For a northern girl, wintry weekends are best spent out in the country, trudging through puddles and crunching through crispy red leaves. For me, this is best followed by a couple of hours, lazing in the warmth with delicious food and good company.
Despite the ever nearing deadlines of the autumn semester, it’s important to take the time and stop to remember what’s important in life and enjoy the little things.
For me, cookery is one of the best forms of relaxation and this is especially true during the festive season.
For many students, Christmas can be difficult financially. The last installment of the student loan has run dry, but you still want to return home with gifts for those closest to you.
Last year I decided to make a Christmas hamper for my parents. It was filled with treats including home baked olive and sun dried tomato bread, glistening chili and red pepper jam perfect for cooked meats and cheese and an assortment of chocolate dipped, dried fruits.
Delighted with their gift, the home made Christmas hamper will be making a comeback this December in collaboration with my sister and a few bottles of strawberry and blackberry wine from Tatton Park.
The villages and national trust attractions throughout the north are committed to promoting locally sourced and produced food and beverages. After hearing about a small, artisan bakery in Northumberland, renowned for its generous afternoon teas and excellent customer service, we decided to take a drive up to “The Running Fox.”
Located in the quaint village of Felton, near Morpeth, overlooking a river of cackling ducks, the bakery is a popular destination for country walkers and local residents. With less than ten tables, it is essential to make a booking, but you can also purchase any of the delicious breads, cakes and pies displayed throughout the bakery to take away.
Having arrived early, we were keen to explore the nearby countryside. Armed with wellies, woollens, yet a lack of directions, we trundled down a muddy track, past the icy river waters and hiked up through a field of sheep. As we skated down a long, steep snicket past an old farmhouse, decorated with holly wreaths, the scales of a piano lesson could be heard emanating from indoors.
Thankfully, we soon found our way back to the cobbled, stone bridge leading to the bakery. Inside, a cosy corner table had been reserved for us, surrounded by fairy lights and Christmas decorations, the walls lined with miniature watercolours of Northumberland’s wildlife.
The menu boasts a large variety of delicious hot and cold meals, freshly prepared soups, hot specials and a spectacular selection of ingredients.
Vegetarians and Pescetarians need not worry, as a wide choice of sandwich and pie fillings are available, and as I found, the staff are more than happy to suggest alternatives for anyone living with dietary requirements.
Luckily, my lunch date had the freedom to enjoy all the components of the famous afternoon tea. A choice of pie, sandwich, scone and cake, all with an endless supply of tea or coffee at a very reasonable price meant that we could sit and enjoy the traditional scenery and French music for the rest of the afternoon.
After deciding on a slice of cottage pie, a brie, bacon and cranberry sandwich, fruit scone with all the trimmings and a slice of cranberry and orange cake, we were approached with a two tier cake stand, brimming with enough treats to feed a small family. ‘Generous’ portions would be an understatement in terms, but don’t worry, you can always take home what you don’t manage in one sitting.
After being out in the cold, I was looking forward to a creamy, filling bowl of soya porridge, decorated with fresh berries, a swirl of honey and a dusting of cinnamon.
When we finally managed to drag ourselves away from this little Eden, my attention was caught by the proffering of wheat free, chocolate cake and fluffy Victoria sponge. It goes without saying that a portion found its way home with me, to be shared with housemates.