Monday, 25 July 2016

Newcastle Restaurant Week August 2016 - Is it worth it?

Restaurant week is a staple in the Newcastle foodie calendar now and is something that I've attended year on year. Over 90 city centre restaurants take part from 8th - 14th August and offer special set menus for either £10 or £15. There are restaurants that do it well and are highly recommended but sadly others that don't quite step up to the mark. I thought I'd give you a quick run through of my top recommendations (and maybe a few I would personally avoid).

Recommended Restaurants 

1 - Lane 7

Lane 7 are one of the places that have stood out when we visited during restaurant week. As is often the case, they were super busy during restaurant week however they were one of the few places that allowed us to dine pretty late on a Friday night. There were errors during our meal and they had been so popular that they ran out of a few dishes, however the way they dealt with this meant that we would not hesitate to go again (and in fact we are now regular customers). They replaced food that had ran out with something more expensive and service was speedy and with a smile.

Newcastle Restaurant Week August 2016 - Lane 7

2 - Cafe 21

visited Cafe 21 during restaurant week a few years ago and although it is one of the more expensive restaurant week offers, the value is fantastic and at no point were we made to feel like we were dining from a deal which is often the case. I am very confident we received the same service and quality of food as the regular diners did and restaurant week is a fantastic chance to sample one of Newcastle's best restaurants. 

Newcastle Restaurant Week August 2016 - Cafe 21

3 - The Herb Garden

Katie from Blonde Ambition highly recommends a trip to the Herb Garden during restaurant week after their successful visit last year. Often cited as one of the best places to grab a pizza, their restaurant week deal is a bit of a bargain. The surroundings are pretty special too, so if you've never been, now is your chance. 

Newcastle Restaurant Week August 2016 - The Herb Garden

4 - Bealim House

Kathy Athy dined out for 7 nights in a row last restaurant week so is a bit of an expert, She rates Bealim House as the place that had the best atmosphere, best decor and best dessert. You can't beat a gin distillery! 

5 - Hawthorns

Although service was a little slow at times, New Girl in Toon recommends Hawthorns at Crowne Plaza. Having dined there before, I can highly recommend too. The food is locally sourced and of a very good standard. Check out the huge chandelier in the hotel reception too. 

Newcastle Restaurant Week August 2016 - Hawthorns

Where to Avoid

Personally, I think some of the deals during restaurant week aren't actually that good value for money and if you shop around, you don't need to use 'restaurant week' as an excuse to visit. 
Breakfast with a non-alcoholic cocktail & hot drink for £10 at P&P? This doesn't really float my boat. Especially when you can order a full English and hot drink at Quay Ingredient up the road for the same price.

We dined at The Redhouse during restaurant week last year and although I highly rate the food, their 2 courses for £10 restaurant week deal is actually less value for money than visiting on any Wednesday when you can buy 2 pie meals for £10 and then add a dessert for £4.50. This is what we ended up doing last year. 

I have it on good authority that The Silk Room didn't offer the best value for money last year with it being obvious they had the cheapest possible menu and starters were either vegetable crudites or soup. Not very inspiring.

Finally, I honestly love the Bridge Brasserie at The Vermont Hotel and their Wine and Dine deal is perfect for a special occasion. We were bitterly disappointed last year during restaurant week though. I had hyped the restaurant up so much to my friend but our night really didn't go to plan. The brasserie clearly couldn't cope with the sheer numbers during restaurant week which led to a catalogue of errors including unusually stressed staff & a 2 hr 30 minute wait for our main course which when it arrived was severely undercooked and had to be sent back. Not good at all :-( 

Newcastle Restaurant Week August 2016 - The Vermont Hotel Bridge Brasserie
This shows what the Vermont can do when they get it right

The Best Deals 

Although there are some restaurants that don't make the most of restaurant week, there are some fantastic deals to be had if you look carefully. You can find them all via the Restaurant Week Website. Here are my top 4 deals for that offer you good value with 3 courses for £10 :-

I would love to give some of the restaurants that take part in restaurant week a massive shake. It shouldn't be an exercise to get as many bums on seats and offer the cheapest options to make a profit. I would love to see more restaurants taking an approach where they offer restaurant week customers something truly special with superb food and outstanding service. There are SO many places to dine out in the city centre and I know if I have a mediocre meal somewhere (even during restaurant week) I am unlikely to return. If however I am wowed, not only will I return but I will recommend to friends and family too. It's a no-brainer really.

Will you be heading to restaurant week this year? Let me know where you've booked.


Saturday, 23 July 2016

Healthy Options when Dining Out

I am sorry for bleating on about it but blogging about my new lifestyle change is very motivating for me and I hope there are others in the same boat who can sympathise with what I'm going through. As you may know, it's Time For Change in the Rickelton household. We are making better choices and striving to lead a healthier life. This doesn't mean I am going to stop having fun and I will definitely still enjoy treat nights but I think that 80% of the time, it's important to choose food that is going to nourish my body and actually improve my health rather than hinder it. One of the big changes I am going to have to make is when I dine out (because this is going to stop anytime soon!). My first chance to test my will power was when I was invited along to Gusto to sample their new spring menu.


My go-to starter in any Italian restaurant is usually Calamari. I just love it (and I recommend Gusto's by the way). However I recognise that choosing something deep fried isn't the best idea and according to My Fitness Pal (my new best friend), a restaurant portion of Calamari will have around 500 Kcals. This isn't actually as bad as I thought to be honest but I still think I should keep Calamari for a special treat such as a birthday/anniversary. Luckily, there are plenty of starters on the new Gusto menu that are perfect if you are looking for a healthier option. I opted for the Asparagus Spears with Dolcelatte Mayonnaise and Red Peppers. Luckily for me, the mayonnaise was served on the side so I was in control of my portion. 

Asparagus contains just 20 calories per 100g (although you would need to add more if it has been grilled with oil). Asparagus is often cited as one of the top superfood's for spring and is a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, and zinc, and a very good source of dietary fibre, protein, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, rutin, niacin, folic acid, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese, and selenium. Wow! It tasted delicious too and I didn't miss my Calamari at all! 

Chloe went for the cold smoked salmon with spiced avocado, pureed red pepper and capers. It looked delicious and is certainly a dish I will try next time.

Main Course

I don't think I have EVER ordered a salad in a restaurant. My go-to dish in an Italian restaurant would be a pizza or some sort of breaded chicken with tomato sauce. The Peking Pizza at Gusto which I ordered when I visited with the kids contains 745 calories which I think is actually OK for a pizza! I am keen however to fill up on as much nutritious food at the moment so decided to switch my pizza for a salad. I ordered the new smoked duck salad with shaved fennel, radish and orange. I know duck is often deemed a fatty meat but it was actually very lean with most of the fat and skin removed which I was thankful for. My portion was HUGE and truly delicious. It didn't taste boring at all and I would go as far as to say it is my new go-to dish. 

Chloe ordered the new Smoked Haddock Risotto with baby spinach, poached egg and peas. You can read more about what she thought over on New Girl in Toon


A pre-requisite of going out with Chloe is that you have to order dessert. Normally I would order my absolute favourite Sticky Toffee Pudding which again, is probably around 500 calories. This time however I decided to choose the lighter option of Summer Berry and Prosecco Jelly with tropical fruits and Eton Mess ice cream. Yes the ice cream was rather indulgent but I liked the fact that the fruit salad was providing my body with a few extra vitamins. This dessert was divine and the perfect end to our meal.


Time for a confession. I did order a cocktail! I just couldn't resist! I went for a Strawberry and Vanilla Martini which was recommended by our server and absolutely divine. Normally on a night out I would drink several cocktails plus wine so I think only having the one is a huge improvement. We ordered a bottle of water for the table and this is a habit I am going to get into as it stopped me from ordering another drink and sipping on water throughout the meal helped me not to over-indulge.

I would highly recommend the new Spring menu at Gusto, especially if you are looking for a healthier option when dining out. 

I would love to hear your tips for making the right choices when dining out too. 

I'm linking up with Honest Mum #TastyTuesdays blog linky where you'll find fab recipes and other restaurant reviews.


Monday, 4 July 2016

A Surprise Hen Party in York

One of my oldest school friends is getting married in less than 2 weeks! EXCITING! Although we have had our ups and downs through the years, my memories with Claire are always filled with laughter and silliness. Whether this be the time we decided to go out dressed as playboy bunnies for Claire and Jo's 22nd birthday and pretended we were celebrating their 21st birthday to see how many free drinks we could get (naughty but it worked!) or spending many a Friday afternoon skipping class in sixth form to head to the Blagdon and play pool instead (far more appealing - esp when Claire would drive us there in her Citroen Saxo) or sharing lots of happy times together, Claire is definitely one of my most fun friends and there's never a dull moment when she's around. 

Claire's two sisters and best friend had been given the task of organising Claire's hen weekend and were under strict instructions that everything had to be top secret. 

My journey started at Cramlington train station - although we only have one train per hour, I love catching the train to town as it's super speedy at around 12 minutes and only £1 more than the bus. I met a few of the party at Central Station and we boarded a Virgin East Coasts train to our mystery destination. Obviously, we had a fair few glasses of Prosecco and Claire's itinerary was finally revealed. I forgot that it only takes about an hour to travel to York by train from Newcastle and we were there in no time. 


There were 13 of us in total and we stayed in Peter Warehouse Apartments which although basic, were clean and had everything we needed. The main reason for booking these apartments I think was because we were absolutely slap bang in the centre of York - just 30 seconds from the main high street, bars and restaurants. Despite it's central location it was still nice and quiet too. Being in the city centre is ideal when you are part of a big group as you don't need to mess about organising taxis home ect.... when people are ready to come home - it's all within walking distance. My only negative would be the one bathroom between the 8 of us in our apartment which resulted in queues all morning!

As is common during hen parties, it's often the first time you meet a lot of people and I have to say Claire's work colleagues and sisters are all lovely and we all got on well. Someone had made us all our own glass for the weekend which had been personalised with our names as well as personalised bunting to decorate the apartment. Everyone chipped in and brought LOTS of food and alcohol to share. The highlight being Jo's contribution of two double magnum's (is that a technical term??) of Prosecco which went down a treat. 

Friday night was spent chilling out with a surprise Ann Summer's party & Claire received some gorgeous gifts and a jar of good luck messages from all the lovely ladies in her life. Yes there were a few tears! 

MORE Prosecco was consumed and the night ended with lots of random games most which I won't go into detail about but lets just say I don't think any of us will be eating a creme egg anytime soon. We all fell into bed at 2am ish.

The next day another of Claire's colleagues cooked us all a big batch of bacon and sausage sarnies before everyone went off to do their own thing. Jo and I had a nice little wander around York and reminisced about many a night out/shopping trip before heading to the Pitcher and Piano for a liquid lunch. 

We re-grouped after lunch and headed to our surprise activity - Pole Dancing! A cab whipped us across to Pole Position Fitness in York Eco Business Centre. Group lessons cost between £20-£30 pp and I have to say I was VERY apprehensive but went in with an open mind.

Wow it turns out I actually enjoyed pole dancing. It wasn't serious at all and there was no pressure - our instructor was patient and lots of fun keeping the whole afternoon light hearted. We played a few games and learned a short routine which we all performed at the end in our heels. Then Claire (who is a bit of an exhibitionist) took centre stage and provided all her hens with a private performance which was FANTASTIC. Go Claire and Go Us! 

We did suffer with aching arms and legs the next day too so obviously this 'work out' meant we could have a few extra cocktails later! 

We headed back to our apartments for a quick change and more Prosecco before heading upstairs for a quick game of Mr & Mrs. 

Mr & Mrs is a pretty standard hen party game but Claire's sister had went all out and actually recorded the Groom's answers so it was like he was in the room with us. I have to say Claire was pretty spot on with most of her answers and through lots of giggles a few truths were revealed alongside the forfeit of downing a few drinks. 

It was around a 5 minute walk to Jamie's Italian where we were booked for an evening meal. As one of us was a gold card holder we were all treated to a complimentary tomato salad and a glass of wine. We ordered more wine on top (obvs) and our meal worked out at £23 per head inc tip which I think was pretty good value considering we were there for 2 hours. The food was delicious (although some of the portions were on the small side) and we were very well looked after. I am a big fan of Jamie's house red and would recommend ordering a bottle if you ever visit. 

I always have to order Polenta Chips at Jamies! 

There was no real plan for where to head into York and we were soon stuck with a few bars not letting us in as we were a hen party. BOOOOOO! The other bars made us take off our sashes before we were allowed in.

First up was Macumba Cocktail bar (which had no restrictions). There is an outdoor terrace and cocktails were cheap at only £5 each. If you are lucky they are BOGOF during happy hour too. This bar was very lively and the DJ played a mix of music from 80's, 00's and now - we all had a good dance and the party had really started.

We tried to get in a few more bars with no luck........

However we did head to the Biltmore where we picked up these rather special Zombie Princess Cocktails (yes that is fire!) and then onto Turtle Bay for a bit of reggae and more BOGOF cocktails. It was midnight at this point and some of us headed home whilst the others headed to the Slug and Lettuce for a few more drinks and dancing before joining us back at the apartments in the early hours of the morning. 

All of bars we visited were nice and lively and perfect for cocktails, champagne and dancing hens. It was a different side to York's night life that I've seen but I liked it!  

We headed to bed (well actually it was another few hours before we'd go to sleep) after cuppas and more chatter. Yes, this is what happens during hen parties in your 30's! Cups of tea/coffee are compulsory.

The next morning everyone woke up nice and fresh faced and we enjoyed one last breakfast together before a browse around the shops and catching our afternoon train home. Thanks for having us York - definitely a perfect spot for a girly weekend (minus the few bars that didn't let us in of course).

I'll be blogging Claire's wedding over on North East Family Fun at the gorgeous Doxford Hall in a few weeks so look out for that post coming soon.


Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Top 10 ways in which Hypnobirthing may surprise you

Today's Top 10 Tuesday is brought to us by Suzanne who blogs over at A Beautiful Birth. Suzanne's blog focuses on all things Hypnobirthing and how to achieve a positive birth experience.  Each post focuses on a different aspect of Hypnobirthing and aims to dispel any myths at the same time. 

You can find Suzanne on Facebook and Twitter 

Top 10 ways in which Hypnobirthing may surprise you

Top 10 Ways in which hypnobirthing may surprise you

1. Hypnobirthing is not just for 'hippies' - midwives are seeing the positive effects and are training in it themselves

2. Hypnobirthing is as much for the dad to be or birth partner as much as it is for the pregnant woman

3. Hypnobirthing releases any fears and tension that the mum may have to enable her to be excited and look forward to the birth and meeting her baby

4. Hypnobirthing empowers couples with new knowledge and skills to make more informed birth choices

5. Hypnobirthing teaches self-hypnosis to aid and promote deep relaxation

6.  Often Hypnobirthing women do not require any drugs or medical interventions simply using breathing and visualisation techniques to get through the 'surges' (contractions) and 'pushing' stage, reporting shorter and less painful births.

7. There are many celebrity fans who have used Hypnobirthing including Angelina Jolie, Jaime Winstone, Fearne Cotton and Suzanne Shaw to name but a few!

8. Hypnobirthing provides dads/partners with an active role for the birth as they are trained in how to do effective massage techniques and deep relaxations in order to perform them on the birthing mother during labour.

9. Hypnobirthing promotes bonding of the expectant couple as well as both parents with the new baby

10. Hypnobirthing babies can feed more easily, sleep better and are generally more chilled out and relaxed than non-Hypnobirth babies

Top 10 ways in which Hypnobirthing may surprise you

Thanks Suzanne - I think if I was to have anymore children I'd certainly be interested in giving hypnobirthing a try.


Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Weigh in number three

If you follow my Life As Mrs R Facebook page, you will have seen my wobble last week. I'm not going to lie! I was scared. I had three days of madness.

Day one:- Yo! Sushi launch party where I was topped up with Prosecco all night

Day two:- Raging hangover which resulted in me ordering pizza and a can of Pepsi!

Day three:- 26 course tasting menu at a blogging event.

Yep I was worried! 

I shouldn't have been though. I didn't fall off the waggon as I had in previous attempts to lose weight and I needed to remember there is a full 14 day period between weigh ins. Apart from these three events I had counted calories, eaten healthily and walked for miles. Just check out my Instagram for proof. 

I must keep reminding myself that I am in this for the long haul - events with lots of Prosecco and hangover pizzas are probably here to stay and I need to be ok with this and not panic! As long as they don't happen every night, I'll be fine.  The recurring theme in my weight loss posts is that IT'S ALL ABOUT BALANCE and it really is. 

Weight loss report 

OMG I lost another 6lb so that is a total of 16lb in 6 weeks. Not gonna lie I was grinning like a Cheshire cat! It is 3.5 weeks until our holiday and my target for then was to lose 20 lb loss so I am pretty on target.

What is working for me

1 - Meal planning and ensuring I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner so don't end up binging on snacks.

2 - Calorie counting using My Fitness Pal

3 - Not denying myself anything - I still drink wine at home, have a takeaway on a weekend and will enjoy myself at blogging events - life's too short not to.

4 - Making healthier choices where I can - we exclusively drink water/black coffee now which is saving us A LOT of calories (we previously were a full fat Pepsi kind of family) and will now usually only order one course when we dine out in a restaurant instead of our usual three. 

5 - Walking a lot. I started walking right from day one and have found it gets easier and easier. I now walk in excess of 10k steps per day and often reach 20k. I think nothing of taking the stairs or walking everywhere and 9/10 I leave the car at home. I feel like I need to take on a walking challenge soon so watch this space. It is 10 miles from our home to Blyth Harbour and back so I think we'll give this a shot after May half term. 

6 - Support from Steve. Steve is completely in the zone - even more so than me and it is fab having someone to keep each other on track and go out for long walks with. 

7 - Having a healthy snack cupboard. I have created a space in our cupboard where I put all my 100-150 kcal snacks. This way I am not tempted to eat the kids' cakes or sweets. I am currently loving rice cakes, crackers with sea salt from Aldi (4 crackers are less than 100 Kcals), Snack a Jacks, Flapjacks from Aldi and baked crisps. I often crave a savoury snack and this cupboard really helps when I need something to nibble on. 

I think I would like to end up at around 11 stone 12 lb but I'm not going to set that in stone until I get nearer and see how I feel. This is only 4 stone away and feels really achievable now. We have booked an anniversary trip to Cuba next April, that's around 45 weeks away and to get to my target weight by then I would need to lose 1.25 lbs per week which I think is very sensible. I have had a couple of big losses which always happens when you start trying to lose weight so if I do only lose a little next time I need to remember the bigger picture. 

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Oh and if you are on Snapchat you can add be at NEFAMILYFUN


Monday, 16 May 2016

How I organise my blog

I love a bit of blog organisation and I usually have around 7-10 posts scheduled at any given time. I've decided to share how I stay organised when it comes to my blog and would love to hear your tips too.

Weekly Features

I have three weekly features that are a fairly new thing but I've found they really help me to focus my writing and ensure I write about things that I want to whilst providing a good mix of sponsored and non-sponsored content.

Tuesday:- Top 10 Tuesday (a top 10 list of anything)

Thursday:- Thursday Thoughts (an opinion piece)

Friday:- Friday Five (Five days out in the North East for the weekend ahead)

I also have two monthly blog link-ups:-

1st month - #LoveNorthEast (NorthEastFamilyFun)

20th month - #WorkWellWeigh (LifeAsMrsR)

These dates are all put in my diary in advance.

Life As Mrs R is nowhere near as organised as North East Family Fun as I don't publish as often or earn any money from this blog. I do post a fortnightly weigh in post though which you guessed it - is written into my planner in advance, mostly though, I just post on this blog when I want to.

My Stigu Planner

I use a Stigu planner as my blog planner and it really does the job well. Each week is given one page with a blank page opposite (handy for scribbling ideas). I use my Stigu planner for blogging only as I need to write so much down. I have a separate Filofax which I use as a diay. I find this system really works for me and helps me keep track of both my posts and my appointments/meetings without any confusion.

There are 5 columns per day (but I separate them into 4)

Column one - Weekly series (eg Top 10 Tuesday)

Column two - Post idea

Column 3 - Tick when I've written and scheduled the post

Column 4 - Date invoice sent and tick when paid (if applicable)

I tend not to post on a Saturday and Sunday if I can but sometimes when I'm super busy I will make an exception.

When I am discussing a post idea with a PR/brand, I find an available space in my planner where there is nothing scheduled and write my post idea for the brand under 'post idea'. I also immediately let the PR know the date I will schedule the post for and check that is ok. As soon as I've written and scheduled a post it gets a big TICK.  I can easily see which posts I need to focus on writing next and which posts I have a little more time for. It also stops me from getting bogged down with 10 posts for write for the same week which has happened before and isn't a good feeling!

So that's it! That's how I organise my blog. I'd love to hear how you organise yours :-) 

I received a Stigu Planner in my Blog On Msi Goody Bag but was not obliged to write this post - I genuinely love it and wanted to share how good it is for organising your blog! 


Friday, 13 May 2016

20 Points from Thinking Digital Session One - Sports, Culture and Terrorism

Founder Herb Kim told us that 'Thinking Digital is an investment in disconnecting from the pressures of every day life and a chance to sharpen the saw' as we took our seats in the packed conference room at the Sage. As one of the conference's 'street team' and a first time attendee, I really didn't know what to expect.

20 Points from Thinking Digital Session One - Sports, Culture and Terrorism
Sneaky peek of the Dine by the Tyne seats outside of the Sage

In all honesty though, the event BLEW MY MIND. There was so much to take in from such a diverse range of speakers. I honestly could write a 50 page essay about my day and it has been a real struggle trying to narrow everything down so have decided to break my posts down into sessions.

20 Points from Thinking Digital Session One - Sports, Culture and Terrorism

The IBM Engineer

First up we had Bill Jinks, an IBM engineer who discussed their partnership with Wimbledon - a relationship that has lasted 27 years.

20 Points from Thinking Digital Session One - Sports, Culture and Terrorism

1 - We want to bring tennis to life and to more people but we DON'T want to change the essentials. Wimbledon has a unique character and will always be played on grass.

This is a useful reminder for business - never forget your CORE values.

2 - Wimbledon's mission statement is simply to 'be the best in the world'.

In business, we could all have this ethos and always strive to be the best. This means always trying to stay ahead of the competition

3 - has been refreshed with a new design/technology every three years.

I think this is such an important reminder - you can't just have a business website or blog and then do nothing with it - websites need to evolve with the times, refresh their look and implement new technology regularly.

4 - Wimbledon/IBM use their Social Media Channels to attract new audiences and use a slightly more informal tone. Each channel has specific campaigns designed for that channel's specific audience. ALL with the same aim - to drive traffic to

Sometimes I feel that Social Media can lack purpose. I like how Wimbledon/IBM had very specific goals and aims for each channel - something I could certainly implement.

5 - Wimbledon's Youtube Channel has recently achieved 98% growth.

6 - Target online influencers through Social Media - is a 'celebrity' or 'influencer' attending your event, travelling through your region or has a passion linked to your business? Hunt these people out and connect & engage with them.

Twitter Lists are fantastic for keeping tabs on online influencers.

7 - break news before anyone else.

I find this on my Facebook page quite a lot - if I share a news story or I am one of the first to comment on a recent event, the post will often gain A LOT of interaction which I can then convert to 'likes' (invite anyone who likes your posts to like your page). Also, my analytics show me that a lot of my readers will visit me direct - I know they come to my site looking for something specific.

The V&A Digital Programmer

I loved listening to what Irini Papadimitriou had to say, Irini is a digital programmer at the V&A museum in London and spoke with real passion about both her role and the museum.

20 Points from Thinking Digital Session One - Sports, Culture and Terrorism

8 - Collaborations and bringing things together is what the V&A is all about.

Collaborating with others really has lots of benefits - as well as halving the work load your are doubling your audience and reaching new people. It's win-win I reckon.

9 - Think outside of the box. The V&A have recently collaborated with the Met Office during a Climate and Fashion 'Hackathon'. This brought designers, scientists, artists, technologies and the public together.

I guess it's easy to collaborate within your niche but how about collaborations outside of your niche? 

10 - The V&A used psychological research during a simple experiment to try and encourage donations to the museum. EG If someone looks at you directly with their eyes you are more likely to donate. They used this information and covered a donation box with photographs of the Queen's eyes. Donations to the museum increased by 15%!

There is so much research out there - do any of us put it into use in our own businesses? 

11 - The V&A are continuosly hunting out trends and noticed a trend for 'fixing things'. They collaborated with Restart and held a Restart party at the museum where people could come along and learn how to fix their broken products. This was run alongside a similar even in Nairobi and both were live streamed to the public.

The key here is to be experimental with collaborators and think how much you can get out of an event - don't just hold an event, ask someone else to run one too or consider live streaming.

The Hacker Hunter

I have had zero interest in how people hack into your computer before but I have to say, listening to Mikko Hypponen talk was one of the highlights of my day! This man really knows his stuff and the whole conference room was hanging on his every word. 

20 Points from Thinking Digital Session One - Sports, Culture and Terrorism

12 - Ransom Trojans are the main ways in which hackers access our data, they send an email with an attachment - you open the attachment and it tells you you need to upgrade 'word'. You click the link and then BAM your compute is infected and your data is stolen. You are then asked to pay to retrieve your data.

I think most of us know this now (hopefully) but never open an email attachment from an unknown source.

13 - There is little difference in what the hackers are doing in 1989 - 2016. We keep running into the same problems.

14 - At least hackers are honest (haha). If you do pay, they do give you your data back. They need a good online reputation - if you are hacked the first thing you'll do is google the name of the virus. If there are forum answers up saying people have paid and received their data back - you're obviously a lot more likely to pay yourself. Mikko advises NOT paying though.

Online reputation is everything - even in the world of Criminal hackers

15 - Your data is most valuable to YOU that's why hackers will target YOU and will usually not sell data on to other people. 

Check your data is protected!

16 - The problem of ransom trojans is HUGE. 300 million euros have been transferred to cyber criminals in the last 2 years.

17 - In the future, everything will connect to the internet - even your microwave and toaster.

18 - There are a lot of things on the internet that shouldn't be - eg hospital bed information, control panels for home pools.....these have no username or password attached and can be accessed by anyone! Cyber criminals aren't interested in this as they only want ££ but what about terrorists and extremists?

Be very careful about what you put online. 

19 - Extremists are VERY unpredictable and extremist hackers pose the biggest risk to cause a likely catastrophic event. The Government take this very seriously and drones have been used to kill hackers in Syria. 


20 - We have just left a nuclear arms race we are now entering a cyber arms race.

20 Points from Thinking Digital Session One - Sports, Culture and Terrorism

This first session provided so much food for thought and it was so interesting to think about life beyond my blog, my family and the North East. As we took a break for coffee there was so much excited chatter amongst us all and we were all eager for Session Two (Blockchains and BassDrums) to begin. Look out for my post on that session soon.

If you are a first time visitor to our blog - hello! I am a professional blogger probably best known for writing the award winning blog 'North East Family Fun'. Why not connect with me on Linkedin

Find out more about Thinking Digital:-

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