Travel

Our travel stories.

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

Rosebery Hotel

It’s birthday time again and whenever our birthday falls on a week night we always choose to stay within an hour of home. Some may find this a little odd but we both love the North East. For just one night we relinquish the title of mummy and daddy and embrace being Suzanne and Richard.

SO was it daddy or chips (Durham of Newcastle)? We opted for chips and headed into one of our favourite suburbs – Jesmond. We are well versed in this area with still having a flat in the area (which we moved out of to become ‘serious adults’ back in 2010.)

Jesmond has a plethora of hotels from the tatty and dilapidated to the sleek and for our choice this evening ‘unique’. The Rosebery Hotel  has been receiving guests for around one hundred years and has been within the current owners, Janet Stansfield’s family for the last 40 years.

First impression – so then it’s not every day you see a bed in a garden but right from the start The Rosebery was out to make an impression. Whether you think it’s a good idea is simply down to taste but I truly embraced the ‘flower bed’ shocking pink and very in your face.

Flower bed

Parking – was a doddle with no permits or time constraints in place which is VERY unusual in Jesmond. We gave Janet a tinkle and we were welcomed by the lovely lady in a rather ta da way which we loved.

Her indoors –  Janet had had a busy day as she is well underway a whole hotel revamp and renovation of the hotel and she’s doing a mighty fine job (if you are a purist and want traditional Victorian interiors then this is NOT the hotel for you).

JS has an acute eye for the antiquities, curios and upcycling genius. She is a self confessed skip lover as am I (remember people always ask before you take)  and she let us into some places she sourced from but a lady has to have some secrets so I wont be telling you all here. Her design prowess doesn’t stay in her establishment but she’s been let loose on our tv screens too in Your Home In Their Hands – watch an episode with Janet in here .

The tour – We had a tour of as many of the available rooms as possible and we were even shown some that were occupied (the guests didn’t seem to mind). Each of the rooms had a different slant, some we liked, some we loved and some we weren’t so sure of. Janet let us in on her future room ideas and they are suitably luxurious.

A little tipple and an olive or two – a great touch is a drink on check in. With a lovely drinks trolley who wouldn’t say no to a G&T? This was teamed with a copious amount of lovely green olives.

Our room – room 18 – This room is a twin room and HUGE replete with two double beds so for us it was a happy bed and huffy bed (thankfully we didn’t need the huffy bed), en suite and a dining area too.

fabric-and-wallpaper

Our beds were ballooned filled with confetti too. Chocolates and perry to we really were spoilt, ‘Happy birthday Richard’.

Room 18 was most definitely cluttered but not in a bad way. Like many of the rooms they start with an inspirational wallpaper this one is Birdcage Walk by Nina Campbell.

The en suite was so pretty to look at. The turned wood on the footings of the bath was a simply work of art and sourced locally too. The mirrored, tiles, pale blue background and bathroom unit adorned with perfume bottles was perfectly curated. The only thing missing was a shower and I’d maybe strip back the toiletries.

bathroom

Our evening – I wanted to stay locally in Jesmond or in my new favourite restaurant in Sandyford, Harissa   but as it was Richard’s birthday it was his choice and he wanted to head into Newcastle city centre so we jumped in a cab and in 10 mins we were on Grey Street enjoying an evening as a couple. We couldn’t stay out too late as it was a school night though. Back to the ranch we headed at 11 bells.

Sleepytimes – we’d already chosen the ornate blue bed to sleep in but we had to heat the room as it was a little chilly but it soon warmed up. The bed was so comfortable that I was off to sleep very quickly and knowing I wouldn’t be awoken during the night was such a treat we’ve only had one other night away since Luke was born and that was at The Lowry in Manchester when he was three months old.

Richard didn’t sleep as well as I as he was worried about not waking up in time and the fridge was a little loud too.

Breakfast: This was an in room affair with a lovely selection of carb tastic treats (some of local supplier French Oven so we are told). I was a little surprised at the conserves not being local too this would be a welcomed accompaniment  but understand it’s not easy to do everything.

Breakfast

The croissant warmer did what it said on the tin and the juice kept nice and cold in the fridge. We got though a pot of tea and coffee and really wished we had more time to savour the comfortable silence that 10 years of coupledom affords you.

Time for work: When the devil did the road that leads from the Coast road to Jesmond Dene House close? It was definitely open when I was pregnant….. we had to do a detour to get to my work, thank goodness for sat nav!

A couple of things about the hotel.

1.      It’s dog friendly but doesn’t smell of dog and they can supply you with the cutest of dog beds.

Little dog bed

2.     Janet often has long term residents at the hotel. Some just like it others have it as their bolt hole whilst their loved one has treatment at the Freeman hospital. Some patients even come to the hotel to get away from the hospital and visit their beloved in nicer surroundings.

A little Q&A from myself to Janet

Q.        How does the old management feel about the (fantastic) changes?

A.        The old management love the new changes and pleased to see the building remain as a hotel, with it’s 100 year history of being a hotel    continue, rather than being converted into flats and loosing it’s aesthetic and charm.

Q.        Have long term guests welcomed the changes?

A.        Long term guests love the changes, as prices have not significantly increased, only slightly, so actually offer better value for guests money in a more stylish and unique environment.  Guests appreciate all the care and love that goes into the rooms, common parts and exterior and do get the humour behind the quirkiness.

Q.        What is your favorite room?

A.        My favourite room is room 5, as it’s vast, very light, quiet, has a beautiful      restful ambiance about it and you can see into Jesmond Dene, plus it has amazing wallpaper in Wisteria by Jocelyn Warner.

Q.        Does your furniture sourcing dictate the room theme or does theme come first.

A.        Depends what size, light, features are in the room and of course, what I can source for nearly next to nothing. Room 18, where you slept, the   fabulous oversized statement bed, I spotted at a vintage fair and it was horrible. But after a bit of TLC and imagination, guests have a fabulous, sumptuous king size bed to relax and get cosy in 🙂

We had a wonderful stay and a top tip is ‘BOOK DIRECT’ as Janet adds 30 percent to cover costs when booking through third parties.

Rates start from £40 and full rate prices can be found here

Thank you Janet for a fabulous stay.

*Accommodation was provided by the Rosebery Hotel, 2 Rosebery Crescent, Jesmond, Newcastle NE2 1ET in exchange for a fair and balanced review. All opinions are my own (and H2B’s when I let him have input).

 

 

International Women's Day Easyjet celebrates the day with an all female flight and ground operating crew.

easyJet takes to the air with all-female flight and ground crew operation in celebration of International Women’s Day.

EZY8275 left London Gatwick this morning bound for Madrid with a female Captain, First Officer and four female cabin crew.

The flight was captained by Kate McWilliams, 27, the world’s youngest female commercial Captain and co-piloted by first officer Sue Barrett. Cabin Manager Laura Marks was supported by three female cabin crew; Natasha Baker, Charlotte Carr and Nuria Belda Marco.

The flight was operated on easyJet’s special A320 aircraft named after renowned female aviator Amy Johnson.

Several female ground staff were also involved in getting the easyJet flight boarded and away from stand including;

Gate Agents Helena Curley and Ewa Alhutayfi – performing Boarding checks and procedures for each flight and pass final customer figures to the TCO and Captain.

TCO (Turn Coordination Officer) Lynne Pont – responsible for the turnaround of the aircraft itself.

Headset Operator Catherine Sims – responsible for the safety of the aircraft during the pushback from stand onto the taxiway and in direct communication with the flight crew and Pushback Tug driver.

Fueler Lucy Gorna – responsible for ensuring that the correct fuel is safely loaded onto the aircraft and in accordance with the figure requested by the Captain.

Cleaners Laura Heron, Emese Lenkey, Sheila Monteith, Marie Claire Lynx and Alison Seth– responsible for ensuring that each aircraft is cleaned internally.

De-Icers Maria Carr and Bethany Woods – When required, responsible for ensuring that the critical surfaces of the aircraft are clear of contamination such as snow & ice, prior to departure.

PRM Officer Kirsty Butler– When required, responsible for assisting all of our customers with reduced mobility from their arrival at the airport, until they are on board the aircraft. This includes use of motorised buggies, and scissor-lift vehicles to access the cabin.

Speaking prior to departure easyJet Captain Kate McWilliams, said:

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the achievements of women so we thought this all female flight would be a very fitting way to celebrate the achievements of the many women working in the aviation industry. There are more than 15 women who are making this flight possible today in positions from pilots and crew to gate agents and fuelers.

This year’s IWD theme is #BeBoldForChange to help forge a better working world which is more inclusive and gender equal. This year easyJet has set an ambitious target of increasing the proportion of its female pilots aiming for 20% of new intake pilots by 2020. The aviation industry is exciting and challenging and I firmly believe that there should be absolutely nothing to stop women from entering into a career in aviation.

The first woman to fly an airplane solo took off in 1908, only 5 years after the Wright brothers first took to the skies and most people will have heard of Amelia Earhart and Amy Johnson who are famous pioneers of the 1920s and 1930’s. Women have been involved in aviation’s history from very early on but since the war years whilst the total number of female pilots has steadily increased so has the number of male pilots, leaving the total percentage of female pilots largely unchanged at around 3 percent. It is hard to think of another high profile profession where women are  so under-represented so I would encourage anyone thinking about a career in aviation to do so – it’s the most rewarding career I could hope for.

International Women’s Day global campaign coordinator, Glenda Stone, said

easyJet is to be applauded for the way they have truly embraced the very ethos of International Women’s Day and are showing not only to their customers and industry, but to wider audiences, that women excel when there are no barriers to participation or involvement. International Women’s Day provides an important opportunity to accelerate gender parity, and here we clearly see the collective talent of women that inspires employees, customers, aspirational girls and many more.

Around 12 percent of Gatwick’s airfield team are women and Hayley Richardson, Airfield Operations Controller, was on hand to help guide the easyJet aircraft on the tarmac today.   Hayley said:

Working on Gatwick’s airfield is an exciting and rewarding job.  For obvious reasons our team has to maintain the highest professional standards and I really enjoy the responsibility.  I’d say the number of women I see working in other roles across the airfield is increasing and I would recommend a career on an airfield to any women who are thinking about it.

The activity is also being promoted on easyJet’s social media sites using a Female Pilot Emoji and  #FlyingHigh.

How will you be #BeBoldForChange this International Women’s Day?

 

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.

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