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The Waiting Room (Hexham, Northumberland)

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Address: The Waiting Room, Staward Station Cottage Langley-on-Tyne, Hexham, Northumberland. NE47 5NR

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      29.10.2011 09:47
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      A lovely welcome and a lovely stay

      Looking for a place to stay close to Newcastle, but also close to Hadrian's Wall, I came across The Waiting Room by accident as I surfed accommodation on the internet. It immediately attracted me; a unique Victorian waiting room, refurbished by the owners, Deb and Steve Humble, and available for holiday rental. Initially I was a bit concerned by the proximity to the road and to the owner's house, but when I arrived all of these worries disappeared. I think we saw two vehicles pass by on the road during our entire stay, and the cottage is situated with its back to the house so that although you have the security of helpful neighbours near at hand, you also have complete privacy as the main house is not in view from either cottage or garden. We had one of the best stays in years with a very warm welcome and a beautiful little wooden cottage that was full of character. The Waiting Room is a long wooden, one-storey building with small but perfectly formed rooms and lots of original features. Over 160 years old, this is very much a cottage in the middle of nowhere, all you can hear is the call of various wild birds, the cluck of chickens and the beautiful Northumbria hills stretching out for miles. Inside, the cottage is scrupulously clean and very comfortable, the beautifully laid out garden outside complementing the character-filled interior perfectly. This cottage is so quirky that it even has a little red post box in the wall of the adjoining station house - the postman coming into the garden to empty it twice a day! The cottage sits just outside the Old Station House, with its back to the big house and its south facing windows looking out to open countryside. It is divided into four main parts; all low ceilinged original rooms refurbished and modernised with lovely double glazed wooden windows. ~~The Ticket Office~~ This is a small, square room which has been turned into the bedroom. The focal point of this room must be the original ticket hatch, which creates a large oblong hole in the wooden wall to the room next door. This hatch is still working and the wooden door can be lowered via the sash cords to close it and provide some privacy. Cream painted wooden slats and the real wood floor give the room a modest Quaker feel, and an oval cream mirror with a small hand-made wooden shelf add just the right touch of practicality and simplicity. There are two large windows to this room, and these, together with the ticket hatch and the glass windows in the door, make it extremely light and spacious, with red rugs and lively curtain fabric giving it a touch of jollity and warmth. Most of the room is taken up by the King sized bed, with many decorative pillows and throw to compliment the high quality bed linen. This bed is extremely comfortable and solid, and provided an excellent nights sleep. To each side of the bed is are small wooden tables with matching side lights. There is a cd player / radio on one side with an alarm clock. One large wardrobe is the only storage that can be fitted in, but this seems adequate for two people. A wicker basket on top of the wardrobe contains extra bedding and the room is equipped with a hairdryer. ~~The Post Room~~ On the other side of the wall, with the ticket hatch looking out onto it, is another square room which was originally used for storing packages and post. This room, like the rest of the house has cream painted wooden walls. A very large window looks out onto the station platform and the moors beyond. Furniture in this room is once again simple and minimalist, tasteful and modern decorations such as glass mobiles adding the touch of interest. This room contains a large sofa which can be made into a sofa bed if necessary. We used the sofa bed for two nights when our teenaged son joined us, and it was extremely comfortable and of good, heavy quality which made a perfect night's sleep. A chest of drawers, a small table and a coffee table combine with a full length mirror to give the impression of space and light. Several small side lamps give it a very cosy feel during the evenings. ~~The Gentlemen's Waiting Room~~ To appease Victorian sense of decency, men and women had separate waiting rooms. The men's waiting room is now the main living room, and is open plan to the post room, divided by a wooden half wall, again painted cream. This room has been turned into a very cosy living room, with the small fireplace and wood burning stove as the focal point. When we arrived the fire had been made up and was ready to light, and we soon had it flickering nicely and pumping out lots of heat. A huge supply of logs and coal is ready in the shed outside the back door, and our host, Steve offered to provide lessons if we had trouble lighting the fire. A very comfortable sofa and armchair sit around the fire, facing a large TV and dvd player. Once again a very large window looks out onto the garden, and a large rug, dresser and subtle lighting make this a very comfortable place to relax in the evenings, either watching the dvd's that come supplied, playing the board games that are provided, or reading through the enormous amount of local information that is stored in a large box. One of the nicest aspects of the stay is the large collection of books on Hadrian's Wall, on the old railway and the wildlife surrounding the cottage. We were delighted to find several old photos of the Waiting Room in its heyday. ~~The Ladies Waiting Room~~ This is the last room in the long line of room, and has been turned into a kitchen. The beautiful pine floorboards extend through the whole house into this space, and a smaller window with a glass paned door to the outside courtyard create another light and airy space. The kitchen is fully equipped with a full range of cooking equipment, toaster, fridge freezer, oven, microwave, but no dishwasher. A solid wooden table and 3 chairs sit by the window, looking out onto the garden. I particularly enjoyed sitting at this table and reading in the mornings with a cup of coffee. I looked out onto the old stone road bridge in the garden, watched the dogs, cats and chickens roam around the grass, and kept a sharp lookout for the red squirrels that sometimes visited. The only new part of the cottage is the extension that leads off the kitchen. This small extension holds a utility room with washing machine and tumble dryer, and a small bathroom with an electric shower over the bath, a large bath with shower head attachment, toilet and sink. Everything in this bathroom was gleaming and looked brand new. The electric shower was gentle but adequate, and there was plenty of hot water on demand for a bath. Towels were large, fluffy and matching and there was no sign that other people had been staying in the cottage just the week before; like the rest of the cottage, the bathroom was so clean it could have been installed the day before. A blow heater and a heated towel rail kept the room warm and cosy, while large windows and an expel air created ventilation. Although the fittings are modern, this room too is full of character with a very large old mirror dominating the room and a large window giving plenty of natural light. ~~The Garden~~ Looking out onto the garden from the windows for the first time is a surprising experience. You clearly walk out pf your front door onto a large station platform, and can see the trough where the metal rails used to run. Up to the right this trough passes under an old stone bridge, just next to the cottage. You really still do feel as if you are still at a rural station. The garden is home to the owners free range chickens, together with a beautiful cockerel. When we stayed their five dogs and cat stayed pretty much in their kennels, but we did occasionally have the chance to say hello. To the left of the cottage is a small fenced-off area which is a private area for guests (fenced off so that guests can keep their own pets away from the others, and so that resident pets stay away from guests). This area has a selection of garden furniture and the owners provide disposable barbeques in summer. Every inch of the garden shows the same care that the house displays; the terracotta pots and garden decorations are beautifully maintained, even in October when many people let their gardens go a bit, I could see that the pots had been freshly planted. Little touches like a row of matching tubs with small identical conifers lining the old steps up the railway bank, combine with garden lighting to make the garden a beautiful place. ~~What Makes the Waiting Room Special~~ It is the small touches of care that make guests feel so welcome here, together with superbly clean surroundings and an obvious respect for the environment. I have never stayed in such a scrupulously clean cottage before. There was no hidden dust or crumbs behind any bed leg or cupboard, and the many small decorative items on the wall and floor were completely dust free - a difficult job when you are talking about natural materials such as wicker and pine cones. Even the twisted metal spoon and fork mobile in the kitchen was completely grease and dust free, which must have taken some doing! The cottage provides everything the guest is likely to want, from picnic blankets, to dvd's, to cleaning products, to the welcome pack of home-made cake, milk and fresh eggs. There were many information leaflets, including an A-Z of detailed information about the cottage, and at all times the message was, please ask if you need anything at all. Water from the cottage comes from a private spring and is exceptionally soft. Steve pointed out the shed outside the kitchen door which holds recycling bins together with extra logs and coal for the fire, and gentle reminders to save electricity by turning off devices when not needed, combine with the environmentally friendly cleaning products to let us know that Deb and Steve care about their environment. One big plus for us in late October was the excellent heating. Not only did we have the wood burning stove, but each room had a very efficient electric convection heater which warmed the place up in no time. The bathroom has a heated towel rail, plus a blow heater on the wall. ~~Negative Points~~ I had to think long and hard to find a negative point about this cottage. The only minor niggle I had was the lack of information regarding the internet. Although disconnection from the outside world was a very big plus for me (stopped me checking my work emails) it was not so good for my teenage son who feels as if he has lost a limb if he is not connected virtually to his friends. We could see that a Wi-Fi connection was available from our phones and laptop - but there was no information either way in the information booklet about passwords or permissions. I would have liked a sentence which just told me that Wi-Fi was not available - I could then have pre-warned my son. ~~Location~~ The Waiting Room is a little of the beaten tourist track and feels very isolated. We went on several long and beautiful walks around the cottage and did not see another person for the entire time. The forts of Hadrian's Wall are all about 10 - 15 minutes drive away, and Newcastle can be reached in around 40 minutes. An excellent local pub is a mile down the road and serves very good food, whilst the nearest supermarket is 4 miles away in Haydon Bridge and is open until 10pm every day of the week. Hexham is the nearest big town and is 8 miles away. ~~What We Paid~~ We paid £300 for a week in October half term. To my amazement, this price was reduced by £50 when we explained that we would be arriving a couple of days late and would have to leave a day early. I fully expected to pay the full amount, so was delighted at this offer. ~~Details~~ The Waiting Room has its own webpage, which I found by Googling 'Waiting Room Hadrian's Wall'. It is located about 30 minutes drive from Newcastle, along the A686 The Waiting Room Staward Station Langley Hexham NE47 5NR Telephone 01434 683030 www.stayatthewaitingroom

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