“I don't think visitors to the region are prepared for the beauty that it holds and it’s so lovely to see their faces light up when they finally get to see some of it. But to then see others treat it with such disrespect is quite upsetting.”
Ally Thompson, owner and front of house manager at hotel and fine dining experience, Hjem near Hexham, knows a thing or two about beautiful places. Having lived and worked in Australia, New Zealand and then Denmark for the best part of a decade, she could appreciate their beauty but knew home was where the heart is and moved back to Northumberland in 2018 to set up her new venture with partner and Hjem chef, Alex Nietosvuori.
Being a small business owner of an extremely popular hotel and restaurant in Northumberland, Ally has a unique experience of the pandemic, staycations and how we can all do our bit to help treat Northumberland with the respect it deserves.
Here’s her story.
“Growing up in the North East, I couldn’t wait to get away from it - it was a classic case of thinking the grass would be greener overseas. I moved to Australia then onto New Zealand, always working within hospitality. I ended up relocating to Denmark for work and stayed there running restaurants for four years. It was in Copenhagen where Alex and I first met and as soon as I brought him home to Northumberland, it was love at first sight.
“We spent a couple of years in London but the opportunity to take on what is now Hjem, presented itself and we couldn’t say no, it felt like destiny.
“Being back here, I too have fallen back in love with Northumberland. It still amazes me how you can drive a short time to the most stunning coastal beaches and then on the drive back you can travel through gorgeous country landscapes. Such different vistas in a small place is extremely rare.
“There is also so much history here too from Hadrian’s Wall to the Farne Islands where you can observe puffins, seals and even dolphins!
“I don't think visitors to the county are prepared for the beauty that it holds and it’s so lovely to see their faces light up when they finally get to see it. But to then see others treat it with such disrespect is quite upsetting.
“The litter that accumulates here, especially in the summer months, is shocking. Facemasks are my current pet peeve, I see so many lying in the road as well as plastic cups, crisp packets and so on.
“Only recently we visited Sycamore Gap and I was astounded by the amount of litter there was. There are plenty of bins in the county and if you can’t find one, take your rubbish home with you. “This is our home; we love it and are very proud of it and I can only hope that visitors can explore, have fun, but be respectful and remember that although this may only be a holiday for you, we live here all year round.”