St. Mary's Inn

When I heard in that St. Mary’s Inn was closing I was a little sad. Fast forward to 2018 and the lovely place has reopened; with their rooms available from Monday June 4 I thought I’d re share my review.

It was going to be a long and busy week and the thought of a Friday night away just the two of us was what was keeping Richard and myself going.

The rural getaway was at St. Mary’s Inn the little sister to the renowned Jesmond Dene House. St. Mary’s Inn is in the village of Stannington north of Newcastle and just a hop, skip and a jump from the town of Morpeth.

Dinner, bed breakfast and fingers crossed a lie in; here we come.

The journey

Stannington is really well signposted off the A1 and there are signs for St. Mary’s Inn and even more poignantly St. Mary’s Hospital which are easy to follow. I knew my way to the Inn from memory but the winding road may benefit from a couple more signs.

Arrival

We arrived at 5:00pm and were welcomed by Zoe who showed us to our room we decided we quite fancied a nap before dinner.

Our bedroom – Greenlee Lough

When we opened the door we were greeted with an expanse of space and beds so high they were reminiscent of ‘Princes and The Pea’ – yay and I know a certain daughter of mine would have loved to bounce on them.

I’m a stickler for white bed linen and I was not to be disappointed. I love a chunky pillow or two and we got four, plenty to go around. The duvet was heavy but not too heavy. Simple quality. Of course “Mr. I sleep on the thinnest pillow in the world” didn’t like the pillows but he could cope for one night.

There was not one, but two sitting areas, one right next to the TV and the other with a lovely table to sit and read or work at.

bedroom

Having worked with Marlish Water in the past I was happy their water was on the tea tray alongside another local brand, Ringtons. I’m sure fresh milk would have been available if I had requested it too.

I crossed my fingers before I entered the bathroom. I so wanted a bath, we moved house in Feb 2015 and we have a double shower instead of a bath (this seriously needs to be rectified) and hotel stays are the only time I get to take a dip and luxuriate in some bubbles.

The bathroom was great. I loved the velux window in the ceiling, the sumptuous towels and I was looking forward to trying the products supplied as I hadn’t tried them before.

Relaxing time before dinner

I love the fact that Richard had packed us a cheeky bottle of prosecco, a perfect accompaniment to a bath filled with lovely bubbles (which H2B ran without prompting). I truly relaxed. We lay on the bed and drank and chatted before dinner (the TV wasn’t working). It was lovely. Even though we live together it seemed like an age since we’d had a chat that wasn’t interjected by, ‘mummy or daddy’ or the sound of our baby boy.

Thank you St. Mary’s Inn for the peace and quiet.

Dinner

Although tempting to stay in our lovely room, we were hungry so headed over the outdoor courtyard and downstairs to the bar admiring the frequently changing artwork on the way.

Before dinner, Richard opted for a pint of Peroni whilst I chose  St. Mary’s Ale made by the wonderful Wylam Brewery as my tipple. I knew from first sip that I’d be drinking it for the rest of the night unless of course I got the taste for gin!

At 7:30pm we decided to head along to the restaurant and I loved all of the areas and the relaxed feeling throughout. It was akin to a warren, people all chatting away with quite a few dogs (both real and wire sculptures) looking happily at home.

We were greeted by Phil the Duty Manager and chatted about the menu. He was genuinely enthusiastic about both the menu and St. Mary’s Inn. I appreciated the fact that many of the items on the menu were sourced locally, so locally in some cases that the chef could reach out of the window and place the veg onto the ‘Entremetier’ station.

The short and simple menu featured many starters and main courses that we wanted to try. To start, Richard opted for Lamb Koftas and I chose Smoked Haddock and Clam Chowder with Whisky and Bacon. Both were really tasty, but I wouldn’t have chosen to have mussels as part of the chowder.

starters and mains

For main H2B had the Aberdeen Angus Beef Burger which came with cheese, mayonnaise, tomato ketchup, pickles, coleslaw and home made fries, he’d sworn he was off bread but couldn’t resist.

I chose the steak and went for the bone marrow and parsley fries. The steak was cooked to my liking medium rare and the fries were good but I had chip envy and loved the look of the chunky ones on a nearby table.

Richard swore he didn’t want desert but there were two that I fancied so gluttony prevailed and I ordered both.

DESSERT

To satisfy my sweet tooth I opted for the custard tart with honeycomb and vanilla ice cream and for my savoury love was the selection of British cheeses with rye crackers and preserves. This was my absolute favourite course and Richard did help me (I promise). The custard tart was amongst the best I have ever tasted and instead of the typically dense consistency this was delicate and the bitterness of the honeycomb cut through the sweetness.  The selection of cheeses was just enough to end the meal.

Phil tried to lure us into coffees but we were embracing the no child night and the calling for bed was so loud.

We made our way to our room but we were waylaid by the bar as I did fancy a gin and I was happy that they stocked Fentimans tonic. Richard’s eyes were heavy so I selected a book from the shelves in one of the snug areas and we headed to bed.

Sleepytime

Our tummies were completely fit to burst so up the dancers we went. We crawled into bed at 10:30 and he was asleep within 10 minutes. I lay and read for a while which was an absolute luxury.

Alas I woke up a few times in the night as it was so warm (thermostat set to 71 degrees Fahrenheit, I have no idea what that is in metric) I’m also used to being awoken several times in the night and thirdly I thought I’d lost my other half, turns out that the bed is sooo big we could easily fit our family of four in the bed with room to spare.

Breakfast

This can be an absolute deal maker or breaker for me.

Zoe showed us to our table, she assured us she had been home as she was still serving at the bar when we went to bed.

This was the room we could see from our bedroom. It was light and bright and there was just us (well for a few minutes until many faces that we saw during dinner the night before).

continental and full English

Our toast and drinks order was taken and then we got to peruse the continental breakfast and gluttony raised its head again. Smoked salmon and meats donned our plates and the quality was fantastic.

We both ordered full English breakfast no beans for me, we both ate the lot, oink, oink. We drank copious amounts of coffee we have definitely missed our breakfast dates.

Full English

Before checkout I had little nosey in all of the nooks and crannies and decided that I really did like this place and would love a local like this.

Overall opinion

Although it’s known as Jesmond Dene House little sister I think St. Mart’s Inn has  everything it needs to have a stand alone reputation. It isn’t trying to be something that it is not. It is by definition a house providing accommodation, food, and drink, especially for travellers and this was done to perfection. I even forgot that it is unmanned overnight so the guests are left to their own devices, well sort of, we couldn’t have our very own lock in.

Having the right staff is so important and I think the brilliance of the staff shone through with their friendly and knowledgeable demeanour and nothing was too much trouble even bringing up an iron and ironing board before dinner.

We had a fabulous time and with a few tweaks it would be perfect. Before I left I was already recommending the Inn to a friend who was coincidentally staying at Jesmond Dene House as a surprise anniversary treat from her husband: major brownie points.

Incase you fancy a visit St. Mary’s Inn is open 8am to 11pm each day with dining until 9:30pm. Remember to book your table don’t just turn up and expect to be served.

Our stay would have been £140 for dinner, bed and breakfast and personally I think that it was most definitely worth that.

Now for the unexpected personal bit which I chose not to place at the beginning of the review.
There was a distinct reason that I wanted to stay and it wasn’t until we were offered a meal at the Inn that I looked into the history and I felt like an idiot when I put two and two together. I actually got a knot in my stomach and a tear in my eye.

As you may have already read St. Mary’s Inn is situated in what was the administration building of St. Mary’s Hospital, the old Gateshead Borough mental institution. We were originally supposed to just head there for dinner but when I read the history of the site I asked if we could stay. A member of my family had spent quite a lot of time at St. Mary’s hospital and visited him often and unfortunately he didn’t have a pleasant stay there. I hoped a visit would air some demons. I haven’t taken the turn off for Stannington since 1995 and I was on auto pilot driving and the hospital signs were still in situ and threw me. What the heck was I doing when potentially I was unearthing a bad memory of a location.

I am glad I came as even though the admin building is clearly recognisable there were very few other points of reference and thinking of my uncle made me smile.

You can keep up to date with St. Mary’s in via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Thank you Phil and Nicky for having us and we hope to visit again when we are in the area.

First published: 15 Feb 2016

Riding Mill is a small village close to the A69 in Northumberland and incorporates the ancient hamlet of BroomHaugh which is where the fabulous stone cottage, Yew Tree is situated.

Opposite the Methodist Church, you can’t fail to notice the large Yew Tree growing in the front garden, pruned to ensure it doesn’t take over the street! The lintel over the front door dates back to 1699; this cottage has a real back story.

When you walk straight into the main sitting area from the front door, the open floor living space comprises the lounge and kitchen. Super comfortable and very traditional, my favourite spot had to be right in front of the very large fire place on the seat in front of the fire! The kitchen leads out into a really sweet yard, which in the summer I expect will be a lovely suntrap.

Upstairs, the master bedroom is wonderful. A large king size bed (comprising of 2 beds together with a mattress topper so no divide in the middle!) made for a really comfortable sleep. I’m normally woken up at 6am by the staff going to start their shift in the food factory near by, so the peace and quiet was wonderful.

There is another really amazing fireplace in the room and the high ceiling and beams make it a unique and comfortable space.
The en-suite bathroom has a powerful shower and is actually a ‘Jack and Jill bathroom’ meaning there is also a door leading to the other single room.

This is a really comfortable cottage. Recently awarded a Gold Award from Visit England, we stayed in all evening playing backgammon with the fire on. Mike’s response when I asked him what he liked most; ‘historic, comfortable, quiet and cosy’ and Yew Tree Cottage is all of those things.

If you’re in Northumberland to explore there are loads of fabulous towns close by. Corbridge was 6 minutes on the bus, Hexham is 10 minutes away on the train, Newcastle about 25. The train also goes straight over to Carlisle which means really easy access to the Lake District.

But we really love the Northumberland Coast. A 40 -45 minutes drive and you’ll be plodging in the North Sea.

Even though the cottage is only 30 minutes drive away from our house we really enjoyed our stay and would love to return.

Check availability and prices on the YewTreeCottageRidingMill website and follow Sheila Bull, the owner of Yew Tree and Apple Pie Cottages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram too.

cottage
When asked to review The Haybarn in Fryton, Slingsby, North Yorkshire by Gorgeous Cottages as a destination for ‘Posh Hen Do’s’ and ‘Girlie Getaways’ we were not prepared for the splendour to come.

We headed to York and found our way to The Haybarn, one of the Cherrygarth Cottages luxury holiday cottages. It was pitch dark when we arrived at 7pm. Upon opening the doors our jaws dropped and not a sound, not even a pin drop could be heard.

It was truly magnificent. Peace perfect peace but not for long.

We all headed off in different directions to explore the vast space.

There are four bedrooms and the photographs really don’t do them justice. The room I selected had a mezzanine bathroom with a sky light directly over the bath to watch the twinkly stars above. I was a little antisocial for a while as I drew the bath, filled with UK brand Molton Brown bubble bath and luxuriated in peace. Heaven, well I was the honorary hen.

The ladies explored the outdoor facilities and jumped into the hot tub and had a merry time drinking some bubbly, I joined them after my soak (looking a tad prune like) but didn’t want to miss out on all of the fun. Next we found the sauna and that gets a big thumbs up too. And so too came the games room for a spot of karaoke and a session on the Wii.

After the tomfoolery came dinner albeit a late one, so we all gathered around the lovely kitchen table and prepped, cooked, drank wine (we had just discovered the bottle already chilling in the fridge) and talked. Everything you could possibly need from a kitchen was right there.

If you didn’t feel like cooking though there was a great file with honest reviews of local pubs and eateries. The appliances in the kitchen were UK made too, Stoves and Dualit.

With glasses in hand we headed to the lounge were we lit the fire (already prepared for us) and talked some more. The sofa was huge with enough room for everyone.

Time for Bedfordshire came upon us quickly and we all went off to our rooms, rather reluctantly. All the bedrooms were sumptuous but, which one to choose though? The seemingly largest room with the vaulted ceiling and wet room, bed two with mezzanine bathroom, bed three with Jacuzzi bath, walk in shower and mezzanine lounge area or bed four (mine all mine) with the second mezzanine bathroom? The beds were so, so cosy that we all found it difficult to wake in the morning.

For breakfast we devoured the food basket filled with cereal, eggs and bread. Yummy!

Outside, each cottage has a quiet, sheltered, south-facing courtyard garden with patio and barbecue area. The courtyards have been creatively landscaped to provide privacy for each cottage.

Would we recommend this for a Hen Party or a girlie get together? Without a shadow of a doubt.

This stay was organised by Gorgeous Cottages who can create a ‘Gorgeous weekend for stylish stags and well heeled hens.

Hope you have a Gorgeous Weekend soon.

Love

Suzanne 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 

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