“For the Love of the North” as Guests at Seal Cottage!

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.