We recently heard from a crafting friend about Vallum, who amongst other things produce award winning ice cream, cheese and artisan breads, host foodie markets, crafting fairs and pop-up restaurants and grown their own flowers, herbs and vegetables to use in their patisserie, deli and restaurant.
They also have a an outdoor children’s play paddock and offer a variety of nature walks, presumably to burn off all the calories you consume in the patisserie, deli or restaurant!
I couldn’t understand how I hadn’t come across this gem before but I will certainly be going back. When we visited they were celebrating their 10th year of business with a Summer Fete complete with Ukelele band, gourmet food galore, craft stalls, tractor and pony rides, bouncy castles and welly wanging (and really who doesn’t love a bit of welly wanging?)
Whilst mooching around the craft stalls we found a lovely one selling gluten free goodies. The Lily Tree Bakery is based in Gosforth, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne but frequents various craft and food markets around the North East. I first came across them at the Mighty Dub Fest (a VW show) in Alnwick where I sampled a delicious Mojito cupcake. We didn’t purchase anything this time as I was trying to be good but the savory pasties and amazing looking cakes were flying off the table so I can only assume that they were still just as tasty as the last time I had one. If you see them out and about I can definitely recommend trying something!
We also spent a lot of time lusting over the beautiful jewellery by the talented Crafty Rachael. Rachael works from her self titled craft lab in County Durham and her collection includes sterling silver wire wrapped earrings, necklaces and bracelets as well as leather wrapped necklaces and bracelets but my absolute favorite pieces are her super cute little knitted bow tie accessories. I bought a bow tie necklace for my Sister a while ago and she absolutely loved it. I can definitely recommend checking out Rachael’s Etsy shop, or you can follow her at https://instagram.com/crafty.rachael/
Having been very restrained during all of this craft stall window shopping I did decide to indulge in a beautiful wild flower posy by Verde@Vallum creator Caroline Beck describes what she does as being about “beautiful flowers grown in the Northumbrian fields – not pampered in hothouses, or flown across continents, just grown in the soil by hand, with love” You can follow Caroline at https://instagram.com/verdeatvallum/ and if you see her out and about why not treat yourself to one of her gorgeous arrangements or posies to brighten up your kitchen table.
Next it was time to do something for Molly, she’d been super patient and all morning we’d promised her ice cream and tractor rides. When asked what she wanted to do first, she’d not-so-surprisingly chosen ice cream. There was a small selection on offer at the fete but I’d been told already by an insider in the know that the ice cream parlor boasted a much wider selection of 16 seasonal flavors and so obviously that was where we decided we needed to be! We weren’t disappointed. It took us ages to decide which flavors to sample and in the end we opted for a 3 scooper (I know! We did share it but shhhh…don’t tell Slimming World!) but even then whittling it down to 3 flavors was probably one of the most difficult decisions of my life! In the end we opted for Fig, Chocolate Brownie and Salted Caramel. The Fig flavor was easily my favorite, it was so sweet and creamy. The Brownie was pretty good too but we only found one piece of actual brownie in it and I let Molly have it like the good parent that I am. It was a really lovely treat and you know what? I didn’t even feel guilty afterwards! The ice cream parlor was naturally very busy so we sat outside instead but on a quieter day there was a lovely little toddlers kitchen area which I know Molly would have enjoyed playing in. I see this as a perfectly reasonably excuse to go back again.
We didn’t just eat ice cream though, The Northumberland Sausage Company were there selling their tasty sausages both cold and cooked in a yummy hot dog form as well as ultimate burgers with all the trimmings. Jorden had a burger and Molly chose a hot dog which they enjoyed whilst being serenaded by a Ukelele band playing Buddy Holly…what more could you want?
After all the fun of the sand pit and endless bouncing on the bouncy castle, Molly was starting to need a nap, so there was just time to check out the Patisserie and Deli before we made tracks. I was really impressed with the gluten free section and we bought some gluten free gnocchi and pesto for dinner and I also found some coconut sugar which sort of resembles brown sugar so I thought it might be a good sugar replacement for baking. Molly wasn’t overly keen on the idea of more shopping so me and Jorden took in turns to have a quick look round while the other supervised Molly playing on a stationery tractor just outside. Much more fun.
Finally, what better way to end the day than to have a ride on a real live shiny blue vintage tractor and that’s exactly what we did. The tractor driver was so lovely and friendly, promising Molly that if she came back a year later he’d let her drive the tractor. I’m sure, I hope, he was joking but he wants to be careful because I’m also quite sure that Molly would absolutely take him up on his offer given half the chance. The tractor ride took us around the beautiful grounds of Vallum, past the poly-tunnels growing juicy tomatoes and past the pond where a swan was enjoying a swim which roused shrieks of “swaaaaan” from Molly. It was a really lovely end to a really lovely day.
We trooped home tired and happy with our goodies that we’d collected. The flowers looked beautiful in our kitchen and our gluten free gnocchi dinner was delicious (keep posted for the recipe) Inspired by all the lovely gluten free cakes we’d seen I also rustled up another batch of gluten free brownies with the cacao powder that we’d found in Tesco on the way home . Molly went to bed chattering excitedly about bouncy castles and ice cream and I like to think her dreams were filled with shiny blue vintage tractors and swans.