Chiquitos at Metrocentre


Visited on Friday 19th July 2013

Five years had passed since I last visited Chiquitos the Mexican Restaurant and Bar at Metrocentre.

Chiquitos has always been good and has an amazing atmosphere when you enter the doors and hear the Mexican tunes being played. I really did miss this restaurant and had totally forgot the tasty food, drinks and unique atmosphere it provides.

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I entered the restaurant and was greeted by a friendly waiter who took me to a nice table and recommended what I should try. The first thing I did was open the drinks menu and look for any mocktails they did.

Mocktails Menu

Mocktails Menu

The number of mocktails they do are amazing and my aim is to try all them before 2014. I looked through the list and the ‘Mock-Jito’ caught my eye but there were so many others that looked interesting and will have to be tried in the future.

Mock-Jito

Mock-Jito

The waiter came to the table and gave me some free popcorn and I ordered the drink. Forgot to mention that I had also chosen what I wanted to eat and it was a quick choice because I wanted to eat something healthy. Hot baked wrap was my choice and it was a ‘Goats’ Cheese & Roasted Veg’ with skin on fries, coleslaw and side salad. The assumption was that it would be a small dish with small portions but how wrong was I.

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Drink was amazing and refreshing in the hot weather and the food was tasty but healthy at the same time. I liked how the dish looked and tasted so healthy and the drink had fresh lime and mint leaves mixed into the big glass.

I really recommend this place to anyone who hasn’t tried Chiquitos in Metrocentre (Blue Mall) opposite Pizza Hut. Great Mexican food for all and if you assume it might be spicy place for you to visit then just order something like I did which had no spice at all. Anyways drinks can be tasty and fun to have without alcohol being added so try the mocktails on the drinks menu. I do wish I had some desert but I will next time.

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It’s 2012 and I Still Get Called A Paki


The above screenshot is from today (16/07/2012). They thought it was appropriate to call me a Paki because I tweeted them “unfollowing you back” for unfollowing my twitter account. Any other tweet could have been sent but there was no need to bring someone’s race into this. How dare people like this are still allowed to get away with something like this. I don’t go out being racist to people who are not the same colour as me. Somehow in the past and present the ‘white‘ have always thought of themselves superior and made us feel degraded just because of their colour.

I was such a fool to believe things had changed with time but I realise this year that nothing has changed. People with a different colour to the ‘white’ who live in the UK are still made to feel negative for who they are and how they look. Newcastle Upon Tyne is such a diverse place with many different coloured people with different cultures & religions living together. But there some who just like to express their hatred towards someone who has a different skin colour to ‘whiteeven though they get a tan because they hate their own natural skin colour.

Why are we defined by our colour when we are still all human?

I think this is a major weakness we have if we define one another by colour if not anything else like religion and etc. We are still not seen as human beings with feelings even after what people who are not ‘white‘ have been through for 100s of years. For example slavery, direct and indirect racism, violence and much more we have suffered. Many now say they have clean hands now and have a open mind but you can’t erase the past or the present.

To those readers who feel offended with the ‘clean hands‘ remark..I have a question.

Can you forget or erase what happened to you while being targeted as a group in the past?

Alastair Campbell on drink: ‘I paid a heavy price’


Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former spokesman, examines the British middle class’s troubled relationship with alcohol and his own long and complicated history with drink.

To read the headlines about Britain’s drink problem, you might think it is largely an issue of teenage binge-drinking in town centres up and down the country.

You would be very wrong. Young people drinking too much is a problem. But it is not the biggest drink problem Britain faces. The real problem comes in the form of our hidden alcoholics.

Back in my hard-drinking days I was one of them – professional, successful on the surface, with a good job, a steady relationship, a mortgage, nice holidays, lots of friends. But I was heading for a very big fall.

The Office for National Statistics tells us that the professional classes are now the most frequent drinkers in the country and that 41% of professional men drink more than the recommended daily limit of three to four units at least once a week. Women are also drinking much more than they used to, with alcoholic liver disease now split evenly between the sexes.

My own drinking reached its peak while I worked in Fleet Street in the 1980s – a time when the pub was an extension of the office.

Anne Robinson, one of my colleagues on the Daily Mirror back then, was one of the many casualties of the hard-drinking culture.

Reflecting back on the days before she too gave it up, Anne said: “It was just a sea of alcohol. If you were editing the paper, people just came in to your office to empty your drinks cabinet.”

Annie has been dry for years. I paid a heavy price for the same sort of lifestyle when my drinking, coupled with depression, triggered a mental breakdown that landed me in hospital.

It forced me to confront my drinking, and by 1986 I’d stopped and started a slow road to recovery.

Since then, even in newspapers, Britain’s boozy workplace culture has largely disappeared.

24-hour mistake?

Yet, paradoxically, more people are being treated for alcohol problems.

Recent figures show that nearly 9,000 people die each year in the UK from alcohol-related diseases. Perhaps more alarmingly, liver disease in general is the only major cause of death in Britain that is on the rise, year after year – claiming 100 lives every week – whereas mortality for all the smoking diseases is falling dramatically.

Find out more
Panorama logo
Panorama: Britain’s Hidden Alcoholics
BBC One, Monday 20 February at 20:30 GMT
Then available in the UK on the BBC iPlayer

That Britain has a problem with drink is highlighted not just by the figures, but by the fact that the government is busy devising a new strategy to address alcohol-related ill-health.

David Cameron has signalled his appetite for reform, including the possibility of minimum pricing as already being taken forward in Scotland, and tougher rules on promotion and marketing. So how did we get here?

Well, as with so much of our recent history, the answer lies in Europe. With closer ties came cheaper travel and a newly developed taste for all things European, wine included.

Then came the booze cruises to France and the birth of a seemingly unquenchable British thirst. Since 1970, our consumption of wine has gone up five-fold, according to the Beer and Pub Association. We now consume 1.6 billion bottles a year (not counting the ones we drink when we go abroad). It has gone from a middle-class luxury to an everyday part of middle-class life.

Anne Robinson and Alastair Campbell

Anne Robinson remembers a “sea of alcohol” in the newsroom

Though ultimately individuals have to take responsibility for their own relationships with alcohol, governments have to set the framework, which is why the planned new strategy is so important.

I defend virtually everything done by the government I worked for under Tony Blair. I confess however, as he and Tessa Jowell will confirm, that I was never a big fan of the laws to introduce 24-hour licensing, surely one of the factors in the troubled relationship between Brits and booze.

I had left Downing Street by the time the law came in, but it had been mooted for some time before and I never really bought the argument that Britain would suddenly become a continental-style drinking nation.

Cheap booze

I think we have always had this tendency, where there is drink, to drink it to excess. Did it make things worse? Was it a mistake?

On the one hand it is quite nice to have a sense of London and other cities being more European in their approach to drink.

But I think it is entirely possible to see a link between increased availability of alcohol and our increased consumption.

Britain is, after all, the nation of the gin epidemic – back in the 18th Century. While in 1914, the government had to bring in the Defence of the Realm Act because our own drinking was deemed a threat to our ability to defend ourselves in war. Health campaigners cite those as the first major British drinking crises. They believe we are now facing the third.

The big shift in recent times has been the rise of drinking at home, which is why the binge-drinking stereotype is neither accurate nor helpful. The issue is largely about price. Pubs charge a lot for a pint. Supermarkets don’t. It is a sad paradox that the decline in pubs has come alongside what seems to be a rise in drinking and alcohol-related problems.

In 1970, 90% of all pints were poured in a pub. Today, it is only 50% – the other half are bought much more cheaply in supermarkets and off-licences.

The government has to do its bit. But in making a film about Britain’s relationship with drink, and in meeting some of the hidden alcoholics, I met people who had each come to their own arrangement with alcohol.

For most, the answer is complete abstinence, or complete loss of control. I too said no for 13 years, but then I started having the odd drink again.

This time, I feel as though I am more in control. To be frank, it would be hard not to be.

Alcohol facts
Generic woman passed out with drink
10m people in England drink more than recommended
Daily units men: 3-4
Daily units women: 2-3
New advice is to abstain from alcohol for two days a week
Source: Drinkaware

But, having met others as they underwent rehabilitation treatment, I do wonder if I am doing the right thing. Partly I am testing myself, having one or two so I can then enjoy the satisfaction of being able to say “No”.

I also like being able to be “normal” like other social drinkers, just have the odd one and then call it a night.

I cannot say I have not drunk since first falling gently off the wagon in 1999. But I can say I have never been drunk, never had a hangover, never touched spirits and never felt the loss of control that had me hospitalised prior to my 13-year unbroken dry spell.

The psychiatrist who I see for my depression thinks that even occasional drinking on my part is a bad idea, and interestingly, in making a documentary on the subject, I did once again stop drinking altogether, not least perhaps as a result of the tour of Queen Mary’s Hospital anatomy department, where I was shown a few damaged livers.

I do feel that my own relationship with alcohol is more secure.

And while government has a role to play in setting rules and regulations on responsible drinking, on a certain level I think that our connection to alcohol is a deal that each of us has to make with ourselves. I hope this film helps some of Britain’s drinkers to do that.

Panorama: Britain’s Hidden Alcoholics, authored by Alastair Campbell, is on BBC One, Monday, 20 February at 20:30 GMT and then available in the UK on the BBC iPlayer.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/panorama/hi/front_page/newsid_9696000/9696398.stm

Reasons to be cheerful


We’re smack bang in the middle of the gloomiest months of the year, but here are a few things to smile about.

January and February are truly the months of the blues. January includes what is, officially, the most depressing day of the year (the third Monday after Christmas) and the interminable cold, dark days of February make the shortest month feel like the longest.

But don’t despair: there’s loads to look forward to in 2012. Here are some highlights to lift the gloom.

A bonus bank holiday
Whatever your views on the royal family, there’s no doubt Her Majesty has done us all a favour in 2012. By staying on the throne for 60 years, she’s convinced the government to do the decent thing and give us all an extra bank holiday. Happily, the extended four-day weekend at the start of June applies to monarchists and republicans alike.

So, what to do with it? Well, recent reports by the Local Government Association suggest that the number of street parties is likely to surpass the figure for the wedding of Prince William last year. Of course, if you want to avoid the celebrations, four days is pretty much perfect for a city break, whether that’s in Manchester or Madrid.

A real summer of sport
Every spring, excitable media types start talking up the ‘amazing’ summer of sport to come, but this year they won’t be exaggerating. There’s the Olympics (and Paralympics) of course. If you can’t make it to London, several of the events – like rowing, sailing and road cycling – are being held elsewhere in the country. If you’re an armchair fan but can’t catch the whole shebang, it’s worth at least catching any event featuring either Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps – arguably two of the greatest sportsmen of all time.

Oh, and experts reckon that the ‘Olympics effect’ will boost both the national mood and the national economy.

But for those who think the Olympics are an expensive celebration of hobbies most people would normally cross the road to avoid, there’s also Euro 2012. The European Football Championships will be held in Poland and Ukraine and take place between 8 June and 1 July. Both England and the Republic of Ireland have qualified.

If you don’t have tickets for either event already, avoid a lot of stress and expense and resolve to watch them at home, with your mates, while firing up the BBQ and sipping on a few cold ones.

Music, music everywhere
It may be January, but the start of Britain’s world-beating music festival season is just around the corner. And even though the biggest beast in the jungle – Glastonbury – is having a year off, there’s still plenty to look forward to.

Honeyfest – in April – based in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside, is the first outdoor festival of a season that then takes in highlights like Download (9 June), Isle of Wight (22 June), T in the Park (6 July), Latitude (12 July), and Reading/Leeds (24 August), before petering out as the leaves begin to fall. And there are lots, lots more.

Barbecue weather
Yes, it’s cold and wet at the moment, but we’re in for a scorching summer. Possibly.

Predicting the weather beyond the next few days is notoriously difficult, but bona fide weatherman John Kettley has done it anyway. And the news is hot! Kettley recently told the Sun that August 2012 will be: “Very warm, occasionally hot, hot, hot. Some thundery downpours and (it’s) always more changeable for north western areas as showers reach us from the Atlantic. But overall a big thumbs up month.”

So there you have it. Pretty much a nailed on guarantee of a hot August. Maybe.

You’re (probably) flu-free
If all that spring and summer fun seems an age away, console yourself with this. You probably don’t have flu. On current trends this could be one of the healthiest winters ever in terms of seasonal flu. And unlike previous years, there have been no panics about pandemics like Sars, swine flu or bird flu.

So celebrate this good fortune by getting healthier still. Eat well and exercise and you really will have a beach body by June. Without flu to wipe out a week or two, it really is the season to be jolly.

The world won’t end
While it’s true that some people have looked at a Mayan calendar and predicted the end of the world at the end of 2012, it’s also true that experts who have looked at the Mayan calendar have predicted that the world will still be around in 2013. So the best news in 2012 is that you can still make plans for 2013.

Of course, there’s much more to be cheerful about in 2012, even while the days remain short and the wind bitter. But one thing’s for certain: it’s shaping up to be quite an extraordinary year.