Staying in Glasgow with Travelodge

During the Easter holidays we packed our bags and took a trip to Glasgow. I have never visited Glasgow before, unless you count walking between the two train stations to catch a connection. I did that many years ago on a trip home from university. I was in such a panic about catching the train I do not remember anything about the city. Our main reason for the trip was to check out Loch Lommond and the surrounding area. I have vague plans about getting the family together to stay for my 50th birthday, which is only a year and a bit away. It is scary how fast time passes, I do not feel that old.

Glasgow is around 150 miles away from us and around a two and a half hour drive. There are three routes you can take but we opted for the most direct, along the A69 and then onto the M6. Luckily the traffic was good and we got there in reasonable time.


We have visited Scotland many times but have previously stayed in large houses. Our most memorable stay was in  Knockbrex Castle but more recently we travelled to the Highlands. We had been invited to stay in Glasgow with Travelodge. Our stay was in a family room at the Paisley Road Travelodge. The Travelodge was ideally situated, we literally turned off the motorway and we were there.

Travelodge Paisley RoadParking is free but you need to ensure you enter your license plate number into a machine in the foyer each day you stay. Check in was quick and easy and we were given the keys to our room.  Travelodge have recently refurbished their hotels  to give them a fresh new look. The rooms feature a king size dreamer bed which was really comfortable. The family room also contains two single beds so my son had the choice of which one to sleep in. Lights can be turned on and off from the bed as well as from the wall which is convenient.

Travelodge, Paisley Road, Glasgow

TravelodgeThe rooms have a colour TV with free view channels available to watch and there is plenty of space under the benches to place your luggage. There is also a wardrobe and a set of shelves so you can unpack and hang up your clothes.

TravelodgeThe room also has tea and coffee making facilities and if you need more teabags, coffee, milk or sugar they can be picked up from the reception desk on the way in. Three mugs had been provided which was perfect for our family.

TravelodgeThe bathroom is a nice size and has everything you need. The only strange thing about the bathroom was the positioning of the soap dispenser in the bath. It is ideally placed if you use the shower but if you use the bath it is a bit hard to reach.

TravelodgeIf you want somewhere to stay while you are travelling or a cheap night in a city, Travelodge is ideal. It is really comfortable and the staff are really helpful. When I went down to get breakfast with wet hair I was offered a hairdryer without having to ask. Things like this make you feel welcome. One thing that did surprise me was there was no restaurant available in the Travelodge. When we got breakfast it was a box available from reception.

TravelodgeThere were two different types, one with yoghurt and one with cereal. They were actually very filling and tasty.

Adventures in Glasgow

After we had checked in we went out to find something to eat. The Travelodge was ideally situated, it is half a mile from the city centre and there are a large number of restaurants within walking distance as well as a Tesco Express. We had our dinner at Cook and Indi’s World Buffet which was right next door to the Travelodge. It is an all you can eat buffet with foods from all round the world at £10.99 a head. The food was very tasty and we were very full after our meal. My son was delighted to find the Mr Whippy ice cream machine and chocolate fountain in the dessert section.

After dinner we had a little walk around and found we were near the river. We had a great view of some of the bridges crossing the river.

Clyde Arc
Clyde Arc
Tradeston Bridge

Loch Lommond

The next day we set off to explore Loch Lommond which is easily accessible from Glasgow.  We decided to have a drive around the loch, stopping for a picnic lunch and stopping at various places on interest along the way. I love the fact that just a short drive away from a major city you can find such a beautiful place.

Loch LommondLoch LommondLoch LommondLoch LommondWe stopped in the village of Luss, a conservation village with pretty sandstone and slate cottages and and narrow roads. The mountains looming over the village with snow still on the tops.

Loch-lommond Loch-lommond-2 LussThe houses look like toy houses. The village was beautiful in the unexpected Easter sun but I am sure it is cold in the winter.

At Balloch we drove up to Balloch Castle and stopped and wandered around the grounds. The grounds are a country park and span 200 acres including walled gardens and nature trails. The castle is derelict but is still an imposing sight. The loch can be seen shining in the distance, making  a fitting backdrop to the gardens.

loch-lommond-10 loch-lommond-11 loch-lommond-13 loch-lommond-14We really enjoyed our trip to Glasgow and Loch Lommond and hope to go back and visit again soon. There is so much more we would like to see in the area.

Disclosure: We were invited to stay at Travelodge for the purpose of this review. All opinions and images  are my own.

A Visit to Wallington Hall

The one thing about living in Newcastle is that there are plenty of places of historic interest to visit. From finding out about the Vikings at Lindisfarne to visiting the Roman ruins at Housesteads and seeing Hadrians Wall or watching knights fighting at Warkworth Castle, you will be spoiled for choice. This weekend we decided to pay a visit to Wallington Hall. Wallington Hall is a country house and garden situated around 12 miles west of Morpeth, near the village of Cambo. It is a huge 13,000 acre estate with a woods, gardens and farmland surrounding it. Owned by the National Trust since 1942 there is plenty to explore and discover.

Wallington hallThe history of Wallington Hall

Northumberland has a turbulent history. On the border of Scotland and England many battles were fought here. It is a county of castles and battlefields. Even in times of peace it was known for border reivers and homes had to be defended. Cattle and livestock were liable to be stolen at any time. Originally Wallington hall was a castle and was owned by John Fenwick, a Jacobite and well known aggressor against the Scots. John Fenwick got into debt and ended up selling the estate to William Blackett in 1688. The Blackett family is well known in Newcastle and were a family of wealthy mine owners. In those days wealthy families usually had a country estate, to escape the smog and fumes in the city caused by the industrial revolution. The Blackett family are responsible for the house of today, knocking down the medieval building and building the new hall and gardens. The cellars are the only part of the original Wallington Hall to survive. Wallington Hall passed into the Trevelyan family via the son of Sir Walter Blacketts sister as he had no surviving children. The Trevelyan family looked after the estate for many years until gifting it to the National Trust.

Entering Wallington Hall

After parking the car we set off to explore. From the carpark there is a short walk until you reach the arch into the courtyard at Wallington Hall.

Entrace to Wallington hallThe courtyard is large and contains the Clocktower cafe where you can stop for food. There is also a gift shop and an opportunity to buy locally grown plants. The clocktower can also been see if you turn around.

Wallington hallWallington hall clocktowerPassing the courtyard you get the first glimpse of Wallington Hall itself, with impressive views across the countryside behind. There are plenty of signposts telling you where to go, you have the option of visiting the house, walking in the East or West woods and visiting wildlife hides. Dogs are welcome at Wallington Hall, but are not allowed inside the house. They do need to be kept on a lead in the grounds.

Wallington hall

The Walled Garden

The day we visited was rather a wet and miserable day. We decided to take advantage of a lull in the rain to visit the Walled Garden. The garden is accessed via the East Woods which are entered by crossing the road.

East woodsThere are a number of different routes you can take to the Walled Garden, each signposted with approximate walking time. We took the most direct route though the woods past the Garden Pond.

East woodsThe woods at Wallington Hall are home much of our native British wildlife, from red squirrels to otters, bats and great spotted woodpeckers. I was hoping we might see a red squirrel but we were not lucky. The woods were filled with birdsong as we walked along. Turning a corner we found the garden pond.

Wallington hallDuck and moor hens were swimming on the surface and in the middle an artificial island has been created to create a habitat for otters and water voles which live here. Suddenly a great honking noise rang out and family of geese flew in, landing with a splash on the surface of the water. The peace was broken by their honking as they swam around, claiming the pond for their own. A moorhen scuttled in front of us, not sure where to go.

Wallington hallWallington hall moorhenReaching the far end of the pond we came across Neptune’s gate and the entrance to the Walled Garden. It was about a ten minute walk from the main house.

Wallington hall walled gardenThe first thing that caught our eye were the statues along the length of the wall. We passed Scaramouche, ladies dancing, soldiers and many others.

Statues in walled garden wallington hallThere were plenty of hidden secrets in the garden. Paths with arches, secret fountains and quiet pools. It must be a magical place to visit in the Summer when the sun shines. At the far end of the garden is the Edwardian Conservatory which is home to a wide array of plants. You can go inside but we wanted to get back to the house before the rain began again.

Walled Garden Wallington hallWallington-24Wallington-23Wallington-21Wallington-25

On our way back to the hall we noticed some statues on the far side of the lawn. I went over to investigate and found that Wallington Hall is guarded by dragons. Every stately home should have dragons.

Wallington hall dragonsWallington-32

Inside Wallington Hall

The interior of the hall is beautifully furnished though out and full of surprises. Each room contains an information sheet with history of the room and guides are on hand to answer your questions.

Wallington hallThe discrete entrance hall does not prepare you for the stunning central hall that is just around the corner. This was originally an open courtyard surrounded by the four wings of the house but Lady Trevelyan decided to put a roof over it. Pre-Raphaelite artist William Bell Scott designed the paintings on the walls, these depict great moments in Northumberland history from ancient times to the modern. There are panels depicting the Romans, Grace Darling and her father rowing to rescue sailors stranded off the Farne Islands and the Industrial Revolution. Large owls, the families emblem, are perched on the walls and above the murals are the faces of historic figures from Northumberland’s history. It is stunning and must have been a talking point when visitors came to visit the family.

Wallington-34Wallington-36Wallington-41Wallington-38The kitchen is a complete contrast to the splendour of the hall and gives you a feel of what it must have been like to work in the house. A coal fired stove was used for cooking and heating water which would have needed to be cleaned out every day. Large tables were used to prepare the food, much of which would have come from the estate. It is a complete contrast to kitchens of today.

Wallington hall kitchen

Wallington hall kitchenYou can take afternoon tea in the house in a 1940’s tearoom. Chairs and tables fill the room and a vintage radio plays 1940’s music. It is worth peeping in even if you don’t stop.

The house is filled with many interesting rooms, each of which you can linger in for a while. A parlour, with a large sewing box beside a chair where much sewing would have been done. A gorgeous library with plenty of books, a drawing room and dining room. The library was well used and apparently the estate owner used to lend the books to the people who worked on the estate. When they bought the books back they had to answer questions about them as a way of educating them.


There is also a room filled with dolls houses and toy soldiers. These were very much used by the children of the time and are a fascinating look at how childhood used to be. The oldest dolls house dates back to 1835. The detail in the houses is incredible.

Wallington-48Wallington-51The upper floor of Wallington house contains  the bedrooms, beside one of the beds is a bath which fascinated my son. It must have been back breaking work to carry hot water upstairs to fill it up. He did not notice the chamberpots in each room. There is also a nursery with dolls and teddies. The china dolls are fascinating to look at today, they are so different from the toys we have now.

Wallington-58The final flight of stairs takes you to a strange room holding the Cabinet of Curiosities. All many of items can be found here from stuffed birds to fossils and even a puffer fish. It is almost a museum in its own right.

Wallington-60We really enjoyed out visit to Wallington Hall and left feeling we had learnt a lot. There is a lot of the grounds that we did not manage to visit on this occasion. You could easily spend a day here exploring everything. The cost to visit is £11.40 for an adult, £5.70 for a child or £28.50 for a family. It is slightly more if you include gift aid and National Trust members get free entry.

Easter Activites

Over Easter there are plenty of things to do. You can take part in an Easter Egg Trail or enjoy indoor and outdoor Spring play activities. The estate farm Broomhouse farm also has a number of events running which you can take part in. You can visit the lambing shed or become a lambing apprentice.. Charges apply and you may need to book in advance.

I was sent a pass to enable me to visit Wallington Hall but my opinions are my own.

Out and About Linky

The out and about linky is for any places you have visited, restaurants you have eaten at or holidays you have been on. It is hosted here and also on Chez Maximka. The linky runs until the end of the month. This page has more information about the linky and links to all the previous round-ups.

Rules of the linky

1. You can add up to three posts per month to the linky below. Please make sure they are no older than three months old and feature somewhere you have visited.

2. Tweet your link using #outandabout, if you include @ali991 and @maximka25 we will retweet for you.

3. Do pop along and comment on a couple of other posts in the link up and share the love.

4. We would love it if you could add the #outandabout badge to your post so that other bloggers can find us.

Dragons and Fairy Dust

Hidden Newcastle: The Art at the Civic Centre

If you live in Newcastle Upon Tyne you will be familiar with the Civic Centre. Found near the Haymarket the tower with twelve seahorses is easily visible from a distance. It is the administrative centre for the city, I got my son’s birth certificate here and you can often see weddings taking place in the grounds.  Seahorses on top of the civic centreThe building was completed in 1967 and was formerly opened by King Olav of Norway in 1968. In days gone past council meetings were announced by the town crier, ringing his bell and huge barrels of tar were lit along the front of the building to bring in the crowds. The design of the Civic Centre took in this tradition with nine huge flambeaux spanning the entrance. These can be lit when required and there are bells in the tower which can be rung to mark the start of an event.  Civici CentreThe grounds are lovely with plenty of green and water where ducks paddle. It is a perfect place to sit and relax away from the rush of the city on a summer day. If you wander around the grounds you will come across a number of hidden artworks. Attached 5m up the wall on the outside of the Civic Centre is a statue of the River God Tyne. River God TyneIt is a bronze statue by David Wynne. Over the years it has changed colour from dark brown to green and brown due to running water. The figure has an outstretched hand from which water is meant to be dripping over his head and across his torso. His face is hidden from view by his wet hair, unless you stand underneath and look up. River God TyneThis reveals a wise looking face weighed down by the knowledge of ages. It is an impressive looking statue and worth taking a moment to contemplate.

Across the road from the Civic Centre is a Weatherspoons bar named The Five Swans. It has only appeared in recent times, it used to be Luckies bar when I first came to Newcastle. It is named after the five swans of the Civic Centre. If you are like me then you may start to wonder how they manage to ensure they always have five swans at the Civic Centre. How can they stop them flying away or prevent new ones appearing? If you walk around the corner all is revealed. The five swans are actually another statue, Swans in Flight by David Wynne. It depicts five swans taking off from a rectangular pool. Swans in flight Swans in flightSwans in flightEach of the swans are 2m in length and the sculpture is certainly effective. The swans are graceful and elegant and you can imagine them flying off into the sky. The sculpture is based on the poem The Swans of the North by  Hans Hartvig Seedorff Pederson. Each swan represents a Scandinavian country, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Finland and the links between these countries and Newcastle.

I have passed the Civic Centre many times and never seen these sculptures. I love discovering hidden parts of Newcastle like the Vampire Rabbit. Do you know of any hidden parts of the city? I would love to hear about them

Discover the Forest with Superworm Trails

The sun is shining, the trees are starting to get leaves and Spring flowers are making an appearance. It will soon be Easter and the school holidays. When it is sunny I love nothing better than getting outdoors with the family and the Forestry Commission has created a chance for families to do just this. Following on from the successful Gruffalo and Gruffalo child trails in the forests last year, which saw over one million visitors in the summer of 2014 discovering the wooden sculptures of the Gruffalo in the forest.  Now  you have the chance chance  to have a forest adventure with Superworm.

Superworm Forestry commission trails

Superworm is a childrens book by Juila Donaldson which tells the story of a superhero worm and his minibeast friends. They band together in an exciting story which tells how they defeat the villainous Wizard Lizard. You will be chanting along with your kids:

Superworm is super-long. Superworm is super-strong. Watch him wiggle! See him squirm! Hip, hip, hooray for SUPERWORM!

Superworm Trails in the forests

Starting on the 13th March 2015 and running until the end of October you will find Superworm trails at 20 selected forests around the country. The activity trails are designed  for children aged 3-6 and also have some elements that will appeal to children aged 6-8.  Each activity trail will have ten stops along the way where visitors will discover a panel containing activities and questions. These activities are based on the Superworm story and it’s characters and encourage children to learn more about the forest around them. Children will be asked to use their superhero senses and powers of discovery to discover the touch and smell of the forest and become nature detectives. There are also activities that have been created by the Youth Sport Trust to encourage children to get moving and become super-fit just like Superworm. Each trail will take around an hour to complete.

The superworm trails will help children develop a life long love of fresh air, countryside and exercise. All the creatures in the book like worms, ants,beetles, caterpillars, spiders, birds and reptiles can be found in the forest, which will help bring the book to life for the children taking part. We love visiting our local forest and having adventures. There are usually lots of other events happening, read about our visit to the vintage car rally at Kielder Water and Forest Park.

Superworm Activity Packs

To run alongside the Superworm activity trails you can also pick up an activity pack with extra things to do on the trail. These are available on-site and cost £3.50. Included in the pack is a sticker sheet, an activity leaflet, a limited edition Superworm mini-book and some string allowing you to make your own Superworm.

Superworm book superworm-2The activities look great fun and the mini book will provide a great keepsake of your day out in the forest.

 Forests taking part in the Superworm trail

You will find the Superworm trails in the following forests:

  • Moors Valley Country Park, Dorset
  • Bolderwood, Hampshire
  • Bedgebury National Pinetum & Forest, Kent    
  • High Lodge, Thetford Forest, Suffolk
  • Wendover Woods, Buckinghamshire 
  • Jeskyns Community Woodland, Gravesend, Kent
  • Thames Chase Forest, Essex
  • Birches Valley, Cannock Chase Forest, Staffordshire
  • Hicks Lodge, Derbyshire 
  • Sherwood Pines Forest Park, Nottinghamshire 
  • Top Lodge, Fineshade Wood, Northamptonshire
  • Beechenhurst, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire 
  • Cardinham Woods, Bodmin, Cornwall
  • Wyre Forest, Worcestershire
  • Dalby Forest, Yorkshire   
  • Guisborough Forest, North Yorkshire   
  • Whinlatter Forest, Keswick, Cumbria 
  • Hamsterley Forest, County Durham     
  • Kielder Water and Forest Park, Northumberland
  • Grizedale Forest, Hawkshead, Cumbria


To find out more you can sign up to the Forestry Commission England’s family activity database at

Forestry Commission annual passes are also available allowing you to visit your local site as many times a year as you wish. Discovery Passes vary in price from £20-£55 for annual membership. You can find out more at


A Wander Around Grainger Market and Afternoon Tea

If you live in Newcastle Upon Tyne you will be familiar with the Grainger Market. Situated in the heart of the city, nestled between Grainger Street, Clayton Street,Nelson Street & Nun Street the indoor market has been part of Newcastle since 1835. Richard Grainger was the developer who was responsible for the redevelopment of 19th Century Newcastle including Grainger Market. When the market was first built it was the largest market in Newcastle. The building is now a Grade I listed building and inside you will find a wide range of stalls. There are 14 different entrances into Grainger market, all of them unassuming.

Grainger MarketI often go to the Grainger market to take advantage of the range of butchers and fruit stalls. There are also stalls selling books, CD’s, clothes and shoes and hardware items. The range of stalls is diverse and you can easily spend plenty of time browsing.

Grainger Market

There are plenty of hidden treasures within Grainger market. On alley 2 you will find the Weigh House. During the 19th Century it was a legal requirement that all markets had a weigh house. It was used by stall holders and buyers to check the weight of anything they purchased. These days you can still get your weight checked here for a small cost. Hidden inside the weigh house you will find a copy of the oil painting painted by the artist Henry Perlee Parker showing the opening of the Grainger market.

Grainger Market Weigh houseGrainger Market is also home to the Marks and Spencer Original Penny Bazaar, the world’s smallest Marks and Spencer store.

Grainer Market Marks and SpencerGrainger MarketIt is a great example of how the store started life, with the slogan “Don’t ask the price – everything’s a penny”. Looking at the signs over the store is almost a trip back in time, reminiscent of the shops in Beamish Museum.

At the far end of Grainger market is Grainger Arcade which is covered by a steel glazed roof. The original roof was wooden but was burnt down by a fire in 1901.

Grainger market roof

In recent years Grainger market has become a place for artisan food shops and deli’s. If you want somewhere to eat you will be spoiled for choice. There is a range of sandwich shops, tea shops and cafes. You will also find cake shops, bakeries and places to buy gourmet coffee.  The reason for my trip today was to pick up a boxed afternoon tea from the French Oven Bakery for Mother’s Day.

French oven bakeryThe French Oven Bakery is an independent artisan bakery who have a wide range of cakes, bread and sandwiches. They bake everything locally with 98% of their products being made or baked within 1 mile of the shop. If you are unable to get into the store they also do deliveries.

French oven bakeryI wanted to try the Mother’s Day afternoon tea box which contained a mix of sandwiches, scones, macaroons and mini cakes. I thought it would be a really nice treat. I picked up my box easily, it was all ready for me to collect.

Afternoon teaafternoon-tea-3Afternoon teaThat afternoon we enjoyed a lovely afternoon tea. There were ham and pease pudding sandwiches, chicken and bacon sandwiches, carrot cake and brownies, cheese, fruit, date and walnut and cherry scones, a frangipane and a bakewell slice. It was very nice and made a special afternoon treat. The afternoon tea box for 2 was sufficient for three of us and was good value at £12.

If you are in Newcastle the Grainger market is definitely worth a visit, especially if you are looking for somewhere for something to eat. Have you been to Grainger market recently? What are your favourite shops?