The Adventures of Seal Cottage Guests Around Hexham!

We were delighted to Welcome “For the Love of the North” as Guests at Seal Cottage recently!

 

Here’s what they had to say about their adventures around Hexham!

On a cold January Saturday we waited at Central Station for our train to take us along the beautiful Tyne Valley to our weekend getaway in the lovely surroundings of Hexham. We love a little jaunt away, especially in the doldrums of winter and always enjoy a cosy cottage to snuggle up on the sofa and indulge in a good spot of reading with a mug of hot chocolate. Well we got just that with our very kind invitation to stay at Seal Cottage for a couple of nights. Seal Cottage is one of the holiday homes under the umbrella of “Wooden Star Cottages” managed by Sam Perkins and Vicky Collingwood who in their own words are “two busy Mams who wanted to continue to be around for our young children whilst working in the areas we are hugely passionate about, interior design and hospitality”. With that ethos in our minds we were very much looking forward to staying in the cottage.

As always the train journey along the Tyne Valley is a delight whatever the time of the year and in winter it makes you even more excited for embracing a spot of Hygge away from it all. As both being non-drivers we are often limited by choosing accommodation that is relatively near to a train route and after we disembarked from Hexham railway station it was just a ten minute tootle with our luggage up towards the magnificent Abbey. Through the beautiful park where the birds were signing, we caught our very first sight this year of snowdrops, magic. It was a beautiful stroll to Seal Cottage and down the steps we reached a lovely secluded terrace upon which our cottage was to be found. It certainly looked so inviting and in a lovely location, we excited entered…

 

That ethos of Sam and Vicky was immediately evident as soon as you walked through the door. A lovely welcome package awaited us on the kitchen table, prosecco, filter coffee, tea bags, crisps and biscuits. The kitchen was a very well equipped affair and even milk and orange juice in the fridge. We enjoyed exploring our new home and the living room certainly ticked our box for the place to enjoy a cosy read. There is a lovely view onto some shared gardens from the window which was a bird spotters paradise. Upstairs we went and the carpet was one of the cosiest you could ever walk on. There are three bedrooms, two double and a single so the cottage can accommodate a good group. Their are lovely touches in each room with lovely views overlooking the gardens, super comfy beds and a couple of welcome chocolates to enjoy. Wherever we stay Paul is always fascinated by chairs situated upon landings and wonders who would actually sit on them. Well Seal Cottage has one in a lovely cosy nook where you would happily sit in it and read away for a good while.

 

There is a sizeable bathroom with wc and shower and also a downstairs loo adjacent to the kitchen. There has been so much thought into making your stay as enjoyable as possible catering for all ages with its fabulous collection of children’s toys and reading material to the information filled welcome book which has all sorts of recommendations to really make the most of your stay in the area. We were more than happy to spend Saturday afternoon just enjoying being in our lovely cottage and did indeed enjoy immersing ourselves in a couple of good reads and taking advantage of the welcome packages tea bags and biscuits. As the daylight faded our minds started to focus on where we would venture out for dinner. The welcome book certainly offers plenty of choices and our chosen venue was a place we have been very looking forward to visiting.

 

Through the park we walked and were greeted by the wonderful sight of it all lit up, who said that January is full of darkness. We were heading to somewhere that offered a touch of France right in the heart of Hexham, Bouchon. It is an absolute gem of a restaurant which proudly offers straightforward country style French cuisine. We had booked our meal for 6:15pm and had the choice of the early bird price fix or A la Carte menus. Paul was in heaven and from the early bird menu chose the salmon mousse, guinea fowl and true to form, the cheese board to finish. Lucy was seduced by the vegetarian options of the a la Carte menu, cheese souffle, vegetable pithiviers and mango and lime sorbet. Accompanied with a bottle of the house white the meal was absolutely faultless and as always a wonderful ambience and excellent service. It is so wonderful that Hexham is home to this restaurant that transports you to Montmartre for a couple of hours.

 

It was very rare for ourselves to be out on a Saturday night so thoroughly enjoying the delights of Hexham we walked the short distance further down Gilesgate to the Tannery. We enjoyed a lovely couple of hours in very comfortable surroundings and enjoyed a good chat with the bar staff about the supreme talents of Mr Jarvis Cocker.

 

 

We had loved our night out in Hexham and so back through the wonderfully illuminated seal park to Seal Cottage. The night sky was clear and the moon shining. It was lovely and toasty back in the cottage and time for bed and what a lovely and comfortable nights sleep we enjoyed!

 

Sunday morning came and you could hear the birds happily chirping away in the gardens, the sky was blue and it was a gorgeous winters morning. The bells from the Abbey sounded glorious and it was certainly a day to enjoy the winter sunshine. We enjoyed exploring the town thanks to a handy book of town trails we had brought with us. As our trail took us down Gilesgate past the Tannery it seemed rude not to pay a visit. And what a treat was in store as the bar was filled with music as upon this Sunday lunchtime it was playing host to the “Tyne Valley Folk Train” whose members had followed in our footsteps along the Tyne Valley to spend an afternoon of music and song. A lovely warm and welcoming atmosphere was rife and we could have happily stayed all afternoon. But on with the trail we went and it was lovely to see the array of thriving independent businesses that Hexham has to offer. There is such a sense of pride in the shops and the shop fronts are so beautifully painted and lovely displays to attract the attention. Anyone who love supporting independents and shop local should really pay a visit to the town. Another welcome stop was enjoyed at the Heart of Northumberland and a glass of mulled cider most enjoyed.

We wanted to make the most of our stay at Seal Cottage so back we went to cosy up and continue our reading. We fully took advantage of its well equipped kitchen to prepare our evening meal and felt very at home in the kitchen. Being self employed has many pros and cons but a definite pro is that you don’t get that depressing Sunday night feeling as the weekend draws to a close and it was a lovely feeling settling down in Hexham for the evening and enjoying that Sunday’s new episode of our favourite North East detective Vera.

It was a crisp and clear night and perfect conditions to as you do nip out in the middle of the night to enjoy the splendour of the Blood Moon. The stars were glistening and the moon so clear but sadly the camera on our phones failed miserably to do the moon justice.

Monday arrived and it was time to leave. We had thoroughly enjoyed our weekend in Hexham, there was so much to see and enjoy and our cottage was the absolute perfect place to stay. Thank you Sam and Vicky, you both really having something special there.

Just for info – we were invited to stay at Wooden Star Cottages with purpose of reviewing Seal Cottage for the purpose of this blog. We’re rather thrilled that we enjoyed it as this blog really is about places we love in the North East and couldn’t have written a blog about it if couldn’t honestly recommend it. Luckily we had a fab time and it’s a place we wholeheartedly recommend. For more information and to book please visit https://www.woodenstarcottages.co.uk/. Alternatively follow Wooden Star Cottages on Instagram or Facebook.

 

Thank you For the Love of The North

Exclusive In Cottage Catering Services-Make Your Stay Extra Special!

Whatever your reason for getting together in a Wooden Star Cottages property we can offer In Cottage Catering Services to help make your stay extra special!

Exclusive In Cottage Catering Services!

From birthday lunches to wedding breakfasts, hot drop brunches and full evening meals with waiter service! We work with speciality trusted partners to help make the most of your celebration, tailored exactly to your needs!

Deliver, Heat and Eat!

Our highly respected and well-known local producer and outside caterers Vallum Farm are able to offer a selection of dishes to suits all tastes and budgets that can be delivered to our properties, to be heated and served with all the accompaniments!

 

 

Sample menus for 10 guests

Italian  

Herby artisan garlic bread
Slow-cooked Ragu Lasagne made with fresh pasta
Hearty green salad, toasted seeds, zingy dressing
Award winning Belgian Chocolate Brownie and Vallum ice cream

£180

Northumbrian  

House hot smoked salmon, blinis, crème fraiche, citrus
Northumbrian Steak and Ale pie
Rosemary & garlic roasted baby potatoes, fresh garden greens
Sticky Toffee Pudding, Sticky Toffee Sauce

£210

The Full Winter Menu 2018 can be found here.

 

Hot Drop Brunch!

Perfect for the morning of a wedding or before you head out for a day’s walking!

Take delivery of a hot “Shakshuka” brunch to your door at a time to suit you between 8am and 11am.

Shakshuka is a  Middle Eastern one pot wonder making it a great brunch option which we can deliver hot to your door just in time to eat. We have added a British twist of bacon and sausages to dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions, spiced with cumin.  With warm sourdough bread too!

We regularly work with Wooden Star Cottages, so you just wash our dishes and put them in the allocated bag, ready for us to collect next time! Priced at £150 for 10 guests.

If this is not to your taste, we can look at further options for hot drop brunch just get in touch!

Click here for further information or please email vicky@vallumfarm.co.uk

The Wooden Star Chef!

Celebrate in style and take the weight out of mass catering (and clearing up!) and have The Wooden Star Chef come in a cook for you all!

The Vallum team of chef’s love getting out of the kitchen and into the field, so to speak!  If you would like them to come to one of our cottages  and cook for you then a menu can be worked out to suit your budget and taste. Chefs walk away with all the dirty dishes so there is no washing up!

The Luxury of Waiting Staff!

If Vallum are supplying lunch or dinner or even breakfast, you may like an extra pair of hands to help serve and clear away! Their team local staff are well known in Northumberland and completely reliable. They are paid direct by you, have a minimum call out time of 5 hours and are used to setting up drinks, laying up the table, serving and clearing then take care of all the washing up. The waiting staff charge £12 per hour, minimum 5 hours.

The Vallum Chefs cater to a very high standard and are able to completely tailor a menu to your taste and budget.

For further information on any of these services please email vicky@vallumfarm.co.uk

 

Our Picks For The Festive Season

Here at Wooden Star Cottages, we love the festive season, cosy knits, Christmas markets, cheese boards, mulled wine and mince pies and let’s not forget the roaring fires! So we have put our heads together and come up with a list of our top picks for the 2018 festive season.

Kielder Winter Wonderland, (Weekends only, booking essential) 17thNovember through December

Whether you head there for the weekend or a day trip. Follow the trail and meet Santa’s helpers. Make a toy in the Elves workshop, listen to music in the forest and much more. This is a childhood delight and for adults it’s a step into a fairy tale with the added bonus of a Baileys hot chocolate.

Wrap up warm and wear extra thick socks as it’s certainly a chilly day!

Hexham Christmas Market and Abbey Fair 7-8thDecember

Only a short stroll from Seal Cottage, this is a beautiful event which sees Hexham folk come out in their hundreds. A gorgeous mix of stalls and there is something for everyone. You can get a great start on your Christmas shopping and even pick up a treat for yourself, well, it’s only fair isn’t it?

Father Christmas’ grotto is set up in the Trinity Church and there are little crafts whilst you wait to keep the little folk busy. Father Christmas has even brought some of his reindeer along for the journey and you’re invited to give them a treat or two.

 

Beamish- The Living Museum of the North

We adore Beamish all year round, however, something magical happens at Christmas. The snow that appears, the sights and the smells take you back to a world of wonder. Buy a ticket and it gets you access all year round. Worth the pennies and travel, that’s for sure. See what they have planned for Christmas 2018 here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fenwicks window

A window? We hear you ask! Well, this isn’t just any window. Each year the department store impress us with a full story/ fairy tale in moving/ animated animals and objects.  This is a delight and a surprise each year! It’s always on our Christmas list of fun places to visit. Keep eyes peeled for their big unveiling!

There are so many more, Alnwick Gardens, Gibside, the Lake District too. It might be cold, but with it comes the beauty of the dark skies, fires and the beauty of making memories to cherish for life.

You can find a list of exciting Northumberland events here

 

Have you got any exciting plans for this festive season?

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