Luke tucking in at Keepers cafeWe’ve been meaning to visit Keeper’s Cafe in Dipton for ages and finally made some time to go! A family run business, Lisa and the rest of the lovely team, go out of their way to make you feel welcome and spoil you with their GORGEOUS food and treats.

The cakes are awesome, so if you simply wanted to sit in a comfy chair and chill with your friend or partner, that’s just fine. But if you have little ones, as you can see Suzanne brought Luke for his lunch, the children’s room at the back of the cafe is absolutely perfect.

It’s not just about the homemade food, the ladies love to support other local, small businesses and there is an enticing range of gifts and keepsakes to treat yourself or someone special to.

Suzanne and I managed to get a bit of chat time whilst Luke was asleep and the setting was perfect. We sat in the front room on two very comfy chairs, relaxing with a couple of hot drinks. When Luke woke up, we moved to the children’s area.

Panini at Keepers cafeFor lunch I had the amazing cheese board which had great portion sizes, enough crackers and pickle and lots of varieties of hand picked, local cheeses. Suzanne opted for a mozzarella and tomato panini which came with coleslaw, crisps and salad. Luke had a children’s platter with ham, salad, bread and other bits and bobs, which he promptly demolished. The food was delicious and there’s a good selection of lunch time favourites all made on-site.

We weren’t chased or hurried up, the older children played together and there is plenty to keep them entertained. The prices are reasonable, the atmosphere is lovely, and there are lots of monthly events hosted at the cafe so it’s well worth checking their website out or their Facebook page.

See Santa at The Kingslodge InnEarlier this year we had the chance to pop to The Kingslodge Inn, Durham to see what we thought of it. And we loved it so much that I now run a monthly networking event for ladies there!

Well, they’re celebrating their first Christmas this year and we’re all welcome to join them.

They have a packed programme of events for all ages. Santa Claus is coming to town on Saturday December 3, and bringing some special guests from the North Pole with him. Children will have the chance to meet the man in the red suit and his elves, and receive a gift.

The fun continues on Saturday December 10 with the band Soul Central, then pop and rock disco and funk from The Flytes on Friday 16th, pop, rock and soul from The Casinos in Saturday 17, and superb folk covers and originals from Guilded Thieves on Saturday 17.

Each evening includes a three-course meal alongside the entertainment.

Christmas Day celebrations are now sold out but there’s still time to book to join them on New Year’s Eve when you’ll be transported back to the ’50s with Ruby & The Mystery Cats, a rockin’ quartet, who play wild and energetic rockabilly, rockin’ blues and rock ‘n’ roll music.

With a fabulous three-course meal, this is the perfect way to see Inn the New Year! The team are a really lovely bunch and their new Winter Menu looks fab too.

If you’re heading to Durham to the Christmas markets or just fancy exploring the wonderful Heritage Coast, or go shopping in the Metrocentre the Inn has 23 bedrooms and provides a Taste of Durham breakfast as part of your overnight stay.

You’re in safe hands as they hold an AA Dinner Award and the Taste Durham Highest Quality Assured Award in recognition of the quality of its home cooked pub food made with local and seasonal ingredients wherever possible.

Check the Inn out, we know they’ll definitely Welcome You Inn! #WelcomeInn

Nic x

Kingslodge Inn Durham

Conversation is at the heart of friendship.

It’s on our strap line and it’s certainly true for Suzanne and I. But what we need is a lovely, comfy, friendly place to chat. One that’s so lovely, comfy and friendly you forget to take pictures of the wonderful food you’re eating!

The Kingslodge Inn in Durham one such place. Nestled in a street not far from Durham train station you will find the vision of the new owners coming to fruition in a cosy and welcoming traditional pub with top notch en-suite accommodation (we didn’t see it but the waitresses assured us that it was true), serving beers, local real ales and home-cooked food to appeal to the local community as well as visitors to the area.

With the help of sat nav we were welcomed into the Kingslodge Inn through the metal gates and into their own private car park.

The moment we walked through the door we were greeted by lovely staff who showed us to our booth. And then, we looked up and a couple of hours had passed! Partly due to the fact that we’d not seen each other properly for AGES, partly due to the fact that despite there being a plethora of signs saying to go to the bar to order we patiently waited (until we could wait no more) and thirdly but not least important, because the food was so wonderful we kept ordering, eating and chatting.

The perfect night out!

This would be a pretty useless review if we didn’t mention the actual food! So here we go…

Kingslodge-starter

This wonderful Antipasto was enough to whet our appetites. A tasty selection of cured meats, olives, bread and oils, is a lovely sharing platter (unless you are Suzanne and want to eat the lot). (I’m sorry Nicola but I don’t like sharing ^Suz)

And now we need to be honest….We were chatting away when our mains came and we completely and utterly forgot to take images (sorry but it’s your own fault Kingslodge Inn you shouldn’t have made us so comfortable). That has to be the best testimonial we could give, right? We ordered (and wolfed) down pan seared salmon with creamy lemon sauce, served with wild rice & broccoli and The Kingslodge Burger which consisted of Aberdeen Angus steak mince, topped with melted cheddar cheese & relish, served with fries, salad & coleslaw.

The salmon, rice and broccoli were all well cooked alas the lemon sauce was a let down for Suzanne and she’s glad she asked for it separately – it could just be her though as on the whole she’s not a lover of sauce on fish. The burger and it’s accomplishments were absolutely huge and ever so tasty.

Onto dessert…

Kingslodge cheesecake

Suzanne-icecreamThis cheesecake was as indeed very pretty. Different from the usual cheesecake, it’s a bit mousy but no less flavoursome for it! The sticky toffee sundae was as glorious as it looks below but well and truly defeated us. It was a little too much for one (you can see that it’s nearly as big as Suzanne’s head!), I’d recommend sharing it, unless of course you’re in the mood for a full-tummy treat.

We washed everything down with a couple of glasses of wine from a bottle of house red (the rest we took home) and we’d order the same bottle in future.

After we had finished and our plates were cleared we spent some time talking to one of the waitresses (I’m so sorry I didn’t take down her name). She truly seemed happy in her new role and loved that she was being developed and receiving a lot of training. Investment in staff is so important to both myself and Suzanne and so it was so nice to hear about her story so far and we wish her good luck.

Would we visit again, absolutely infact we can’t wait to try breakfast sometime soon.

I’ve also just visited the newest member of the Inn Collection which is The Commissioner’s Key  in Blyth Northumberland keep your eyes peeled for our review.

Take care

Nic and Suz x

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