Travel

Our travel stories.

Image from Northumberland National Park

Were ever you are in the UK you will no doubt be within reach of one of our fifteen National Parks. From the Brecon Beacons to Yorkshire Dales there is certainly something for everyone.

For our National Parks Week experience we visited Northumberland and more specifically Walltown. We’ve never visited this section of Northumberland National Park and were pleasantly surprised as to what was offer. For two days during NPW the site is transformed into a playground filled with adventure aiding imagination and encouraging all to try something different.

Duncan Wise, Visitor Development and Marketing Manager of Northumberland NP joined us in Newcastle and gave us a running commentary along the route to the site (watch out for 2017 when a huge development is occurring because of Lottery funding).

We sampled archery, a zip line, climbing wall, animals and pizza-making. I always knew I had a girly girl yet dare-devil daughter. It was truly apparent in her determined climbing of the wall in slippy trainers and her three go’s on the high zip wire (you weren’t getting me up there). I was even more super proud of Emily at her third go on the zip wire. There was a boy behind her (aged 10) who kept telling his mum just how nervous he was and she calmly turned around waited for him to finish talking to his mummy and said;

My mummy helps people stay safe and she has let me go on here and I’m her most precious poppet so it must be really safe (looks around for my confirmation). That’s right isn’t it mummy?

Heart melts!

After the activities we headed for pizza making. This was a little too popular and it would have been great if more people had been on hand to help. The pizzas were however very tasty!

I was very gutted when Emily decided she was too old for storytelling which I found very strange as we have two stories every single evening but I peaked in the tent and saw that there was a heavy infant contingency if there had been an older group I’m sure she would have actively listened.

On a usual day there is woodland, meadows, wildlife lakes, car parking, toilets, café and firm paths (although access to these in places was quite wet). There are several pleasant circular walks with access for all inclusive of  wheelchair and buggy users (I opted to leave my one year at home and would definitely pop him in a carrier).

Nearby you have Carvoran Roman Army Museum and Hadrian’s Cycleway. Getting to Walltown is easy via the Hadrian’s Wall Bus and there is also an onsite car park (£4 / vehicle all day, with tickets transferable to other National Park car parks along the route of the wall). If you come on your bike there are lockups.

Walltown is a designated Dark Sky Discovery Site perfect for viewing the dark skies over the Northumberland National Park. We are heading back in September to do a guided walk we’ll let you know how we get on.

#Top tip: Wear appropriate footwear in the form of wellies or walking boots. When the site is affected by rain (we are talking the north of England here) is can get rather squidgy underfoot in parts.

Love from

Suz and Emily x

 

OMGB

Nicola and I love travelling around the UK and we both have static caravans one of us at the lakes and the other at South Shields. 

From the North of Scotland to Cornwall, Sea to Sea (aka C2C which is on our doorstep) to beautiful Ireland there is no where we don’t want to explore

For years we’ve championed Visit England and love their newest campaign #OMGB (Oh My Great Britain). This four-week #OMGB ‘Home of Amazing Moments’  campaign uses film and images of authentic experiences and activities shot on locations across the UK to inspire people to take a short break at home and encourage Brits to share their own memorable #OMGB moments on social media.

Here’s a little inspiration from VisitEngland.

Trek the Lake District with fluffy Llamas
With Lakeland Llama Treks, you can enjoy the companionship of a local Llama on a guided trek around the beautiful Eden Valley in Cumbria. A range of different treks are on offer for different levels and ages, ranging from a one hour mini trek to longer countryside trails. Complete the experience with a stay in the Llamas Pyjamas B&B and a bite to eat at the Llama Karma Café (which also doubles as a zoo). Now we’ve trekked the Lake District but NEVER with Llama’s.

Party in the Northern Quarter, Manchester
Manchester’s Northern Quarter is a bazaar of the weird and wonderful. Handmade crafts, vintage and couture fashion, and delicious food are all on offer inside this wonderfully restored former Fish and Poultry Market. Actually Suzanne is also quite partial to Spinningfields and adores The Lowry hotel near by.

See ‘Britain’s favourite view’, Wastwater, Lake District
A feast for the eyes, Wastwater has been voted Britain’s ‘favourite view’, with towering mountains surrounding the crystal waters of the deepest lake in England. It’s an ideal location for picnics, walking, and diving. Close to the towering mountain of Scafell Pike, the majestic scenery here provides an atmospheric backdrop no matter the weather.

Visit a former ‘supervolcano’, Glen Coe, Highlands
As Scotland’s most iconic glen it’s no wonder that this epic setting appeared in the James Bond film Skyfall. Its raw beauty is best explored on a hike, roaming amongst wild deer and admiring rocky peaks shrouded in mist.

Discover myths and legends at The Giant’s Causeway, Antrim, Northern Ireland
This awe-inspiring World Heritage Site graced the cover of Led Zeppelin’s fifth album and featured in countless films and TV shows. The state-of-the-art visitor centre tells the story of these famous basalt columns rising out of the sea, which are the perfect backdrop for a memorable moment.

For more #OMGB holiday ideas and the chance to win competition prizes click here.

 

 

 

We love London town. Today we are heading to The Cavendish an establishment whose heritage dates back to the 1830’s.

Along the road from The Cavendish is the infamous Fortnum and Mason, how big were our smiles. Piccadilly is such a great London location.

What drew us to the hotel is its greenness. The greenness is subtle to the untrained eye but to us it hit us like a sledge hammer. It has several achievements under its belt including ‘Gold’ in Sustainable Tourism Business awards and a Gold Award in Green Tourism for London, and they are extensively committed to the environment.

The restaurant also has three star accreditation by the Sustainable Restaurant Association. This list really does go on.

Here’s what we thought?

Location: 81 Jermyn Street, St James’s, London, SW1Y6JF. The Cavendish is bang in the centre of London minutes from Piccadilly and seconds from Fortnum and Mason, another British institution – it’s been in the same location since 1707!

From arrival to departure everything was seamless. The car was valet parked and stayed in place until we left (parking is not complimentary so please don’t get caught out).

Check-in: professional, quick and informative. There had been an error in our booking which was rectified without a blink of an eye by David. Two nights bed and breakfast with an evening meal to enjoy.

The room: Our room was on the 15th floor and had everything you could possibly need for a short stay. I opened the window covering to be greeted with a fantastic panoramic view of London and stood and looked at it for ages. Nicola on the other hand loved it but didn’t want to get too close due to a slight height phobia!

The wardrobe had ample space and the tea/coffee tray met our approval being fair-trade, British or organic. The bathroom, albeit small had everything we needed, the only downside was the shower head which was fitted so high on the wall that it was no good for me at 5ft 4”.

There was a secondary shower head attached for rinsing of hair whilst in the bath which was good. The bed was very comfy and conducive to a good sleep, however, there was an underlying noise which we couldn’t put our finger on, sorry Cavendish we should have brought this to your attention.

Petrichor Restaurant:
Dinner – we didn’t get into London until around 19:00 so decided to have dinner in the restaurant. Recently awarded an AA Rosette, the restaurant’s seasonal British menu marries traditional favourites with a contemporary twist. The service was excellent.

Nicola and I have a habit of sitting and chatting for ages before consulting the menu (another reason why our blog name is apt) and this was the case here too but it was never an issue with Carlos the waiter who was looking after us. We had a glass of wine each and three courses and they were all lovely.

Breakfast: a breakfast banquet rather then a buffet and the selection was amazing. There was also a made-to-order selection and we partook in some rather yummy and cooked-to-perfection poached eggs.

The lobby bar: Small and intimate, equally easy to drop in after work as well as lovely for the guests. The staff were friendly and knowledgeable (which we had come to expect).

Along with the restaurant championing local food the bar supports local drinks providers too. Two examples are Meantime beers which are brewed in Greenwich, a district of south London. The beer travels under eight miles from its inception to the Lobby Bar, so the carbon footprint is greatly reduced.

The second provider is Sipsmith, with their Gin, Vodka & Sloegin. Sam and Fairfax are the founders of this small distillery based in Hammersmith, London. 5 out of 5 – the whole dining experience was fabulous.

Overall opinion
Well trained staff made this stay a truly terrific experience. Impeccable was the word we used repeatedly to describe our stay. We simply cannot recommend it enough. Thanks to all of the staff who looked after us so well.

Top Tip: It’s definitely worth following The Cavendish on facebook and twitter as they have lots of lovely exclusive offers for you to enjoy over and above the ones that already appear on their website. (We’ll definitely be taking up one of their great offers to stay there again).

Winter break rates are from £189 per room per night including VAT and Full English Breakfast from 14th December till 20th March 2016.

Keep an eye out for more offers coming soon.

Suz-and-Sandie

When I was a teacher, the holidays were planned for us. And let me say, they were always very much needed by the children as well as the staff!

Working for myself, I’ve made a conscious decision to stick to the school holiday timetable (without the six week summer holiday of course) but having a mini-break to look forward to every six weeks keeps me fresh and is just great I make sure we travel outside school holiday times.

Suzanne and I had the pleasure of attending the launch event of Barrhead Travel , an independent travel agents who have opened their first branch outside of Scotland in Intu Eldon Square, Newcastle. The staff were all super friendly, professional and knowledgeable, I’m looking forward to seeing what they can offer for a girl’s weekend away for us.

venice

Amongst all the nibbles and flowing wine, I found myself staring at the beautiful image of Venice on their wall, daydreaming about my next trip away, so far this year we’ve headed to Rome and have Nice to look forward too.

Amongst the guests it was lovely to catch up with Sandra Tang who is off on her own very exciting round-the-world trip in a matter of weeks (we really are VERY jealous Sandie!) she was also lucky enough to win one of the prizes on offer – a mini DFDS break. Suzanne had her fingers crossed for the Emirates flights, well who wouldn’t, they would have been perfect for a honeymoon! Suzanne has always loved to travel and realised she would be spending together forever with her H2B whilst travelling round the world. Although her plans are more moderate now having to accommodate two little ones taking time to travel will always be a priority in her life. STA used to be her agency of choice but Barrhead Travel is definitely more attune to the needs of a forty plus lady.

explore

Needless to say but we think it’s so important to take time out and travel, whether this be to the other side of the planet or just around the corner. To coin Nike – ‘Just Do It’.

Where are you heading to this year? We’d love to be inspired by your favourite trips.

 

The Carriage HouseEmbracing the peace and tranquillity of rural Northumberland in a property situated close to Morpeth in the village of Ulgham, The Carriage House is five star rated for self-catering accommodation and it proved to be a delightful home away from home, the perfect base to walk, cycle and explore.

On arrival, our host Dawn showed us into the large kitchen, dining and living space. With plenty of homemade fruit cake, tea, coffee, wine and fresh flowers on the bench, we knew we’d picked a great place to stay!

Dawn made sure we knew everything there was to know about the cottage and the appliances; we’ve reviewed many a place to stay over the last seven years, but can count the personal introductions on one hand. It makes a huge difference, no guessing how everything works and knowledge that there’s someone close by if you need anything at all.

Checking out the remainder of the cottage, we found two lovely bedrooms, both ample in size and both en-suite.

Carriage house bedroom

The master bedroom has a king size sleigh bed, ample hanging space and a spacious en-suite bathroom donning a lovely jacuzzi corner bath and a shower. Bedroom two can be either a twin or super king size bed which is handy depending who your travel companions are.

With leather sofas in the living room, TV, DVD player and digital satellite, there was plenty of space for two couples to settle down to entertain themselves in front of the lovely open log fire.

CArriage House lounge

Outside, there’s plenty of space to sit on a fine day and the fabulous hot tub is a unique addition – although during our stay it was a little too cold but maybe we aren’t as adventurous these days.

Everything you could possibly need is supplied in the accommodation, just pack your bags!

The Carriage House is the perfect base to explore the Northumberland beaches (read our walk along Druridge Bay to Amble), the Cheviot Hills, the market towns of Morpeth and Alnwick, and dozens of stately homes and castles.

We’d definitely recommend Barter Books in Alnwick, an old converted railway station and second hand bookshop. The village of Ulgham itself is small, but you’re on the coast within a five minute drive.

And if it’s lively you’re after, the cottage is around a 30 minute drive from Newcastle, the capital of the North East with extensive shopping, restaurants & nightlife.

Europe’s largest shopping centre, Intu Metrocentre is close by in Gateshead and drive a little further south to explore Durham with its’ simply magnificent cathedral.

Prices, availability and more information can be found here.

Nic x