18th-century Shieldhall is the Robinson-Gays friendly family home and they’re converting the low stone barn at right angles to it into three cottages. The middle one’s ready and handsomely furnished; they also have a furniture-making workshop in another outbuilding that you’re welcome to visit. Through the arched entrance you go straight into the slim, low-beamed, sitting room. Country smart and softly coloured with floral curtains, local prints and framed OS map. Oak, elm and mahogany pieces are all handmade and high quality, like the wave-form fretwork radiator cabinets, the deeply comfortable bed and the inlaid chest of drawers against the bedroom window. The bathroom has lovely toiletries, thick towels and robes. The well-designed and equipped small kitchen has granite work surfaces and orchard views. There’s also a relaxed shared space across the way with WiFi, books, well-used cottagey seating and peaceful green views. The National Trust’s Palladian Wallington Hall is the nearest neighbour; Newcastle and Hadrian’s Wall are half an hour’s drive. Generous picnic hamper, and brollies, provided.