To paraphrase the late, great Grouch Marx; I had a wonderful stay in a first class hotel...but this wasn't it!
Two nights in an atmospheric 17th Century coaching Inn in a tranquil Northumbrian market town sounds like just the ticket to unfurl the knotted brow and loosen the Gordian knots of tension in the shoulders. Unless that hotel is The Queen's Head in Morpeth, which just happens to be slap bang above the most god-awful nightclub either side of Hadrian's Wall.
We stayed on a Friday and Saturday night...Friday and Saturday night being the traditional choice for a weekend away falling, as they usually do, at the end of the working week. Unfortunately Friday and Saturday night also appears to be the time when the volume is turned up to 11 in "Vinyl", the nightclub in question. No doubt to serve as a siren call to the monosyllabic knuckle-scraping patrons who view conversation merely as an impediment to well established drinking and mating rituals.
Our room was on the second floor near to the rear of the hotel. Even through several sturdy layers of floors and walls however, the migraine inducing clamour from below kept us awake until almost two in the morning. It was the sort of rhythmic, repetitive rhythm and bass thump that was indiscernible in any way as music, but somehow managed to travel through the entire body from the bones to the hair and make any attempt at sleep impossible. Relief when the torture finally ended was short lived, as it was soon to be replaced for the next hour or so by the traditional chucking out time pastoral chorus of arguing, singing and vomiting, set amidst the merry tinkle of breaking glass.
Conversation at breakfast revealed that virtually every other guest appears to have partaken in the same sleep deprivation experiment. When this was mentioned to the receptionist, it was met with a resigned shrug and the cheery news that it would be even louder the following night...it being Saturday and all. And she wasn't wrong. By this time though, it was clear that the only way to achieve anything resembling sleep was to be thoroughly anaesthetised with the assistance of Mr Glen Fiddich.
This is truly a shame, as otherwise the Queen's Head has a lot to recommend it. Steeped in history with oak panels and sweeping staircases aplenty, Elizabethan décor, a decent breakfast cooked to order and value at sixty quid a room.
We heard rumours of the ghost of a long-dead lady said to wander the corridors at night, but alas never saw her...moved on in search of a good night's sleep I would imagine.
Do visit Morpeth. It's a gentile market town with good local shops and a superb Saturday Farmer's market. It also has the most picturesque riverside park with perfectly tended gardens. But don't stay at The Queen's Head. Unless you're a masochistic chronic insomniac, who enjoys the thrill of seeing your condition thrust upon every other paying guest.
I live just a few minutes from Morpeth in a little village called Pegswood ( I know it says Newcastle on my user profile but to be fair, nobody has heard of Pegswood have they ) so I do all most of my shopping and what not in Morpeth. Its great for a night out, and it boast some impressive pubs and clubs which you will read about later on. One few bad things about Morpeth is that there are a lot of retired Tory snobs who think they are better than everyone (apologies to the Tory’s out there who are not snobs, but believe me, it's true about there being a lot of Tory snobs in Morpeth. And Also there is no Recognised hight street retail shops such as HMV, Virgin, Top Man and Tucci. I’m not sure why I am doing a opinion on Morpeth, I mean there can only be about 4 people I know who use Dooyoo, who will be able to know what I’m talking about, but I suppose anyone who is reading this and is ever in Morpeth, I want to try and make your visits as easy and enjoyable as possible. Shops ------- Morpeth has a nice selection of shops, the only problem is there is no decent clothes shops, for people my age I mean. With a lot of retired people in Morpeth there is more clothes shops directed at the older person's fashion than the younger person's fashion (not that I’m as shallow to wear something just because of the label, I’m not, but you know what I’m getting at) so that’s why I do all my shopping for clothes either in Newcastle or over the net. Woolworths has a wide selection of goods such as C.D.’s, DVD's, Stationary, children's toys and clothes and garden tools. But with Woolworths being a nation wide store, I’m sure you all know what Woolworths is about so I wont go into great detail. Other shops which are good for that sort of thing are WHSmith and Martins, both offering good Stationary products, Magazines, CD's and DVD
9;s. As far as Electrical goods go, Morpeth has Storeys, Electofreeze and Forsyths. We used to have Currys which was really good but it just closed down and it is now WHSmith. If your looking for a good book to read then try Applebys and T&G Allens, though T&G Allens has more stationery products and has a toy department. Restaurants and Takeaways and Supermarkets ------------------------------------------- Well, after a good night on the beer you are always starving so IM glad to say Morpeth has a large selection of food outlets. it has a few Fish and Chip shops, two really good Pizza places called 'Boulevards' and 'Pizza Pizza' and there is a few Indian places and Chinese places where you can either dine or takeout. 'Porkeys Sandwich Bar' is brilliant, it won the award for the best new business in the north east and is a great place to go if you want a pizza, burger or a sandwich. The Main two supermarkets for your grocery shopping are ‘Safeway’ and the ‘CO OP’ Schools --------- Well, I can not comment on the quality of schools in Morpeth as I never attended any of the Schools in Morpeth, but the ones I am aware of are 'Newminster Middle School', 'Chantry Middle School' and 'King Edward High School'. The nearest University in Longhurst Uni which is a stones throw from Pegswood. Leisure and Recreation ------------------------ Morpeth Riverside Leisure centre is the place you want to go if you want a bit exercise, you can do all the things you would expect to be able to do in a leisure centre and you can also go over to the crazy golf place just over the river from the Leisure Centre. If you fancy a nice walk, the river Wansbeck runs through the outskirts of Morpeth, and there is a path running along the river. You can also hire a rowing boat if you like, its not very expensive but I’m n
ot sure of the price as I’ve never bothered getting a boat. If you are planning a wander along the river be sure to bring some bread, as there are hundred of Ducks everywhere you look. If you don’t fancy a walk by the river then I suggest you go to Carlisle Park, which is situated near the Police Station. It a lovely park with nice paths and is decorated in flowers and that sort of stuff, shrubbery’s if you will. Morpeth Castle is situated at the top of Carlisle Park so have a wonder up there, and if your into the Supernatural like me, one of the seats which is attached to one of the walls of the castle is haunted. The Ghost is supposed to strangle anyone who sits on that particular seat. Legend has it that the ghost who haunts the castle and that seat got his throat slashed by a local bandit, he managed to crawl down to the nearest Inn which is now The Waterford Pub but he died when he got there. If you want to book a holiday then you are in good hands as Morpeth has Thomsons, Callers Pegasus and Dawson and Sandersons. Pubs and Clubs --------------- Morpeth has a wide variety of pubs, my particular favourite is 'The Banque' a pint of Beer cost about £2.10 which is OK, plus they sell Carling Premier which is a fine drink. 'The Black Bull' , 'The White Swan' and 'The Waterford' tend bring in the older customer, whereas places like 'The Banque' , 'The Bridge End' and 'Movies' tends to pull in younger punters. As far as night clubs go, 'H.Q' and 'M2' are the only two night clubs in Morpeth. There is probably more shops I have not mentioned, either because they suck or because I have forgot about them, and for that I apologise. Well to those of you who have not been to Morpeth I hope my opinion has helped you, and makes your visit a lot more easier ,and for those select few Dooyooers who have been to Morpeth well, I s
uppose I am telling you nothing new.