October 15, 2020 6 min read
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 of us are non-drivers we're often limited when choosing accommodation that is relatively near to a train route. Thankfully, 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.
The 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 very well equipped and there was 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. There are lovely touches in each room with lovely views overlooking the gardens, super comfy beds and a couple of welcome chocolates to enjoy.
There is a sizeable bathroom with a toilet and shower and there's 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.
We wandered through the park where we were greeted by the wonderful sight of lights scattered all around and 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. I was seduced by the vegetarian options off 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 to review 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.
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