The last time I went to Newcastle Ladies day was around 12 years ago. This was way before kids and in that strange forgotten time when our mortgage was small and we had (gasp) disposable income!! It was a fab day and the fact I won over £100 on a rank outsider put a smile on my face! The fact it’s an expensive day that requires spendies on a posh frock, over priced booze, and the military planning of babysitters has put me off going back in recent years. But early in 2016 the decision was made to head along with a group of friends and make a full day of it. The date fell on my 34th birthday this year, the 23rd July, so we usually go out for a nice meal anyway it made sense to combine the two.
Beeswing Ladies Day Tickets
Group assembled, we all bought our tickets direct from Gosforth racecourse in the Grandstand enclosure. This is the middle tier, you can sit outside on the grass or take shelter on the stands if the weather turns for the worse. At £32 you are literally just allowed entry to the ground – it’s even an additional £3 for the race programme, surely they could have chucked that in? The ticket is just the little tag which we were a bit paranoid about and I managed to lose mine half way through the day. Good job I didn’t need to leave!
Gusto Ladies Day Deal
I think I might have to thank Samantha from North East Family Fun for this one, but she shared a Ladies Day deal at Gusto on the Quayside where for £65 you got a prosecco breakfast, coach transport to and from the venue, and a three course meal with fizz in the evening. Weighing it all up this seemed like a good plan and the £30 deposit per person was paid. We wouldn’t need to worry about the huge taxi queues to get back into town, our table would be reserved on arrival and we could have a good opportunity to start drinking before half of Newcastle was even up. Like we needed an excuse?
After ringing around a few taxi places for a 6 seater and being told there was non available (maybe the drivers were all doing pick ups!) we decided to catch the 9.40 Q3 bus direct from Great Park to the Quayside. My friend Andrea brought a magnum of prosecco for my birthday which we opened up and discretely (?) supped on the bus journey!
As the sun was shining we were given the option of sitting outside in the lovely patio area. with a glass of prosecco in hand it really was the perfect relaxed start to the day. The first comedy moment came when Jacqueline thought she had lost her phone on the bus and started panicking. At this moment the bus we had been and came back from St Peter’s Basin. Andrea and Louise went sprinting after it, boarded the bus and asked people to check for it. At this point, Jacqueline found it under the seat on the floor. Oops. Cagney and Lacey had nothing on these two!
Jessica the host for the day came and introduced herself and passed out her business card in case we need anything at the races. We joked it must be a bit like a teacher taking a group of over excited kids on a bus trip!
Options for breakfast were a Full English or Poached Eggs with Smoked Haddock and Hollandaise sauce. I chose the full English and it was lovely – certainly a belly buster with sausage, bacon, hash brown, tomatoes – the full works and plenty of toast and coffee. The poached eggs were very substantial too and got the thumbs up from the rest of the party.
At the ten minute warning that the bus would be leaving – we all headed to use Gusto’s lovely clean toilets… this would be that last time that we would see hand soap or a proper flush for a while!
Arrival at the Gosforth Park Race Course
The full-sized coach was pretty quiet with around a dozen of us and we commandeered the back seats. The journey was pretty uneventful coming down in the racecourse through Sandy Lane gates. We were soon being dropped off with strict instructions to be back on the bus at 6.15pm for a 6.30pm departure. The place was heaving and we managed to get separated looking for our friend Charlotte who was meeting up outside of the Border Minstrel pub. Thank the lord for the invention of the trusty mobile phone.
Bags checked, we pottered into the Grandstand section which consisted of two large bars, a fast food bar, an island of Pimms / lager and a huge Totestop betting shop. We placed our bets for the first couple of races and had much confusion over the bars where there was no info and in fact they had already ran out of jugs for Pimms!! Oh and we managed to get separated again before the first race! Oh dear!
Group reunited and more prosecco in hand. We were all expecting the drinks to be expensive and the prosecco came in at an eye watering £29 a bottle, but did come in nifty ice bags which Louise insisted we save for camping. A good spot was chosen to pitch up for the day – close to the outdoors Pimms tent and the finishing line! First race and I won nowt. Second race… and i got a bit excited thinking I had won however, it was in second place after a photo finish. Darn it! My luck continued this way until the second from last race where I won £45… phew.
Throughout the day we also bought jugs of Pimms which came in at £20 a jug again, pretty expensive, but made a change from the fizz. We also had sweet potato fries from a stall to soak up some of the alcohol, but the fizz kept me full up… hic!
I have no idea how i managed to only need the toilet once but it must have been the thought of the queues. When I did go the queue wasn’t too bad and there was toilet paper but no hand soap or dryers working though. Slightly grim. I know it was a busy day, but Gosforth Park Racecourse definitely need to up their game by employing more facilities staff! The same criticism can be said of the bars – they are pretty grubby with lots of young kids serving and it certainly wasn’t clear who was the management. Our last bottle of prosecco of the day was warm which isn’t really acceptable when you are paying £29.
Although it was busy, the atmosphere was friendly with everyone in good spirits and lots of big groups of people out enjoying themselves. We made friends with a stag who fancied his chances at the Best Dressed lady competition!
Back to Gusto Newcastle
Back on the coach, I had a little refreshing Nana nap and we were soon back in town where our table awaited us. The food was gorgeous (meatballs, salmon and a warm chocolate brownie for me) and we were ready for it after a day on the pop. We ordered a couple of bottles of white to have with the meal and had to send one back…12 hours of drinking and a full meal definitely had finally got the better of us. After a few cringy photos of us sailing on the HMS Newcastle outside of the Quayside seaside we were back on the bus and in bed for 11pm!
Ladies day 2016 done.