Luxe Issue 86 - Mar/Apr 24

Page 30

AMAZING SPACES . Spring blooms. EASTER HAPPENINGS. Bags of style. IN THE WILD. Super stotties. GETTING AWAY. Bedding down. HOT PROPERTY. Man kit. IN BUSINESS. Inspiring stories. WOW WEDDINGS.

School news. LUXE. ISSN 2042-1931 9 772042 193002 86 luxe magazine £5.00 ISSUE 86 MAR/APR24 £5 WHERE SOLD

Purveyors of ready-to-wear and bespoke diamond jewellery

Like many of us at the turn of the year, I started 2024 with lots of ‘newness’. And with that came my return to the wonderful world of Luxe. It’s been a joy to be back filling these pages.

A fresh perspective is always welcome, and I’ve enjoyed ‘spring cleaning’ my baby brain by bringing in the luxe life once again.

I’m writing this editor’s letter on a train back from London as we battle with storm Isha. And although the beat of the sun and the colour on the trees seems a little while away, looking ahead to spring is a gentle reminder that the sunny days are ahead of us. It’s comforting and sparks an opportunity to get creative and plan for positive changes.

In true British style, after welcoming this issue with chat about the weather, let’s get to the good stuff. There’s lots going on as the seasons change, and there’s plenty to get excited about as our calendars fill up with Mother’s Day, Easter and other spring happenings.

George Clarke graces our cover this issue. His architectural journey is an inspiring one, and his love for Sunderland seeps through in everything he does.

We’ve also got chats with some really cool folk. From foragers and gardeners, to fitness gurus and community leaders, we once again sign an issue off feeling incredibly proud of the people and places that make the North East home.

All of that, plus plenty of inspiration in the way of food, interiors, beauty, travel and more, as well as our Weddings Edit for those planning for the big day, and our Education Edit for parents and academics to get their teeth stuck into.

Let Luxe guide you into the brighter days ahead.

Remember to check in with us online at

See us on social at:

Instagram: @luxe_mag

Facebook: @luxemag


Christopher March publisher


Elysia Fryer editor

Nicole Wood

Caroline Dask


Debi Coldwell director


Kevin Gibson

Nicky Rogerson


David Stubbs creative director

Euan Underwood

If you wish to advertise with us

contact our sales team:

Coldwell: / 07910 918366



George Clarke is our March/April cover star. When he’s not gracing our screens on architectural journeys around the world, he’s inspiring, educating and championing his hometown of Sunderland. His luxe things in life include: his Leica Ghost travel camera, his garden studio where his creative side really comes to life, and his brand new customised Triumph motorbike.

Gill Hunter is Managing Partner at Square One Law. She’s a businesswoman with a big heartinvolved in all kinds of good-causes she’s passionate about across the region. Her luxe things in life include: all of the things that create memories - whether it’s going to gigs with her daughter, cooking and baking with her son, or travelling the world.

Christi Anderson’s journey has taken her from midwestern America, to London design school, and then later to the luxury postcodes of Wynyard, where she has set up her interior design business, Wynd Design. Her luxe things in life include: wearing a ‘new to me’ outfit from Wynyard Re:Loved Boutique and having Amanda Bell Elite Makeup Artist do my makeup for a meal out with my husband at The Glasshouse, Wynyard Hall.


8>> The agenda

Diaries at the ready...

14>> Culture kicks

50 years of North East art and heritage

19>> In bloom

Wynyard Hall’s stunning Rose Garden

22>> Finding space

Getting to know George Clarke

26>> Luxe fashion

Step into spring with Jimmy Choo

36>> Get moving

Find your flow with Rise Reformer Pilates

40>> Soul food

A Shieldfield bakery with a big heart

47>> Getting away

Reasons to love Cape Verde

50>> Say I do

Wow wedding venues

58>> Green space

Glorious gardens and landscaping

66>> School news

What’s happening in our region’s schools

76>> Mighty motors

New kids on the block from MINI and BMW

78>> Watchful eye

Josh Sims on why watches get their names

79>> Social diary

Smile for the camera

Allies Group Ltd, Enterprise House, Kingsway, Team Valley Trading Estate, Gateshead, NE11 OSR
contents copyright ©2024 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 2024. luxe is published bi-monthly by Allies Group Ltd
Our partners Scan our QR code and keep up-to-date with the latest luxe moments.
All you have to do is dream...

Experience luxury living within our outstanding electric home and linen store. From designer paint and furnishings to luxurious bedding, lavish curtains, and blinds, we have everything you need to elevate your home. All curated by Seymour’s Home’s personal interior design team. Visit our store today and transform your living space into a luxurious sanctuary! NEW FOR SPRING 2024 24 Grange Rd, Darlington DL1 5NG Grange Road Tel: 01325 355272

The agenda >>

Spring into action with our luxe culture picks for March and April…


Michael Rakowitz: The Waiting Gardens of the North UNTIL 26 MAY

Our thoughts naturally turn to gardens and the great outdoors as we drift into spring. BALTIC is marking this shift with an inspiring exhibition by renowned Iraqi-American artist, Michael Rakowitz. The Waiting Gardens of the North responds to conflict by, figuratively and literally, nurturing a community and an evolving indoor garden landscape. Alongside newly created artworks, Rakowitz’s exhibition presents a collection of plants at different stages of their growing process. Born out of collaboration with people living in Gateshead and Newcastle with experience of forced displacement, the ‘ruined garden’ acts as a metaphor for the overlapping histories of displacement, war, oppression, trauma and adaptation. A truly breathtaking and thought-provoking exhibition for spring.

ARTS & CULTURE Murmuration


Immerse yourself in the wonderful world of birds at The Bowes Museum this spring. Murmuration presents a wide range of art, sculptures and film work from creatives from various generations, backgrounds and contexts. A wonderful opportunity to discover the profound relationships we share with birds, and remind us of the common spaces we inhabit and the interconnectedness that binds us.


Cocktail Afternoon Tea at Mother Mercy


Nothing beats a cocktail-stop at Mother Mercy when shopping in Fenwick Newcastle. Why not go that step further with an indulgent, cocktail-fuelled afternoon tea? Cake and cocktails are the way to our hearts! Start with a choice of unlimited teapot cocktails (for 90 minutes), and tuck into pastries, macarons, mousse, cupcakes and more.

FOOD & DRINK Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea

9 & 10 MARCH

Take mum to Wynyard Hall this Mother’s Day for a truly indulgent afternoon tea with all the trimmings. Indulge in a tasty tower of handcrafted sandwiches, pastries, scones and preserves, alongside hot drinks or champagne to mark the occasion. Served up in style in an incredibly elegant location, the team at Wynyard Hall will be sure to make Mother’s Day special this year.

FOOD & DRINK Italian Wine Dinner


Thursday is the new Friday this March at Dobson & Parnell as the team host an Italian Wine Dinner with James Scrimgeour, Territory Manager for Enotria & Coe. James will showcase some magnificent wines from Fontanafredda, where some of Italy’s most distinguished wines are born, including the celebrated Barolo. Dobson & Parnell’s chefs will complement the wines with a fantastic five-course menu.


All Pints East

15 & 16 MARCH

Celebrate the coast’s craft beer collection at Salt Market Social this March as All Pints East comes to town. A number of different coastal bars will be bringing their favourite and most popular beers to the table, for an under-one-roof beer festival complete with live music, DJs and street food.


Digital Detox Retreat

15 - 17 MARCH

Swinton Bivouac’s off-grid treehouse lodges are the perfect place to unplug and unwind. Check in for a two-night digital detox this March and you’ll leave feeling as good as new. This hosted programme includes south bathing, forest bathing and reiki drumming in the tipi. It’s the ideal opportunity to take a step back from the rush of day-to-day life, to help you reassess and rebalance. Complete with sweeping views over the Yorkshire Dales, hammocks hidden in the trees, and wood-fired hot tubs to soak in, you’re certainly in good hands.


Spanish Gallery: The Sound of Spain


Auckland Castle has been home to Francisco de Zurbarán’s series of Spanish masterpieces for over 250 years. The striking pieces make up The Spanish Gallery - an opportunity to explore the Spanish Golden Age at the UK’s first gallery dedicated to the art, history and culture of Spain. This March, art-lovers are invited to The Sound of Spain, an immersive experience where you can enjoy the art alongside live music performed on the Spanish guitar.


Marti Pellow


Don’t miss Marti Pellow at Newcastle’s Utilita Arena this March. He’s in town with his brand new arena tour in celebration of the 1987 multi-million selling ‘Popped In Souled Out’ album. Playing alongside the ‘Love To Love’ orchestra, Marti’s performance promises to be a nostalgic party, bringing back some of the most memorable tracks of a generation.


Ben Fogle - Wild


Hear stories of hope, possibility and positivity from adventurer Ben Fogle’s extraordinary encounters in the human and natural world this March as he takes to the Darlington Hippodrome stage for one night only. From the wilderness of Northern Sweden to the jungles of Honduras, he’ll take you on an uplifting journey of selfdiscovery. You’ll leave feeling inspired, enchanted and enlightened. WILD is a hair-raising and wildly entertaining show. Don’t miss it!


Radio Ga Ga


The ultimate celebration of one of the biggest bands of all time comes to The Princess Alexandra Auditorium in Yarm this April. Radio Ga Ga recreates two magical hours live on stage, showcasing the magic, fun and showmanship of Queen’s touring days. Regarded as one of the best Queen tribute acts around, you’ll be blown away by this performance and you’ll be dancing in the aisles to best-loved hits such as We Are The Champions, We Will Rock You, Don’t Stop Me Now, Bohemian Rhapsody, Somebody To Love and many, many more.


Graziano Di Prima: BelieveMy Life on Stage


This April, The Fire Station in Sunderland hosts the wonderful Graziano Di Prima alongside his wife Giada Lini. Before his sparkling Strictly Come Dancing career, Graziano grew up working on an Italian vineyard with his father. He had always dreamed of dancing for a living, and never gave up hope. His dazzling new show, My Life On Stage, tells his story in his distinct style.


Ignite Your Being X Brinkburn Yoga Retreat

13 & 14 APRIL

The yoga weekend retreat we’ve all been waiting for. Nestled within the beautiful grounds of Brinkburn Northumberland, Ignite Your Being will host a wholesome retreat packed with movement, mindfulness and connection. What’s more? You’ll enjoy exquisite vegetarian feasts, you’ll engage with like-minded people, and you’ll get to explore the breathtaking Northumberland countryside.


Tony Hadley: The Big Swing Tour


Tony Hadley, 80s icon, is bringing his sing-a-long classics to The Glasshouse stage this April. Not only does he have a sensational singing voice, but his story is something quite special. From London lad to pop icon, he started his career after winning a holiday singing competition and went on to become the powerhouse vocalist in Spandau Ballet. Since then, he’s been flying solo, culminating in his acclaimed album, ‘Talking To The Moon’.

Easter Wreath Making Workshop


The National Trust’s Crook Hall Gardens is playing host to an Easter Wreath Making Workshop, led by The Northern Flower Garden. Enjoy the stunning surroundings and prepare to get creative with spring blooms.

London | New York | Los Angeles Exceptional upholstered furniture manufactured in the North East

Easter happenings>>


La Chocolatrice is the Durham chocolate shop we all need on our radar - especially at this time of year! It’s the place to be for yummy handmade chocolate, but the team also hosts some pretty remarkable, chocolate-fuelled workshops. This Easter, we’re loving the Easter Egg Making masterclasses. In these sessions, running throughout March and April, each person will make and decorate two chocolate eggs to take home for the festivities, plus you’ll get to eat lots of chocolate goodies along the way, and stay hydrated with delicious hot chocolate!

York Chocolate Festival

27 - 31 MARCH

Calling all chocolate-lovers! York hosts its very own Chocolate Festival and it’s a must for your Easter diaries. Start at the Chocolate Festival Market where you’ll be able to browse and sample lots of tasty treats from 10am until 5pm; take part in a Taste Trail around the city, sit back and relax in the Chocolate Festival’s very own cafe bar; and of course, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in chocolatefuelled activities throughout the celebration.

Battle of the Burger

29 & 30 MARCH

Burgers may not be a traditional Easter dish, but Wylam Brewery’s Battle of the Burger is the perfect excuse to round up the troops and celebrate good food over the long weekend. Sample some of the finest patties in town - wash it down with a pint and soak up the atmosphere at this buzzy Newcastle event.

Wonka Tea Party


Celebrate Easter Sunday the best way we know how… with lots of chocolate! Gather the gang and head to Ramside Hall for a Wonka Tea Party, complete with dancing Oompa Loompas. Enjoy a delicious afternoon tea alongside plenty of live entertainment including stage games, chocolate giveaways, magic and more. One the whole family will love.

Ouseburn Farm


Nothing says springtime like getting up close and personal with pet lambs. Take the gang to Ouseburn Farm and meet some spring residents. From lamb feeding and petting sessions, to goat walking, bunny petting, reptile pampering and more, there’s something for all animal-lovers.

Annual Easter Chick Hunt


Make your way to Durham University’s Botanic Garden this Easter weekend for the Annual Easter Chick Hunt. The chicks are hiding in the beautiful gardens and it’s your job to pick up your spotter sheet and see how many you can find. A fantastic self-led activity the whole family will love.


Spring Blossom & Daffodil Tour with Lunch in the Hall


Celebrate spring in style this year with a trip to Thorp Perrow. There are a number of seasonal events and workshops on offer this year, but we’re particularly excited about the Spring Blossom & Daffodil Tour. The Arboretum is bursting into colour at this time of year, and as the flowers bloom, there’s no better time to take a tour with curator Faith Douglas. She will share her passion for the new season, showing the best of blossom, bluebell and daffodil collections, with some fascinating facts and care tips along the way. All of that, plus a delicious two-course lunch with glass of fizz, served in the beautiful Hall.

THEATRE Death Trap

24 & 25 APRIL

A dark and dazzling dance masterpiece comes to Newcastle’s Theatre Royal this spring, and culture-lovers should add it to their calendars. Enter a world where dance is literally a matter of life or death - a bittersweet musing on myth and morality. See Rambert Dance Company’s breathtakingly daring dancers take on two short pieces created by Ben Duke, known for storytelling that reveals the absurd, the savage, and the funny.


Luxe reads

Husband and wife duo and garden experts, Tom and Fiona Feltham, give us five of their favourite gardening guides, perfect for greenfingered bookworms or those looking to get into gardening this spring.

RHS Resilient Garden: Sustainable Gardening for a Changing Climate

This book is an incredibly handy guide for people who are keen to create a sustainable garden, taking our outdoor spaces into the future. Inside, you’ll find loads of practical advice on gardening in a changing climate including plant recommendations. Backed up with the latest RHS research, this book shows you how to work with the environment and ensure your space has what it needs to flourish, while also giving wildlife a helping hand.

Natural Selection: A Year in the Garden

A month-by-month account of gardening from one of the world’s leading garden designers. Dan Pearson draws on 10 years of exploring the rhythms and pleasures of a full year in the garden. A garden-lovers book, teeming with tips to inspire your own space - be it a balcony, yard or several acres.

Iain Stirling: RELEVANT


Comedy favourite, Iain Stirling, is taking to the Tyne Theatre & Opera House stage this April. Described by The Times as ‘the voice of the British millennial’ and The Evening Standard as ‘a national sensation’, he’s one of the best-loved faces in TV comedy today. RELEVANT is his biggest tour to date, and is sure to bring his intuitive, razor-sharp humour to life in effortless style.


Chadwicks Inn Maltby Tasting Evening: Loire Valley, France


Another wine date for your diary. Don’t miss Chadwicks Inn Maltby’s Tasting Evening exploring the wonderful Loire Valley in France. These popular pairing evenings will take you on an inspiring wine journey where you’ll taste five wines alongside a delicious five course dinner. The perfect treat for date night.


I Should Be So Lucky

22 - 27 APRIL

The official Stock Aitken Waterman musical is arriving in Sunderland this spring and we can’t wait for an all-singing, all-dancing performance featuring the soundtrack of a generation with music from pop royalty including Kylie Minogue, Rick Astley, Jason Donovan, Bananarama and more. The tunes we know and love are intertwined in an original story of love, laughter and last-minute getaways. The ultimate feel-good musical to help bring in the spring sunshine!

The Well Gardened Mind: Rediscovering Nature in the Modern World

An interesting look at the link between gardens and our mental health. This Sunday Times Best Book of 2020 guides us through the ways in which gardening can relieve stress and help us look after our mind and body. These pages are packed with stories of how people struggling with stress, depression, trauma and addiction can use gardening to change their lives forever.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

A fascinating discussion of our relationship with nature, the gifts it gives us and what we can do in return.

Botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer asks questions of nature with the tools of science - embracing the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist and a mother, she shows how other living beings offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices.

The Garden Jungle - or Gardening to Save the Planet

One of the best authors for relating how we interact with plants, gardens and nature to address the biodiversity crisis. A book born out of a dedication to save humanity from its own destruction. Learn all about the wildlife that lives right under our noses, in our gardens and parks. Dave Goulson gives an insight into the fascinating lives of these creatures.

The north
in bespoke affordable interiors 10TH AVENUE WEST | TEAM VALLEY | NE11 0HL | 0191 491 3836 OPPOSITE RETAIL WORLD GREATLOOK.CO.UK
east’s first

A new era for Raby Estate

The Raby Estate is a family run business that has been operating in County Durham and parts of Shropshire for many centuries. The estate is diverse in terms of its landscape with acres of agricultural land, vast woodland, heritage landscapes and unique buildings all steeped in a rich history

plantation where ‘close to nature’ takes on a whole new meaning.

The current custodians, Lord and Lady Barnard, have opened up these iconic landscapes to the community, for visitors to enjoy. Raby Castle is without a doubt one of the most impressive intact castles in England, with superb collections, powerful exteriors and a unique history of the people that lived and worked there. Situated in Staindrop in Darlington, this stunning location is surrounded by acres of picturesque parkland where wild red and fallow deer roam. Families can discover The Plotters’ Forest - a woodland adventure playground woven within a Christmas tree

Raby Estate is currently going through its biggest restoration project in decades, and is set to open this spring. The ambitious scheme known as ‘The Rising’ is set within the castle grounds and will open up incredible spaces, many never seen before by the public. The development name, The Rising, combines Raby’s rich history as the home of one Britain’s most notorious plots, with the literal rising of the North, with a promise of growth, energy and ambition. All aspects of the scheme bear the distinctive Raby trademark of simple, honest design combined with the estate’s

characteristic energy and spirit. Historic and iconic buildings previously hidden from view have been renovated and repurposed to create an elegant retail space, a stylish restaurant, and magnificent event and exhibition spaces all intertwined with beautifully landscaped meandering walkways.

The historic 18th century Walled Garden has been remodelled by world renowned designer, Luciano Giubbilei, alongside Lady Barnard. They have created a stunning five-acre romantic scheme to celebrate the Walled Garden’s existing features, including the famous sculptural yew hedges.

A newly designed glasshouse, The Vinery Restaurant, modelled on the original which stood in the same spot, will seat over 200 people. The Vinery Restaurant will offer locally-sourced ingredients from across the estate and a menu for all, enjoyed with panoramic views across the High Vinery Garden and Raby Castle beyond. Complementing a day at Raby Castle is High Force Waterfall and Hotel, just a scenic 30-minute drive through the picturesque countryside of Upper Teesdale.

Packed with character, warmth and charm, High Force Hotel is an idyllic rural retreat located in picture perfect Upper Teesdale. The 10 individually designed en-suite rooms combine traditional country inn with a contemporary touch, and nothing is too much trouble for the friendly team. The hotel is paired with a restaurant serving locally sourced and exceptionally tasty food all day, from breakfast, light bites and lunch through to indulgent evening meals, with the option of the elegant garden room or bar snug with open fires. This scenic location is complemented by one of the UK's most magnificent waterfalls just a few minutes’ walk away from the hotel.

The circular woodland walk leads you towards the awe-inspiring 21 metre cascade viewing point, then continues through the majestic waterfall woodlands. High Force is an incredibly popular destination for a country walk, hearty Sunday lunch and superb stay in the most beautiful surroundings of Upper Teesdale.

Raby Estate offers incredible locations... a visit will not disappoint.


Winter 01833 662336 High Force Hotel & Waterfall, Alston Road, Forest-in-Teesdale, County Durham, DL12 0XH
The warm open fires will invite you back to the cosy countryside retreat
20% off Dinner, Bed and Breakfast stays
WW24 until 30th March 2024.
War mer Offer after a day of exploring the magnificent High Force Waterfall adjacent to the Hotel in the scenic Durham Dales.
using code

Celebrating culture

Celebrating 50 years of North East art & heritage >>

Luxe checks in with Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums as they celebrate 50 years as a museum and gallery collective

Today they manage four museums, three art galleries, two Roman Forts and the archives for Tyne and Wear; care for over 1.1 million artefacts and artworks; welcome up to a million visitors each year; inspire 150,000 children and young people; and contribute £25 million to the local economy.

Keith Merrin, Director of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, said:

“It's fantastic to look back on the amazing achievements of the museums and galleries and to reflect on the impact art, culture and heritage have in our region. We believe that everyone should experience the benefits of engaging with art and culture and we’re very grateful to our funders, donors and business sponsors who enable us to provide free entry to most of our venues, so as many people as possible can enjoy them.” We take a look back at some of the highlights in the museum service’s history: In April 1987 the only reconstructed Roman gateway in the UK was unveiled in South Shields, built on the site of the original Roman gate dating to 163 AD at Arbeia Roman Fort. Some of the UK’s most important Roman finds were uncovered at Arbeia - including the only complete suit of Roman ring-mail armour in Britain which is currently on loan with other artefacts from Arbeia to the British Museum for its Legion: Life in the Roman Army exhibition. You might remember the massively popular animatronic dinosaur exhibitions in 1993, 1997 and 2003 at the former Hancock Museum, (now the Great North Museum: Hancock). The moving, roaring dinosaur blockbusters saw crowds queuing around the block and broke all attendance records.

Today the museum has a full-size T. rex skeleton on permanent display as well as displays exploring ancient worlds, natural history and a planetarium.

In October 1994 Turbinia, the world’s first steam turbine-powered ship and once the fastest ship in the world, was transported through the streets of Newcastle from Exhibition Park to its new home at Discovery Museum, where it still has pride of place.

Invented by Charles Parsons and built at Wallsend in 1894, Turbinia could travel at speeds of up to 34½ knots, or 40 mph.

Discovery Museum tells the story of Tyneside and its pioneering spirit and in July this year it will open Steam to Green – an exhibition exploring the story of energy production and the climate crisis in the North East.

The Lindisfarne Gospels, the most spectacular surviving manuscript from early medieval Britain, has been displayed at the Laing Art Gallery (on loan from the British Library) three times, in 1996, 2000 and 2022. Each time the treasure, which was

created on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in Northumberland, has attracted more than 50,000 visits. The Laing’s permanent displays feature internationally important artworks, and it brings world-class art to Newcastle in its exhibitions. On 10 May 2024 JMW Turner’s ‘The Fighting Temeraire’ will take centre stage in the Art, Industry & Nostalgia exhibition.

In June 2000 Segedunum Roman Fort opened to the public with a parade of Roman Soldier re-enactors marching through the streets of Wallsend. Segedunum, which means ‘Strong Fort’, was built to guard the eastern end of Hadrian’s Wall and housed 600 Roman soldiers. It stood for almost 300 years as a symbol of Roman rule and a bastion against barbarian attack.

The Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead hosted

The Story of The Supremes in 2009, which was opened by original Supremes member, Mary Wilson. It featured more than 50 dresses worn in performance by the Motown band. The Shipley is home to paintings, decorative art and contemporary craft including ‘Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet’ by Venetian artist Tintoretto (15181594) and ‘The Blaydon Races’ by William C Irving (1866-1943) illustrating the popular Geordie anthem.

The photograph above is from an exhibition at South Shields Museum & Art Gallery in 2017 which celebrated 40 years since World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali visited the town. South Shields Museum explores the history of South Tyneside covering its social, maritime and industrial heritage. Its current exhibition is Scran: A History of Food and Drink in South Tyneside. In 2017 an important discovery was made about one of Stephenson Steam Railway’s star exhibits. Research concluded that George Stephenson’s locomotive ‘Billy’ was built in Newcastle in 1816, not 1826 as previously thought, establishing it as the world’s third oldest surviving locomotive - older than the more famous ‘Rocket’.

Stephenson Steam Railway in North Shields tells the story of George and Robert Stephenson and provides heritage train rides.

Pioneers of Pop, The Hatton Gallery’s inaugural exhibition after its 2017 redevelopment, focused on Newcastle artists’ contribution to the global art movement, celebrating Newcastle as the birthplace of Pop Art. The Hatton Gallery, located in Newcastle University’s Fine Art Department, exhibits modern and contemporary art and the work of Newcastle University students. It also houses the iconic Merz Barn Wall by Kurt Schwitters, one of the most significant figures in 20th century art.

To find out more about Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, its venues and programmes visit:

Dinosaur at Hancock Museum
Billy -
Stephenson Steam Railway
Muhammad Ali outside South Shields Town Hall Saturday 16 July 1977. Photo by Fred Mudditt courtesy of South Tyneside Libraries Ermine Street Guard at the gate opening

Are mirror wills right for us?

If you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting with a long-term partner, and thinking of making or updating your will, you may have heard the expression ‘mirror wills’ and wonder if this would be suitable for you.

Mirror wills are wills made by two or more people in identical or similar terms – effectively mirroring each other’s arrangements. For many couples, mirror wills may be the most appropriate option for your needs, but you should always check with a legal professional as circumstances might mean that mirror wills are not the best approach for you.

What are mirror wills?

Mirror wills are used to ensure that everything you own passes according to the shared wishes of both parties.

Most commonly, mirror wills are written in identical terms so that on the death of either one of you any sole or joint assets pass to your jointly chosen beneficiaries in the same way. Each will might sometimes include separate small gifts, such as personal items or gifts of low monetary value, and these gifts may not be identical in both wills.

How are mirror wills used?

A typical set up for mirror wills is for everything to pass to the surviving partner, and then after they die everything will pass to those people or charities that you both

chose together. This might include your own children or grandchildren, members of your respective families, or any joint friends or charities that are close to your hearts.

Before making mirror wills, it is important to fully discuss your wishes together to ensure that you are both completely happy with the decisions made as regards who should receive what.

Mirror wills are particularly useful for those in second marriages or with children from previous relationships, as they help to ensure that both sides of the family are treated fairly and equally.

Mirror wills are often a good option, but this is dependent on your individual circumstances, and you should seek legal advice before making any new will.

If you decide to make separate wills and you do not mirror your wishes, any money or property passing to the survivor after the first death, will then ultimately pass according only to their wishes.

It is imperative that you trust one another to stick by any joint decisions you make once one of you is no longer alive. As there is no legal obligation on the survivor to retain the terms of the mirror wills, they

could simply make a new will leaving everything to beneficiaries of their own choosing, such as their own biological children. As such, mirror wills might not be suitable. There are alternative options available in these circumstances, so you

should seek professional advice to make the appropriate choice for your needs. Our team of experienced solicitors can guide you through the process, ensure you are fully informed and help you to make the best choice for your needs.

For more information, please contact Tilly Bailey & Irvine’s Wills, Trusts & Probate team on 01429 856744 or fill in an online enquiry form via and someone will be in touch.


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

1. Jo Parnell, Northumberland, @moments_in_northumberland 2. Matt Hetherington, Tynemouth, @blendpixel_media 3. Shannon Clarke, Roker Pier & Lighthouse, @SLCphotography.x
♥ NE
4. Michael Williams, Tynemouth Priory, @alphr_shotz
1. 2. 3. 4.

THE LUXE LOWDOWN: Catherine Tyldesley

Catherine Tyldesley has graced our screens as Eva Price in Coronation Street, and we’ve watched her strut her stuff on Strictly. This March, she’s in the North East playing Blanche Barrow in Bonnie & Clyde the musical at Sunderland Empire. Ahead of the show, we catch up to find out about her luxe things in life…


Name: Catherine Tyldesley

Where is home? Manchester

Three reasons you love where you live?

My family are there, Manchester folk are so friendly and we love our local high street.


What do you do for a living?


A day in the life of you?

It very much depends what job I’m doingcurrently living the life of Blanche Barrow (with the odd song thrown in!).

Any recent, ongoing or upcoming projects or achievements we should know about?

I am currently playing Blanche Barrow in Bonnie & Clyde the musical for the UK and Ireland tour. You can also catch me

on Paramount / C5 in The Good Ship Murder and ‘15 Days To Murder’.

What does downtime mean to you?

Being outdoors with my husband and children. It’s our happy place!


What did you want to be when you were growing up?

An actor- always. I particularly loved musical theatre. My grandad was a jazz singer, so there was always a big music influence growing up.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

It’s VERY short - don’t dally! Tell people you love them every single day.

Which living person do you most admire and why?

Dolly Parton - an incredible talent but an

incredible human also, donating millions to deprived children every single year. What a woman!


What is top of your bucket list?

My bucket list is huge! But I’d love to play Norma Desmond one day.

What is your most treasured possession?

My children.

What does the weekend mean to you?

Good food, lots of cuddles with my kids, and great movies.

A memorable holiday?

Sicily recently with my family. It was our first time there and we fell in love with the place… and the food, obviously!

Best dress?

My BAFTA dress 2023 - styled by Kelvin Baron - he’s an incredible stylist that

always makes me feel a million dollars.

Who would be your top-three dinner guests?

Barbara Streisand, Kate Winslet, and my Grandad.

The last place you ate?

Din Tai Fung with our incredible producer

Tom O’Connell - stunning!

The last book you read?

Blanche Barrows Diaries

The last thing you listened to?

Trisha Yearwood

The last thing you watched?

Maestro - what a film!

Your three luxe things in life?

Good skincare - I’m obsessed with One Truth 818 skincare - so much so that I recently became an ambassador. Decent organic coffee - I can’t stand instant - life’s too short for crap coffee! Sports massage - I love a good firm massage - it’s the one time I truly switch off.

Catherine starsasBlanche Barrow in Bonnie &Clyde,takingtotheSunderlandEmpire stagefromTuesday19toSaturday23March 2024.


Pampering with…

Space NK Caribbean Shores Body Duo 100ml

Let Space NK’s new body duo transport you to the sun-soaked simplicity of island life. Think creamy coconut, juicy mandarin and exotic jasmine, bottled up in a silky smooth, body-reviving duo. This body wash and body lotion set is the newbie in our skincare routine and it’s the perfect way to start or end the day.




The Happy News by the lovely Emily Coxhead is the account ensuring there’s plenty of colour in our Instagram feed, and there’s enough feel-good energy going here to banish those negative impacts of social media. The Happy News is a real newspaper celebrating only positive news. It’s published every three months but keeps us up to date with social media content to make us smile. A must follow for a bit of Insta sunshine!

Perfect scent…

Fleur D’Oranger Diffuser

With notes of lemon, green herbs, jasmine and orange blossom, this energising and citrusy scent will lift your home this spring. Close your eyes and imagine you’re strolling through a quaint Mediterranean town. This fragrance is refreshing and invigorating, and is perfect to fill your home with spring optimism as we come out of the winter slumber.


Dreaming of…

Hôtel du Couvent, Nice

We’re setting our sights on this stunning new property set to open its doors in Nice this summer. Hôtel du Couvent is hidden behind high walls in the heart of the Old Town - a quaint and beautifully designed sanctuary where guests can enjoy menus freshly harvested from the gardens and Roman-inspired thermal baths. An ultra-luxurious property bringing new spirit and style to an unforgotten city landmark.

10 things luxe loves

Spring forward with some of the things we’re loving at Luxe HQ this season…

Listening to…

Time to Walk

This podcast is your invitation to get out in nature and clear your mind. In turn, you will feel good, improve your mood and maybe even see the world in a new light. When fully surrendering to the sounds of nature is not enough, pop in your headphones and give this Apple Fitness+ podcast a listen. You’ll hear inspiring stories, words of wisdom and thought-provoking ideas as you walk. Special guests including athletes, actors, musicians and journalists share moments and events that have shaped their lives.

In our basket…

Roberts Revival Petite DAB/DAB+/FM Bluetooth Portable Digital Radio Crank up the music! We wouldn’t be without our Roberts Revival Petite - the perfect way to start the day. You can tune into DAB or FM radio, or listen to your own sounds via Bluetooth. This ‘Pop Orange’ edition is a beautifully bold addition to your home and is an absolute must when it comes to kitchen disco time!


Living by…
“Despite the forecast, live like it’s spring.” - Lilly Pulitzer

Kitchen inspo…

Le Creuset Cast Iron Round Casserole 28cm

Add a pop of colour to your kitchen kit this spring with this beautifully striking Le Creuset cast iron casserole dish. A Le Creuset dish is an essential, perfect for one-pot dinner party dishes. Not only do they look good - they’re incredibly versatile and work on all hob types (including induction), as well as in the oven. £345,


MEZCLA: Recipes to Excite

Some colourful recipes to spark creativity in the kitchen. As the sunnier months approach, we often seek inspiration to change up our eating habits. Out with the hearty home comforts and in with fresh and vibrant dishes that excite us. That’s exactly what Ixta Belfrage’s cookbook does - it excites with inventive ingredients, interesting flavours and 100 bold recipes inspired by Italy, Brazil, Mexico and beyond. Time to serve up some sunshine on a plate!



Funny Woman

With Funny Woman Series 2 set for a 2024 release, we recently re-watched Series 1. It tells the tale of Barbara Parker (Gemma Arterton), a young woman from Blackpool who finds her voice in the male-dominated world of 1960s comedy. With a swoonworthy ‘Swinging Sixties’ backdrop, an all-star cast and a story based on the Funny Girl, the best-selling novel by Nick Hornby, this is an easy-watch you’ll return to.


In bloom

Wynyard Hall’s two-acre Rose Garden is a space to inspire and delight, and really comes into its own in spring. Luxe checks in with the estate’s head gardener, Mark Birtle…

colour and interest with an air of informality.

There are many things that set Wynyard Hall apart as an elegant and quintessentially English estate. From its fantastic food offering, to its lakeside spa and exclusive-use weddings, it is well loved across the region and beyond.

The estate’s glorious grounds are also a real draw, set within 120-acres of pristine landscapes and gardens. And, as we move into the brighter months, this breathtaking botanical location really comes into its own. Botanics have played a pivotal role in the history of Wynyard and the team ensures that they continue to build on that legacy. With that in mind, we’re catching up with head gardener, Mark Birtle, to find out about the wonderful wildlife that sets Wynyard apart, with a focus on the Rose Garden.

What can you tell us about the beautiful Rose Garden at Wynyard Hall?

Our Rose Garden incorporates the largest collection of David Austin Roses in the north, which is an incredible thing to celebrate. It includes two acres of contemporary garden design, featuring over 3,000 Austin roses and 12,000 herbaceous perennials - a mixed collection of roses of all colours allows us to enjoy summer-long beauty. The garden also boasts a fascinating selection of trees and shrubs, amongst meandering paths and water features. It’s a real talking point and an incredibly tranquil space to sit and enjoy the natural beauty.

Why David Austin Roses?

David Austin Roses come in varied forms and colours and they have an extended flowering season, which means our gardens are in bloom for much of the year. They also have good disease resistance and ease of maintenance, giving summer-long

How do you maintain the Rose Garden?

Constant attention all year round, with the help of five volunteers. The wider garden staff help me with the bigger jobs such as pruning and hedge trimming. It’s very much a team effort, but I like to be involved as much as possible.

How have you seen Wynyard Hall’s gardens grow over the years?

From basic flower beds, lawns and remnants of Victorian design, into the award-winning gardens we now have and enjoy. Our gardens are truly unique - they are full of shape, interest, and form.

How are the gardens looking for spring 2024?

Pruning is well underway when it comes to the roses, herbaceous plants and fruit trees. Preventative spraying will begin as the weather warms up. Specific rose varieties are starting to show signs of growth while spring bulbs are also coming to life. Bright colours are definitely popping up across our gardens and it’s a really exciting time of year, seeing everything at its best once again.

Is there anything exciting in the pipeline for Wynyard Hall’s gardens in 2024 and beyond?

We have recently reinstalled the Victorian Garden to bring the gardens full circle. We’re always looking to improve our visitor experience; we’re planting two new varieties fresh from Chelsea Flower Show 2023, which are Dannahue and Penelope Lively. We are also continuing to revamp the Marquee Garden.

Our Rose Garden incorporates the largest collection of David Austin Roses in the north, which is an incredible thing to celebrate


The crafts corner with Sara Davies

Entrepreneur and queen of crafts, Sara Davies, brings you a step-by-step guide to her latest craft projects...

Hi everyone. Ready for two fresh craft projects?

I don’t know about you, but this year I have been so ready for spring to arrive. Don’t get me wrong, I love cosy autumn and winter evenings by the fire, but getting back out into the fresh air and seeing those first colourful shoots pop up has been so wonderful and so revitalising. And along with some sunshine (fingers crossed!), this new season also brings fresh opportunities to try new homemade projects.

I’m all for making use of what you already have and breathing new life into bits and pieces from around the house. There’s

often no need to go out and pick up one-use items. So, both of my spring projects offer a great opportunity for upcycling. Transform old glass jars into a colourful and fun way for the Easter Bunny to treat little (and big) kids to chocolate eggs and sweets. This project is a double whammy as they also look lovely around the house and for decorating the Easter table!

And, show some love for the mams, mums, grans, and mother figures in your life with a handmade Mother’s Day card. You can pick up some coloured card, make use of any pieces you already have, or use pretty wrapping paper - the creative possibilities are endless.

Mother’s day card

What you’ll need…

Coloured card or paper for your flower centrepiece

Green card or paper

5” x 7” card blank (you can make one yourself by folding a sheet of 14” x 5” card in half)

White card

Pen Gem or decoration


Ruler Glue

Hole punch

Ribbon or twine

To make…

Cut a piece of coloured card to 4 ¾” x 6 ¾”, then cut a piece of white card to 4 ½” x 6 ½”. Layer from largest to smallest onto your 5” x 7” card blank and adhere in place. This is called matting and layering, if you have a different size of card blank - just make sure each layer is approximately ¼” smaller than the last. Cut a strip of coloured paper to 12” x 1 ¼”. Fold at every ½”, alternating mountain and valley folds to create a

concertina effect. Glue to the two ends together to form a circular concertina flower.

Cut a circle of card, smaller than your concertina flower. Turn the concertina flower over and arrange the card circle in the centre, gently press down on the middle - slightly flattening the concertina to create a rosette.

Glue the card circle in place, then use this to attach the concertina centrepiece to your card front.

Cut a thin strip and two leaf shapes from the green card. Arrange under your concertina flower to create a stem and leaves and glue in place.

Write ‘Mum’ or a sweet, personalised message onto a small piece of white card. Trim to size, then use scissors to round the edges on one side to create a tag shape.

Punch a hole in the curved top of your tag shape. Loop ribbon or twine through and tie in a bow. Arrange on the stem and glue in place.

Use a pen to carefully draw dashes and dots around the edge of the card front to create a faux stitched effect.

Attach your gem or decoration onto the centre of the concertina flower to finish.

All that’s left is to write a sweet message inside and your card is ready to send.

Easter treat jars

What you’ll need…

Scrap card or paper



Clean glass jars with lids

Acrylic paint

Paint brush

Twine or ribbon

Easter treats

To make…

Draw your Easter shapes onto card or scrap paper - if you’re not feeling

artistic, print off a shape to create a simple template.

Use scissors to carefully cut out each shape.

Holding the shape on the front of your jar, brush acrylic paint over it - this should keep it in place temporarily. Continue to paint the rest of your jar then set aside to dry for approximately 30 minutes.

Peel the shape from the front of the glass to reveal a silhouette of your Easter shape.

Loop ribbon or twine around the jar’s neck and finish with a bow.

Pop some goodies inside, replace the lid and your Easter Treat Jar is ready to gift.



We’ve teamed up with Seaham Hall to give one lucky reader and a friend the chance to win an indulgent Heart of the Hebrides Full Spa Day with an Ishga product hamper and a fruit smoothie each.

The Heart of the Hebrides Spa Day is designed to relax and restore the mind and body as you are transported to the Outer Hebrides with the guided sound of swell, using unique sound therapy compositions to ground you in the moment.

The Heart of the Hebrides Spa Day includes access to multi award-winning spa facilities, a 90-minute Ishga five-sense ritual, post treatment relaxation in the ‘swell’ suite to complete your treatment and a two-course lunch in the Ozone Restaurant.

Enjoy a hamper from the award-winning Ishga skincare range, which includes Hydra+ Marine Cream, Invigorating Body Oil, Shampoo & Body Bar and Active Cleansing Lotion. Your spa day also includes an indulgent smoothie which you can choose to enjoy on the roof terrace.

Prize includes:

Full use of spa facilities from 9am - 5pm

Complimentary use of fluffy robes, towels and slippers

A delicious two-course meal in the Pan Asian Ozone Restaurant

A 90-minute five-sense ritual guided by the sound of swell

Post treatment relaxation in the ‘swell’ suite to complete the treatment

To win this amazing prize, simply head to and enter your details, or scan the QR code.

Closing date: 29 April 2024

Prize must to be redeemed before the 31 July 2024. The winner of the prize must be over the age of 18. No cash alternative. Subject to availability. WIN WITH LUXE

Hometown roots

Sunderland is way more than just a name on a birth certificate for architect, designer and TV presenter, George Clarke. As we catch up over a cuppa, he talks passionately about his upcoming and ongoing projects and why, no matter where his career takes him in the world, he will always be rooted in the North East

I knew chatting to Geroge Clarke would be inspiring for many different reasons - stepping into his architectural world, hearing his stories about fascinating buildings and places, and of course his deep-rooted connection with Sunderland and the North East.

But driving away from our meeting at The

Fire Station in Sunderland, I wasn’t expecting to be holding up traffic at the lights as I gaze up at the buildings I’ve never noticed before. Our conversation has certainly sparked a change in the way I see the spaces that surround us. Instead of rushing back to the car park while scrolling through my inbox, I found myself putting my phone in my bag and lifting my head up to see what’s around me (advice taken from

George’s grandfather - read on!). Do this, and it’s amazing the things you see - even in your hometown.

Speaking with George also sparks an appreciation for Sunderland, and the North East as a whole. Writing Luxe, it’s my job to champion the people and places that make this region tick, but when you speak to people so heavily involved in the community, its history and its progression, you can really see how things are moving forwards. It spurs you on to shout about it more.

So for that, thank you George. It’s been refreshing to rekindle my love of the North East in perfect time for my first issue back after maternity leave, and I hope that is evident in the pages that follow. It feels apt that we meet in one of Sunderland’s fantastic, recently-restored buildings, The Fire Station - a cornerstone of the city’s culture quarter. And as we catch up over a cup of tea, George reflects on an

already busy 2024, with lots in the pipeline.

“This year is looking good,” George starts.

“I’m doing a new season of Amazing Spaces. We’ve just finished series 12, or is it 13? Even I’ve lost count,” he laughs.

“Another series, George Clarke’s Adventures in Americana, has just finished on Channel 4. That was my first architectural travel log, which I’ve always wanted to do. I pitched it because there is definitely a gap in the market for shows focused on the architecture that makes up the incredible places we travel to. If you think about it, no matter where you are in the world, no matter what you are doing, you’re surrounded by buildings, all with stories to tell.

“Even me being in Sunderland today, which is my home city, I’ve been walking around and learning as I go. I actually noticed two historical buildings that I’ve never seen before in my life. If you give yourself time to really explore a place - whether that’s Barcelona, Sunderland, Newcastle, and


so on, you’ll see things because you’ve given yourself the time and space to do so.”

Though our jobs are very different, George and I have a shared ethos of, if you look hard enough, you’ll always find a story.

“With the Americana series, I wanted to really get under the skin of a place. We saw one or two very iconic buildings, but this project was more about looking at some really quirky spaces like diners and motels, to uncover stories and show that architecture comes in many different forms.

“Even where we’re sitting now - this was a horse and cart fire station back in the day. For the people of Sunderland to come together and bring it back to life, it’s amazing. It’s a fantastic venue, but what is really great is that it has kept its history, its charm, and its interesting features like the glazed brickwork inside. I bet there are some people in Sunderland who walked past this building every day and didn’t really notice it. It’s not until something is regenerated when

it really comes back into its own.”

Amongst his many projects and campaigns, George is a real advocate for nurturing, supporting and developing his hometown. And with so much excitement surrounding Sunderland’s plans for the future, he can’t wait to share his thoughts and involvement.

“There are cranes everywhere in Sunderland at the moment,” George starts.

“Which is a really good sign. You’ve got to build stuff to create the facilities that people want. I’ve always said that Sunderland needs two things to grow: good quality office space, and accommodation to get people living back in the city.

“The population of Sunderland is 275,000, and only 3,000 of them live in the city centre - that’s a tiny proportion. If you look back at places like Manchester in the late 80s, not many people lived in the city centre. What happened was, the young developers came in and started converting warehouses and seeing potential in the old buildings, and

all of a sudden, the city went from strength to strength and now Manchester has a massive population.

“Newcastle, for example, didn’t always have a huge inner city population, but that has changed. Look at Ouseburn - what a great example of regeneration. The courts came first, then lawyers started moving in, then there was demand for office space, then restaurants opened and all of a sudden hotels started opening. Before you know it, the Quayside, and then later Ouseburn, become some of the buzziest places in town. You’ve got to put people in. “And what is brilliant about Sunderlandand I don’t think I’ve ever been able to say this until the last couple of years - is that it’s turning, there’s no doubt about it.” Seeing positive movements unfolding in front of you is one thing, particularly when you have so much pride in your hometown, but being involved in them is extra special, and something George is incredibly humbled to be a part of. One of those projects will be located in the much-anticipated Sheepfolds neighbourhood, north of the River Wear. “I’m involved in a few projects up here,” he says.

“There’s a building called HICSA (Housing Innovation and Construction Skills Academy), and it’s a collaboration between my educational charity, MOBIE (which inspires kids through home design), Sunderland Council and Sunderland College, to create a space where people can learn about home innovation.

“So while the city is proposing these new houses and developments, I’m saying, let’s reach out to schools and colleges and get young people really engaged with it. That facility, which is opening later in the year, combined with the development plans the city has got, it’s a very exciting time.

“The team at Sunderland City Council are brilliant. They’re really making things happen in the city. From a development

running small businesses. There’s so much potential there. You need creative people. “We’ve got a city with affordable rent and lots of buildings that need to be restoredit’s a hell of an opportunity.”

VAUX Brewery is another venture at the heart of the city that George is involved in. It has been a much-loved name since the 1800s. The brewery lives and breathes Sunderland. Its closure in 1999 was a huge loss, so when the opportunity came to be part of its relaunch, George jumped at the chance.

“Michael Thompson and Steven Smith bought it back in 2019, and as soon as I heard, I really wanted to be a part of it. It’s one of those businesses that defines the city. When I used to go and watch Sunderland as a kid, VAUX was the sponsor - I’ve still got the top with the branding sprawled across it!

“It’s crazy to think that VAUX was once delivering beer through Sunderland on a horse and cart. When something is such an important part of city life, you just can’t let things like that go.”

A common thread running across many of George’s projects is educating and inspiring the next generation. As someone who carved out their career path from a very young age, he’s keen to provide opportunities for others to experience something similar. As we speak, he’s celebrating the launch of his newly published children’s book, Little Experts: George Clarke - How To Build a Home.

“The book is aimed at 6 to 9-year-olds, but I thought, what an opportunity to get them talking about construction and architecture so young. It’s all about materials, future technology, the history of buildings - just a fun way to inspire young kids to open their eyes to housing.

“I've wanted to be an architect since I was about 12,” he starts.

“So I understand the importance of being exposed to ideas and experiences from a

I always remember my grandad saying to me, ‘don’t walk around the city with your head down’. Get your head up and look what’s around you

point of view, things are happening and the funding is there. The Culture House, designed by FaulknerBrowns, is going to be a game changer.

“Another fantastic development was the Beacon of Light community hub. I’m a trustee of the Foundation of Light. As a charity, we took a huge gamble setting up the centre - it was a £20m building. But we knew we needed to create something that spectacular to bring hope to the people of Sunderland. It deals with a lot of the challenges the city faces surrounding education, health and wellbeing.

“There’s so much going on in Sunderland - on a big scale and also on a smaller scale. I popped into Pop Recs this morning and the cafe was packed - they’re doing really well. It’s these small businesses that sit at the heart of the community.

“Of course, to regenerate a city you need big developments and infrastructure, but the other thing you need is passionate people

young age. I was lucky that my grandad was a builder in Sunderland. I remember, clear as day, from being about 6-years-old, he would take me to the building sitethese were the days before health and safety - and I would sit in bulldozers with him during the school holidays. When other kids were playing with Tonka toys, I was in the real thing!

“I always remember him saying to me, ‘don’t walk around the city with your head down. Get your head up and look at what’s around you’.”

And that’s exactly what he did, but his real light-bulb moment came at 13 when he picked up a book that would change his life forever.

“There was a second hand book shop in Sunderland and I remember being in town one day on my own and seeing a book called The History of Architecture by Sir Banister Fletcher. It covers 5,000 years of architectural history. It’s like your first >>

Every building has a story behind it, and my job is just about telling those stories. It’s a hell of a privilege

year bible when you go to architecture school, but I didn’t know this at 13-yearsold, I just liked the look of it. I remember, it was £9.

“Believe it or not, I was incredibly shy in those days, and I should’ve been brave enough to go up to the shopkeeper and ask if they could keep it to one side while I got the money together. So I jumped on the bus, rushed into my nana's house and asked if she could lend me some money. I think she thought I owed somebody money because I was panicking! But anyway, she gave me a tenner so I could get my bus fare as well, and off I went back into town to buy the book.

“I can honestly say, that book changed my life. I’ve still got it - it’s my prized possession. From that point, I knew I wanted to be an architect, but I also knew I had a lot of reading and researching to do, because, to be honest, I didn’t know an awful lot about it. That book completely opened up my mind to global design. It covers everything from Egyptian and Roman architecture, to the Classical Period, the Dark Ages and so on.

“From that point, I started seeing things differently. I was young, but it really sparked something for me, and that’s why I’m so passionate about passing that enthusiasm

on to the next generation. For kids now, it’s amazing that they can access so much information and education.

“What’s been great with MOBIE, the educational charity, is that we can set design challenges all over the country and kids are opening their minds up to the built environment.”

MOBIE’s design challenges span the country, encouraging children from different areas and backgrounds to play their part in the future of housing. Together with MOBIE and Sunderland City Council, George is helping his hometown of Washington kick off its 60th birthday celebrations with a design challenge.

“It’s the 60th anniversary of Washington New Town and the 50th anniversary of the Galleries Shopping Centre, so we’re inviting school children to come up with their own vision for an innovative residential community to span the next 60 years.

“I always wanted MOBIE to have a presence in Sunderland. When I first set it up in 2017 I came to have a look at buildings to set up a facility. I’m proud to say that, only six or seven years after those initial meetings, we are now moving forward with HICSA. It’s going to be a real hub for innovation when it comes to home design, and it will also act as a base for MOBIE.”

Though he now lives in West London and spends a lot of his time travelling, George’s life and values are very much rooted in Sunderland.

“I recently did my family tree, and all of a sudden these addresses were popping up for houses that my relatives lived in, in the late 1800s,” he starts.

“So last time I was here I drove round to find them. A lot of them had gone - on the north side of the river where the National Glass Centre and Sunderland University isthat’s where my family were from.

“My great nana, who I knew really well, was called Lizzie McKenzie. She was a fishcake lady, so she would go down to the docks, get all of her fish, go back home and spend the morning making fishcakes before taking her horse and cart around the city selling them. “When people say I’m a Sunderland lad, I’m absolutely rooted in the city. I had one nana in Farringdon, another nana in Plains Farm, then she moved to Sea Road. I used to walk down from Sea Road to Roker Park to watch the football - I’m a massive Sunderland fan. I miss it a lot, but I’m going to be spending more and more time up here. I can’t tell you too much, but there’s one or two really exciting things happening. Watch this space.”

George kicked off his career as an architect

at David Johnson Architects in Washington, before moving on to Newcastle University where he enjoyed a year in practice at FaulknerBrowns Architects in Killingworth. Following that, he made the move to the capital and took a job at Terry Farrell and Partners, where he spent some time in Hong Kong. He finished his masters at The Bartlett School at University College London and West London soon became home.

“It’s really interesting because my kids are London born and bred, but they love coming up here. Obviously it’s always lovely seeing your nana - they hug you and never let you go (!) - but they just get it. For me, there’s nothing better than the passion of the people of the North East, and I really mean that.”

So where did the lines between architecture and TV cross?

“It was totally random,” George laughs. “I had my architectural practice in London and was teaching part-time at Newcastle University. It was during my time at the university when they said to me: ‘we need you to write a book’ for research purposes. A friend of mine in London put me in touch with a literary agent. I reluctantly went to this meeting with an agent called Rosemary, and at the end of it she said, ‘your passion for architecture and buildings is quite infectious - why don’t you just sign and see what happens?’. She called me a few days later and said, ‘have you ever thought about doing television?’.

“I was really confused because she was a literary agent, but she had a few clients who also worked in TV. She had had a conversation with someone at Channel 5, who just so happened to be casting for an architect/home designer. Straight away I said I wasn’t interested. I knew I wanted to be an architect and that was my drive. I was quite shy back then. I hated drama at school, you could never get me on the stage, so being in front of a camera was my worst nightmare, to be totally honest with you. “She called me the next day and told me I was booked in for a screen test. There was definitely some swearing from me. She said, ‘look, you’ve got nothing to lose!’. “I walked into this office and it was clear I really didn’t want to be there. He said, ‘so tell me about yourself’, and I thought, ‘you don’t ask anyone from the North East that!’. Being over confident and arrogant just doesn’t go down that well up here, so it seemed very strange for me to start bragging about myself. I think my response was, ‘well what do you want to know?’, which probably didn’t go down that well.

“His next question was, ‘why do you love architecture so much?’, and that was ithe couldn’t shut me up. Rosemary called at 5pm to say they wanted me. I said no again. It took them a while to persuade me to do it, and I don’t mean that in an arrogant way, it just didn’t feel like the natural move for me - my son had just turned two, we had another baby on the way, my business needed a lot of my time, and I was teaching once a week in Newcastle.

“I had no idea what I was doing, but I did the first series of Property Dreams - it was absolutely terrible, but it was a real learning experience for me. I loved working with the crew and when I realised, for the most part, it was just about storytelling, I actually really enjoyed it. Every building has a story behind it, and my job is just about telling those stories. It’s a hell of a privilege!”

There have been many takeaways from my chat with George, and if I was to give one piece of advice on the back of it, it would be: ‘find something that really lights you up, read that book and do your research, then go for it!’.


AtTecazwelovetogivetheopportunityforyoutoseeandtoucha rangeofbathroomsorkitchensbeforeyoudecidetopurchase.

Ourshowroomsfeatureover200bathrooms,100showersand40 kitchendisplays,you'resuretofindwhatyouarelookingfor. Saveupto60%offRRPonsomeofthebiggestbrandsaround.

FREEcomputerplanninganddesignisavailable,forlarger projects,weofferinstallationsupport.Weareconfidentyou'll achieveyourdreamspace.FREEgraniteorquartzworktopsare availableonselectedkitchenranges.

*RealiseyourdreamsinournewVRroomatourStocktonand NorthShieldsmegastores.ComingsoontoPennywell.




NorhamRoad,NorthShields,NE297TN•Tel:01912576511 PortrackLane,Stockton-on-Tees,TS182HG•Tel:01642670100 TecazEchoHouse,PennywellIndEst,SR49EN•Tel:01915347733
new VRroomnowinstore*




Diamond Crossbody Smooth Calf Leather in Latte £1,750
Choo Amel 50 Patent Leather in Biscuit £750
Frame Clutch Soft Calf Leather in Latte £2,095
We’re loving Jimmy Choo’s powerful line up of assertive shoes and accessories this spring. Go glam from day to night... Choo Amos 95 Suede in Biscuit £950

Jimmy Choo

Avenue Soft Shoulder Avenue

Nappa Leather in Latte £1,595

Jimmy Choo

Kinley 75 Avenue Patchwork

Nappa Leather in Latte/Black £695

Jimmy Choo Avenue Quad Avenue Patchwork

Nappa Leather in Latte/Black £1,595

Jimmy Choo

Blake KB 85 Avenue Patchwork

Nappa Leather in Latte/Black £1,795

Jimmy Choo Avenue Quad Avenue Patchwork Nappa Leather in Navy/ Sky £1,595

Jimmy Choo Azie 85 Patchwork Nappa Leather in Navy/Sky £725



A symbol of love

A Kensho heirloom is the perfect way to say ‘I love you’ this Mother’s Day. This medallion pays homage to the sacred womb - a symbol of fertility, creation and deep wisdom. This elegantly strung medallion on a black thread can perfectly represent any personal journey - whether it’s a gift for your mum, a mum-to-be, or simply for someone you love.

The Miracle Within Medallion, £320

GET THE LOOK Flower power VERSACE Medium Tote Bag in Embroidery Jacquard £1,250, GUCCI Gucci Flora Gorgeous Gardenia Eau de Parfum for Women, 100ml £130, DOLCE & GABBANA Floral Jacquard Mules £850, DAMSON MADDER Floral-print Quilted Cotton Cosmetics Pouch £30, REISS Tess Printed Tie Neck Blouse £118, BARBOUR Sandgate Floral Maxi Dress £100, FREE PEOPLE Chloe Jacket £188, ZIMMERMANN Lexi Floral Linen Wrap Dress £715, DIANE VON FURSTENBERG Lindy Printed Stretch Cotton-poplin Midi Dress £450, NEEDLE & THREAD Wisteria Floral-print Midi Dress £275, BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS Fabulous florals for spring 31 MAR/APR24

Chic bob

The bob stands the test of time as a stylish look in the hair world. It’s clear to see with so many celebrities currently sporting the look…

Judging by the red carpets, awards shows and fashion events we've seen so far - the bob hairstyle is making a triumphant return in 2024.

The iconic cut dominated the Golden Globes and Emmys with the likes of J.Lo and Rihanna debuting especially chic looks that we think looked pretty amazing!

Of course, this comes as no surprise as while many hair trends come and go, the bob never really leaves us. Going chin length like our gorgeous model makes a bold statement and really does grab people's attention, with the surprising added bonus of being low maintenance. However, don’t fear if chin length feels a tad too short as 'the bob’ is an extremely versatile cut - take it from the A-listers who are killing it. From the undone bob to the lob, there are a handful of ways to wear this cut to major effect.

Whether you opt for smooth and sleek, waved out and tussled or even worn with bangs - whatever your preference may be, you can definitely jump on the bob train and join the latest trend for 2024.

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


At Sisters is raising the bar when it comes to revolutionary new skin tightening treatments. Elysia Fryer finds out why HIFU is the answer to a fresh and firm complexion

Glow getter

Skin ageing is a fact of life, and of course it happens to the best of us.

Life whizzes on by and sometimes, before we’ve even stopped to notice, huge shifts are happening across our bodies - some more noticeable than others.

Nobody warned me that one day (for me, pretty much immediately after turning 30!), those changes jump out at you from nowhere. I had been blissfully unaware of my skin’s journey for some time - often putting issues and imperfections down to hormonal shifts, the change in weather, and so on. Those things do take their toll and have an impact, but for me, it was time to acknowledge the fact that I have entered my third decade and it’s time to start looking after my skin.

At the turn of the year, after some time off with my second baby, I was feeling ready

to return to work. Feeling ready and motivated was one thing, but I was feeling far from rejuvenated. Yes, I would be returning as a new me, but not necessarily a ‘refreshed and refined’ version of me. With that realisation, and the turn of the new year, came many things. Healthy diet, fitness regime, taking on new hobbies and interests, and generally just finding and making time for myself amongst the busy schedules of life. Another aspect of ‘me time’ I was keen to focus on, was working on and understanding my skin and complexion. I’ve tried lots of treatments, products and skincare hacks, but I was ready to go a little bit deeper to discover what my ‘30s skin’ needed from me.

This is where I sought the help of the lovely Jo at At Sisters in Newcastle. Timed perfectly with the addition of a brand spanking Focus Dual machine in the salon, she was delighted to talk me through the HIFU (high

intensity focused ultrasound) facial. The machine itself has been created to help lift, firm and tighten the skin with non-invasive treatments. The latest clinically proven technologies, in this case radio frequency microneedling and HIFU, come together to offer the ultimate anti-ageing results without surgery.

On this occasion, we’re using the machine for the HIFU treatment. The procedure is minimally invasive, meaning there is little to no downtime or recovery. It’s an attractive option for those who are looking to improve their appearance without undergoing major procedures, and because of that, it has been dubbed the ‘Lunchtime Face Lift’. It’s quick, simple, almost completely painless (more on that later), and the science-backed treatment guarantees good results.

HIFU uses ultrasound to lift, smooth and tighten the skin. It targets the SMAS (superficial musculoaponeurotic system) layer, also known as the foundation layer, of the skin - which is the area a surgeon would physically pull and tighten if you were going for a facelift. The machine works by sending heat energy to the deep structural tissues and muscles where collagen is found. It causes skin cell trauma (don’t worry - it doesn’t hurt!), and in turn, the body repairs cells by producing more collagen to aid in the regrowth. Collagen is the buzzword we’re all looking for when hoping to bring our skin back to life. My ears prick up when I hear of collagen-boosting products and treatments. It’s something we may not require assistance with until we hit our late-20s/ early 30s, but from then on in, it’s like gold dust. More collagen means more structure and elasticity. More structure and elasticity means smooth and firm skin. Jo talks me through the treatment, introduces me to the Focus Dual machine and all of its nifty tricks, and prepares my face for the HIFU non-surgical facelift. She starts by mapping out the areas of concern

on my face. In this case we are focusing on tightening and lifting the jawline, as well as working on fine lines and wrinkles around my eyes and across the forehead.

After applying the gel, Jo gets to work on my skin, starting with the neck and jawline. The device is firmly applied to the skin as you feel the heat targeting the deeper layers of skin we are unable to reach in regular facials and non-surgical treatments. There’s a slight feeling of sensitivity, particularly around the jawline. Nothing more than a slight tingling sensation, but it’s totally bearable and I must admit, I do like a treatment where I can feel the work being done.

The first focal point is to define my jawline and reduce pockets of fat beneath my chin (a polite way of banishing the double chin!).

Next, Jo works to lift my cheeks and eyebrows, before using HIFU to tighten and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles across the forehead.

There are many areas HIFU can target, depending on the client and their desired results. It can help to tighten crepey skin, lift eyebrows and generally just tighten sagging skin around the face, neck and body.

Targeting the SMAS layer in a non-invasive way, Jo tells me, is the best way to achieve a natural, youthful glow. HIFU targets this layer without any surgical incisions, meaning you can achieve plump skin without going under the knife. A no-downtime facelift is a possibility, and the results are just as life changing.

The treatment itself is pretty fast and painless and results can be seen immediately for some, with improvements being made for up to 12 weeks as collagen is renewed. Think of it as your goodie bag to take away!

Results are expected to last 1-2 years, with 1-3 treatments recommended as part of a course. At the time of writing, I am just two weeks post-treatment and not only is my jawline looking and feeling more refined, my complexion has the healthy glow it has been craving for some time. That collagen is doing its thing and I’m hoping it outstays its welcome!

Jo speaks passionately about her love of non-surgical treatments, and it’s safe to say the Focus Dual machine is her new baby in the salon. Go and see her for help with your skincare journey - I’m so glad I did!



Supercharge your motivation

“How can I stick to my goals in areas like work, health, wellbeing, and relationships? I often find myself starting the year with strong resolutions, but as spring approaches and life gets busier, some of my goals tend to be forgotten. What strategies can help me stay committed and not lose sight of my aspirations?”

Over 90% of new year’s resolutions will be abandoned in just a few weeks. So please take heart and stop beating yourself up. Here I share some coaching questions you could ask yourself to supercharge your motivation.

1. What are the reasons for wanting to achieve my goal?

Take a step back to reflect on what makes your goal important to you. What inspired you? Reminding yourself of what mattered to you when you created the goal can help you to tap back into your motivation.

2. What small steps do I need to take to move closer to my goal?

Breaking your goal into smaller manageable steps can help you to stay focused.

3. What reduces my motivation?

Getting awareness around what slows down your motivation can give you clarity.

4. What obstacles or barriers may I face that will sabotage my motivation?

Evaluating the thoughts, beliefs and behaviours which sabotage your motivation can help you to laser in on any obstacles that could be getting in your way. This is where being coached can really help.

5. How can I overcome those obstacles?

Now that you have more clarity on your obstacles or barriers, you can decide to determine what you could do to overcome them.

6. What would be the consequences of not being motivated to achieve my goal?

You may be more motivated by the consequences of not achieving something and the negative impact it could have, rather than focusing on the benefits. This is a great question to help you define what the consequences could be.

7. What habits can I create to increase my motivation?

Try and tie in these habits with things you do. Like 20 squats whilst the kettle boils!

8. What reminders do I need to see to stay motivated?

Having photos or inspirational quotes can help remind you of what it is that you want to achieve.

9. Who can support me?

Getting a coach can help you to remain accountable to your actions. Having someone to share your successes, ideas, or concerns with can help you to maintain your enthusiasm and motivation.

10. How will I reward myself?

Noting down how you will reward yourself for achieving your goal can help you to maintain your motivation as you’ll have something to look forward to.

Asking yourself some of the questions above could help you to get more clarity around what keeps you motivated and help you to form strategies to maintain momentum so that you can race towards the finish line of your goals!

Beauty :update

Our go-to nature-inspired beauty products for spring


Goldfield & Banks Silky Woods Elixir

From dewy leaves to vibrant petals, Goldfield & Banks celebrates the beauty of our planet’s natural greenery with its latest collection, The Botanical Series. Turning its focus to the organic vegetation of Australia, Silky Woods Elixir blends the deep, warming notes of oud and musk with sweeter, more delicate tones of fig and rose to create an alluring scent that strikes the right tone from the office to the restaurant, and everywhere in between.




Tinted Lip Oil

Give your lips a natural glow with Typology’s Tinted Lip Oil, in a number of shades from Coral Orange to Powder Pink. Enriched with squalane, jojoba oil and vitamin E, this handbag staple will subtly colour the lips while hydrating with a non-sticky finish. A vegan product made up of 98% naturally derived ingredients, and formulated without mineral oils and silicones.




Rejuvenating Drops

Give your skin the gift of nighttime restoration with Bamford’s Rejuvenating Drops. Packed with vitamins E and F, and retinol to accelerate cell turnover, this handy product will repair your skin while its resting as well as softening fine lines and wrinkles. The results? A nourished and rejuvenated complexion.



Pai Skincare


Bioregenerate Oil

One of Pai’s cult Rosehip Oil’s superpowers is its regenerative properties, which come from its high concentrations of omega 3, 6, 7 and 9. This is skin nutrition in a bottle, expertly extracted to make the most of every drop. This is a skincare saviour, promising to deeply condition the skin, as well as improving firmness and elasticity.




Rhug Estate Beauty Deep Cleansing Balm

A gentle deeply cleansing balm with safflower oil rich in vitamin E, known to reduce the signs of ageing. Rose otto essential oil to moisturise and soothe and antioxidant-rich wild berries from the Rhug Estate in North Wales, that brighten and protect. This nourishing and brightening cleansing balm is packed with all the goodies for glowing skin. £65,


Rodial Bee Venom Super Serum

Bee venom in beauty products has been dubbed ‘natural botox’ because of its ability to sooth inflamed skin and reduce redness. If you find the right product, it can work wonders and we’re currently loving the Rodial Super Serum - a hydrating serum enriched with bee venom to minimise the signs of skin ageing. It visibly plumps, firms and smooths the complexion with a formula combining stem cells derived from red chilli peppers and bee venom. A blend of botanical oils, marine collagen and vitamin E hydrates the skin for touchably soft results.



Natural Spa Factory Organic Raw Coconut Oil For Face, Body & Hair

Pelvic health – a doctor’s perspective! I seem to be talking about pelvic health a lot lately, and not just the pelvic floor… but also the vagina, the vulva, the bottom and issues which are linked to the bladder

So, what are women asking me about and what can we do about it?


UpCircle Beauty Coffee Body Scrub with Peppermint

This vegan-friendly, can’t-live-without product is the perfect way to get coconutty goodness into the face, hair and body. Coconut oil is antibacterial, antifungal and moisturising, so it’s ideal for people with sensitive skin as it retains the moisture content of the skin. It is rich in proteins and vitamin E, which are essential for healthy skin growth and repair. A real all-rounder when it comes to achieving good-for-you hair and skin. £28,


Beauty Pie Plantastic Deep Nourishing Moisture Balm

Give your skin the TLC it deserves with Beauty Pie’s Plantastic moisture balm, packed full of antioxidant stem cells, ensuring your body gets the good stuff. This plant-infused moisturiser is a real box-ticker when it comes to hydrating your skin - from your face and neck, to your chest, hands and elbows. The creamy, buttery texture sinks beautifully into the skin, soothing, nourishing and banishing dry skin.


But first, coffee. If coffee is a huge part of your day-to-day life, why not bring it into your skincare routine with this amazing body scrub by UpCircle Beauty. Packed with coffee, peppermint, sea salt, eucalyptus and coconut oil, it’s the perfect recipe to buff way dead skin cells leaving your body feeling soft, smooth and totally refreshed. Made with top quality Arabica coffee grounds, sourced from artisan coffee shops, you can guarantee you’re getting the good stuff. £11.89,


ishga Anti-oxidant Marine Cream, 50ml

This crowd-pleaser is a must for those looking for punchy products packing in all the goodness. ishga’s Anti-oxidant Marine Cream was awarded ‘Gold’ in the Day Moisturiser category in the Beauty Bible Awards 2023 and ‘Beauty Editor’s Choice’ in the Beauty Shortlist Awards 2023. Its powerful blend of clean, natural ingredients, including ishga’s unique seaweed extract and Hebridean spring water, yields an amazing 86 vitamins and minerals and will transform any skin type - brightening, freshening and smoothing fine lines and wrinkles. You can experience ishga treatments at Seaham Hall’s Serenity Spa. £85,

New mummies - our bodies go through A LOT when we are pregnant and then give birth. Natural vaginal births, instrumental deliveries, or caesarean sections - it does not matter: both the physical changes, complications, and the hormone changes can be significant and can take time to settle. The symptoms I am hearing about in this group include reduced sexual desire, vaginal laxity, incontinence, haemorrhoids, constipation, the physical appearance concerns about their vulva, the skin laxity around the tummy and skin conditions associated with hormones and pregnancy. This is not even touching on the psychological impact a new baby and body changes has on your life!

Over 40s - this cohort are worried about exercising in case they wet themselves, or they have given up on sex as they don’t feel like it, it feels wrong or lacks pleasure. Women in this group may complain of their vaginas being dry, feeling itchy, having more urine infections, just not feeling right ‘down there’. This can all have an impact on mental wellbeing, and they say they are tired or stressed or fed up. They tell me they have irregular sometimes heavy periods; they have put on weight around their belly and whatever they do, they cannot shift it!

Pelvic health is a lot more than pelvic floor exercises and we need to recognise the need to think about the whole person and the impact of so many things on our health, including hormones, mood, gut health, activity, nutrition… the list is endless, and it is all intertwined.

Here at The Bespoke Clinic, the approach is always personalised: a detailed history, and if appropriate examination and investigations will allow us to ensure we are doing right by you.

For the vulva and the vagina, we have the FDA approved, evidence based, Ultra Femme 360 device (or EMFEMME), to give women a safe, non-surgical option for rejuvenation of those important parts of our body. For the urinary continence side, we have the Emsella chair which will deliver over 11,000 Kegels to your pelvic floor and allow for a reduction in pad wearing and improvement in quality of life, as well as improve sexual function. We also have a visiting Colorectal Surgeon for problems around the anus, such as piles etc. Hormone bloods and functional medicine tests can be done to explore your hormonal health, periods or menopause concerns and then with the results, we can consider how to rebalance things using either hormones or other avenues of care, all deliverable in The Bespoke Clinic. Let’s take some control back and look after that important pelvis of ours!

0191 6941232

The Bespoke Clinic is a doctor-led clinic run by Dr Neet. Doctor-led medical consultations may cover menopause, andropause, women’s health, skin conditions and gut health. Pop into their Jesmond-based clinic or visit their website for more information on how Dr Neet and her team can help you:

35 MAR/APR24

Find your flow

The reformer machine has taken pilates practice to the next level, Elysia Fryer discovers as she checks in with Leanne Clack, founder and instructor of Rise, a chic studio on Yarm High Street

family to make some huge decisions.

of like minded women. The space itself is incredibly chic - a total breath of fresh air, taking inspiration from the Sunshine Coast. “We’ve tried to keep some of the elements of Australia in here - it’s very light and bright and relaxed. The interiors have those beachy notes, there’s lots of eucalyptus and essential oils. Just to try and make it feel like a sanctuary.

“The locals are so surprised when they come in here. It’s gone from a dark and dingy betting shop to a retreat-like space, focused on health and wellbeing. It has gone through quite the transformation.

“The look and feel of the place is obviously very important, as is the quality of the service we offer in terms of classes, but one thing we really wanted to nail down was bringing a sense of communityensuring that Rise is a place where people can feel connected - mentally, physically and socially.

“We make sure we know everybody’s name, we know what their injuries are if they have them, we know a little bit about what’s going on in their day-to-day lives. Every month we host a Rise social - whether it’s a glass of wine over at Fourteen Drops, or dinner out somewhere. People want to be in an environment where they feel a part of something. It’s really special.

“What is really lovely is we have a variety of age ranges doing classes. You’ve got your 20-somethings, your school mums, you’ve got your 50s and 60s who are still working, then you’ve got your retired ladies. There’s a real mix of people and it’s fantastic.

“We’re doing our best to make sure we promote the fact that pilates is for everyone, moving away from the ‘pilates is for skinny girls’ mindset - it really isn’t.”

We’re seeing lots of A-list celebrities and sports stars taking to reformer pilates, and that is great for promotion in some respects, but what that can do is scare people into thinking that it is only suitable for those with a ‘polished’ lifestyle. That isn’t the case here. Yes, it is a beautiful space and totally Instagrammable, but it is also a safe space where each client is on an individual journey with unique goals.

that push your body to the limit. Reformer pilates turns that concept on its head. Yes, it’s about working your body and setting goals, but it’s also about nurturing your body while building strength. Most importantly, it’s about finding your flow.

“We want everyone to leave the studio feeling good,” says Leanne.

“And it’s amazing to see the difference in our members from the moment they walk through the door, to the moment they step foot off the reformer machine. People come rushing in - whether they’ve just finished work or just done the school run - they lie down on the carriage, find their breath and really make time for themselves.”

Reformer pilates is a wonderful moodbooster. It can help you gain strength, improve flexibility and aid with weight loss, all while releasing those feel-good endorphins.

“You really have to concentrate to get into the flow,” Leanne starts.

“Which is one of the main principles of pilates, and it really gives people a space to switch off from the stresses of life.”

Reformer pilates might be new to the high street in Yarm, but its core principles were developed over 100 years ago by Joseph Pilates. During the latter part of the First World War, he served as an orderly in a hospital on the Isle of Man where he worked with patients who were unable to walk.

Many of the techniques used in his unique rehabilitation methods are still used in pilates classes today.

Following the war, he emigrated to the United States with his wife and set up a body-conditioning gym in New York, next door to the New York Ballet School. He worked closely with the dance community and thus his movements developed into choreographed sequencing. “Since then, mat pilates has grown from strength to strength - excuse the pun! But many of Joseph Pilates’ principles have stuck,” says Leanne.

The reformer machine takes the key principles of pilates, but the apparatus encourages more range and resistance, creating more dynamic movement.

It’s always exciting to see a shiny new shop front pop up on Yarm High Street - even better when it’s something that can positively impact our lifestyle.

This has been the case for many people who have made Rise Reformer Pilates part of their weekly routine or wellbeing practice.

Leanne Clack is the brains behind the business. She is sunshine in human forma bundle of bright and bubbly energy. As we get chatting about her inspiration and her pivotal time on the Sunshine Coast in Australia, her cool and calming energy starts to make sense.

“We are originally from the area and lived here in Yarm with our three kids,” she starts. “But we moved over to Australia for seven years, where I was working for a franchise investment company doing social media.

“We were very much enjoying life by the beach, and I wasn’t looking for a big career change in any way, but a new pilates studio opened up in our town, so I went along as a client and when I was introduced to the reformer machine, I absolutely fell in love.

“It was the best thing I’d ever done. I signed up and was a client for around six months when they were advertising for a sales role. I was so excited at the thought of working for the business, so I applied and got the job. I worked there for two and a half years, not as an instructor, but I just loved being a part of the business. It was so in line with many of my values.”

Shortly after, we were struck by Covid, and like many people, it forced Leanne and her

“It was at that point we decided it was time to come home,” she starts.

“It just made sense for us as a family, but I wasn’t quite ready to fully let go of the lifestyle I had over there, so I was determined to take the plunge and train to be a reformer pilates instructor. It wasn’t a business idea as such at that stage, I just really wanted to do it for myself. I’d found something that really made me tick and I wanted to challenge myself further.

“In Australia, people live such healthy lifestyles. Their health and wellbeing is a priority and it is infectious.

“Pilates is the number one form of exercise over there. There’s a lovely work/life balance and it’s about really making it a part of everyday life, rather than a chore or something you ‘just have to do’ to keep well. The sunshine, of course, helpsunfortunately I couldn’t bring that back with me to Yarm, but I did bring reformer pilates! Surely that’s the next best thing…”

Armed with her new skills and a real passion to pursue it further, Leanne really struggled to find any pilates business like the one she had fallen in love with in Australia.

“It just didn’t exist here,” she says.

“I started a studio from home and the demand was so huge that we decided to just take the plunge and look for a space of our own. It’s our first venture in business, but it just felt so right, and I really wanted to share what I’d discovered with people back home.”

The studio opened its doors in June 2023 and has since built a beautiful community

The fitness world is inundated with classes

“The reformer was often used in England as a rehab tool. If you went to a physio, they might get you moving on a reformer machine. That is what it has typically been used for.

“To do it as part of group exercise is a new thing, but pilates itself has a lot of history.”

Reformer pilates was new to most Rise members, Leanne tells me. But it’s certainly taking the town by storm.

“We’re delighted with what we’ve created here and I hope the town and its people can see the positive impact,” Leanne says.

“We’re celebrating our first birthday in June, so that’s a big milestone for us.

“And with that, we’ve got plans to expand the business, with some products in the pipeline. It’s all very exciting and we’re just so pleased that our members are here for the journey.

“We can rise together…”

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

Wild & wonderful

Lucy Cuzzocrea lives at home in Guisborough with her husband and two children. The North Yorkshire coast and countryside is her office, where she has grown her foraging business, born out of a love for food, nature and making a difference. Elysia Fryer meets Lucy for a Wild Roots walk…

It’s a fairly mild and sunny February morning and I’m meeting Lucy at her go-to ‘mushroom spot’ off the beaten track in Upleatham, between Guisborough and Saltburn.

Lucy greets me with a basket of goodieshomemade mushroom jerky, seaweed snacks, nettle seeds, wild rose powder and more. Treats she has made from the foraged goods we are about to discover. Wellies on and basket in hand, we head off up the hill in search of mushroomsand straight away, it’s clear to see how passionate Lucy is about the wild food on our doorstep in this beautiful part of the world.

Lucy tells me how apt it is that we’re meeting today - on 1 February 2024 - halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Today is Imbolc - a Gaelic traditional festival marking the early signs of spring, encouraging us to notice the shoots pushing through the soil, but also a shift within ourselves. Imbolc means ‘in the belly’ - referring to the lambs who lay in the sheep’s belly about to be birthed - a time of fertility and new ideas.

“According to the ancients,” Lucy starts. “It’s a time to celebrate Goddess Brigidbringing fire, light, warmer days, new life, creativity and inspiration.”

So, as we turn our heads to the new season - and one where Lucy’s work and passions

really come into their own - we are blown away by the timing of this walking meeting. Lucy lives in Guisborough with her husband and two children. And, although she is now in the perfect spot to forage - with woodland, moorland and the coast at her fingertipsshe hasn’t always been blessed with so much nature on the doorstep.

“For a long time, I lived in central Middlesbrough, so it was very different in terms of having nature so readily available.

“But I want people to know that, that doesn’t matter. Yes, we are lucky to live where we do and the natural environment presents so many opportunities, but at the same time, nature is everywhere we go. When I lived in Middlesbrough, I still foraged but just in a different way - in the back garden or in local parks. I made many an ‘Albert Park pie’ after rummaging in hedges.”

Foraging is available for everyone, no matter where you live. It’s just about knowing what you are looking for, learning about how you can use it at home, and really understanding the benefits. Once you’ve got that down, it really is just a lifestyle change. Lucy reminds me that it doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it may sound, it is a process and baby steps are great.

At this time of year, before we dive into the bounty of goodies that grow and show in spring, Lucy takes us on a tour of one of her go-to mushroom picking spots.

“You never ask a forager for their mushroom spots,” she laughs.

“That doesn’t mean that there aren't loads out there, people just have to find their own places, because we’re all looking for different things.”

Once you know where to look and have burned the bridges between what you can and can’t take home (we don’t want to poison ourselves!), the world is your oyster - excuse the pun.

“You don’t struggle to find wild food when it comes to plants - even in gardens and urban areas. With mushrooms, it’s a bit more tricky, but once you know what you’re looking for, and you have an idea on where to look, you will find them.

“Mushrooms are fascinating. They grow in a symbiotic relationship with trees. They send each other nutrients and help each other out. They are literally like scientists of food - they work with each other. They’ve all got different jobs and they’re all there to do something.

“At this time of year, because we know that oysters are around, every time I walk past dead wood, I’ll have a look around and see what I can find. If they’re getting a little bit old, they can get quite rubbery, but that’s fine for things like mushroom jerky.

“Your gut will tell you if they look healthy enough to pick. They start off quite light and grey in colour, then they tend to go

a bit rubbery and gold in colour.”

It’s not too dissimilar to picking your best looking punnet of something in the supermarket; but in nature - before anyone has had their hands on them and before they’ve picked up any food miles. It’s seriously fresh stuff, and I can sense from Lucy that, much like how I feel when I turn a blank page into a story, there’s a real buzz that comes with creating something from scratch - literally from the earth.

“Mushrooms are so versatile,” says Lucy. “I was never actually a huge fan of them as a child. It wasn’t until I started foraging for them and realising what you can do with them, that my opinion changed.

“There’s nothing better than getting creative with the produce you’ve picked. One thing I did in winter was… we hit the beach with our oyster mushrooms, alexanders and wild garlic. We made some kelp spaghetti and fried up the oysters, alexanders and wild garlic and poured some cream in, mixed it all together and it was gorgeous. It was a bit of a challenge on the beach as it was a bit windy. Talk about being open to the elements! But it was a lovely experience, enjoying the produce from our natural environment, in our natural environment. How amazing is it that we can do that?”

Chatting to Lucy, it’s clear that she was

It’s just about opening your eyes and seeing the world differently. I can help people do that. It wasn’t an overnight change for me. It took years, and each year I learn more

made to flourish in the great outdoors, really coming into her own in nature.

But foraging wasn’t always in her plans.

“I did graphic design at university,” she starts.

“Obviously, it’s totally different to what I do now. But looking back, as I try to find connections, it was more about activism than anything - about recognising the effect that capitalism and globalisation has on the world. So without even knowing, that definitely got the cogs turning for me and I set off on a bit of a mission to figure it all out.

“I also really wanted to improve our family’s health and do what’s best for the environment. I’m quite an obsessive person, so once I get into something, I’m totally addicted.

“The learning is never ending, and I really love that about foraging. There’s always something new to explore.

“If the passion and the willingness to learn is there, you’re onto a winner. I spend a lot of time reading books and looking at traditional recipes, but also tasting things and trying to understand the flavours.

“I’m generally just led by the natural environment and what is around us, but I’ve also got an allotment, and chickens and ducks. I wish I had my own land, but there’s so much on the doorstep and it’s actually quite exciting to be able to go out and explore something new every day. We have that luxury here.

“You can feel quite alone as a forager sometimes. Most of the time, it is literally just you and nature - which is obviously incredible in itself, but we all crave human interaction and being able to share our experiences. That’s why I set up my business.

“Foraging should and traditionally has always been a community thing, which is what I’m trying to do with Wild Roots Foraging. Back in the day it wouldn’t be just one person going out foraging then coming back home and processing, it would be whole families working together.

“The more people I share this information with, the more they become obsessed with it, and then that community will build again. We’ve got to start somewhere. That’s the plan!”

In her work, Lucy really brings traditional ideas and qualities back to life. And she is inspiring in many ways - from her knowledge of the natural environment and what we can find on our doorstep, to her passion for creating and nurturing community living, and her historical expertise, found from her love of wild food. “It gives you a realisation of how much we’ve lost,” she says.

“Everybody used to be so connected, and we need to work really hard to get that back. My grandma’s sister was in her 90s and saw me cooking with my foraged mushrooms and she said she always used to forage them down Fairy Dell Park in Coulby Newham, where she lived. She would go there and bump into her friends doing the same for their families - everyone knew what they were looking for, and it’s crazy that, just a couple of generations down the line, we've lost it because everything is just so readily available in the shops, in a packet.

“There’s so much we can learn from our ancestors. And that is often overlooked in today’s fast-paced society. Our ancestors said that hawthorn could ‘heal a broken heart’, and now we know that it’s one of the most powerful heart medicines that we’ve got. It’s amazing.

“I’ve got an irregular heartbeat and was told it wasn’t life threatening, but just something I had to live with. Years later I discovered that I could have hawthorn, and all of a sudden I don’t have an irregular heartbeat anymore. It’s incredible. There’s so much we can learn from nature - and at first you don’t quite trust it because we’ve been taught not to. It all comes from nature.”

Lucy has taken matters into her own hands and has found the answers. She acknowledges that this isn’t always the case, but if what we find in the natural environment can positively impact our lives in one way or another, it’s important we share that.

“The first part of this year, I’ve been really busy running wild medicine courses, teaching people about the medicinal qualities in some of the produce growing around us, and how we can make our own medicine.

“It’s actually really easy. And to me, it’s a no-brainer. Don’t get me wrong, the medical industry is so important and it is needed, but what I’m saying is just that there are things we can do at home to help with our own health and wellbeing.

“The healthcare system is simply not able to meet the needs of the nation at the minute, so if we can help ourselves as much as possible, surely that’s going to benefit everybody?”

In the world we live in currently, it is understandable that people struggle to find the time to take up a new hobby or change their way of living. But with a Wild Roots Foraging course, it’s about learning the basics to be able to make small changes and build on them.

“People see foragers out there who live off their land, they live totally off-grid, and they see that lifestyle as absolutely unachievable.

“But it doesn’t need to be like that. It can be done around busy work schedules and family life. You just need to find a way to incorporate it into your life - like we do with anything.

“For example, a weekend walk with the family, or your daily dog walk, could become a time to forage and explore your environment a little more. It’s just about opening your eyes and seeing the world differently. I can help people do that. It wasn’t an overnight change for me. It took years, and each year I learn more.”

Like many things, there’s a ‘lightbulb moment’ and something just clicks. And for Lucy, this way of seeing and working with the world has gradually changed the way her family lives.

“My kids don’t quite realise how different they are from other kids just yet,” she smiles.

“I remember a couple of years ago, my dad had taken my little boy out for the day and when he came back he said, ‘I fell over and hurt my knee and Grandad didn’t even get a plant for it!’.

“When they get bigger I think they’ll realise that they’ve had a bit of a different upbringing to other kids. We ring the bell for organic a lot, so they’re starting to understand that a little. I teach them about pesticides, good bugs, gut health and things like that. They’re not always into everything and sometimes they want to be more like their friends, so it’s a journey, but I’m hoping they can take it on board when they’re a bit bigger.”

Mid-stroll, we take a seat on a fallen tree to have a look at what goodies Lucy has brought in her basket. Homemade jars of seaweed snacks, wild garlic salt, nettle seeds and wild rose powder to name a few. She talks us through her treats… “People are spending a fortune on tiny packets of seaweed online, and it’s driving me insane because there’s so much of it everywhere, all up the coast.

“It’s full of minerals and iodine - we’re all deficient in iodine now and it’s causing all kinds of problems. The salt in it is good salt.

“I dry it and then simply just use it to flavour things; sprinkling it in dishes can add so much flavour - a fantastic substitute for salt. “Wild garlic is so easy to forage and is so versatile at home. It starts to pop up at the end of winter, right through until June, so there’s tons of it around. Most people put it in the food processor to make wild garlic salt, but I find it quite mindful just sitting with my pestle and mortar and mixing the garlic and the salt - the crunch, the texture, the aromas - it’s just amazing. Then you lay it out on a baking tray and dry it out in a low-heated oven. I make jars and jars of it. Our favourite recipe is wild garlic salted homemade chips, if you’re craving a takeaway. Even scrambled eggs on toast, it adds so much flavour, and you’re getting so much goodness.

“Nettle seeds are also one of my go-to things to make up in jars. They’re fantastic for reducing stress. And I’ve also got some wild rose powder. I quite often make a bedtime milk for the kids, or a moontime milk for me once a month. The rose powder goes in it with a bit of honey. It’s gorgeous. It’s also great for adding flavour to cakes or whatever it is you’re baking. You literally just dry the rose petals and grind them down.” Wild Roots Foraging is all about working with like minded people (or just people with a willingness to learn) to educate and empower. It’s about making a difference, to the lives of individuals and their families, but also to our communities and our natural environment. We need nature and nature needs us.

Whether it’s a wild medicine course or a foraging and fermentation course, you’ll leave with new knowledge and a new outlook on life. I can vouch for Lucy when she says foraging can ‘rewind and rewild your life’, because after our short nature walk, I’m totally inspired and I’m certainly going to be looking at what is around me on my next dog walk.

The business buzzwords are: gather - forage - connect, and it is as simple as that.


Baking our way


River Bakery is a community-led business with a big heart. ‘Changing the world, one loaf at a time’ is their mission

and it is clear to see as we spend an afternoon with the team making stotties

It’s a drizzly Tuesday in February and preparations for National Stottie Week are underway at Big River Bakery.

Locals are sipping coffee and tucking into baked goods in the seats by the window, bakers are busy keeping on top of the day’s demand, and a Stottie Making Course is in full flow in the demo kitchen. There’s a real buzz about the place and as soon as you step through the door, you feel part of something.

Before I know it, I’m swapping my woolly hat and raincoat for a hairnet and apron, diving straight into stottie making while I catch up with founder Andy Haddon and his wife and director, Gail Lawler…

We started as a purely voluntary organisation 10 years ago… It was all about finding something to feed the soul. Andy had been working in the corporate world for many years and was really interested in trying to do something in the community and grassroots projects.

It all started when andy fell in with some semi-retired professional men who baked… He started baking with some friends and figured it was a great way to reach out to communities while also taking part in a mindful activity.

From there, we started baking, using people’s ovens when they weren’t using them, at places like The Biscuit Factory. We would bake some goods and have stalls on weekends at the likes of the Sunday Quayside Market. Then we started doing a lot of community baking in schools and eventually got enough money to set up as a bakery in 2019.

Since the beginning, we’ve gone from one baker, to a team of 16 - so you can see how it’s grown. At least a quarter of our workforce are neurodiverse, so not only is it about supporting the community around us, but also our own community within the bakery.

Fast forward a few years and we got our five minutes of fame…

We just baked bread to begin with, but it was working and then Covid hit. We closed down

for a couple of months and then started to do food parcels and things like that. Then, a real turning point for us was when The Hairy Bikers came in to do their TV programme. We went from baking about six sandwiches a day and maybe not selling them all, to queues round the block, and we’ve never stopped since.

It was serendipity at its finest… Andy kept bumping into Si King and eventually he got involved and helped us raise money for the oven. Then one day we got a call from a production company to ask if we would be a part of the programme.

We really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into, but we were happy to get involved. We were a bit naive really because we did ham and peas pudding stotties and we didn’t even sell them - then all of a sudden, when it aired, we had 300+ people queuing up for ham and peas pudding stotties!

When the show aired in November 2021a good year after filming - we’d forgotten about it actually. We were watching it and all of a sudden our Facebook page just blew up. We had thousands of emails. We weren’t ready for it really because suddenly we had this 10,000% growth in a day!

People from all over the world got in touch and it started a really exciting journey of people gravitating here…

Because of this, we then had to build the team up and get the bakery sorted. I’d already come on board at that point, so I was able to help with the employability courses and all of the other workshops we were doing, because we didn’t want to lose sight of that really important work. Now, we’re keeping those relationships and conversations going with people far and wide. We’re doing a live-stream, free stottie bake next week and people from all over are coming. So, at midnight in Australia, people will be tuning in to bake stotties. How cool is that?

Now, we’re giving back to the community in different ways…

We’re doing free breakfasts for schools every day, we do food for the homeless and people in need every day from the bakery, we do ‘Free Food Wednesdays’ where anybody can come in and grab something. We also have our ‘Kindness Cookies’ which we send out across the UK every week. People nominate someone and we’ll send it out for them - it’s free - it’s just about sharing the love. We need a bit more of that in the world. It doesn’t cost us much. We get photographs and thank yous from the people who receive them and it’s such a lovely feeling. If we can do it, as a small business, why can’t other businesses do the same?

One day we might be working with a charity, the next a corporate business. We like to ensure people know we are here for everyone, in many different ways… Whether it’s a paid-for Stottie Making Course with your nan, a sourdough workshop as a team bonding exercise, or opening up a


creative space for dementia patients and their carers, there really is something for everyone.

We’ve just got in touch with The Walking Wounded so we can work with ex veterans who need support. We’re going to try and target groups who are really in need in the North East.

We get a real mix of people in here…

Some people come in and support us financially, some people rely on our community work - and we’re just grateful we can provide a service for everyone. It’s very rare to be able to do that in business. We have to juggle that to be able to survive, as we dont have a lot of commercial sponsorship yet. It’s no good relying on grants all of the time, because if it stops, you’re stuck. We have a very healthy shop/ cafe, wholesale catering business, an online shop, and a busy diary of events and courses. Then we have our shop and food parcels. We post stories all over the country every week and we have Scotty the Stottie who goes out and visits schools. There’s loads going on and it certainly keeps us busy, but that’s where we get our buzz.

We are creative people, and that’s what keeps us in with the community… People like to keep up with what we’re doing - and let me tell you… it’s always something wild and wonderful! One minute we’re hosting a corporate workshop and networking with local businesses, the next we’re inside a stottie suit visiting schools! It keeps it interesting…

The stottie is a symbol of hope in the North East. It brings people together, and for that reason, has formed the heart of Big River Bakery…

There’s something about the stottie that brings people home. It’s a symbol. It’s got

a sentimentality. People of the North East have a big heart for their home, and that never disappears - even if they’ve moved away to America or wherever it may be. The North East people are resilient. It’s rooted in the people here.

People like our values and want to be a part of it…

And that’s why we collaborate so much with local people and businesses. We are all stronger together and I think the growth of our bakery has been the perfect example of that. When people buy into somethingwhether that is physically spending money, paying it forward, or getting involved in community stuff, our story is told and shared and we grow.

The values that we demonstrate have resonated with people all over the world.

So if we can take that and build on the momentum, we can do some great things for the region and beyond.


A taste of Thailand

Luxe heads to Mantra Thai to sample their new eight course tasting menu. The verdict is in…

Stepping into the warm embrace of Mantra Thai is a welcome escape from the cold, drizzly streets of Newcastle. Following a busy - close to deadline - Thursday afternoon at Luxe HQ, our dinner plans for the evening act as a blissful distraction.

Mantra Thai is one of Newcastle's best-loved restaurants serving authentic Thai cuisine. Their experienced chefs, hailing from Thailand with over 30 years of collective culinary expertise, take pride in crafting authentic and distinctive dishes. New to their offering is their 'Journey to Thailand' tasting menu, which is made up of eight bold, flavour-filled dishes.

As soon as we step inside, we’re greeted with friendly smiles from members of staff who are genuinely happy to help. The restaurant’s elegant décor and soft lighting offer a warm and inviting welcome in comparison to the wet and windy weather we’re escaping from. We’re seated at our table, menus placed in hands and guided through the mouth-watering journey our taste buds are about to encounter. Our pre-dinner drinks arrive and come hand-in-hand with a friendly service and light-hearted chat, which allows my dinner date and I to relax and unwind, sinking into our seats and permitting the stress of the day to slip away.

The culinary journey promised by Mantra Thai is one we’re excited about embarking on, and judging by our rumbling tummies as a result of a tactical ‘light lunch to save room’ decision earlier on in the day is now showing as we eagerly anticipate the foodie delights waiting ahead.

Kicking off our journey is the first of the two starters; a Tom Kha Hua Hin Seafood Bisque which sets the tone with its delicate infusion of Hua Hin flavours. This creamy soup blends king prawns, scallops, and aromatic spices

for a comforting start to our meal. Each taster dish was expertly paired with a glass of fizz or wine. The Crement de Loire French white sparkling wine was crisp and provided a wonderful zesty refreshing counterpart to the bisque.

Continuing our taster exploration, the Samui Sunrise Salmon offers a refreshing burst of flavour reminiscent of tropical mornings by the shore. Fresh salmon, seasoned with green chilli and lime zest, delivers a vibrant medley of spice and tang, transporting us to the serene beaches of Samui with each delightful bite.

What was lovely and really stood out about the experience was that each course had a brief explanation from the staff - giving not just a sense of the flavour of the food but the region and culture of the part of Thailand it originated from. This really painted a picture of the country - creating a sense of genuine authenticity to the overall experience. Moving on to the mains, the TamarindKissed Duck à la Phetchabun, goldenbrowned to perfection is a feast for the eyes and the taste buds. Roasted duck, bathed in a tamarind sweet and sour glaze, is expertly paired with crunchy rice vermicelli noodles, offering a delightful interplay of textures and flavours that leave the palate craving more. The Spatburgunder Bockenheim German white offered a smooth refreshing accompaniment, and the explanation from staff of how the wine complemented the food was an enjoyable, educational treat. A journey through Thai cuisine would be incomplete without the iconic Pad Ka Prao, and Mantra Thai's rendition of this beloved classic does not disappoint. Pan-fried sea bass, fragrant Thai basil, and aromatic Ka Prao fumet come together to deliver a spicy kick that pays homage to Thailand's culinary heritage.

As we delve deeper into the menu, the Hor Mok is a stand out dish that we simply

cannot get enough of. Succulent seafood enveloped in a velvety coconut milk embrace, infused with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf, showcases the exquisite fusion of tradition and creativity that defines Thai cuisine.

The Timeless Taste of Rattanakosin: Massaman showcases tender lamb chops in a rich and aromatic sauce. Just when we think we're too full to take on more, this dish hits our palate and our appetites reappear. All the dishes offered different quality but this possibly stood out as our favourite. Succulent, tasty and so well paired with the Rioja - which offered a subtle tasteful union. Again the explanation of how the food’s flavours were augmented and enhanced by the wine showed the staff’s expertise but also their enjoyment in sharing their knowledge.

Following six savoury triumphs, we’re ready to sweeten the deal. Up first in the world of desserts is the oh-so indulgent Tricultural Sweet Symphony: Khanom Thuai Foi Thong. Every heavenly mouthful blends cultural influences in a delightful rice flour and coconut milk treat. A sweet, yet refreshing crowd pleaser.

To finish, we indulge in the delicious Worlds Unite: A Symphony of Vanilla, from East to West. This dreamy dessert combines the classic pairing of pandan pancakes and vanilla ice cream. A perfectly sweet, yet light combination of flavours that ends our journey to Thailand on a high. With satisfied smiles painted across our faces, the promise to be whisked away to the bustling streets of Thailand through the power of taste was certainly achieved. The brand-new eight course meal with wine pairings is now available at Mantra Thai for £125 per person.



with chef Chris Baber

Chris is stepping into spring with foodie socials, glorious greens and delicious ways to say I love you this Mother’s Day


It’s been a pretty busy start to the year. In January it’s a case of getting back to it and planning the year ahead, February brought the South Beach Wine & Food Festival over in Miami. It’s a huge food festival on the beach - a fantastic atmosphere and a brilliant opportunity to meet lots of like-minded people in the food world from across the pond. I was over there with HexClad, which is always great fun. It’s really great to get to know the community of people using the products, both over in the States and here in the UK. HexClad is rapidly growing in the food space, and I’m incredibly proud and excited to be a part of that. I’ve also become a close partner with clothing brand, Hackett London. We’ve been working together on intimate food events in their store - an evening of tailoring, paired with some amazing food - so it’s been great to tap into some new audiences by merging two creative industries together.

Everything green, quite frankly. Peas, asparagus, courgette - all of these things really start to come to life in the spring. The start of the year, I must admit, it’s tricky to find inspiration, but when you walk out and you finally realise it’s spring, something just clicks. The sun is shining, we see more colour, it’s just a really positive shift - and the reflection of that in ingredients is much the same in that things are growing again and it’s an exciting time. For me, veg really comes into its own at this time of year. The standout ingredient for me is asparagus. I only really eat it for a few weeks of the year, but it’s genuinely something I look forward to working with as a chef every spring. Wild garlic starts to come into its own as well, and it’s something we often overlook. In Hexham, where I grew up, we’d walk around and smell it but it’s only when you get older and get more clued up on food that you


realise how we can work with this stuff. Pick it (try not to go where the dogs walk!), take it home, wash it and make a pesto with it. You could make a wild garlic butter and put it in a chicken kiev, or you could even just put the wild garlic butter through your potatoes. It’s so simple and truly delicious. Why not swap out your basil for your wild garlic this spring? For me, now is a time for wild garlic, asparagus, peas, green beans - all of that stuff.


There’s loads coming up as we head into spring. For me, this is a time when the foodie world really comes to life - in terms of ingredients, but also in terms of events and socialising.

Concours on Savile Row is coming up in May (Wednesday 22 & Thursday 23 May 2024). It’s a huge classic car event on Savile Row - the most famous tailoring street in the world. For a couple of days, the street is packed with classic cars and all of the much-loved tailoring shops will open their doors to the public. I’ll be providing food for the event this year. We did it on a smaller scale last year and it went really well. We had oysters, steak tartare with summer truffle, king prawn with sweet chilli jam - just really easy, grab-and-go food, served with a glass of British sparkling wine. It was fantastic and I can’t wait to be involved again this year. If you’re into cars, tailoring and/or good food, and fancy a trip to the capital this May, pop it in your diary. Another May highlight for me is a trip to Turkey with a bunch of Olympians - Colin Jackson, Denise Lewis, Paula Radcliffe, Daley Thompson, Rebecca Adlington to name a few. They are hosting a fitnessbased weekend at a luxury five star hotel, and I’m there to provide some post-workout foods, shakes and healthy snacks. Fitness is a massive part of my life, and this year I’m going to tap into that side of things a bit more. Fitness and the food world are so heavily influenced by each other, so it makes sense.

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.


Q: How can you show your love and appreciation with great food this Mother’s Day?

A: Personally, I like to keep it simple and really hone in on the things they love most - which, above all, is probably spending quality time with family, but sweet stuff is also a great way to say I love you. For my mum, a real winner is scones, clotted cream and jam. If you’ve got the family coming round and you’re cooking a roast, think about those glorious greens - the fresh, spring ingredients are really going to do the talking. Finish with something sweet - whether it’s scones or a lemon drizzle - pop open a bottle of fizz, and I guarantee your mum will be smiling. Stick to the classics!

TRY THIS >> Dutch oven beef bourguignon A crowd pleaser if you’re hosting this Mother’s Day… SERVES 4


1kg beef braising steak, cut into 5cm chunks

3 tbsp oil

750ml red wine

200g bacon lardons

200g pearl onions or round shallots, peeled

200g chestnut mushrooms, halved

200g Chantenay carrots

1 tbsp tomato puree

Small bunch of thyme

1 bay leaf

500ml beef stock

2 tsp cornflour

Small handful of parsley, finely chopped

To serve

Mash potatoes Green beans


Preheat the oven to 180°C fan. Place the beef braising steak into a large bowl and season generously with salt and coat with the oil.

Place the HexClad Dutch Oven over a medium-high heat and working in small batches, brown the beef, transferring to a bowl once browned. When all the meat is browned, add a dash of the wine into the pan to deglaze, using a spoon to loosen any caramelisation on the bottom of the pan. Add to the bowl of browned meat.

Add the mushrooms and carrots to the pan and allow to brown. Stir through the tomato puree and return all the other ingredients to the pan.

Add the thyme, bay leaf, stock, wine and a good grind of black pepper and allow to come to a simmer. Put the lid on the pan and place into the preheated oven for 2 and a half hours. The meat should be tender once cooked.

Mix 1 tbsp of cold water with the cornflour to create a slurry. Carefully pour into the HexClad Dutch Oven and stir for a couple of minutes, this will thicken the sauce and create a thick, rich gravy. Serve with mash potato, green beans and a sprinkling of parsley.

“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:

43 MAR/APR24


Silk Route London Dry Gin

Newcastle-based Silk Route Spirits’ London Dry Gin offers a distinctly modern new flavour while staying true to the copper pot distilling process. This gin is strong on juniper, with a full fresh citrus scent and taste, and back notes of pine and eastern spices.

*Tasting notes: Serve on ice with fruit and tonic.


Neurita Tequila Blanco - Rosa

If you love tequila but you’ve got a sweet tooth, this one’s for you. Infused with raspberry, strawberry and pomegranate fruit extracts, this fruity tequila has sunshine season written all over it. It’s the perfect base for a sweet margarita.

*Tasting notes: For a sweet take on the margarita, simply add lime juice and a dash of agave syrup.


Citizen Spritz Alcohol-Free Bitter Orange

Go from your garden to the Mediterranean shores with Citizen Spritz’s signature bitter orange non-alcoholic spritz. It’s the perfect tipple for teetotal garden party-goers this spring.

*Tasting notes: Best enjoyed over ice with soda or sparkling water for a zesty and bright spritz.

Raise a glass

Sweet sips making their way into our drinks cabinet this season...


Eden Mill Burgundy White Wine Cask Aged Gin

As our thoughts turn to balmy days in the garden, we’re looking for a signature spring sip - one of which is this zesty, aromatic and totally unique cask aged gin by Eden Mill. With notes of tropical peach and apricot, reflecting botanicals such as bergamot and kaffir lime, this drink screams springtime.

*Tasting notes: Zesty, fruity and aromatic on the finish - serve with lime juice, soda, a peach slice and mint for a Peach Collins.


VIVIR Tequila Blanco

Made in Mexico using 9-year-old estate-grown highland Weber Blue Agave, this easy-drinking tequila is a smooth, clean and floral spirit - perfect as we enter the brighter, warmer and flower-filled months.

*Tasting notes: Great for sipping solo, enjoying in a cocktail or with your favourite mixer. The perfect pairing is with citrus tonics or soda.


Hattingley Valley Classic Reserve NV

An English sparkling wine is the perfect way to toast this spring. As soon as you start sipping you are transported to a serene English garden - with aromas of green apples. It’s a true crowd-pleaser and the perfect celebration drink.

*Tasting notes: This is the perfect aperitif or celebration drink. Enjoy cold in a champagne glass and serve with canapes during garden party season.

TRY THIS >> Amaro Santoni Inspired by FormaFantasma, created by Denis Broci

Led by rhubarb and iris, with undertones of citrus and olive leaves, Amaro Santoni is imbued with 34 natural herbs and botanicals and inspired by one of Gabriello Santoni’s most heartfelt and personal recipes. The Amaro Santoni Spritz is a delicious and refreshing cocktail that is simple to make at home during the warm spring days.


2 parts Amaro Santoni

3 parts prosecco Olive to garnish


Fill a wine glass with ice. Combine the Santoni with prosecco in the wine glass. Garnish with an olive. Serve and enjoy!


UK GETAWAY: West Park Apartment

Elysia Fryer checks in for a stylish sleepover at Harrogate’s West Park Apartment…


West Park Hotel is in the perfect spot for a Harrogate staycation, overlooking The Stray - a huge, green open space, but just a short stroll from the buzz of the town centre. With West Park as your base, you get the best of both worlds - the tranquility of the parkland in front of you, with Harrogate’s amenities at your fingertips. West Park Hotel offers stylish bedrooms as well as an apartment and penthouse suite. The West Park Apartment is our home for the evening.


Behind a big teal door at the top of an exterior staircase, you’ll find West Park Apartment - a chic and spacious abode with stunning views across The Stray. It boasts two large bedrooms, sleek bathroom, well-equipped kitchen, dining room and lounge. It’s a contemporary space with a black, white and grey colour scheme running throughout. Monochrome soft furnishings, light fittings and accessories are perfectly matched inside, making the green space out front pop as a focal point behind the French doors.


West Park Apartment is a real home from home. A classy space to gather with friends and a bottle of wine, watch the sun set over The Stray and really enjoy an indulgent sleepover. The space is incredibly well thought out, ensuring there’s plenty of space for up to six people to relax and not feel on top of each other. The floor-to-ceiling French doors in the dining room are a real focal point, and there’s something incredibly peaceful about sitting here with a cup of tea in the morning, watching the world buzz by as people walk, jog and play on The Stray. The bathroom is big, bright and bold, making a statement with a black toilet and wash basin, complemented by black bath taps and accessories. L’Occitane products make for a spa-like experience.

Staying in an apartment with multiple rooms rather than just a suite or bedroom really allows you to make yourself at home. You

can truly imagine yourself living in the space and it becomes your own sanctuary.


The two super-king sized beds make drifting off to dreamtime an absolute joy. Wrapped in crisp white linen, your head effortlessly

sinks into the pillow as you switch off in complete serenity. The blackout blinds mean lying in is no problem. The beautiful monochrome headboards make a real statement, a concrete-style wallpaper adorns the walls and patterned prints make the space pop. The focus may not be colour in this apartment, but the textures and details really do the talking.


The bright and buzzy restaurant sits at the very heart of West Park Hotel. From breakfast through to dinner, the place is bustling with hotel guests, locals, day-trippers and everyone in between.

Teal interior touches give the space its signature style, while striking features like the bar and wine cellar create real talking points. There’s plenty of seating both inside and outside, on the pavement at the front of the hotel - perfect for people watching - and in the rear garden bar. Whether you’re popping in for a quick bite, sipping cocktails in the sun, or tucking in for an evening feast, there are plenty of options when it comes to drinking and dining.

We enjoy a bottle of Pinot Grigio at the bar before being seated by the fire, finding a

cosy corner in this stylish restaurant. Working with local suppliers to create a menu bursting with seasonal flavours, there’s something for all tastes - from fresh seafood and steaks, to home comforts with a contemporary twist.

We kick things off with the Twice Baked Cheddar Souffle and the Korean Fried Chicken. The souffle is light and fluffy, served in a creamy leek and spinach sauce - perfectly washed down with a crisp glass of white wine. The Korean chicken is served with a gochujang sauce, sesame seeds and pickled vegetables and is packed with punchy flavours.

For mains, we opt for the Slow Roast Pork Belly and the Roasted Cod Loin. The pork is served on a butter bean and nduja broth with roast onions and brioche crumb and the contrasting textures work together in perfect harmony. The nduja brings a burst of flavour to the dish, and the pork belly is perfectly cooked. The cod loin comes with samphire,

voted as the UK’s happiest place to live on multiple occasions. It has everything - glorious outdoor spaces, fantastic restaurants, great shopping, lots of art and culture, and much, much more. Get some fresh air and wander through The Stray, settle in for sweet treats at the flagship Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms, catch the latest flicks at the Everyman Cinema or get your culture fix at the theatre. The town is also great for

Behind a big teal door at the top of an exterior staircase, you’ll find West Park Apartment - a chic and spacious abode

brown shrimp beurre noisette and parmentier potatoes and strikes the perfect balance for a light and vibrant fish dish.

A Dark Chocolate and Orange Mousse seals the deal, scooped up with hazelnut ice cream and cookie crumb. Delicious.


It’s easy to see why Harrogate has been

shopping with a mix of high-end high street brands, designer labels, and beautiful boutiques and independents. Whether it’s luxury british interiors at OKA, inspiring art at Lucy Pittaway or Castle Fine Art, or designer goods from Hoopers department store, there’s plenty to keep you busy.


Island in the sun

With direct flights out of Newcastle International Airport, Cape Verde is high on the list of places to explore for year-round sun. We’ve picked out some luxe hotels on this stunning volcanic archipelago off the coast of West Africa

Hilton Cabo Verde Sal Resort

Sitting elegantly on the white sands of Santa Maria Beach, Hilton Cabo Verde Sal Resort is the perfect base to explore this Cape Verdean paradise. The hotel is less than a kilometre from central Santa Maria and you can enjoy day trips to Viveiro Botanical Garden and the Buracona Lagoon in just 30 minutes. What is so wonderful about this resort is that you don’t need to venture too far to experience the delights of Cape Verde. Unwind in the hotel’s spa, be thrilled by what’s on offer at the watersports centre, have fun after dark in the hotel’s very own casino, and let little ones run wild at the kids club. There’s something for everyone here, and you can guarantee five star luxury throughout.

Hotel Morabeza

Hotel Morabeza is a family-run business with history at its heart. It’s all about celebrating the Cape Verdean life and appreciating the beauty that it brings. In a prime position close to the pier and along the golden sands of Santa Maria Beach, it is lapped up by crystal clear water and offers the perfect balance between luxury accommodation and experiencing the character and charm of life on the island. Watch fishermen bring their catch of the day, mingle with the locals, get a bite to eat at the Bar Aquarius Beach Club and retreat to stunning suites.

Meliá Llana Beach Resort & Spa

You’ll be effortlessly transported to a stylish tropical garden with Meliá Llana as your home. This adults-only resort sitting along Algodoeiro Beach on the island of Sal, offers five star luxury at every touch point. You’ll be blown away by the beauty of the place everywhere you turn; from the coral reef teeming with marine fauna, to the stunning gardens, spa, swimming pools and four restaurants. Lay your head in an elegant suite with sea views, soak up the sun from an oceanfront sunlounger and feast on the finest food with Italian and Asian influence. Bliss.

Budha Beach by LIVVO

‘A true feast for the senses’ is how Budha Beach is described online and there’s nothing more inviting when it comes to a food-focused Cape Verde getaway. It’s the ideal place to disconnect from the rush of everyday life, delight your palate and create memories to last a lifetime. To be able to do that in a truly breathtaking location right by the sea, is a real luxury and it is made possible at this spectacular four-star hotel. Take a dip in the infinity pool, sip on sensational cocktails, watch the sun sink into the horizon while live music plays, and drift off to dreamtime in the most luxurious suites.

Riu Palace Boavista

If you’re looking for a white-sand, turquoisewater getaway, Riu Palace Boavista is a real box ticker and here’s why… this all-inclusive sanctuary boasts everything from exquisitely designed rooms and suites, to three outdoor pools, a children’s pool, pristine private beach, and a number of delicious dining options. For holidaymakers looking to lap u p the sunshine from a lounger, there’s plenty of space to do so, and for people looking for an adventure-filled break, the activity programme is action-packed. What’s more?

The Renova Spa is well worth a visit - home to a steam bath, hot tub and endless indulgent treatments.



Lily of the Valley. Fed up of the UK weather, missing a little bit of vitamin D, feeling the need to get back into that positive healthy wellbeing zone so you’re ready for the summer? Well this haven can deliver all of those needs...

As per its namesake flower, The Lily of the Valley hotel is a symbol of purity, joy, love and happiness. Close to Saint-Tropez, this year-round retreat is perfect for anyone looking to achieve optimum health and wellbeing - the French way.

Created to embrace the great joy of health, without the medical approaches and intimidating need to fast, the hotel features an expansive 2,000 sqm spa and fitness space and specialises in expertly curated programmes for long-term, healthy weight loss.

The hotel was developed by international nutritionist Dr Jacques Fricker.

The rooms

Designed by renowned French architect Philippe Starck, the hotel rooms adapt to every season in the French Riviera. I love the use of earthy tones, exposed concrete, polished marble, local exotic woods and natural leathers; they all come together beautifully to create a special atmosphere that exudes the Medi. It is so peaceful like a sanctuary where the surroundings of light, colour and the turning seasons of nature flow beautifully from the outside in.

The Loft Pool Suite

Designed to resemble a converted loft, this totally indulgent suite sleeps up to three guests and offers a unique space with a large living room and spacious double bedroom. The marble bathroom opens up onto a private patio, which bathes it in light and freshness. There are twin washbasins, a bathtub, and a walk-in shower. The Loft Pool Suite extends onto a private terrace and Mediterranean garden, complete with a pool. Ideally located below Lily of the Valley, this suite will feel like your very own beach house. It’s just a few steps away from the fine sands of the Plage de Gigaro. The Shape Club offers three programmes - available on 4, 7, 10 or 14 day retreatseach thoughtfully designed to set you onto a realistic path, where you’ll leave feeling genuinely healthier than when you first arrived. The spa uses Biologiques Recherche products, known for their amazing treatments to suit male and female guests. Its astounding effectiveness, based on clinical pure and raw active ingredients are amazing. A fabulous wellness menu is

Designed by renowned French architect Philippe Stark, the hotel rooms adapt to every season in the French Riviera

available including a great choice of yoga which of course I could not miss Yin (a slow-paced practice focusing on relaxation) and Vinyasa (a faster paced flow practice focusing on toning) so whether you are advanced or a beginner there is a choice for you. On the daily wellness programme, there is even a tipple on the mocktail list called YOGA!

Throughout the stay, you sink into the beautiful Mediterranean surroundings with a range of outdoor fitness sessions that include aqua boxing, sea wading, Nordic walking, sunset yoga and many other activities, all whilst enjoying a stylish setting that boasts panoramic sea views.

Food and beverage

An exciting range of culinary concepts, offering an array of dishes made with produce from local farms, mills and vegetable gardens, the Lily of the Valley restaurants will delight gourmets eager to sample the flavours of Mediterranean cuisine, as well as those who want to eat carefully, without giving up the pleasure of good food.

Meals are light yet rich in flavour, and

can be enjoyed at different times of the day - sitting on a deck chair by the pool, on a terrace overlooking the sea, or beneath the starry skies of the Riviera. The hotel offers a great choice when it comes to diningyou certainly won’t need to leave site.

Local and grounds

Designed by the renowned Philippe Starck, the hotel is inspired by the tumbling Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the cloisters of Provençal abbeys, and the style of Californian villas. Perched on the sunny hilltops within a lush and natural environment, Starck’s refined and harmonious scheme results in a peaceful sanctuary where the surroundings

of light, colour and the turning seasons of nature flow beautifully from the outside in. I can’t recommend this haven enough for those looking for an escape and investment in yourself, the private beach on the sandy Plage de Gigaro awaits. In addition to keeping active, there’s opportunity to indulge in a range of expert, technologybased and customised treatments, from hydra facials and targeted cryotherapy, to sion-masque exfoliants and sebum balancing, Lily of the Valley’s steady glow treatments will leave you feeling fully detoxified.

An example of the four day detox programme…

The programme

Initial evaluation

Bioimpedance analysis

Dietary consultation

End of programme evaluation

Personalised eating plan

Nutritional monitoring throughout your stay Kinvent fitness check-up

4 Coaching sessions

Creation of your fitness routine including: Fitness excursions, water sports and cardio, Hiit

1 Restore & Boost

1 Deep Tissue and Indiba treatment

1 Sport massage & Cryotherapy

1 Hammam & Hot Scrub

Skin diagnosis

Access to the shape academy, workshops, Nordic circuit and semi-olympic pool

Personalised full board for four days

You feel like a new person after it. Yes, you must be dedicated to the programme to get the best out of it but honestly it is worth it. The hotel is available also for leisure guests on a B&B stay - you don’t have to book a wellness programme.

This multi-award winning boutique hotel with only 38 rooms, six suites, eight pool suites and a private villa, is a very special wellness retreat.


47 MAR/APR24
From the UK, Lily of the Valley is best accessed from Nice International Airport with a 90-minute car/taxi transfer. Direct flights to Nice from most UK airports. Accommodation at Lily of the Valley starts from £465 per night. Rates for the four-day programme start from £2,200.


with Rupert helped by Elysia Fryer

Spring forward

As the days get longer and lighter, we’ve got a spring in our step and Rupert has lots of tail-wagging fun ahead of him.

Lighter mornings mean hikes up the hills before the rest of the family wake up, late night street walks and sunny afternoons chasing the little ones round the garden.

It’s less about cosying up by the fire and more about getting out and enjoying

Diary dates

what’s on our doorstep.

With that in mind, we’re filling our diaries with dog-fuelled events, sniffing out some seriously good pampering products and chatting to Valerie the Working Border Collie about life on a busy farm. Let’s have some pawsome fun in the sun!

Rupert, your Luxe pooch x

Pooch-friendly days out for spring, summer and beyond…

Party Like a Cockapoo

There’s no party like a Cockapoo party!

Take your curly pup to Pooches Play Paddock in Ashington for the ultimate doodle social on 6 April. Your pup will enjoy 60 minutes of off-lead playtime in the outdoor dog park, puppuccinos and treats, photo opportunities, ball pits, agility equipment and more! pawesomeparties

The Great British Dog Walk Pop Sunday 5 May in your diary for some dog-walking fun for a great cause. The Great British Dog Walk is a sponsored 3km or 8km walk on the stunning Raby Estate, raising funds to train more incredible hearing dogs who alert

owners to life-saving and important sounds and break down social barriers for deaf people.There will be activities and games to get involved in along the routes, and it’s guaranteed fun for humans and pooches!

DogFest Yorkshire

Head to Harewood House with your Hound this September (7 and 8) for the ultimate pooch-friendly festival packed with activities, stalls, live music, food and more. Get involved in the Big Dog Walk, get training tips from the experts and shop special treats for your four-legged friends.

Rupert loves


Fur Bébé Pet Shampoo, 474ml £28,

Cosy picks to banish the winter blues…

Top pampering products to spring clean your pets…


Boop & Beans Balm £21.99,


Cuddly-Coat Grooming Rinse £24,


Wild For Dogs

The Organic Grooming Duo £46,

Be:Silky Pet Skin, Coat & Fur Oil, £19.99,

Renwick & Sons

Quarter Mark Horse Brush, £75-£80,

Luxe pet Q&A

Valerie is a Working Border Collie who is about to get very busy as we head into lambing season. She lives on a farm in Grinkle with her pooch pack, horses, sheep, pigs, chickens and more!

LUXE WALKS Not a walk but a daily ritual of rounding up some of the sheep we have on the farm - out there in all weathers doing my bit for British farming can be pretty exhausting!

POOCH’S PERFECT DAY OUT A trip to the Auction Mart when the lambs get sold is an early morning start, my dad Oliver gets himself a big fry up when we get there and a hot greasy sausage is my fav treat before I get to catch up with the other sheepdog heroes to swap stories of errant sheep!

DOGGY DOWNTIME After a hard day working it’s home to a slap up supper,

informing the other less hard working dogs on the farm of how I saved the day yet again before curling up on my bed for a well earned sleep.

HOUND HABITS I simply can’t resist pulling the insoles out of any shoes that may be left around and shredding them - only the insoles, the shoes themselves are of no interest to me. I also like to gather as much wet mud and sheep droppings onto my thick hair and then deposit it from one end of the kitchen to the other. It is lost on me why my humans are never impressed by this artistic talent of mine.

PUPPY PAMPER Pampering is reserved only for the ‘fickle’. I do get a few pesky prickly burrs caught in my coat which need removing and an odd brush, but I have way too many important things to think about more than pampering.

DOG’S BEST FRIEND I live with four other dogs on the farm, Hattie our German Short Haired Pointer is definitely my fav - although don’t tell the others!

PUPPY A-LISTER Lassie the rough collie who starred in many TV series, movies and children’s books was famous for her intelligence, courage and undying loyalty, working so hard to look after everyone - I feel I exhibit the same if not more of her traits!

Don’t forget to get in touch and send in pics of your pet for our next issue via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram… @luxe_mag

48 MAR/APR24
North East Dog Festival Kirkley Hall is set to host the annual North East Dog Festival on Saturday 31 August and Sunday 1 September and it’s a must for your doggy diaries. Once again, the two-day event will packed with dog shows, food, drink, shopping and more.



Fairytale venues

Say ‘I do’ at stunning locations across the region

Matfen moments

Why we love weddings at Matfen Hall

Dressed up Mother of the bride inspiration

MAR/APR 2024
49 MAR/APR24944_MC_Luxe_Wedding_Ad_65x216_JK.indd 1 19/02/2024 11:09 In association with

venues ‘i do’

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

High Force Hotel & Waterfall

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 your 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.

hall and grounds entirely uninterrupted - surrounded by your close friends and family. With a dedicated team on hand every step of the way, right through to your perfect day, you can relish in every moment.

Credit: Dash Photography

Macdonald Linden Hall Hotel

If you’re looking for a unique and romantic wedding venue in the North East, look no further than High Force in County Durham. Surrounded by breathtaking natural scenery, including England’s most spectacular waterfall, this hotel is the perfect place to tie the knot. Ten individually designed en-suite bedrooms offer the perfect blend of country charm and modern amenities, ensuring that you and your guests have a comfortable and enjoyable stay. With a dedicated team of staff on hand to help with everything from catering to decorations, you can relax and enjoy your special day without any worries. High Force offers exclusive hire of its country inn, so you can have the entire venue to yourself and make your wedding truly unforgettable. Whether you’re planning a small intimate ceremony or a grand celebration with all your friends and family, they have the perfect space to suit your needs. So why not start planning your dream wedding at High Force today? With its stunning location, exceptional service, and unbeatable atmosphere, you’ll have the time of your life.

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 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 canapés 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.

Boasting a truly regal atmosphere, The Morning Room is the most sophisticated location for your wedding breakfast. Spacious and bright, this intricately-designed 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.

Seaham Hall

Rich in heritage and unique in style, Seaham Hall’s Georgian country house sits on a stunning cliff top location on the Durham Heritage Coastline - the perfect destination for your wedding day. With carefully crafted wedding packages Seaham Hall becomes exclusively yours. You can enjoy the

Macdonald Linden Hall Hotel is a picturesque hotel located within 450 acres of parkland in the stunning Northumberland countryside. Linden Hall offers a beautiful setting for weddings, with elegant event spaces, manicured gardens, and scenic views that create a romantic ambience for couples and their guests. Whether it’s an intimate ceremony or a grand celebration, Macdonald Linden Hall Hotel provides a range of wedding packages and services to cater to different preferences and needs. The hotel’s experienced wedding team is dedicated to ensuring that every detail is taken care of, making the wedding planning process as seamless as possible. Couples can expect exceptional service, exquisite cuisine, and a memorable experience when celebrating their special day at Macdonald Linden Hall Hotel.

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 which combine to create a picturesque setting and idyllic backdrop for a dream wedding day.

Couples have a variety of fantastic suites

50 MAR/APR24
Perfect places
Credit: 2tone Photography Credit: Paul Flannigan Photography

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 134 bedrooms, including 10 deluxe rooms and a junior suite.

Food lovers can enjoy expertly crafted cocktails and locally sourced, seasonal dishes from the 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.

Treehouses, 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.

There are two bespoke treehouse enhancement packages to choose from: the ‘Night Before the I Do’ experience for up to eight guests in the Dove Treehouse, featuring an overnight stay, Pizzas & Prosecco delivery and a Bento box breakfast. For the grand finale, the ‘Night of the I Do’ package offers room hire, a buffet, and a disco, designed to accommodate more evening guests.

St Marys Inn

Are you dreaming of a relaxed and fun wedding celebration surrounded by your loved ones? Look no further than St Mary’s Inn. The venue offers the perfect space for you to unwind and enjoy every moment of your special day. With a picturesque exterior and two versatile private spaces, both daytime and nighttime festivities are catered for. Plus, there are eleven cosy bedrooms for you and your guests to stay overnight. When it comes to food, St Marys Inn has got you covered with a variety of delicious options, from pub favourites to more refined dishes. And let’s not forget about the well-stocked bar to keep the party going! St Mary’s Inn understands that every couple is unique, and it takes the time to tailor your dream day to your preferences. As well as offering pre-set packages, you are also encouraged you to share your vision for a personalised and memorable celebration to make your wedding day truly unforgettable.

Hardwick Hall Hotel

Overlooking the breathtaking Hardwick Park and Lake, Hardwick Hall Hotel sets the scene for the perfect wedding setting before you even walk through the original revolving doors. A historic and luxurious hall, steeped in charm and with plenty of personality, Hardwick Hall Hotel offers perfection as standard with wedding packages suitable for all couples and their budgets. Boasting spectacular wedding spaces, including the recently added Lakeside Marquee, all differ from each other but all offering romance and elegance. With 53 lavishly designed boutique bedrooms, including a Celebration Suite comprising three luxurious double bedrooms and two bathrooms, couples and their guests have the option to further enhance any stay and celebration.

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 Above Rooftop 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.

51 MAR/APR24 Talk to our wedding coordinators about your vision for the perfect day 01670 500 000 • Longhorsley, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE65 8XF Find us on: Scan the QR code to view our wedding packages Make your day magical at Linden Hall Hotel, Golf & Spa; a beautiful Georgian mansion in Northumberland set within 450 acres of beautifully tended private grounds. Wedding packages to suit all seasons, budgets and timelines starting at £88 per person. To help you prepare for the big day we have a variety of pre-wedding packages from spa hen parties to memorable golf days.
Credit: Credit: DJMPhotography

A sparkling guide

to selecting your perfect wedding diamonds with Casey Lane and team at Lanes & Co

Are you preparing to embark on the journey of selecting the perfect diamond to symbolise your eternal love on your wedding day? Look no further than Lanes & Co, where we recognise the significance of choosing the impeccable diamond for your special moment. Our dedicated team is committed to ensuring that your diamond-seeking experience is not only seamless but also an absolute delight. Join us as we explore the enchanting world of diamond purchasing for your wedding, unveiling all that you need to know to make a decision that will sparkle for a lifetime. Every detail of your wedding day holds importance, particularly the diamond adorning your ring and bands. With diamonds representing eternal love

and commitment, their selection is paramount in the planning process. Allow us to guide you through the essential factors to consider when purchasing diamonds for your wedding, focusing on the crucial elements of the 4C’s cut, colour, clarity, and carat weight that determine a diamond’s quality and value. By collaborating with some of the nation’s top diamond dealers, we ensure that these factors are elucidated to aid in your decisionmaking process.

From style to setting, we emphasise the importance of choosing a diamond that resonates with your unique taste and persona, whether you lean towards a classic solitaire ring or a more elaborate design.

At Lanes & Co, we pride ourselves on offering exceptional diamonds tailored to your vision and budget, providing personalised assistance, a diverse selection of quality diamonds, transparent pricing, and expert guidance to help you select the perfect gem for your wedding day. Make Lanes & Co an integral part of your special day; reach out to us today to start a conversation about how we can contribute to making your diamond-seeking journey seamless and truly enjoyable.

at Matfen magic

Luxe caught up with Alyson Thompson, Head of Groups and Events, to find out why Matfen Hall is such a beautifully unique wedding venue to say I do…

What makes Matfen Hall unique as a wedding venue?

At Matfen Hall you get total privacy, exclusivity and 300 hundred acres to make your own. The ability to make your day whatever you dreamed of is a real draw - we won’t push you down a certain structure, but rather work with you to create your perfect day.

How do you like to work with couples to ensure they get their dream day?

We really take our time to listen to what they want before we start offering our suggestions. The first question is always: ‘how do you envisage your day?’. Once we’ve started to create a concept, we work methodically in the run up to the day, ensure there is a comprehensive itinerary and we’ve checked everything off the to-do list.

Your favourite features of a Matfen Hall wedding?

No day is the same. Our weddings are a complete blank canvas, which is amazing, so it’s really hard to pin down one thing. But if I had to pick, it would be walking down the Great Hall stairs for a ceremony or taking

over the brand new Cloisters Bar for drinks and dancing into the night.

Special details you have seen at weddings?

Best when taken exclusively, we have seen bands/DJs on the Cloisters Bar mezzanine performing to the crowd below; stages set up in the Great Hall for bands; a whisky bar/lounge set up on the terrace on a summer evening; multi-day weddings with different themes for each day. There have been so many out-of-this-world weddings, and we’re incredibly honoured and proud to be a part of them.

Can you give us three reasons why a newly engaged couple should look at Matfen Hall for their wedding day?

- Near enough a blank canvas - we will work with you and a wedding planner to create the dream.

- A stunning, newly-refurbished hotel, as part of the estate for pre and post wedding day.

- There’s plenty of space for marquees and any other extras.

52 Get wed MAR/APR24
Lanes & Co, 16 Shakespeare Street, Newcastle NE1 6AQ Email us Call us 0191 815 7770

Wedding plan

Big plans for a

big day

In the midst of planning a wedding? Metrocentre can help you with all your wedding needs, whether you’re looking for wedding rings, luxurious bridal jewellery, formal menswear, bridal beauty products, or even planning a romantic honeymoon

Let’s start with the most important symbol of your love and commitmentthe wedding rings. David Summerfield is renowned for his exquisite collection of wedding bands, offering a diverse range of styles to cater to every preference. From classic and timeless designs to modern and unique creations, each ring is crafted with meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail. Whether you prefer traditional gold bands, sparkling diamond encrusted rings, or intricate custom designs, David Summerfield’s collection is sure to capture the essence of your special day. Phase Eight is renowned for its exquisite

the cornerstone of any man’s wardrobe. With over 70 years of experience, they are dedicated to ensuring that you are well-prepared for the big day, helping you achieve an effortlessly cool and stylish look.

And for a wide selection of formal menswear, Moss Bros is your go-to destination. Whether you’re looking to hire or purchase suits, waistcoats, trousers, top hats, or accessories, Moss Bros has everything you need to make your special day even more memorable.

Of course, we can’t forget about the bridal beauty experience. Harrods’ H beauty can elevate the experience with

collection of mother of the bride outfits, offering a range of elegant and sophisticated options to ensure that mothers look and feel their best on their child’s wedding day. The brand’s attention to detail and commitment to quality make their outfits a perfect choice for this important occasion. When it comes to luxurious jewellery, Goldsmiths is the place to explore. The recently refurbished and expanded showroom provides a mix of big-name international brands alongside high street favourites. With dedicated brand areas for Rolex, TAG Heuer, Breitling, TUDOR and Hublot timepieces, alongside Gucci watches and jewellery and a range of high-end jewellery brands. They truly have something for everyone who appreciates the finer things in life.

Now, let’s talk about the groom’s attire. Skopes firmly believes that the suit is

Hobbs piece lies elegance, sophistication, and femininity. Excitingly, Hobbs within the upper Platinum Mall also stocks a stunning selection of mother of the bride outfits, ensuring that every special occasion is met with style and grace. And for the most important dress of all, Paris Dress House is dedicated to helping you look and feel your best on your special day. With personalised one-to-one consultations and a curated selection of the finest wedding and bridesmaid dresses from top designers worldwide, they are committed to adding a unique touch to your wedding attire.

Finally, when it comes to planning your honeymoon, Kuoni is renowned as a

honeymoon specialist. They can curate the perfect luxury honeymoon for you. Whether you dream of the pristine beaches of the Maldives, the enchanting landscapes of Bali, or the exclusive retreats of Seychelles, their dedicated team is ready to share their passion for adventure and create your bespoke romantic getaway.

premium tailored skincare, makeup and fragrance advice from a range of experts from renowned brands like Charlotte Tilbury, Dior and Pat Magrath. Plus the team at the Dry Bar are on hand to look after your hair and style your bridal party whilst you sip on a cocktail from the Champagne bar. They offer an array of exclusive lines not readily available elsewhere in the North East, providing a fun and inspiring shopping atmosphere for all your bridal needs. Discover the allure of statement shades, expert tailoring, and the finest fabrics with Hobbs London. Wherever life leads you, trust in Hobbs to accompany you with their exquisitely crafted collections that seamlessly blend into your lifestyle. Whether it’s a day at work, a relaxing weekend, or a special wedding event, Hobbs offers a range of casualwear, sharp tailoring, and premium occasionwear. At the heart of every

54 MAR/APR24
Skopes Kuoni Phase Eight

escape Luxurious

For those embarking on the beautiful journey of marriage, Spa at Ramside will be a sanctuary of post and pre-wedding pampering. Relax and raise a toast to new beginnings...

Spa at Ramside is the perfect destination for a pre-wedding pamper, whether that is with your family and friends to celebrate bride and grooms to be or as a couple as a treat to take a moment away from all the wedding planning. We have carefully designed packages for groups with our Bubble one, two or three. This is perfect for Hen’s or Stags to celebrate their up and coming nuptials, giving you private use of our balcony infinity pool overlooking the Ramside Hall grounds.

Bubble one package: two hours infinity pool use, Asian tapas and gin tree for up to 10 guests - £490

Bubble two package: two hours infinity pool use and Asian tapas - £420

Bubble three package: one hour infinity pool use and Asian tapas - £300

If it is a full day of relaxation pre or post wedding, our Elemis Escape package is a favourite offering a welcome drink, full day spa access, 55 minute treatment of choice and two course lunch – from £179 per person.

Our Brides and Grooms of Ramside Treehouse weddings have that added touch of tranquility to their first morning in married bliss with full spa access of our awarding winning facilities. They can enjoy a leisurely swim in our 25-metre swimming pool or detox in one of our four sauna or steam rooms, take a moment in our outdoor pool or hydrotherapy pool.

55 Advertorial MAR/APR24 Ramside Hall Hotel Golf & Spa, Carrville, Durham, DH1 1TD FROM ONLY Enquire Today! TREEHOUSE WEDDING Take your love to new heights WITH A
Take your love to new heights £2950


Pretty in pink >>

We’re loving this lace pink mother-of-the-bride look. Brides Dream is home to many more chic special occasion dresses, featuring some beautiful designer brands including Veni Infantino, Veromia and Gino Cerruti. Put your best foot forward and step out in style this wedding season.

Brides Dream, 35-37 Coutts Road, Walkergate, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 4RB

56 MAR/APR24 Luxe loves


make magic
Photography by Paul Flannigan
Hall Hotel Journey B E G I N L E T Y O U R E V E N T S @ H A R D W I C K H A L L H O T E L C O U K 0 1 7 4 0 6 2 0 2 5 3 W W W H A R D W I C K H A L L H O T E L W E D D I N G C O U K S E D G E F I E L D , C O U N T Y D U R H A M

Planting a future

Growing and nurturing is a common theme in the lives of Tom and Fiona Feltham. Their family, gardens and business have blossomed in perfect unity. Elysia Fryer jumped at the chance to speak to the husband and wife duo on all things Elder

& Fern

to take the plunge.

The birth of a new business brings so much excitement and opportunity, not only to the brains behind the idea, but also to the people surrounding it. And that has certainly been the case for Tom and Fiona Feltham as they dive into their second year as Elder & Fern.

It has transformed the business landscape, in the literal sense - finding a gap in the market for garden designers here in the North East - but it has also transformed family life for the husband and wife duo who are juggling life in business with a busy life with two young children. The couple, who have spent all of their adult life together, have an incredibly strong bond, and it’s easy to see as they relax into our Zoom call and we share stories of working by the unpredictable clock of babies and toddlers. Our chat, timed during naptime, perfectly encapsulates working around family life. For Tom and Fiona, it works. And paired with their love of gardens and the great outdoors, it made sense

“As many people find when going self employed, it was a culmination of things that led to us making the jump,” Fiona starts.

“There was the pandemic, of course, which coincided with me being pregnant and working from home. We both liked our jobs but really wanted to do something together. We love doing everything together - we’ve been together since we were 15 - it’s very boring for people I know, but working together is just something we’ve always wanted to do.

“We knew our lives were massively changing with having children, so wanted to make sure we had a work/life balance in place in preparation for that.

“We wanted to go into something we knew we were passionate about. We both lost our mums within two years, which was incredibly tough. They were both really into gardening - Tom’s mum had actually looked into working in garden design - so we both grew up with a massive love of gardening.”

“We had been talking about doing

Our aim is to work on gardens where we can increase biodiversity. It’s about greening up the space rather than making it about hard

something for a long time,” Tom adds. “But never really settled on exactly what it would be. One day, I remember walking into the lounge and Fiona said, ‘I’ve been thinking, why don’t we go into garden design?’.

“And it just made sense. It was what we spent a lot of our spare time doing. It was what we loved as a shared hobby. We had both grown up in gardening families. Our previous roles had design elements to them, so it kind of all just fell into place, from that conversation.”

“This time it didn’t feel like a passing comment,” Fiona laughs.

“We really meant it and were fully on board.

“Tom has done a lot of work on climate change - he’s really passionate about thatso we wanted to incorporate that into whatever we chose to do.”

Tom’s previous role was with a software company, so finding a business where his passion for environmental issues could really take flight, was key.

“As you can imagine, in a software company, there’s not a huge amount you can do in terms of climate change, but I was always off doing extra things in my spare time. “With gardening, you can really work to make a difference. And I love that you can just learn and learn and learn. There are endless possibilities, and that’s really exciting to me. It’s a way of life and we’re able to transfer that into our family life too, which is very unique in terms of finding a work/life balance.”

Elder & Fern was born out of Tom and Fiona’s passion for gardening, but it was also born out of a need to offer a unique service in the North East. A service accessible to many different people

“The majority of our work at the moment is going to residential properties and helping them transform their outside spaces,” Tom starts.

“We wanted to make the business as flexible as possible. Garden design, traditionally, has been mainly for larger projects with larger spaces and budgets. We wanted to create a service that was a bit more accessible to people - giving people the help where they need it.

“We offer concept design for the garden itself, as well as planting design for people who just want help with what plants to put where. Then the next stage is project managing a full build with our excellent landscaping partners Northshore Landscaping. Basically, whatever you need help with when it comes to your garden, we can put something together.”

“Our aim is to work on gardens where we can increase biodiversity in as much of the project as possible,” Fiona adds.

“It’s all about greening up the space rather than making it about hard landscaping.”

Elder & Fern is a business built on family values and a genuine passion for improving our natural environment. So for Tom and Fiona, being able to improve the lives of other families by helping them connect with their outside spaces is a real privilege. “We’ve already met some incredible people through our work,” Fiona starts.

“And seeing how investing in outdoor spaces can positively impact people’s lives will never get old. One project that really stands out for me is our first.”

“We met a really nice couple through a lead website called Bark, where people post job opportunities for garden design,” Tom starts.

“We explained that it would be one of our first official projects, but they were super lovely about it and really liked the idea of helping us kick off the business.

“They were just on the coast at Seaton Sluice, so only five minutes from us. They

were really supportive all the way through - the perfect first client.”

“They really wanted us to do well,” Fiona adds.

“They were forgiving when our inexperience showed, but it was a great learning curve and a fantastic way to get the business underway.

“It was a coastal front and back garden with Japanese influences. They wanted the front to be very naturalistic - almost replicating sand dunes because they were literally facing the seafront. It was quite challenging because with coastal gardens, the conditions can be pretty extreme, but they were really nice and really patient.

“They invited us back that summer with the kids, so we could experience the finished project with them.

“Sadly, the gentleman died just a few months after we visited. The lady told us what happened, but explained to us how much the garden had changed both of their lives. He hadn’t necessarily been into gardening before, but it had really sparked his creativity and he was out there enjoying it everyday. So, as upsetting as that news was, it was nice to hear that our work had had such a positive impact on their lives.”

Working with the seasons is an important part of planning in projects, Tom and Fiona tell me, and as we head into the most colourful season of them all, the couple are busy and eager to get things moving.

“Most gardeners would agree that spring is the best time of year,” says Tom.

“Because it’s when everything starts coming back to life. There’s lots of planning and waiting in the winter months - especially in the north of England where winter feels a little longer. When you start seeing things like snowdrops and buds emerging, everything is waking back up again and it’s an exciting time to get out in the garden.

“For us, practically, it means a lot of planting. The ground is workable and we can start putting plants in the gardens that we’ve built over the winter.

“Everything feels new again. There are moments in the winter months where you wonder if everything is going to come back at all, but it always does and there’s always stuff to work with come springtime. The plants tend to know what they’re doing if you put them in the right places.”

Planting is a huge part of the job, and it takes precise planning, often months and years in advance.

“Gardens can take years to mature, so it’s difficult for us to give instant results when it comes to the planting side of things,” Tom starts.

“So our clients really put their trust in us, which is incredibly flattering.”

Another key part of the business is research, learning every day and keeping up to date with current trends and garden initiatives.

“The big trend that I think we’ve been happy to see at the moment is that people are really keen to make their gardens more wildlife friendly - and I guess more environmentally friendly full stop,” says Tom.

“Particularly since the pandemic - people are really keen to bring a bit more nature into their outside spaces. We are really passionate about the fact that wildlife friendly gardens can exist in whatever form or aesthetic people are trying to achieve. So, even if you like contemporary style with clean lines and geometrics, we can find ways to bring in wildlife habitats or food sources.”

“We have a lot of family clients, who want to make their gardens as family friendly as possible, incorporating interactive aspects,” Fiona adds.

“Tying nature in is a fantastic way to do


this. Our own garden is currently under construction, but the plan is to use it as a template for a family garden that is immersive, incorporating nature as much as possible.”

“We are passionate about gardens being a really enjoyable aspect of everyone’s lives,” says Tom.

“Traditionally, gardening has a stigma of being something our parents or grandparents might enjoy and nurture, but if you’re a busy family with young kids, your garden could be a huge part of your life. It can really connect to all aspects of your life - whether that’s food, playtime, or your physical and mental health. Gardens can help improve many aspects of our lives.

“It takes it beyond aesthetics. What we really want to do is positively impact people’s day to day lives.”

This is shaping up to be a busy year for Tom and Fiona, juggling family life with a number

of gardens on the go, lots of community work and bigger projects in the pipeline.

“We’ve got a big stately home project which we might be working on,” says Fiona.

“As a small husband and wife team, we were incredibly flattered to be approached. That will be something completely new to us, but we can’t wait for the challenge.”

Living where they do, on the edge of North Tyneside, Tom and Fiona are lucky to have a bit of everything at their fingertips in terms of the natural environment.

“We have the rolling countryside in one direction, and the coast in the other - so it means we’ve got access to a whole host of different environments when it comes to gardening. We’re also close to the city, so we’ve done quite a lot of work with urban gardens, which is always a fun one. It’s fantastic in terms of building our portfolio,” says Tom.

When they’re not working on gardens, Tom

and Fiona like to spend as much time as possible outdoors with their young family. “We’re quite good at switching off when we need to,” Tom starts.

“We chose the career because we love gardening, so there’s never that feeling of totally switching off, but we are able to remove ourselves from our emails and to-do lists to enjoy family time.

“We are lucky that our kids love to be outside with us, enjoying gardens.”

“We spend a lot of our time visiting National Trust gardens,” Fiona adds. “The kids get to run around, and we get to take photographs of plants. We all get our fix.”

“The kids are genuinely really curious about nature and plants,” says Tom. Quite often, kids are more engaged than anyone when it comes to appreciating nature, so we can actually learn a lot from them.

“Of course, sometimes they can get cold and miserable and would rather spend time indoors, but most of the time they’re interested in what we are doing in terms of gardens and outside space.”

“We also love our home and our hobbies,” says Fiona.

“We love baking, reading and creating in any way we can. Any opportunity to spend quality time together as a family in our own environment, as well as those beautiful environments around us.”

“It’s hard to not get sucked into the daily routine of family life - getting the kids ready and doing the nursery run and what have you - so we make a conscious effort of trying to do something different every day,” says Tom.

“Gardens are a great example of something that can help make the day feel a little different. It might be that you notice

something new in bloom, or you can pick something in the garden that can be used for tea that evening. In the summer, we pretty much just open the doors and the kids run around in the garden all evening. It really is the best form of entertainment for children - and adults too!

“Something I try to change people’s perception on is that getting into gardening and growing and plants doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have your own private space, it could be going out for a walk, or enjoying parks.

“One thing we love to do at the end of summer is pick blackberries from hedgerows. There are loads of opportunities out there, you just have to find them and get a little bit creative with it.

“Use the rest of the world as your garden and enjoy it!”

At Complete Flooring Solutions, we are an independent family business that strives to excel in every aspect of our operations and provide unparalleled customer service to every customer.

When you step into our showroom, you can expect a warm welcome and the coffee maker “Paul” is always at the ready to make your browsing experience all the more enjoyable. We are proud to employ an incredible team of experienced fitters who hold themselves to the highest standards of craftsmanship, working on homes to large commercial projects.

Our selection of flooring options is vast and varied, with LVT, Carpet, Vinyl, Engineered Wood, Laminate, and Commercial Flooring products all available to peruse.

Our lineup of brands includes Moduleo, Riviera Home, Rols of Spain, Crucial Trading, Alternative Flooring, Elements of London, and Kersaint Cobb, to name but a few.

10/11 Tundry Way, Blaydon, NE21 5SJ 0191 4324332



From midwestern America, to London design school, to the luxury postcodes of Wynyard, it has been quite the journey for Christi Anderson. Luxe checks in to hear about one of Wynd Design’s recent living room makeovers…


This Wynyard lounge had not been touched since the property was originally built in the early 2000s. It had a dated fireplace that was never used, original curtains which blocked light coming into the room, bulky leather sofas which were pushed up against the walls leaving the centre of the room completely empty, and a wicker picnic basket the client was using as a footstool. It was the primary space used for watching television but looked and felt very lacklustre. The client is a really lovely couple with teenage children, and the space did not reflect their personalities at all.


The client wanted a room that was cosy and inviting with an exclusive private members club look and feel to it. A space that enveloped you when you walked in. We worked with a local joiner to design wall panelling which gives a clever new depth to the space. We also designed a bespoke TV stand and a smart home supplier installed a wall mounted TV and soundbar. New wide plank wood flooring, fireplace with electric fire stove and wall lights were all installed. A Ruggable rug brings more warmth and pattern to the room, and is washable which is ideal as the client welcomed an adorable puppy to the family during the project. We installed voiles on certain windows for privacy and room darkening Roman blinds with pelmets for ideal TV watching, and used subtle lighting throughout the room.


The look and feel of the fabric was extremely important to the client, and we spent a lot of time curating a selection of fabrics - rich velvets along with textured linen and

patterns and prints. It was important that all fabrics and colours worked well with each other to give a depth to the scheme which still felt harmonious - and most importantly felt comfortable when sitting on the furniture. We put patterned fabric on the back of the Delcor Montrose chairs with comfortable velvet on the front - a great way to introduce some pattern and colour in an interesting way on furniture. The Delcor Montrose sofa was covered in a rich burnt orange velvet, which is the perfect contrast to the depth of blue on the walls and panelling painted in Farrow & Ball Stiffkey Blue.

The new large footstool was custom made by a local supplier to be the perfect size and

has storage space inside for throws. The furniture brings a mid-century and modern vibe to the room and the bespoke cushions bring the scheme together with a pop of colour and charm. We worked with Cinnamon Bay Interiors in Yarm to find the perfect artwork to complement the space. The room has a cohesive look whilst still having personality with lots of interesting architectural and detailed design elements. And most importantly, it functions perfectly as the ideal TV snug for the family to enjoy together.

Photo credit: Focal Point Photography


I grew up in a family of builders in Nebraska, USA. I met my husband while working in London and am now very proud to call the beautiful North East my home. I set up Wynd Design to bring luxury interior design to the North East. At Wynd Design, we listen carefully to our clients on how they want their home to look and feel and offer design solutions that are completely bespoke to them. We bring an organised approach to what can be a chaotic and overwhelming undertaking. With our huge breadth of experience, we save our clients time, money and stress by leading them through the design process step by step.



Sateen Organic Cotton Duvet Set, King £210,

Blumarine Home Collection

Beatrice Quilted Bedspread £434.09,

Bedding down

Beautiful beds and linen to give your sanctuary a refresh this spring


The Roost

Lucy Olive Cotton Matt Velvet Bed, Double £1,270,

J.J. Textile Stripe Fern Throw £117,

Deuli Linen Bed Quilt, Rust

French Bedroom

Apricity Sage Green Crinkle Throw £55,

Funky Chunky Furniture Co.

Wansbeck Bed Frame - Medium Oak, Double £1,600,

Rowen Homes Lux Wave Boucle Bed £1,399, £325,
Morris & Co
Brophy Embroidery Cushion £60,
local, regional, national and international specialists in property marketing
£425,000 £710,000 3 3 2 2 3 4 4 2
BLACK WOOD WYNYARD WOOD Established holiday let l Picturesque setting l Adjacent to Stanhope Burn l Grade ll listed l Shepherd hut available by separate negotiation Occupying a pleasant position within a quiet cul-de-sac l Spacious and versatile family accommodation l Recently refurbished l Beautifully landscaped rear south facing gardens l EPC rating C A ready-made business, the property could continue as a successful holiday let or become a beautiful home in stunning tranquil surroundings Beautiful 4 bedroom detached property located on the fringe of the exclusive Wynyard Woods
01740 645 444
and intelligent marketing of individual and country property
0191 384 2277
£860,000 £1,200,000 4 6 3 2 5 5 2 2
Extensive range of upgrades Additional land purchased to create large private garden to the rear l Extensive range of upgrades throughout the property
Approx 5000 sq ft set over three floors Air source heating Large patio area with a gas fire pit Private rear garden EPC rating B A stunning three storey detached home built by Dere Street to the Stag design Contemporary and comfortable, efficient and exciting, the technology at the heart of Duke of Wellington Gardens is designed to meet all modern needs


with Elysia Fryer

Easter bakes, first shoes and beautiful ways to connect with baby...

It’s been a busy start to the year. We’ve had lots of milestones - from George joining his first football team, to Nora’s (almost!) first steps.

There’s lots of social stuff in the diary for spring, and we’re really looking forward to getting out and about more. Nothing says family time like exploring the great outdoors - and with Nora’s first pair of shoes in the basket, we’re ready

and raring to go!

With so many reasons to get creative and crafty this season - namely Mother’s Day and Easter - we’re sharing one of our favourite sweet springtime recipes to try at home with your little ones. All of that, plus some expert tips from Leanne Marsay on why baby massage is a great way to get moving in your tiny tot’s first months.

Here’s to a super spring!

Easter treats

Easter is for family time and feasting. Here’s what we’ve been practicing in the kitchen with the little ones…

Hot Cross Chocolate Muffins


A delicious alternative to a classic hot cross bun. Eat warm to discover a gooey, chocolatey centre. Baking is a great activity to enjoy with the kids during the Easter holidays.


145g mixed dried fruit or sultanas and raisins

1 large orange (grated zest and juice)

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp mixed spice

190g self-raising flour

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

100g butter, melted 125ml buttermilk

1 egg

100g golden caster sugar

Bonne Maman Hazelnut Chocolate


To decorate:

Vanilla frosting or icing sugar


Heat the oven to 180°C, 160°C fan, gas 4. Line a muffin tin with 6 deep

‘tulip’ cases.

Put the dried fruit in a small bowl with the orange rind and zest, spices and a good pinch of salt. Leave to soak for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the next six ingredients in a bowl and stir well until evenly mixed then fold in the soaked fruit.

Put two generous tablespoons of muffin mixture in the base of each muffin case.

Drop two teaspoons of Hazelnut Chocolate Spread on top then cover the spread with the remaining muffin mixture.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until well-risen and firm to the touch.

To make a cross on top, pipe or drizzle with frosting or a thick paste of icing sugar and water. Or drizzle with extra Hazelnut Chocolate Spread.

Mindful babies

Leanne Marsay is an experienced nurse, health visitor and colic consultant. It’s safe to say she knows a thing or two about the health and wellbeing of our little people. Nora and I joined her Baby Buddhas Massage class at Kismet Yoga Studio in Stokesley from just eight weeks old. Baby massage has since become a part of our daily wind-down routine. Leanne guides us through the top tips and benefits of baby massage…

Baby massage is an ancient art used in many diverse cultures and known for its physical and emotional benefits. Through massage, parents learn about their baby’s body language and cues, deepening the bond between parent and baby. It also promotes relaxation for parents and babies and can improve sleep, as well as providing comfort, easing colic, wind and constipation and relieving teething pain.

How baby massage helps:

- Parents can safely massage their babies from birth, however the NHS recommends waiting until one month to use oil or lotion on the baby’s skin.

- Always ask your baby for permission to start a massage. Use a signal such as rubbing massage oil together in your hands - over time your baby will recognise the cue that you are about to begin massage.

- Use an organic vegetable-based oil such as grapeseed or sunflower oil to massage babies over four weeks of age. Always carry out a patch test before using any new oil on your baby’s skin.

- When massaging your baby’s tummy, always go clockwise to follow the line of digestion.

- If your baby becomes upset or falls asleep, stop massaging and try again at an appropriate time.

- After massage keep your baby warm and offer their usual milk. They will likely be more tired and more hungry than usual.

Baby yoga is a fantastic alternative or follow-on class to baby massage in which babies and parents are encouraged to move, stretch and relax together. Babies are able to improve their muscle strength, coordination and balance while parents practice gentle yoga stretches to help the body recover from childbirth. Baby yoga sessions use rhymes and songs and create a wonderful opportunity for parents to bond and have fun with their babies.

Stepping out

Preparing little feet for big adventures…



Kids’ Hyroo Waterproof Pre-Walker Trainers, Sand/Navy, £34.50,

Mitch & Son SS24 Runner Trainer, £30, alibabas. Clarks City Toddler Pink Canvas, £26, Sophia Webster Sophia Evangeline, £150, VEJA White Canary Alveomesh, £87, UGG Erin Boots, £55,


What’s been happening in the region’s schools

Making waves

Agilico’s mission to help save our oceans

edit MAR/APR 2024
School news
65 MAR/APR24

SCHOOL notice board

Luxe checks in with some local schools on their latest news, achievements and highlights…


Yarm School’s vibrant extra-curricular life…

Yarm boasts an exceptional extracurricular programme, complementing its specialist teaching, excellent pastoral care, and state-of-the-art facilities. Sport at Yarm goes from strength to strength, with some truly remarkable achievements on the national stage.

Yarm’s sustained success across a range of sporting disciplines, including rowing, boys’ and girls’ hockey, netball, rugby, cricket, tennis, swimming and athletics, has earned them a notable 40th ranking in the country for school sport. At the Prep, excellence is fostered and participation actively encouraged, with a ‘sport for all’ philosophy. Drama and performing arts flourish at Yarm, from productions and dance at Prep School, to Duologue competitions, to large shows in the stunning Princess Alexandra Auditorium. Pupils recently performed Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella over four nights to a packed audience, and later in the year over 180 pupils will bring the spectacular Dance Showcase to the stage.

Music is an important part of life at Yarm, with specialist staff teaching a

wide range of instruments and ample opportunities for participation within ensembles, groups, bands, and choirs, and performances in the school and the wider community.

Yarm offer a broad range of Outdoor Education opportunities which include more local challenges and explorations, such as climbing, gorge-walking, caving and hiking in the Lakes and Yorkshire Dales, as well as trips further afield


Teacher and Outdoor Leader Gill Williams on the importance of getting children

Gill Williams can often be found surrounded by leaves and pinecones, as she plans another outdoor lesson for an eager group of young pupils. Whether brewing up hot chocolate over a campfire or helping children to craft DIY bird feeders, she is passionate about getting young people into nature. Gill works at Dame Allan’s Junior School in Newcastle, where she is an Early Years teacher. She also runs their comprehensive outdoor education programme, which aims to build

into nature…

confidence and respect for the environment. A lot of this education takes place in the ‘Woodland Ways’, a dedicated forest area of the Junior School. The on-site yurt is another popular area for outdoor education.

“Being outdoors and having hands-on woodland experiences, like exploring the pond and witnessing the life cycle of a frog firsthand, provides a tangible way for children to connect with nature,” explains Gill.

“These close encounters with nature

such as mountaineering in Scotland, bouldering in Fontainebleau and sailing in Greece.

Yarm offers a diverse range of over 100 lunchtime and after-school clubs weekly, covering dance, chess, drama, music, fencing and more. Additionally, pupils participate in timetabled activity lessons twice a week, engaging in activities such as creative writing, mindfulness, entrepreneurship,

instil a profound respect in children, helping them to understand and cherish the environment.”

Gill’s expertise also includes Skogsmulle, an experiential Swedish learning methodology, which promotes playfocused development via nature-based learning activities that stimulate children’s imagination:

community action projects, Eco School initiatives, and various sports and outdoor education opportunities. Yarm School's dedication to an extensive extra-curricular programme enriches pupils’ experiences and skills, fostering well-rounded individuals prepared for success beyond the classroom.

“The Skogsmulle approach is a symbol for the respect of nature and our time spent outdoors. No other playground can compare with adventure and the mystery of nature.”

Gill is also keen to show how time outdoors can replace screen time, and how parents can encourage this: “Being outdoors allows children and parents to play together. It is important for your child to take ownership of their time outdoors. Give them a rucksack and allow them to pack it and unpack it. Let your child collect their findings and then share their treasures with you.

The more you take the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors your child will soon learn new facts, develop language and improve their motor skills.”

66 MAR/APR24
School news


A Barnard Castle School pupil is celebrating after receiving a prestigious honour…

Sergeant Livia Cooke, a Year 11 student and member of the School’s Combined Cadet Force (CCF), has been recruited by County Durham’s Lord-Lieutenant, Mrs Sue Snowden, as one of her cadets for 2024.

This latest success marks the sixth pupil from ‘Barney’ to be appointed a Lord-Lieutenant cadet over the last three years, an unprecedented achievement for its CCF contingent, adding to its five ‘Master Cadet’ accreditations over the same period. A military boarder at the school, Livia will support the King’s representative of the county when she performs civic duties.

The Lord-Lieutenant appoints cadets to act as ‘batmen’ as she performs a host of duties that could include meeting visiting members of the Royal Family and presenting medals and awards on behalf of King Charles III.

Livia, 16, will be officially sworn into the

role at an upcoming ceremony, having passed a rigorous selection process and impressing during interviews. She said: “I am delighted and incredibly proud to have been selected as a LordLieutenant Cadet, which is a massive personal honour. The values and leadership skills that the CCF has instilled in me have been invaluable, which will stand me in good stead for this important role.”

Lieutenant Colonel Caroline Connor, Head of Barney’s CCF, added: “I am over the moon for Livia, who continually surpasses the cadet values and standards. This is the highest honour a cadet can receive and there is no one more deserving than Livia, who has been chosen for this position by virtue of her outstanding performance as a cadet, personal qualities and contribution to the local community.”


Why an all-girl education matters…

Recently we were delighted to host a talk for parents by Director of Innovation and Learning at the Girls’ Day School Trust, Dr Kevin Stannard, to present the findings from the GDST Futures Report, a landmark survey of girls aged 9 - 18.

During Dr Stannard’s talk we were reminded that the GDST was established in 1872 by four radical women who were fighting for the right of girls to have an education. Not only did they set up a group of girls’ schools, including ours, but in doing so, they transformed the educational landscape for girls in an era when it was virtually unheard of for any girls to have a formal education after the age of 11, let alone go to university.

Fast forward 150 years, the simple and sad fact is that gender inequality still exists in the UK in all walks of life - in society, careers, leadership and pay.

At NHSG, and in all GDST Schools, we remain as focused on bringing about equal opportunities for girls as our founders were in the 1870s, and what’s more, there is clear evidence of the significant impact an education at a GDST school is having on girls and young women today.

The astonishing findings from the GDST’s Futures Report evidence that pervasive inequality still exists.

Focusing on just one aspect of the overall report, which surveyed 1358 nationally representative children from across the country, the survey found significant gender differences in confidence. In fact, boys scored much more highly than girls in every single statement made about how they feel about the future. For example,

feeling optimistic about getting their desired job, or generally being positive about the future.

The vast majority of girls in this survey attended coeducational schools, and the findings reflect the wider societal landscape and the gender gap we know exists.

What was fascinating, however, is that when NHSG pupils and their peers from GDST schools from across the country, including from the two academies within the GDST family, were asked the same questions, the survey showed GDST girls to be…

• More confident, more self-assured, more politically aware, more empowered, better able to pursue their ambitions, and feel unhindered by their gender

• More comfortable taking risks

• More willing to embrace flexible careers

When compared to girls at other schools. Indeed, GDST girls’ scores were much more closely aligned to the boys, and in some cases scores

were better than the boys. While I am saddened by the findings of pupils from non-GDST schools, I am heartened by the clear evidence that we at NHSG and GDST are making a difference to the lives of so many girls and women as a result of the education we offer.

NHSG is an all-girl school by design. Everything we do is focused on ensuring our girls have every opportunity for future success by building their confidence, encouraging them to take risks, providing them with the space to develop and learn, preventing them from being drowned out in the classroom, and ensuring they know that nothing is off limits in terms of their future career choices.

This is how we deliver on our vision to empower girls to be the next generation of leaders and trailblazers and to understand they have an equal and important role in shaping our world for a better future.

68 MAR/APR24 School news
@BarnardCastleSchool @barnardcastleschool @barney_school A leading independent day and boarding school for girls and boys aged 4-18, set amid stunning countryside in Northern England Barnard Castle School | Co Durham DL12 8UN | Scan to learn more about our upcoming Open Events or to arrange a personalised visit Alternatively, contact 01833 696030 or email Whole School Open Morning Saturday 11th May 2024 Rated ‘Excellent’ in all areas Independent Schools Inspectorate Dream making to trailblazing An all girl education will help your daughter be the girl she wants to be. Register now at Open Week Monday 11th – Friday 15th March 904_NHSG_Luxe_Magazine_157x216_Senior_JK.indd 2 14/02/2024 11:31


Schools working with Agilico are being encouraged to invite Jessie the Jellyfish into the classroom - highlighting the ways in which we can help our wonderful oceans recover from plastic pollution

lives and communities.

Agilico is a business built on helping businesses to move forward successfully in an ever-changing landscape.

In many industries and sectors, there is rapid and continuous change and it’s important to be ready and reactive.

Agilico can ensure that happens by being ahead of the game as a trusted provider of workplace technology.

Bringing cutting-edge technology into a workplace can have such a huge impact on operational effectiveness, and that’s why Agilico covers everything from managed print services and automated invoice processing, to hosted VoIP telephony solutions and agile working.

While Agilico stays ahead of the game when it comes to technology and workplace solutions, the business is also well underway with its UN SDG (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Goals) journey. As part of that initiative, they’re flying the flag for Jessie the Jellyfish - a sustainable children’s book following the story of Jessie, a lonely jellyfish. It’s a tale about how our wonderful oceans are changing and how they are affected by the increasing problem that is plastic pollution.

Jessie the Jellyfish is a story of heartbreak and hope, and it really underpins the global issues we are facing today. The idea is that readers will learn what we can do to help Jessie and her friends, and then they’ll act on that. With beautiful illustrations, children and adults alike will feel inspired to make positive changes to their own

As a business, Agilico is taking matters into its own hands and promising that any school that has taken any of Agilico’s refurbished devices will receive a complimentary copy of the book to encourage eco-conscious learning and to teach pupils about sea plastics.

Jessie the Jellyfish takes centre stage for us, but there are a number of other important ways in which Agilico is marking its UN SDG journey. These include:

• Biodegradable wrapping for devices and pallets using innovative bioplastics made from natural resources

• Removing all plastic bottled water from offices and sites across Great Britain

• Fitting renewable energy sources at offices and warehouses up and down the country

• Building a company fleet of hybrid and electric vehicles

• Introducing regular Strava challenges to improve the mental and physical health of colleagues

• Continuing to refurbish ex-showroom or low-utilisation devices from Agilico’s purpose built national MFD refurbishment centre in Leicester

• A partnership with the Alan Shearer Foundation for the Great North Run 2024

• Reusing and recycling parts from old machines that would otherwise have been disposed of, such as MFD rollers and toners etc

Our Luxe parenting expert, Nadia McSheffrey, unpacks the ways in which we can cope with our child’s regularly changing patterns in behaviour

Here’s a question for you - why is it sometimes really difficult to parent your child? For a few months, everything can be smooth sailing and you think you have this parenting malarkey nailed and then all of a sudden, you are at logger-heads with them and you can’t seem to find common ground. I know many parents feel like this and so I thought it would be a good topic to unpack. Often when we go through periods of time like this, we think about our child as the problem and how we can fix them. But I’m going to invite you to do the opposite. When you feel disconnected from your child, I invite you to look inward. What is going on with you? It is never our child’s responsibility to get the connection train back on the track. It begins and ends with us. So, ask yourself - why is there currently a disconnect between the two of you?

It could be because of your current situation. Maybe you are stressed with work, finances, a house move or some other major life event. Maybe your attention has been going elsewhere; to other siblings or to other adults around you. Maybe you are feeling unwell, unhappy or unsettled. This isn’t about the blame game or feeling guilty; it’s about becoming curious and working out if something has shifted in your interactions with your child. Sometimes we can slip into mindless parenting when we have other things going on. We parent on autopilot and we’re not conscious of our words and actions.

If you have experienced a traumatic event or dealt with a difficult childhood, this can also impact your parenting. You may be more susceptible to being triggered by your child and their behaviour. There is some research to say that our relationship can become strained if our child is around the age we were, when we suffered a significant trauma. For example, if you grew up in a chaotic, unorganised household because you had a parent dealing with mental health problems, then a messy playroom may tip you over the edge. If you were always told to stay quiet, do as you were told and be submissive, your child backanswering you may trigger a huge volatile reaction. It’s always worth taking some time to reflect on any patterns or events from your childhood and notice if you are subconsciously repeating them in your own parenting.

If there doesn’t seem to be any obvious event or reason on your side, then it’s time to delve a little deeper. Generally, children go through developmental rollercoasters on a six monthly basis. These are called periods of equilibrium and disequilibrium. When children are in a period of equilibrium, they will be calmer, ‘easier’ to parent and more responsive to our guidance and influence.

When they enter a period of disequilibrium they are more challenging, unsettled and parenting them can be quite stressful.

As well as temperament, age and maturity can also have an impact. When our children are younger, we tend to be more patient and understanding but as they get older, our expectations change and sometimes we can forget that they are still learning and growing. A surge of hormones or a significant change in brain development can have our children changing the way they see us and themselves. We need to remember not to take things personally when children are going through a hard time. Growing up can be challenging and we need to be there to support them. Remind yourself that it’s not you versus them; you’re on the same team. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open, keep clear and consistent boundaries and keep connecting to the child in front of us.

When I’m in a particularly challenging parenting phase, I repeat the old adage; “this too shall pass” because when we’re in the thick of it, we often think this is forever. We just need to ride out the storm with as much neutrality, composure and grace as we can, knowing that more settled times are around the corner. Follow @tranquiltreehouse for more tips!

70 Make
a change
LITTLE moments
71 MAR/APR24 Our diamond creates bigger opportunities from small beginnings. Junior School and Nurser y Open Morning Saturday 16 March Please contact the Head of Admissions on 0191 275 0608 or visit Nor th East Independent School of the Year Sunday Times Parent Power 2023 Availability in some year groups for 2024 entry. Luxe loves LUXE LOVES Cool for school >> This roarsome satchel backpack is perfect for school, nursery or day trips with little ones. Made with a wipe-clean fabric and in a cool dino print, it’s a win-win for both children and parents. Sophie Allport Dinosaur Backpack Satchel, £36

Life in colour

Gill Hunter is Managing Partner and a Commercial Lawyer at Square One Lawa northern firm with offices in Newcastle, Leeds and Darlington. She has been on quite the journey; from her unique way of finding her feet in law, to her battle with cancer, her recovery and her resilience in building herself back up again. Every obstacle that has come Gill’s way has held a valuable life lesson, and she is the person she is today because of all of those things

of the deadlines for graduate jobs so just got a pick of what was left.

It might sound cliche to say ‘no day is the same’ when it comes to her life, but if ever there was a way of defining a saying, in this case, it would be through Gill. By day she runs her own commercial law firm, and by night she may be at a heavy metal gig with her daughter. One day she’s heading up meetings at the British Chambers of Commerce, the next she’s campaigning for LGBTQ rights in the workplace and community.

We’re fascinated by the fire within her. In order to uncover Gill’s journey, it makes sense to start at the very beginning.

“I grew up in Gateshead and was an only child and the first person in my family to go to university. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do upon graduation - so everything I’ve done, I feel, has been down to luck or circumstance, rather than having any great plan.

“I did geography at university because that was what I was best at at school. Also, when applying for university, the geography field trip was to Barbados (!), so naturally, I thought: ‘that sounds great, I’ll do that!

“It wasn’t until I got there, I found out that names were pulled out of a hat, so it wasn’t quite what I imagined and I ended up in Oban digging pollen samples, but never mind!

“I finished uni and had no real idea what I wanted to do, so went into the careers service. And this was back in the early 90s when there were no computers or systems in place to help guide you. I’d missed all

“There was an application for an accountancy firm, one for an insurance company, and the other was an application to do the common professional examination, which was the law conversion course at that point in time.

“I went off and did that for a year, and actually, once I started doing law, I loved it because it’s really just about stories and people’s lives. I found it quite natural to connect with. I decided to stay and complete my studies which took another year.

However, I didn’t realise this at the time but you need to secure your training contract to become a solicitor two years in advance and because I’d only converted to law a year before, I needed to act quickly.

“I contacted every legal firm in the North East of England. One of them wrote back and invited me in for an interview. I did the interview and got offered the job there and then - which took me a bit by surprise!

I accepted the job, but at the same time I got accepted onto a work placement scheme at one of the regional commercial firms.

“I told them I already had a job lined up but wanted to go along for the experience in the meantime. They decided to offer me a job too, so I ended up with two offers and had this massive moral dilemma. I went with the commercial firm in the end which ended up being a really good decision.

“I did a bit of litigation and a bit of property law, and it wasn’t for me. I moved into commercial law and worked with a lawyer who did IT and intellectual property law -

which was a relatively new area at that time. I found this totally fascinating and it appealed to me because it was evolving and still is to this day, especially with AI. This was in the late 90s and it was really starting to take off.

“I had to teach myself because at that point in time tech was in its infancy in business, but it really took off because of the rise of

I just wanted my impact to be as positive as possible. That has taken lots of different forms, but it has centred around people - because I have drawn strength from people

the internet and web technology. In the late 1990s businesses were installing PCs, experimenting with websites and e-commerce and email took over as the main form of communication. This led to lots of new legal issues including how to be active online within the scope of the law, which had never anticipated the arrival of the internet. I was fortunate to work with

One North East, who were the regional development agency at the time. They wanted to be the first regional development agency to go online, so I worked with them for about three years, helping with all of the legal issues they faced in building their online offering.

“That was really good experience and because there were very few tech lawyers in the region, I ended up doing all sorts of things from managing brand licensing, creating bespoke contracts for website building services and grappling with data protection issues. That’s one thing my career has given me - variety and the opportunity to work on innovative and interesting projects - from licensing deals with Disney, to recording contracts for pop artists, I did all sorts of weird and wonderful things. “Fast forward 20 years and I’d grown the team from just me to 13. But I’d got to the point where I was missing a bit of a challenge.

“I got headhunted by a national firm as their Head of IP/IT; and I thought, ‘if I don’t go for it now I never will.’. So I made the move, which was the right thing to doI was ready for a change.

“I handed in my notice in February, left on 30 April and I was diagnosed with cancer on 5 May, so that wasn’t the best of timings.

“It meant I couldn’t start my new job but I eventually did and was there for a couple of years. The majority of the work was in the public sector and it really wasn’t me. I’d watched Square One Law take off from when it was set up and I knew it would be


successful because Ian and Alan who founded it were great business people.

It was nice to see some new entrants as the legal market was getting very static.

“I joined as Managing Partner in 2018. At the start of 2022, following the exit of the founding partner, we embarked on a huge cultural change programme within the business. Post Covid, the world had changed significantly and the time was right to move the business on to the next stage of its development.”

Leaders have the power to set the culture within their business and throughout her time at Square One Law, Gill has worked hard to put things in place to make a difference. She is big on ‘doing the right thing’. You can see that in her personal life and values, and in turn, that runs through the business.

“Just because you’ve got a nice, supportive culture, it doesn’t mean you can’t make difficult decisions. But you can make those decisions with kindness. There are real benefits to creating a good culture within your business. Not just making sure people feel like they can fit in, it’s about making them feel like they belong. In doing that, we’ve seen an increase in financial performance and engagement, but we’ve also seen a drop in attrition.

“We’ve had some lovely feedback from people about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. You’re never going to please everyone all of the time, but it’s just about being true to yourself and having integrity and authenticity.”

That brings us up to speed with Gill’s path and her journey to ‘the now’. But what really is inspiring is Gill’s spirit and determination, and the ability to show up, even with a whole load of challenges and hurdles thrown in.

“My cancer diagnosis was a real turning point,” she says.

“And I don’ t mean to sound cliche, but naturally, it brought big changes and helped me reflect.

“When I was first diagnosed they thought it was going to be easily sorted out, but then my diagnosis became more complicated.

My priority at the time was protecting my children and so I did all sorts of things like getting my eyebrows and eyeliner tattooed on, and scalp cooling which freezes your head to stop your hair falling out, to keep things as ‘normal’ as possible for the kids.

“I wasn’t well enough to work. I was having weekly chemo. I delayed starting my new role for six months, but then when I’d only been at work for eight months or so, my cancer came back and I was re-diagnosed. It had spread so I needed more treatment and operations. Co-incidentally at the same time, I discovered I’d also broken my back. “I couldn’t have my back operated on because of the risk of infection that chemotherapy brings. So, three weeks after my chemo finished, I had a back operation. It was quite an intensive period!

“Throughout all of this, I kept working, which was really challenging at times - both physically and mentally. Managing all of that was one of the hardest periods of my life. But, you learn a lot about yourself.

People say things like, ‘you’re so brave’but I don’t believe that because you don’t choose it. What I did learn is that you’re stronger than you think. And actually, for me, when I was diagnosed with cancer, the fear subsided and I just had to deal with it.

“People say things like, ‘do you live each day like it’s your last?’, but no, you don’t because life has to go on.

“I did, however, re-evaluate what was

important and made decisions about what I really wanted out of life. That is why, shortly after I had recovered from my back operation, I realised that my old job wasn’t the right fit for me.

“Cancer has had an impact, but my mantra now is, ‘until somebody tells me otherwise, I’m alright!’. And that’s the way I’ve approached it.

“When you face your own mortality, you realise how little time you have to make an impact. For me, I just wanted my impact to be as positive as possible. That has taken lots of different forms, but it has centred around people. I think part of that is because I get my strength from the people around me.”

A strong support network; whether that’s in business, at home, in friendship circles or in community groups, is key when it comes to recovery, Gill tells me. People need peopleand that approach is something that can be seen in all aspects of Gill’s life - from family life and business, to her hobbies and interests, and her voluntary work.

“We’re pretty resilient as the human race,” says Gill.

“We can come bouncing back from these things.There are going to be good and bad times, but on the whole, the good times will outweigh the bad. If you’ve got the right people around you, the bad times can still be a positive experience.

“Through personal experience, I am acutely aware of how inequitable our society is, particularly around disability and neurodivergence. I’m passionate about disability rights, and I'm Vice Chair at Disability North where we support disabled people through benefits advice and recruitment of personal assistants and payroll management. That work is really important to me.

“I’m also a trustee at the West End Women and Girls Centre. Social mobility is also a subject close to my heart and the work they do makes a real impact on the lives of people within the local community - providing a safe space and opportunities for those that

would otherwise struggle to find them. “I am heavily involved with the Chamber of Commerce. I sit on the Regional Council and I co-chair the digital forum because I’m passionate about tech as an enabler for people and business. I also chair the British Chambers of Commerce’s flagship Workplace Equity Commission, which is a year-long project looking at how we can create fairer workplaces for all. We will produce a report which will hopefully influence government policy makers.

“Being part of the LGBTQ community, I’m also keen to support people who are making a difference to the lives of other LGBTQ people. Showing allyship to all marginalised communities is key for us as a business - the firm is made up of people from all walks of life and our client base is similarly diverseit’s important that those stakeholders know we will support them and do what we can to showcase their achievement and interact with them in an empathetic way. When Gill isn’t working, volunteering or sitting on boards, life is very much about keeping busy and challenging herself. By her own admission, Gill gets her energy from being involved in a variety of things and that’s what makes her tick. In her

‘downtime’ she enjoys an eclectic mix of hobbies and interests.

“I absolutely love music - particularly heavy metal. I go to at least two gigs a monthup and down the country. I’ve seen Iron Maiden over 20 times. I love live music. It’s invigorating and you can’t fail to be moved by it.

“To switch off, I read every night - I’m in a book club, which I enjoy. I love travellingmy son and I are going to Borneo this summer. He adopted an orangutan last year, so we’re going to see it!

“I also love food and cooking. I’m in a baking club and love getting out to enjoy the fantastic restaurants that we have in the North East. One of my favourite places to eat is The Roxburgh in Whitley Bay. It’s a set menu, you get what you’re given, but it’s always got a little twist. When you go in, you pull back a little red velvet curtain and it feels like an intimate speakeasy. It’s really creative and it’s very reasonably priced. Then there’s places like Pani’s Cafe on High Bridge in Newcastle - I’ve been going there since I was at school, and it’s always served authentic tasty Sardinian food in a relaxed and comfortable environment. Riley’s Fish Shop (not the Fish Shack on the beach - too weather dependant for me!) in Tynemouth is another favourite - the food is always fresh and innovative and the service is great. “I’ve got a lot of interests. I’ve actually got a list on my phone of all the activities I want to try, so that if I ever fancy doing something different, I can have a little look at my list and get some inspiration. There’s everything on there from candle making workshops, to learning how to crochet. I’m rubbish at anything crafty, but I quite like having a go. “I’m not very good at saying no, but I’ve found that by saying yes and giving things a go, I’ve got so much more out of life.

“It’s all about memory making. And I know it sounds a bit corny, but those are the things that are more meaningful to me rather than the material things.”


Buying time

Andy Haldane, chief executive at the Royal Society of Arts, chats to Elysia Fryer about his time as a British economist, his efforts to grow and nurture the creative and cultural sectors and how his North East roots have kept him grounded

Can you tell us a little bit about what you do day-to-day at the Royal Society of Arts?

I’m Chief Executive here at the Royal Society of Arts, which is a 270-year-old organisation committed to social improvement. We are a member-based organisation, so have 31,000 of them spread right across the world.

On a day-to-day basis I am looking at and overseeing the next chapter in what is a long and illustrious RSA story. To give you an example, some of the things I’m thinking about this morning… we have the Convention of the North coming up, which this year is being hosted in Leeds. There we will publish a manifesto and one of those commitments is about an idea that we’ve been working up for a ‘northern creative corridor’ - a pan-regional initiative to nurture the cultural and creative industries across the north, from west to east coast. That involves, among others, the mayors of all of the relevant regions including North Tyne, Teesside, Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Liverpool. The role we can play on that, working alongside partners like the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, is to think about how we can grow the creative and cultural sector in a way that creates jobs, that nurtures skills and is fantastic for the health and wellbeing of people. There are some fantastic existing creative and cultural attractions in the North East, for example, like the BALTIC and the Angel of the North. There’s already a real hub of activity in the region, and there are already plans as part of the North East Mayoral Combined Authority, to make culture and the creative sector even bigger and more important.

On Monday I was up in Durham to chair a meeting of leaders across the seven local authorities, to think about the economic strategy with the North East Mayoral Combined Authority. It’s about how we secure the best jobs, the highest incomes, the lowest energy bills and the best health outcomes, for example.

How important is it for you to travel to work with local authorities, governments, businesses and organisations?

I’m coming up to two years at the RSA. Prior to that I was man and boy at the Bank of England. I was there for 32 years,

which is frightening for me. A big part of trying to understand what was going on with the economy was to travel around the length and breadth of the UK, speaking to businesses, community groups, charities and local government - to understand how the economy was working, or in some cases not working. Getting out and meeting people was the best part of my job. I was always bowled over by their energy, passion and commitment to the local area - no more so than the North East. Although we can feel a bit down in the dumps here in the UK when viewed from a distance, when you go to places like the North East, there’s still this great sense of energy and appetite to do better. I love experiencing that first hand. We work closely with the universities in the North East. The region is blessed with the diversity of its universities.

What can you tell us about your involvement in the government’s Levelling Up Advisory Council?

Between my 32 years selling interest rates at the Bank of England, and joining the RSA, I got brought in to help out with the government’s work on ‘Levelling Up’, which is about improving the fortunes of the UK regions and nations.

As someone born in the North East and brought up in Yorkshire, I’ve experienced those sharp differences in economic performance between different parts of the country, and I’ve always been fascinated and committed to see what we can do to close them. So the opportunity to help out with that effort for six months was great. The culmination of that was the white paper that the government published in 2022, setting out their plan for ‘Levelling Up’. Of course, writing a document doesn’t by itself do anything to ‘level up’ the UK, but more has happened than what some people give the government credit for, but equally far less than needs to happen. Good progress has been made when it comes to delegating more powers to the local level. So far, powers are a necessary ingredient for ‘Levelling Up’, but much more is needed so that those extra jobs, higher incomes, better health outcomes, transport links and broadband can improve.

Can you give us a short story about your life and career to date?

As I’m not so young anymore, I’ll try and keep it short! I was born in Sunderlandmy father was born in Sunderland, my mother was born in Newcastle, so it definitely made me rooted in the North East. My father was a musician at the time and travelled around a lot. Eventually we set up camp a little further south, in Yorkshire. I went off to university in Sheffield. I was the first person in my family to do A Levels, never mind a degree. From a pretty young age, I had an interest in why the economy wasn’t working for people. This was the early 80s and it was pretty grim times. Economically and socially, it was a fractured time and that kind of piqued my interest. Growing up, the poor outcomes were visible and these issues were being faced by the families of the kids I went to school with. I wanted to figure out what was going wrong and how we could make it right. The result was me going off to study economics and then landing at the Bank of England. Fate works in wonderful ways and the bank absolutely did scratch the itch and help me to think about those questions on the economy.

Traditionally, the Bank didn’t take on people like me - by which I mean people from redbrick universities who did economicsthey focused on different universities (two in particular) and people with more generalist skills. The Bank was changing, for the better, and I was lucky to be arriving on the job market at that time. Me landing there was like me landing on Mars, and even 32 years in, I still thought of myself a little bit as the outsider on the inside. I always thought that the most useful role I could play was to challenge the orthodoxy. Not all of the time - because then you get a name for yourself! But sometimes you have to act with a degree of independence and say, ‘I know we’re doing X, but actually I think we should be doing Y.

How did you find the transition from the Bank of England to your new role at the RSA?

I love the Bank and I’ll always love the Bank, so being able to leave on good terms was important to me. That made it a relatively

painless experience transitioning. At the Bank, I’d worked on a wide range of issues, many of them well outside of the four corners of central banking as it were, and moving to the RSA was covering similar issues but with fewer constraints. Although my career has been rooted in the public sector, I’ve always made a point of sharing my time with businesses, communities and charities. The best things happen when different sectors come together to work in partnership. I think it’s the secret source of success in the UK. That’s what I see in the North East right now. If it’s all government led, that won’t work; if it’s all business led, that won’t work; you need to work together and this role allows me to do that to an even greater degree. The RSA is my full time thing, but I also work on other wider projects. I’m a professor at a bunch of universities, I write for the Financial Times and I chair the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Sheffield. They give me that cross sector focus and allow me to join up the skills I use as part of the day job.

Do you still have close connections to the North East and how does family life look for you now?

I still have family and friends up in the North East, my football club (Sunderland) is there and I maintain a healthy interest amongst the ups and downs! I have three kids and only one of them is a Sunderland supporter. I’m not sure what that says. We live in Surrey, a fairly easy commute into London. I try to go in most days, for the simple reason that I love it. Ours is a beautiful 250-year-old building just off The Strand in the buzzy West End. I found being locked in during Covid really quite difficult.

It brought home for me how much I missed travelling around the country and meeting people - it just crushes your creativity. I hadn’t realised how much I got from that experience until I was starved of it. If we are to resist the rise of the robot and make the best of AI, our creative instincts as humans will be the most important thing. We need to nurture that as best we can. Work is a huge part of my life, and it takes up a lot of my time, but in terms of unwinding and ‘switching off’, I’m a big cricket fan - now it’s much more watching from the sofa than playing.

Escape for me is time spent on the Kent coast. Having been born by the sea, I still have that yearning for being by the coast. We have a little place down there, and we try to spend time there as a family when we can. It’s a beautiful, unchanged place. I’ve been going there for more than 10 years now and no one has ever asked me what I do for a living, and I love that. In London, the second question after your name is ‘what do you do for a living?’. Down there, nobody really cares, it’s not relevant to them. I love the escape. The sea is also incredibly calming and creative.

People and places are great levellers. And I get that when I visit friends and family back in the North East and Yorkshire. I never want to lose sight of where I came from, the people that I grew up with, and the things that matter to them. That is what led me to where I am.

Whatever you do, pursuing the things that you are passionate about, whether they are badly paid or well-paid, it’s really important because you spend so much of your life working. You can’t afford not to enjoy it and have an appetite for it.



Softly does it

Perfect pastels for spring...

Drôle De Monsieur

NFPM Embroidered Cotton Sweatshirt £155,

EXTRA TIME with Pete Graves

Our Luxe sports columnist and Sky Sports presenter, Pete Graves, gives us an insight into how 2024 is shaping up for him - from a skiing holiday at the turn of the year, to a slightly different Transfer Deadline Day, and a whole host of exciting sporting events in the pipeline


We went skiing as a family over New Year, which was brilliant. We went to Avoriaz in the French Alps. Steph and the kids had never skied before, but they all loved it. The kids were fantastic - it’s amazing how fearless they are at that age, just throwing themselves into it. It was incredible. We celebrated the New Year out there, so that was busy, but then we headed home and landed just in time to get home for the Newcastle/Sunderland FA Cup game. Following that, home life was pretty quiet throughout January. Every year I try my best to do ‘Dry January’ and I usually fall at the first hurdle and totally fail after about two weeks. Of course, the same thing happened this year. It’s tradition!


After a bit of time away with family, I came back and dived straight into the Transfer Window. Usually, it’s the busiest time of the year for sports reporters, but it was the quietest January window of all time. Deals just weren’t going through in the way they normally would. In January 2023, clubs spent just under £900m in the window, but this year it was something like £90m. PSR (profit and sustainability rules) has existed for a long time in football, but this season, since they’ve started deducting points rather than just giving fines, every club has suddenly realised how serious it is and how detrimental it can be to a club (like Everton, being deducted 10 points). That seems to be why there is a lack of spending at the moment, which in turn, made for a very disappointing and quiet Transfer Deadline Day.

I did the breakfast show on Deadline Day, so got the ball rolling. I was lucky because at that time in the morning, there’s still a lot of positivity and there’s potential stories there to run with. Things were bubbling away at that stage and we had our reporters out and about around the country. Slowly throughout the day, it started to become clear that it wasn’t going to be busy. A few bits and bobs came through in the end, but it was mainly loans. It certainly wasn’t one for the history books - big stories of clubs spending £100m for a player, like we’ve seen in previous Deadline Days. There’s some positivity we can take from this though. There is probably too much money flying around in football today, and this is the first sign that maybe we need change. We have seen football clubs spending huge sums of money on players and the transfer fees have just skyrocketed in recent years. We’re going to have to see some kind of shift back to realistic prices.

It’s gone too far. I, for one, will be pleased to see more prudent spending in that respect. For Newcastle fans, of course, it’s frustrating. And I can sympathise with that. For such a long period when Mike Ashley owned the club they could never buy anyone; now they have the ability to buy players but because of these PSR rules, they actually can’t. On the wider picture, it’s probably good for football moving forward.



February brought the Newcastle United Foundation Ball, which is always a really good event. Eddie Howe and the whole first team come along, with Amanda and Mehrdad and the club officials. It’s a great celebration of what the foundation does for the community.

February also brought an ‘audience with…’ talk with Alan Shearer. I hosted the sold out in-conversation-with event in Blackburn, the club where his career really took flight. The hardest thing for me was to ask him questions about Blackburn and not Newcastle! I’ve interviewed Alan a thousand times before, but it’s generally about Newcastle. I had to remember that there were 1,000 Blackburn Rovers fans watching, not all Geordies. He had a brilliant time there before Newcastle broke the world transfer record at the time to bring him to Tyneside. That was a great day. I will always remember it - I was on holiday. I remember seeing a foreign newspaper with a photograph of Alan Shearer in a Newcastle tracksuit. In my little mind, I thought, ‘oh they must be saying this is what he would look like in a Newcastle tracksuit’. It wasn’t until I looked through it and tried my hardest to understand the French to that I realised we had actually signed him!

Ask Pete >>

Q: Can you tell us about a day in the life of you at Sky Sports News?

A: My alarm goes off at 4am then I cycle to work. We have a morning meeting where we work out what stories we are covering for that day, then it’s wardrobe and makeup.

At 10am I come off air, have a little bit of breakfast and do a bit of work at my desk. When I’m not on air, there’s a lot of research, networking and looking for stories, so it doesn’t always stop. It drives my wife crazy!

Got a question you’d like to ask Pete for the next issue? Send us a DM @luxe_mag!

Carhartt WIP Chase Socks - Glassy Pink £15, HOFF Marbella Trainers £110, Moncler Logo Piqué Cotton Polo Shirt £360, Paul Smith Zip Neck Polo Shirt £95, Moscot Lemtosh Sunglasses £315,

New kids on the block

The new all-electric MINI Countryman and all-electric MINI Cooper are waitingwhether you want nippy like the Cooper or practical like the Countryman...

Ditch the range anxiety with up to 287 miles (WLTP) driving with the Countryman and up to 249 miles (WLTP) with the Cooper. Both come with fast-charge capabilities and are supplied with a Mode 3 charging cable for on-the-go topping up. Integrated EV Routing helps you stay up to date on local charge points.

The Countryman is slightly more practical with its five seats and 460-litre boot space. It also features underfloor storage meaning your charging cables can be stowed away from your shopping. With 201bhp and 250Nm of torque, the Countryman is no slouch. The four-wheel drive version, the Countryman SE ALL4, packs a bit more of a punch if you want more power with your practicality.

The Cooper is the same sporty hatch we know and love, with an electrifying twist. Always fun to drive, MINI makes the most of their torquey electric motor to add even more fun to the Cooper. The nippy Cooper E trim offers 181bhp, while the range-topping SE gives 215bhp.

Both cars come equipped with three driving modes: Green, Core and Go-Kart modes. Collect bonus miles for driving economically

while in Green mode and unlock more horsepower with Go-Kart mode. There are three different styles available; Classic, Exclusive, or Sport, each with their own distinctive design details. As with previous incarnations, the focal point of the dash is still a circular feature. This time an impressive and world-first 240mm diameter OLED display serves as the instrument cluster and the infotainment system.

The MINI Countryman is available from £42,080. The MINI Cooper starts at £30,000.

Looking for an eye-catching car ready for both rugged and urban terrains? The sporty BMW iX2 xDrive30 coupe SUV is equipped with intuitive technology to better your drive, while the BMW X2 hybrid will transport you into the best immersive comfort BMW can provide...

The BMW iX2 offers an impressive 266-mile range (WLTP) and a charge time of 30 mins from 10% - 80%, opting for practicality with road presence. Even an internal combustion engine doesn’t take away the economy: the X2 hybrid offers up to 47 miles to the gallon (WLTP). The mild hybrid X2 is available in two petrol

engine options. The sDrive20i sets the bar, with a 1.5-litre offering 167bhp and up to 47 miles to the gallon (WLTP). The X2 M35i xDrive is a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol, boosting the power up to 290bhp, at a small cost to the mpg – 36mpg (WLTP). A gutsy 308bhp and 494Nm of torque provides plenty of punch for the all-electric BMW iX2 xDrive30. This SUV makes reaching 0-62mph look easy, achieving it in just 5.6 seconds. Both the X2 and the iX2 come with the well-built interiors BMW is known for. A curved display for the infotainment system welcomes you into the cockpit. Opt for the BMW Digital Premium package and you can make the most of enhanced map systems, audio equipment, and personalisation functions too. Thanks to a wealth of cameras subtly housed around the vehicle’s exterior, Parking Assistant Plus gives you a 3D view of your vehicle from all angles. Parking just became a breeze.

The BMW iX2 is available from £56,540. The BMW X2 starts at £39,395.

Visit your local Vertu Motors dealership to find out more.


Our columnist and watch expert, Josh Sims, on how watches get their names

Once a watch was a watch was a watch - the brand might be a draw, but invariably one was chosen on function and aesthetics. It was only with the post-WW2 consumer boom - with it the very notion of mass consumerism and marketing as a commercial discipline - that watches, as with other products, began to get names

And, much as the few decades of this pre-Quartz era benefited from an abundance of more boutique independent watchmakers, able to find a market for quirky designs, so the 1960s and 1970s in particular offered some of the most arresting and adventurous names in watchmaking.

Just think of the intriguing Golden Horse (Rado), the tongue-twisting Ploprof (Omega), the pop Bivouac (Favre-Leuba), the bold Conquest (Longines) or the exotic Monaco (Heuer)? Or how about Caravelle’s Bullion?

Or those watches of tomorrow, and named for such too: Favre’s Moon Raider, Wittnauer’s Futurama, Seiko’s Astro or Amida’s Digitrend? They all had a certain poetry…

“Inevitably the things we have to think about now when naming a watch means many of the watch names chosen by the industry over more recent years can sound a little dull in comparison,” as Zenith’s product development and heritage director Romain Marietta concedes.

“The watch market was much smaller in the 1960s and perhaps there was not a sense of just how big some of the brands that survived would get. We could come up with much cooler alternatives to the ones used but often they don’t work for some reason.”

Indeed, today naming a watch is no easy task. Many of the most iconic watches, truth be told, have names that are somewhat prosaic, with maybe just a hint of machismo. If Jaeger-LeCoultre’s comic book herosounding Reverso is so called for, well, the user’s ability to flip over the case, and the Cartier Santos is named for a pioneering pilot who commissioned it, Breitling’s Navitimer and Omega’s Speedmaster are named, of course, to echo their functionality. What else might one call a diving watch but something as literal as the Fifty Fathoms? Watch names can capture the spirit, or the technology of the times. Cartier’s blocky Tank was inspired by the new Renault tanks that Louis Cartier saw in use on the Western Front in 1917 - a name now somewhat at odds for such an understated dress watch

today. Similarly, take Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Polaris, also named for another, somewhat more potent, weapon of war. And, what’s more, named by a US sales agent who’d concluded that the brand’s more standard approach - just giving its models a name based on the three digits of its caliber number - just wasn’t going to cut it. He would prove his point too - his name for the watch would be that of arguably Jaeger-LeCoultre’s best-known model. “We very much start with the movement, and use its three digits as a code name for the project, until some kind of cool nickname starts to emerge. That then becomes the nickname for the project,” explains Lionel Farve, the company’s product design director.

“But with the Polaris line, the initial name E859, was thought by the US agent to be too simple. He wanted to find something that would highlight the innovative spirit of this diving alarm watch.”

Polaris hinted at adventure, at extremes, at the pole star, but the watch was also released in 1968, six years after the US military brought into service its Polaris submarine-based nuclear missile system, a well-publicised event given the height of the Cold War at the time.

“We have no confirmed information in our archives on the origin of the name Polaris,” says Farve, and Jaeger-LeCoultre is typical of the Swiss watch industry in not knowing how many of its most famous pieces got their names, “but [clearly] the Polaris name immediately evokes that of the missile.”

What of Tudor’s big hit the Black Bay? The name was given, the company says, simply to conjure up the idea of a remote, exotic cove of the kind that might feature, say, in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’. If that sounds rather thin, a haphazard way of naming a watch - especially today, in an era of hyper-marketing and multi-channel mediahaphazard is still more the norm than the exception. External agencies of the kind that now specialise in naming products remain unused. For Zenith, for example, the name is ultimately just chosen by a committee of six, including the CEO, plus heads of operations, design, marketing etc.

“But good names, the options we consider, can come from anywhere. We try to be honest in our opinions. It’s like being presented with a new design, we try to avoid saying out loud if we really hate it. We’re Swiss, after all, so we try to find a compromise,” laughs Marietta.

“It can take some time before we agree on a name. Sometimes the name only comes very close to the launch.”

Not that the pool of options isn’t limited: one reason watchmakers tend to return to their historic names - as with Zenith and Defy, for example, first used in the 1960s, then, appropriately enough to mark a break with tradition, for some wild designs in 2009, and then again in 2017 - is that they own them, legally or through usage. The older companies have built a portfolio of names to pick from. Secondly, now that these makers typically serve a global market, each name has to work across multiple languages and cultures; it has to both be pronounceable and above local meaning.

That’s one reason why many watch companies prefer to rely on the torturously complicated and, to company outsiders at least, seemingly irrational reference numbers instead.

“But using a code rather than a name is also an industrial approach - you see the same logic with Airbus or Audi. We think [names like the BR 03-92 or the BR 05A] fit the utilitarian nature of the product,” argues Bell & Ross co-founder Bruno Belamich. Of course, many watches are known by names that the watch companies haven’t even given them. Usage by collectors has occasionally trumped any attempt to impose a name by the manufacturer, many of these names of an evocative or pop cultural kind that the brands themselves likely wouldn’t be bold enough to use themselves.

“The cool names nearly always come from the collectors,” as Zenith’s Marietta notes, citing its Chronomaster A3818 being called the ‘Cover Girl’, thanks simply to it appearing on the cover of a book about Zenith; or, better still, the ‘Superman Blue’, for its dial being close in shade to that of the super-hero’s uniform.

“Typically brands don’t want to use names like these because of the risks of them being misinterpreted, though we do like to try to anticipate what the watch community might end up calling a model one day,” Marietta says.

Sometimes fans have little choice but to collectively name a watch. Seiko, which does not name its watches, has seen its Grand Seiko and more mass-market designs dubbed the likes of the Snowflake and the Skyflake, in part due to the texture of the dials, in part a nod to the snowscapes around the company’s manufacturing hub in Shinshu. Seiko even takes the speed with which a watch or collection is named by the collector community as a rough benchmark of its longer term popularity.

“Nicknames come from the watch shapes themselves, from famous characters or actors in films who wear them and any other inspiration which takes the fans’ fancy,” explains David Edwards, managing director of Seiko in the UK.

“Nicknames inspired by the watch shape include the Tuna Can, the Monster, the

Samurai and the Turtle. Others have been inspired by a character in a film - the Captain Willard, from ‘Apocalypse Now’ - and other names include the ‘Arnie’, after the actor who chose to wear a specific hybrid watch during the 1980s. The last two indicate one of the challenges of using nicknames –as we have no official partnership or franchise with that specific actor or one of his films, we couldn’t use those names in any [official] communication.”

In contrast, other watch companies tend to believe that the name they give to a watch is crucial to its sales success. More than ever a mechanical watch is an emotional rather than a practical purchase.

“The name you give a watch is more important now than it used to be - it has to be evocative, of the environment it was designed for, or the material it’s made from. It doesn’t have to explain the movement or some feature but it does have to be part of the story-telling around the watch - because it’s that emotion that convinces a consumer to buy it,” argues Marietta.

That emotion isn’t always clear. But then as Sadry Keiser, Roger Dubuis’ international marketing director, points out, the watch industry has historically been about working with a product that’s very tangible. Watches are solid things. And the industry isn’t always so good at all the soft, marketingoriented things like names, he suggests. Sometimes you get it right - like its Excalibur model, a knowingly pompous, fun, grand name that nonetheless perfectly expresses a look. On other occasions you’re stumped. “We think about the actual name of a watch very early in the process because we find it tends to prove inspirational for our designers,” says Keiser.

“We want to assist in potential sales in some way, but also, if you like, to be impertinent, because so many of the names the industry chooses now are just so serious. But sometimes you can certainly debate the quality of creativity in a name. When we launched an Excalibur single flying tourbillon 36mm we called it...Excalibur 36. Sometimes all the info that comes through to enable the choosing of a good name just doesn’t make it. The fact is that there are great products with not so great names.”



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!

Entrepreneurs Forum Chairman’s Dinner, The Biscuit Factory

Jackdaw Premier, Showcase Cinema de Lux Teesside

Elaine Stroud, James Robson MBE, Sir Graham Wylie CBE, Brendon Hayward, Yvonne Bell Jamie Childs, Jenna Coleman, Oliver Jackson-Cohen Jamie Mableson, Michael Downey, Paul Card Julia Smith, Mo Brown, Paul Edwards Linda Lowther, Damien Charlton, Simon Honeywood, Claire Parry Daniel Gibson, Nick Gianfreda Jenna Coleman, Oliver Jackson-Cohen Brendon Hayward, Elaine Stroud Jo Thompson, Richard Hogg Rochelle Goldie Thomas Turgoose Joe Blakemore Ben Houchen, Rachel Houchen Jamie Childs Paul Blight, Mark Trett, Paul Ponton Sam Spoors, Louise Kennedy, Julia Smith, John Devitt, Samantha Vassallo
79 MAR/APR24
Brendon Hayward, Elaine Stroud, Mike O’Brien, Toby Bridges, Kari Owers, Yvonne Bell, Gill Courtney MBE, James Robson MBE

netWORK Wynyard Launch Event, Wynyard Park House

80 MAR/APR24
Michael Carruthers, Oliver Lowes, Tony Dobbins Mark Hudghton, Emily Hudghton
Elysia Fryer, Ingrid Brough-Williams Newcastle United Foundation’s Celebration Dinner awards ceremony, St. James’ Park, Newcastle Hooker & Young Conference, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Newcastle Michael Young, Charlotte Williamson, Gary Hooker Darrel Birkett, Ruby won the Young Leader Award, Eddie Howe, Pete Graves Andrew Haigh, Joe who was named Community Champion, Bruno Guimarães, Pete Graves Dawn Carney, Philip Wears, Karen Large Graeme Cochrane, Israr Hussain Paul Bollands, Michelle Fletcher, Mike Racz Stewart Renfrew, Paul Card Graham Simms, Kim won the Alder Sweeney Award, Dan Burn, Pete Graves Derek Scott, Jason Tindall, Brooklynn won the Adult Learner Award, Peter Graves Kane McArdle, Holly won the Helen McArdle Young Achiever Award, Grace Donnelly, Becky Langley, Pete Graves Lesley Robinson MBE, Mick Martin, Pete Graves Lisa Hogg, Shaun Hogg, Joe Anson, Lesley Parry Sacha Wiley, Paul Gray, Carol Mitchell Lesley Robinson MBE, Nolberto Solano, Pete Graves Michael Young, Kerry Adair, Gary Hooker Michael Young, Lee Errington, Gary Hooker Michael Young, Millie Nesbitt, Gary Hooker Gary Hooker, Lindsey Charlton, Michael Young Courtney Hall, Faye Dawson, Georgina Bradshaw, Katie Gregson, Gary Hooker, Michael Young Sean Longstaff, Suzanne Clarke, James was named Disability Player of the Year, Pete Graves Faiza Khalid, Kat Carruthers, Megan Woolley


Alan Shearer Foundation Ball, Hilton Hotel

The Alan Shearer Foundation Ball – a night to remember!

Local hero, Alan Shearer and adopted Geordie, James Bay, came together to create a night to remember and raise a staggering £200k for the Alan Shearer Foundation to fund the Alan Shearer Centre, a specialist sensory and recreation centre in Newcastle for people of all ages living with disabilities.

Guests at the annual ball were welcomed with a rousing rendition of local hero, performed by the one and only, Jonny Blue Hat. After which Alan Shearer took to the stage and officially got the party started. Local singer/songwriter Glen Roughead then warmed the crowd up ahead of the headline act, multi-Brit award winner – James Bay, who said: “I’m so excited I could finally play the Alan Shearer Foundation Ball! Alan invited me a few years back and we’ve finally been able to make it work and it’s so exciting to be here. Alan’s been a hero of mine since I was just a little Toon fan at the age of 6. It’s an honour to be here to help raise as much as possible for this brilliant foundation. What an amazing night!”

“Every year we ask the people of the North East and beyond to give deep and every year they deliver!” Said Alan Shearer who hosted the night with his wife Lainya, “I’m fully aware that lots of people are finding it tough at the moment but we couldn’t do what we do without their fantastic support – I can’t thank them enough, their generosity always amazes me.”

“I’m so grateful for the support The Hilton Newcastle Gateshead has shown to my Foundation over the years, they take care of every little detail and always ensure that our guests are looked after superbly. ” added Alan.

If you would like to know how you can support the Alan Shearer Foundation, visit

Activated Mindset January Reboot Networking Event, Sunderland

81 MAR/APR24
Lucy Shepherd, Kenneth Shepherd, Lisa Shepherd, Charles Shepherd
John Cheryl Ball, Lainya Shearer, Alan Shearer Doreen Huxley, Daniel Huxley, Charlie Huxley Julie Nichol, Adele Southern, Nic Gilbert, Jackie Dunn Peter Joynson, Stephen Rankin, Geoff Thompson, David Cockburn Fran Joynson, Katherine Cockburn, Andrea Thompson Rob Lee, Steve Harper Sir Graham Wylie, Jo Thompson Jude Daunt Jude Daunt, Julie Turnbull, Claire Pickersgill Jessica TaylorBranton Faye Docherty, Paula Mitchell Tara Mackings Kim Forster, Kirsty McSween Rachel Fetcher, Andrew Ruffler, Jessica Ruffler Andy Evans, Steph Evans, Lucy Gregson, Paul Gregson Michael Groves, Julie Groves, Nimmy Deen Wilson, Colin Wilson John Morris, Sally Morris, Brigitte Beresford, John Beresford Celia Samater Julie Turnbull, Louise Kennedy Debra Cairns
Spring showers>> Bright blooms and hazy days. Photograph by:
Discover homes that are anything but ordinary
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.