Although we live in the North East, it can be difficult travelling round the region on day trips with a little one in tow. Some trips up the coast to the likes of Bamburgh and Seahouses can take well over an hour, and Dinky isn’t always amenable to sitting quietly in her car seat. When we have visitors from overseas I take great delight in showing them the best of the area, and it was decided recently to have a mini-break with the MIL during her stay. Wanting to visit the Farne Islands, I was looking for a base that would allow us to make multiple trips while in the vicinity and mean the baby was well taken care of too.
I discovered The Coach House B&B through its owner, Tracey. We met at a blogging event and talked about food A LOT. She runs a website called Northumberland Eats, a food guide aimed at promoting local businesses in vicinity. I had been apprehensive about this particular area for us as vegans and had asked her to recommend restaurants and pubs she’d heard of that catered for those with dietary requirements. She suggested we try The Pineapple Café, which you can read about here. She also mentioned her local pub – The Pack Horse in Ellingham – might be a good option for an evening meal. It is great to utilize neighbourhood knowledge in such a fashion.
We decided to call The Pack Horse up a couple of hours before arriving to ensure they did have an option available and were told that the Lentil Curry already on their menu could be adapted. They also mentioned that Ratatouille would also be on offer as a starter. Once we arrived, rather than all ordering the same dish I enquired whether the Ratatouille could be made into a main. This came served with some Broccoli. I’d have liked a carb like rice too, but it kept my dish quite light.
Mr. Canny’s Puy Lentil & Butternut Squash Masala, which came with onion bhaji and rice, was lightly spiced and extremely filling. His mum couldn’t manage her plate and he enjoyed it so much he helped himself to seconds!
It was a short drive to The Coach House from Ellingham, and I was definitely ready for bed by the time we arrived. Dinky was provided with a travel cot, while our room also featured a single bed as well as a generous double for us. We were impressed to find some of the toiletries in our en-suite were vegan-friendly, although we’d brought along our own. The MIL had her own room, which featured a walk-in closet and also had an en-suite. We felt like everything had been thought of and provided, including a hairdryer!
We find that in places we’ve stayed the complimentary tea trays in the room do not feature vegan goodies, which means we feel a bit left out. It transpires that the biscuits and chocolates at The Coach House are ‘accidentally vegan’, meaning we could also snack on these. Tracey had also gone to the trouble of making the most delicious Lemon Drizzle Cake for us too. We were provided with plant milk, which we thought was a nice touch.
We requested breakfast we served for us at 8:30, meaning we had plenty of time for our Seahouses plan for the day. Unfortunately, because of the high winds it seemed like our boat trip had to be shelved, but Tracey was on hand with her local knowledge and suggested we visited Cragside instead. With our National Trust membership it was a great idea, especially as Mr. Canny’s Mum had not been before.
Knowing about our veganism, Tracey purchased some veggie sausages that were suitable for us as the basis of the breakfast. The MIL had a full English, while we tucked in to a meat and egg free alternative. It was lovely to see local produce like Pride of Northumbria Jams on offer. Even Dinky had her own place setting at the table, where she had her cereal and toast. Copious pots of tea and coffee were consumed as we set ourselves up for a day walking around Cragside’s grounds.
I had always presumed staying in a hotel would mean we were better accommodated when travelling, but have found our experiences to be mixed. What we’ve subsequently discovered is places like The Coach House – with attentive owners like Tracey – are more prepared to tailor their offering to suit the needs of those with dietary requirements like our own. The former coach house (as its name suggests) may have had many guises over its 250 years, but the current incarnation as a B&B lends itself well to the history and style of the building. With an interest in supporting other local businesses places like this are a great base to explore the region. With beautiful coast or places of historic interest within a short drive, there’s no better place to visit than Northumberland. Prices start from £79, and more information can be found here.
Thanks for reading,