Last week I joined bloggers Erica and Rachel and a whole load of print journalists for a trip to Newcastle for some incredible food, a boat ride up the Tyne and the unveiling of Barbour’s new spring Seafarer collection in a gorgeous old life brigrade Watch House…
Newcastle is more of a station I pass through en famille on the way up to Edinburgh, so I was thrilled to be able to get off for once and find out a little more about the city. Renowned for its student-orientated nightlife (ok, truth be told, I have seen the inside of a few Newcastle clubs and some very late nights!) I was delighted to see some extremely pretty, almost countryfied parts – surprisingly similar to Edinburgh – a little out from the town centre. We stayed in a beautiful old manor house – Jesmond Dene House – where the rooms were all king-sized beds, spacious bathrooms and striking wall paper. And, brilliant touch, there was even a hot water bottle in the wardrobe, which is pretty much my nightly companion until about May these days!
We dined in the main hall where we met the charismatic Dame Margaret Barbour – she was married to John Barbour, the founder’s grandson, who sadly died when he was only 29. The warmth and energy of Dame Margaret was reflected in her team and her pride in the family-run brand and its success was energising. Although surrounded by archive pieces on mannequins as we dined, the new collection we had come to see was fresh, colourful and youthful. I had great chat with some of the magazine editors and drank way more wine and champagne than I ever do – all topped off with a glorious sticky toffee pudding!
The next day, we embarked on a riverboat up the Tyne to the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade watch tower in South Shields under blazing sun. Along the way, which ranged from pretty fishing boats to art deco inspired buildings and the more industrial, we passed ‘The Groyne’, a red beacon on which the Barbour logo is based. On arrival, we were all pretty much blown away by the contents of the yellow, white and blue (the collection’s key colour palette too!) Watch House, home to some extraordinary old museum pieces rescued off old shipwrecks – figureheads, anchors and the super-sized kettle in the picture above.
After a cuppa, we sat down to preview the collection. Designer Helen, looking very fetching in the Seafarer tartan shirt, talked through the influences (fascinating details taken from archive catalogues such as the triple fronted buttoning to keep out the rain and the little red & green dot on each garment signifying port and starboard) and the hero pieces.
And then, it was time for lunch!
Such a treat; an incredible spread was laid on by local food blogger Anna Hedworth from The Grazer who spoilt us silly with dressed crab and poached lobster, chicken terrine, fresh bread, homemade mayonnaise and a cucumber and herb salad (there was so much more detail, but I lost my carefully-stashed menu!). I didn’t hold back – such a good meal, I’m craving it now! To finish, a delicious blood orange & lemon pousset.
We were fed so well over the entire trip, I spent the train ride back home mainly in a food coma. Not that the press trip was a full-on one, it was quite leisurely and relaxed compared to some, and that went much appreciated; jam-packed trips can leave you feeling quite discombobulated, so big thanks to the team at Barbour for taking such good care of us!
I would very much like to have stayed a few more nights – such a gorgeous room; with hot water bottle too!
Fuelling up for the riverboat ride ahead!
‘The Groyne’ beacon, the inspiration for the Barbour logo
Barbour designer Helen showing us archive details she used for the Seafarer collection
Scaling the ladder up to the top of the Watch House – amazing views!