Wednesday, 6 November 2019

The North East Christmas Gift Guide

When it comes to buying Christmas gifts I try very hard to shop local wherever I can, treating friends to presents that are made in or inspired by the North East. Believe me nothing beats presenting your loved one with something truly unique from under the tree (although I try and forget about the year I confused my entire family by buying them Stotties from Greggs in my determination to take a little piece of the North East back to Norfolk)!

I hope you take some inspiration from my North East Gift Guide and if you have any ideas yourself I would love to hear them.

The North East Christmas Guide


For the Bairns

Could there be anything cuter than a baby proudly sporting a "Shy Bairns Get Nowt" bib? I think not. Geordie Genes create baby vest and bibs and kids tees designed for kids with North East roots wherever in the world they may live.  Their collection includes "Worky Ticket" hoodies, "Alreet Pet" tees and my personal favourite "Howay Mam" baby vests.  Perfect for causing confusion as soon as you leave the county!

For the Proud Geordie

Wear your Geordie Badge with pride with an eye catching pin from Pin Club. These little cuties look so smart decorating a jacket or bag and their regional inspired pins include an Angel of the North, a Vegan Greggs Sausage Roll, a Radgie pin and one that simply says "Mint". I have my eye on so many of these, it's only a matter of time before I'm completely covered in them.

The North East Christmas Guide - Pin Club


For the Gin fan

The popularity of gin doesn't seem to be fading and if you know a fan it really does make a great present. There are a number of gins made here in the North East so I was a little spoilt for choice when putting this Christmas Guide together, but I have decided that when it comes to pretty as a picture bottles and beautiful flavours you really can't beat Poetic Licence Gin. Poetic Licence is a small independent distillery based in Sunderland who have some truly wonderful creations including Strawberry and Cream Gin and Fireside Spiced Gin as well as some delicious gin based liqueurs.

For a North East Christmas Shopping Experience

Although buying pressies online is the most effortless way to shop I still love the buzz of getting out and about into the shops to purchase gifts and perusing some of my favourite local gift shops in the run up to Christmas is such a joy compared to the busy high street.

The National Trust is a great place to start if you're looking for the perfect present and Seaton Delaval Hall has some exclusive gifts created in the North East to celebrate the region's greatest party planners, the Delavals. They have some great stocking stuffers including a pocket mirror and tote bag but my personal favourite is their "you'll always find me in the stables at parties" tea towel. A cheeky little nod to one of their infamous parties where guests showed up to a party at the hall, only to find the place in complete darkness - cross and about to leave, the doors of the stable were suddenly thrown open to reveal an incredible feast ... now that's my kind of party!

Some of my other favourite local stores to delve into include For the Love of the North where you will find a great range of prints, tees and pins created in the North East and Glamorous Owl (hidden down one of the cutest little cobbled streets in Newcastle) who stock some beautiful jewellery as well as ceramics, glass and textiles.

The North East Christmas Gift Guide - Seaton Delaval Hall


For the Coffee Lover

If you have a coffee lover in your life then some goodies from Pilgrims Coffee will definitely be a great way to impress. We discovered Pilgrims on our adventures to Holy Island earlier this year and they roast some of the very best coffee in the North East. Their bags of coffee make a really great and unique present and although you can buy them from their online store, it's also a great excuse to head over to the island and try some of their fabulous coffee and cake while you're there.

For the Fahonista

Top of my Christmas wish list this year is some new things for my wardrobe from A City By the Sea who celebrate Newcastle and its close proximity to the North Sea through the most beatiful visual storytelling. They do colourful prints featuring some of my favourite parts of the North Tyneside coast as well as tote bags and mugs but it's their collection of sweaters and t-shirts that have really caught my eye.  With fun designs and cheeky little nods (only a true Geordie will understand the meaning behind their "HWTL" slogan tee!) I can't wait to stroll around the Toon in one of their creations!

The North East Christmas Guide - A City by the Sea


For your Love

Running out of present ideas for your other half? Why not treat them to something special at Walwick Hall?  We discovered the boutique hotel hidden in the Hadrians Wall countryside this year and we have become more than a little obsessed. Treat your love to a massage, afternoon tea, five course tasting menu or, if you're feeling very generous, a weekend away in one of their beautiful suites.  The best part about this present?  You get to enjoy it too! You can take a look at all of their available gift cards here.

For the Home Interiors 

Lines Behind have had some truly incredible collaborations this year - from decorating a coffee machine at Tynemouth Coffee to designing beer cans for Fat Hippo, the chances are you will have come across their designs perhaps without even realising it! Their quirky drawings and slogans make me smile every day and if you want a really special gift for someone their North East prints make eye catching gallery walls - perfect for anyone on your present list who loves styling their home.
The North East Christmas Guide - Lines Behind
I really hope my North East Christmas Guide has encouraged you to shop local this year and if you have any tips of your own to share, I'd love to hear them!
Share:

Thursday, 31 October 2019

My October Days

This post includes an advertisement (gifted) feature with The Malmaison 

Happy Halloween! I'd love to pretend that we've thrown ourselves into the spirit of all things spooky but have to confess our house is the dullest in our street - maybe next year eh? This month's roundup is perhaps a little shorter than others, our month seems to have rushed by faster than most with a lot of time dedicated to planning, visiting and recovering from our trip to New York. Here's what happened in October that didn't make the blog.

Fisherman Cottages

Like most great discoveries I first saw these incredible colourful houses on Instagram and just couldn't believe they were in Cullercoats. How on earth had I not seen them before? Given how much time I spend on the North Tyneside coast it wasn't long before I'd set off on a little adventure to see them for myself and was thrilled I managed to track them down with minimal effort (I should be a detective right?)  The most exciting part? One of them is available as a holiday cottage on cottages.com - yes I am tempted!

My October Days - Fisherman Cottages


A Saviour on the A1

Carnaby's continues to be our saviour when we're on long road trips and beats any service station hands down. This absolute gem is like a shining light on days when we're putting in the miles on the A1 and I have to say they truly saved the day on our journey home from Edinburgh Airport following our overnight flight from JFK. We were so tired and this Lemon and Blueberry Sponge was the perfect pick me up!

My October Days - Carnabys




Felt Hat Dilemma 

Does anyone else have a little collection of felt hats that they're never brave enough to actually wear? I've had this one for ages and it's barely made it out of my wardrobe.  I love it but it never seems to be the right time for it. I can hardly head off to Tesco to do the weekly shop in it can I? This month I finally dusted it off for a leafy walk at Gibside - and do you know what? It felt good! Expect to see me pushing my trolly round the supermarket in style very soon.

My October Days


Golden Hour at St Mary's Lighthouse

I think I may have found the perfect Autumn activity! Next time we have a beautiful clear day I highly recommend you pack a flask of hot chocolate and take yourself down to St Mary's Lighthouse in the late afternoon to catch golden hour and, if you're very lucky, enjoy the incredible sight of pink clouds and dark stormy seas. When the tide crashes over the causeway it truly is something to see.

My October Days - St Marys Lighthouse


What's in the bag?

You know when you're on the holiday of a lifetime and your shopping gets just a little out of hand? That's exactly what happened to me when I was on Fifth Avenue in New York and suddenly found myself in Chanel! Heart thumping out of my chest I enjoyed my time in store admiring their small leather goods before leaving with this stunning card holder.  The leather is so soft and I have to say getting it out of my handbag is such a joy. I doubt I will ever be able to afford a handbag, so this is the next best thing.

My October Days - Chanel


Christmas comes early at The Mal

I ended the month with a fantastic night in the private dining room at The Malmaison on the Newcastle Quayside. I sat down to a little sneak preview of their festive offering and am happy to report my first Christmas meal of 2019 got a big thumbs up.  The Turkey with Sage & Onion Stuffing, Bread Sauce and Cranberry Compote was amazing.  The Private Dining Room at the Mal is available from 20 November to 30 December with prices starting at £34.95.

I was treated to a complimentary three course Christmas dinner with no obligation to share. 

My October Days - Christmas at the Mal


For more adventures from New Girl in Toon make sure you follow me on Instagram, I post a new photo every day and you will find vlogs from my favourite North East adventures on my highlights.
Share:

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

A Luxury Spa Break at Walwick Hall - The Best Boutique Hotel in Northumberland

This is an advertisement feature with Walwick Hall 

We always make an effort to celebrate our wedding anniversary with a luxury break close to home and this year we were very excited to check in to Walwick Hall, the best boutique hotel in Northumberland. We first discovered Walwick Hall back in the Summer when we experienced the most incredible afternoon tea and decided instantly that when it came to our anniversary celebrations there was nowhere else we'd rather be.

A Luxury Spa Break at Walwick Hall - The Best Boutique Hotel in Northumberland
We never could have known that this year's wedding anniversary would be a rather somber affair with the unexpected death of my Dad only a few weeks earlier.  Our anniversary fell just a day after his funeral resulting in last minute changes to our booking.  I can't thank Walwick Hall enough for being so supportive during this tough time, as soon as I spoke to them about having to move things around they were so accommodating and took all of the stress right out of my hands - they efficiently adjusted our bookings and immediately sent my new confirmations through so I didn't have to worry. They really do take customer service to the next level and I am so thankful to them for making a horrible time that little bit easier.

A Luxury Spa Break at Walwick Hall


Welcome to Walwick Hall

I don't even know where to begin trying to introduce you to Walwick Hall, it is such a beautiful place I'm not sure I could ever find the words to do it justice but I'll give it a go!

Walwick Hall is everything you could ever want from a luxury hotel and a whole lot more. Beautifully furnished with amazing attention to detail, the friendliest staff and food to really shout about, Walwick Hall is a country boutique hotel a stones throw from Hadrian's Wall in the picture perfect Northumberland countryside.  The Grade II listed country house is a home away from home and manages to capture that perfect balance of luxurious elegance and cosy comfort.

Luxury Spa Break at Walwick Hall
Luxury Rooms at Walwick Hall

There are three types of rooms at Walwick Hall - Luxury, Deluxe and Standard each one beautifully furnished to a very high standard. Looking through the pictures on the website the Standard Rooms look anything but "standard" so even if you're on a slightly tighter budget you certainly wont be missing out by booking one of these rooms.

As we were celebrating a special occasion we checked into Hunter, one of the two Luxury Suites at Walwick Hall and as soon as we opened the door to our room we were truly wowed by how beautiful our home for the night was. Our private hallway had two doors, one leading to the most incredible marbled bathroom with a roll top bath overlooking the gardens and the other taking us into our bedroom.

The Best Boutique Hotel in Northumberland


Immediately slipping off my shoes, walking barefoot over the soft carpet was an absolute dream, all of the furnishings in our room were such high quality - for a moment I did wonder if I could get away with just staying there forever. They wouldn't mind if I moved in would they?

As we were there for a special occasion the hotel had treated us to some lovely little extras and in our room we discovered a plate of chocolate covered strawberries with a "Happy Anniversary" message along with a balloon that was floating above our little window seats offering us incredible views over the gardens and surrounding Northumberland countryside.

I could have happily spent the entire afternoon just relaxing in our beautiful suite ... but the temptation to explore the rest of Walwick Hall was just too much to resist.

Best Boutique Hotel in Northumberland
 The Bar 

After we had settled into our room we decided to head down to the bar for a few drinks before dinner. The bar is a great spot to spend the afternoon (and the best news is it's also open to non residents, so next time you're walking on Hadrian's Wall you know where to head after).

The well stocked bar serve up their own specially created cocktails as well as fine wines, malt whiskeys and gins. The bar at Walwick Hall is the place to be now that the days have turned darker - the cosy corners, comfy armchairs and open fire really come alive during the Autumn and Winter months - no prizes for guessing where you'll find me at Christmas time.

Luxury Spa at Walwick Hall - The Best Boutique Hotel in Northumberland


Dining at Walwick Hall

There are two evening menu options at Walwick Hall - The Tasting Menu offers a five course menu for £65.00 (surely one of the best value tasting menus in the region!) with an optional wine pairing package for an additional £30.00.  I love that during August and September the Tasting Menu featured dishes from the Relish (North East and Yorkshire) Cook Book - a book that's forever on my coffee table but I've always been too lazy to cook from myself!

As tempting as the Tasting Menu looked we decided to go for three courses from the a la carte with plenty of dishes to choose from we were spoilt for choice, I was so happy that we were given the menu to look at whilst we were in the bar as it gave us a good amount of time to properly look and make our choices.

The restaurant at Walwick Hall feels very fancy all decked out in gold chairs, ornate mirrors and lovely tableware but still has a lovely friendly atmosphere. There were plenty of others dining during our visit giving the room a great vibe.

I kicked off with the Ham Hock Terrine (£8.00) served with quail egg, haggis, apples and pickles. It was beautifully presented with incredible splashes of colour and was the perfect light start to the meal. Although the dishes look great on the plate Head Chef Steven Murray prides himself on serving up food that isn't pretentious and believes that "food art belongs in an art gallery not a restaurant", an ethos that I think any keen foodie can really appreciate.

Spa Break at Walwick Hall - Food


For the main course I decided to go for the Roast Haunch of Venison (£22.95) served with rosti potato, textures of beetroot , kale, bitter chocolate sauce and Simon opted for the Tim Oliver Belted Galloway Fillet Steak (£32.95) served with portobello mushroom, grilled tomato, triple cooked chips, crispy onions and roast shallot butter. All of the beef and lamb served at Walwick Hall is sourced from Tim and Jack Oliver who farm from Great Whittington and Haltwhistle meaning that the meat served is 100% traceable from hilltop to table top and you really can taste the quality with each forkful.

Spa Break at Walwick Hall Northumberland - Food


We were pretty full by this point but when have you even known us to say no to dessert and with so many great options on the menu at Walwick Hall we couldn't resist going for the third course. I decided on the Blueberry Tart (£7.00) served with frangipane, blueberry compote, roasted almond and yoghurt sorbet and Simon chose the Sticky Toffee Pudding (£6.95) with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream. It was heavenly!

Our dinner at Walwick Hall was one of the best meals we've ever had in Northumberland and I haven't stopped recommending the restaurant to everyone I have seen since.  We loved that the food was locally sourced and the twists on classic dishes made for a really tasty meal.

Walwick Hall Northumberland - Food


Waking up at Walwick Hall

After all of that delicious food we were more than ready to head for bed which was ready and waiting for us after a very impressive turn down service complete with a deep sleep pillow spray and a bottle of water each. Sinking into our Super-King bed we were asleep within minutes.

I had a great sleep and, despite having stayed in many of the region's loveliest hotels, I have never experienced sheets as incredible as the Egyptian Cotton offering at Walwick Hall. They really are something else.

Before heading downstairs for breakfast I decided I had to try out the beautiful tub in our bathroom - I just can't resist a soak in a bath tub with a view and carefully manoeuvring myself into the bubbles I enjoyed a lovely long bath whilst admiring the picture perfect Northumberland countryside. If you are celebrating a special occasion I really do recommend checking into Walwick Hall just to indulge in a luxurious bath - it is so relaxing.

Suite at Walwick Hall Northumberland


Just about managing to climb out of the bath before I turned into a prune we made our way downstairs. Breakfast at Walwick Hall is served in the dining room and freshly prepared to order. I have to say it was one of the best menus I have ever seen at a hotel and we were spoilt for choice.

Unlike many other hotels there's no "help yourself" buffet, as much as I love those I will admit they tend to bring out a very greedy side of me so it was actually quite nice to just stay seated at our table and order just what we wanted. It felt really lovely not to be battling with other guests for the toaster or fighting our way through the restaurant balancing glasses of orange juice and bowls of cereal.  Table service at breakfast is such a rare treat and really helped us to remain fully relaxed.

Walwick Hall Northumberland - Breakfast


A lot of the produce served at breakfast is sourced locally including bespoke recipe sausages from Scotts of Ponteland, eggs from Lynup Farm in Ingoe and milk and cream from the prize winning herds of dairy Shorthorns and Ayrshires from Northumberland pedigree in Slaley.

We perused the menu with plenty of Tea and a Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice before ordering a
Belgium waffle (£6.95) served with Berry Compote and Orange Creme Fraiche and a Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Eggs on Toasted Bagel (£8.00). I loved that the menu included things you rarely see at hotel breakfasts (which is why I had to order the waffle!)

Walwick Hall Northumberland - Breakfast Waffle


The Spa 

Despite checking out after breakfast we definitely weren't ready to go home and so planned a full extra day at Walwick Hall starting with a visit to the Spa which I think may be Northumberland's best kept secret. It's beautifully intimate and boasts a unique pavilion pool overlooking the private walled garden and out to the Northumberland countryside beyond.  The spa also offers a steam room and hot tub with a few loungers positioned round the pool and a really impressive stack of magazines to help yourself to.

Spa Break at Walwick Hall Northumberland - Pool Views
We were very lucky during our visit to have the entire spa completely to ourselves so if you are visiting I'd highly recommend going during the week and out of school holidays to ensure you get a nice relaxing visit, the spa is very small and I think during busier periods it would get pretty crowded. We were over the moon that we had the whole place to ourselves and if I'm being honest I really wouldn't want to share the space with many more people.

Spa Break at Walwick Hall Northumberland - Pool


As it was a special occasion we decided to book ourselves in for a massage each in the double treatment room. There are 30 different treatments and therapies with some really lovely Germaine de Capuccini face and body treatments available.  If you want to make a day of it there are some great packages available combining treatments with lunch or afternoon tea and tailored to every need, I particularly love the sound of the "The Walwick Walker" the perfect treat after walking in the Northumberland fresh air.

Spa Break Walwick Hall Northumberland - Pool


I love treating myself to a massage and wish it was something I had the opportunity to do more often. There were some great options at Walwick Hall and some of their treatments are different to anything I've seen offered at other spas in the region.  I opted for the 55 minute full body Mediterranean Candle Massage (£75.00).  I got to choose between the Lavender, Olive or Citrus Mediterranean inspired candles to be burned while I enjoyed a Pinda massage. I decided to go for the Lavender, a scent that I always associate with pure relaxation.  The warm oil from the candle is poured over the body for a soothing massage and wow did it leave my skin soft. The experience was absolutely beautiful and I can't wait to get booked in for another one.

Spa Walwick Hall Northumberland - Pool


Northumbrian Afternoon Tea

We decided to end our anniversary celebrations with an afternoon tea.  As we'd tried the traditional tea last time we were at Walwick Hall we decided to go for the Northumbrian version for our second visit. The Northumbrian Afternoon Tea costs the same as the traditional (£24.95) and features some great northern alternatives to the usual afternoon tea stand including mini stotties and singin hinnies.

Walwick Hall Northumbrian Afternoon Tea
We were thrilled to get the same seats that we had last time - on the comfy sofa by the window overlooking the gardens. I don't know what I'd do now if I ever turned up and that table wasn't available, it is perfect and we love it.

I was so impressed that the chef remembered me from our last visit so knew about my nut allergy and had made me my very own nut free macarons - I was so touched and it really does show how incredible the service is at Walwick Hall is. Every single person that visits is treated like a special friend and I really do love that, it's so special.

Walwick Hall - Northumbrian Afternoon Tea



We absolutely loved our return visit to Walwick Hall and I am over the moon that we've discovered such a great place for all of our future celebrations. There are plenty more Walwick Hall experiences I want to tick off my list including a stay in their luxury self catering suites (they look so beautiful) and of course I really want to see the Hall decorated for Christmas.

I can't wait to go back!

Walwick Hall Anniversary Break


What you need to know
  • Book your stay at Walwick Hall here 
  • Walwick Hall is open to all! Non residents can enjoying the dining experiences, bar and spa 
  • If you prefer a self catering experience Walwick Hall also has Chester Stables, seven luxury self catering suites with suites available from 2 to 8 - take a look at the beautiful spaces here.
  • There are plenty of great packages at Walwick Hall - take a look at the latest offers here
Find Walwick Hall at:

Humshaugh
Nr Hexham
Northumberland
NE46 4BJ

walwickhall.com/

01434 620 156

We received a complimentary overnight stay, drinks, dinner and breakfast in exchange for our honest review.  We paid for our spa treatments and afternoon tea.
Share:

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Brand New Light Show in Teesside - Nightfall 2019 By The Light of the Moon at Preston Park Museum

This is a sponsored advertisement feature with Stellar Projects

This is the time of year where I start to get really excited about fitting loads of night time events into my diary. I love nothing more than heading out on an adventure after dark - bundled up in my big coat complete with scarf, wooly hat and the promise of a hot chocolate under the stars. If there's one evening activity I love above all others it's a spectacular light show and I'm so thrilled to be telling you all about Nightfall, a brand new light-based event that is taking place in Teesside this Winter.

By The Light of the Moon is a bit of a first in Teesside, a brand new family friendly light show produced by Stellar Projects and coming to Preston Park Museum and Grounds on 5 and 6 December between 4:30 pm and 9:30 pm.  The self guided moon themed installation showcases a trail of beautiful art work made up of lights and complemented by music, performance and storytelling.

Brand New Light Show in Teesside - Nightfall 2019 By The Light of the Moon at Preston Park Museum and Grounds


Celebrating 50 years since the moon landings, the show will explore the magic, myth and beauty of the moon - art works will include a kaleidoscope of butterflies and a sky full of stars  with plenty of moon themed surprises to delight you on the night.

The  most exciting part (other than the promise of hot chocolate, mulled wine and the street food served in the outdoor teepee of course) is that the trail will culminate with the most beautiful open space displaying the world famous "Museum of the Moon" - something that I have been wanting to see for years! The Luke Jerram designed large moon sculpture features actual detailed imagery of the lunar surface and is meant to be absolutely incredible.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about then you need to take a look at The Museum of the Moon to see some of the truly incredible photographs from its tours.  It has been showcased in a variety of weird, wonderful and beautiful places including a swimming pool in Milan, suspended from a crane at Glastonbury and half submerged in the Bristol Docks.

I am thrilled that this beautiful piece of art is finally visiting us in the North East and that it will be making its home in Teesside for a couple of nights - this really is something not to be missed!

Brand New Light Show in Teesside - Nightfall 2019 By The Light of the Moon at Preston Park Museum


What you need to know:

  • Nightfall will take place on 5 and 6 December 4:30pm to 9:30 pm (last entry at 8:00 pm) at Preston park Museum & Grounds
  • The event is pre ticketed and entry is staggered into 15 minute time slots.  No tickets will be available on the gate.  Tickets can be purchased here
  • Tickets cost £5.00 for early bird (subject to availability), £6.00 for standard and Group of Four £20.00
  • Under 2s go free but will still need a ticket so please order an Under 2 free ticket when purchasing your tickets
  • Parking spaces are available to book alongside tickets but spaces are limited.  Alternative Park and Walk spaces will be available once the main car park is full

Where to find Preston Park Museum & Grounds

Yarm Road
Stockton on Tees
TS18 3RH

If using a Sat Nav please use the postcode TS18 3RJ

This is a sponsored advertisement with Stellar Projects
Share:

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Harry Potter Themed Tour of Alnwick Castle with Lundgren Tours

This is an advertisement feature with Lundgren Tours

Are you ready for an adventure like no other?  I'm very excited to bring a bit of magic to your day with the Harry Potter themed tour of Alnwick Castle with Lundgren Tours.

My passion for Northumberland runs deep - I have endless love for our rolling hills, coastal views and pretty villages. Most weekends you will find me out and about exploring our wonderful neighbourhood yet there is a part of our region that I've never really discovered - our connection to the magical world of Harry Potter!  I've heard people mention that parts of Alnwick Castle were used in the creation of the famous films but have to admit it's something I've not really looked into before so when Lundgren Tours invited me to join them on their Harry Potter themed tour in Northumberland, I knew I'd be in for a fantastical ride (by broomstick of course!)

Harry Potter Themed Tour of Alnwick Castle with Lundgren Tours


Explore the North with Lundgren Tours

Lundgren Tours are an award winning family run tour company who host unique and informative guided coach and walking tours of the North, all lead by tour guide Rob who delivers a tour filled with creative storytelling and plenty of laughs.  The tours promise a fully immersive experience perfect for anyone who loves to learn in a fun environment.

There is something for everyone withThemed Day Trips, Private Tours and Corporate Tour Packages with plenty on offer including Viking Tours of Holy Island, Walking tours of the Lake District, Wildlife Boat Trips and a Game of Thrones themed tour of Hadrian's Wall. The Lundgren Tours offer a great opportunity to explore with someone who's truly passionate about the countryside, history and magic of the North.

Harry Potter Tour of Alnwick Castle with Lundgren Tours


I spy Alnwick Castle!

Waking up on the day of our tour to torrential rain and very cloudy skies we bundled ourselves up in waterproofs and walking boots to head out for the day. Of course, no great British adventure can ever be guaranteed to be filled with sunshine and sometimes if you have a plan you have to just get out there regardless of the weather.

We joined the Lundgren Tour at the most incredible vantage point of Alnwick Castle, somewhere that I've never actually been to despite having lived in the North East for over five years. Priding myself on being something of an expert in the region it felt really special to see one of my favourite landmarks of Northumberland from somewhere different. How on earth had I missed this view?

Harry Potter Alnwick Castle with Lundgren Tours
Lundgren Tours enters Alnwick via The Peth which offers the beautiful views of the Castle.  Remember when you were a kid and you used to shout "I see the sea" when you were driving towards the beach, well "I spy Alnwick Castle" takes the game to a whole other level - approaching the Castle is a real goosebump moment.

Walking along the Paddock for more jaw dropping views, we began our tour with a brief history of the castle and our first little glimpse of a Harry Potter location from the first film before walking along Lion Bridge and up towards the castle. I have lost count of the amount of times I have been to Alnwick yet I've never discovered this bridge before.

I had a feeling our tour was going to be bringing us a lot of firsts!

Alnwick Castle with Lundgren Tours


Welcome to Lundgren Tours

I knew instantly that I was going to really enjoy spending our day with our tour guide Rob when he turned up dressed as a very convincing Ron Weasley. Harry Potter fans are in for a real treat on this tour as not only did Rob grow up in Alnwick he also has an amazing amount of knowledge, he is a huge Harry Potter fan and very passionate about local history.

Alnwick Castle Lundgren Tours
The Public Day Trip Tours are mostly attended by students at this time of year but are open for all so we were joined on our trip by over 60 students all enjoying freshers week at Newcastle's universities. I have to admit before our adventure started I was wondering if we'd enjoy such a large group tour but Rob was very skilled at making sure that everyone on the tour could hear and was enjoying the full experience.

I have to say Rob speaks very loudly and clearly and he had a captivated audience throughout the entire tour, the times when I was stood at the back of the group I still felt fully involved and looking round everyone was enthralled by his tales - no talking, no playing on phones and no yawning - this truly was a tour like no other we'd ever been on.  As soon as I caught Simon laughing at one of Rob's fantastically funny impressions I knew we'd found a winner - anyone that can make my husband laugh in the rain is pretty special!

Discover Alnwick Castle Lundgren Tours


As it was a very wet day our trip took a bit of a break for lunch, a gift shop wander and an attempt to try and dry off a little. We made our way straight to the Courtyard for coffee to warm ourselves up and give us some fuel for the afternoon ahead.  I had a feeling we'd be needing our energy later!

Alnwick Castle Coffee


Welcome to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

After lunch the magic began as we made our way around the outside of Alnwick Castle to learn about Alnwick Castle on Location, discovering the filming locations for the Harry Potter films as well as the Castle's other appearances in TV series and movies.  I have to say whilst I've always known about the broomstick flying scenes being filmed at Alnwick Castle I had no idea exactly how many other parts of the first two films were filmed and if you want to have a great insight into the precise locations Rob is definitely the tour guide for you!

As soon as we got home we couldn't resist having a little watch of the Philosophers Stone just to see some of the scenes that we'd been learning about on the Lundgren Tour. I'll definitely enjoy the film even more now that I can pick out which parts were filmed at Alnwick Castle and know a bit more about some of the behind the scenes trickery that created some of the scenes.

Alnwick Castle - Harry Potter Locations


I'm sure it's every young wizard's dream to follow in the footsteps of Harry Potter and learning to fly a broomstick at Hogwarts is one of the very best parts of visiting Alnwick Castle and something I've been wanting to do for such a long time.  I've seen so many incredible photographs from the broomstick lessons and I couldn't wait to create my own so I was over the moon that a broomstick class was included on the Lundgren Tour.

We were split into two groups to ensure that everyone had the time to give it a go and I loved that even Simon (who is usually pretty reluctant to join in with these types of things) enthusiastically learnt how to mount a broom stick before flying his way around the walls of the Castle.

Alnwick Castle - Harry Potter
I loved the opportunity to embrace my inner child and before I knew it I was up and away on my broom soaring high above the clouds and looking down over beautiful Alnwick Castle. I am of course stretching the truth there slightly, these amazing photographs were created with a little bit of trickery which you learn all about when you attend the lesson and we had plenty of time to put together some really fun photographs.

Alnwick Castle - Harry Potter Broomsticks


Perhaps the most fun part of our Harry Potter experience was Rob's very special spell demonstration that saw him flying backwards through the air when he asked for volunteers to practice their spells. Our group ended up queuing up to take a turn and create amazing little videos with poor Rob throwing himself backwards over and over to keep us all happy. I think you'll agree the end results are pretty spectacular.

Alnwick Castle - Harry Potter Lessons


Slightly damp from our Harry Potter adventures our visit to Alnwick Castle ended with a little look round the State Rooms inside the Castle.  Admission was included with our tour ticket and Rob enthusiastically led us through some of his favourite rooms of the Castle pointing out some interesting features along the way.  Whilst Simon and I love exploring Castles I will admit we're not ones to take the time to read information boards so it was fantastic to have someone like Rob teaching us more about the Percy Family who live in the Castle and sharing some of the amazing history behind some of the furniture and paintings.

Discovering Alnwick Tour

Of course no visit to Alnwick is complete without a little potter round the town and the Lundgren Tours itinerary includes a wander round some of my favourite parts.  We made our way to Market Square and popped into Taste of Northumbria for some little tasters of Northumberland's best tipples including the world famous Lindisfarne Mead, the perfect way to warm yourself up after spending a day adventuring in the rain.

Alnwick Town


It was our second time trying the Mead and Simon has now decided that we need to buy a bottle to take home for Christmas.  I have to agree it's the perfect tipple now that the weather has turned cooler, curling up at home with a nice glass of Lindisfarne Mead sounds pretty amazing.

Our day ended with a visit to Barter Books, one of our favourite places in Northumberland especially when the weather is as bad as it had been on our trip. With some cosy corners complete with comfy chairs and roaring fires, it has to be the best spot in the North East to hide away when the weather is bad.

Alnwick Town - Barter Books


Nothing beats a stroll between the book shelves and we had a good amount of time to just wander - a few people headed off to buy themselves some coffee and cake but we just had a wonderful time picking out books and planning a return trip to try some of the incredible looking food.

Alnwick - Barter Books

We absolutely loved our experience with Lundgren Tours and wouldn't hesitate in recommending them to anyone who loves the North and wants to discover more about our beautiful part of the world. There really is something for everyone and Rob's enthusiasm for our region is infectious - there's a reason Lundgren Tours won a Silver Award Winner in last year's North East Tourism Awards. Rob's dedication and love for his job shines through and you can't help but be swept along with him as he shares his knowledge of the local area with such a great display of performance and character.

I can't wait to plan our next adventure with Lundgren Tours!

Lundgren Tours at Alnwick


What you need to know:
  • Public Day Trip tours are mostly attended by students at certain times of the year but are open for all.  For a more intimate experience take a Private Tour which is perfect for individuals couples and groups
  • Return Coach Travel is provided to/from Newcastle city centre as part of your tour
  • Lunch is not provided on tours but you are welcome to bring your own food and drink
  • Tours start from £30.00 per person - to discover all available  tours click here
  • Book on a public tour here or to enquire about arranging your own private tours contact Lundgren Tours at: enquries@lundgrentours.com
  • If you fancy doing the same Harry Potter tour as us the next tour will be on 27 October 
This is a sponsored feature with Lundgren Tours and we also received complementary tickets to their tour.
Share:

Monday, 30 September 2019

My September Days

September has always been my favourite month. I love that we often get a bit of late Summer sunshine and the promise of Autumn days to come. This year September has been a month of mixed emotions.  As a family we have spent the last four weeks trying to come to terms with life without Dad and I went through extreme lows and highs - dealing with the funeral followed only a few days later by my third wedding anniversary. Although it can be hard in darker days to focus on trying to celebrate the joyous parts of the month I know that life has to carry on, so here are the bits of September that didn't make the blog.

Breakfast at Cafe Beam

This month I finally tried the new community cafe in Gosforth and it's somewhere I haven't stopped talking about since. Providing young people with learning difficulties and disabilities from across the North East the opportunity to work and learn, Cafe Beam is run by Smile for Life Children's Charity and serves the most incredible homemade food at amazing prices.  I opted for their Bacon, Sundried Tomato, Asparagus and Poached Eggs on Toast (£6.00) and it was faultless. The service is warm and friendly and the cafe has the most wonderful welcoming vibe.  I can't wait to return.

September Days - Cafe Beam


Wardrobe Updates

I definitely go through phases of buying a silly amount of clothes and I have to say after learning about my Style Code with Helenlee I definitely make wiser choices when it comes to updating my wardrobe, however September saw me going slightly crazy in the aisles. I've just rediscovered bodysuits (you know those awful things with the poppers that we wore in the 90s and swore we'd never wear again?). Who knew they were so flattering! I love that I can wear them with jeans and skirts without fabric rolls forming round my bum - amazing! You may have also noticed my new trainers on this picture, a hint at what's to come next month. We're off to New York for our first ever visit and I've invested in these Sketchers for pure comfort and street style.

September Days - Wardrobe Updates
Di Meo's Riverside

I think I may have found Newcastle's best kept secret.  Di Meo's (my favourite ice-cream shop in the North East .. as if you didn't know!) now have a little hidden cafe in Ouseburn - you'll find it on the Riverside Walk but blink and you will miss it.  The counter is smaller than their main shop in Whitley Bay but I promise you the ice-cream is just as good.  We're over the moon that we can now get our fix by the Tyne - make sure you pop in to say hello and enjoy a cone when you're next in the area.

September Days - Di Meos Riverside


Breakfast at Flamingo Cafe

Another breakfast spot ticked off my list, this month I finally got myself down to Flamingo Bar and Cafe at Seaham Harbour. The healthy food cafe are beginning to create a real buzz over their delicious breakfast menu and Instagrammable interiors and food.  I had the delicious Blueberries and Cream Cheese on Toast followed by a brisk walk along the seafront. I can't wait to go back on a sunny day and sit out on their beautiful sea view terrace.

September Days - Flamingo Cafe


Lost in the Streets

I can go weeks without really seeing Newcastle now I no longer work in the city centre so sunny weekends with no plans have now become my time to get lost in the streets I love. I really enjoy wandering with no agenda, taking endless photos of all the beautiful buildings and nosing through the windows of all the new places I hadn't realised had opened.  I can't believe how much you miss from not working in the city.

September Days - Newcastle


Sippo the Hippo 

Simon has a new obsession - Allendale Brewery Proper Pale Ale that you can only get at Fat Hippo! Out of all his obsessions it's definitely my favourite and not one that I am complaining about - I'm never going to say no to eating my favourite burgers in the Toon.  I'm never really going to be an ale girl but even I love these cans because they were designed by our very talented pal at Lines Behind and we are very proud!

September Days - Allendale at Fat Hippo


New Hair Do

Eagle eyed Instagram followers may have spotted that I had a bit of a mop chop this month. I shared this very quick photo on my Stories straight from my hair appointment. It was a little spontaneous and I only decided an hour before that I was going to have a dramatic cut - slightly fed up of my straggly locks I opted for a shorter do and I absolutely love it!

September Days - New Hair


For more adventures from New Girl in Toon make sure you follow me on Instagram, I post a new photo every day and you will find videos from my favourite North East adventures on my highlights.
Share:
© New Girl in Toon | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig