Saturday, 31 December 2011

Bring on the North

In the 'bit' between Christmas and New I was lucky enough to stay in one of the Falstone Barns in Northumberland.
Flastone is a small village at the bottom of the Kielder reservoir.

The surrounding countryside is beautiful and offers plenty of walks for every type of person. As it was December when I was there the weather was changeable but there were enough clear spells to make the most of the footpaths and scenery. Kielder reservoir itself is lovely. About a 20 minute drive from Falstone but well worth it. You can take a walk around the waterside and enjoy the evergreen forest which surrounds it.

When you visit that part of the country you have to be aware that not much is around in the way of amenities. But believe me that's not a problem when you find out how many pubs are in the surrounding area. In Falstone the local pub is called the Blackcock Inn. It wasn't open during the day but perked up around 7:30pm. It's a really friendly pub with an open fire and a pool table. You can't ask for much really. I did manage to drink the place out of Whisky Mac but I don't hold a grudge. Literally 2 minutes down the road and round the corner is a pub called The Pheasant which is another traditional country pub. The food is superb, the fire is warm and the locals are friendly.

Breathtaking views, no phone signal, great pubs and great accommodation. Falstone is a winner.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Welsh Weekend

It may seem like a crazy idea going to West Wales in the height of winter, but believe me it was the best thing I could have possibly done. The time leading up to Christmas is always hectic so there is nothing better than getting away form it all. I went to New Quay on the Welsh Coast and stayed at a Bed and Breakfast called The Hungry Trout. Friendly staff, massive breakfast and warm rooms. All you need for a Welsh retreat. New Quay thrives on tourism throughout the summer so going in winter the place looks quite different to the post card pictures.

The beach was quiet, half the shops were closed for the winter and the boat trips had stopped. But one thing that never closes or justs up shop is the breath taking Welsh Coastline. You can access coastal paths extremely easily and walk for miles. I must have covered a fair distance over my weekend taking me along cliffs, through fields and down to the beaches. I even took off my shoes and went in the sea for a little paddle! My feet were like two ice blocks when I came out of the sea but I was glad I did it in that weird kind of way. I also ventured to Aberaron where I treated myself to good portion of fish and chips. Lovely stuff.

The fresh sea air and good food meant the whole weekend was a success. There wasn't even that much rain which I was quite surprised at. There is something magical about waking up to the sound of the waves crashing against the beach. When ever I look out to the dark ongoing sea, I'm always inspired and reminded there is lots to see and do in this world. Diolch Cymru.