It’s been an intense few months what with the house project getting into full flow and various other bits and bobs going on. So to say we were ready for our annual catch up with some very good friends is a bit of an understatement. I was champing at the bit to get going on Friday and finally, after popping up to the house to take receipt of our new kitchen (exciting) and waiting for the car to be serviced and being told it needed extra repairs (sob), we managed to get on our way.
This is our fourth trip away with these friends and our families have expanded somewhat since the first one, so we’ve leaned more towards booking more spacious cottages so there’s plenty of room for the kids to run about. They are inevitably more expensive but I do think it’s worth it. Especially since we do spend our nights in after being out and about during the day. Also because we go away with another family we do have a bit of freedom to book something a bit nicer than the norm.
So we booked East Bickerton, right in the heart of the Northumbrian countryside.
The cottage is absolutely stunning and Lizzie, the owner, lives right next door which is really handy if there is anything you specifically need. Not that we did need to contact her as she had thought of everything. Apart from on our final morning Alan woke up with a bug and wasn’t able to travel. Lizzie was so gracious in allowing us to stay past the 10am check out, telling us we could stay as long as we wanted. Thank you Lizzie! When we arrived there was milk, biscuits, tea and coffee awaiting us (I love little touches like that). As well as being a stunning home in a stunning location, it was also really family friendly. We were provided with two travel cots and two high chairs, a stair gate and boxes of toys for the kids to play with. One piece of feedback I would give Lizzie is to advertise this as it’s a huge draw for families and saves us packing our own. As if all that wasn’t enough we were able to order a supermarket delivery which she kindly took receipt of for us. All in all East Bickerton gets a massive thumbs up from us.
Because we didn’t arrive till 4pm and because our home for the weekend was so great we didn’t do much on Friday except relax, play, eat and drink wine. Absolute bliss. It’s amazing how much more relaxing it can be doing all the normal stuff but away from home. No idea why, but I’m sure there’s a scientific reason for it.
We didn’t have high hopes for nice weather so decided to stay local in the morning. We took a walk round the surrounding countryside. Wow. We took a meander through a field full of sheep. The kids thought this was the best thing ever. I did too actually. We climbed over fences, rolled around in the wet grass (children only), paddled in streams and got very, very muddy.
The dads then headed off mountain biking. Crazies!
The rain stayed off in the afternoon so we optimistically headed out to Cragside in the afternoon, (a fabulous National Trust site with a beautiful house, woodlands and gardens), where the rain helpfully started and we got soaked. Still, the kids loved the adventure playground and the surrounding woodlands so it was still well worth it. This is clearly a place you can visit for an entire day or even a couple of days so we will for sure go back one day and really take our time to explore.
We were swithering between visiting the Farne Islands to spot puffins and seals or Alnwick Garden, with its labrynth, treehouse, fountains and cherry tree orchard on the Sunday. Simply due to distance we opted for Alnwick Garden, It was a brilliant day out and again we came away feeling like we could have spent even more time here. We didn’t visit the Castle so this is on my hit list for a return visit. We did however have a good explore round most of the grounds and had lunch in the treehouse. Childhood.dreams.made!
Then in the evening we had a little wander outside as we had heard that because there is so little light pollution in the area we would be able to do some star gazing. I so wish that we could’ve taken some decent pictures because this was amazing. I have never seen anything like it before.
I got a tad emotional….and Alan made fun of me, so that lasted 2.1 seconds 😉
As I mentioned before, poor Alan was ill on our last day so while he was bedridden we wondered what to do. We decided to take the kids into the nearest town, Rothbury, for a wander around. Like all the little towns and villages round here it’s so full of character, with some great little deli counters, florists, cafes and even an old school sweet shop. A visit here and to a local charity shop for a toy and the kids thought it was Christmas. All for the pricey sum of £3!
We enjoyed our time in Northumberland so much as came away feeling like we could have easily spent a week here and never got bored. For us it’s an easy 2.5 hour drive from home so not too stressful a car journey and we just love discovering new places.
I love the National Trust centres and all that you get for your money. I can totally see why so many people from England, Wales and Northern Ireland invest in an Annual Membership as the sites are a perfect family day out, with great things to keep the adults and little ones amused.
Annual cheesy group photo! As per usual it’s impossible for me to keep my eyes open!
If anyone is looking for a getaway in the north of England, Northumberland should definitely be on the list and East Bickerton is perfect for larger families and groups. I’ve fallen in love with the area and will definitely be back to explore more.
*We paid for everything on our visit. All views are my own