Sarah Hall is the managing director of Sarah Hall Consulting, a PR and marketing consultancy building profiles and profits for some of the North East’s most ambitious and fastest growing brands.
How long have you lived/worked/visited in Newcastle?: I’m actually from Darlington so Newcastle only really became my home when I came back from university and started to work here 14 years ago.
What is it about the city and Northumberland that appeals to you?: We’re utterly spoilt in the North East generally. With regards to Newcastle and Northumberland, you have the vibrancy of a city which you can cover on foot (I love compact centres that you can easily navigate) and then be within the wilds within just a twenty-thirty minute drive. Now I have two small boys I appreciate this ever more.
What’s your favourite Northumberland/Borders/Newcastle beauty spot?: I have a special place in my heart for Druridge Bay because my husband and I did a skinny dip there last year to raise money for the charity Mind. It was just as the sun came up with a couple of hundred other people and was a once in a lifetime experience! An amazing way to celebrate what also happened to be our wedding anniversary.
Tell us about your favourite view/walk/cycle route/town/nightspot?: One of our clients is Sage Gateshead and we have regular meetings there. I never tire of the venue itself – it’s so iconic – and I drink up the view of the Quayside that it offers. I have hundreds of images on my iPhone taken from there of the bridges and river in all weathers.
The list of places to visit is endless. But some are more special than others. A trip to Northumberland/the Borders wouldn’t be complete without….: A stay in one of the cottages at Beacon Hill Farm just outside of Morpeth. It’s a purpose-built holiday site and a wonderful place to take the family. With a spa, swimming pool and a range of inside and outside leisure facilities, there’s something for everyone.
Is locally produced Northumbrian/Borders food the best?: With the right recipe or restaurant / café, our local food can certainly be hard to beat. Vallum Farm on the Military Road is an excellent example of this. As well as the David Kennedy Restaurant you can buy a range of goods from artisan producers. Delicious!
Do you have a preferred place to eat out in the county and why?: It is nice to dine at Close House from time to time because that is where Anthony and I held our wedding celebrations (quite a long time ago now admittedly!)
Geordies, Northumbrians and people from The Scottish Borders are renowned for the warm welcome they offer holidaymakers and day trippers alike. What do you think is the secret ingredient for this friendliness?: Most people around here seem to have an innate friendliness and desire to make visitors at home. I’ve always found that wherever you go, people are happy to take the time to chat and have a genuine interest in who you are. I think it’s our way of differentiating ourselves from other regions and a special way of putting the area on the map.
Coast or country?: I refuse to choose! I find being by the sea exhilarating but I’m never more grounded than when I’m in the country. My grandparents used to live on a farm so I’m nostalgic about that but can’t imagine leaving the coast (we live in Whitley Bay).
Your favourite historical site?: This has to be Norham Castle, the site of many a Border raid. Overlooking the River Tweed it’s well worth a visit. I’m always surprised that it’s not better known than it is.
And the best road to take a leisurely and scenic drive along?: The B6342 from Longhorsley to Rothbury offers incredible views over the Northumberland National Park. It’s a curvy road so not great for those who get travel sickness but then you’ll want to stop a lot anyway to take pics!
What would be your perfect day out in Northumberland or The Scottish Borders?: Everyone in my family loves Cragside House and there was a time when I was younger and we used to go up almost every Bank Holiday, or at least that’s what it felt like! We still try and go fairly regularly as it’s impossible not to be inspired by Lord Armstrong – makes you feel very proud to be from around here. Also, get the time of year right and the rhododendrons are worth a visit in their own right.
Category: Northumberland Best Kept Secrets