiration, this life-changing, minimalist manual shows readers that we are so much more than what we wear - and that who we are and what we have is so much more than enough.

Life’s Too Short To Fold Fitted Sheets by Lisa Quinn Are you the type of person who wants to be organised but are simply too busy to faff on? Then this ebook will change your life. Full of shortcuts and tricks for cleaning, decor, and entertaining such as the top 10 things you have to clean if you have company coming in 30 minutes, interior finishes that hide the most dirt and much more - this wickedly funny guide is your helping hand for creating the organised life you want, without the time consuming how tos!

New Order: A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks (and Everyone Else) by Fay Wolf Looking to declutter your space and fuel your creativity? This genius guide from organising expert Fay Wolf has everything you need to turn that vision into a reality. From Hollywood celebrities to school teachers and work-from-home parents, Wolf has been on a mission to help others achieve a simpler, more fulfilling life and now there’s a book to help everyone else too. Inside, you’ll learn the basic rules for saying goodbye to the stuff crowding up your space and hello to new habits that free you up for the things you’re passionate about. And it can all be done in as little as a few minutes a day.



A smart collaboration Sunderland based women’s activewear brand, Amazing Jane, is the empowering and innovative business transforming the fitness industry. This International Women’s Day, they’re joining forces with the Smart Works Newcastle charity to create a bespoke pair of leggings to mark the occasion. Luxe chats to co-founders, Claire Goodliff and Debra De Luen…

accessed the services). They have been designed around the feedback of feelings evoked by Smart Works Newcastle clients and our Amazing Jane customers, and portray some very powerful messages. The collaboration will cumulate in a host of pop-up events across the region to support the #cycleforsmartworks yearly fundraising campaign, and we’ll be announcing more soon. The limited-edition leggings are now available for pre-order with 20% from all orders containing the Kirsty Wonder Leggings set to be donated to Smart Works Newcastle as part of the collaboration.

and coaching - giving women the confidence, self-belief and practical tools they require to succeed at an interview and to start a new chapter in their lives. We share this ethos. We are dedicated to empowering women to lead healthy, active lifestyles through the power of clothing. We are committed to creating activewear for women’s changing bodies, and each item of clothing at Amazing Jane is created to build confidence in women. We want to encourage women to get into the right mindset for being active (which can often be the biggest hurdle) whilst building confidence in both how they look and their personal safety.

What values does Amazing Jane and Smart Works Newcastle share? The collaboration with Smart Works Newcastle is especially poignant as the team supports North East women into employment through interview clothing

How will Amazing Jane be celebrating International Women’s Day this year? We love to celebrate women every day and this year International Women’s Day will be extra special as we'll be joining the Cycle for Smart Works Newcastle campaign. Alongside the limited-edition leggings, we’ll be overseeing three pop-up cycle hubs across the region including Club Zest in Sunderland where people can nip in and clock up their miles. Any other exciting plans in the pipeline for 2023? Global expansion is most definitely on our radar and we are really excited to have been selected as one of only 20 UK businesses to join a UK Retail Summit Trade Mission to Dubai in March. Collaboration is also at the heart of everything we do, and we feel it is such a powerful tool, so we have some wonderful collaborations in the pipeline, including some key influencers - so watch this space.

Claire Goodliff and Debra De Luen, Amazing Jane

Can you give us a bit of background on Amazing Jane and its unique place in the market? The Amazing Jane brand has been around for eight years, and our passion to build confidence in women has been around for decades. We caused quite a stir in the fitness and mainstream news last year when our new TrackHer range of activewear leggings hit the market. The innovative leggings contain a concealed ‘TrackHer’ pocket, designed to be the size for a GPS personal tracker, and were launched in response to recent headlines around violence against women and their safety when out exercising. We focus on empowering and supporting women through the power of clothing and its deeper psychology of making women feel good and confident about their bodies. We use the science and our combined years of experience of working with women to create each individual design we sell, from scratch, to ensure a great fit for all our body types and our ever-changing bodies as women. How important is the North East in the work that you do? The North East really has been a catalyst for our growth in the last few months. We’ve


had phenomenal support from a network of business women from across the region. We are so appreciative of the business community who have embraced and championed us, and have made some amazing contacts, many of which have led to some amazing opportunities. Why did you choose to work with local charity, Smart Works Newcastle, on the 2023 campaign? Although we operate nationally, we are heavily rooted in the North East and it is important to us to support local campaigns and projects, especially those involving the elevation of women. Our collaboration with Smart Works Newcastle for International Women’s Day 2023 strongly aligns with what we embody. How did the collaboration come about? Collaboration with like-minded organisations is at the heart of our 2023 plans. Smart Works Newcastle has been on our radar and when we heard about the popular Cycle for Smart Works challenge for International Women’s Day 2023 (IWD23) we knew there was a collaborative opportunity there. The specially commissioned leggings are named ‘Kirsty’ (after the first person who



Glorious Greece With up to 40 flights a week to 11 Greek destinations from Newcastle International Airport, you can experience the ultimate escape this summer. Enjoy mouthwatering cuisine, blue lagoons, crystal clear seas, glorious sunshine and outstanding scenery. Whether you want to island-hop, hike a volcano, or tackle some off-road trails, you are guaranteed the most beautiful back drop you could ask for. Athens Regarded as Europe’s most historic city dating back to the 13th century BC, Athens offers a precious glimpse into the city’s fascinating past, with spectacular sights, landmarks, museums and archaeological wonders to explore. Today, Athens is a buzzing city, appealing not only because of an intense history, but also because of the beautiful beaches, delicious cuisine and warm climate. This exciting new route conveniently unlocks connections across a network of magnificent Greek islands such as Chios, Lesbos, Paros and beyond. Choose from 2 flights a week direct to Athens with Aegean from the 14th June 2023. Santorini Looking for romance and relaxation? Arguably one of Europe’s most beautiful destinations, Santorini is home to out-of-this-world sunsets, stunning sea views, swanky bars and restaurants amongst dazzling whitewashed towns. You can fly direct to Santorini with



Crete The largest of the Greek islands, Crete is also the 5th biggest island in the Mediterranean. Boasting 650km of coastline, you can expect impressive Blue Flag beaches as well as quaint, historical old towns. The beautiful town of Chania is a glorious gem that adorns the coast of Crete. A picture-perfect paradise, you’ll find exceptional beaches, as well as gorgeous deserted coves and secluded bays, for blissful privacy and complete, uninterrupted relaxation. Enjoy a relaxing stroll along the old Venetian harbour or uncover the maze of colourful streets off the Old Town, lined with traditional tavernas, souvenir shops, cafés and bars. Or perhaps you’d prefer to explore the stunning port city of Heraklion, with its gorgeous Venetian harbour and 16th-century Koules fortress, which once protected its entrance. Rich in history, the island is bursting with attractions from archaeological ruins, such as the Palace of Knossos, to the Historical Museum of Crete. Choose from up to 7 flights a week direct to Crete, with, Ryanair and TUI.

Kefalonia Skiathos Mamma Mia! Follow in Meryl Streep’s footsteps and visit the sensational island of Skiathos. This islands dreamy shores are home to fantastic harbour-side restaurants, scenic boat trips, beautiful forest walks, and breathtaking sunset views. Choose from up to 2 flights a week to Skiathos, with and TUI. Zante Zante offers one of the best coastlines in the Mediterranean. The island is blessed with family friendly resorts, superb night-life and wonderful beaches, just waiting to be explored. Choose from up to 6 flights a week to Zante with and TUI.

Kefalonia The largest of the Ionian Islands, Kefalonia will have you coming back for more. This charming tourist favourite offers golden beaches, stunning vineyards, pretty coastal villages, luscious green landscapes, as well as magical underground caves. Kefalonia is definitely a mustsee for 2023. Choose from up to 3 flights a week, direct to Kefalonia with and TUI. For more destination inspiration, scan the QR code to the right, or visit, newcastleairport. com/discover







Our wonderful region through your lens. Here are some of your recent shots from days out in local beauty spots

1. Gary Woods, Durham - @gwoods94 2. Tom Wright, Cullercoats Bay - @wrightsaycheesephotography 3. Stephen Pemberton, Simonside Hills - @northernpixl 4. Siân Lisa Nichol, Runswick Bay - @yorkshirepostcards



At your service, everywhere. Scan the QR code to download our Walwick Estate App.


Kitchen inspo >> AL FRESCO DINING WITH MAYFAIR OVAL DINING TABLE As the weather begins to get warmer, we’re looking forward to cooking up our favourite dishes and heading outdoors to dine al fresco. There’s nothing better than taking your brunch into the garden under the spring sunshine and this beautiful 8-seater dining table from Bridgman is the perfect way to enjoy it. The stylish Mayfair Dining Set is crafted using versatile olive-green synthetic rattan, with an easy-to-clean safety glass tabletop and parasol hole, with matching dining chairs which come complete with cosy grey seat cushions to ensure maximum comfort. Days spent in the garden are back! £3,099,

Following >> @BLOSSOMANDASH If, like us, you’re dreaming of beautiful floral arrangements as we head into spring, then you need to head over to Instagram and follow @blossomandash. This beautifully presented feed is filled to the brim with perfectly picked and placed bouquets, artistic wreaths and the most stunning wedding designs you’ve ever laid your eyes on. From pretty pastels to deep hues and bold brights, this talented North East-based floral designer is capable of it all.

10 things luxe loves From pretty-in-pink makeup must-haves and spring-inspired scents, to romantic comedies and floral Instagram accounts you need to know about, Nicole Wood picks out 10 things we’re loving this season In our basket >> Pampering with >> CODE8 5SECS EXPRESS LIP & CHEEK BALM Combining the hydrating and repairing benefits of a lip balm with the colour effect of a sheer lipstick, this crayon is perfect for adding a pop of colour to your look. Apply the ‘Off Broadway’ shade to your smile for a flattering natural shine which will leave your lips intensely hydrated and subtly tinted. This pretty-in-pink shade is also great for creating that rosy cheek glow. £29,


BY FAR SOFIA 65 TAUPE LEATHER ANKLE BOOTS The time has come for a wardrobe refresh. As we step into the new season, we plan on doing it in style. These stunning By Far taupe leather ankle boots are an all-rounder that can be worn in any season. With a block heel, round toe and zip fastening style, these on-trend coloured boots can be dressed up and down from day to night. They’re the ultimate wardrobe staple and we can’t wait to get our hands on a pair. £405,



Perfect scent >> MISS DIOR BLOOMING BOUQUET Delicate, sweet and fabulously floral, Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet Eau de Toilette is a vision of spring. This light fragrance comes packed with fruity top notes of Sicilian orange combined with a tender floral mix of peony and damask rose. As a finishing touch, white musk notes delicately wrap around this springtime fragrance to create a flawless daytime scent. £107, 100ml,

Listening to >> THE COFFEE SHOP PODCAST Entrepreneurs Elisé Hanna from Hartlepool and Sophie Knight from Goathland have recently joined forces to bring an inspiring podcast to fellow like-minded business owners, aspiring entrepreneurs and those with an interest in behind-the-scenes access to business life. The pair who met during their time at the University of Sunderland each went off to set up their own business. Elisé, who owns The Little Events Company, and Sophie, who own SOPHiE coffee shop in York, decided it was time to shed a light on the ups and downs of life in business, relationships and everything in between. Coming soon to Spotify

Dreaming of >> LUXE TRAVELLING It’s that time of the year when our wanderlust awakens and our daydreams are occupied by sun, sea and vitamin D. Here at Luxe HQ, we’re no stranger to jetting off to far-flung destinations and with a backlog of dreamy destinations under our belts, we’re currently dreaming of where our next flight will take us. But for now, we’re digging through the Luxe travel archives and reminiscing about our time exploring beautiful Sri Lanka back in 2019, relaxing in the Maldives pre-pandemic and one of our more recent trips to Anantara’s stunning new private island resort in Dubai. Drop us a message on Instagram @ theluxemagazine and let us know where we should consider for our next adventure.

Watching >> SHOTGUN WEDDING As the days get brighter, our binge-watching habit shifts ever so slightly as we begin to spend more time outdoors. But when there’s a new action-packed romantic comedy on the cards, it’s impossible to say no. A new rom-com landed on our screens earlier this year starring the brilliant Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel. The plot? Husband and wife-to-be, Tom and Darcy, gather their families for a destination wedding, but the ceremony gets put on hold when gunmen take everyone hostage. With the couple separated from the rest of the group, it’s up to them to save their loved ones. Mayhem, romance, action, laughter… you can expect it all.

Reading >>

Living by >>

“Spring will come and so will happiness. Hold on. Life will get warmer.” - Anita Krizzan


IVY LANE: PART 1, SPRING BY CATHY BRAMLEY If you’re looking for a light-hearted, then the Ivy Lane collection is for you. This four-part book series takes you through a year in the life of Tilly Parker - beginning with spring. The story follows Tilly who is in need of a fresh start, fresh air and a fresh attitude in order to leave the past behind and move on with her life. As she settles into a new town seeking peace and solitude, taking on her own plot at Ivy Lane allotments seems like the perfect solution. But, the vibrant, friendly Ivy Lane community has other ideas. The small town community is anything but quaint. The members are far from reserved and soon draw Tilly out of her shell, teaching her everything they know about friendship, love and letting go.



Mum’s the word Shower the lady in your life with a dose of luxe love this Mother’s Day. From days out and fine food, to thoughtful gifts and beautiful blooms, here are some ways to show someone you care

Do this There’s nothing more precious than the gift of time. Treat mum to a creative workshop or a female-focused theatre show… THE FLOWER BEE: MOTHER’S DAY WORKSHOP Strickies Creative Hub in Yarm is home to all things colourful and creative this March, and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate Mother’s Day with that special lady in your life. This fun and informal floral workshop is a great way to switch off and get crafty, creating your very own vase arrangement to take home. No experience needed, just a willingness to learn, give it a go and have fun.

Eat out Nothing says ‘I love you’ like the gift of good food. Check out these mouthwatering Mother’s Day treats in the region…

KATE MOSSE: WARRIOR QUEENS & QUIET REVOLUTIONARIES Make a date with international bestselling author, Kate Mosse OBE, at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal this Mother’s Day. Kate will be taking to the stage for a fabulous evening of entertainment; part detective story, part love letter and part celebration of the brilliant, trail-blazing women through history. Settle in and be inspired by the ‘Mothers of Invention and Pirate Queens’, meeting unsung heroes of screen, stage and stadium along the way. A truly inspiring evening at the theatre.

MOTHERING SUNDAY AT STOCK If you haven’t yet visited the new kid on the block, Mother’s Day is a great chance to book a table and indulge in all that Stock Gosforth has to offer. Experts when it comes to creating memorable meals championing the finest, local produce, a Mother’s Day meal at Stock is sure to bring smiles to faces. Go here for a sensational dishes including Northumbrian lamb, lobster thermidor, 36-day aged sirloin of beef and sweet specials such as opera cake.

THE LITTLE SILVER KILN: MOTHER’S DAY RING MAKING SPECIAL Don’t miss the chance to join our friends at The Little Silver Kiln for a Mother’s Day Ring Making Special - the perfect way to spend quality time with your mum and take something home to treasure forever. This two-hour creative class at The BIS studio in Hartlepool invites creative types to make a trio of textured sterling silver rings. You’ll learn how to measure, cut, texture, solder and polish to create something truly unique.

MOTHER’S DAY LUNCH AT SOUTH CAUSEY INN South Causey Inn has been making Mother’s Day celebrations mouthwateringly marvellous for some time now, and we’re expecting more of that this year. Book a table at this County Durham favourite and enjoy a delicious three-course lunch or the famous Causey Carvery. Tuck into traditional northern flavours and spend some quality time with mum. MOTHER’S DAY AFTERNOON TEA AT WYNYARD HALL If the way to her heart is with something sweet, make sure you treat her to the ultimate afternoon tea experience at Wynyard Hall. Take a seat in the stunning surroundings of the hall’s State Rooms and let the team work their magic with a quintessentially British afternoon tea. Expect everything from dainty finger sandwiches and scones, to a tower of tasty sweet treats and plenty of tea.

Shower with flowers Say thank you with beautiful blooms and floral arrangements… PALETTE ROSES & GIFTING The lovely team at Palette Roses & Gifting are doing the hard work for us when it comes to gorgeous, flower-fuelled gifting. With a number of beautiful treat boxes blooming with fresh roses as well as self-care goodies to make someone feel extra special, it’s a totally unique new way of gifting flowers this Mother’s Day. FLOURISH & RYE WREATH A wreath isn’t just for Christmas. Add an elegant touch of spring to your mum’s space this season with Flourish & Rye’s beautiful ‘Winnie’ Fluffy Reed Grass Wreath. In a magical mauve shade with a hand-dyed linen ribbon hanger, this fluffy delight is the perfect addition to the home this spring. THE DRY DECOR The dried flower trend is going nowhere and we can’t think of a better way to treat mum to beautiful, long-lasting blooms she won’t have to throw away in a hurry. Head over to The Dry Decor website and get lost in a whimsical array of dried arrangements to post out to the lady in your life this Mother’s Day.




Gorgeous gifts We’ve wrapped up the ultimate Mother’s Day gift guide, covering beauty, fragrance and feel-good tipples… WHISPERING ANGEL Raise a glass to mum this Mother’s Day with a bottle of Whispering Angel - arguably the world’s most loved rosé for all the right reasons. A 150cl magnum guarantees stylish sipping this Mothering Sunday. Pour mum a glass and let the good times roll. HARVEY NICHOLS WELLNESS BEAUTY BOX Give your mum the gift of beauty this Mother’s Day thanks to the dazzling new Harvey Nichols Wellness Beauty Box. There’s never been a better invitation to slow down and be pampered - the box contains 12 big-name beauty products across skincare, hair, body and wellbeing. With treats from the likes of Neom, ESPA, OTO and Kate Somerville, this gorgeous gift is sure to put smiles on faces. SWEET GRAPEFRUIT SCENTED SOY CANDLE Who doesn’t love a sweet smelling candle to help us transition into spring? This ‘sweet grapefruit’ soy candle is the perfect way to say ‘I love you’ this Mother’s Day. Shop the P.F. Candle Co range at Lillian Daph in Saltburn, wrap it up for mum and encourage her to spend a lazy Sunday with her feet up, surrounded by blissful scents.

A family affair Jane & Harry’s is the multi-generational lifestyle store supporting the emerging local creatives in Northumberland. Luxe checks in with the mother/daughter duo making waves in Alnmouth source of inspiration for so many creatives, and it’s our job to shine a light on those people and places.

Mum-to-be treats Let a mum-to-be know you are thinking of them with these indulgent treats… MATERNITY KHAKI GIRAFFE ORGANIC COTTON PJ SET Luxe loungewear is the perfect way to help a mum-to-be feel cosy and comfortable in the run up to labour. Chelsea Peers has a gorgeous range of stylish maternity pjs, including this organic Khaki Giraffe set.

‘A MOMENT FOR MAMA’ GIFT SET If you haven’t already heard about My Little Coco and you have someone special expecting a baby in the coming months, get in the know. The brainchild of singer, TV presenter and mum of three, Rochelle Humes, My Little Coco puts self-care to the top of a mum-to-be’s agenda - and for good reason. The ‘A Moment For Mama’ gift set is the perfect way to encourage her to enjoy a bit of ‘me time’ with bath soak, body butter, soothing balm and the all-important bump mask!

MAXI HEART & TINY HEART There’s nothing like a fine piece of jewellery to treasure forever and mark a special occasion. Gift a gorgeous mum-to-be with a beautiful Maxi Heart & Tiny Heart necklace by Renné Jewellery. Representing two hearts within, it’s the perfect keepsake for someone special.

SNÜZCURVE PREGNANCY PILLOW Give a mum-to-be the gift of great sleep with SnüzCurve - ‘the pregnancy pillow that has got your back!’. Meticulously designed by midwives, chiropractors, health visitors and physios, there’s no better way to ensure a loved one is getting those all-important zzs before bambino arrives.


What can you tell us about Jane & Harry’s? Jane & Harry’s is a lifestyle and gift shop with an eclectic collection of sustainably sourced homewares from local artists, designers and makers. Our products are inspired by the idyllic Northumberland seascapes and countryside. We wanted to create a shop that enabled local artists and designers to showcase their work. We believe in shopping small and supporting local. What made you decide to go into business together? I (Harry) have another small business called Just Harry Designs - a sustainable fashion brand focusing on the deconstruction and reconstruction of preloved denim jeans. My mum (Jane) started candle making during lockdown. So, between us we thought a store would not only be a great outlet for our own businesses, but also for other creatives we have met locally and at markets. Why Alnmouth? We have lived in Alnmouth for the last 18 years, so after deciding we wanted to take the plunge, when a premises came up in the village, it was the perfect fit. Alnmouth is a hotspot all year round for tourism, which creates great footfall for a lifestyle and gift shop like ours - we also find that tourists like to take something away with them to remind them of their stay. What better way to remind them of Northumberland than to take something away that has been made or designed by local artists?

Why is it so important to support local creatives and sustainable products? We live in an age where everything and anything is accessible at the click of a button - and somehow at really cheap prices. It’s getting more difficult for small businesses to be seen amongst the sea of large companies and mass production, so we wanted to create a home for them to be seen and hopefully sold. Sustainable and ethically sourced products are at the forefront of what we stock because we want to do our bit for the environment, promote businesses with a similar ethos to ours and stock high quality items that will last a lifetime. Can you tell us about some of the brands you stock? We are proud stockists of 15 local creatives - some of whom are from Alnmouth, as well as surrounding towns and villages like Amble, Alnwick and Newcastle. We would love to take this opportunity to shout about all 15 of our local creatives: Alnwick Soap Co, Blinkin’ Imp, Ellie Davison-Archer, Brian D Powell, Fiona Dane, Hilary Durie, Just Harry, Kate Durie Textiles, Loom & Jute, Macrame Made By Jenna, Mekka, Plain Jane Candles, Ruth Bond, Salt & Co, and Samphire Bay. Your plans for Mother’s Day? We usually spend Mother’s Day with a walk along the beach together and a home cooked meal with the whole family.

What do you love most about living and working in Northumberland? Northumberland is home to some of the most beautiful beaches and countryside and we have it all on our doorstep. It’s a great



Give the gift of wellness With Mother’s Day just around the corner, we’ve picked out some of our favourite local spas to treat mum to something truly special

Credit: Joe Taylor

SPA DAY March Half-day Mindfulness Retreat, Grantley Hall There’s a gorgeous Grantley Hall retreat calling your name, and it just so happens to be the perfect way to treat mum this Mother’s Day. The half-day retreat, led by professional life coach, Jowita Penkala, invites you to learn more about the mechanics of stress, what to do to eliminate it from your life and how to be the master of your own mind. Join interactive sessions and Q&As and enjoy a guided meditation and healthy lunch. The good-for-the-soul retreat we’ve all been waiting for. A half-day visitor pass for the gym and wellness centre can be added in conjunction with the event for an extra £125. Half-Day Mindfulness Retreat, from £375 per person.

TAKE ME HOME SPA DAY Mum’s Spa Day Escape Let Ramside Spa do the hard work for you this Mother’s Day by treating that special someone to a Mum’s Spa Day Escape - including a delicious two-course lunch at the spa’s Fusion restaurant, a 55-minute Elemis treatment and a full day’s use of the fantastic spa facilities. Time to escape, unwind and say ‘I love you’ with the ultimate pamper package. Mother’s Day spa vouchers are valid for use until 23 June 2023, priced at £159 per person.

SPA DAY Mother’s Day Spa Package, Wynyard Hall Whether you’re treating your mum, nan, aunty or a mother figure in your life, Wynyard Hall is an excellent choice when it comes to celebrating in style. This incredibly tranquil spot by the lake is offering the ultimate Mother’s Day Spa Package this year, including a 30-minute ESPA Express Facial each, plus a glass of prosecco and cream tea to sweeten the deal. Following your feast, choose from a 30-minute Express Manicure or Pedicure. Available Monday - Sunday from 13 to 26 March, £149 for two people.


Three Graces Spa: Regenerating Face Serum, £80

ESPA Tri-Active™Resilience Rest & Recovery Night Balm, £63

TAKE ME HOME Elemis Pro-Collagen Vitality Eye Cream, £72



TAKE ME HOME [comfort zone] Sublime Skin Serum, £85


Spa By Starlight, Rockliffe Hall As day turns to night, wrap up in a cosy robe and enjoy the luxuries of Rockliffe Hall’s Spa with that special lady in your life. Arrive from 5pm for an evening of pure bliss, where you can watch the twinkling night sky from the Sky Garden, relax and enjoy the five-star facilities, and indulge in a 60-minute treatment of your choice as a chargeable extra. The perfect Mother’s Day spa treat. Available Monday - Thursday at £70 per person or Friday - Sunday at £80 per person.

Mother’s Day: Moments Together Full Spa Day, Serenity Spa at Seaham Hall Mother’s Day is about spending quality time together, and there’s no better way to do that than an indulgent spa day. The Serenity Spa at Seaham Hall has just the ticket this year - the Moments Together Full Spa Day; an invitation to connect with your heart space allowing for deep connection and empathy to unfold. Enjoy the luxurious facilities from 9am until 5pm, with use of the outdoor Zen Garden as well as a two-course lunch in the Ozone Restaurant. All of that, plus an out-of-this-world ‘Champagne & Truffles Facial’ served with a post-treatment glass of fizz and truffles. With love to the moon and back! Valid 1 - 31 March, Monday - Sunday. £225 per person.

TAKE ME HOME Temple Spa Serenita Calming Sensual Bath Soak, £20

SPA DAY The Mother’s Day 2023 Spa Package, The Garage Spa The Garage Spa at The Morritt Hotel has the perfect pamper package to treat mum this Mother’s Day. Experience three hours of pure relaxation exploring the spa’s stunning facilities; with fluffy robes, towels and flip flops as well as lunch with a glass of prosecco and an Elemis ProGlo Facial or Soothing Neck and Scalp Therapy treatment. This beautifully quaint spa near Barnard Castle is sure to leave mum feeling a million dollars. £85 per person, Monday to Thursday or £95 per person, Friday to Sunday. Offer valid 13 - 31 March.

TAKE ME HOME Elemis Pro-Collagen Rose Marine Cream, £94


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Let there be light Enrique Azocar swapped Chile for the Northumberland countryside, where he has since settled with a studio of his own in Hexham. Elysia Fryer escapes to his creative world, inspired by the beauty and light that surrounds him

It’s a pretty dreary January afternoon here in the North East. I pop on my slippers, pour a cup of tea and open my laptop for a bit of virtual vitamin D in the form of a Zoom call across the pond in the southern hemisphere. On the other side of the line is a cheery Enrique Azocar, 62, a Chilean artist who now calls Northumberland home. Enrique is visiting family in his home country as we catch up to talk all things art, inspiration and the beauty of the great British countryside. Chatting to Enrique, I can see first-hand how he is emotionally influenced by his environment - as I’m sure many of us are. He is quite clearly delighted to be back in his native South America, surrounded by the love and light of his friends, family and, of course, the natural environment. These feelings, triggered by the light, colours and shapes that surround us, are exactly what forms his breathtaking work. “My deep interest is in the energies of


the natural environment,” he starts. “I want the viewer to respond only to what is in front of them - without any influence from the outside world. Generally, I move between figurative and abstract-minimalism. “My work revolves around the light and how it fills a space. We are all forever changing, and as time goes on, we see light and objects in new ways. I love abstract expressionism because it is very conceptual and gives way to the sensations and the feelings of something.” Being guided by the light is a big part of Enrique’s work and personal journey. He is honest, passionate and believes that everything is connected in some way or another - which is why he never looked back when he made the move to the UK, first to study in London, then settling up here in the North East. “I grew up in South America, but I’ve been in England for 24 years,” he says. “It is home for me now, and it isn’t until I visit my home country that I realise how different life is. I’m here visiting family

and some of my collectors, which has been amazing, but I find myself referring to the North East as ‘home’, which is a little strange, but it feels right - it’s where I have grown my business and it’s where my children are.” Before he made the move, Enrique was working for a mining company in South America, but was made redundant during the recession. “It was difficult at the time, but it opened up new opportunities for me,” he starts. “I began to fill in my time by attending drawing classes while I was looking for jobs. I always had a creative itch. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the beginning of my artistic career and I will forever look back on that period with fond memories.” Having discovered his creative talents, Enrique moved to London to study at Central St Martins College of Art and Design in the 1990s. “My kids have grown up in the North East,

which has been fantastic. We did move to Australia for a year or so - mainly to escape the darkness of winter here. While we were there, I attended a lecture at the University of Melbourne and I went to an exhibition which featured the Lindisfarne Manuscript. I said to my wife, ‘we come all this way, and we can’t escape Northumberland - this is a sign - we need to go home’. So we did - we returned and never looked back. “There’s so much magic realism in Northumberland. It is a huge source of inspiration for my work and I know I will spend the rest of my life working and living in the area.” As we chat about the importance of people in one's creative journey, we share our thoughts on being part of an incredibly supportive community here in the North East. “We live in an incredibly special place,” Enrique agrees. “For me, the North East is the ‘real England’.

There’s so much magic realism in Northumberland. It is a huge source of inspiration for my work and I know I will spend the rest of my life working and living in the area MAR/APR23


I always try to explain this to my friends and family overseas. London is very different - and it’s funny because that is the vision a lot of people have of England. The English countryside is another world altogether. I describe Northumberland and they can’t believe it - we have more castles than anywhere else, we have lots of history, and incredibly friendly people. “I chose to do my masters at Northumbria University because I didn’t want to go south - I wanted to stay here in the North East. I got my distinction and worked with some of the best tutors around, many of whom I have kept in touch with. The creative community around me have been so important in my development and success.” People play a big part in Enrique’s work. As they do in my own work; there would be no magazine if I didn’t have amazing, inspiring people to speak to every day. People are the beating heart of the creative community, and we are incredibly lucky to have a growing network here in the region. In turn, Enrique gives back to those in his close and wider networks by using his talents to invite people to escape. He understands the importance of using his creative abilities to present opportunities. “The good thing about being an artist is that we get to make lots of connections with people - whether that’s through the work itself, or through exhibitions and the social side of it,” he says. “That is so powerful, and for me, that is often where you will get your inspiration. “I don’t portrait landscapes, but I look at the shapes, the lines, the light and the colours - so the landscapes are certainly a source of inspiration, but there’s so much more than what initially meets the eye. “I’ve seen breathtaking, beautiful landscapes before that have totally blown me away and reduced me to tears. Our connections with the landscape can be so emotional. And when we share those reflections with the world, that’s when the magic happens. “Every time we see these kinds of landscapes, we begin to connect with our inner self. It’s such a beautiful thing for us to see things for ourselves without the input of anybody else or somebody telling us what we can see - it’s all about interpretation.”


Getting out and about in nature is a big part of Enrique’s creative process. When it comes to taking that inspiration and putting paint to paper in the studio, it’s a slow and thoughtful process, he tells me. “It’s all about the process for me,” he says. “It’s far more fascinating to see how something develops over time rather than planning it to perfection. My paintings are all about evoking a feeling, so you’ve got to go with your emotions, which can change a lot in the life-cycle of a painting. “Even still, an empty canvas scares me. I’ve never been able to get over that in all the years I’ve been painting. The emptiness is always a daunting thing. “You have to conquer that fear, but also understand that it is a process and not put too much pressure on yourself. It’s a battle between the emptiness and yourself. You can think about the colours and the texture, but everything else flows once you get going. Sometimes it can take me a week or so before I actually start putting paint on the paper.” As Enrique’s visit to South America comes to a close and he prepares for his Northumberland homecoming, he’s looking forward to the new opportunities that come with the new season. “The creative world really comes to life for me in spring,” he says. “The winter weather doesn’t bother me so much, it’s more about the lack of light. So when the brighter days roll in, I find it helps with my work - particularly when I’m spending a lot of time in the studio. There’s lots of exciting stuff in the pipeline for Enrique this year. “I’ve been working with my agent, Ashley Gray from GrayMCA, for 12 years now. He has helped to position my paintings in art collections across the world, from Moscow to London, and art fairs in Palm Springs, for example. “We continue to work together with some exciting new projects, including a collaboration with a sculptor in Manchester.” When he’s not in the studio or travelling with his paintings, Enrique unwinds by spending time with friends and family, or cooking at home. “I’m a social animal,” he says.

“So when I’m not painting, you’ll find me surrounded by the people I love most. I also really love cooking. My work, in a way, is a little bit like cooking - it’s all about proportions and creating something for enjoyment. A painting isn’t just a painting it is packed full of ingredients. “Work doesn’t feel like work for me,” he adds.

“If I’m not in the studio, I’m reading and researching about art. It’s what I do to unwind - it’s a lifestyle, in a way. “When you create something so honest, the connection is real - and that never really goes away for me.” 23

Discover Our Latest Creations We commemorate five generations of authentic British design with our stunning OPEIA jewellery collection – a celestial-inspired range of elegant diamond jewellery craaed from 18ct gold and platinum. Running throughout this beautiful collection is a strong focus on family, depicted by the shape of the classic circle, infused with bursts of light inspired by shooting stars and formed by the timeless round brilliant-cut diamond acting as a comet in motion across the night sky.






Leading lady “Don’t be afraid of getting older, because life gets better,” says Dame Joanna Lumley as she chats to Nicole Wood about life on and off the screen

It’s a very busy, very close to deadline Tuesday morning and I’m sitting in my home office preparing to interview the living legend that is Dame Joanna Lumley. “Nicole, you’re probably wondering what’s happened here. As you can see, I’m a bit swollen after having a tooth removed yesterday,” she begins to explain. While absolutely nothing about Joanna’s glowing appearance would indicate a dental procedure, we laugh and joke about the situation, and her down to earth, gentle manner instantly eases my pre-interview, (and huge fan!) nerves. Dame Joanna Lamond Lumley DBE FRGS is a British actress, presenter, former model, author, television producer, activist, and the voice behind the adverts of the British independent furniture retailer, Barker and Stonehouse. With many strings to her bow, there’s not much Joanna isn’t adored for. “There are lots of exciting projects I’m working on at the moment,” she tells me. “I’ve just finished a very exciting travel project which will be aired this year. It was a huge journey across the world looking at how spices came to Europe from far away islands in Indonesia. It led me to some of


the most remote places I’ve ever been to on earth - and that’s coming from somebody who’s been to Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan. We went across India, Madagascar, Zanzibar, Jordan - it was a huge journey. We finished just before Christmas and, in fact, we were actually fitting in Barker and Stonehouse ads in between my travels. “Amongst this, I’ve done another six episodes of Conversations From a Long Marriage with the great actor Roger Allam. It’s a great comedy series where we play a bickering married couple. I’m just about to start a huge Netflix series called Fool Me Once which we’re filming up in Manchester, but I can’t tell you too much about that at the moment as it’s under wraps. “I also love doing my Barker and Stonehouse advert sections. I have such fun with my friends (I do think of them like that now as I’ve been working with the brand for so long!). We gallop through the voiceovers and laugh at how hopeless I am at remembering the figures. We get into hysterics about it and I love them all. It’ll be thrilling to come to the launch of their new store in Gateshead and meet everyone, the team and their customers, in person. I can’t wait,” says Joanna. The North-East founded furniture retailer

is well underway with its plans to transform the former Snow + Rock site on Gibside Way into a state-of-the-art flagship Barker and Stonehouse store, bringing together the very best in sustainable design, striking architecture and inspiring home interiors. Investing more than £5m to double the size of its existing site, the new store combines 50,000 sq ft of impressive retail space across three floors. With plans for the grand opening to take place on Good Friday (7 April), fans of all things interiors should head down for a fun-filled day of Easter activities and a chance to meet, take selfies with, and chat to the Absolutely Fabulous star. “I can’t wait to get my hands on a few Barker and Stonehouse pieces,” she says, as she explains her love for interiors. “When it comes to my own decor, the truth is, you couldn’t fit another stick of furniture in this house, but I’ll always try and find a way. “I’m a shameless maximalist! My home is stuffed with things and I wouldn’t have it any other way. In lockdown I fell in love with a colour called Green Smoke and painted anything that didn’t move in it from cupboards to chairs to give them a fresh and new lease of life.” >>



I wanted to do something that was daring - something that was changeable. I don’t gamble on anything, but one thing I did gamble on was my life Joanna explains that, while the online market is great and bursting with inspiration, there’s nothing quite like getting to a store and experiencing it first hand. “I’m delighted to be able to see the products in the flesh,” she starts. “Screens are super, but there are downsides because it’s simply not the same as experiencing things in real life. Whether it’s clothing, food, people or furniture, it’s just not the same. “I see screens as a halfway mark. To me, screens are like a secondhand kind of living. I don’t like that. I’m very out of touch. I think the only reason I have a mobile phone is because that’s the only way you can park your car in London! I would much prefer to look at the Mona Lisa rather than take a picture of myself in front of it, or arrange to meet up with friends rather than talk virtually. People say, ‘how can you live like that?’ - and it’s with the greatest ease that I do.” Joanna’s life is anything but quiet, but when she’s not too busy jetting off to film sets, attending launch events or recording podcasts, you can find her at home in South London, enjoying the tranquil surroundings of her much-loved garden. “When it comes to downtime and spending time at home, I love to keep busy. I fill my days with gardening, reading, drawing, and generally doing things with my hands. I love découpage too. I might cut something

out, stick it on a box (I adore boxes of things) and then paint the inside lacquer red like the Chinese would. “One of the main reasons I love where we live is, although we’re in the city, we are surrounded by nature. We have all kinds of fruit trees, we have walnuts, hazelnuts, figs, lemons, plums, pears, apples, olives, you name it - and all planted by yours truly. We’re completely at one with nature, yet we’re close enough to the city to hear Big Ben ringing over the top of it all. “I love being outside and truly believe in the power of nature. When I’m overwrought or have too much on my plate, the outdoors is a great place to gather my thoughts. Whether it’s just raking leaves or trimming things back, you find your equilibrium has been restored and the balance of everything gets better.” Joanna is a delight to speak with - a breath of fresh air if you will. Every topic we turn to, there’s a fascinating anecdote to go with it. Totally inspiring in every way. “I don’t believe anybody’s been luckier than I have in life,” she says, with a smile. “It’s an extraordinary privilege to have done the things I’ve done, travelled to the places I’ve been to and met such magnificent people. “When I was younger, I originally wanted to be a brain surgeon, then I quickly shifted and thought I’d like to be Prime Minister. And that’s when I thought, well if I become an actress, I could act being both of those people and that would be the best of both worlds. “I had always loved the idea of entertaining people. I wanted to make people laugh. I loved anything that entrances you as a human being. I loved literature, poetry and music at school. What I didn’t want to do was sit in an office every day. I wanted to do something that was daring - something that was changeable. I don’t gamble on anything, but the one thing I did gamble on was my life. When you’re an actress you never know if you’re going to be employed again. “People often say to me (now I’m 112!), aren’t you going to retire?” she laughs. “I say, ‘but how could I? This is my life’. It’s not a job I do, it’s how I am and how I live and I’m very happy with it. “Every day for me is very different. My morning starts with a cup of coffee and a crossword puzzle before galloping on through the day - whether it’s sitting at

my desk going through fan mail, out on a film shoot or working on one of my travel pieces. Whatever the day brings, I always ensure I make the best of it.” Living a life filled with adventure, challenges and success, Joanna isn’t short of advice to give. One piece of advice that stands out to me is: ‘don’t be afraid of getting older, because life gets better’. In today’s society there’s a lot of pressure to achieve things before a certain period in your life. To be in the perfect job, to have bought your dream home, to be married to

looking inwards. Look outwards. “We live in a world where, if we want to put the light on, we press the switch and the light comes on. We run the tap, we’ve got water. And when something doesn’t go our way, we don’t like it. “I think we’ve got to level up and some of the most awful lessons in the world are being taught to us now. The tragedy of the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria and also the horrifying war going on in Ukraine - it teaches us that life is always unpredictable and you never know when you’re going to

The new Barker and Stonehouse flagship Gateshead store opens 7 April

your soul mate… the list is endless. The more Joanna goes on to explain, the more I resonate with what she’s saying. “It sounds really odd what I’m saying, but it’s true. You become wiser. Even in your mid 20s, you’re wiser than you were when you were a frightened 17-year-old and anxious about everything. There are a thousand different things we worry about at different stages in our lives, but as you get older, you realise the only thing that matters is loving the people you adore. Never give up on hope. Even if things are very bad, know that you can do something to make it better. So, every day, try to do something - even if it’s tiny - something that makes the world a better place. Stop

have to dig deep, bring out the best and do the best you can. “Be resilient. Don’t let it hurt you. And that goes for words too. Social media is another one of my great animosities. Why read what people think about you? If it’s horrible, don’t read it. It’s like going to the dust bin and digging out the nastiest, smelliest thing you can find and putting it on your head and going, ‘oh, I smell’. Leave it aside. Don’t listen to all that, their opinion doesn’t matter.” It has been a total joy speaking with Joanna. Her colourful career has taken her from stage to screen, presenting, travelling and activism. She is a true inspiration and an icon in her own right.

>> Barker and Stonehouse Spring 2023 collection available online and at the new Gateshead store




THE LUXE LOWDOWN: Your most treasured possession? It’s almost impossible to choose, but I’ve got a very beautiful pencil drawing by an artist who I admired hugely called John Ward. He did a wonderful portrait of my son Jamie when he was 12-years-old feeding some canaries in a bird cage. Jamie is 55 now and my granddaughters are taller than me, so when I look at that drawing I remember back to when Jamie was that little boy. Who do you admire the most and why? There are many people I admire in this world. One person in particular was our late Queen. Princess Anne too. She’s a royal princess, yet is the most compassionate and down to earth lady. Her husband didn’t take a title, their children don’t have titles, they went to ordinary schools, they have jobs. I think she’s exceptional. She’s also very good at her duties, her loyalty and love for the huge number of charities she’s a patron of is inspiring. The last book you read? Most recently, I’ve read a proof copy of a book called The King is Dead Long Live the King. It’s a fabulous read. I would highly recommend it. The last thing you listened to? My husband and I have been doing a podcast called Joanna Lumley and The Maestro which has been fabulous. My husband is

a musician and a composer and I ask him lots of questions that people would want to know. It’s been going very well because it’s not completely over your head - it’s just stuff you would love to hear about music. So the last thing I listened to was a piece of music that I particularly adore, which is the third movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. It’s magic. The last thing you watched? A little bit blushing here, but we never saw Peaky Blinders. We’ve just started watching it from series one. At first I didn’t know if it looked a bit too menacing for me and I didn’t know if I could face all of that dark horror, but it’s beautifully done and terribly gripping. Another thing we’ve recently watched with the nation was Happy Valley. James Norton and I were in a play together where he played the role of my son. He’s fabulous, the show was magnificent. And finally, your three luxe things in life? Many years ago before these other shows were about, I was on a desert island - I was cast away and had virtually nothing - no food, just some rice for nine days and one thing I missed which I can’t do without is lettuce. Bonfires are another. When we’re at our holiday home in Scotland, we make bonfires with the things we’ve cut from the garden - the beauty of the glow and smell of the smoke, it’s the best thing in the world. And finally, silence.

Guess Who’s Coming to



Hundreds of Brand-New Designs Inside | Chadwick & Co Café & Roof Terrace | Exclusive Opening Event Hosted by Joanna Lumley Come along to the grand opening, meet and greet Joanna in person, and enjoy a day of Easter activities in the North-East’s newest and most inspiring retail destination. For all the details visit:

MAR/APR23 29


Nature calls

Brunello Cucinelli’s spring/summer 2023 collection blurs the lines between fashion, functionality and foraging. Think fresh neutral palettes, masculine tailoring, luxe crochet and sequin appliqué

Net Cardigan, £2,300 Net Shorts, £1,780 Bralette Top, £1,700 Natural Straw Hat with Monili Detail, £860 Poplin Stretch Shirt, £890 Penny Loafers, £680



Polo with Embroidery, £990 Extra Wide Corset Pant, £1,330 Glossy Calfskin Belt, £680 Heels with Monili, £950 Stretch Cotton Hat, £690



Mohair Cardigan, £2,250 Mohair V Neck Top, £1,250 Long Cotton Gabardine Skirt, £1,480 Espadrilles, £590




with Isabella Dryden, founder of sustainable luxury fashion brand, Saint Belle It’s time to bring a bit of colour to your spring wardrobe…

Arm candy The Tess Bag in Misty Lavender by Chloé stopped me in my tracks. Showcasing the right amount of gold hardware and elegance to set off any outfit this spring/summer, I had to include this piece in the column. You’re bound to turn heads with this piece - also available in a sweet lichen green for a more understated look. Chloé Small Tess Bag, £1,490,

Flora and fauna Florals for spring may not be ground-breaking, but they are always a feast for the eyes. 2023 catwalks were showered with flowery prints and bold pops of colour, across mini dresses and maxi dresses. From painterly patterns to large full blooms, there’s at least one floral investment piece out there for you to try this season. Rixo Corrine Spring Floral V-neck Midi Dress, £275,

Tailored cargo These days, cargo pants have grown up - the new cargo is gently structured, providing the perfect partner to team with tailoring and heeled ankle boots. I’m loving a wide-legged silhouette that can be dressed up with heels and a blazer, or pared back with a fitted tee and your favourite trainers. Reformation Landy Wide Leg Cargo Jeans, £168,

Ballet class The definition of Parisian chic, ballet flats continue to top the list of desired footwear. As with so many wardrobe staples, the beauty of this shoe lies in its ease and versatility; elegant with off-duty denim, sleek with skirts, and a gentle antidote to crisp tailoring. Choosing the right pair will breathe spring life into your wardrobe. Porte & Paire Bow-embellished Satin Ballet Flats in Mustard, £195,


Colour pop knits Complementing the floral shades we have seen on the runway, it appears that the spring wardrobe for this season must have a colour pop piece of knitwear. Look for flattering silhouettes in luxurious yarns to either layer with a floral piece or style with your favourite denim. Theory Cotton-blend Sweater, £360, 33


VAN KUKIL Reese Turtleneck Cashmere Jumper £375, MISSONI Striped Embellished Fine-knit Maxi Skirt £1,030,

FREYA LILLIE Sorrento Palazzo Pant, English Rose £139.99,

MARC JACOBS The Tote Mini Grained Leather Tote £405,

STELLA MCCARTNEY Printed Silk Midi Dress £1,250,


Pastel power

Perfect pastels to help you step foot into spring in style…

SAINT BELLE Estelle Stripe Organic Cotton Tie Top £175,

BOSS Cross-body Bag with Signature Stripe and Detachable Pouch £119, RAILS Connie Shirt Jacket £348,

SAINT LAURENT Round-frame Sunglasses £285,

REISS Finley Lace-up Leather Trainers £128,

REISS Tory Floral Printed Mini Shift Dress £158,




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COOL KIT A last minute booking with no expectations and absolutely no gear, I headed for the mountains in a mismatch of colourful kit I’d rounded up from friends and family. You might say I was sporting the ‘colourblock’ trend, but I’m not sure bright green salopettes and a red ski jacket would ever make the winter catwalks. Renée laughs and nods, reminding herself why she set up Sloobies - a brand-new, fashion-forward skiwear brand that has just hit the market - ready to raise the bar for fashion skiwear, just in time for the final months of the season. “There’s no reason why we can’t look and feel good on the slopes,” she starts. “The concept came from the want and need for warm and stylish skiwear during my own time in the Alps. I’ve always struggled to find nice base layers that tick the box for fashion and functionality. “There are a number of brands out there, but not many of them focus on base layers and shapewear, so I saw a gap in the market. “A lot of the base layers I have come across are either quite Christmassy in terms of style, or the brands at the top of the market like Prada and Gucci steer towards black layers. I wanted to bring style and colour to the base layer market.” Sloobie launched in December 2022 and has been two years in the making, Renée tells me as I get to know the brand and the brains behind the business. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see skiwear growing in popularity in the way that gymwear did a few years ago,” Renée predicts. “Big brands are starting to bring skiwear into their collections - Zara have done it for the first time this year. Slowly, they are starting to catch on that there’s a gap in the market, but I’d like to think

we have a niche in that we focus merely on really good quality base layers to complement the usual ski wear like jackets and salopettes. “The technical side of ski wear is a much more saturated market,” Renée adds. “You won’t struggle to find jackets and accessories. What we are really lacking is stylish options when it comes to layering. Of course, staying warm is important, but feeling good is just as important for many people - particularly ‘lifestyle skiers’ who are heading to the slopes for the vibe, the apres and everything else that comes with a ski holiday.” So, in short, Sloobie started its journey with a fashion focused skier, a sketchbook, and the determination to bring stylish base layers to an ever-growing market. “I always wondered why there was so much emphasis on poolside couture, with winter-wear always left by the wayside,” says Renée. With skiing holidays proving more popular than ever, it was time to be bold and hit that market. “I started sketching and came up with over 60 designs which I then got feedback on. I went with the most popular designs and began designing them with the ‘fashion skier’ in mind. “I started looking at fabric compositions and playing around with the ratio to create a technical fabric that is warm and fashionable, but in a way that goes against ‘fast fashion’. It is not a trend-based brand, you can wear them every year. The colours aren’t trend based.” Sloobie has launched with three staple sets in a navy and ice blue palette, with names inspired by Renée’s favourite ski resorts: Megeve, Chamonix and Courchevel. The sets are comprised of a roll-neck thermal top and base layer leggings, designed to

All about that base Renée Fraser-Shepherd is a 21-year-old business student taking the skiwear industry by storm after seeing a gap in the market during her time on the slopes. Elysia Fryer gets to know Sloobie…

There’s nothing quite like a ski holiday, and until you’ve experienced it for yourself, it’s impossible to understand the hype. I didn’t ski until I was a twenty-something university student. My now husband and I took a break from revising in the library to meet for a drink on Grey Street via Ridley Place, where we accidentally slipped into Hays Travel and booked our first ski break to Bulgaria. It was cheap and cheerful, and after a handful of mid-slope tantrums, I returned having felt like I had achieved something and it wasn’t until the following year when


I realised I’d well and truly caught the bug. Did I just become a skier? Every ski season since, pandemics aside, we’ve hit the slopes with friends and family, and have seriously fallen in love with, not only the thrill of the sport, but the breathtaking locations and the lifestyle that comes with it. One thing that I must admit comes as a stumbling block for myself and many others who have caught the ski bug, is how to look and feel good on the slopes. As I sit down for a virtual cuppa with Renée Fraser-Shepherd, founder and CEO of Sloobie Skiwear, we share our ski fashion frustrations and laugh as I share stories of my first trip back in 2013.




PLANT YOUR VALUES “Don’t wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul.” - Luther Burbank Spring is all about new beginnings and transformations. Think of it as a season that symbolises starting over. A great way to transform is to reconnect with our core values and make sure we are living in alignment with them. If you’ve set a goal to achieve, then getting to the root of our ‘why’ before we start budding is fundamental. What are values? “Values are a mirror image of who we are at any moment.” - Hopson & Scally

be worn together to get the maximum shaping effect. “While the brand has been created with skiers in mind, the garments are perfect for any outdoorsy activities,” Renée adds. “I’ve actually had quite a lot of interest from people in the equestrian industry. It is a similar, unsaturated market. Sloobie items are also great for hiking and exercising in the cold weather - particularly if you’re looking for something comfortable and supportive, but with the technicalities to keep you warm. “You can use the base layers as you wish, and I’m sure they will have many different uses for many different people.” Sloobie might only be in its first quarter for business, but the brand is certainly spreading its wings, with stock in Fenwick Newcastle, as well as opening up to the European and US markets in the coming months. “We have been focusing on growing the brand and selling through our own website until now, but with new markets opening up and opportunities arising in stores and overseas, we are delighted with the progress so early in the game. “We want to make sure the foundations are there before we branch out with other retailers. “At present, we are basing our collections off slow fashion, so we’re not looking at bringing out a collection every single year - it really will depend on how the business shapes. “We’ll be looking at petwear and kidswear within our five year plan, which is an exciting market to grow into, but for now, it’s all about getting Sloobie out on the slopes this season!” Renée is an inspiring young female entrepreneur to say the least - spinning lots of plates to ensure her business is


heading in the right direction. “I’m currently doing a business degree at Northumbria University, as well as juggling two jobs and an internship in marketing,” she starts. “It sounds like a lot, but it’s all intertwined and is part of my masterplan to continue growing the business. “I’ve worked in high-end retail at the Reiss concession in Fenwick for five years. The demographic is really similar, so it’s really helped me understand the audience for Sloobie. I’ve also worked and managed a customer service team, where I learnt that things don’t always go right. Having that understanding before launching my own business has made me way less stressed and has allowed me to manage my expectations. “I’m busy, but I like having all of these things going on because they feed into each other nicely.” When Renée isn’t studying, skiing, behind the counter at Reiss, or growing the Sloobie empire, life is about getting grounded and ensuring she doesn’t get overwhelmed. “My favourite thing to do is curl up on the sofa with a book, go through my skincare regime, light a candle and just get really cosy,” she says with a smile. “You can only succeed if you reward yourself with a bit of downtime,” she adds. “I’m really starting to associate my phone with business now - especially social media - so I always make sure I reduce my screen time when I’m at home and not working.” If you’re hitting the slopes this Easter, make sure you layer up - luxe style - with Sloobie Skiwear. Unfortunately, with baby 2.0 pending, we’re not escaping to the Alps this year, but we’ll certainly be stocking up for the 2023/24 ski season.

Values are principles or standards of an individual - like fingerprints - and whilst nobody is the same, we leave our prints on everything we do. They are like our compass guiding us to make decisions that point us to our true north. Values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. They determine our priorities and deep down, they are probably the measures we use to tell if our life is turning out the way we want it to. Of course, there are common values amongst people, however the first things to remember are the following: - Values are not what we like, but what is important to us - Every person has values - There are no right or wrong values - Each value has a different meaning to each of us Values are crucial in coaching because in order to set those goals or to make decisions, we need to know what’s important to us and what we need to feel fulfilled. Frequently, we’ll set goals and make decisions based on everything but our values; we are surrounded by people who have expectations of us, and often we set goals in order to meet their expectations. Why are our values important? When entrepreneurs and/or teams request coaching, they often want to know: - What’s my purpose? - How do I find meaning in my life? The impact that increased personal awareness has on your business can be tenfold. Values drive our behaviour, are the primary motivating force and give clarity to decision making. Why is it important to identify our values? Values are the key to change and can improve resilience and wellbeing. We are all unique and have different values that lay in our subconscious. Values can change over time and so it is helpful to revisit every couple of years. By identifying them, we recognise why we react, have emotions or change behaviour as a result of them being unmet or met. Knowing who we are and eliciting our values enables us

to achieve our goals through boosting motivation, getting unstuck and increasing confidence and clarity. A values elicitation exercise Can you reflect on a moment where you felt happy and fulfilled? What were you doing? Who were you with? And what other factors contributed to this? Now consider what was important to you about this… At this point, it’s important to note if any of the values are IDEALISTIC - that means moving towards a goal value like freedom or success. Can you now reflect on a moment when you felt frustrated, unfulfilled, or annoyed? What were the elements of this situation? What values were not being met? These OPERATIONAL values are what keep us doing what we do in areas like relationships, career and health. They are what we do even if they make us unhappy. These include values of choice or security. Another great question is to ask what stops us moving forwards in career, health, or relationships. What keeps us stuck? What causes us to stay in a situation for years knowing we haven’t liked it? Once we know our values, we check each value and align this with the reality of reaching our goals. If ‘security’ is important to me, is my goal too risky? Why do I want to achieve my goal if it’s risky? What other values does my goal align with? What do I need to let go of to meet my values? I invite you to reflect on the above questions intentionally. Grab your pen and paper and take time to think about this. After all, our values are the key to change and can improve resilience and wellbeing As we ‘spring’ into a new beginning, let’s check in on our values and make sure that our goals make us feel excited and that we are doing them because we want to, rather than should do. It’s time to decorate your own soul and breathe into transformation. If you’d like to join a retreat and/or group coaching session to explore and embed these learnings, then do plant that seed and grow with Accelerator Coaching.



Au naturel

Vegan friendly, skin-loving and palm oil free ingredients, combined together to create beautiful handmade artisan soaps right here in the North East. Nicole Woods checks in with creator of Zenoté, Andrea Beattie... For me, there’s simply nothing better than lighting candles, running the hot tap and soaking the stress of day-to-day life away with a bath tub of soapy bubbles. Nothing beats it. One thing, however, that always frustrates me about this ‘happy place’ scenario is when you reach for your favourite product and it’s impossible to squeeze out those final dregs in the bottle. It feels like a waste and as we’re becoming more increasingly aware, it’s not great for our planet either. Cue Zenoté. On the lookout for longerlasting, environmentally-friendly and skin-loving products for my sensitive skin, I stumbled upon the beautiful Instagram account @zenote_handmade. After some intense scrolling through this stunning corner of the internet, I discovered that the brand has collaborated with some of the like-minded people we’ve had the pleasure of chatting with already in Luxe. I also fell in love with the aesthetic of the cruelty free artisan soaps - and was even more excited


to find out these gorgeous products are handmade right here in our beautiful region. After trying some out for myself and quickly becoming obsessed, I decided it was time to reach out to the lovely husband and wife duo, Andrea and Neil Beattie, to find out more about my new favourite brand. It’s a cold and windy Monday morning as I sit down with Andrea to discuss all things Zenoté. As I take a sip of my piping hot latte, we dive straight in and get down to the good stuff. “The name Zenoté (Zen-oh-tay) was inspired by my spiritual mind, my travels across the globe and wanting to provide that feeling of zen. The name combines the word ‘cenote’

- a Mayan word meaning ‘well’, which are sacred spiritual places in the Yucatan in Mexico, and ‘zen’ - meaning peaceful and calm. “Myself and my husband Neil hope to bring that feeling of zen when our customers use our products,” Andrea begins. “I’ve spent quite a lot of time travelling around the world and during that time I witnessed the harsh reality of the damage we’re doing to our planet. The plastic riddling the ocean I witnessed is something I think would shock everyone to the core. After watching a documentary about plastic pollution on the BBC Blue Planet 2 series, it really brought it home and we immediately

Haircare is definitely on the horizon - and will, of course, be sustainable. All of our products are vegan - every single one - and we will never change that

looked at the changes we could make in our home to help combat the problem. “The first thing, and definitely the easiest, was to replace shower gel for soap bars. We got into the habit of looking at what’s in our products, what we could replace and what we could make ourselves. I think once you start looking, it takes you down a rabbit hole and it's really eye-opening. “When I started making bars for myself, it all just started developing and I thought we could make and sell these and that’s when I knew it had to become more serious than a hobby.” Changing habits and making a conscious effort to become more sustainable is one thing, to go above and beyond and build a business is another. After a few essential Google searches on how to make soap, Andrea and Neil quickly realised they wanted to follow their passion and make a legitimate business out of it and signed up to a course. “I had to learn the full process myself, it wasn’t something I already had knowledge of. Making soap and selling soap are two completely different things. I went on a course because the legal side of making and selling soaps, looking at the ingredients and full traceability is such a crucial step and there are a lot of regulations when it comes to the cosmetic industry. It really is a minefield. It wasn’t something I could rely on online information for. “Not only did I learn everything on the legal side, but I came away with so much knowledge on all the different types of soap, ingredients, methods, creativity etc. It was such a colourful and inspiring experience and it led me down the path of creating beautifully coloured products using food-based ingredients and reducing waste.” Zenoté is a trusted brand when it comes to sustainability, it’s one thing Andrea prides herself on. The ingredients used to make up the products are chosen with great care. Many of which are food grade and fully traceable to source, ensuring each one is ethically and sustainably produced. All ingredients are plant based, 100% vegan, and palm oil free. “Our main ethos really is about reducing waste and thinking about the end product. Obviously a bar of soap goes to nothing, so there's nothing left to waste. It’s the same with shampoo bars, moisturising bars etc. It's just quite addictive once you get into it and we’ve now launched bath milks and bath salts that we sell in lovely glass bottles with a cork lid which are refillable. So you can just buy the refill bags that come in a compostable bag or you don't even need to buy the bottle, you can just buy the refill and use a jar that you've got in your house. Everything that we do is centred around how it’s used, what's the end of life, what can be repurposed. “It’s not always easy though. It definitely comes with its challenges. For example, shampoo bars are a lot more complicated. The PH balance needs to be a lot lower for your hair so we have to look at more naturally derived ingredients which can be a lot more complicated to source. One of the main issues we face is that we don't use anything palm related and palm is hidden in absolutely everything. The rules are constantly changing as well as the extraction processes, so we’re constantly having to check and that process is expensive and with the cost of living crisis everything is becoming more expensive and things are being produced to be more affordable, which sadly in return often makes it less sustainable. I’ve travelled to Borneo, been to the rainforests and seen the orangutans in the wild, unfortunately I also saw the destruction of their natural


RAISE THE BAR habitat. So it makes me even more passionate about it. You can buy sustainable palm and there's a huge argument for supporting the truly sustainable palm farmers, but we just prefer to stay away from it altogether. There's so much ambiguity about where it's sourced and whether it is truly sustainable and it was just our decision to say, you know what, we're not going to go down this road. So yeah it’s difficult but I choose our suppliers based on quality and location, but the most important thing is that they’re all sourced ethically. “One of the great things about our coffee products is that we get to work with local businesses. Working with local coffee shops to repurpose their coffee waste, we’ve worked with the likes of Proven Goods and Tynemouth Coffee to make their own branded soaps. So the coffee used for your flat white, latte, espresso, is given a second life and made into soap. When I dry out the coffee, the smell, the texture, everything about it is amazing and it’s as if it’s never been used. I love working with coffee and local businesses and that’s something I want to develop more in the future,” explains Andrea. “As with our ingredients we also ensure that our packaging is eco-friendly, recycled, recyclable and as minimal as possible. We also continuously work with our suppliers to try and ensure that all of our ingredients are sent to us in minimal packaging and where possible using recycled and recyclable packing materials.” When it comes down to making the soap, Andrea tells me it’s like baking a cake. From melting the butters, combining the ingredients and pouring the mixture into the moulds. It’s a step by step process that has to be perfect every time. “We make our soap by hand and in small batches using the traditional cold process method. Cold process soap is made by combining a mixture of oils with sodium hydroxide which causes a chemical reaction called saponification. The great thing about this process is that we get to choose the oils, butters, clays and essential oils, giving us a lot of exciting possibilities. When making the soap, you only have a short timeframe to get the mixture into the moulds to avoid becoming too thick and unworkable. Once they are in the moulds, you put them to bed for 24 hours to set before cutting and stamping them. Soap can’t be made without sodium hydroxide, but once saponification has happened, the sodium hydroxide completely disappears and is no longer part of the finished product,” Andrea explains the science behind soap making. “It takes 24-48 hours for the saponification process to complete, at which point the

bars are safe to use but need to dry out. We dry our soaps for 4-6 weeks during which time moisture evaporates leaving a longer lasting bar. “Not all essential oils work well together, so we spend time trying different blends of each note type to ensure we find oils that we feel work well as a blend. Whilst synthetic fragrances may last years in soap, essential oils will eventually start to fade, so taking time to find the right blend is very important to us. Essential oils are categorised into top, middle and base notes and using oils from each category helps to keep it all together and remain as strong as possible. We also try to choose essential oils that have great skin and health benefits.” Next up, it’s the certification process. For every type of soap Zenoté sells, certification is required. All skin products must be approved by a cosmetic assessor before they can be sold to the public. As well as the certification process, Andrea tells me they must document everything they do for traceability. There’s a lot to it, including a lot of paperwork. “With every batch of soap made, there’s a batch recipe and a batch number. This means if there’s ever an issue with a product, I know exactly where every ingredient has come from. Once all of the paperwork is complete and I’ve cut the batch, I take a sample and you have to keep that sample for 10 years. It’s hard

work, but it’s worth it. It covers me legally and knowing exactly what’s in it ensures we can tell our customers exactly what’s in it. It definitely helps me sleep at night knowing everything has been done correctly. “We have a curing room where the soaps all sit on racks, allowing the moisture in the soaps to evaporate. you could use that soap straight away but they’d be quite soft so the longer you leave them the harder they become, creating a longer lasting bar. We always PH test each batch to ensure it is safe for skin too. After all of the testing, certification and making the product, we then create the packaging ready to upload to the UK Office for Product Safety and Standards, this ensures we comply with UK law for cosmetic products. It’s a lengthy process and not a process that can be done in a few weeks, but it’s always worth it for the end result,” Andrea smiles. Before chatting with Andrea, I already had an idea of the brand’s core values and now, everything I was thinking has been confirmed. The passion and desire to make our world a better and more sustainable place shines through with every word she speaks. Just like the processes she follows and the ingredients she uses, even the name of the brand relays back to her travels which enlisted her on this journey. “Haircare is definitely something I’m going to be focusing on. I’m learning all the time, I’m currently doing an organic skincare

diploma as well as a haircare diploma. When it comes to buying a bottle of shampoo, 90% of your shampoo is water and only 10% are the ingredients, whatever they may be. Whereas shampoo bars are made with just the ingredients. That said, not all shampoo bars are the same and I read that statistically consumers are less likely to go eco-friendly with haircare because we are more emotional about our hair. We find a shampoo we love and tend not to move away from it. So it’s really hard to get people to even try the shampoo bars, it’s a huge decision. You’ve got to be ready to try it. There’s still a lot of work to be done in the haircare sector. “We live at the coast, it’s my happy place. Everything we do is inspired by the calmness of the sea. So I’d love to work more with ingredients like seaweed, it think it would make a great hair mask, maybe an idea for the future. “There are lots of things going on in the background and ideas in the pipeline but I’m not putting myself under any pressure. It’s been such a hectic couple of years and I want to finish the courses I am studying. But I’d definitely like to explore more haircare products and they will, of course, follow our brand ethos. “All of our products are vegan - every single one - and we will never change that. That's as much ingrained in us as the palm and, and obviously plastic free.”

Photography: Sarah Jean,

MAR/APR23 39


90s revival 2023 is well underway - and with it, hairstyles are set to get shorter throughout the year

This is music to every hairdresser's ears - long hair has reigned for too long! It’s time for change and I for one can’t wait to get cutting. Nowadays we don't really have hair trends. Thanks to social media, they come and go so quickly. But one thing is for sure, hair is most definitely getting shorter with clients seeming to be more daring choosing different parts of popular styles and putting them together to create something totally unique. It's a bit of a mix and match approach but it's something we've seen a lot of in the last year; with a lot of 70s and 90s-inspired styles being fused together to create new looks that are in a lane of their own. If, like many, you don't like your hair too long - and you definitely don't like it too short - then this gorgeous 90s-inspired mid-length cut is perfect. Rather than a heavy outline at the collarbone, it’s full of voluminous fluffy layers with loads of flicked out wispy edges to bring that 90s vibe to life. The more layers and texture added to the cut, the easier this style becomes. For those of you with naturally wavy hair, a simple air dry and the right product will have you looking gorgeous in no time. The longer the cut and the straighter the hair, there will be some styling involved to create this 90s aesthetic. So, hairdryer, brushes and curling irons at the ready but remember, the cut will help you create the look easier. If you’re ready to ring the changes and want to stay ahead of the game - then we say ‘go for it’. Happy chopping!

Michael Young and Gary Hooker run Hooker & Young, with four salons across the North East.




Dr Mona Attarpour BDS PGCert, MSc Specialist Practice of Clinical Aesthetics and Non-surgical Intervention offers a wide range of treatments:

Treat yourself to the face you deserve THE SCIENCE OF BEAUTY Natural looking enhancements that will give you a more youthful complexion, with rejuvenated skin. With a deep understanding of facial anatomy, thanks to her Dental training and being a Trainer and Mentor in Facial Injectables to Drs and Dentists, you couldn’t be in better and safer hands for your cosmetic needs.

The Clinic by Mona, 61 High Street, Gosforth, NE3 4AA Tel. 0191 284 6436

• Cosmetic Injectables • Full Face Sculpting • Advanced Techniques • Bespoke Treatments • Non-Surgical Rhinoplasty • Tear Trough Fillers • Narural Lip Enhancement • Gummy Smile Correction • Face Slimming • PROFHILO (Hyaluronic Acid - Skin hydration) • Platelet Rich-Plasma PRP • Micro-needling • Acne Scar Reduction • Medical Grade Skin Care (for all skin conditions) • Hydrafacial • IPL Hair Removal • Facial Peels • Mentorship Program 1-2-1 available



Dr Mona Attarpour Clinic by Mona owner, Dr Mona Attarpour, discusses her transition from dentistry to facial aesthetics, the importance of skin care and her luxe things in life… GETTING TO KNOW YOU >> Name: Dr Mona Attarpour Title: Owner of Clinic by Mona Where is home? Newcastle Three reasons you love where you live? I live around the corner from my mum, and this means I get to see her every day before and after work. Although a small city, Newcastle has a huge variety of restaurants, galleries and historical buildings. We’re close enough for last minute trips to the coast, or up into the hills. THE DAY JOB >> What do you do for a living? Although I qualified in dentistry at Newcastle University and worked many years in private and NHS dentistry, I now work full-time in the facial aesthetics business, doing aesthetic treatments at my clinic in Gosforth - and training doctors, dentists and other medical professionals in facial aesthetics in Manchester and London. I also treat patients in the Manchester clinic when I’m not teaching. And last, but not least, I’m a mentor for professionals starting in facial aesthetics. A day in the life of you? This depends on where I’m working. In Newcastle, it’s usually coffee first thing in the morning, civilised Gosforth clinic hours and then home for supper with my partner,


family time and spending time with my little dog (Hugo). However, it’s not always civilised hours! When I work away I have very early starts - seriously early! I set my alarm for 3:45am to get ready to catch the train at 4:45am. I could be down to London one day and to Manchester the next and Liverpool the day after, or anywhere in the country really. Anywhere that a clinician needs mentoring. Have you had any aesthetic treatments? Yes, I’ve had anti-wrinkle injections, because it not only helps me to look rejuvenated and fresher, it’s also preventative against deeper lines in the future. Why do you think people are worried about having these treatments? Patients associate fillers/injectables with Z-list celebrity reality programmes and ‘looking done’. In the real world, I offer the most natural treatments, so that even loved one’s don’t know why you’re looking so good today! I only treat patients with realistic expectations who are open to advice. I aim to improve confidence and self-esteem, with a high margin of safety, integrity and empathy. What motivates you at work? Seeing patients blossom in confidence when I weave my magic. It’s not instant, it’s been a journey over years spent travelling internationally, to learn from the best and

I am now confident that I can deliver natural, beautiful outcomes. I love what I do and I am so grateful to have loyal, appreciative patients. What is your skin care regime? I use medical grade skin care which is tailored to my own skin, with a strict regime using cleanser, a clinically-validated purest form of vitamins C & E serum, a must-use high factor sun cream, retinol eye gel and an evening moisturiser. What skin care products do you offer to your patients? I prescribe a tailored approach. After trying it myself, I can honestly say that the difference is amazing. There are different formulations for different skin types and skin conditions, including dry, oily, sensitive/ redness-prone, ageing, uneven-toned and acne-prone skin. Any upcoming or ongoing projects we should know about? There is always something exciting in the diary. The latest addition is being asked to present a video of my journey from dentistry to aesthetics in a film studio in London. I’m unable to give details at this moment in time as it’s ‘top secret’ for now. What does downtime mean to you? Making the most of the beautiful scenery that the North East has to offer. Usually walks in the countryside or along the coast. LESSONS IN LIFE >> What did you want to be when you were growing up? I actually wanted to be a dentist. We had a family dentist who had a beautiful practice when I was growing up and I remember

always wanting a clinic when I grew up. What is the most important lesson life has taught you? It’s harder to make money than it is spending it. What is your greatest fear? I always pray for my family’s health and long life. Which living person do you most admire and why? At this moment in time I would say President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who is a true leader of his country and his people. LIVING LUXE >> What is your most treasured possession? Hugo, my little cutie pie long haired Chihuahua. What does the weekend mean to you? A lot of catching up, paperwork and essays to write for my post graduate certificate (PGCert) in facial aesthetics. We also tend to enjoy nice food and great company. A memorable holiday? Vietnam - my partner and I travelled around the country meeting lovely people, eating amazing food, learning death-defying road crossing techniques and enjoying the beautiful scenery. The last thing you watched? Phantom of the Open. It’s a must-watch movie, even if you’re not into golf. I’m so glad my partner dragged me to see it (you’ll need plenty of tissues, if you’re a sensitive soul like me!) Three luxe things in life? Medical grade skin care, my Louis Vuitton boots and caviar.



Raise a glass

Sweet sips making their way into our drinks cabinet this spring… Pineapple party >> Agnes Arber Pineapple Gin A botanical tribute to the first lady of botany, Agnes Arber - the first female botanist to be elected into the Royal Society in 1946 - receiving the Gold Medal of the Linnean Society of London at the age of 69. Agnes Arber Gin has been lovingly produced in recognition of her pioneering work. So, pour yourself a tasty, pineapple flavoured tipple this spring, and raise a glass to an incredible female. *Tasting notes: Infused with pineapple and a touch of mango, this punchy gin is easy-to-drink in the sunny months. Well-balanced tropical flavours served straight with lemon, or with tonic.

British rum >> Two Drifters Overproof Spiced Pineapple Rum Who knew British rum could be so delicious? Two Drifters is a Devon-based distillery changing the way we drink rum forever. The ‘Spiced Pineapple’ concoction is a must-try this spring - rich and fruity with notes of ripe pineapple, salted caramel and crème brulee. *Tasting notes: Best served as a fruity take on a traditional Negroni, a punchy Pina Colada or a funky rum and cola mix.


Floral fusion >>

Garda Muse

Ojo de Dios Hibiscus Mezcal Ojo de Dios are proud pioneers in the world of Mezcal. The brand new Hibiscus Mezcal is a must for your spring soirees, blending the signature Joven with Oaxacan grown hibiscus flowers, creating a mellow, berry forward spirit with a touch of spice to finish. Inspired by the Mexican tradition of serving hibiscus tea ‘agua de jamaica’ to guests. *Tasting notes: Delicious in a Paloma cocktail - with sparkling grapefruit soda and a lime twist.

Inspired by FormaFantasma, created by Denis Broci “One of our favourite spots in the world is Lake Garda. The area is famous for its lemons, olive oil, and lacustrine algae. We think the cocktail should reference the sandy, green water of the lake.” - FormaFantasma X MUSE stirred down with Cinzano Bianco, kummel, coconut and served and garnished with olive lemon oil

Sweet rose >> Lanique Spirit of Rose A floral liqueur you need to know about this spring. Lanique’s Spirit of Rose is made from the pure essence of rose, with notes of fresh raspberry, cherry and Turkish Delight. With soft hints of lime running through, this is the perfect tipple to toast to spring and the sunny days ahead. *Tasting notes: Serve this blooming beautiful spirit with champagne and thank us later!

Ingredients 60ml X MUSE Scottish barley vodka 10ml Cinzano Biano 2.5ml Kummel 2.5ml Coconut (Bristol) 3 dashes olive lemon oil Method Stir down the ingredients, fine strain and pour into a chilled glass. Sip and enjoy!

Tequila time >> Neurita Citrus Tequila One sip of this sensational citrusy tipple and you’ll be transported to a beautiful beach in Mexico. Infused with Sicilian orange and tangerine fruit extracts, the Neurita Citrus Tequila forms the perfect base for a classic Margarita with no need for triple sec. *Tasting notes: Simply add lime juice and serve as a mouthwatering Margarita.

Petal power >> Silent Pool Rose Expression Gin Light, elegant and smooth with notes of vetiver and cardamom mingling beautifully on the palate. The gorgeous rose notes create that romantic feel and taste - perfect for a whimsical garden party as we move into the warmer months. *Tasting notes: Best served with elderflower tonic, a handful of ice and a slice of pear to garnish. Delicious.

MAR/APR23 43


Community spirit Eileen Ferguson is the co-founder of Ad Gefrin Distillery, Northumberland’s new museum and whisky distillery. Elysia Fryer finds out how the family business went from kitchen table vision to Wooler’s biggest visitor attraction Some people live life on the move, never really establishing a physical sense of ‘place’ - rather, creating a ‘home’ by surrounding themselves with the people who feel like home. For Eileen Ferguson, home is very much rooted in Northumberland - the place she and her family call home. It’s part of her DNA. A place that has shaped her life and allowed her family to grow and flourish. It’s a place she feels incredibly passionate about, so when the opportunity came to give something back to the community that raised her, she jumped at the chance - and the rest is history! “Ad Gefrin is my baby,” she starts, with a smile. “It’s the baby that I had when my last child flew the nest. I’d been a mum that stayed at home throughout my children’s education and I was ready to start work again. “I was always involved in the family business [Redpath and Ferguson lineages], but I really wanted to work full-time again. I needed to combat the empty nest syndrome. “At the same time we had this disused haulage yard in Wooler, which had been in my family for almost 100 years - operating as Redpath Bros Haulage from the 1920s until 1998. We really needed to redevelop it because it was in decline. We’ve had lots of ideas about what we could do with it over the years. The location of it is fantastic - it’s like a gateway property to Wooler. But


it was in disrepair and I felt ashamed and embarrassed that we’d left it like that. “Both my husband and myself are third generation business people. When we met we both had transport companies and we amalgamated them, but this was one site that wasn’t required, so it was redundant. “Because I’d been brought up here in Wooler and it was part of my father’s legacy, I didn’t want to just give it away for nothing. We could’ve sold it 20 times over as a housing project, but that wasn’t what I wanted for my hometown. “I remember Wooler being a thriving high street - there was a real buzz about the place. I wanted to do something that would help to regenerate the area. ‘How could we do that?’ I asked myself over and over. Eileen’s role as a mother was top of her priority list, but her brain was always ticking away in the background as she pondered a big project - a big move for the family, and for the local and wider community. The cogs were turning for quite a while, and although she didn’t know it at the time, it was during the Ferguson family’s holidays to France when the idea was born. “We used to take the children to the south of France most summers because we were fortunate enough to have a villa there. “We would drive down, have our holiday and then take about a week or so to drive home. On the journey back, we used to stop off and visit vineyards. Every time we did it, I would say to my husband, ‘I wish we could grow grapes in Northumberland because it would be brilliant to have something like

this in Wooler’. Alan would laugh and say, ‘I don’t think the climate is quite right back home!’. “We used to visit Mercier Champagne, go on a tour through the cellars - which the kids thought was fantastic - then we’d come out and get a taste of champagne and buy some to bring home. My kids grew up thinking this is what happened at the end of every holiday,” she laughs. The seed was planted, but it was business as usual for the family - managing a busy home life as well as a successful firm. A few years passed before Eileen turned her thoughts to whisky… “I’d always thought that whisky was very Scottish, but it wasn’t until The Lakes Distillery opened and we went over and experienced it, we thought... well actually, what does Northumberland do well? It grows barley - and a lot of the barley that grows on the banks of the Tweed gets made into malting barley and gets taken to Simpsons Malt in Berwick before being transported to Scotland. Half of the banks of the Tweed are on the Northumbrian side - in England - so why can’t we make use of the biggest maltster in England. “So, suddenly this grain of an idea emerged and we thought, ‘maybe we could!’. We talked to some people and got a bit of interest and encouragement. I remember talking to one friend who was a lawyer. We were out for dinner and I asked his opinion and he said, ‘go for it!’. As women, we often feel like we can’t do things; we struggle a lot with imposter syndrome. He was really quite instrumental in helping me make my decision - that was back in 2017, but the idea had been bubbling since about 2010. “In April 2018, our children came for Easter lunch and we explained what we were going to do. We told them that we were going to have to spend their inheritance to get this off the ground, because it was a massive risk. They all said, ‘yes - go ahead, do it!’.

“Then I said to them, ‘would any of you like to work with me, because this is big?’. To my utter amazement, my stepson Chris said yes and I thought, ‘wow - why? You’ve got a PhD in archaeology from Oxford!’. “Funnily enough, he’d been on the University Challenge and the only questions he answered were the ones about alcohol!” Following that conversation, the wheels were in motion and it was time to start putting plans into action. The boardroom? The kitchen table - where all great ideas are born. “We literally started from the bottom - we had to get an architect, we had to find out about whisky, we had to do everything,” says Eileen. “We had spent quite a bit of time at whisky distilleries doing tastings in the years running up to it. It was kind of a learning exercise for us.” During the planning process, when looking at ways in which they could involve and evolve the local community, the Fergusons came up with the idea of broadening the experience with a museum, which, in turn, would not only celebrate Northumbrian heritage, but also serve the town with employment opportunities. “We decided that if we were doing it, we would use the history from our region. Gefrin is just four miles along the road, where there was an Anglo Saxon royal palace. It was discovered through aerial photography in 1949, but excavated between 1953 and 1962 by Brian HopeTaylor. When they were excavating, they found a lot of Anglo Saxon artefacts there. It turns out north Northumberland actually has quite a lot of history sitting underneath it - really rich history that hasn’t been told. “Chris knew every bit of history because when he was doing his PhD he studied Anglo Saxon Northumbria. “That’s when we came up with the name Ad Gefrin, after calling it ‘The D Project’


BRINGING IT HOME for a little while.” Celebrating the best of Northumberland is at the very heart of Ad Gefrin, and whether visitors are whisky-lovers or history-buffs, the whole experience has been created to work effortlessly together - inviting us on an intimate journey into the time and place that inspired the project. The team welcomes visitors with that same spirit and hospitality - through the art of exhibitions, events, distillery tours and tastings, the bistro, bar and retail offering. “The museum and distillery are quite symbiotic really,” says Eileen. “Whisky, of course, takes a long time to produce, so we wanted to create something to encourage different markets, using our rich history to do that. Another thing that we are really good at in the North East is hospitality, so we wanted to incorporate that into the experience too. And, in fact, the two go hand in hand,” she adds. “In the Anglo Saxon period, people came from all parts of the world - especially Scandinavia - to experience our unique hospitality. So, like they did back then, you’ll be greeted in the ‘Great Hall’ and asked to ‘leave your weapons at the door’. “In the museum you’ll find artefacts and stories that bring the history to life. In partnership with The British Museum and other major lenders, we have artefacts that have never been seen before, all relevant to Anglo Saxon times. “For people who then go on to the whisky distillery, they’ll have a tour, from the milling to the mashing and then the distilling. You’ll get a chance to see the casks maturing and when you finish all of that, the whisky tour ends in style in the Tasting Room.” What has been so lovely about the birth of Ad Gefrin, the development process and now the execution, is the involvement of the local community. It’s not just a family affair in the sense that it is the brainchild of the Fergusons, there’s a real family feel to the place - from the team bringing the vision to life, to the supporting local businesses, suppliers, stockists, tradespeople and more. “We’ve been thrilled with the support from the local community,” says Eileen. “Which was incredibly important to me, because that is what this is all about. When you know you’re going to do something like this, it’s quite hard to put your head above the parapet because you’re thinking, ‘what if they don’t like it?’. “I think our region has been forgotten about for some time now. So it was almost like, ‘hang on… we’re not going to be the


forgotten town anymore’. “The community calls it ‘our distillery’ which is really lovely. They talk about it as if it’s been there forever. I think, like us, they’re quite proud of it, because it has all been done to the highest level. There’s nothing like it in the area - we’re bringing something unique to a town that has been in decline for a long time. “I think what also helps is the fact that we are proud of being Northumbrian. My husband and I did our family trees when we got together. We got his family line back to the 1200s and they were in Ford and Etal, and I got mine back to the 1500s in Kirknewton. So, in all of those generations, we are Northumbria through and through. Because of that, we love where we live and we’re incredibly proud of our heritage.” For Eileen, Alan and the rest of the family, this very special venture is all about giving something back to the place where they started. The place where they started their family, where their families started their businesses, and the place they continue to call home. “Our family business, Fergusons Transport, had a huge Millennium project down the road in Blyth. We built Eddie Ferguson House, which was great for the community. So I said to Alan, ‘you had your Millennium project, can I have mine now - in Wooler?’. The family are not only building a booming business, they’re building a legacy - a legacy they hope will span their lifetime, their children’s lifetime, and their grandchildren’s lifetime. “I hope that it is still standing in 50 years’ time,” she says. “I hope that my grandchildren will be involved. We will make no money out of it because we’ve spent a lot putting it together, but we’re hoping to run it as a business and pass it on to future generations - leaving a legacy, not only for us, but for the whole town. “I would like to see the people who grow up in north Northumberland sticking around and not feeling like they have to move away for work. We’ve got the perfect work/life balance here, so if we can create more job opportunities, there’s no need for people to move away from the area. “My children all moved away for university and spent time working in London, but they all love to come home. I think you can take the child out of the North East, but you can’t take the North East out of the child. “Hopefully the distillery will create new opportunities for people up here - things we

We’re hoping to pass it on to future generations - leaving a legacy, not only for us, but for the whole town haven’t had at our fingertips before. We might have kids from Wooler who want to be a distiller when they grow up. How cool is that? That’s an option now - and it’s incredibly exciting.” There have been many milestone moments for Eileen and the family during the development process at Ad Gefrin - from lightbulb moments during vineyard tours in France, to kitchen table business plans and more recently, the arrival of the stills. “When the stills came, that was one of the most emotional days of my life,” Eileen starts. “I’d just come back from a skiing trip in Canada, so I was coping with an eight hour time difference, and I’d also been to see my father who was in a care home at the time - he was 96. I realised that he was very poorly and that he didn’t have much longer with us. I said to him, ‘look, dad, whatever you do - don’t die tomorrow morning’. “So I spent that day with the whole community, watching as the stills arrived in style, knowing that my father was towards the end of his life. One of the proudest moments was when I saw the trucks driving along Wooler high street and Jake, who had worked for my father for 50 years, was driving the first lorry. I told him he wasn’t allowed to retire until the stills arrived. “The second truck was being driven by my daughter who, in lockdown, had trained as a truck driver. I couldn’t stop the tears when I saw her. I was so proud. “It was all a bit of a blur. Afterwards, I went back to see my dad and told him all about it and he had tears running down his face. He gripped my hand, gripped Alan’s hand and it was as if to say ‘ok, you’ve done me proud - you can have my site’. “The next morning at 8am, I got a phone call to say he was unconscious. It’s a very emotional story, but it was so special.”

Ad Gefrin officially started distilling at the end of 2022, with the site opening its doors to the public on Saturday 25 March 2023. Eileen, the Ferguson family, the Ad Gefrin team and the wider Wooler community can’t wait to share this incredibly unique project with the world. In the meantime, whisky-lovers can get their fix by experiencing the brand’s first blend Tácnbora - which is stocked in a number of local businesses across the region, including: Turnbull’s in Alnwick, CentAle in Newcastle, Grape & Grain in Morpeth, Carruthers & Kent in Gosforth and many, many more. “We wanted to start telling our story before the opening,” says Eileen. “And it has been incredibly well received. We have stockists that run from Belford in Northumberland, right down to Durham. It was important for us to use the great links we have with other family businesses in the region. It’s wonderful that these suppliers who we have been using for years are giving back and supporting us in turn.” As Eileen smiles from start to finish during our chat, incredibly passionate about Ad Gefrin and all that is represents for her, her family and the local community, she reminds me - and herself - how important it is to remove yourself from a situation from time to time, creating space to switch off and ‘just be’. “Throughout this whole process, I’ve consciously made time to step away and enjoy the other little things in life that make me tick,” she says. “We’re season ticket holders at Newcastle Falcons, so you’ll often see me there. I think it’s so important, especially when you have your own business and you’re running it with your family, to make time for hobbies. “Another hobby of mine, which always sparks people’s interest, is that I breed alpacas. I’ve got 40 alpacas - which is slightly different, but I love it.” A business born around a kitchen table. The ingredients? Champagne, a whole load of whisky tastings and a genuine love for the Northumberland town that Eileen still calls home. Ad Gefrin is a national landmark, a Northumberland gem, and a family business built for the community - putting Wooler on the map for years to come. 45


Sweet like chocolate

Hand-crafted and oh-so indulgent, The Good Tempered Chocolate Company is a need-toknow sweet business in the North East. Nicole Wood meets her chocoholic match in Zoe Robertson, owner and creative genius… juggling a busy work schedule that she decided to combine her knowledge and passion for all things cocoa and launch The Good Tempered Chocolate Company. “I was just about to go back to work as a firefighter following my maternity leave after having my second little boy. I was going back on shift and I knew that between mine and my husband’s work, it was going to be difficult, but I went back nonetheless. With two babies at home, working shifts and trying to have a work-life balance, it was a little crazy. My mother-inlaw was helping us out, but with one little boy in nursery and another one starting school, it just wasn’t working out. After six months of being back, I decided to make the chocolate business a full time thing. I had already tentatively started the business, but it was very much part-time at first. I started making chocolate in really small batches and would sell at Tynemouth Market every few weeks, which would fit around my shifts. But when it was already doing quite well, I decided that I could probably make a go of this and use it as my main income and it could fit around the kids and our schedule, that’s how it all started really,” explains Zoe. “I had already learned how to make chocolates when I worked in a really lovely chocolate shop in Canterbury when I was at university. I loved working in the shop and at first I started off working on the shop floor, gift wrapping lovely little boxes of chocolates and serving customers etc. One day I got talking to the owner, a

Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. It just makes everything better doesn’t it? Sad? Chocolate! Happy? Chocolate! Celebrating? Chocolate! It really is the answer to everything. If you hadn’t already guessed, I’m a self-confessed chocoholic, much like Zoe Robertson, the genius behind The Good Tempered Chocolate Company. As we head into the Easter season where it’s acceptable to indulge in chocolate at all times of the day (including breakfast), now seemed like an appropriate time to pick the brains of the local chocolatier. “Easter is such an exciting time for us.


This year we’ve got a really nice and super tasty special Easter slab which is covered in milk and white chocolate swirls. We’ve also got the big caramel biscuit egg which is going down a treat. It’s a massive egg, perfect for sharing, that’s filled with layers of caramel and shortbread biscuit,” Zoe tells me as we delve into all things sweet. Mouth-watering Easter delicacies aside, how does one get into the chocolate making business? Without winning a golden ticket, of course. Before Zoe took the plunge and transferred her chocolate making skills into a full time business, she worked as a firefighter. It wasn’t until she was a mother of two



wonderful and talented French lady, who knew I loved baking and that I had taken an interest in the making of the chocolate, so she offered me the opportunity to spend some time in the kitchen and showed me the ropes. After university I moved back up north and chocolate making was just a hobby - something I’d do as gifts for friends and family.It wasn’t until more recently that I thought I could pick it up and make a business out of it and The Good Tempered Chocolate Company was born. When it comes to the name, there are a few different things that make it up. The first being that I envisioned the brand as being happy and uplifting, which I think the name echoes. Secondly, tempering is the process I use to make the chocolate and those who are fans of The Great British Bake Off will hopefully get the play on words and think ‘Oh, I see what you did there’,” she laughs. One of the best parts about my job is speaking with the fantastic people across our region who are super-talented and full of passion and skill and Zoe is exactly that. “I make all of the chocolate myself. I start with a chocolate base that’s already been converted from cocoa beans. I buy a couverture which has a really high cocoa percentage and excellent cocoa butter quality chocolate base. I then temper it which is the process of cooling the chocolate rapidly to crystallise it and that’s what makes the chocolate really smooth and creamy,” explains Zoe. “If you’ve ever had chocolate that’s felt a bit weird, a bit crumbly or it’s got that white kind of look to it, it means it’s actually been tempered badly or it’s accidentally melted and been done incorrectly. But if it’s tempered right, which is quite difficult to do as the temperature has to be bang on


and can only be within a couple of degrees, it makes the chocolate really smooth and indulgent and gives it a nice snap. So I temper that chocolate base and then I make all of the centres, for example the praline or whatever it might be,” she continues. Now that we’ve got to grips with the process of making the chocolate, we get down to the good stuff… the inspiration behind the designs and the flavours. “I mostly make chocolate slabs. I had this vision for my business to create a luxury, yet accessible and informal product. It’s a really fine, delicate chocolate that you’d grab and break apart to share with your friends and family, and I feel like that’s what you get with the slabs. We don’t want it to be something you buy but wouldn’t dare break into until a special occasion. “When it comes to the designs and creativity that’s something we play around with and have fun with. My husband doesn’t necessarily work for the business, but he helps with the designs and styles of the chocolate. We have so much fun with the creativity. “It’s the same with the flavours, it’s all trial and error and we’re inspired by the things we see, the places we’ve travelled to, the meals we’ve eaten and so on. We’ve recently just spent a month in Costa Rica and my husband was like you’ve got to create a coconut flavoured chocolate next because we’ve had so much coconut recently. I always find it really cool that we can just create stuff like that whenever we want. That’s why I love being my own boss because of that creative freedom. Don’t get me wrong it comes with its stresses and fair share of pressure, but then I get to create whatever I want for my customers. I mean don’t get me wrong, sometimes the flavours just don’t work and they

never see the shelf. Once, I tried to make a superfood slab with really dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds and blueberries and I was like, this is not a joyful experience and those have never seen the light of day,” laughs Zoe. Zoe’s passion for her chocolate creations is equally shared with her desire to help make the world a more sustainable place. Chocolate being wrapped in plastic isn’t something Zoe believes in - and instead she has worked to create alternative packaging solutions to help reduce waste. “I try to be as sustainable as possible. I remember at my very first Tynemouth Market, I got talking to the lovely Lauren from the wonderful refill shop ‘Something Good Co’. Our stands were next to each other and we got chatting about the packaging for my products. Initially my products were wrapped in a paper bag but it had a little plastic window and I had said I really wanted them to either be unwrapped or wrapped in something compostable. We had a big chat about it and one thing led to another and I started stocking some of my products in her shop. They’re

Zoe’s passion for her chocolate creations is equally shared with her desire to help make the world a more sustainable place

unpackaged and housed in big jars where people can take their containers and grab what they want which is awesome. “That was the first step and whilst that was going on, I also sussed out the compostable packaging and started using compostable wrappers which fitted perfectly with the brand and the look I was aiming for. So now all of the packaging we use is either biodegradable or compostable. “With being an independent business, you’re inevitably going to meet others at weekend and Christmas markets etc. and when you get chatting and get to know one another you realise there are ways you can help each other out. It’s a great little community. There’s something really cool about it. And maybe it’s because I’m a woman running a business, I tend to gravitate towards others doing the same because you can relate to them and they know what it’s like. We’re still stocked in Something Good Co and have partnered up with several other local businesses which share our ethos including; Kith & Kin, Regular Jo’s Coffee, Baristocracy, The Paddock Farm Shop, Karma Coast and Northern Rye,” she says. Businesses helping businesses. We love to hear it. Digressing ever so slightly, we find ourselves chatting about local independents we love, crossing paths and uncovering familiar luxe-featured faces - and discovering new ones we can’t wait to chat with. Celebrating their fourth birthday as a business this year, Zoe tells me there are plenty of chocolatey plans in the pipeline that us chocoholics can look forward to. But for now, keep your eyes peeled for their special birthday celebration chocolates, shop their delicious slabs online and get your hands on the devouring Easter range. 47


Savouring the seasons AT LINNELS FARM

Karen and Simon Phillips update us on the latest happenings from their fabulous farm near Hexham… habitat and ecosystem management. That naturally leads to ‘natural capital’. I am a huge fan of natural capital, which for me, serves to balance the human fundamental requirement of meeting the needs of today without compromising the needs of tomorrow. As we see changes in our landscapes through our own behaviours and developments, it is right we should add back. As we need new roads and more housing, we have to accept that their construction footprint will make a change but as part of the steps of change another positive footprint can be made, we can add back. Now to tree planting. For saplings, you need a spade, a mallet or maul hammer to drive in the tree stakes and fencing posts - and you need to secure the tree guards. Fencing is the more back breaking element! Planting these bare root trees is done in their dormant season, November through

They say the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago and the second best time is now, and I think that is so true; trees are a beautiful intrinsic part of our global biodiversity and species survival map. The intention isn’t to make you feel guilty about reading a paper copy of this article or have any guilt when visiting the ‘little room’ which globally sees 712 million trees harvested for toilet rolls and with about 70% of the world's population not using toilet rolls, the tree is feeling a little exposed. We can look across the world stage and see the massive impact of deforestation and indeed remind ourselves of the changes in the UK landscape that have resulted in our woodland landscape now being just 11% of total land area. A single number doesn’t mean as much as a comparative number, so here’s a few comparisons: France has 32% of its land in woodland, Germany and Italy both have 33% and Spain 37%. So we haven’t been great land stewards, and whilst we can worry about our history, we really need to look to our future. Karen and I are fortunate to have a few acres, so we are planting 200 more trees. I’m planting them myself and fencing myself but the cost of this could be added to a grant application. It just felt right in my mind that we did this. The grant is through


‘Great Northumberland Forest - Planting Grant’. Whilst we are lucky to have a few acres here, we can each do our bit in our garden or on our own land. I know that through the history of our country we have massively deforested, but we are now reforesting and we just need to accelerate that journey. If your motive is carbon reduction, that is commendable, though biodiversity and wellbeing are equally commendable. As you research carbon gobbling it is amazing to read that the carbon stored in UK forest soils accounts for over two-thirds of forest carbon stock, 69%, with living trees at 23% and deadwood and litter. This proportion is not applied across the globe, it very much depends on the soil type. So a tree's impact is beyond the tree itself and is the ecosystem it manages. If you look at biodiversity, one amazing fact is: adding a single tree to an open field can increase bird biodiversity by as much as 80. Trees are things of beauty as well as supporters of life. The beauty and value of trees extends beyond their ecosystem to actually impact on our wellbeing. It is widely recognised that hospital patients who can see green trees from their rooms are reported to heal faster and spend less time in hospital than patients who can’t see trees. So, we should plant trees and we should also think about how we can influence

to March. The tree roots should be soaked before planting. Dig a hole wide enough to hold the roots and loosen the soil beneath before planting. Plant the tree with the roots covered and firmly but gently stamp the soil, adding the tree guard. Now we should be blessed with rain, but if not you will need to water. When the tree is old enough you can add a bird box - and why is it that when the bird box is hung on a tree branch it doesn’t move up the tree as the tree grows? Because trees grow from the top! Branches emerge from the tree as little buds and do not rise as the tree grows, but branches won’t always be there, many low branches are shed. Well I think I may have used some of the timber to make myself a soap box - sorry about that - but aren’t trees fab? Simon and Karen

UPCOMING COURSES @LINNELS FARM For further details and to book visit:

HAVE YOUR CAKE >> 15 MARCH Learn how to make scrumptious crumpets from scratch and master perfect pastry for delicate tartlets the choice of filling is yours. The lightest scones with clotted cream and jam, or jam and cream? You decide. And delicate cakes that disappear in a mouthful. Depart with all the elements ready to stage your very own afternoon tea at home.

DELVE INTO A DAY OF TRADITIONAL ENGLISH BREADS >> 21 MARCH You’ll learn how to make the famous stottie (as seen on TV: BBC2 Robson Green’s Weekend Escapes); Singing Hinnies that melt in the mouth; a golden Sally Lunn Cake ready to slice and fill with clotted cream; and a long-lasting Lardy Cake, oh so Joe naughty Taylorbut Photography nice!

CHARLESTON INSPIRED WORKSHOP WITH SARAH HALL BAQAI >> 22 MARCH Indulge in a day of inspiration and art. Decorate a keepsake box and create a slotted paper garland using inspiration from Charleston House, and the artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.

HALF DAY FLORISTRY WORKSHOP >> 28 MARCH Create the cutest, long-lasting succulent wreath and educate yourself on what makes succulents so easy to look after and grow. Fuelled by homemade cakes and refreshments, it’s the ultimate spring workshop.

PLOT TO PLATE >> 27 APRIL Join us on a relaxed day of learning where we’ll look at the basics behind successful veg growing - including ground preparation, creating your own compost, sowing and planting a variety of vegetables, general maintenance and crop rotation



HOME COMFORTS with chef Chris Baber

Spring is a time for indulgent Easter feasts and filling up those spring/summer foodie diaries… INSPIRED BY THE SEASONS >> Spring is my favourite season of all. There’s nothing better than coming out of the slumber of winter with all of the slow-cooked stuff, and really ramping things up with some incredibly fresh, homegrown produce. Asparagus is one of my favourite seasonal British ingredients because I’ve visited the Wye Valley, watched farmers that grow it and heard how passionately they talk about their crop. The country really comes to life in spring and you start to see a lot of green everywhere. There’s much more freshness on our plate - it’s so much easier to achieve in the spring. It’s an important time to hammer home the message that, if we eat British seasonal produce, it tastes better and it actually costs less - which is incredibly relevant now with the cost of living crisis. MY WORLD >> Battersea Power Station is the new place to be in London, so I’ve spent a bit of time exploring this exciting new neighbourhood - packed full of new shops and restaurants. It’s a legendary London landmark turned luxury leisure destination and it literally has everything. It’s absolutely thriving down there now. My friend Francesco Mazzei has opened a restaurant there called Fiume, which means ‘river’ in Italian, and it’s the perfect spot to take in the views of the Thames with really good, rustic southern Italian dishes. I also went to the opening of one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants called Bread Street Kitchen & Bar - also within Battersea Power Station. It’s great - really accessible in terms of price point for amazing food. The Power Station is a fantastic new destination worth checking out if you’re in London. It’s been bubbling away for some time now, and it’s great to see it all come together, and see all of these hospitality businesses buzzing. In the coming months, I’ll be heading back up north to spend a bit of time at home over the Easter break. For me, food-wise, Easter is all about the lamb. We’ll have a roast lamb dinner, studded with garlic and rosemary - even a piece of anchovy - in the oven really nice and hot for a short period of time so it comes out lovely and pink. You can even do it on the BBQ if you’ve got it fired up already. Lamb is the taste of spring for me - fresh mint sauce and Jersey Royals. FOODIE HAPPENINGS >> I spent some time in Miami in February at the The Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival - a four day foodie event on the beach, showcasing some of the world’s most renowned wine and spirit producers, as well as chefs and culinary personalities. I was there with the HexClad team, getting involved in demos and finding out more about the colourful food scene over there. I’m really enjoying spending more time over in the States - it’s an incredible place. Future food events are filling the diary. Pub in the Park is coming up in May, all the way through the summer. The BBC Good Food Show is lined up for August, which is always a fantastic event to be involved in.



Coffee Rubbed Steak and Egg Breakfast Tacos with Burnt Tomato and Tequila Sauce Makes 4 tacos A colourful breakfast perfect for those sunny Sunday mornings at home. It’s an ideal dish to wow friends popping over for brunch. Use a 10 inch HexClad frying pan for best results. Ingredients 4 small flour tortillas 1 sirloin steak 1 avocado, flesh removed and sliced 4 large eggs

ASK CHRIS >> If you’ve got any questions you want to ask Chris, please get in touch via his Instagram page. Chris will select a question and answer it in the next column. #AskChris Q: Best ways to shop for produce in an economical way, without waste? A: The key is to always plan out your meals and stick to it. We don’t want to be throwing food away. Make a list and get exactly what you need. Also, think about experimenting with vegetarian dishes - try and make vegetables the star of the show. Maybe you normally do miso chicken - why not try it with an aubergine? Or roast a whole butternut squash or a cauliflower for a fifth of the cost of a roast chicken. Looking at vegetables as the main ingredient can help you save a lot of money, and to be honest, can also make you a much better cook because you have to really get inventive with it. Also, if you’re sticking to meat, get a little bit creative with it. I’ve started buying chicken drumsticks rather than chicken breasts, and I’m getting more meat out of it by changing the way I cook. Final tip - stick to seasonal produce as much as possible. Seasonal stuff is always going to be the best in terms of quality and cost.

For the rub: 1 tsp ground instant coffee 1 tsp smoked paprika 1/2 tsp garlic powder Pinch chilli powder Pinch salt and pepper

For the salsa: 4 large plum tomatoes 1/2 red onion, roughly chopped 1 red chilli 1 clove garlic 1 lime Small bunch coriander Extra virgin olive oil 2 tbsp tequila

Method For the salsa: Preheat the grill to high. Add the tomato, red onion, chilli and garlic to a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil toss together. Place under the grill for 5-8 minutes until charred. Alternatively, heat a 12 inch skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon oil and cook the vegetables until softened and browned. Transfer the vegetables to a blender. Add the coriander, salt, tequila, drizzle of oil and squeeze of lime. Blitz until your desired consistency. Season to taste. For the steak and eggs: Coat the steak in the rub. Heat a 30cm frying pan over a high heat with a splash of oil. Add the steak, cook for around 2 minutes on each side until a golden charred crust forms, remove to a plate and allow to rest for 4 minutes then cut into thin slices. While the steak rests, reduce the heat of the pan to medium and add a knob of butter. When foaming gently, crack in the eggs. Fry for a couple of minutes until the whites are set and the yolks still runny. Meanwhile, heat the tacos in a large dry frying pan for 30 seconds on each side. Divide the sliced avocado between the tacos, top with salsa, steak, and eggs with a drizzle of the butter from the pan. Garnish with red peppers and cilantro. Serve and enjoy!

“HexClad makes cooking effortless and enjoyable, achieving amazing results time after time. The sheer versatility of a HexClad makes them the only pans I couldn’t live without. They are built to last with a lifetime guarantee and get better with age. They are by far the best investment you can make for your kitchen at home. There’s no other pan that will give you the same results. It’s time to get Hexy! A pan for the modern age.” - Chris Baber Find out more at: 49



Dr Joanna Melville

Nicole Wood checks in with owner of Doorstep Vet, Dr Joanna Melville MRCVS, to discuss her career, life lessons and her luxe things in life… GETTING TO KNOW YOU >> Name: Joanna Melville Title: Owner of Doorstep Vet Where is home? Tyne Valley, Northumberland Three reasons you love where you live? The wildlife - we see deer, hares and buzzards on a daily basis. The views we live towards the top of a hill with spectacular views over the Tyne Valley. And finally, the proximity to the bright lights if we want it - within 30 minutes we can be in the centre of Newcastle. THE DAY JOB >> What do you do for a living? I’m a small animal vet. I’ve been a vet for 20 years, and last year I decided to branch out on my own and open a mobile vet practice covering Newcastle and surrounding areas. I have a converted van with a consulting room inside, and I offer GP-style appointments at pets’ homes which saves a lot of time and stress for owners and pets. We’re a small team of two so it is very friendly and personal. We’re proudly independent but we work with an amazing


network of bigger bricks and mortar practices in the area who take referrals from us. It's a very different way of working, it’s the best of both worlds for our clients and I absolutely love it. A day in the life of you? When I’m on school drop-off duty I start my day with a coffee fix in Willis of Jesmond - small businesses support each other, and they have been brilliant at spreading the word about Doorstep Vet to their customers. After that I meet my assistant Sarah, and we’re off on our road trip for the day. My working day is very variable. We cover an area as far north as Morpeth and as far west as Hexham, so we try to group appointments by location where possible. However, we often get calls at short notice and we always try to leave time in our schedule to accommodate these. We typically have about six appointments per day. The patients I see are at all stages of life, from young puppies to OAPs (old aged pets). Visiting people’s homes allows me to witness the highs and lows of everyday lives of real people from all different

backgrounds, and their pets. This is a real privilege and as animals are so intertwined in our lives, I think it helps me to do my job even better. I’ve quickly learnt that time is one of the most valuable things you can give, especially to those clients who may be using us because they’re housebound or don’t have transport. Any upcoming projects or achievements we should know about? The practice has only been open for nine months or so, but word is beginning to get around. We hope to be at full capacity within the next year, which will then mean a full diary and an exciting discussion around what we want to do next. What does downtime mean to you? I wish there were 50 hours in a day for me to be able to answer that question! Downtime is a rare event, but if I do get it then it would involve curling up on the sofa (preferably with a chilled glass of wine) watching a family film that everyone manages to agree on with an open fire burning. I love to get outdoors and go for a run or walk. I play the piano too. LESSONS IN LIFE >> What did you want to be when you were growing up? This is an easy one - a vet. I remember my careers advisor telling me that I shouldn’t bother applying as the chances

of getting on the course were very low - at that time there were only six vet schools in the whole of the UK and the BBC had just started airing programmes like ‘Vet School’ and ‘Vets in Practice’, so demand for places was sky high. I do love a challenge though, so I was determined to prove her wrong and I did. What is the most important lesson life has taught you? Be open-minded about opportunities and always try to see the bigger picture. Having a vocation is wonderful in many ways, but it is easy to become quite tunnel visioned. When I was 28 I took the opportunity to do an MBA at a Turkish university whilst we lived in Istanbul for three years. This opened up a lot of opportunities for me - I’ve worked in both public and private sectors, commercial and clinical roles over the years. This gave me a really good grounding to eventually start my own business. What is your greatest fear? Losing my memory. I’ve been told I have a very weird memory as I can recite postcodes and phone numbers - this can be quite useful and I’d hate to lose that. Which living person do you most admire and why? My mum - I don’t tell her enough but she’s always there for me and has the most amazing ability to put things in perspective when I need it the most. I now hear myself repeating many of the things she’s said to me over the years to my own daughter. LIVING LUXE >> What is top of your bucket list? I would love to work with elephants. When I was 12, I read a book called Travels on my Elephant by Mark Shand, which sparked a lifelong love. What is your most treasured possession? My engagement ring - bought from an Armenian jeweller in Istanbul by my husband. What does the weekend mean to you? I need to be honest - with two children, the weekend is spent ferrying them around to various activities and parties - but we always find time for a good walk and a family movie. A memorable holiday? Israel. It is an incredible mix of ancient and modern, and all the places you hear about in the bible are there to see. We managed to go under the Wailing wall in Jerusalem and followed the route of Christ’s crucifixion – even though we’re not overly religious it was still fascinating. Best dress? Prada mini dress (not worn recently!) Who would be your top-three dinner guests? Will Ferrell - he always makes me laugh and Elf is a firm favourite in our house. Rafael Nadal - I’m a lifelong fan. My husband Peter - there’s no way he would miss out, and he is quite good company! The last place you ate? Panis in High Bridge Street - never disappoints. The last book you read? I don’t read much for pleasure, but I really enjoyed Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. The last thing you listened to? Whatever my children put on, and Radio 2 in the van. The last thing you watched? Happy Valley. Your three luxe things in life? Family, pets (they are a luxury after all!) and good food.




with Rupert, helped by Nicole Wood

Spring into action Finally, the doors to the garden are open, our walks are filled with sunshine and flowers, and that little patch of warmth shining through the windows is back - that’s right, it must be spring! And what a busy one it’s been already for our red-haired pup. When he hasn’t been too busy trotting through some of the best

walking routes in the North East, he’s been doing some digging to uncover the best ways for his fellow posh pups to enjoy the chocolate-covered egg that humans enjoy at Easter. Check out the delicious, dog-safe chocolate recipe on this page - your four-legged friend will be jumping for joy - although we’re not sure how helpful they’ll

be in the creative process! What’s more? Rupert has even been spending days down on the farm chatting to Janice the pig, uncovering what life in the mud is all about. Have an eggcellent spring! Rupert, your Luxe pooch x

Now we all know dogs can’t have chocolate at Easter, but what they can have, is magical dog-friendly chocolate! We’re talking of course about carob – the best dog-safe chocolate substitute. It’s non-toxic, chocolate-y goodness that has proven pup-ular with dogs time and time again. This super easy, super fun, dog-friendly recipe makes approximately 10 eggs depending on your mould size.

Luxe pet Q&A I’m Janice, the first luxe pig to grace these glossy pages. I’m a Gloucester Old Spot which is an old rare breed of British pig so you could call me unique! Despite my enormous size of approximately 150 kilos, I’m only two years old. Traditionally Old Spots were often kept in small orchards and were known as The Orchard Pig, but me? I get to live with the best family in the world. My human siblings Mirren and Leon are actually helping me write this. PIGGY’S PERFECT DAY My perfect day is spent rummaging around my field digging for roots and lounging around in the long grass with my piglets looking for somewhere comfy to sleep. HOG HABITS I’m a very friendly pig and love to say hello to anyone who comes near me. When my family arrives home, I love running along next to the car to welcome them back. Given half a chance you’ll find me nuzzling up to their wellies with my snout. FONDEST PIGLET MEMORY A funny memory for me and the whole family is when my human brother Leon

was in with the piglets and I started nibbling at his wellies, he jumped out of the way but one of his wellies got left behind in the mud. The humans had a laugh, but I was just pleased I got to keep the wellie!

What you’ll need • Mini Egg Mould - Amazon is a great place to shop for one if you don’t already have one • Mixing bowl, small saucepan, teaspoon and small butter knife • Your choice of yoghurt or carob chocolate drops

PIG’S BEST FRIEND This one is easy! My best friend is Bertha, my pig sister. We’ve spent our whole lives together. Like most sisters we get on well, but we do have the odd falling out from time to time. What sisters don’t?

Method Melt the yoghurt or carob drops in a bowl over very low heat. Using a teaspoon, fill each cavity of the mini egg mould with the melted yoghurt or carob drops. Gently tap the mould on the bench surface to spread and fill the cavity evenly. If you’ve overfilled the cavities, use the flat edge of a knife to scrape the excess back into the bowl. Refrigerate until set (approx. 20 mins). When set, the egg halves should easily slide out of the mould. Set aside. Repeat steps 1-3. Place a solid egg half on top of each cavity so when set, the two halves will be joined. Refrigerate until set. Gently remove the solid eggs from the mould. Let your pooch enjoy!

PIGGY PAMPER I’m one lucky pig as my humans always give me the leftover vegetables from our garden. I get cabbages, carrots and my favourite… turnip! Food aside, I love a good old scratch behind the ear with a stiff brush. PIGLET DOWNTIME On a sunny day, I love nothing more than rolling around in my wallow. But if it’s cold outside, then you’ll find me asleep in the deep straw in my pig hut. BOAR A-LISTER Because of my black and white spots, my family say I look like Cruella de Vil, but I’m way friendlier than Cruella.

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*The above recipe is for treats only and should not replace your dog’s regular meal plans. Always check with your vet about any major changes to your dog’s diet.



The word ‘suite’ can be thrown around quite a lot in the hotel world, but this place takes the suite and gives it a new meaning altogether

The suite life

the suite and gives it a new meaning altogether. I wouldn’t call it a ‘home from home’ because it is way beyond that. It’s an incredibly special and unique experience where five star hospitality far exceeds itself. We are given a tour of the suite by the smart and dapper porter, who brings us up to speed with all of the tech, in-room, gadgets, special effects and more. Beyond the impressive mod-cons and multiple mini bars, you’ll find chic, moody interiors, out-of-this world bathrooms which offer a full spa experience, beautifully crisp white bedding and views over Dam Square. The bathrooms are a real talking point here. The hotel owner wanted to create the ultimate spa experience without compromising on suite space, so each room comes with a large jacuzzi bath and double shower, which on the switch of a button, is transformed into a steam room. We kick off our chunky trainers (comfort is key when city breaking!) and melt into our fluffy robes and slippers - well set for an afternoon of pampering. Complete with luxurious Lalique toiletries, surround sound to set the mood, and a very well stocked mini bar, it’s the perfect way to get our weekend underway. For those who like to keep busy, the city is quite literally on the doorstep - and the concierge is on hand to ensure you get the best of your Amsterdam break. Let them know how you like to city break, and they’ll

Hotel TwentySeven invites city breakers to enjoy ‘the suite life’ like a superstar. Elysia Fryer checks in for the ultimate luxe stay in the Dutch capital Smart city breaks are a great way to get out and about and see the world. There’s nothing quite like the buzz of a whistle stop tour - packing in as many restaurant and attraction recommendations as possible. All you need is an open mind and a comfortable pair of shoes - oh, and a swanky hotel to lay your head, of course. We’re living ‘luxe’ after all. Amsterdam is an easy getaway for us here in the North East, with regular flights from both Newcastle and Teesside airports, as well as the ferry from North Shields. The travel is easy, and what is even more wonderful is the spectacular range of hotels and hospitality options available


in the Dutch capital. Our home for the weekend is Hotel TwentySeven, a beautiful boutique hotel offering one of the most unique city break experiences we’ve had. Its location on Dam Square is a big attraction, but there is so much more than meets the eye when you check in and experience this place for yourself. The staff, for one, are the best of the best. Genuinely friendly and happy people, going about their job as if it is a way of life effortless and extremely personable. After an easy check-in following a short train ride from Schiphol Airport, we start our stay with a drink in the bar before being shown to our two bedroom loft suite. The word ‘suite’ can be thrown around quite a lot in the hotel world, but this place takes




happily guide you to the best of the best for food, culture and sightseeing. We’re indulging in all that Hotel TwentySeven has to offer, with our main activity being a partnership with the hotel a special invitation to the historic diamond factory of GASSAN Diamonds. One of the stores shares the same building as the hotel, which is well worth a visit, whether you’re looking for something special or simply window shopping; but the factory is a destination of its own, just 15 minutes away by foot, bike or car. A car picks us up from the hotel and we are greeted with a glass of champagne as we are guided around the factory. Diamonds are being mounted, fine jewellery is being made and we see where the magic happens when it comes to crafting beautifully bespoke jewellery and timepieces. We don’t leave with shopping bags on this occasion, but I do leave with a shiny diamond that sparkles like new, thanks to the complimentary goldsmith cleaning service.

Back at the hotel, not only does the service, style and in-suite spa experience blow us away, but the food and hospitality alone sets this place apart. Dining here is an absolute must, it’s an experience we won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Finding a comfortable hotel to lay your head and fuel you up for a day in the city is key when it comes to filling up your cup and exploring. But finding a hotel with so much unique charm and character, offering exquisite experiences, is a real game changer. Yes, getting out and wandering around the city is the best way to get to know a place, but when a hotel is as sumptuous as this one, you can really get a sense of place just by being in it. We, of course, spend some time venturing out into the city, circling the canals, shopping and dining at buzzy restaurants such as The Butcher Social Club, but it’s Hotel TwentySeven that has really won us over this time.

Hang out

Food matters

A contemporary take on the social club concept, THE BUTCHER Social Club is a hive of activity for drinking, dining, live music, games and art. Described online as a ‘full-service playground for urbanites’, it is a creative hub for city workers and travellers alike. This edgy hangout is situated in the iconic A’DAM Tower - an observation deck with panoramic views of Amsterdam and beyond - it’s a quick hop over the water, where an urban lounge serving some of the finest burgers and cocktails awaits.

The burgers are the beasts at the beating heart of the menu at THE BUTCHER. The all-day menu offers up every burger concoction you can think of - and then some! Name a topping and it’s on there somewhere. Plus, other main dishes, snacks and sides such as The Schnitzel, Crispy Chicken Wings, Beetroot Salad, Nachos, Onion Rings, Popcorn Chicken, Butcher Fries and more. The ‘Happy Ending’ dessert offering is lip-smackingly good. Think Belgian Waffle, Apple Tart and Chocolate Brownie. All relatively simple puddings, done perfectly.

Decked out This place is whatever you want it to be - a business centre, an after-dark cocktail spot, a casual dinner location, an old school video gaming hall, or a party place with live DJs. It’s an all-rounder and everyone is welcome. We arrive on a chilly weekday evening and we are instantly wrapped up by the warm service and buzzy vibe. Inspired by urban, industrial materials with pops of colour and neon lights to complement the vibe, you’ll find funky bar stools lining the bar, comfy armchairs beneath artworks and lots of concrete to compliment the vibrant decor. It’s big, bright and airy by day; moody, low-lit and atmospheric by night. Inside, there’s everything from the buzzy bar area and big dining tables for groups, to cosy spots for couples, comfy armchairs and a lively gameplay area. Outside, you’ll find a waterfront terrace, perfect for sundowners over the IJ-river. We’re seated in a cosy spot with sink-in sofas and heaps of chic magazines, in the perfect position for people watching.

Sip THE BUTCHER opens its doors from 8am, right through til the early hours, so you’re covered for everything from your first cup of coffee on a morning, to that final nightcap. The 360-degree bar sits in the centre of the room and is a theatrical experience of its own. Mixologists are serving up some of the finest sips in the city as the room buzzes around the bar. The drinks menu includes hot drinks, smoothies, milkshakes (boozy ones, too!), beers, a high-end selection of spirits, world wines and signature cocktails.


What we ate Our mid-week supper comes at the perfect time after a busy day travelling and exploring Amsterdam. As city workers meet for a beer or two, groups gather for a feast and couples catch-up over cocktails, we’re seated in a cosy corner, sinking into plush velvet armchairs as we browse the menu and take in the buzz of the place. For drinks, it’s the Paloma Twist cocktail and a Brand Weizen beer. Every cocktail that leaves the bar is a masterpiece of its own, and - in my case anyway tastes as delicious as it looks. After getting to grips with the food menu packed with tongue-in-cheek burger names, we opt for the The Hot Chick and the Silence of the Lamb. The Hot Chick is served in a brioche bun with a deliciously tender crispy chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, grilled onion and a spicy jalapeño BBQ sauce for an extra kick. The Silence of the Lamb is a prime New Zealand lamb burger cooked in spices and herbs, topped with lettuce, tomato, mint and dill mayonnaise, and grilled onions. Both burgers are packed with flavours that effortlessly work together to create something magnificent. A side of fully-loaded Butcher Fries and Popcorn Chicken is probably a little overindulgent, but it seals the deal. We’re about to burst, but can’t resist satisfying the sweet tooth. After a short break and another cocktail or two, we tuck into one of the best Chocolate Brownies we’ve tasted. Delicious. 53



Big Smoke staycation

Make this beautiful Bankside bolthole your base for the ultimate luxe London getaway this spring… STAY HERE It can be overwhelming finding somewhere to stay in the capital. London is more than just a one-stop city break - there are so many areas to explore, all wonderfully unique in their own ways - and finding the right one, depending on your agenda, is key. Somewhere along the Thames is always a great base for exploring, with many of the city sights just a stone’s throw away. Hilton London Bankside is our chosen home for a family weekend in the city. Nestled between the Millennium Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe and the Tate Modern, you’ve got the capital’s culture at your fingertips.




STYLE Stylish interiors match the postcode at this Bankside beauty - and you’ll find all the modern amenities you’d expect from a plush pad in the heart of the capital. It’s bright, buzzy and contemporary, with no compromise on character - think friendly faces, fabulously over-the-top floral displays at the entrance, sweet stations and Disney movies playing out on a projector in the lobby. We’re travelling with our tot in tow, so this goes down a treat during a very smooth Friday night check in. Our room is spacious and simply decorated, though not in an unimaginative way - it perfectly embodies ‘city chic’ while remaining clean and comfortable. Clever storage hidden within built-in cupboards, oak paneling, muted leather and a neutral palette with hints of forest green, bringing it bang up to date.

HOTEL HIGHLIGHTS Location is a biggie, and this hotel is a box ticker indeed. Waterloo and London Bridge stations are both nearby, perfect for travelling to other London neighbourhoods and beyond. Or, if you’re in town to explore what’s nearby on foot, you’re moments from Tate Modern, Borough Market, The Shard, Shakespeare’s Globe, the London Eye, Southbank Centre and more.

The hotel’s style is also worth mentioning - an urban retreat and an inviting space to return to with tired legs after lapping up London town. The 17-metre swimming pool is a real highlight. For us, a great way to start the day and entertain an excitable little one, but also for those who love to begin or end the day with a workout or a quick dip.

LAY YOUR HEAD Our Deluxe Room comes complete with little luxuries for both big and little people. There’s a Bose speaker kitted out in the bathroom ceiling - because who doesn’t love a bit of a boogie in the shower to get the day underway? The king-size bed sits in the centre of the room, dressed with crisp white bedding. There’s a desk complete with handy USB panels and plenty of space for those working on-the-go. You’ll also find a breakout area for lounging, views of Southwark, and a modern bathroom with slate tiles and magnifying mirrors. Tiny guests are VIPs at Hilton London Bankside, with adorable mini toiletries and bathrobes, entertainment packs, bath toys, a cosy cot for snoozing and more. A selection of goodies are lined up on the bed on arrival, and our little one is just as excited as we are. A nice touch.

FOOD & DRINK The hotel’s bar and restaurant is a destination of its own - inviting foodies and cocktaillovers in to revel in some of Bankside’s best bites and brews. The Distillery is a sophisticated space to sip and soak up the atmosphere as cocktails are crafted, music plays and drinkers meet for after-work drinks, weekend tipples or city break sips. Round the corner you’ll find OXBO Bankside, the hotel’s innovative restaurant and grill. OXBO is all about serving simple pleasures with a stylish twist. Go here for steaks, seafood, seasonal specials and weekend experiences like bottomless brunch. We pop in for an early dinner before bedding down for the evening. The space is buzzy even before it fills up - with an open kitchen and animal ‘trophy’ heads adorning the walls - effortless entertainment for our toddler. We’re wined, watered, little one equipped with a colouring in kit, and ready to tuck in. We kick things off with the seabream carpaccio (£10) - beautifully styled on the plate with avruga caviar, pickled carrot and kohlrabi, pear gel and coriander; and the duck rillettes (£9) - served with cornichons and toasted sourdough. The main event comes in the form of the hake fillet (£24) - fabulously fresh and served with a root vegetable broth, black turtle beans, aioli and smoked paprika, to pack in a spicy punch. The grilled sirloin steak (£34) is a standout moment during our stay - cooked to perfection, gliding off the knife with ease - served with baby leaves and French fries. Delicious. There’s no room for dessert this time, but the menu is packed with delicious dishes to put smiles on the faces of those with a sweet tooth - coffee parfait (£9), passion fruit cheesecake (£9) and chocolate orange cake (£9) to name a few.

DO THIS OXBO Bankside is a must for food plans, but there’s also a long list of luxe restaurants nearby, if you’re looking for other lunch or dinner destinations. Needless to say, nearby Borough Market is a foodie’s paradise, packed with stalls full of artisanal goodies and hard-to-find ingredients. Tons of fresh veg, cheese and meat and cracking pop-ups, serving sensational street grub from around the globe. Pop into Tate Modern for your share of inspiring contemporary art, get your culture fix at Shakespeare’s Globe, or, if you just want to lace up your trainers and go - you can quite easily clock up the miles with Bankside as your base. Walk along the water, via the buzzy Southbank, Jubilee Gardens and London Eye, crossing Westminster Bridge towards St James’ Park and Buckingham Palace.

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LUXE LOVES Wow bride Make a statement with an exquisitely unique Rowley Hesselballe dress - or even opt for a beautiful bridal jumpsuit. We’re loving the Reinaa Jumpsuit with flattering halterneck design and a subtle split front bodice detail. Time to step out in style.




LUXE WEDDINGS ESSENTIALS There’s no job finer than delving deep into someone’s love story - which is why we’re always delighted to bring you our very special Luxe Weddings Essentials. Whether you’re a bride-to-be prepping for your big day, a bridesmaid planning your best friend’s bridal bash, or you just love swooning over gorgeous gowns, this is where your wedding begins... TBG477story Luxe Honeymoon Adverts Print.pdf 2 20/02/2023 10:31

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MAR/APR23 57


‘I do’ venues

Let your fairytale unfold at these picture-perfect venues across the region...

Spanish City >> Your dream wedding awaits at the spectacular Spanish City, Whitley Bay. The most important day of your life should be held somewhere unforgettable. Originally built in 1910, the multi-award-winning Spanish City boasts panoramic sea views, a private function suite, stunning period features and incredible dining options. Voted ‘Best Coastal Wedding Venue in the UK’ as part of the Hitched UK 2020 Wedding Awards and ‘Best Town and City Venue’ at the North of England Wedding Awards 2021, Spanish City is just a stone’s throw away from the Whitley Bay coastline. With several wedding packages for future married couples to choose from, each offering something different, you’re guaranteed to find the perfect fit for you. From an initial show around and meeting with the wedding coordinator, to the all-important I do’s and wedding reception, Spanish City’s dedicated team will guide you every step of the way. Based on your desires and their experience, they will create a bespoke wedding service for the big day that you’ve always dreamed of.

Matfen Hall >> Say ‘I do’ to your dream wedding at Matfen Hall. Your wedding day at this stunning Northumberland venue will embody pure romance and ultimate luxury. Sweep down the grand staircase, take in the magnificent stained-glass window and enter The Great Hall, where up to 100 guests will share your happiness. The venue is licensed to host civil ceremonies, while those in search of a more traditional wedding can attend the village church in nearby Matfen. Boasting a truly regal atmosphere, The Morning Room is the most sophisticated location for your wedding breakfast.


Spacious and bright, this intricatelydesigned venue offers stunning views of the Northumberland landscape. From the intimacy of Le Jardin Hollandaise to the grandeur of the 300-acre estate, you have an enviable choice of beautiful backdrops to capture your first moments as a married couple. The historic estate can be exclusively yours, as you celebrate your night amongst the stunning architecture of the Vault Bar. The hotel’s beautiful bedrooms offer the utmost comfort and style, allowing you to wake up to a life of wonder in the most wonderful of spaces. Encompassing all the emotions of the perfect wedding day, accompanied by Matfen Hall’s signature elegance, you will experience the happiest day of your life in ultimate luxury.

The County Hotel >> Your wedding is a day unlike any other, so naturally, you want it to be perfect. The County Hotel is a one-of-a-kind venue that promises perfection at every touch point. The expert team will provide a bespoke service so you can have a wedding that is uniquely yours - from the room decor and layout, to the food and wine, you can choose everything. The County Hotel is a Grade II Listed building and retains a lot of its original Victorian features, including high ceilings and large windows, combined to create a picturesque setting as an idyllic backdrop for a dream wedding day. Couples have a variety of fantastic suites to choose from including The Mozart Suite, with its traditional oak wood paneling; The County Suite, with its high vaulted ceiling and original stained-glass windows; and The Strauss Suite, with its period fireplace and library. The venue boasts plenty of on-site accommodation for couples and their guests, with 124 bedrooms, including 10 deluxe rooms and a junior suite. Food lovers can enjoy expertly crafted cocktails and locally sourced, seasonal dishes from all day eatery and late bar, The Hudson. It’s the perfect setting for a rehearsal dinner, or relaxing with family and friends before or after the big day. The team at The County Hotel takes pride in understanding each couple’s wishes and working with them to make that dream a reality.

Credit: Chocolate Chip Photography

Treehouse, Ramside Hall Hotel >> The magnificent treehouses at Ramside Hall Hotel are a breathtaking backdrop for any wedding celebration; and that’s why the hotel has created a dedicated treehouse for love birds everywhere, which is fittingly called Dove. With views over the hotel’s Prince Bishop’s golf course and set back in a wooded area, Dove can accommodate up to 40 guests for a wedding ceremony, with the added attraction of a drinks reception on the wrap-around terrace. The treehouse has the same facilities as its nearby counterparts - complete with floor to ceiling windows, roll top copper bath and log burner - but has been designed to accommodate those who want a wedding with a difference. Wedding packages include a three course breakfast served on tables dressed in white linens and chair sashes in colours that fit in with the overall theme, as well as the hotel sommelier’s choice of wine. And best of all, when the guests are gone, the happy couple get to spend the night in Dove with full use of the award-winning Spa at Ramside the following day. Weddings at the treehouses also come with the added benefit of all of the other facilities at Ramside Hall Hotel close at hand, including accommodation for guests, a variety of dining experiences and larger function suites, should you want to push the boat out on a large evening event for family and friends. The Lakeside Marquee, Hardwick Hall Hotel >> Imagine a wedding set against the backdrop of a magnificent country park, with panoramic views over a stunning lake. Imagine your guests enjoying themselves in a private garden and tucking into some informal dining options such as generous sharing platters or a delicious barbeque. All this, and more, is possible thanks to the new Lakeside Marquee at Hardwick Hall Hotel. This impressive sailcloth structure, complete with a glass front, will be erected for the first time this May, available for weddings until the beginning of August each year. Hosting up to 150 guests seated - or larger numbers standing - it really is a wedding

with a wow factor venue. The dedicated space will also include fire pits for cosy evenings by the lake, the perfect spot to enjoy a drink or canapes. Structures of this kind are becoming increasingly popular, and with a venue like Hardwick, complete with catering, bar, accommodation and more, everything is under one sailcloth roof, ensuring your day is perfect from start to finish. Grantley Hall >> Grantley Hall is a breathtaking five-star hotel with five restaurants and three bars, an award-winning spa and state-of-the-art gym facility, all set in 37 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, creating the perfect backdrop for your dream wedding. Your dedicated Grantley Hall Wedding Executive will act as your personal planner to bring your wedding day to life. The night before the wedding is the perfect opportunity for a private dining experience in one of the hotel’s many restaurants with your guests. The morning of the wedding will see you preparing for the big day in one of the stunning suites - the Royal Suite is a bridal favourite. The wedding itself could be outside on the lawn for the perfect summer set up, in the ornate Music Room or in the dedicated event space, the Grantley Suite. Weddings can also take place in a bespoke marquee in the grounds, when exclusive hire of the hotel is taken. As your guests enjoy the reception, you have time to use the grounds for your wedding photographs, choosing from a

Credit: Anna Beth Photography


ADVERTISING FEATURE selection of beautiful areas across the estate. Having then enjoyed a magnificent wedding breakfast of fine food, wine and emotional speeches, it’s time to continue the party into the night at Valeria’s Champagne & Cocktail – the after-party location! Whatever you choose for your big day, at Grantley Hall the difference is in the detail.

Wynyard Hall >> Behind the majestic façade of Wynyard Hall are some of the most beautiful spaces in the North East, designed to ensure that your special day lives forever in your memory. A perfect blend of old-world grandeur and contemporary sophistication ensure an easily elegant setting, while the exemplary service that runs throughout the entire estate guarantees a smooth, sleekly presented occasion. Each wedding is unique and the venue’s

team of wedding experts are passionate about making your perfect day that extra bit special - with exclusive use of Wynyard Hall. From ceremony to celebration, through to a luxurious suite for the bride and groom, the team will work with you to create a lifetime of memories. With a choice of stylish interiors and flexible spaces, Wynyard Hall is the perfect wedding and events venue. Getting married in such an iconic venue weaves your own story into the rich history of the hall.

The Vermont Hotel >> The Vermont Hotel is an exquisite choice for a spectacular city wedding. No day is more special than your wedding day, and the place that you choose to say ‘I do’ should hold special memories for you forever.

Location is key when it comes to a city centre wedding - and the more central you can host your celebration, the better. It’s fantastic to be close to all the sites of the city as well as great transport routes. The Vermont has three spectacular function suites, each offering contrasting features and the most stunning backdrops for special ceremonies and wedding receptions. The Vermont Hotel Sky Lounge & Garden is truly unique, offering panoramic views of Newcastle’s Quayside and historic city. The Ballroom combines the grandeur of oak panelled walls with beautiful bespoke art deco windows. The Gold Room is resplendent in the luxury of the late 1920s, rejoicing in all the charms of that bygone era. Your wedding day is jam-packed from start to finish, and when the last dance is over, there’s nothing better than having somewhere to relax. The hotel is home to a range of beautiful bridal suites, each with breathtaking views and all the special details to make your experience extraordinary. A wedding day is as unique as the couple, and being able to make a venue entirely your own for the day, is an incredibly special thing indeed. Bowburn Hall Hotel >> Bowburn Hall Hotel was recently voted one of the best places in County Durham to get married, and it’s not hard to see why. Originally built as a private home in the 1920s, Bowburn Hall Hotel is licensed for both weddings and civil ceremonies and couples can tie the knot in either the hotel’s elegant ballroom, or outside, where a tree-lined aisle with a cascading fountain

Credit: Ray Sawyer

leads to a pretty, ornate pergola. Guests can stay in any or all of the 20 individually-styled bedrooms, with crystal chandeliers, freestanding copper baths and antique furniture, or in the five garden lodges within the grounds. And to make the experience even more special, bridal couples are given complimentary use of the honeymoon suite with its spectacular four poster bed. It’s the perfect place for an intimate affair, or for an exclusive use celebration where the happy couple and their guests can have the run of this impressive building. Chefs will create a bespoke menu to suit the occasion, which can be anything from an informal buffet, to canapes and fizz, or a sit down wedding breakfast. One of the area’s hidden treasures, Bowburn Hall is the perfect backdrop for nuptials wanting the wow factor.




£6999 59

BIG DAY Her shoes were Manolo Blahnik, paired with Christian Dior jewellery and a Maria Elena tiara to complete the look. Her beautiful bridesmaids looked the part in stunning SilkFred gowns. THE GROOM WORE >> Jeremy was suited and booted thanks to Hire5 in Guildford, with shoes from Dunhill and a gifted Omega watch from Rosanna. His cufflinks were a special nod to Durham University and his groomsmen also looked dapper in Hire5 suits. THE CAKE >> The couple’s cake was made by Sherbert Moon. Sticking to the theme of pink and sparkly, the tiered creation had three different flavours: white chocolate and raspberry, lemon meringue and salted caramel. Delicious! SPECIAL DETAILS>> The couple made sure there were plenty of personalised, romantic features to create some seriously swoon-worthy moments. These details included: personalised tissues in the chapel ‘for happy tears’, a champagne tower to kickstart the drinks reception, and his and hers personalised cocktails: ‘The Rozmopolitan’ and ‘The Full Belmonty’.


Exclusively yours

Jeremy and Rosanna tied the knot at the beautiful Wynyard Hall. Using a dreamy colour palette, exquisite florals and luxe decor, it would be an understatement to say they didn’t hold back in making their dream wedding a reality Rosanna Ravey and Jeremy Talbot THE COUPLE >> Rosanna Ravey, management consultant from Liverpool and Jeremy Talbot, accountant from Oxford - both currently living in London - met at Durham University nearly 11 years ago. Rosanna recalls their first formal dinner at university where the principal of their college had said that 70% of couples who met at Durham University ended up getting married. Little did they know, they both would become part of that club. Fast forward to 2020, Jeremy had taken Rosanna on a surprise trip, took to one knee and popped the question. After saying


an effortlessly elegant affair filled with gorgeous details. Rosanna tells us she’s a real ‘girl’s girl’, so the theme was pink and sparkly. The couple loved the fact that Wynyard offered exclusive use, has a chapel on site as well as spa cottages and the stunning 120 acre grounds. Their guests fell in love with the venue just as much as the couple themselves did. The Talbot’s said that everything about their wedding experience, which spanned over three glorious days, was a dream but the most special part had to be meeting each other at the end of the aisle. The sun was shining, the chapel was stunning, the organist and choir created a serene atmosphere, and the couple had personalised tissues at the ready for their guests which were put to very good use. THE BRIDE WORE >> Rosanna’s bridal gown was a striking Ines Di Santo design from The Wedding Club in Knightsbridge. She knew she wanted a showstopper and always thought she would go for something very glitzy. However, when she tried this dress on, she loved the simplicity of the top half of the dress, combined with the drama of the bottom half. Never having seen a dress quite like it, Rosanna added her own personal touch by attaching a custom bow for a final girly flourish.

TOP TIPS >> The best tip Rosanna and Jeremy said they can give to other couples is to simply enjoy the day itself - the planning is done, just enjoy the moment! Also, give your mobile phone to a bridesmaid or groomsman to get pictures for you - it’s worth it the next day to see all of the fabulous photos while you are waiting for your professional images. For any couples thinking about using Wynyard Hall as their venue, the couple recommend it 100%, saying it was the perfect setting for their wedding. The exclusive use and the chapel in particular made it extra special, but most of all the staff made Wynyard feel like home for the couple and their guests both during the wedding and in the planning process. Rosanna and Jeremy say that Wynyard will always have a special place in their hearts and can’t wait to come back for a stay in one of the cottages. THE HONEYMOON >> Rosanna and Jeremy headed straight to the Lakes for a minimoon at Gilpin Hotel & Lake House. It was the perfect opportunity for them to relax together in wedded bliss with their own private spa where they were able to read all of their wedding cards and eat lots of wedding cake! The couple hope to take a safari trip in the next year or two. THE PHOTOGRAPHER >> Carro Photography

‘YES!’, to add to the surprise, Rosanna’s parents were both waiting to celebrate the exciting news with them. THE VENUE >> The couple, both being from different parts of the UK, didn’t feel it was fair to pick just one of their hometowns for their wedding, so given that they met at Durham University, they decided that the North East would be the perfect setting for their big day. Jeremy and Rosanna’s wedding was the epitome of classically romantic. Putting their faith and trust into the experts, the pair relied on Wynyard’s talented team to create


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Dreamy destinations Looking for the perfect place to celebrate the start of forever? We’ve picked out some of our favourite destinations - both near and far - for you to fall head over heels in love with

Soneva Fushi

Close to home >> The Gilpin Hotel and Lake House The Gilpin Hotel and Lake House provides the perfect romantic backdrop when it comes to celebrating true love. This elegant sanctuary is situated in the heart of a 100 acre Lake District estate. The hotel itself is made up of 30 unique bedrooms, two restaurants (the spectacular Michelin starred restaurant and the casual pan Asian Gilpin Spice), a Champagne bar, lounge, terraces and spa treatment area. The whole place oozes peace and tranquility and with a variety of room types, you can choose to go as ‘extra’ as your newly-wed hearts desire. The Spa Suites in particular hold the extra wow factor we think honeymooners will flock to. Think a bedroom ‘floating’ over the pond with views to the mountains; a living area with lounge, dining table and bar, huge

a huge hot tub outside. Designed as the ultimate spa sanctuary for two, these oh-so romantic Spa Suites have a beautiful ‘outdoors/indoors’ spirit and themed decor which make for the perfect break away to celebrate your love for one another.

The Gilpin Hotel & Lake House

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West Grange If you’re looking to celebrate tying the knot with your nearest and dearest in tow, West Grange in Leyburn, North Yorkshire is the perfect spot for you. This large lavish country house promises a luxury hot tub escape that boasts chic interiors, rustic features and picturesque views. Your bridal party can look forward to unwinding in front of the roaring log burner in the cosy living areas, luxuriating in the bubbling hot tub, or simply catching up around the outdoor fire pit. Fire up the BBQ or enjoy drinks before dinner, whilst admiring the far-reaching views. More than just a holiday home; private dining, a trip to the sanctuary spa treatment room, stable tours, yoga sessions and special occasion packages can all be added to make your celebration all the more special. There’s something to entertain the whole gang.

they can enjoy some of the many activities on offer and gently explore this wonderful estate by Pashley bicycle. For the active there is tennis, paddleboarding or rowing, as part of Suffolk’s stunning wetlands, as well as guided wilderness walks to experience the full dawn chorus and explore this beautiful wildlife-rich area. Clay pigeon shooting, axe-throwing, archery, and air rifle sessions are also on offer. Daily housekeeping service, chefs, activities and experiences can all be organised for you so you don’t have to lift a finger.

Stump, Sibton Park Estate With its own natural swimming lake, rowing boat and a private spa area with hot tub, steam and sauna rooms, this beautifully unique thatched folly is an idyllic romantic retreat for couples wishing to sneak away from it all for some privacy and pampering post-vows. The interiors are both luxurious and characterful, like something out of a fairytale. Playing on its name ‘Stump’, this one-bedroom bolthole is full of charming little details with arched oak doorways and windows and a magnificent tree fireplace for newly weds to cosy up by. Despite its small appearance, there is every mod con imaginable for a truly luxurious stay in the wilderness. And when couples feel like stepping outside of this pampered paradise,

Soneva Fushi Barefoot luxury at its best. Located on Kunfunadhoo Island - the heart of the Baa Atoll, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, and one of the largest reefs in this island nation - Soneva Fushi makes for the perfect island paradise for a honeymoon castaway. The oh-so dreamy resort sets the standard for luxury in the Maldives, each villa comes with a private butler to attend to your every want and need. For beach break honeymooners, the overwater sunrise villa complete with slide and private pool comes highly recommended. This overwater one-bedroom retreat is reached via a jetty from the beach. It has a pool on the deck, with a lookout on the first floor for dolphin

West Grange

Far-flung destinations >>


GETTING AWAY spotting and sundowners. Hidden away in the palms is the Six Senses Spa, where the extensive range of therapies will soothe away any post-wedding dance floor mishaps. As well as experiencing ultimate relaxation, there’s a huge range of activities to enjoy to your heart’s content. With access to your very own bicycles, the island is yours to explore at your leisure. The resort is a diver’s dream. It has its own PADI dive centre, where you can learn to scuba and join excursions to more than 30 different sites including some of the world’s best. Snorkelers will often swim alongside turtles and at the right time of the year, Manta rays. As the sun sets, cosy up together watching a movie on the giant off shore cinema screen, camp under the stars in Bedouin style tents, or take a sunset dolphin cruise, and visit the observatory, where the wonders of the universe are revealed. When it comes to romance, adventure and pure indulgence, it’s as good as it gets.

Chileno Bay For newlyweds looking for the most luxurious of getaways, Chileno Bay is a year round outdoor playground that offers both relaxation and adventure in equal measure. This slice of paradise is nestled along one of most desirable beaches in Los Cabos which has long been known for its tranquil, swimmable waters and pristine coral reefs. Chileno Bay was created with a distinct vision to bring a contemporary take on the classic Baja escape, with an airy, open aesthetic. There’s plenty of accommodation to choose from; all guestrooms, villas and suites offer the utmost luxury both inside and out. Think contemporary decor, ocean views and private plunge pools. It’s everything you’d expect from a luxe getaway. Whether it’s a spot of relaxation, soul-seeking adventures or a bit of both, you’ll never be left feeling bored.

Perfect planning >> Your honeymoon is one of the most exciting trips you’ll plan in your life, which is why it has to be perfect. We’ve teamed up with Travel Bureau and Kuoni to help bring your honeymoon dreams to life. The experts here know their stuff when it comes to tailor-making honeymoons and recommending a destination that is right for you and your budget. While you enjoy a complimentary chilled glass of champagne in store, the team get to know more about you, what you want from your honeymoon and share their first-hand knowledge to make the planning a breeze. Kuoni honeymoons don’t come off the shelf, they are tailor-made by personal travel experts who have real destination insight, with personal experience and favourites. Here are just a few to whet your appetite: • Dine on a secluded beach in the Maldives with your very own chef and waiter • Float away on a sunset balloon ride over the beautiful Serengeti • Enjoy an exhilarating helicopter tour of New York City or Cape Town’s historic harbour • Learn to scuba-dive in the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean • Spend the night in a treehouse at Lion Sands Game reserve in the heart of the Kruger National Park in South Africa • Watch the snow monkeys bathe in hot springs on a Winter Japan Tour Next up, the Honeymoon Gift Service. Let friends and family help treat you to your perfect trip by setting up a honeymoon gift list. Create your personalised page with a unique link for them to pledge their contribution towards your dream trip. For more inspiration or expert advice, visit, call 0191 285 9321 or email

Chileno Bay

@Amy Lou Photography

Make Your Dreams Come True When getting married to the one you love, what could be better than tying the knot at an iconic building that was created out of love? Please email: or call: 01833 690606 for further details.

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MAR/APR23 63



Holiday romance

It was smiles all round at this sun-soaked wedding surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Turkish Riviera. Stephanie and Ross took flight for their dream day surrounded by loved ones Stephanie Ringland and Ross Robertson THE COUPLE >> Childhood sweethearts, Stephanie Ringland (29) and Ross Robertson (31) met at secondary school and said ‘I do’ 13 years later in the Turkish Riviera. Stephanie, Client Services Director at Coquet Cottages and Ross, Quality Inspector at Nissan, put a ring on it in 2019 during a family holiday to the Turkish ‘Turquoise Coast’. When Stephanie’s family left, the pair were staying on the Kas Peninsula where Ross took to one knee while Stephanie was posing for a photograph in front of the setting sun. A romantic dinner and exclusive use of the waterfront restaurant followed. Oh-so romantic. THE VENUE >> An ‘away-from-it-all’ wedding was always on the cards for the couple, and they set their hearts on Turkey after the pictureperfect proposal. The pandemic got in the way of their original plans and they eventually booked Yali Beach Club in Kalkan via FaceTime in May 2021. It was a huge leap of faith, but they had full confidence in their wedding planner, Hayal from EGG Weddings. Getting married by the ocean


was a must, so the beach club was the perfect place to say ‘I do’, with Stephanie arriving in style by boat and listening to the waves crashing as they were saying their vows. Bliss. THE BRIDE WORE >> Stephanie’s dress was ivory with a sand colour underskirt, part of the Enzoani Blue birdal collection, and named simply, ‘Mai’. Floral features and applique lace were part of the spec and this gown ticked both of those boxes and went perfectly with the spectacular seascape backdrop. She put her best foot forward in a pair of sparkly shoes by Badgley Mischka and completed the look with a chapel-length shimmer veil, a large headpiece with jewelled flowers and earrings made from her mum’s diamonds, lovingly restored by Berry’s Jewellers. Bridesmaids looked beautiful in Jacqueline Louise Bridal multi-way dresses in a lovely light olive colour - complete with bespoke earrings by Salt & Co and specially commissioned bracelets. Each bracelet had a piece of green sea glass encased in silver as a charm, picked by Stephanie from Warkworth beach - a little bit of home.

THE GROOM WORE >> The groom and his groomsmen looked dapper in Next suits, and added a special touch in the form of one late grandad’s watch and his other late grandad’s wedding ring. Pocket squares were made by the mother of the groom. THE CAKE >> The sweet stuff was supplied by a local cake maker and it was a hit with the wedding guests. Three tiers of deliciousness, packing in flavours of vanilla, lemon and coconut. Tasteful and tropical, simply decorated with olive leaves and a personalised wedding topper. SPECIAL DETAILS>> From a polaroid photo guest book and handmade acrylic stationary, to pineapple sunglasses as a nod to the couple’s favourite song, ‘Club Tropicana’, there were lots of personal touches to make this destination wedding an incredibly unique one. On 21 September, the couple walked down the aisle after tying the knot to another of their favourite songs, ‘September’ by Earth Wind & Fire, and their first dance was a beautiful acoustic version of Becky Hill’s ‘I Could Get Used To This’. Following the first dance, the party got underway with an amazing belly dancer! TOP TIPS >> 1. Make a list of everything you need to

do and buy and try your best to tick something off every week in the run up to your wedding day. It will hopefully ease the pressure. 2. Having a videographer as well as a photographer was one of the best decisions we made. The photographs are beautiful of course, but a video brings your day to life all over again. 3. Consider a destination wedding if you can - you will absolutely not regret it! It can be difficult in the planning process, but the benefits far outweigh the minor drawbacks. It’s a great way to really spend quality time with your nearest and dearest - we celebrated for a whole week and wouldn’t have it any other way! THE HONEYMOON >> It was a quick turnaround for Stephanie and Ross, who flew to Dubai for their honeymoon the day after returning home from Kalkan. The Jumeriah Al Naseem was their hotel of choice - perfect for a beach break with the glitz and glam of the city at their fingertips. THE PHOTOGRAPHER >> Erdem from 1Yastikta captured the day beautifully, with the perfect combination of happy ‘candid’ shots and posed photographs of the pair looking stunning with the Mediterranean Sea as their backdrop.


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Blooming lovely The natural world around us is waking up again as we gently drift into spring. Elysia Fryer talks seasonal blooms, calming creative spaces and floral wedding trends with Egle Dubinkaite

Egle is the brains behind Bloomhead - an artisan flower studio sitting in a stunning spot in the village of Blackhall Mill, Northumberland. Bloomhead is all about embracing the beauty of the natural world that surrounds us, particularly in the rural landscapes we are lucky enough to have on our doorstep - a huge source of inspiration for Egle since moving here 16 years ago. “I’m originally from Lithuania, but moved to the UK 16 years ago,” Egle starts, as we sit down to chat on a crisp winter’s day, setting our sights on the spring season ahead. You can feel spirits lifting as we move away from the winter slumber and start to talk about the first sighting of daffodils and our lush landscape turning green. “It’s so beautiful to see those first hints of colour,” Egle smiles. The perfect time to ‘start again’ and feel optimistic about the new season - but before we get into all of the joy that comes with those ‘sunshiney’ months, it makes sense to start from the beginning, as Egle gets me up to speed with her journey to ‘the now’. “My move to the UK and the North East was very organic,” she begins.


“When I finished my studies in Lithuania, I came over here on holiday, and never properly went back. I found it a very welcoming and fascinating place, and it just felt like somewhere I could call home. “Once I made that decision and settled here, I started working in a flower shop, but it was a very basic, bottom of the pile role, scrubbing buckets and doing all of the hard, dirty work that needed to be done seasonally. “It was hard work, but I loved it and got a real sense for what it takes to be a florist in a very demanding industry. “I let it go for a little while and went on to work in the hospitality and entertainment industry, managing a bar in Newcastle before moving down to Bristol for a couple of years where I ended up working in a small, family-run flower shop. That is where I really started to connect with the trade. I learnt a lot and realised that, with time, I was developing my own unique style. “An opportunity came to move back up north and I grabbed it - it felt like I was returning home again. I settled in Blackhall Mill, which was perfect for me because I was surrounded by nature in a place that really allows me to be creative and learn more about my natural surroundings.” Like many successful businesses,

Bloomhead was born at home. “I started by getting to grips with what grows locally and working with the seasons,” says Egle. “Then I spent a lot of time spending way too much money on flowers and materials at local markets. I would make bouquets and wreaths at Christmas time, and that’s when I started to realise that people were genuinely interested in what I was creating.” When you visit Bloomhead or browse Egle’s website and social media, it’s clear to see that she has her own unique style. With an emphasis on wild, seasonal and locally grown flowers, her space - be it in person or online - has a whimsical charm to it. It

feels like an escape - getting lost in a floral fairytale. “I’ve always been drawn to the natural and informal style of floristry,” she says. “For me, it’s not about following a process or learning the ‘dos and don’ts’. It’s about portraying feelings through flowers, using the wild and wonderful things that surround us and bringing them together in a beautiful, effortless way. “Around 90% of the flowers we see in the UK are shipped from all over the world and are treated to withstand the long journeys, so they lose their authenticity. “I thought to myself, ‘what can I do to take what we have on our doorstep and turn it



My business has been born on the back of the beauty of the natural world around us, so it’s important that I protect that as much as possible into stunning displays for our own homes?’ “That’s what Bloomhead is all about.” The art of floristry mirrors the food world in many ways. It’s all about the produce and what we can do with it, to really make it shine. Like food, flowers move with the seasons and you’re always going to get the best out of that produce if it is fresh and local. “Sourcing locally is a big part of my business,” says Egle. “When you live within a small community like mine, it’s all about connecting with people - and that is a great way to grow a business. “I started by foraging for materials on private land - with permission of course. I love nothing more than going out in the wild and picking the best seasonal stuff. “In the early days, my house would be packed full of flowers and foliage - with no real plan as to what I was going to do with it. But for me, it was research. It was a way of getting all of my ideas together and exploring the methods and materials I would later use to create bouquets, wreaths and other floral arrangements.” While, quite literally, growing her business at home, Egle started to plant her own flowers in the garden and at her home allotment. “I had a lot of learning to do,” Egle laughs. “But it was a process, and it was a great way for me to get to know that side of the


trade, as well as understanding what we can grow here in Northumberland. “It wasn’t long before people came forward and ladies in the gardens locally wanted to start growing flowers for me. Friends and neighbours were chipping in with whatever they had growing, and I learnt a lot from them. It is a wonderful thing to be a part of such a supportive community. “I made lots of connections along the way and today I still work closely with Carolina Moon Flowers; she grows and harvests seasonal flowers and foliage in County Durham, close to the Northumberland border. I also work with other suppliers like Durham Blooms, as well as some others further afield from locations with different climates, like down in Cornwall. I like to keep things local as much as possible, but some stuff is shipped, particularly if people are looking for something specific that we can’t grow here. “It’s a little trickier during the cooler months. That’s when I have to look at wholesale, but there’s definitely plenty for me to work with in the spring and summer here in Northumberland.” As well as embracing the seasons and sourcing locally, sustainability is at the forefront of Egle’s business - something she incorporates, not only into her bouquets and packaging, but also in the way in which she works. “It’s really important for me to reduce the

need for transportation as much as possible, not only for the benefit of the flowers and their lifespan, but also in terms of reducing our carbon footprint. “So sourcing locally is key, but I also like to reduce waste and reuse dried materials as much as possible. Even on a small scale, this can make such a huge difference, and people are looking to work with businesses who are consciously doing their bit for the environment. My business has been born on the back of the beauty of the natural world around us, so it’s important that I protect that as much as possible. “Then there’s also personal sustainability, which is equally as important,” Egle adds. “I keep on top of this by ensuring I’m not burning myself out and giving myself some downtime between work to ensure I can show up and do my best when I am working with customers. We’re all figuring out how to get the perfect balance, but I think if you’re aware of it, you’re well on your way.” Packing two years worth of events into one summer post-Covid was a big pressure for many people in the wedding industry, and this was a huge challenge for Egle, who had launched her business just before the pandemic. One of the most testing ‘burn-out’ exercises to date. “There was lots of catching up to do, with many of my weddings concentrated into two months after the lockdowns,” she starts. “So there was a worry that I was going to ‘burn-out’, but the wedding industry is great - people pull together and were incredibly understanding, particularly during such unusual situations like the pandemic. “Things are settling down a little bit now, but there’s definitely a backlog and it is very busy. “My wedding clients are wonderful,” says Egle. “They tend to come to me because they relate to my style and are generally looking for something a little ‘wild’ - something a little different. So they’re happy to trust my judgement and let me do my thing.” Egle is seeing a rise in the dried flower trend - particularly when it comes to weddings and events. “Dried flowers are a great option for couples because they can take those arrangements away with them. It’s not something we’re just seeing in our granny’s house anymore, it’s a really popular trend and it’s definitely a more conscious, sustainable option for people.” Alongside every day floristry and wedding

and event styling, Egle is thrilled to offer workshops and private parties at Bloomhead - a fantastic way to invite people to switch off and let the flowers do the talking. It has been proven that engaging in arts and crafts can enhance social and emotional wellbeing, using sensory experiences to be mindful. “Workshops are something that have been very popular from the get go,” Egle starts. “And I love nothing more than sharing the art of floristry with like minded creatives or even people who are a little out of their comfort zones but are willing to learn. “People are happy to invest in experiences - particularly when they can escape for a while and really let their imaginations go. For me, it’s just about ensuring people are having a really good time with it. There’s lots to learn, but fundamentally, it’s got to be fun. “Recently, I’ve been concentrating on the pottery side of my business. I have a back room in the shop where I make pottery in the traditional, wheel throwing style. Pottery is also very meditative, it can really benefit your mental health and I’m a big promoter of that.” As we touched on earlier, spring is an exciting time for Bloomhead. A time for business to boom. A time to really enjoy what is to come in our natural environment. And a time to support those businesses that help us to appreciate the finer things in life. “It’s just so nice to see the change in landscape,” Egle says with a smile on her face. “When you see those first daffodils popping up, everything makes sense again. “When you’re growing your own produce, it can be quite nerve wracking because you start to see everything you’ve planned coming into its own, and sometimes we can get a few curveballs like a late winter frost. It can be very hit and miss in the early days of spring, but things are certainly heading in the right direction and brighter days are coming.” As we continue to see snowdrops and daffodils popping up in our gardens, it’s time to turn our attention to the little joys that spring brings. Pop some flowers in a jar at home, gather some greenery from the garden, and let the new season put a spring in your step as the natural world comes back to life. Spring is a celebration, and we’re so ready for it here at Luxe HQ!

A date for your diary Spring Living Wreath Workshop Thursday 30 March 2023, 6.30pm Greet spring in style at Bloomhead with a Living Spring Wreath workshop where you’ll create a fantastic floral display packing in plenty of new blooms and seasonal greenery. All tools and materials will be provided, with a light refreshment on arrival. No previous experience needed. Take what you create home and hang on your door for the new season. £38. Book online. 3 Chopwell Road, Blackhall Mill, NE17 7TE 67

Cox & Cox Cleo Oak Dining Chair £425,

Tom Raffield Shore Pendant - Oak £165,

Naken Wireworks Busboy Round Tray - Oak (Large) £91,

Lillian Daph Class Round Wooden Dining Table £815, Beaumonde Le Feu Eco Fireplace White/Oak £1,695,


Oak-inspired homeware An ‘Oak Anniversary’ marks 80 years. We haven’t quite hit the 80 year milestone yet, but we’re celebrating our 80th edition of Luxe with some lovely oak pieces for the home… Cult Furniture Lambert Accent Chair, Cane & Dark Stain Oak £349,

Beaver Furniture Magazine Rack £265,

UMAGE Clava Dine Wood in Black Oak Ash £479,

LSA Dine Oil and Vinegar Glass Set and Oak Stand £63,

George Smith Turkish Fireplace Chair from £3,258,


Nomon Punta Wall Clock Black with Oak £85.83,

Sweetpea & Willow Grand Reclaimed Oak Chest of Drawers £945,


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Strategy We know the art of successfully selling exquisite, premium properties, and in our wealth of experience, there are three guiding principles to maximising the sale price of your property and ensuring a successful sale.







Together with her husband Phil, Christina Brion is the brains behind Yorkshire Velvet. The business is all about inviting people far and wide to fall in love with Yorkshire, through the art of transforming a handful of Yorkshire cottages into beautiful holiday homes. While the property portfolio grows, Christina invites us into her own home, Holme Croft… THE LOWDOWN >> Holme Croft is an old Georgian farmhouse dating back to the mid-1700s. It sits in a peaceful position in a village at the foot of the North York Moors. Its former residents have connections with British explorer Captain James Cook, who is from the neighbouring village of Great Ayton. “We hope we will be here for most of our lifetime,” says Christina. “But we know we are simply custodians of a beautiful old house like this. It already has and will continue to hold many memories, spanning many generations.” Christina and Phil bought Holme Croft in August 2019 even though they were not looking to move at the time. “There had been so many upheavals in our lives - selling our business (Gorgeous Cottages), and losing my dad to cancer that summer,” Christina starts.


“Dixon & Cowton, based in Northallerton, were our go-to guys for the kitchen and bootroom, creating everything from scratch. They also made the bespoke cabinets which sit either side of the fireplace in the sitting room.” The house itself benefits from lots of stunning original features, which have been highlighted and enhanced by Christina and Phil in the redesign, ensuring it maintains its Georgian charm while bringing it up to date with unique, personal and contemporary touches chosen by the family. THE RESULTS >> With a background in beautiful holiday cottages, Christina has an eye for design when it comes to the interiors, and is starting to see her vision come to life as they settle into their forever home. “It’s funny how much my interior style has developed and changed as the project has progressed,” says Christina.

“It’s something I’ve always had an eye for (with Gorgeous Cottages and now Yorkshire Velvet), but it’s not something I have actively got involved in to any real extent. “My original plan was to go for greys and neutrals throughout, but I realised quite early on that I much prefer a classic, country house with a modern touch. I started to follow interior Instagram accounts like Rita Koing, Sarah Brown and Sister Interiors, which really helped me develop a mood board and a way of stylishly mixing the old with the new. “I also did Rita Koing’s online interior design course which was incredibly informative and useful. It gave me so many great little tips like thinking about where furniture, lighting and sockets should go before the builders started work.” Having got to know many inspiring Yorkshire businesses and suppliers throughout her time running Gorgeous Cottages, it was important for Christina

“My head was spinning a little from all of that and it was really just on the off-chance that we attended a viewing. As soon as we pulled up outside I had the feeling that this was going to be our home. Phil jokes that I had made an offer before we’d even talked about it whilst walking back to the car. It wasn’t quite that bad, but I must admit I knew we had to buy it there and then.” THE TRANSFORMATION >> The transformation began in January 2020, with most of the construction work completed by summer that year. Impressive in the midst of the pandemic. “Arcadia Builders were the contractors who took care of everything for us, from the building works to the electrics and plumbing. They were great at keeping everything going through the many setbacks of the pandemic,” says Christina.



I tried to source Georgian furniture where possible. It’s funny how furniture from the era of the house immediately looks right at home to support local as much as possible when transforming her home. “In terms of artwork, I’ve sourced a lot from local charity and second-hand shops. It’s amazing how often you can find really nice pieces for next-to-nothing. For example, the still life oil painting on the landing it works particularly well when you mix it with contemporary pieces like lamps and decorative pieces. “I also worked with Niche Living in Barnard Castle - a mother/daughter interior design team who helped with paint, wallpaper, blinds and curtains. They also reupholstered some chairs for us.”

Christina sourced many of her lamps and shades from Pooky Lights, as well as some quirky antique tables and chairs from The Antiques Hound. Other stand-out features were sourced on Etsy, Vinterior and “I tried to source Georgian furniture where possible, in-keeping with the style of the property. It’s funny how furniture from the era of the house immediately looks right at home,” she adds. “I just love the fact that this furniture was being used by people hundreds of years ago, and can now stand proudly in our home.”

THREE LUXE THINGS >> “The ‘secret’ panelled door into the downstairs loo is certainly a talking point and keeps people guessing. The wood burner in the kitchen is one of my favourite features; the kids love having an early morning cup of tea by the fire - it’s the perfect way to start the day at home. And finally, our bi-fold doors that open into the garden and bring the outdoors in. We have them open all of the time during the summer - roll on those warmer months.” ABOUT THE DESIGNER >> Christina Brion, husband Phil and their daughters Poppy and Florence make up ‘Team Velvet’ - the brains behind Yorkshire Velvet. Their mission is to find, refurbish

and share stunning Yorkshire holiday homes with the world. As the original founders of Gorgeous Cottages, Yorkshire’s first luxury holiday cottage agency, Christina and Phil have represented some of the finest self-catering holiday cottages the region has to offer. They parted with that business in 2019 and have recently set up Yorkshire Velvet. Their latest project is a luxurious holiday cottage in the quaint market town of Helmsley. Stay tuned on the Yorkshire Velvet website and social channels for details and updates as the first property in their portfolio comes to life in the coming months.


WWW.OAKLEY-BESPO KE.C O .UK 0191 487 5147




Little moments Nadia McSheffrey, our luxe parenting expert, talks us through the ways in which we can encourage motivation in our children… One theme that pops up regularly in my conversations with clients is motivation: ‘how can I motivate my child to do x, y or z?’. Children generally don’t lack the motivation to engage in activities they find interesting. You’ve probably noticed that some children have an insatiable appetite for playing on their Xbox or scrolling social media, but the moment they are asked to tidy their room or settle down to homework, the enthusiasm quickly diminishes. What parents really want to know is: ‘how can I get my child to do something they don’t want to do?’. The simple answer is, you can’t. You can’t force anyone to do something they don’t want to do and maintain a healthy relationship. As parents, we often delude ourselves into thinking we can control our children. We fall into the trap of using persuasion, bribes (‘stay in the supermarket trolley and I’ll give you some sweets’) threats, coercion or even manipulation (‘Santa’s watching - you’re on the naughty list’) to get our children to do what we want. But in reality, if they wanted to dig their heels in, there’s not a lot we can do about it. Obviously, if we are talking about health and safety such as teeth brushing or putting a seatbelt on, then these are non-negotiables and they have to be done. In these situations, we are not trying to develop motivation, we are trying to ensure cooperation. What I’m talking about here are those ‘optional extras’ like reading at home, completing chores, practising the piano, revising for exams etc. Firstly, please throw away reward charts,


pay for grades or other external motivators. Extrinsic motivation does not foster internal motivation. In fact, research says that it actually decreases motivation. So, what CAN we do to encourage our children to do things they aren’t necessarily thrilled about? Here are a few strategies I use with my own son and also the neurotypical children I work with. Children who are neurodivergent may need other interventions. A key and fundamental tool is connection… If a child feels connected to you, then they are more likely to cooperate. Think about your own life, particularly at work. If a colleague or boss is compassionate and considerate and they ask you to do something, you will be more willing to say ‘yes’ because of the respectful relationship you have. If you work for a tyrant or a client is particularly belligerent, you may begrudgingly do what is required but you will be looking for the quickest exit. It’s the same with children. When there is a bond built on mutual respect, your child will be more willing to oblige because they genuinely care about you. Another suggestion, based on neuropsychology research, is giving children more control over their own life... When children make age-appropriate decisions they feel empowered and motivated. Looking back over the last few years, as a global community, much of our anxiety and stress came from our lack of control. Research tells us that a low sense of control is highly associated with stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. When we feel autonomous, the executive functioning part of our brain (the

prefrontal cortex) is strengthened and regulates the brain’s alarm system (the amygdala). We feel calmer, more confident and more motivated. Children are no different. They are often governed by the emotional part of the brain but giving them a sense of control actually encourages the thinking part to develop and strengthen. I will put a caveat in place at this point. There’s a fine line between giving children autonomy and withdrawing help completely, so make sure that you tell your children that you are always there to support them. Some children become overwhelmed when they have too much choice and they need our guidance to make decisions. In Dr Dan Siegel and Tina Payne-Bryson’s book, The Yes Brain, they state that there are times when you need to decide when to encourage and when to step in. They call it ‘pushin’ or ‘cushion.’ We don’t want children to feel threatened, we want them to feel challenged. This fosters motivation. Home should be your child’s safe space. If they feel stressed at home as well as at school, then the likelihood is they will feel permanently unmotivated. If children feel like you don’t trust their decisions or you’re always hovering over them, their levels of enthusiasm will plummet. For example, micromanaging homework doesn’t help anyone. If they are trying their best then this should be good enough. The work they produce doesn’t have to be perfect - and this is coming from a recovering perfectionist! Finally, when children see the real-life purpose of the task you are asking them to do, this can increase motivation because they can make connections between the effort and the end result…

The focus is on the process and not just the product. They may not want to do it, but they will understand why they should. Remind children of the purpose of engaging in a task. Why should they practise their piano? Why should they revise for exams? This is sometimes an eye-opening exercise for both of you. If the reason you are asking them to do something isn’t beneficial or isn’t relevant any more, then it may be time to reassess the whole situation.

Nadia McSheffrey is founder of The Tranquil Treehouse. Nadia works with parents to help them be the parent they want to be and find tranquility in their family lives. She also works with children and teachers to support their own emotional wellbeing. For more information and daily parenting support, follow her at: and on Facebook and Instagram @tranquiltreehouse



LUXE MAMA with Elysia Fryer

Celebrating super mums in business, preparing for baby number two and ways in which we can support curious tots

Things are about to get a little bit busier around here! As we await the arrival of our little spring chicken, our thoughts have turned to tackling the wonderful world of ‘two under two’. The phrase ‘two under two’ might send a shiver down your spine, but in all honesty, I’m looking at the positives and am incredibly excited for this whirlwind adventure of chaos and love to unfold. In this column, George and I have been digging out some must-have products to make life a little easier when the second

babe comes along - from baby swings and buggy boards, to pushchairs, carriers and play mats. We’re also giving a great big shout out to the super mums who have launched new businesses since bringing sprogs into the world - all of which have been inspired by the little people that have changed our lives for the better. All of that, plus some interactive play and development tips from our friends at Lovevery. Once again, I’ll see you on the other side! Love, Me & G x

Play ideas to support your toddler’s curiosity >> Lovevery’s mission is to give families a support system for a brighter future through their stage-based early learning kits. George has had multiple milestone Play Kits and loves to explore and play independently. Lovevery’s experts explain why…

Double trouble >> Must-have products for two under two…

BabyBjörn Baby Carrier Mini, 3D Jersey £105, Graco 2-in-1 All Ways Soother and Rocker £229.99,

Etta Loves Etta Loves X Keith Haring Playmat reversible newborn to 4/5+ months £75,

Joolz Geo3 Pushchair £1,549,

Lascal MINI BuggyBoard £64.99,

Super mamas >> Luxe mums who have taken business into their own hands since having little ones… Sophie Proctor Dylan + Dora

When your toddler is around a year and a half old, there are so many new skills beginning to emerge; like saying more words, feeling a wider range of emotions, and a desire to help around the house. You may catch them talking to themselves, understanding much more of what you say, and feeling more adventurous. Deepen your toddler’s understanding of cause and effect Little ones love to test the relationship between cause and effect. In toddlerhood, their new favourite cause and effect toy is you! You can make the most of their fascination by creating games that explore how things work. For example, if they bang on a drum and it starts to get very noisy, you can ask for a turn - demonstrate quiet and loud noises for them to copy. Play with fine motor pincer grip activities The pincer grip - the coordination of thumb and index finger to perform a task is a crucial piece of fine motor development. Encourage the skill by threading large beads, building blocks or playing with dough. Use patterns to help prepare your toddler’s brain for maths It’s not long before toddlers - and even babies - notice patterns in everyday life. They’re an important element of maths, and helping your toddler spot the patterns of everyday life now, will help them better understand the patterns in our number system later on. Do this by creating patterns with food during meal times, clapping along to a beat, or taking turns to play together. Encourage pretend play As your toddler approaches the two year mark, their imaginative play really comes to life. It is based on their own lived experience and develops further as they approach age three and four. Support early pretend play by modelling simple play scenarios like putting a doll to sleep or mimicking your movements in the kitchen. Props are a great way to encourage pretend play, observing and narrating as they begin to use their imagination.


Sophie Proctor launched Dylan + Dora, a sustainable online store stocking lovely things for little people, after having her own children and wanting to share her experiences with others. Sophie’s colourful career took her from representing Great Britain in tennis, to winning a Bafta for her work in TV production, but it wasn’t until she became a mum when she realised this was really what she was here to do. Running the business from her family home in Yarm, Dylan + Dora (named after her two children), is about curating and sharing sustainable brands that can be essential to a baby and toddler’s first years.

Michelle Jones Freya Lillie Michelle Jones is the brains behind the Durham-based ‘mummy and me’ fashion brand everyone is talking about. Her luxe linen designs were brought to life after the birth of her daughter, Freya Lillie. After struggling to find really unique, well-made and sustainable clothing for her new little one, Michelle took matters into her own hands and the rest is history. Fast forward a few years and you’ll find the stunning Freya Lillie store on Fowlers Yard in Durham.

Cyrenne Khaliq-Fleming Hopscotch Play Cafe, Gosforth Returning home from London after 14 years working in finance, mum of three, Cyrenne, had ambitions to set up her own business and identified an opportunity to open a new play cafe on Gosforth High Street. Hopscotch, due to open late spring, will offer a creative new space for mums, dads and little ones to enjoy together. Think a stylish cafe with an innovative play area and outdoor playground. With an emphasis on using locallysourced suppliers, Hopscotch will serve up a delicious brunch menu alongside quality coffee, delicious sweet treats and nutritious children’s meals. The cafe will also be available to host children’s parties and private events. 75



with Bob Arora

Pocket rocket Imagine getting the keys to a sweet shop and being able to choose whatever sweet you fancied. Bob Arora tries out the Alpine A110 Coupe...

Recently I was given the very same opportunity, but instead of sweets, I was given the chance to drive whichever prestige car I wanted. My choices included a Fiat 500 Abarth, Porsches, Mercedes, BMWs and Teslas galore. I have to say I was so tempted to drive the Abarth 500, but I decided to drive the Alpine A110 Coupe. I’ve really wanted to drive this beautiful-looking car and, given the chance, it was a total no-brainer to take the keys. An outstanding service that Lookers Prestige provides is their sale or return deal, where they will sell your car for you based on an agreed amount, taking away the hassle of selling your car privately. This way you should get more money for your car and you have a garage to do all of the hard work including marketing etc. Recently, they have sold a few Maclarens, Ferraris and Lamborghinis for customers who have used this great service. Most manufacturers have a performance brand: BMW have the M division, Mercedes have AMG and Renault have Alpine. Formula 1 fans will have no doubt seen Alpine F1 cars flying around tracks around the world. Before watching ‘Drive to Survive’ I wasn’t a fan of F1, but I’ve now got a newfound love for the sport. Alpine was the brainchild of Jean Rédélé, who was a retired pilot, Renault dealer and racing driver. With that need for speed, his cars were always going to be real driver’s cars. From his garage, he went about making a two-door saloon which was based on a Renault 4CV chassis. He went on to win the Coupe des Alpes in 1954 and he called the car Alpine. A factory that originally produced Alpine cars currently makes Renault Sport models. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alpine, the A110 was launched as a concept car and it eventually went into production in 2018. The car’s main competitors are the Porsche Cayman, Audi TT RS and the Lotus Elise. Having driven all of the car's competitors, I couldn’t wait to drive the A110. The car takes a lot of styling cues from the original A110, from the four round lights at the front, to the stumpy rear end and its hunches in the roof - it’s a very quirky, cool-looking car.


The car is made from aluminium and it is extremely lightweight. It feels like a pocket rocket. To save weight, the designers and engineers have gone to great lengths - from incorporating the handbrake into the rear brakes helping to save 2.5kg, to trimming 13kg off the bucket seats. The day I got behind the wheel it was really windy and the car was all over the place. Add light rain showers to the day and it was great to drive around twisty country roads. The mid-engined 1.8lt four-cylinder engine produces a very healthy 250bhp and it sprints to 60mph in 4.5 seconds. Despite the heavy winds and driving the car constantly in sport mode, the A110 was averaging well over 40mpg, which I thought was very impressive indeed. Alpine has fitted double wishbone suspension to the A110 making it a very smooth car to drive even over our terrible roads. The key was essentially a flat fob in a leather holder that had unlocking buttons and locking buttons on the holder. It doesn't sound very impressive, but it looked great and it was definitely much more stylish than a boring key. The A110 is fitted with a 7-speed doubleclutch automatic gearbox, and the changes are lightning quick as you’d expect. I decided to use the paddles behind the steering wheel, the engine sounded great as I went to the red line and it was superb to hear the exhaust popping as I went through the gears thinking I was Sir Lewis Hamilton! Storage and luggage space isn’t a strong point for the car. Storage space is limited,

and both the front and rear boot aren’t very practical compared to its competitors. If you purchase this car then you would have to get used to travelling light. While driving I managed to find the odometer and I was shocked to see the car had done over 18,000 miles. If you had put a private plate on the car, no one would have known that it was over two years old, as it looked brand new.

I’m glad I picked the A110 as it was a real joy to drive - this car definitely turns heads. There isn’t another car in this price range that’ll get as much attention. If you are in the market for a 2-seater sports car that isn’t a common sight on the road then you need to see Thomas and the team at Lookers Prestige. Car Courtesy of Lookers Prestige

The car is made from aluminium and it is extremely lightweight. Weighing in at 1,100kg, it feels like a pocket rocket



LUXE LOVES McQueen magic Bring bold colours into your home with this vintage movie poster featuring Steve McQueen’s classic, Bullitt. It’s one of McQueen’s most iconic roles and it’s the perfect centrepiece for a cool home this spring. £3,850,


Visit our showroom or browse online: Portland Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 1AR 0191 287 8321 Follow our socials @LookersPremium




Smooth ride Bob Arora takes the Ferrari Portofino out for a spin and it did not disappoint...

In the motor industry, the name Ferrari conjures up magic motor racing moments and with so many epic wins on the race track, this company really has some heritage to be proud of. With that kind of heritage, it’s no wonder that owning or wanting to drive a Ferrari is something so many people would love to do. Enzo Ferrari, the company’s founder, initially worked in the family carpentry business. Thankfully for all of us car nuts, the business collapsed and Enzo was forced to look for a job. He initially looked for a job in the motor industry and tried to get an unpaid job at Fiat but unfortunately, he wasn’t given the chance to work for them. Luckily, he finally managed to get a job with a small company, CMN, as a test driver and quickly worked his way up to become a racing driver. He went on to become a driver for Alfa Romeo and that’s where he won a few Grand Prix. When two of his close friends and fellow drivers sadly passed away, he carried on driving but said that his heart wasn’t in it, and when his son Dino was born he decided to spend more time in the management and development of the team. In 1929, Enzo started his team, which was called Scuderia Ferrari, and acted as a racing division for Alfa Romeo. The team was extremely successful thanks to the excellent cars. The now famous prancing horse was used as a memory of Enzo’s friend who was a fighter pilot in the war - his friend wore a prancing horse necklace which his mother gave to Enzo when he died. This brings us to the Ferrari Portofino that


I had the absolute pleasure of driving thanks to Alexanders Prestige. This stunning car is the entry model to the Ferrari range and it replaces the California which sold extremely well for Ferrari. Three out of ten buyers of the California are existing Ferrari customers, the rest of the buyers were previously Mercedes, Aston and Bentley drivers. The Portofino is fitted with a twin-turbo V8 3.9lt engine, which gets the car to 62mph in 3.5 seconds, and the car’s top speed is 199mph. While the California’s engine produced 552bhp, the engineers have managed to increase this to 592bhp for the Portofino. They have also managed to make the car a third stiffer and 80kg lighter. One area where Ferrari hasn’t been able to improve on the old model is the speed at which the roof folds - both models take 14 seconds. The steering wheel is a bit daunting at first, with buttons and dials all over the place and unlike most cars, the indicators aren’t on a stalk; instead there are two buttons at the top of the wheel. The engine start button is on the wheel along with the damper button. At the bottom left of the wheel, the Manettino dial controls the sport and comfort setting and you can also switch off the car’s traction control. In sport mode, the car is as you’d expect, it is just waiting to have its power unleashed - you can really feel the car wanting you to put your foot down. In comfort mode, the car is easy and relaxing to drive - you would never know that you were driving a supercar. Plant your foot to the floor and the car reaches scary speeds in absolutely

no time whatsoever. The car’s interior isn’t as plush as a Bentley’s. The dash is dominated by a rev counter and there are two other screens; one screen controls your phone information and the other screen shows you any trip information and other driver info. In the middle, a 10.2-inch touch screen dominates the dash. A seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is

makes total sense, as it was in better condition than when it left the factory. This is the car for anyone looking for something that is a rare sight on the roads. Driving in comfort mode, it is one of the easiest cars in the world to drive. If you are looking to treat yourself, then this is one of the most beautiful looking 4-seater coupe/ convertibles that you can buy.

controlled via buttons in the middle of the dash or by using the beautiful carbon paddles behind the wheel. As you’d expect, options are extremely expensive. For example, a carton cup holder and mats are an eye-watering 2k and if you opt for lightweight alloys and a personalised paint colour then that will cost you around 25k! Saying that, if you can afford the £179,000 required to buy a basic Portofino then the costs above shouldn’t worry you. The car that I was lucky enough to drive had only done just over 3,000 miles. To be able to buy one of these beauties straight away rather than having to wait years for one

Car courtesy of Alexanders Prestige

In comfort mode, the car is easy and relaxing to drive - you would never know that you were driving a supercar. Plant your foot to the floor and the car reaches scary speeds MAR/APR23

| £237,995 Akrapovic Exhaust, B&O 3D Sound, ANIMA, Style Pack, Q-Citura, Pan Roof, Park Assist Pack

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Antler Bamburgh Roll Top Backpack in Khaki £119,

Le Labo Santal 33 Eau de Parfum, 100ml £220, available on counter at H beauty Gateshead Brunello Cucinelli Denim Four-Pocket Jacket £1,500,

Saint Laurent Slim-leg Jeans £620,


Feeling fresh Step out in style this season with a spring clean look…

Raymond Weil Maestro Men’s 40mm, Automatic Calibre £1,395, Alexander McQueen Sprint Runner White Leather Sneakers £595,

Connolly Ecru Cashmere Open Collar Polo £413,

Maison Margiela Bouclé-knit Polo Shirt £720,

Prada Rectangle-frame Sunglasses £315,


Connolly White Loose Fit Cotton Stretch Shirt £242,




Break out the fizz. Time to get down to some people-spotting as we bring you our social snapshot of happenings across the North East. Eyes and teeth time! Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums Inaugural Fundraising Event, Fenwick Newcastle Luxe Magazine is proud to have supported a special fundraising event which raised £30,000 to support Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums. The North East institution manages some of the most popular attractions in the region, with around 1 million visits to its nine venues a year. Its four museums, three art galleries, two Roman forts, and one archive share the stories of

our region’s past and present. The imaginations of over 90,000 children and young people are inspired annually via its education programmes, and it cares for our region’s heritage, including 1.1 million objects, artefacts and artworks preserving them for future generations to enjoy. It also delivers programmes for disadvantaged communities connecting creativity, health and wellbeing to

>> Mia Fenwick, Kieran McBride, Helen Kadzow and Leo Fenwick

>> Barry Perkins, Mark Clasper, Jonny Seebacher, Steven Horn and Meurig Thomasjpg

encourage a healthier, happier and more equal society. The event was coordinated by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums Trustee, Helen Cadzow and hosted by Fenwick Newcastle. Guests enjoyed a dinner, raffle and auction with prizes including: an exclusive weekend stay in Victorian Mansion, Fallbarrow Hall on Lake Windermere donated by Parkdean Resorts; a Diamond bracelet donated by

>> Ollie Stapleton, Dave Lovatt, Robbie Kalbraier, Benjamin Kinch, Javadd Khalic and George Jenkins

>> Helen Roseberry, Marion Adamson, Baroness Joyce Quin, Ann Crombie and Tina Dolder

Portland Group; a luxury hamper and range of prizes from its store, donated by Fenwick; a painting by South Tyneside artist, Bob Olley; a painting donated by Whitehall Galleries; and a stay in a luxury Treehouse donated by Ramside Hall. Keith Merrin, Director of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, said: “We’re thrilled that the event was such a success and we’re enormously grateful.”

>> Lady Andrea Wylie, Dan Cunningham and Belinda Gowland

>> Lucy Philipson, Allison Curbishley and Steve Cram >> Helen Roseberry and Marion Adamson

>> Katherine Cockburn, Dan Cunningham and Lady Andrea Wylie

>> Katherine Cockburn, Lady Andrea Wylie, Andrew Gifford, Franco Graziani, Judith Graziani, Dee Brown, Mike Browne, Belinda Gowland and Dan Cunningham

>> Jill McKinney and Dominic Murphy

>> Elaine Jordon and Suzanne Elderbrant

>> Ollie Irons, Rebecca Morgan, Mark Antonopoulos, Alison Morgan, Harvey Morgan, Helen Cadzow and Imran Khaliq

Ball at the Barns, Thirsk Lodge Barns

>> Chris and Juliette Padget

>> Sam Palliser, Jane Croisdale and Debbie Petty


>> Kate and Ben Ducker

>> Jenny Bainbridge, Carol Oliver, Louise Illingsworth, Claire Ryder and Louise Summers

>> Back Row: Claire Preston, John McGee, Matthew Telling, Debbie Ingoldsby. Front Row: Emma Fryer, Dawn Smith, Chloe Clover, Lou Tonner, Andy Tonner, Alison McGee

>> Katie Tonge, Sophie Harrison, Camilla Scott-Collier and Lucy Radcliffe



Burst into spring >> Brighter days ahead as the world around us wakes up again. Captured by Nicky Gibson at KG Photography,




Vertu BMW BMW Select Representative example: BMW 1 Series 118i [136] SE 5dr [Live Cockpit Professional] Term of agreement

47 Monthly Payments

On the road cash price

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Option to purchase fee

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Total amount payable

Rate of interest

48 months









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Based on 8,000 miles per annum*. Excess mileage charge 14p per annum.

BMW Teesside Preston Farm Industrial Estate TS18 3RB Tel: 0330 178 4850

BMW Sunderland Boldon Business Park NE36 0BQ Tel: 0330 178 4709

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Fuel Consumption figures for the BMW 1 Series 118i [136] SE 5dr [Live Cockpit Professional]. MPG (l/100km): Combined 50. CO2 emissions: 130 g/km. Figures shown are for comparability purposes; only compare fuel consumption and CO2 figures with other cars tested to the same technical procedures. These figures may not reflect real life driving results, which will depend upon a number of factors including accessories fitted (post-registration), variations in weather, driving styles and vehicle load.

We are a credit broker and not a lender. Finance is subject to status and finance company acceptance. We can introduce you to a limited number of lenders and their finance products. We will typically receive a commission from the lender, as either a fixed fee or a fixed percentage on the amount you borrow. The commission we earn does not change by the type of finance. A guarantee may be required. The finance rate will vary dependent of customer personal circumstances for in dealership purchases. †Paid by manufacturer. Library image for illustration purposes only. Vertu BMW is a trading name of Vertu Motors (Continental) Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Company registration number 02156457. VAT Registration number 902737238. Registered office: Vertu House, Fifth Avenue Business Park, Team Valley, Gateshead, NE11 0XA.





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