A visit to Seaton Delaval Hall

The North East has a rich industrial heritage and used to be an area where mining was common place. Near the coast, you will find Seaton Delaval, a old pit village that used to have a thriving and busy coal field. At one point 3091 men worked there and a community built up around the mine. These days that community has gone but Seaton Delaval still holds a surprise. As you leave the village and drive towards the sea the road suddenly turns into a tree lined avenue and you view the splendour of Seaton Delaval Hall. With two large wings encompassing a large courtyard and an enormous central building, it is palatial to behold. It is a masterpiece designed by Sir John Vanbrugh, the architect behind Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard. Until recently Seaton Delaval had fallen into disrepair but the National Trust have been working to restore the building. If you watch Tales of Northumberland you will have seen Robson Green helping the stone masons with their work.

Seaton-delaval-6 I have recently been to Wallington Hall which is an interesting National Trust place near Morpeth. I have never visited Seaton Delaval Hall so we went to see what we could discover. The house has a rich and turbulent history. The land was originally given to the Delaval family by William the Conqueror for their loyality. The family became wealthy, espeically when coal was discovered under their land. During Georgian times, the house gained a reputation for being the place to party. The family were known as the Gay Delavals and were famed for playing pranks on their visitors. The family were also greatly involved in the industry in the area and the nearby town of Seaton Suice was originally their own private port. Seaton Delaval Hall was badly damaged by fire in 1822 and was used as a prisoner of war camp during the second world war. The house also has a ghost, the white lady. She is the ghost of a girl who fell in love with one of the Delaval heirs but when marriage was forbidden died of a broken heart.

Entering Seaton Delaval Hall

Seaton Delaval Hall is approached from the side, the car park is gravelled and it is a short walk up to the hall. On the walk up to the hall you pass woodland areas which can also be explored. There are plenty of surprises both inside and outside the hall.

Seaton delaval hallIn the garden outside the hall are a number of statues of sheep.

Seaton-delaval-26 Seaton Delaval HallThese were popular with the children who loved to sit on them. Each of the sheep are slightly different and are meant to represent the different members of the Delaval family. They are certainly unusual. To get into the hall itself you need to go though walled path into the courtyard.

Seaton Delaval hallIt is only when you are in the courtyard that you get an idea of the vast size of the hall and how it dominated the surrounding countryside.

Seaton Delaval Hall Seaton Delaval HallInside Seaton Delaval Hall

Walking up the steps you gain entry into Seaton Delaval Hall. Even though the building is not completely restored from the moment you enter the main hallway you get a sense of the splendour the building must have had in its hay day. The black and white tiled floor surrounded by impressive sculptures and fireplaces dominates. Looking up you can see the beams crossing the ceiling giving an imposing feel to the place.

Setaon Delaval hallSpiral stairways allow you to go up to the next floor when you can look down and see the hall in all its glory. You can enter small rooms which tell you more about the history of the hall and which give you an idea how how it must have looked when it was furnished. Here and there you can see where the restoration work is continuing.

Seaton Delaval HallSeaton Delaval HallSeaton Delaval HallThere are secrets behind every nook and cranny, going though a small doorway downstairs we discovered replicas of the ladies Georgian costumes. It must have taken ages to get dressed in these and those skirts would have made getting though small doors very awkward.

Setaon Delaval Hall
As you wander around inside you get tantalising glimpses of the gardens outside and we knew we had to go out and explore.

Seaton Delaval Hall
First we went down the spiral stairs and found the cellars and servants quarters. The floor is a bit uneven but it is really interesting to see the wine cellar and other rooms at the bottom of the house.
Seaton delaval hall

The gardens at Seaton Delaval Hall

The gardens at Seaton Delaval Hall perfectly complement the home. There are impressive views across the countryside, gorgeous lawns, stunning statues and fountains. A rose garden is set inside hedges which looks like a maze. It is tempting to walk though the hedges and see if you can find a way though.

Seaton delaval hall
A three hundred year old ash rests on the lawn, it’s branches propped up as though it is too weary to hold them. It must be an impressive sight when its leaves are grown.
Seaton Delaval hallWe passed fountains, statues and secret gates. It is a lovely garden to wander though and to sit and relax for a while.

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We really enjoyed our visit to Seaton Delaval Hall and there is still plenty more to discover. We didn’t visit the Stables, the Norman church on the grounds or go for a walk in the woodland surrounding the hall. We will have to go back another day.

Seaton Delaval Hall

Seaton Delaval Hall is a National Trust property and members get entry for free. If you are not a member it costs £6.00 for adults and £3.00 for children. Family entry is £15.00. You can easily spend a fair amount of time here wandering around.

Other Gorgeous National Trust Gardens in the North East

The Chelsea Flower show is on at the moment and I created a lovely recipe using edible flowers to mark the occasion. If you love flowers you don’t need to make a trip to the Chelsea flower show to enjoy them, we have a wide range of gorgeous National Trust gardens in the North East. Many of these are just starting to come into bloom and with the bank holiday coming up why not pay them a visit.

Best hidden garden – Wallington Hall

Discover the walled garden at Wallington Hall, concealed behind Neptunes gate. A flood of plants are coming into bloom now and don’t miss the Edwardian conservatory which conceals an array of beautiful plants.

Best for Spring colour – Cragside, Rothbury

As well as an interesting historical house, on my must visit list for this year, Cragside boosts  more than 100 varieties of Rhododendrons which will be starting to fill the garden with colour. Wander around Cragside’s forty miles of paths to enjoy them or take a leisurely stroll in the formal garden and find other plants as well.

Best for Spectacular Views – Souter Lighthouse and The Leas, Whitburn

I went past Souter Lighthouse when we went to watch the Sunderland air show from the sea. There are spectacular views along the coast and Souter has recently  a new wildlife garden which includes ponds, berry bearing shrubs, trees, wildflowers, a bog and hibernation areas, all set against the dramatic backdrop of the towering cliffs and sea.

Best for Nature – Allen Banks and Staward Gorge, Bardon Mill

Allen Banks and Statward Gorge is one of the largest areas of ancient semi-natural woodland in Northumberland which offers one of the best places to see an impressive array of flora, fauna and fungi all in one place. At the moment the woods are carpeted with bluebells and wild garlic. I imagine it is a great place to get lost in for the day.

There are many more, why not have a look on the National Trust website and see where you can visit.

Dragons and Fairy Dust

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Music in the forest with Forest Live

There is something exciting about the Summer if you are a music lover. Festival season is well underway and there is the chance to listen to headline bands at unique venues. The Forestry Commission are offering you the chance to listen to some of your favourite bands live in the forest with their Forest Live events. These take place in seven forests across England and feature big name bands like McBusted, Robert Plant, The Vamps, Tom Odell and Spandau Ballet.  I love getting into the forest with visits to Hamsterley forest and Kielder water. I imagine these concerts are going to be must attend events.
 
Forest LiveIt must be an amazing experience listening to music surrounded by trees and nature and other music lovers. I can imagine the atmosphere is amazing and the music sounds special under the open air.  Full catering and bar facilities are available and I can imagine it is a great night out.
 
The Forest Live events give you the chance to experience the forest in a unique way and by attending these events you are helping the Forestry Commission to protect the forests. The income generated by the ticket sales is spent on protecting and improving the tree collections in each forest, conserving wildlife and making improvements for visitors.   Over Forest Live’s 14 year history, money raised has contributed to a wide range of projects, from wildlife conservation to making improvements for visitors.
 
Forest liveYou can find information about the different venues, bands and ticket prices on the Forestry Commission website. Tickets are still available for the following venues but I suspect they may not be around for much longer. If you want to ensure a place don’t hang about.
 
  • McBusted  at Westonbirt Arboretum on 12th July.
  • Spandau Ballet at Westonbirt Arboretum on 11th July.
  • The Vamps at Westonbirt Arboretum on 21st June and at Sherwood Pines on 27th Jun
  • Robert Plant at Westonbirt Arboretum on 10th July and Cannock Chase Forest on the 11th July
  • Tom Odell at all seven venues on various dates.
Each of the bands have supporting acts and it will be a fabulous night out. Tickets can be bought online at: www.forestry.gov.uk/music.
 

Win two tickets for McBusted at Westonbirt Arboretum on the 12th July

McBusted was formed in 2013 when Tom Fletcher, Danny Jones, Dougie Poynter and Harry Judd from McFly joining forces with James Bourne and Matt Willis from Busted. Together they have sold over 15 million records worldwide and had 14 number ones, 20 top three singles and 27 top ten singles. On the 12 July they will be playing at Westonbirt Arboretum, near Tetbury, Glos and tickets are £41.50. You can find more information about the band on their official site: http://www.mcbusted.com

McBustedHow would you like to win two tickets to the concert? You will get a chance to see them performing hits like ‘Five Colours In Her Hair’, ‘Obviously’, ‘All About You’, ‘What I Go To School For’, ‘You Said No’ and ‘Crashed the Wedding’. The Forestry Commission have kindly given me two tickets to give away to my readers. To enter all you need to do is to leave me a comment on the blog below telling me what you think would be the best part of listening to music in the forest. When you have done this come back and fill in the rafflecopter widget so your entry is registered. This entry is mandatory. There are other entries available for following on twitter, visiting facebook and tweeting about the giveaway but these are optional.

Good luck! Why not visit my giveaways page and find other current giveaways?

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

The Rules

  • There is one prize of a two tickets to McBusted at  Westonbirt Arboretum on the 12th July – the prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
  • Open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding employees and relatives of Dragons and Fairy Dust and the Forestry Commission.
  • Closing date for entries is on 11:59pm BST on 29th May 2015
  • Only one entry per person
  • Entrants must log into rafflecopter and leave a comment on the blog answering the question.
  • Optional entry methods are to follow on twitter, visit facebook and tweet on twitter
  • The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
  • Automated entries will be disqualified.
  • The winner will be informed within 14 days of the closing date and will need to respond with a postal address within 14 days or a new winner will be chosen.
  • The winner’s name will be available on request.
  • The Forestry Commission is responsible for prize fulfilment. The prize will be sent within 28 days of receiving the winner’s address.
  • This is a joint promotion between Dragons and Fairy Dust and Forestry Commission
  • Entry to this confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions

 

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.

Accomodation

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
Glasgow
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.

Wallington-53Wallington-56

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.

#LoveNorthEast