time flies when you're being a mum

Time to Love tagged with 'date night'

It’s easy with little ones to forget about your partner so this category is all about lurve and keeping your relationship alive!

Mums' Days Review

16 Dec, 2014

Last Sunday evening Mike and I were invited to review a brand new “Inn”, a sister Bar/Gastropub/B&B to Jesmond Dene House, called St Mary’s Inn. It is based in rural Northumberland, around 15 to 20 minutes North of Newcastle, just before the A1 becomes a single carriageway – yes, my friends of the South, shocking as this is (and it IS shocking!!), this actually happens at a couple of points between Morpeth and Edinburgh!

I digress…so for a special date night, Mike and I were able to try out all that St Mary’s Inn has to offer in the shape of dinner, bed and breakfast. Complete with a much needed lie in!

St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland - Mums' Days review of dinner, bed and breakfast

Main Entrance to St Mary’s Inn

St Mary’s Inn – Arrival

Mike and I arrived at St Mary’s Inn at around 5:30pm. We were warmly welcomed (both in temperature and greeting) with drinks at the bar while we checked in. Surely that has to be the best way to check in?? Mike quickly ensconced himself in the paper while he enjoyed one of the local ales and I made use of the free wifi – some date night!

The Bar and restaurant seemed huge but as it was divided into lots of little areas, most of which had a wood burning stove, none of the intimacy was lost, and from where we were sat we got caught up in people (and dog!) watching, and eavesdropping on country life, Christmas chatter and people catching up with each other (everything Mike basically wants from life in the future…perhaps we should be moving North instead of West!), for a place that has only been open a matter of weeks, it seems to have been quickly embraced by the locals. A sure sign of early success.

St Mary’s Inn – Bedroom

A glass of wine down and I was ready to check in to our “bedroom” (a little indication of the hospitality of St Mary’s Inn – they want you to feel welcome and at home), which was named Catcleugh, after the Northumberland Reservoir.  In fact each room is named after a similar Northumbrian landmark and even the artwork up the stairs very firmly nods to the vast and incredibly beautiful Northumberland landscape.

St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland - Mums' Days review of dinner, bed and breakfast

Bedroom Corridor and Northumberland Inspired Artwork

The bedroom itself was exactly as described on the website: “Light and airy, with big windows and soft carpets, they’re uncluttered and comfortable.”

Simple but lovely to be in. I could imagine reading by the window for hours and being really happy! Or more likely working/writing/tweeting at the table – but still being happy!

St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland - Mums' Days review of dinner, bed and breakfast

The Catcleugh Bedroom – St Mary’s Inn

St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland - Mums' Days review of dinner, bed and breakfast

The bed is HIGH! Reuben would need a step ladder to get up there! It has the same sumptuous bed linen as Jesmond Dene House, making for an extremely comfortable sleep. There is unique artwork, including a huge aztec-style feature above the bed, and lovely reclaimed vintage furniture to compliment the room whilst keeping to the minimalist style.

St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland - Mums' Days review of dinner, bed and breakfast

The bathroom is clean and fresh and simple, again with the same luxury towels and toiletries that you would find at Jesmond Dene House.

St Mary’s Inn – Dinner

Once I had got myself acquainted with the room and freshened up a wee bit, it was time for our dinner date!

St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland - Mums' Days review of dinner, bed and breakfast

This was the first time I realised what a warren St Mary’s Inn is! Walking past the main entrance and bar, there were numerous nooks and crannies to get comfy by a fire, plus a number of larger dinning areas.

St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland - Mums' Days review of dinner, bed and breakfast

We were lead down a fetching corridor (it really is tastefully decorated, both in terms of artwork and furniture, with an attention to detail in every aspect of this large space) to one of these dinning areas and was seated by a wood burning stove. Despite, or perhaps because of, so much space they have been able to create intimate dinning for both large and smaller groups.

St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland - Mums' Days review of dinner, bed and breakfast

Happily in-situ, we settled in for our 3-course meal, and being a Sunday, that meant Sunday Roast was on the cards.

You’ll see if you go to the St Mary’s Inn website that food is a huge part of the personality of the place – generous portions with an emphasis on Northumbrian flavours. They buy locally and even grow some of their own!

St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland - Mums' Days review of dinner, bed and breakfast


For starters Mike had Northumberland game terrine and toasted sourdough and I had the Smoked mackerel pate, pickles and rye crackers. Traditional, simple and really rather delicious!

St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland - Mums' Days review of dinner, bed and breakfast

St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland - Mums' Days review of dinner, bed and breakfast


After that we both chose a roast; I had the Roast Pork Belly and Mike chose the Braised Lamb Shoulder. They both came with a roast potatoes, mashed neeps, buttered greens, honey roast carrots and parsnips, yorkshire pudding and gravy. There was so much food on this one plate I really didn’t need the other two courses! But we really enjoyed it, the Belly Pork was juicy with (mostly) great crackling and the Lamb was melt in your mouth but I’d say the over all star of the show was the roast potatoes. Blinking delicious and it pained me to not manage them all!!

St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland - Mums' Days review of dinner, bed and breakfast

St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland - Mums' Days review of dinner, bed and breakfast


Finally, despite the fact we were full to burst we went for desserts! Mike had his favourite, sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream and I went for the Christmas pudding and Brandy sauce. It felt wrong not to. It was so rich! But a lovely way to finish off our meal.

St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland - Mums' Days review of dinner, bed and breakfast

St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland - Mums' Days review of dinner, bed and breakfast

Then we rolled on up to bed for a FULL nights sleep with no interruptions from Reuben (he’s been favouring coming up to our room anytime from 3am for the last month. Bit of a killer!).

St Mary’s Inn – Breakfast

The next day we woke up when we fancied, checked on the kids – Reuben had slept from 7 until 7, of course – then mozied on down for a leisurely breakfast. And the fire was already lit.

St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland - Mums' Days review of dinner, bed and breakfast

St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland - Mums' Days review of dinner, bed and breakfast

You could have a continental breakfast, which looked really great…

St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland - Mums' Days review of dinner, bed and breakfast

…but Mike and I both went for cooked – well, we were starving! Obviously not the case but with Eggs Benedict and Poached Egg on Avocado and toast, we couldn’t resist!

St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland - Mums' Days review of dinner, bed and breakfast

St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland - Mums' Days review of dinner, bed and breakfast

Then we were homeward and office bound – but what a great way to start the week.

St Mary’s Inn – Conclusion

So that, in a nutshell, was our visit to St Mary’s Inn. I did love it. It was everything I would expect from the people behind Jesmond Dene House and more. All the things I would expect, such as a warm welcome, and beautiful attention to detail in the furnishings and artwork, have been exported. But, rather than trying to recreate Jesmond Dene House in the countryside, this very much takes on the personality of the place – it isn’t a boutique hotel, not to say it isn’t luxurious in its own way, and it isn’t trying to be either. It is an Inn. With the emphasis on hospitality, fine local foods and country living. And I feel that the bedrooms resonate this message too. In the heart of beautiful countryside, I can see this place doing really well with both locals and tourists alike!

What do you think of St Mary’s Inn? Do you fancy a trip?!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this review: anything you loved or you’d like to know or you wished I had included, etc! Please do leave your feedback in the comments below. I love to receive them and do my best to respond to every one!

04 Oct, 2014

With kids, work, friends, Facebook (the list goes on) to maintain, the chances are your love life might be a bit like the plant in my dinning room, really, really thirsty and a bit wizened looking. We’ve all got busy lives, but if we can get our heads around a sensory box for our toddlers with 17 different ingredients, or spending our weekends driving a pre-teen from one social event to another, I really reckon we can scrub up a wee bit to er ‘water’ some life back into our relationships! So, you’ve managed to drag your potentially stuck in a rut butts out on a date night (or in, for this post extends to stay at home date nights too!), now what? How can you make sure you really rock it?

5 ways to rock a date night! 1. Plan 2. Make an Effort 3. Ditch the phone 4. Have sex FIRST 5. Do something thoughtful - click here for the full post and start rocking your date nights! http://mumsdays.com/how-to-rock-a-date-night

Don’t worry, I’ve put together my tip top tips that will quench even the thirstiest of relationships*!

*Caviate…I’m no expert!

5 ways to Rock a Date Night

1. Plan!

You’ll not hear me say the ‘p’ word very often but unless you get some dates in the diary, it ain’t never gunna happen! Also once you book some date nights in the calendar it means you can organise it properly; sort out baby sitters, book in a bikini wax, get the steak in, etc!

2. Make an effort

Get a bit glammed up; get your hair done if it needs it, sort the aforementioned bikini, shave your legs, nice clothes, perfume, etc. We get glammed up when we go out with the girls so doesn’t the fella you love deserve a bit of that?! Even if you’re staying in, how nice, how sexy does it feel to make that effort?

3. Ditch the phone

And anything else that might distract you. This is your opportunity to be present. You really don’t need to tweet a picture of your main course (and then check your messages)! If you’re watching  a film, watch it together. Using instagram at the same time doesn’t work. I’ve got the failed date night to prove it.

4. Have sex first!

I know this will mess up your hair and it will require the scheduling skills of a university secretary to achieve it, especially if you’ve got a baby sitter on the way…but let’s face it, the main goal of a date night is to reconnect and ultimately have sex! If you ‘do it’ first you’ve already reconnected on an emotional level, any weird barriers from little tifs or whatever else have been broken down, and you’re ready just to have a good time and properly chat. The other crucial thing about this is you have achieved your goal before you drink too much (because you never go out) and end up passing out in bed in your dress…(just me?)

5. Do something thoughtful

If your partner’s language of love isn’t physical, do something else thoughtful that they will really appreciate. A little meaningful present (doesn’t need to be expensive, I’m thinking something that reminds you of your honeymoon or a mixed tape from the year you met) OR, if they like a clutter free existence (I can’t imagine), have a good ol’ tidy up OR write them a love letter that they can find while you’re getting ready. Corny but doing something that shows you put in a bit of effort for your partner’s benefit will remind them of the old days, the pre-kid days and why they fell in love with you… Ahhhhhh!

Really, these are just a few of my thoughts, little notes to remind me to make the effort… It’s so easy to get caught up in family life, and how exhausting is that?! But you and your partner are the cornerstone of it all, and only you know what works for your partner, so don’t forget to water that relationship!

What are your secrets for rocking a date night?!

Do share your comments below, I’d love a few insider details! xxx

Come and join the conversation on the Mums Days Facebook wall!

19 Jun, 2014

One of the biggest changes in Mike and my relationship once Reuben came along, was date night. We both worked in the city and so deciding that night we would go for dinner, get a drink or catch a movie was run of the mill for us! Then all of a sudden that stopped. I don’t know about you but I think we’re still getting used to that change.

I’ve mentioned a few times previously that we’re making an effort to eat dinner together at the table but that’s as far as date nights go. So, I’ve been trawling the internet for ideas to turn an evening at home into a Date Night but first…

Prep for date night

Tidy up the house, set the dining room table if necessary, turn off your phone/computer/TV, dim the lights, light the candles and switch on the music. You might also want to get dolled up (big knickers are banned!) or at least get rid of the baby sick. And, send your partner a text to let them know your plans, if they don’t know (or allude to them if you don’t want to be explicit – see points 10 and 11!), so they aren’t disappointed when they can’t watch the football/play on their phone/etc.

I have gathered ideas from the Happy Wives ClubAsk Men as well as the places I link to below.

11 Stay-at-Home Date Night Ideas!

1. Candle lit dinner – kind of obvious but get dolled up and have a 3 course dinner with complimenting wines and a nice playlist! (To make it a bit kinkier you could make dinner in some nice lingerie but make sure you wear an apron so you don’t get burnt/go up in flames!)

2. Movie night with a theme – after a hard day at work/with kids, the chances are you won’t get past the first one! But if you can, you can theme the films around whatever really; a favourite actor, a group of actors, a decade, a country, etc. Keep it light and get in the popcorn!

3. Make something new together – fancy trying something a bit more complex? Pop open the wine and follow the recipe together, chatting as you go along.

4. Double date – you might not be able to go out, but your friends could come to you for dinner and drinks.

5. Make a playlist – for each other or do one together for your next road trip/holiday, whatever. I hardly ever listen to music anymore, so this would be a good excuse to rekindle my love for it while having fun with Mike.

6. Alfresco Dining – with warmer, lighter evenings take dinner outside. Even in the smallest of gardens this is doable! Make it extra special with some tea lights in jars dotted around.

alfresco dining - stay-at-home date night! #marriage #relationship #wedding #datenight http://www.mumsdays.com/stay-home-date-night/

Our yard is a lot nicer now so this will be even better! Phones down for date night though.

7. Holiday planning – decide where you’re going to go, book flights, hotel, villa, whatever or just plan some of the lovely things you can do while you’re there. If you’re fella is anything like mine, you might not want to make a big deal of this one, just start doing it after a lovely meal inspired by your destination!

8. Themed night – this has the potential to sound a bit lame/corny but it’s up to you how far you go…here are some examples:

Japan – wear your favourite kimono (you know you have one just lying around!), make sushi together, drink Sake and watch Lost in Translation or your favourite Ghibli film!

Italy – Get your finest 50’s Italia inspired outfit on, make pizzas (or perhaps something a little more upmarket!), drink Chianti and watch The Talented Mr Ripley.

Spain – make little bites of tapas (like you’d see in a bar in Spain, not like the Tapas restaurants here!) and set it out on your dinning room table, get a few bottles of wine, dim the lights, light the candles, put on your spanish music and sit at the same side of the table – There, you’re at wine bar in Spain!

Other places that would work nicely would be France or Brazil (!).

9. Adult slumber party – bring loads of cushions, duvets, blankets, etc into the living room and snuggle up for the evening with a DVD box set or film. You’d probably be better off in your birthday suit too.

With that last idea in mind, the chances are that on your date night a certain amount of hanky-panky will be expected but in case you want to skip the formalities and get to it, here are a bonus 2 ideas!

10. Board games – make some cocktails (or Dutch Courage as I like to think of it), enjoy your dinner then get out the board games. I’m not a massive fan of board games, I’m way too competitive, but I can see how a game of Nookii, or perhaps this game, could be fun (but remember to keep it well hidden when you’re not playing! *Mortification alert*).

11. Fantasy Room Service – (click the link for explanation and the free printables). I’m not completely sure I get what you have to do for each category so I suppose some thought will need to go into it, but the premise is your partner chooses something from the ‘menu’ and you have 24 hours to deliver. Having to wait certainly builds the tension, so that could be fun!

What do you think? Any of those sound like fun for you and your partner? Or do you have a better idea for a stay-at-home date night?! Do share in the comments below…

There’s also a shed-load more date ideas over on Six Sisters Stuff to get you thinking and loving (and canoodling)!

AllAboutYou - 11 date night ideas

House of Tides


17 May, 2014

House of Tides

Oysters with yummy things and a bowl of seaweed – fancy!

Mike and I went for a meal last night at House of Tides. It was part Birthday present, part anniversary and it was extravagance itself! A 7 course surprise taster menu with wine pairing. Truly incredible. The food was out of this world with lots of local, fresh fish and a gorgeous steak. Oh my goodness and the dessert?!? Amazing. The service was lovely and unassuming, and the wines really complimented each course. Despite the fact that I know relatively little about wine, I enjoyed learning about each one (although after 5 I couldn’t tell you what we had!).

House of tides was fantastic, I’d highly recommend it and good luck to “Little Kenny Atkinson”, as I heard him described today (my friend went out with some of his old class mates recently!), in getting us a Michelin! Us meaning Newcastle.


The 5 Love Languages


How to speak romance fluently!

09 Sep, 2013

Back in June, whilst awkwardly drinking my cocktail trying to avoid the hideous willy straw, we hit upon a poignant moment at my cousin’s hen do. We were talking about tips for a longer lasting relationship – lots of sex, do DIY badly so that your fella will do it instead, etc. BUT one person had taken this seriously and started to advise about the 5 love languages.

Apparently we all have our individual ways that we like to SHOW our love for our partners. Some people like to GIVE little presents. Others like to DO things for their partner like cooking and cleaning. That kind of thing. This is our love language.

The crucial thing is that in order for our partners to FEEL loved, you need to understand and do things in their love language. Have I lost you yet?!

Well, I thought this sounded pretty neat and the next morning, after a glorious night on my own in the house, I did some googling and found out what all this Love Languages stuff was. This is what I found…

The 5 Love Languages*

*WARNING* this has got a cheese volume of 11. There is also a religious aspect, which I am neither for nor against but don’t let it put you off if you aren’t religious!



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