The Sunday Post: Coffee Central

Last weekend, Phill and I took a trip to a new coffee shop which has recently opened up close to where I live. Depending on how long you have been reading The July Journal, you will know that I am now working alongside my University studies and writing this little corner of the internet. I thought before I start work there, I could go and sample some of their food and write this little post for you.
Coffee Central has recently opened on the Tyne and Wear Metro line which is brilliant for those running to work and needing a morning cuppa fix but they also cater for families with young children too. The decor is rather vintage chic which is right up my street and I love how they have made use of the fireplace. The atmosphere of the shop is a lovely relaxed, family feel which makes the experience even more enjoyable. The melted chocolate cake and forest fruit gateaux was divine and I thoroughly recommend them. I have also heard that their hot chocolates are something else too! Phill ended up getting his usual coffee but apparently it tasted better than Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Pret all rolled into one.
I thoroughly recommend anyone in the Whitley Bay area to take a visit as you truly will enjoy it!
Banoffee Cupcakes

Banoffee Cupcakes

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Just over a week ago, I had an interesting email from someone who works on behalf of the personalised clothing retail Banana Moon asking to get involved in Banana Bake Off. The idea of the competition was to bake anything as long as it involved bananas as one of the main ingredients. Since reading up about the vegan lifestyle, I found bananas can be a substitute for eggs so I jumped at the chance.

In return I was lucky enough to receive a £10 Sainsbury’s voucher, rolling pin and apron(*). So if your looking at baking something rather different yet simple and quick then keep on reading.

Ingredients: (makes 10 – 12)

175g soft ripe bananas

125g soft margarine

75g golden caster sugar

1 tbsp milk

2 medium eggs

225g plain flour

1 tbsp baking powder

75g soft fudge pieces

Method: 

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas Mark 4. Line a 12 hole baking tray with paper cases.

2. Peel and mash the bananas in a large bowl. Add the margarine, sugar, milk and eggs. Sift in the flour and baking powder  and then beat together until smooth.

3. Fold in 50g of the fudge pieces and evenly spoon the mixture between the cases. Bake in the oven for twenty minutes or until golden brown and firm on the top. Remove the tin and leave to cool completely.

4. For the icing you could make a batch of vanilla butter icing or glaze icing. After adding your chosen icing to the cakes, top with the remaining fudge pieces and some banana flakes.

They taste of these are really unusual but good. I occasionally make a batch to snack on while doing my university work or writing posts for my blog. Let me know if you decide to bake them and how you get on.

Banoffee Cupcakes

The Sunday Post: Coco Momo, Kensington

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When I come across a cute, vintage style cafe which offers a breakfast menu to its customers then you can certainly find me planning a trip there sometime soon. When Phill and I visited London, we decided to go to Coco Momo for breakfast on our last day. Kensington is such a lovely place anyway but this vintage style place just made me feel more at home. The service was relaxed and provided excellent hospitality to make us feel extremely welcome and comfortable.

I really like the old vintage style tins along the wall, its such a unique idea. I went for the scrambled eggs and smoked salmon which tasted delicious while Phill went for a toasted cheese and ham croissant. I really enjoyed my time there and it was a great way to end our visit to London.

Banoffee Cupcakes

Valentine’s Day On A Budget

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I understand. Valentine’s Day is extremely overrated and in my opinion if you love someone you should show them every day of the year. Make them feel special all the time, not just February 14. I am a lover of a good old date once in a while and guaranteed Phill and I will more than likely be doing at least one of these this weekend. You can really start to get creative and if your on a budget it doesn’t have to be expensive either which is always a good thing.

Movie Night

Fact – the cinema is extremely expensive and for students that’s not a good thing. A cheaper alternative is buying a few favourite classics from CEX or Grainger Games, grabbing the microwave popcorn, lighting a few candles and cuddling up on the sofa. I already know that Phill has managed to find a second hand copy of Avatar which I haven’t watched in so long so I am very excited for that. You could even treat yourself to a luxurious box of chocolates.

Coastal Walks

If your more of the outdoors kind of couple then I suggest grabbing the camera and going for a walk. We often do this to take the dog. It gives you time together to talk about things and enjoy each other’s company. It will also give you something to write about if you come across anything exciting. I love the coast and feel extremely grateful living so close to the sea. It’s nice to just get out sometimes.

Evening Out

Unless you both have a lot of spare money, going out to a restaurant is a luxurious treat. The North East has some wonderful cheap places to go to. Why not prepare and have a look for a voucher on the internet too. Za Za Bazaar in The Gate, Newcastle is always somewhere I have wanted to try. It offers a variety of foods from all of the world so even the fussiest eat such as myself will find something they will like.

Road Trip 

The weather can also be a bit of a let down so why not take the car, throw the map out the window and travel somewhere, anywhere. You can find lots of cute little villages with cute shops to treat yourself in. The cafes you can come across are usually affordable and picturesque. Again it will also provide us bloggers with something to talk about later on.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a big song and dance. Sometimes it’s just the memories which you make and remember which are the best thing. Just enjoy each other’s company.

Banoffee Cupcakes

Dear PR Practitioners, Sincerely Bloggers

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Today I wanted to discuss the building blocks of a relationship which can become beneficial for both bloggers and PR practitioners. I have had my blog for nearly a year now and I am currently studying Public Relations at University so I can see both sides when it comes to working together. So PR practitioners – take note!

Please can you use our names. Finding out our names is rather easy and yes I can see how it can be time consuming for you but we would really appreciate it. It makes us feel as though you have approached us because you have looked at our blogs and social media and want us to work for you. Most of the time you will be able to find out names under the picture in the sidebar or in the ‘About Me’ section on our blogs. I have learnt that those who start with “Hello blogger” or “This may be of interest too you” haven’t actually looked at your site in great depth and just spammed you. I know that if it happens to me, the email is heading straight to the bin folder in my emails so be warned.

We know our stuff, deal with it! We know how to use all of the little behind the scene programmes like Google Analytics and can calculate how far our tweet goes on Twitter. We also discuss you guys quite a lot so if you treat one of us badly then you are probably not going to get a good response with those who mention how badly you have treated them. Word of mouth can be an extremely powerful tool amongst the community. It doesn’t pay much to be nice and all. Just treat us with a bit of respect and we will do the same.

We can be professional too. I don’t know about others but I take my work seriously. At some point in life I would love to be able to blog full time, in fact all of us would. If I am a beauty blogger and your sending an email asking to review a fashion site or app which you have launched then please don’t get angry and unhappy when I turn you down. Some of us cover all aspects of what they enjoy but there is a lot of blogs out there which focus primarily on one thing, just take that into consideration. On that note, it brings me on to my last point…

Don’t expect us to advertise for free. Top tip for you guys is to keep some of your budget for us bloggers. If you are expecting us to expose your brand, product or service to hundreds or thousands of customers which could potentially come to you then we will be wanting some sort of money for this. How else do you expect us to keep our site running. Many of us like Zoe and Louise have spent years building readership and creating a community and the downside to this is that if you want access to it, you are going to have to spend some money on it.

One final note. We are all wanting similar outcomes. We are needing the work to keep out readership interested and returning to our site and you are needing the exposure for your brand, product or services so there needs to be some give and take I think.

What do you bloggers think? Is there anything else you would add? And for those PR practitioners out there please remember at least one of these and you will receive some appreciation from us in the future! Let me know what you think!

 ♥