My son is an impatient traveller. Seconds into any journey his six-year-old brain decides we have been going too long and he comes out with the wearing and familiar phrase ‘How long til we get there?’.
So this was the beginning of our journey to Driftwood. Two adults, a six year-old boy and a four year-old girl on our way for a three night stay at this child-friendly cottage. To keep the impatient one amused we gave him the task of directions – nothing too onerous just looking for ‘Alnwick’, then ‘Seahouses’ and ‘Rock’ on the road signs to reduce his continual questioning of ‘When are we at the cottage?’.
All I knew about Driftwood was what I had seen on the website, but upon walking through the door, it exceeded my expectations. Driftwood has bags of personality and is a treasure trove of comforts. I like a holiday home to be better than my own. And this was. Comfier linens and beds; a whole host of kitchen facilities from a Dolce Gusto coffee maker, a proper man’s man barbeque tool kit; cool box for beach picnics, ice lolly maker and much, much, more.
The kids loved the trampoline and the swings. My daughter was delighted to find the roller skates were in her shoe size and the wooden Wendy House was well-used throughout out stay. They argued over who was going to have their Cheerios in the fish design bowl, but the unlucky one was appeased by having their toast on the castle picture plate. But it was the galley bed with small ladder that really delighted them and the world globe night light with animals that only appeared in the dark.
After an exciting first hour at Driftwood where little feet ran around discovering dressing up clothes; Darth Vader then promptly scared the little princess with pink head boppers before checking out the multitude of DVDs. There was no chance of the younger contingent getting bored here, and it was with reluctant hearts that they finally made it into bed at 9pm on this adventurous Friday evening.
Blessed with glorious weather, we decided to head out the Beadnell Beach after a quick board game from the cupboard. Armed with a picnic, we ventured further along the beach from the car park so the kids could enjoy the dunes, and we could have some peace and quiet.
Beadnell is a great beach for children to play as the water is calm and the sandy shores vast. It is also popular for water sports and we spotted kite surfers, sailors and people enjoying the thrill of jet skis. Bamburgh has always been a favourite beach of mine, but Beadnell had a real community feel to it and the bonus of toilets in the car park meant we didn’t have to shorten our visit just because someone needed the toilet.
We headed back to Driftwood around 3pm where we stoked up the barbeque in the communal area shared with neighbouring Coastal Retreats properties Nook End and Seasalt so the kids could play in the games room and garden while we got the food ready. There was plenty of outdoor crockery which made the al fresco eating easy.
I can truly say that on this evening I went to bed contented. Miles away from home, and in a place where although there was Wi-Fi, my usually gadget-obsessed husband wasn’t always able to get a signal on his phone so we had evenings together just chilling without interruptions. Simple pleasures of the beach, fresh air and good food and drink definitely had had a restorative effect.
A humid, overcast morning meant we decided to use the membership pass provided in the cottage for the Ocean Club in Seahouses. This gym, spa, swimming and fitness centre is on the same site as the Seafield Caravan Park, but do not let this put you off. It is a private members club with a fantastic pool, sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi. There is a children’s pool for the little ones and a great range of spa treatments. We didn’t sample the food and drink in the café but it was full when we were leaving at 11am.
Hungry after our swim, we then headed out to Ford to The Old Dairy country concept store. This former dairy is a hotpotch of rooms all full of antiques, architectural salvage and vintage items. It also has a delightful coffee shop and Champagne bar. We tucked into cheeses from Doddington Dairy – the Cuddy’s Cave was a particular favourite – and soda bread with real butter. The Cappuccino was one of the best I have had in this country and the homemade scones with clotted cream and jam left us wanting more. The characters that came and went as we ate and the stories that the owners told made the trip into something more than just a shopping outing. This was an experience in itself. A great place to wile away an afternoon, we mooched around discovering fantastic fireplace surrounds, old school chairs, porcelain sinks and leather trunks. I could have spent all my money in there, but resisted on the promise that next time an old school desk came in, they would give me a call.
Upon leaving the store we took a leisurely drive along the coast back to Seahouses – taking in dramatic views of Lindisfarne Castle, Budle Bay and Bamburgh Castle. There is so much to do in this part of the world that a short break does not cover it, but it certainly leaves a desire to return. At Seahouses we had our final night’s meal at Elan Pizzeria. It was so good that my husband ordered two pizzas. This is a small but beautiful restaurant and is well worth a visit if you want an alternative to Fish and Chips. We opted not to have dessert and strolled back around the corner to Coxon’s Ice Cream parlour for a 99 and ate them while wandering around the harbour.
Back at Driftwood, with the kids tucked up in bed, we made Mojitos and opened up the living room doors to let the summer breeze in and watch the sun go down.
Driving home on Monday morning my son surprised us. His usual question had changed. Replacing ‘how long til we get there?’ after seconds of driving he quite simply stated ‘I miss the cottage’. And those four words summed up what we all felt about out fabulous short break at Driftwood.