time flies when you're being a mum

11 Mar, 2015

I’m having a bit of a love affair with Northumberland at the moment! What with moving out into rural Northumberland, our Northumberland Castles Challenge with English Heritage, and Robson waxing lyrical in the wonderful Tales from Northumberland, I’m feeling pretty smitten with this gorgeous county. And now I’ve found a macaroon that is going to make you not only want to visit but to move here. Sorry to break it to you like that. Prepare yourself for the visual treat that is Afternoon Tea at St Mary’s Inn

Afternoon Tea at St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland

Afternoon Tea at St Mary’s Inn, Morpeth

Afternoon Tea at St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland

My best friend Alex was visiting last week as a goodbye before she leaves the UK for a new, fabulous job in Japan. When St Mary’s Inn invited me to review their afternoon tea, I just had to take my bestie for a final fling before she goes and leaves me!! *sobs*

Now, you may remember Mike and I went for a date night to St Mary’s Inn in December and had a wonderful time, so I knew we were in for a treat. I just didn’t realise how much of a treat!

We were seated in yet another room in St Mary’s Inn’s labyrinth of loveliness and again I was taken by the simple place settings and the wood burners in each cul de sac. It’s somehow grand but cosy all at the same time.

Afternoon Tea at St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland

Afternoon Tea at St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland

Once I’d finished annoying the other punters by taking a bunch of photos we sat down to enjoy a coffee and pursued the menu whilst we waited for our afternoon tea to arrive.

Afternoon Tea at St Mary's Inn

Afternoon Tea at St Mary's Inn, Morpeth, Northumberland

And then it did. In all it’s beautiful glory… The St Mary’s Inn Afternoon Tea.

Afternoon Tea at St Mary's Inn

1. The savoury stuff

Afternoon Tea at St Mary's Inn

(i) Sandwiches

Once I’d messed around taking loads of photos from every possible angle, we were finally able to tuck in. We started with the sandwiches, obvs, which were salt beef and mustard, cheese and pickle, prawn marie rose and egg and cress. The egg and cress won for me, it was so delicious!

Afternoon Tea at St Mary's Inn

(ii) Cheese Scone

Then we moved on to the little balls of wonder, also known as the cheese scone. They were perfection, the only downer was that the butter was unsalted. As a buyer of organic unsalted butter, there’s nothing like the real deal when you go out for a treat!

Afternoon Tea at St Mary's Inn

2. The Sweet Stuff

Then we were ready to tackle the cakes! Wow, they looked beautiful. Each one a mini piece of perfect art.

Afternoon Tea at St Mary's Inn

Afternoon Tea at St Mary's Inn

We started our sweet journey with a taste of the chocolate brownie, being careful not to eat too much as it was really rich and there were still 3 more cakes and some fruit scones left to taste! It was, as the picture suggests, melt-in-the-mouth amazing.

Afternoon Tea at St Mary's Inn

But the star of the show has to be this baby.

Afternoon Tea at St Mary's Inn - The best macaroon I've ever tasted!

The lime and white chocolate macaroon.

I’ve never seen the attraction of macaroons before now but this one cake, sent directly from heaven, has changed that forever. A crunchy outer shell that reveals a perfectly gooey and chocolately middle. This is the macaroon that all other macaroons, nay, all other cakes will have to stack up against. I was going to elaborate and imagine a world where we all lived in Northumberland eating these macaroons and castle hunting…but that’s going a bit too far, so I’ll leave it there!

Afternoon Tea at St Mary's Inn - The best macaroon I've ever tasted!

The rhubarb pavlova was also divine. The rhubarb was perfectly tart and crunchy, while the cream was just…uuuuuum. I really liked this too!

Afternoon Tea at St Mary's Inn - The best macaroon I've ever tasted!

Then finally we had the apple tart, which was very sweet! Sounds crazy after all those other cakes, but the combination of the super buttery crust and sweet, sweet icing pushed us up to our sweetie limit!

Afternoon Tea at St Mary's Inn - The best macaroon I've ever tasted!

We were then ready for our closeups.

Afternoon Tea at St Mary's Inn - The best macaroon I've ever tasted!

Afternoon Tea at St Mary's Inn - The best macaroon I've ever tasted!

Now you’re just being silly – it was the apple tart that did it!

We finished off, the way all good afternoon teas should, with a fruit scone complete with homemade raspberry jam and clotted cream. We might be a long way from Devon but this was still a mean and perfect finish to our afternoon tea.

Afternoon Tea at St Mary's Inn - The best macaroon I've ever tasted!

So there you have it – this is what you can expect from an Afternoon Tea at St Mary’s Inn!

What was the thing that had you drooling the most from this afternoon tea?! Are you considering moving to Northumberland now?

Of course you are! I’d love to hear your comments xx

I’m linking up with the lovely Michelle over at Bod for Tea and her wonderful linky Share the Joy!

18 comments.

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

Starters

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

Mains

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

Dessert

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!

4 comments.

26 Nov, 2014

Two weeks ago I was at the Mothercare Press Event for their Spring/Summer 2015 collection. It was a fab day, I got to meet and interview Jools Oliver and have a sneak-peak at the new collection…in between filming for the Mothercare YouTube channel, a further highlight was meeting the lovely Debbie from Stellé Audio who gave me a Go-Go speaker to try out. They have quickly become the best speakers ever (in my humble opinion).

Stelle Audio Go-Go speaker - Best speakers for Mums on the Go-Go! Recommended Christmas present for New Mums and Mums-to-be. Click here for Full review and fabulous photos of the Go-Go speaker in action with a 2 year old. http://www.mumsdays.com/best-speakers-ever-go-go/

I’m not sure why I’m pulling that face? – sometimes it does its own thing.

Best Speakers – Stelle Audio, Go-Go Speaker

I’ll be honest, I’m no tech whizz and I struggle to get excited about audio equipment but not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I sceptically took one.

The premise behind the Go-Go is it is for Mums (and Dads) to support their daily life with little kids. It connects to your device via bluetooth and is super portable, with loads of different fixtures to hang it on door handles or fix it to a cot/buggy (perhaps not while you’re walking down the street though!).

So, what’s got me so excited that I decided to write a full post AND ask Stellé Audio if they would like to give me another one for a competition for you lot?! Well, I love it. Simple as.

Stelle Audio Go-Go speaker - Best speakers for Mums on the Go-Go! Recommended Christmas present for New Mums and Mums-to-be. Click here for Full review and fabulous photos of the Go-Go speaker in action with a 2 year old. http://www.mumsdays.com/best-speakers-ever-go-go/ (more…)

7 comments.

10 Nov, 2014

You may not have heard but it’s all change at Mothercare!

Mothercare flagship store launches in North East England: http://mumsdays.com/mothercare-north-east/

Mothercare invited me to be their VIP blogger last week for their brand-new store launch, which was happily just down the road from me in the Team Valley in Gateshead. As one of the largest stores in the UK, I had visited just before I had Reuben to get stocked up with essentials. I’ll be honest, although the staff were lovely, the store itself was not. What a transformation!

Bright, spacious, exciting; Mothercare is a now destination, complete with gorgeous cafe, Angelica’s, and soft play from Jelly Bugs. (I’ve already got plans to meet my blogging pals there!) (more…)

9 comments.

14 Jul, 2014

This Saturday, 19th July from 10am – 4pm, Cramlington is hosting its 1st food festival at Manor Walks. There’s loads of things going on including food stalls and full on Summer Classic cooking demonstrations from the surrounding restaurants! There will also be lots of lovely stalls with local crafters, so it should be a great day out if you can get along.

For those of you who don’t know the area, Cramlington is the next town along from where I live in Blyth. I’ve mentioned before (quite a few times!) that Blyth has a bit of a bad reputation, but Cramlington, on the other hand, is like our classy cousin. The fact they are hosting what sounds like a really lovely Foodie Festival, doesn’t surprise me at all!

Manor Walks in Cramlington

As you can imagine Cramlington has some lovely shops, but as a new town Cramlington’s shopping area, Manor Walks, was built at a time when architectural design was somewhat questionable. However, last year it had a pretty sexy facelift which included building a massive cinema and a whole bunch of restaurants. Including, Frankie and Benny’s.

I love a bit of Frankie and Benny’s. I didn’t think it was possible to crave a baked potato, and Mike thinks it’s positively crazy I would even chose a baked potato over chips, but sometimes all I want is a Frankie and Benny’s baked potato with loads of butter (plus a rack of spare ribs and some corn on cob, obviously).

I’d always thought of Frankie and Benny’s as a date night destination, I guess purely because we’d sometimes go before the cinema so therefore never had the kids. When Manor Walks invited us to go as a family to do some pizza making we jumped at the chance. (The irony is because I’m doing the slow carb diet, I didn’t get my baked potato. Shows how ‘good’ I’m being!!)

Cramlington’s Frankie and Benny’s

Last weekend we were in Brighton and we didn’t want to take Gabby out of school on the Friday, so this Friday we hadn’t seen her for almost 2 whole weeks. When we were finally reunited as a family again, it was with high spirits that we set off into the sunshine just before 5 to go to Manor Walks for our dinner.

Cramlington Foodie Festival - Frankie and Benny's part of Manor Walks in Cramlington http://mumsdays.com/cramlington-foodie-festival/

Cramlington Foodie Festival - Frankie and Benny's part of Manor Walks in Cramlington http://mumsdays.com/cramlington-foodie-festival/

Our lovely waitress went to great lengths to make us feel welcome and obvious is well trained in the art of serving families as she put through our order for starters and drinks (of which mine was the biggest glass I’d ever seen. Well, almost!) almost before we’d even sat down – it was like she’d read my mind!

Cramlington Foodie Festival - Frankie and Benny's part of Manor Walks in Cramlington http://mumsdays.com/cramlington-foodie-festival/

Hugmongous glass – it’s as big as Gabby’s arm (who incidentally didn’t get the memo to pose – too busy enjoying her kiddy cocktail!)

Our waitress also kindly put up a highchair, however because we were in booth and he’s Mr Independent now, Reuben didn’t want to be in it. He was perfectly safe with Mike wedging him in so, in hindsight, I should have just taken it off!

When the garlic pizza bread arrived a little miracle happened… Reuben ate it despite it having green stuff on the top!!

Cramlington Foodie Festival - Frankie and Benny's part of Manor Walks in Cramlington http://mumsdays.com/cramlington-foodie-festival/

Then came the main event…the pizza making! The kids got to decide on their toppings and then ‘decorate’ their pizzas. Gabby loved doing this and for about 3 seconds so did Rueben. I was thinking it would be like a sensory exercise for him and got really excited at one point because he put a bit of mushroom in his mouth… But because it was mushroom and not chocolate or whatever else he thought it might be, he then rejected the whole exercise and went back to drinking his cocktail and eating ice (for any new visitors, Reuben is a really fussy eater *sobs*). So Mike and I decorated his pizza.

Cramlington Foodie Festival - Frankie and Benny's part of Manor Walks in Cramlington http://mumsdays.com/cramlington-foodie-festival/

A little wait longer and our food arrived and there was a LOT of it! Reuben ate Mike’s chips, Mike ate his chicken and sweetcorn and some of Reuben’s pizza and Gabby ate her pizza but we still had well over a pizza to take home with us at the end!

Cramlington Foodie Festival - Frankie and Benny's part of Manor Walks in Cramlington http://mumsdays.com/cramlington-foodie-festival/

Cramlington Foodie Festival - Frankie and Benny's part of Manor Walks in Cramlington http://mumsdays.com/cramlington-foodie-festival/

Just lemme eat!!

I ordered wine and got stuck into my salmon and salad (because I was being good, remember, although that dressing wasn’t good – I’d forgotten to ask if it came with anything!), which was delicious and I certainly didn’t leave any!

Cramlington Foodie Festival - Frankie and Benny's part of Manor Walks in Cramlington http://mumsdays.com/cramlington-foodie-festival/

The whole meal took about an hour and a half and I think it was probably one of the first meals I felt really relaxed with Reuben there (except for the times we’ve resorted to Peppa Pig, which I think people judge you for!). Sitting still at a table isn’t fun at all unless you like food, which Reuben doesn’t. So I think he did really well at what is traditionally the witching hour.

He enjoyed standing on the seat running his back along the bumps of the Chesterfield style booths (more frowns!), he was generally entertained being in the restaurant with the hustle and bustle (and no one minded if we had a little walk about), he liked the garlic bread and chips, and he LOVED the ‘cocktails’. Gabriella on the other hand is much easier to please but then she’s a big grown up girl! So, yes, it was a lovely way to spend the Friday night together as a family and I’d definitely go back with them.

Then it was home to bed for this little man, but not before he popped his balloon the second he walked in the house and got cross with me for not fixing it! Can’t win ’em all!

Cramlington Foodie Festival - Frankie and Benny's part of Manor Walks in Cramlington http://mumsdays.com/cramlington-foodie-festival/

Thank you to manor Walks and Frankie and Benny’s for hosting us for this lovely meal – I hope you have a wonderful day on Saturday and Cramlington’s 1st Foodie Festival is a massive success!!

Have you been to the new Manor Walks yet? What did you do and what did you think?!

leave a comment.

Next Page »