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Ponteland retains its village charm despite success.

WITH it's excellent road links to Newcastle city centre and wide range of independent shops, Ponteland and the surrounding villages make for a great shopping day out.

There is also a beautiful park, golf club, public library and some fantastic restaurants and pubs.

This area has charm in abundance and although it has grown in many ways, it has never lost its village atmosphere.

One popular business in the village is Look Twice boutique. Situated next to the Nat West bank on West Road, it stocks top-quality nearly-new fashion and accessories for the woman who wants to make a statement.

Owned by Bev Hume for 12 years, it has outfits for every occasion, including mother-of-the-bride and prom wear. This renowned dress agency stocks names such as Frank Usher, Paule Vasseur and Veni Infantino in sizes from eight to 24.

The idea of the shop was originally thought up by lifelong friends Sally Richardson and Isobel Wind, who established the business in 1985.

Customers bring in top quality garments to sell through the shop, turning unwanted clothes into cash. Sometimes you may want to spend your spare cash within the shop again after seeing something that you cannot resist.

"You would be amazed at the stock that comes through the door on a daily basis for me to sell on," said Bev.

"My customers come from all over the country and the selection of stock is nothing short of fantastic. I cater for all sizes and all ages.

"Many of the outfits that have been bought at my shop have gone to Ascot and Buckingham Palace, and it is a great feeling when my customers come back in and show me photographs from their special occasion and tell me how fantastic they felt on the day.

"The prices within the shop suit all pockets. Whatever your budget I'm sure you will find something at Look Twice. You can dress to impress at a fraction of the cost of the high street chains and if you want any help or advice on fashion I will be pleased to help.

"My shop is rather like an Aladdin's Cave. It's full of surprises and because I have so many beautiful clothes in the shop I make a point of changing my window displays every day. Over the years it has become a talking point and I find it very rewarding when people pop in and make a point of commending me on my colourful windows."

Bev has found taking on the shop a very exciting and rewarding venture.

"I love to meet new customers and gradually over the years they have become my regulars and usually end up bringing friends or relatives to the shop to introduce them to the Look Twice experience," she said.

If you fancy a coffee, lunch or just a quick snack, head for Samms cafe in Ponteland shopping centre. This business is run by sisters Dianne and Lindsey. They prepare and cook all food freshly such as scones, pies, soups and quiches. Hot and cold sandwiches are made to order as are jacket potatoes and paninis with various fillings.

Hot and cold drinks include speciality coffees and hot chocolates, sodas and milkshakes. Teas include herbal and speciality fruit varieties. All food can be served to take away or to eat in within the comfortable seating area whilst watching the TV or reading the newspapers provided.

If you're looking for a traditional tailer, John Blades just outside Ponteland at West End Farm, Berwick Hill, is the place to go. John has been tailoring English-made suits for the last 50 years and continues even though he is coming up to his 72nd birthday.

John specialises in sporting suits as well as classic-styled business and country suits, jackets and trousers.

As John is now semi-retired he is selling off all existing retail stock at knock-down prices. Customers can take advantage of the many bargains at the Northumberland County Show this weekend. For more information visit www.johnbladestailoring.co.uk While you're in the area, The Milkhope Centre at nearby Seaton Burn is also worth a visit. Now celebrating its 25th year, it offers a wonderful retail experience so different from city centres or modern suburban shopping malls. Access is easy - down quiet, uncluttered country roads, leading to ample free car parks.

There's something for everyone, including garden machinery and furniture, ladies' fashions, soft furnishings, locally sourced produce and, of course, the centre's renowned coffee shop where you can relax and enjoy the best in home baking, cookery, tea and coffee, and a warm welcome.

Well worth a visit is The Stone Gallery where you'll find great architectural home and garden ideas. It's one of the region's leading stone specialists with a large portfolio of architectural stone, unique garden ornaments and statues, fire surrounds and natural stone floors in large displays.

There is no escaping the magnificence of a natural stone floor, nor the mood, atmosphere and ambience it creates. Whatever the effect you seek, at Stone Gallery you will find the choice and expertise required to help achieve your dream.

The stock is ethically sourced and produced by quarries with good working conditions, which are regularly inspected to ensure that these conditions are adhered to. Following this good practise theme, its associate company, Fires and Ice, sells and installs some of the most efficient (and cheapest to run) multifuel stoves on the market to assist the green initiative.

Fires and Ice has been awarded the prestigious franchise to sell, install and maintain Firebelly stoves and has live fires on display. Knowledgeable staff are on hand to guide you on choosing the best appliance. For more details visit www.milkhopecentre.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE Far left, the revamped Ponteland Country Market in Merton Way, and, left, Alan Shield with his daughter Rachael, and one of the Lions at the Stone Gallery in the Milkhope Centre
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 27, 2011
Words:985
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