Setting off from Leeds to Newcastle on a grey and drizzly day on Saturday to celebrate the launch of Esso‘s Synergy Fuels, the rain surprisingly and much to the awe of my kids, soon turned to snow on the motorway mid-journey.
We certainly didn’t expect it. And certainly not as much.
No snow in Leeds as we filled up-
Lots of snow on our way-
Yet, we found ourselves in somewhat of a snow-scape on the A1, so much so, that my twitter followers were in complete and utter awe that we’d been enveloped in the white stuff, when other parts of the UK had none.
Snow envy swept my timeline as people asked me send snowflakes their way and started dreaming of a white Christmas…
Meanwhile, we were strolling at a snail’s pace on the motorway, unsure when we’d arrive in Newcastle, the snow making everything beautiful, noise from the roads cushioned and rather wonderfully festive.
The kids even sang Jingle Bells.
Then they got hungry. Bananas and oat biscuits just weren’t cutting it!
Two hours on, and one McDonalds later (I ate all of Peter’s fries despite stating I didn’t want any, natch)- and two kids anxious to exercise their legs, we arrived to the Toon, to twinkling Christmas trees and bright festive lights beaming down at us. Beautiful.
We drove onwards to Jesmond Dene House, Newcastle’s only independently owned boutique hotel, in exquisite residential area, Jesmond, a mere 10 minutes north from the city centre, ready to drop off our bags and explore our new home for the weekend.
A Grade ll-listed Arts and Crafts building, it was once one of Newcastle’s most celebrated of locations. Bought in 1871 by Captain (later, Sir) Andrew Noble, a partner in Lord William Armstrong’s shipping and armaments company, the house was enlarged several times as Noble’s wealth and fame increased. Royalty and celebrities stayed here and were lavishly entertained.
After Noble’s widow died, the house had a chequered history – including time as a WW2 Civil Defence establishment (tunnels still exist under the house) – before it was converted into a hotel in 2005.
With toy soldier sculptures, wiry dogs and a very real and cute cat to welcome us at the entrance, along with the most spectacular Christmas tree I’ve seen outside of Regent Street at least, the boys, and I, simply oohed and aahed our way through to reception.
We were then ushered into a bustling dining area reminiscent of the Ritz, where Christmas parties tucked into delicate sandwiches and cheese boards with wine, and took our seats in the quieter back room before being presented with a delightful afternoon tea for Peter and I, and fish and chips and petite pois for the boys.
…Including a selection of festive sandwiches-turkey, cheese and roast salmon as well as mulled pear cheesecake mousse with a meringue on top, dark chocolate gateaux and of course cheese and sultana scones respectively, this was quite the pre-Christmas feast.
I also ended up tasting the boys’ fish and chips too (for review purposes of course 😉 ) and as Oliver called them, they were, indeed, ‘posh fish fingers’- flaky cod in a light batter with bright green peas and crunchy fries.
Rolling back to our luxurious family room (one king size and two children’s beds for the boys), we felt like the lord and lady of the manor…The design was effortlessly British chic with monochrome wallpaper and striped embellished curtains-refined traditional meets modern-quirky. Just my cup of Earl Grey!
The hotel was seriously elegant, every style aspect considered from modern, bold paintings in the dining room to wooden fires and pretty pig ornaments the kids were captivated with.
-After refreshing ourselves in our room (water on the boys’ faces and a drop of Coco Chanel on my neck), it was time to hit the city centre.
And the whole experience was a pleasure.
What struck us the most was the sheer kindness of strangers everywhere we went.
On struggling to find change for parking, a kind lady offered to pay.
Another chap walked for ages to help us find a cash-point. We experienced such generosity and positivity at every turn, it truly made our trip a joy.
Cash now in hand we went shopping for matching festive PJ’s for the boys and some warmer pieces for Maman.
These stripy delights actually came in two pairs, the second will be adorned on Christmas morning…two early Christmas presents for the boys, Spy glasses that light up and a toy rocket was a special treat-and I treated myself to some warm and chic jumpers from the Oasis concession.
Items included a tomato orange jumper with cotton leopard print peter pan collar, a green silk/cotton mix top with lace embellishment on the shoulder, a monochrome patterned jumper people remarked was ‘festive’-it isn’t per se and I intend on wearing it all spring-and a black jumper with sheer sleeves that would work for day or night. Perfect,
I literally tried each one on within the 10 minutes before closing time (7pm) and was sold on every piece. It was lovely too to chat to the wonderful staff there who were excited to hear about the blog and my vlog, and asked when it would all be live. Hi ladies if you’re reading!
…Sunday saw us wake bright and early (is there another default setting for little people?!) for a delicious and relaxed breakfast back in the dining area on the ground floor.
After inhaling ALL the carbs the previous day (and all last week for that matter), I was back to a more restrained and healthy way of eating so I lapped up scrambled eggs and fresh orange juice, letting the boys feast on toast and everything in between.
After the marathon morning eating session, it was time to walk off breakfast and what better place to start than exploring the surrounding wooded valley of Jesmond Dene, all beautiful twisted branches and cool, fresh air to put smiles on our faces.
It’s all so serene and relaxing there. The waterfalls and running river make for the perfect spot to wander around before a little log break when little legs become tired.
Then it was off to explore the Discovery Museum although the kids favourite spot was frustratingly the gift shop (why are these always in the entrance?!) but I love that Oliver chose a magnet set that made a twirling noise when thrown in the air in close proximity to one another and provided hours of fun. Xander was of course, desperate for a toy plane.
We gallivanted through the rooms with purpose, admiring giant boats and a trip down memory lane on the toys of renowned store Fenwicks.
Nearby, was an inviting dance school whose warm cafe boasted toys in boxes for kids and a menu full of filling and wholesome food. Oh and Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas’ chiming from the speakers to get us in the festive mood.
We feasted on a tasty lunch of sweet potato fries, tuna salad and fish fingers and beans.
We then spent an hour walking around the city centre, listening to Street buskers play and ended up dancing in the street (OK that was just Xander)
Then it warming up your with dark hot chocolate back at the ranch aka the hotel before anon-snowy (phew) trip back home to Leeds.
What a wonderfully festive weekend away.
Thank you Esso!