Monday 9 March 2015

Wheelbirks Parlour

One of the most frustrating things about living in such a beautiful corner of the country is that we're not able to get out and explore it as much as I'd like as we currently don't own a car.  Whilst I love the idea of getting ourselves some wheels and finally having a proper explore of my new home, for the moment it's more sensible for us financially to not have the extra expense.

So when our lovely friends Andy and Livi invited us on an adventure in their car with their gorgeous pups Bailey and Shiro, we were stupidly excited to venture outside of Newcastle and into the unknown terrain of Northumberland.

After a week of miserable weather we were blessed with a perfect Winters day of blue skies and a bright low sun to keep us warm.

High on the agenda was lunch, and after teasing us with stories of fresh homemade food in the middle of the countryside on our previous double dates, Andy and Livi decided to share their favourite weekend lunch venue and take us to Wheelbirks.

Wheelbirks is a dairy farm boasting Northumberland's only pedigree herd of Jersey cows producing beautiful fresh milk that is available to buy on the farm and also used to create the gorgeous food available at the attached parlour.  

Having been born and brought up in the farming county of Norfolk, I loved pottering around the barns on the farm saying hello to the friendly Jersey calves. 

I could have spent hours standing in the barn chatting to them, but my tummy was rumbling and I knew there were some tasty treats to be found in the parlour.

Wheelbirks is popular, and it was very busy on a Saturday lunchtime.  Despite being located down a small country lane, the tea room and parlour were buzzing with people so I knew the food was going to be amazing to draw such a crowd.

Luckily there are plenty of seats and although disappointingly we couldn't get a seat in the picture perfect barn we got ourselves a table in the ice-cream parlour, with a prime position for carefully studying all of the ice-cream flavours.

The lunch menu at Wheelbirks is full of choices, so much so that Simon and I spent a good while pouring over the menu.

There's a lovely selection of homemade lunches including soup, hot sandwiches and delicious spicy potato wedges, as well as a variety of cakes, puddings and ice-cream sundaes.

Being professionals of the Wheelbirks' menu, Andy and Livi ordered Bacon Sandwiches without hesitation.  I realised when their food arrived that I probably should have followed their lead.   The breakfast sandwiches were served in huge brown poppy seed buns and looked so delicious.  Next time I am definitely getting myself one!

Simon opted for a Sausage and Sweet Chilli Panini which looked really lovely but I didn't dare take a bite as he reported it was pretty spicy and I'm a wuss.  I am, however, beginning to think that maybe he tells me everything is too spicy just to prevent me getting my hands on his food!

It probably comes as no surprise that sandwiches weren't at the top of my priority list for lunch, there was only one place  I was heading to and that was the cake counter.  There were plenty of cakes on offer and I was spoilt for choice.   Each one looked amazing and I was almost tempted by a slab of chocolate cake but then spotted a fantastic looking banana cake that had to be mine!

I was served the most generous chunk of cake and it was absolutely outstanding, the sponge was moist with a lovely flavour and the frosting was the perfect compliment. 

Even though I was completely stuffed we decided we should probably have a little look at the ice-cream counter.  It's not every day you can get homemade ice-cream produced by the cows you've just been admiring.

There were some fantastic flavours on offer including Pancotta and Fudge and Beetroot Sorbet as well as the usual Strawberry and Chocolate flavours for the less adventurous.  
Wheelbirks pride themselves in making unique ice-cream flavours and are up for giving anything a go - past flavour combinations have included coffee and croissant and, rather strangely, garlic and balsamic vinegar!  They are always open to suggestions so get your thinking hats on - what would make a fantastic ice-cream flavour?

We opted for a scoop of Liquorice and Caramel and a scoop of Raspberry and Honeycomb between us.  

It was so rich and creamy, absolute heaven and some of the best ice-cream  I've ever had and I'd definitely say it would be a crime to go to Wheelbirks without trying it.  There's something so special about eating something delicious that's been produced just a few 100 yards away from your seat.

After all that food we made our way to Chopwell Wood to burn off a bit of lunch and take the dogs out for a much anticipated walk.  Bailey and Shiro are such little characters and we had a great time playing with them in the trees.  

Chopwell Woods are located on the fringe of Gateshead and have miles and miles of walks to enjoy with some fantastic views of the River Derwent and the North Pennines. 

There's plenty to look at and enjoy including some rather impressive sculptures.  This one is called "The New Hands" and its by local sculpter David Gross.

Unfortunately, Simon and I don't own dogs (one day!) so we are amateurs when it comes to adventures in the forest - this means that my rather lovely black knee high boots are now covered in mud!   A small price to pay for such a wonderful day but someone remind me to take wellies next time!


  1. What a lovely day out, that's another place now added to my ever expanding list! James and I have been talking a lot about getting a dog recently, I really wish we could but we both work full time so it wouldn't really be fair on the little thing, one day though!
    Rach x

  2. Hi! I'm a new reader and I'd like to say how much I admire your transformation and willpower! I'm trying to make myself lose weight but it's so very hard to go to the gym and not eat that cake... Anyays, that place you visited looks great! I'll have to google it. The woods too. I've lived in Newcastle for a little less than 2 years now and I'm still completely clueless about a lot of places. What you said about having a car is so true! I had to buy one to get to work and it's proving to be a money pit... Why oh why is the public transport between my house and my job so bad! -Mirja x

  3. What a lovely day out, the calves are really cute, as if the dog at the end!
    Lots of love,
    SilverSpoon London

  4. What a wonderful day trip! Little adventure like these are the best and such a nice way to spend time with each other and with friends. That banana cake and the ice creams look so delicious. :)

  5. Oh I just love this post! I LOVE wheelbirks, it is so quirky. They have picnic blankets for you to borrow and sit outside in the orchard in the warmer months. I love just chilling here with some ice cream whilst the kids run around and play. Lovely pics of the cows and calves!

  6. Awesome post!! Sounds like the perfect day out for me. I love how you were able to go and see the cows too. I heard tgis place mentioned by friends before so it'll definitely have to be added to the list now - I love ice cream!
    Doddington Dairy is near where I live and wow, goes to show locally produced foods are the way to go, its amazing.

    Love the first photo of the cow having a peek.

    Best wishes, Danielle xo

  7. This looks like such a good day out, I'll have to pop it on my list of dates to go on with my hubby xxx

  8. This looks like a great day - I think the two hands at the end look a bit menacing though.

    Lizzie Dripping

  9. Lovely post and gorgeous pictures. I haven't been to Wheelbirks in ages... really looking forwards to a trip with my little ones when the weather gets a bit nicer.

  10. We just visited Wheelbirks on Monday, what a small world! We're in the same boat as you, i.e. not currently having a car, so negotiating our way around Northumberland can be tricky with the unreliable public transport, but it's great when we get to try out quirkly places like Wheelbirks. I've also heard their bacon sandwiches are immense, so that's why I'll be having next time! Glad you enjoyed your visit! xxx

  11. what a great day out! i know what you mean about not having a car - we both have licences but don't have one, one day maybe. then we'll have no excuses to explore more of the UK! but for now, you have lovely friends to take you along and this little road trip was clearly a success :) x

  12. I'm terrible at making ice-cream choices, when there are so many amazing flavours and I can only have one! This likes like a lovely place to try some new flavour combinations :) The cows are so sweet too!

  13. I love the country! Looks like you've had loads of fun too :)

    The Fairytale Pretty Picture


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