Hi, I'm Angela. In this blog, we hope to share the highlights of running a Northumberland country inn and introduce you to some of the people we are lucky enough to meet along the way.
As frost and the odd dusting of snow remind us that winter is well and truly here, the warm days of summer seem light years away but our thoughts are already turning to the kitchen garden. 2014 was a great summer for growing, and our gardening team Nathalie and Geoff did a wonderful job supplying us with many of the vegetables, salad, fruit and herbs that feature on our menus.
We like to use fresh, local produce wherever we can and having some space to grow our own fruit and vegetables means we have been able to reduce many of our food miles to something more like food feet. But we all need a rest after a busy season, and plants are no exception. Putting the garden to bed properly means better crops next year, so it’s well worth investing the effort.
As well as having pruned the fruit bushes and trees, tidied the raised beds that hold the salad and vegetables, and sorted out the greenhouse, Geoff and Natalie have been busy helping us to assess what we should grow next year, for instance we are looking at establishing an asparagus bed.
Our raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants and blackberries did really well thanks to the warm weather, featuring in many of our tasty fruit crumbles and in Annabel’s special home-made mixed berry jam which our guests can enjoy at breakfast so they will definitely feature in next year's plans.
Artichokes were a fairly new addition and went down well, particularly in a tasty artichoke and spinach soup, and we saw a bumper crop of fresh and crunchy salad ingredients. We had tomatoes coming out of our ears and I swear some of our giant onions and big healthy leeks could have won prizes at the local agricultural shows – maybe next year if one of us has the time?
As the garden yield slows down to mainly root vegetables, we will use what we have in crop and supplement that with produce from our regular supplier Staffords of Hexham, who will provide the rest of what we need.
If you’re a gardener, do enjoy planning out next year’s cropping plans over the Christmas break. And if you’ve got any tips for especially good varieties, do drop us a line and we might give them a try.
Did you know that an estimated 85% of people in the UK have never experienced the breathtaking beauty of a truly dark sky?
Here at the Pheasant Inn on the edge of Kielder Water and Forest Park, our skies have been awarded Gold Tier Dark Sky Park status by the International Dark Skies Association. That makes us the biggest Dark Sky Park area of protected night sky in Europe, and if you step out of the Pheasant Inn and look upwards you are looking at what is now officially named Northumberland Dark Sky Park.
We feel so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the country. On an average night we might see between 1,500 and 2,000 stars, and on a clear night we can sometimes even see the Milky Way.
The Hexham Courant, the Journal and other regional newspapers and magazines have been full of the news that Kielder Observatory has launched a bid to launch an £8.5m Astronomy Village project that will include a 60 seat planetarium, glass topped pods, a telescope with a one metre wide aperture accessible to wheelchair users, and an accommodation block for visiting astronomers.
The observatory draws around 25,000 visitors a year, from professional and amateur astronomers to couples and families with children, and some of them travel thousands of miles to admire our beautiful Northumberland skies.
We are only a 10-minute drive away from the observatory and lots of visitors choose to stay overnight in our comfortably-furnished Northumberland B&B accommodation. We’re glad to go the extra mile for our stargazing visitors, for instance providing early dining for those leaving for the observatory between 5.30 and 6 pm.
Northumberland Dark Sky Park is now officially one of the best places to stargaze in the whole of Europe. And after an evening spent wondering at the majesty of the galaxy, many of our visitors tell us there are few things nicer than sinking into one of our comfy beds and dreaming of the hearty Northumberland breakfast that awaits them in the morning.
Here at The Pheasant Inn Kielder we believe it’s never too early to mention the Christmas word, and we’re pleased to say we have just put the finishing touches to our special Christmas menu, available on a pre-booked basis from 28th November to 20th December.
Robin has put together a mouth-watering three course set menu which as well as including traditional juicy turkey with all the seasonal trimmings also features our famous slow roasted Northumbrian lamb with a rosemary and redcurrant jus, or steamed fillets of plaice filled with prawns served with a lemon and parsley sauce, or a vegetarian option of baked aubergine stuffed with roasted vegetables, feta cheese and walnuts.
On the starters menu we are offering home-made chicken liver parfait with apple and ginger chutney, mildly spiced parsnip soup or twice baked Northumberland cheese soufflé that I can promise you will just melt in the mouth.
Diners who have room to squeeze down a dessert can choose from traditional Christmas pudding and brandy sauce, warm chocolate cake served with cream or Beckleberry’s clotted cream ice cream, or an absolutely delicious panna cotta with caramelised oranges and Cointreau – pudding heaven.
The Christmas bar will as usual be featuring our expertly-kept real ales, fine wines, a 50-strong range of fine malt whiskies and eight different types of gin, to tempt our diners to linger by the open fires until long after sensible people are in bed. Speaking of which, with eight very comfortable ensuite rooms we can accommodate up to 18 people overnight, which means no one has to drive.
The three course menu is priced at a very reasonable £22.50 and includes coffee and after dinner mints.
If this has got your mouth watering and you’re looking for a relaxing Christmas evening away with a group of family or friends, give us a call to check availability. Christmas is the season of goodwill and hospitality, and you won’t find a warmer Northumbrian welcome than our great team offers at The Pheasant – come and see us soon.
"Good people, good place, good food, good beer."
visitor from London
"An old English pub with modern accommodation in an idyllic spot. Good food, friendly staff ...need I say more? Fitness Centre? The great outdoors!"
visitor from Somerset
"The Kershaws' cooking is fresh, generous and flavoursome, producing wholesome traditional English fare."
The Pub Guide