It was great to go home during the Christmas break and spend time with my family. During my short stay I spent a day revisiting the places my mates and I would hang out whilst growing up.
Trentham is a quiet suburb in Stoke-on-Trent that is surrounded by open space, making it feel like a village. Not much really goes on here and there isn't that much to do in terms of entertainment but that didn't limit us as kids.
It's been many years since I visited some of these places and they were almost unrecognisable. But lots of it brought back some great memories.
The remains of the Trentham Estate
Since 2000 the Trentham Estate has undergone major regeneration. Unfortunately this resulted in the demolition of the Trentham Ballroom and Hall and many of the other buildings fell into disrepair.
North Trentham Park
Beside the new landscape gardens lies North Park. My mates and I would ride our bikes here to race through the woods and down the hills. It was one of my favourite past times when I lived in Trentham but at the time I don't think I realised the beauty of the landscape.
Learn more about Trentham, it's history and plans for the future at www.trentham.co.uk
Christmas lands on the same day every year and there are no surprises to what is expected. So really, there is no excuse to leave things up to the last minute. Yet for me, every year seems to be the same; running around town in the final hour. At least I'm not the only one!
New bars and restaurants are always popping up around Newcastle, The Botanist is one of the latest. Located in the recently renovated Monument Mall, above Jamie’s Italian restaurant. I visited the establishment on Sunday with my good friend Ben who was up from London for Christmas.
We entered through a small doorway and were greeted by a couple of bouncers and a member of staff. It was derby day in the Toon and I'm presuming that the bouncers were there to keep any potential trouble makers at bay. The restaurant and bar is on the upper levels of the Monument Mall which meant climbing about half a dozen tiers of stairs. It’s not a difficult walk but there is a lift that will take you all the way to the top if you don't fancy it.
The branding and decor is well developed and superbly executed. Wrought iron and worn wood is featured throughout the interior and is well balanced. The attention to detail is commendable and the space has been transformed into a trendy botanical garden. The bar is a real centrepiece with a very convincing tree at it’s core. The glass domed roof allows plenty of natural light which complements the surroundings.
There are plenty of tables and seating in the way of informal stools at high tables that you would be equally happy standing at. We found a table in the corner which had a great view of the bar and kitchen. Food being prepared in the busy kitchen looked delicious. As it was Sunday, there were a lot of roasts flying out but there were also platters of cold meats, impressive meat and veg skewers being delivered on neighbouring tables. Shortly after sitting down a friendly looking waitress came over to take our order. We decided on some cheesy chips and spicy chicken wings and Ben had a beer whilst I went for a coffee.
We we’re so engrossed in conversation, mostly about the incredible decor that I’m not sure how long the food took but I don’t remember it taking long. The wings were presented in a little case which was quite cute and they smelt divine. As light bites go, there was enough for us to share. We cleared both dishes, but found the wings to be quite salty to taste and made a comment to our hostess who said she would pass the message to the chef.
By this point the match had finished, the light had faded, shops had closed and as a result the bar had become much busier. The filament bulbs around the bar and tables and flickering candle lights in the tree made the place look as though it belonged in a fairytale. It was very pretty. Staff didn’t seemed to be at all phased by the influx of customers and the level of service remained consistent.
We stayed for a few more drinks before heading upstairs to check out the smoking terrace. A great views of Greys Monument, Grainger Street and Grey Street can be had on the open top terrace which will become a favourite for many in the summer.
Overall, we had a very enjoyable time at The Botanist and I will definitely be heading back there soon.
I must also mention the brilliant live musician who was playing whilst we were there. His name is Andy Usher and his sublime guitar playing combined with smooth vocals really topped off the experience. Check out some of Andy Usher's work on YouTube here.