self catering cottage

Most of us don’t know what delights we have on our own doorstep and that certainly was the case with Ryehill Farm.

And it’s amazing that even one night away, just a short drive from your front door, can feel like a real break.

If you like the thought of staying on a real working farm, look no further Ryehill Farm, Northumberland. No matter your taste for accommodation, Ryehill has something for everyone; the option of bed and breakfast, self catering cottage and a small camping and caravan field (weather permitting). Self-catering for me, is the best of both worlds. You stay dry in the wet with comfy beds, but complete privacy to come and go as you please.

The self catering cottage at Ryehill sleeps up to seven people. This is a traditionally styled cottage, if you’re looking for designer furniture that you’re scared to sit on, Ryehill isn’t for you!

The amply spacious lounge and kitchen has plenty of seating area for all and a large family dining table perfect for hosting your own parties. It’s stocked with everything you could possibly need for your stay, an immense amount of cutlery, crockery and drinking vessels along with a dishwasher to clean them all.

The space is comfortable and everything you’d imagine a working farm cottage to be like; heavy pine table and chairs, and stone tiled flooring. There is no worry about spillages or muddy boots in this space. Simply sweep up and clean away.

There’s a gas fire (pretending to be a real log fire) in the lounge which, should you need it, adds extra warmth, but the heating is set to keep away all chills. The patio doors open to a private seating area which faces onto the barns which currently house the horses and the lambs that need to be hand reared in the Spring. Children are welcome to explore, but don’t forget, this is a working farm.

One of the major plus point of this self-catering cottage is that it’s been designed to be totally inclusive. The doors are extra wide – perfect for wheelchairs, the tiled floor makes access downstairs easy for all and the ground floor bedroom (with two single beds and cracking view) has ample space and a walk / wheel in shower.

Ryehill Farm self catering cottage bedroomUpstairs, there are two more double rooms, one with a further single bed and both are well-appointed with their own en-suite shower and bath.

As we had a choice of rooms, we chose the smaller but more cosy of the two. White linen was beautifully crisp and the bed was comfy. A television was available in the room we chose and drinks facility were provided in all three rooms.

The cottage is adjoined to the B&B accommodation, so if you are a very large party, there is scope for the other six rooms to be filled at the same time.

Ryehill Farm gardenYou’re welcome to explore the farm itself, sit in any of the many benches provided, check out the small allotment area (where Elizabeth grows most of the food for her guests) and the kids will love Skittle Alley, the dedicated children’s barn.

The nearest village, Slayley, is about a mile away and there are three pubs within walking distance (one if you’re an experienced walker!). The pretty Roman villages of Corbridge and Hexham are both within a 15 minute drive.

If you love meandering around towns and cities, Newcastle and Durham can all be reached within 30 to 40 minutes drive on a good day. And if it’s shopping on a LARGE scale you’re after, you can get lost within the Metrocentre on your first visit.

There is so much to explore in Northumberland, I’d not even know where to begin, but Hadrian’s Wall, the Cheviot Hills or the stunning Northumberland coast line would be good places to start.

We’re very lucky, we have all of this on our doorsteps. We’d encourage you to visit and find out more for yourselves.

And many thanks to Elizabeth for her home-made bread, flap jack and banana bread, all lovely additions to our party food.

For more information and prices go to the Ryehill Farm website and follow Ryehill Farm on Twitter and Facebook too.

Nicola x 

charlotte tilsbury make up

Charlotte Tilbury has worked hard to produce a make up range that women will love.

As a makeup artist immersed in the fashion and beauty industry for over 20 years she is always determined to look her best. And boy does she have some competition! Working in fashion must place an extra pressure to look great all the time.

Ladies, we all know the power of make-up. A late night, little sleep or stress can play havoc with our complexion, but the right make up can make up can still make us feel like super stars.

You only turn 40 once, and me and Suzanne have always loved the ‘getting ready’ bit of a night out as much as the actual event itself (who doesn’t love sitting with their best friend, chatting and sipping on a glass of fizz or two?).

We’d lusted over the Charlottle Tilbury range for many a month, so trialling these fab four items was the perfect start to Suzanne’s very special birthday.

Here’s what we thought.

Suzanne and Nicola x

Luxury Palette the Vintage Vamp

Colour-Coded Eyeshadows, £38.00

The blurb: “The Vintage Vamp, dresses for yourself but can’t help intoxicating others with just a glance. Your palette is deep and intense and you adore the richest, most beguiling colours from captivating crimsons to sumptuous rose golds. A veritable modern day Lauren Bacall, Louisa Brooks or Daisy Buchanan, with an obsession for all things antique gold and vintage treasures.

Each eyeshadow palette contains four harmonious colour ways that offer a complete ‘desk to disco’ eye colour wardrobe and an easy to use application ritual that is fail-safe to follow.”

What we thought:

Suz – Fabulously packaged. Needed some advice on how to get the desired look so  we used the online video tutorial . Lasted all day and night. Great staying power.

K.I.S.S.I.N.G Bitch Perfect

Fallen From The Lipstick Tree, £23.00

The blurb: “Enriched with a breakthrough, secret ingredient, the Lipstick Tree, an anti-oxidant that naturally protects lips from UV damage and external pollution leaving them cashmere soft and irresistible. Blended with special waxes and clever light-diffusing pigments for pert, full-bodied, ultra-brilliant lips that ensure you leave a lasting impression.

Paraben free, The Lip Stick Tree protects lips from UV damage and fighting oxidative stress and contains light-diffusing pigments that give lips a brilliant, luminous, multi-dimensional finish. The blend of waxes means this lipstick glides over the contours of your lips.”

What we thought:

Nic – I loved it so much, I bought another one so we didn’t have to share. That says it all!

Suz- You know that moment when you take your lipstick bullet out of your bag and hope that the woman next to you notices and wonders what that thing of beauty is? This lipstick has all the allure, of a luxury brand, glides on well and lasts.

Magic Foundation, shade 3

Flawless, Poreless, Long-Lasting Coverage, SPF15 £29.50

The blurb: “Magic Foundation is a miracle in a bottle that transforms skin for all ages, skin tones and skin types. It has a  “hyper-intelligent” formula that gives full-coverage yet feels completely weightless, with all the anti-ageing and protective benefits of a luxury skin cream. It conceals imperfections, glides on like a dream, and literally feels like a second skin. Whether your skin needs just a bit of perfecting, or you struggle with a frustrating issue like acne, melasma or rosacea, the Magic Foundation will give you a perfect looking skin day, every day!”

What we thought:

Suz- I used the online foundation finder  tool to establish my correct shading. Shade three is a neutral beige meant for light skin tones with cool undertones, and my shade of choice as it describes me accurately. It’s recommended that the foundation is applied with the ‘Magic Complexion Brush’ but it has a price tag of £45 so on this occasion it was finger tips.

Sofa Stories wearing Charlotte Tilsbury

Rock ‘n’ Kohl Bedroom Black

Iconic Liquid Eyeliner Pencil, £19.00

The blurb: “A revolutionary, no-nonsense liquid-eye pencil: it has the silky smooth glide of a liquid liner with the soft, sooty, pigment-rich result of a kohl. ROCK ‘N’ KOHL melts onto your skin for an easy, 1-slick line that blends then sets. It stays put for 14 hours, is waterproof, paraben and preservative free and contains crushed pearl powder, known to stimulate collagen production.”

What we thought…

Nic – Honestly, this is simply one of the best eyeliners, if not THE best, that I have ever used. It went on so easily that it actually freaked me out. After 25 years of warming kohl eyeliners up (normally by breathing on them) I couldn’t get used to how easy this was to use. And it’s so black! It’s definitely a night out eyeliner, I couldn’t rock it for work.

There’s no doubt that this product is now my go-to eyeliner. It is worth every penny and I’m on a mission to get the rest of the range. Fabulous.

Suz – I am a relative novice when it comes to eyeliner application as I’ve always been put off by Nicola breathing onto liners to make their application easier! When I saw how easy the application was I gave it a go. The shade is a little too black for me for everyday use, but it complimented the black and brooding leather look we were both rocking for our girlie birthday day.

What we can we say? We’re Charlotte Tilbury converts and now, loyal fans.


You know how it is right? Relationships take work.

Take us, Suzanne and Nicola. We’ve been best mates since 2000 (well, that’s when we met but after a pretty rocky start, we’ve been inseparable ever since). There were lots of parties. Lots of nights out. Nights in. A few tears. And lots of laughter.

Lots has changed since our fairly normal, hedonistic 20’s and life changing 30’s.

Boyfriends, engagements, house buying, job changing, travelling, marriage, launching businesses, divorce, children, folding businesses, finding new love and dare we say it… HAPPINESS. Oh and we’ve turned 40 too.

The one constant for us has always been the sofa; the chat, the drinks and the love and laughter.

How often do you hear (or say) ‘There just isn’t enough time’? We’re all so busy trying to keep up, we seem to forget to make time to sit down on those sofas with a cup of tea and have a good chinwag.

So, welcome to #SofaStories. Join us as we chat, review, relax and write (with each other and our partners and family) from sofas all around the North East and farther afield.

We hope you enjoy.

Suzanne & Nicola


Premier Deluxe Suite Lounge, Beamish Park Hotel

When life is going super fast, it’s good to take your foot off the pedal and enjoy what’s on your doorstep. For us that’s Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and County Durham.

The Beamish Park Hotel, is a local, independently run business – just the kind we love to stay in.

A hidden gem, Beamish Park balances leisure and business needs perfectly, with the most helpful staff you could wish for!

Set in a beautiful rural location 15 minutes from Gateshead and Newcastle, Beamish Park is only five minutes walk away from the Causey Arch bridge, the oldest single span railway bridge in the country.

Although the bridge is only used as a walkway now, the sound of steam engines adds to the ambiance as they make their way along the Tanfield Steam Railway line. If you love a ramble, several routes pass the hotel and it’s within easy walking distance of the Beamish Museum (less than a five minute drive if you prefer).

The Room (42 bedrooms in total)
We stayed in a Premier Deluxe Suite, which was fantastically presented, clean and tidy. Alongside the super king sized bed (super comfy) and the usual offerings (tea, coffee etc), the Premier Deluxe has a separate lounge area with a desk to work from, two plasma screen TVs, a Bose sound system and a power shower cubicle large enough for two!

The room was very comfortable, suitable for a longer stay or a business traveller needing to spread out and work.

The Golf
There is a fully equipped, 9 hole, par three, golf academy on site next to the hotel. Being an absolute novice,  it was good to know that there was plenty of opportunity to practice in the driving range and on the putting green before setting out on the actual course!

Golf may not be my next big thing, but I had absolutely loads of fun, helped by the fact that my fella is an incredibly patient teacher.

Dining area

Food and events  
If you’re looking for somewhere to have a celebratory meal or event, the hotel offers a variety of deals and different facilities and hosts wedding receptions each year.

The food was absolutely delicious; a well cooked and thoughtful menu including many local ingredients all beautifully presented. The menu has altered since our stay but you can check out the new one here.

The Prices
Room prices start at £95 per night for the Executive Rooms and you can check out all the offers and availability here.

Thanks to Sandra and all the staff at the Beamish Park Hotel, we’ll be recommending you wherever we go!

Nicola x 

Love Shea moisturiserI don’t know about you, but the very instant the weather turns cold, my skin becomes dry and itchy in protest.

And with those extra thick and obligatory winter tights, and it’s enough to make you want to pack off to warmer climes.

This autumn, I’ve got to say a big thank you to Love Shea, who sent me a jar of their Shea Soufflé to trial. I’ve never been a flowery fragrance type of girl; happily Lemon-Lime Scented Whipped Organic Shea Butter most definitely doesn’t fall into that category.

This is heavy duty moisturisation in a jar. The label states ‘ An intensive rich, natural moisturiser for dry skin and hair. A little goes a long way.’

It sure does. Essentially, this is a pot of gloriously fragranced shea butter and oils, perfect for dryness, not so great if you’re getting dressed in a hurry.

You really don’t need a lot,  so be sparing with the application, and give it a good rub in – I think it’s perfect before bedtime as it can soak in overnight. The best bit is the feel and the sound of the product in the jar, it really does sound like a souffle!

Handmade and £8.50 for 120 ml, it won’t break the bank and in buying, you’re supporting an independent, UK based beauty company.

Nicola x

P.S. I’ll let you know about the facial oil featured in the image in a couple of weeks.