Our travel stories.


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.


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.


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.


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


St. Mary's Inn

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.