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.

Need a Little Help: Half MoonIt’s week two of the Easter holidays for one half of the Sofa Stories team and the other half has a lovely birthday coming up. Here’s how I’m spending my week.

Monday: Pirates and Princesses: Crook Hall & Gardens, Frankland Lane, Sidegate, Durham, DH1 5SZ

Visitors are invited to follow a quest for treasure around the gardens and join in swashbuckling activities led by the Crook Hall Pirate. There will be treasure hunts, pirate games and pirate ship designing.

Tuesday: Need A Little Help: Northern Stage,  Barras Bridge, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne & Wear, NE1 7RH *

Joe and Ella are a great team – they make each other laugh, help each other out and tackle all the chores their busy lives throw at them. But one morning things begin to change when Joe gets all tangled up and Ella has to do things alone. What will Ella do now? Will she be able to continue as before, or will it all get too much? If only she had a little help.

Wednesday: Surprise date with Momar Red for Emily and work hat for mummy (yes I’ve returned from maternity leave and yes I hate it!!!!)

Thursday: Hall Hill FarmLanchester, Durham, DH7 0TA

We have an annual pass for Hall Hill farm which was £106. It’s a great way to spend the day, petting animals, tractor rides, donkey rides, indoor play barn, crazy gold and bouncy castle too.

WWT

Friday: Washington Wetland Centre , Pattinson, Washington, Tyne and Wear, NE38 8LE

We are going to head to the WWC to take a look at The LEGO® brick animal trail. The awesome models include a gigantic otter, super-sized crane and humongous goose and will form a fun trail for children (and big kids!) to take part in; inspiring them to build a better future for nature.

Discover just how many LEGO bricks have been used to make the massive creatures and enter a competition to win your very own LEGO kit.

Saturday: Miss Nicola Little’s birthday celebrations possibly at Wheelbirks or just at her delightful love filled home!

Sunday: No plans yet.

Suz x

*Reviewing for Northern Stage Newcastle

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