time flies when you're being a mum

Northumberland Castles Challenge #8

06 May, 2015

The 29th March was an important date in our Northumberland Castles Challenge…the date that all the English Heritage Castles in Northumberland opened. Armed with all the time in the world (thank you Easter Holidays) we celebrated by visiting 3 of our closest castles in a week! Today I bring you our visit to Belsay Hall and Castle. It’s 14 miles North West of Newcastle and a blinking lovely day out!

Belsay Hall and Castle - Northumberland Castles, Travel with Children

Belsay Hall and Castle – 1st April 2015

It’s a Wednesday morning, and despite a suspect forecast, the sun has bravely put his hat on. Gabby is dragging my friend Jenny around on an Alice in Wonderland themed treasure hunt. I can hear them but they have left the large open garden in front of the grand Grecian Hall. (more…)

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24 Apr, 2015

I’m trying to convince Mike to go on summer holiday. I’m thinking warm, sunny and preferably all-inclusive. I realise this is a bit of a u-turn from last year when we went to Portugal and stayed in a self-catering villa, but with little ones, the rules are constantly changing!

We're all going on a summer holiday - things to think about with kids and holidays!

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6 comments.

Northumberland Castles Challenge #7

11 Apr, 2015

Today’s post is all about Dally Castle – set in the Northumberland National Park, not far from Lake Kielder, it’s a fab castle to visit with little ones (as it’s not too far from the car park and it’s free!) or if you’re more adventurous, a great starting location for a circular walk.

Dally Castle - Northumberland Castles Challenge number 7 - Travel and exploring with a toddler: http://www.mumsdays.com/dally-castle/

Dally Castle

Castle trips have become all about chasing the sun, and on this Friday morning it was finally sunny!! But of course, by the time we’d messed about a bit getting the picnic ready, and although it was still sunny in our village, once we had driven the 20 miles North West to Dally Castle, the clouds had crept in!

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02 Apr, 2015

A few weekends ago, it was my Birthday and we crammed a few things in – A castle visit and a date night away for Mike and I to Ox Pasture Hall Hotel! After we visited Newcastle Castle’s Castle Keep and Black Gate on Saturday, Mike and I dropped Reuben off with my mum and we headed south for a night away – high spirits were had by all as we drove away, Reuben happily waving us off, for our adventure in the sunshine. Actually I don’t think it was sunny when we set off, but that didn’t affect the mood as we were off on a date night!!

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough

A few hours later and we arrived at the stunning location, seemingly in the middle of no-where with beautiful surroundings, but really not far at all from Scarborough. We were greeted by a friendly chap and shown to our room to get ready for Afternoon Tea.

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough

Our suite was set away from the main hotel in a newly renovated courtyard, and was lovely! As you entered the room you had the bedroom off to the left, which was spacious, with a huge comfy bed and a TV.

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough

We had a main sitting room area with another TV, coffee table, selection of magazines and beverage station (no mini bar to cool my Birthday Prosecco from my in-laws but we made do with a bucket of ice later from the bar!).

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough

Finally, past the sitting room there was a huge bathroom/wet room (becareful with the shower as we flooded the floor at one point!), with his and hers sinks and a lovely big mirror for getting glammed up later.

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough

We dropped our things, I popped on some heels, such is the luxury of an afternoon sans toddler, and headed off for Afternoon Tea, breakfast a long time behind us! We were seated in a quiet dinning room and quickly served tea and coffee, before our platter of goodies were brought out.

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough

The selection is always made fresh that day and we had cheese and cucumber, ham and egg mayonnaise sandwiches, fruit scone with whipped cream and jam, and a selection of cakes including a chocolate torte and a lemon cheesecake. All round yummyness!

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough - Afternoon tea

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough - Afternoon tea

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough - Afternoon tea

By this time it was around 4ish, so we felt it appropriate to head to the bar to get a wee drink. Through at the bar, the main bar area is a little bit dated but directly opposite there is a seating area with sofas and a gorgeous wood burning stove and another cosy looking room adjacent. There were 2 couples enjoying afternoon tea there, so if you do fancy joining Ox Pasture Hall Hotel for afternoon tea, I’d request to be in one of those two rooms!

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough

We headed back to the room with our bottle bubbly and proceeded to watch 4 episodes of an old Come dine with me. IN BED!! It was heaven. Hanging out together, no need to do anything but chat and enjoy the peace and quiet.

Our dinner was booked for 7:30, so once I’d seen who had won Come dine with me, I took my time getting ready. I’d bought a new dress from Oasis a few days previously and couldn’t wait to wear it. The bathroom was great for putting on makeup – so often in hotels I find the lighting is dreadful or the mirrors are all in the wrong place – with loads of space for products. Then we were ready for round 2, a 3-course meal at The Courtyard Restaurant.

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough - Dinner at Blue Oasis Dress

When we arrived back in the restaurant we were taken through to the bar area and seated by the wood burning stove (they had read my mind!), and we enjoyed some more bubbly while we perused the menu.

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, Dinner in The Courtyard Restaurant

Once we had chosen our meals we were taken through to our table and we were brought some of the soup of the day, just to give it a try and it was lovely. As was the home baked bread.

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, Dinner in The Courtyard Restaurant

Then our starters were brought out. I had the Duck, which was a confit duck salad and Parfait with cherry sorbet and Mike had the sweet marinated herring with pickled cucumber, not something I would have gone for! But actually, it was divine and I think Mike won the first round!

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, Dinner in The Courtyard Restaurant

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, Dinner in The Courtyard Restaurant

For our main course Mike had the beef which included a brisket of beef, a not-so-mini beef suet pudding and mash and veg.

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, Dinner in The Courtyard Restaurant

I had the Sea Bass with a Chorizo Ratatouille, fondant potato and red pepper coulis.

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, Dinner in The Courtyard Restaurant

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, Dinner in The Courtyard Restaurant

Both very lovely and rich but by this point we were getting rather full. Neither of us could finish, so unfortunately there was no chance we could manage a desert – gutted!! So we rolled back to our room to lie down. The bed was really comfy, the only reason we didn’t sleep as well as we should was a) we had eaten too much and b) the room was far too hot. So at about 3am Mike was wide awake turning all the radiators off. A nice lie in later and we were still well rested. I had a leisurely bath with a magazine, then we trotted back to the restaurant for breakfast! I know, piggies!

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, Breakfast in The Courtyard Restaurant

The breakfast was great – a full Yorkshire (minus the black pudding)! There were other options but we were both happy to get stuck into that before we hit the road to go and relieve mum of her Grandma duties!

We stopped off in Scarborough to take in the stunning scenery and say a quick hello to the castle (of course!). The view from the Scarborough Castle is amazing – you can see right along both the North and South beaches and thanks to a bit of sunshine, it was looking glorious. I could have almost got in with the surfers!

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, visiting Scarborough Castle

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, visiting Scarborough Castle

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, visiting Scarborough Castle and beach

It was an all round lovely trip and date night away with Mike! Such a treat. Thank you to Ox Pasture Hall Hotel for hosting us, we had a wonderful time.

Do you fancy a date night at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel?!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this idyllic hotel!

 

If you enjoyed this or any of the other Travel posts we have been doing, it would be amazing if you could nominate Mums’ Days for the Travel Category of the Bibs Awards – just click the badge and I’ll be forever in your debt!

BritMums

You’ll need the following information:

  • Blog name: Mums’ Days
  • Blog URL: http://www.mumsdays.com
  • Blogger’s Twitter ID: @mumsdays
  • Blogger’s email: hannah@mumsdays.com
  • URL of your favourite post…pick your own or here’s the URL for this post: http://www.mumsdays.com/ox-pasture-hall-hotel/

Thank you so much!!

14 comments.

Northumberland Castles Challenge #6

30 Mar, 2015

The day after my birthday was Saturday 21st and a busy old day – so today I’ve got not one but two blog posts all about what we got up to. The first of which was a trip to one of my all time favourite places in Newcastle – Newcastle Castle, which is made up of the Castle Keep and Black Gate (not strictly part of our Northumberland Castles Challenge but close enough)!. The second post is about our trip to Scarborough to review the Ox Pasture Hotel (and visit another Castle while we were there)!

Castle Keep and Black Gate - Newcastle Castle. Visiting all the castles in Northumberland and Newcastle in 2015 with my toddler!  Travelling with children: http://www.mumsdays.com/castle-keep-newcastle-castle/

So, Newcastle Castle has been closed for around 2 years during which time it had £1.67m  spent on it to restore it to as close to its former glory as possible. Having visited a host of times, including back in the Events Management days, when we visited to try and talk them into letting us do a gig at the top. What with it’s fire regulations, narrow stairs and hight, it didn’t wash unfortunately!

Anyway, X number of years later and we were off to visit again. And what a job they have done. It looks stunning. The work they have done all over the castle is amazing but particularly the Main Hall and the Black Gate (which appeared to be mainly storage from what we could tell!) really shone. Such a transformation.

So, without further ado, here’s our trip in photos…

Castle Keep and Black Gate – Newcastle Castle

The trip started with misery for Reuben because he was convinced we were visiting the “Church Castle” (i.e. the Cathedral, which is a stones throw away and stunning but we were on a tight deadline!) so it took some convincing to get him to step into the Castle. He also insisted on bringing his Christmas bag of cars and not wearing his coat. I love toddlerhood!

Castle Keep and Black Gate - Newcastle Castle. Visiting all the castles in Northumberland and Newcastle in 2015 with my toddler!  Travelling with children: http://www.mumsdays.com/castle-keep-newcastle-castle/

Once we had finally made our way into the Black Gate to get our tickets, everyone (Reuben) was in a much better mood and ready to visit the Castle Keep and find out all about the history of this historic building.

Castle Keep and Black Gate - Newcastle Castle. Visiting all the castles in Northumberland and Newcastle in 2015 with my toddler!  Travelling with children: http://www.mumsdays.com/castle-keep-newcastle-castle/

But not before a quick pose in front of Mike’s office!

Castle Keep and Black Gate - Newcastle Castle. Visiting all the castles in Northumberland and Newcastle in 2015 with my toddler!  Travelling with children: http://www.mumsdays.com/castle-keep-newcastle-castle/

The Newcastle Castle website has a fascinating timeline of the history of the castle and in fact Newcastle, but to brake it down a little, the history of the site dates back 2000 years to Hadrian’s Wall and Roman occupation – apparently the Castle Keep resides on top of an ancient Roman castle type building! And parts of Hadrian’s wall are ten a penny around these parts – Thank goodness for the English Heritage and other great organisations who keep our heritage alive. I mean 2000 year old structures. That’s amazing!!

I should probably point out at this stage that Newcastle Castle is not on my list of Northumberland Castles, as it’s not in Northumberland. However, as a key part of a lot of the going’s on during the Norman Conquest and then trouble with Scotland, it really couldn’t be missed. Aparently the Normans had a lot of bother with the North so once they finally took hold, they built a Timber Castle on the site as part of the conquest. It was upgraded to stone about 100 years later during King Henry II’s reign and was generally a place of importance for keeping the locals under control and defending from Scotland!

One of the big things about the Castle Keep is there are a lot of stairs!

Castle Keep and Black Gate - Newcastle Castle. Visiting all the castles in Northumberland and Newcastle in 2015 with my toddler!  Travelling with children: http://www.mumsdays.com/castle-keep-newcastle-castle/

We climbed the 100 or so steps up to the roof of the castle first. Even after all these years and many developments, the Castle Keep still offers the best views of Newcastle.

Castle Keep and Black Gate - Newcastle Castle. Visiting all the castles in Northumberland and Newcastle in 2015 with my toddler!  Travelling with children: http://www.mumsdays.com/castle-keep-newcastle-castle/

But it was a bit blowy!!

Castle Keep and Black Gate - Newcastle Castle. Visiting all the castles in Northumberland and Newcastle in 2015 with my toddler!  Travelling with children: http://www.mumsdays.com/castle-keep-newcastle-castle/

So we made our way back down the spiral staircase to explore the rest of the castle. There are so many nooks and cranies you do need to keep an eye on little ones as they explore, but one place you can’t lose them is the Great Hall. Man it is huge and they have done a wonderful job of restoring the floors. The last time I visited the Castle Keep there had been a set of models of something like the history tyneside houses, which had been drilled into the floor. Now, I want to have a party in here. Who’s with me?!

Castle Keep and Black Gate - Newcastle Castle. Visiting all the castles in Northumberland and Newcastle in 2015 with my toddler!  Travelling with children: http://www.mumsdays.com/castle-keep-newcastle-castle/

Castle Keep and Black Gate - Newcastle Castle. Visiting all the castles in Northumberland and Newcastle in 2015 with my toddler!  Travelling with children: http://www.mumsdays.com/castle-keep-newcastle-castle/

It is also an amazing place to do some traffic spotting – despite the fact that the industrial revolution almost saw an end to these historic buildings! – so we took some time out to watch the trains and cars and buses as they travelled different levels and over the many bridges of the Tyne. I can’t seem to help my Civil Engineering/Transport background. It’s ingrained in me now to be fascinated by it!

Castle Keep and Black Gate - Newcastle Castle. Visiting all the castles in Northumberland and Newcastle in 2015 with my toddler!  Travelling with children: http://www.mumsdays.com/castle-keep-newcastle-castle/

Then it was back off down the rabbit’s hole to find some more rooms… Namely the Lower Hall, which had this awesome map displaying just some of the Castles we’re visiting this year.

Castle Keep and Black Gate - Newcastle Castle. Visiting all the castles in Northumberland and Newcastle in 2015 with my toddler!  Travelling with children: http://www.mumsdays.com/castle-keep-newcastle-castle/

Castle Keep and Black Gate - Newcastle Castle. Visiting all the castles in Northumberland and Newcastle in 2015 with my toddler! Travelling with children: http://www.mumsdays.com/castle-keep-newcastle-castle/

Then we went down even further to the beautiful chapel – the ceiling is literally stunning, I would get married here if my Dad hadn’t been a vicar in Darlington at the time we did get married! – and the dungeon…

Castle Keep and Black Gate - Newcastle Castle. Visiting all the castles in Northumberland and Newcastle in 2015 with my toddler!  Travelling with children: http://www.mumsdays.com/castle-keep-newcastle-castle/

Apparently the Castle went from being a Royal Castle to a ‘grim prison’ by 1500’s and it had fallen into disrepair – one cheery and enthusiastic guide told us in the dungeon about how this had been a prison where people had been chained to the walls but at the time it didn’t have a roof. Newcastle in the winter (or summer actually), in a prison, without a roof?? No thanks. Reuben was more terrified of the knights and other people in costumes who had shown up by this point!

Castle Keep and Black Gate - Newcastle Castle. Visiting all the castles in Northumberland and Newcastle in 2015 with my toddler!  Travelling with children: http://www.mumsdays.com/castle-keep-newcastle-castle/

Now, that’s what I call a group shot. We look like we’re photo bombing!

Finally, it was time for off, but not without bumping into the King of England (not sure which one! Maybe Henry II?) first. Queue more worried looks from Reuben. And I got told off for not curtsying, so bare that in mind if you do visit!

Castle Keep and Black Gate - Newcastle Castle. Visiting all the castles in Northumberland and Newcastle in 2015 with my toddler!  Travelling with children: http://www.mumsdays.com/castle-keep-newcastle-castle/

Castle Keep and Black Gate - Newcastle Castle. Visiting all the castles in Northumberland and Newcastle in 2015 with my toddler!  Travelling with children: http://www.mumsdays.com/castle-keep-newcastle-castle/

Then back out via the Black Gate and one final shot of this stunning area – everything is sort of on top of each other and I love it! You get a real feeling for how crowded everything would have been.

Castle Keep and Black Gate - Newcastle Castle. Visiting all the castles in Northumberland and Newcastle in 2015 with my toddler!  Travelling with children: http://www.mumsdays.com/castle-keep-newcastle-castle/

That concludes our 6th Castle visit! This time substantially more than a mound in the ground (see castle #5 – Elsdon Castle – beautiful photos but not much castle!)

Do you fancy a visit to the Newcastle’s Castle Keep and Black Gate?

I’d highly recommend it! Tickets are £6.50 for adults and £3.90 for children from 5 to 15, and the castle is now open daily from 10am to 5pm.

 

Linking up to Share the Joy with the oh so lovely Michelle from Bod for Tea!

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