GOLDEN WEDDING CELEBRATIONS
My mum and dad celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary at the beginning of October and we decided to book a weekend away in Seashouses in Northumberland for all the family to mark the occasion.
THE OLD MANSE, SEAHOUSES
We finally decided upon a pretty cottage called The Old Manse in a little place called Seahouses in Northumberland as it was big enough to accommodate all ten of us, was only a couple of hours drive away and had a fab barbecue hut in the garden.
We headed off shortly before lunchtime on Friday and, as we couldn't get in to the cottage until 3pm, we stopped off in Dunbar at the garden centre for a little look around the Christmas decorations and for some lunch before making our way to Seahouses.
By the time we arrived at the cottage it was dark and cold but we were delighted to find the heating was already on for us and it was really cosy, despite being an enormous house. We entered into a small hall which led into a lounge with a big fireplace and even a Christmas tree.
There was a large dining room which then led through to the kitchen and utility room. We had brought a LOT of food and drink with us so that we didn't have to go to the shops and we weren't long in popping the mulled wine on the hob to heat us all up.
I was sharing a room with my sister, Louise, and another great selling point of the property is that all five bedrooms have en suite bathrooms, ideal for big groups so there's no need for a shower timetable in the morning!
The next morning, in the daylight, we could properly explore the garden and I couldn't believe how deceiving the cottage is from the front entrance. There was a huge garden and conservatory (which I hadn't even noticed the night before) and it must be a great garden for parties during the summer months.
We then got wrapped up and headed from Seahouses to Alnwick, about a twenty minute drive away, for a little wander around. It was a dry and sunny weekend sunny but with a really cold wind (would cut you in half, as they say) so hats, scarves and gloves were a must! We parked up near the beautiful castle which was unfortunately closed for the winter. My niece, Lucia, is a massive Harry Potter fan and some of the films were shot at Alnwick Castle so she'd have loved to see inside so we'll just have to go back in the summer.
Much to our delight, it seemed as if there were more dogs in Alnwick than there were people - I don't think we saw any human without a canine companion by their side. As a family of dog-lovers, we were definitely not complaining!
Due to high winds, the planned Christmas market in the square was cancelled so we had a little wander around the shops and picked up some fresh bread before heading back to the cottage for lunch.
FESTIVE AFTERNOON AT THE OLD MANSE
We put some more mulled wine on and some camembert cheese in the oven to have with our bread and Louise made a pretty damn magnificent cheese board. I was under strict instructions to change into my Christmas jumper which my sister, Angela, had bought for me. She knows I'm not really one for festive fashion but she wisely picked one with dogs on the front so that it took the edge off slightly...
We'd taken along a few games (a couple of which I had pinched from our sleepover at The Bonham a couple of nights before) and Lucia took great delight in dishing out celebrities for a game of 'Who Am I', especially when she made my mum Donald Trump - her favourite villain! My Dad had brought along plenty of his favourite red wine, Cabalis, so we worked our way through quite a few bottles over the course of the cosiest Christmas afternoon ever.
As I mentioned, one of the main selling points of the cottage was the BBQ hut in the garden. BBQs aren't really practical in the winter but this little hut allows flame-grilled steak all year round and we're now trying to talk my dad into building one at home too now.
We lit the fire pit earlier in the afternoon so it was super snug by the time we all headed out. We popped some chicken, burgers and steaks on the grill and smell, as well as the taste, was just delicious. Winter BBQs are definitely the way forward!
When we were heading back inside to the house, I noticed that the sky was unbelievably clear and I've never never seen so many stars in all my life, I even saw a shooting star which was absolutely amazing!
AMENITIES AT THE OLD MANSE
We had absolutely everything we needed for the weekend and the owner of the cottage had kindly left us some Prosecco in the fridge (it's like she knew I was coming!) and a little hamper full of treats which was really kind and very much appreciated. There was plenty of crockery and cutlery to go round, as well as an amazing knife set (FYI Richardson Sheffield ones which I'll be looking out for in the January sales), a dishwasher and plenty of fridge/freezer space. The only thing that wasn't ideal was the pretty rubbish toaster but other than that, it was like a home away from home.
On the Sunday, after we had packed up all of our things, we headed into Seahouses (only a couple of minutes in the car) for a little walk down the harbour before fish and chips for lunch which were deliciously fresh and tasty.
There was a beautiful sunset as we made our way back to the cars and back up to Glasgow which was the perfect end to a great weekend.
It's a really beautiful part of the world and the scenery was spectacular, even in the cold weather. There are some beautiful beaches in the area so it must be amazing in the summer.
As the cottage had such a great garden, my mum would love to go back in the summer when we could take advantage of all the outdoor space.
The local pub/restaurant we went to on the Friday night was quite nice but nothing amazing and slightly lacking in atmosphere (maybe just the time of year) so I'd definitely recommend either taking food for a BBQ or getting a takeaway instead of venturing out too far for dinner.
We booked through Couquet Cottages who have a huge range of cottages and apartments to rent throughout Northumberland.