Making Time For Those You Love…

english-summertime-tea-1

With a hectic pre-Christmas schedule it was impossible to find a mutually suitable time to visit my mother before the big day this year, therefore a compromise had to be found. After much thought I suggested we indulged in ‘afternoon tea’ at a posh hotel fairly close to where mum lives, so that we can enjoy a good old natter whilst indulging in a bit of luxury. Thankfully she agreed to this idea and so today I set off early, in sub-zero temperatures, to catch the bus.

Her little face lit up as I was dropped off, and we immediately began putting the world to rights. After an hour of thawing out at her place we hopped into a taxi which took us to the hotel, where I’d reserved us a table overlooking a pretty pond. Despite having walked past there literally hundreds of times, my mother had never stepped foot inside, so to be able to finally treat her to a little bit of luxury was wonderful.

Afternoon tea was sublime; delicious food and drink and excellent service, I really couldn’t have asked for more from them. Of course, mum was chuffed to bits and even though we didn’t manage to see each other before Christmas Day for the first time in my life, today has more than made up for it. When life gets busy it’s sometimes a little too easy to sideline people in order to fit everything in. However, family is very precious, and it’s vital to make sure that you somehow MAKE the time to be with those you love…

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My Bouche Was Amused…

cake

I’m extremely lucky to have such lovely friends, especially when I get treated to a pre-birthday afternoon tea at a local 4-star hotel. I was advised against having any lunch as this particular venue provides five courses; amuse bouche, scones with clotted cream and jam, a selection of cakes, finger sandwiches and a fruit trifle!

The place was empty when we arrived so we practically had our own staff, who were kept busy fetching fresh pots of hot water which we used for sampling a range of 6 speciality teas (the amaretto cherry tea was my favourite). The amuse bouche was a delightful shot glass of tiny, mouthwatering melon and pineapple chunks. This was followed by freshly cut sandwiches with the crusts off, and then the massive freshly-baked scones followed by cream cakes and tarts. Already bursting, it was a culinary challenge to complete this marathon eating session, but the mini-trifles were simply asking to be eaten. Not only did we fill our faces, we had plenty of laughs too. As well as being treated to afternoon tea I was also given lovely birthday cards and a birthday cake to bring home.

Tomorrow I shall be another year older, another year wiser, and another year blessed with genuinely wonderful people around me…

Let Them Eat Cake…

valerie patisserie

It’d been all work and no play for me in recent weeks, so when a good friend invited me for afternoon tea I jumped at the opportunity to mix gossip with cakes. The weather was mild, despite it being a Bank Holiday weekend, so we made the most of it by sitting in her back garden on her lovely, comfy swing seat. There were three of us girlies, with my friend’s hubby dutifully acting as head chef and waiter.

Surrounded by floral delights we were presented with a dainty and delicious sandwich selection, accompanied by hot drinks. No sooner had we scoffed those, when the cake stand arrived, and oh my word! I’ve passed Patisserie Valerie in town several times and drooled at their fabulous creations, but never imagined in my wildest dreams that I’d be offered such silky rich mouthfuls of chocolate heaven to savour. By now, the elastic in my trousers was at it’s limit, and I was certain I couldn’t eat another thing, when out came the freshly backed scones – still hot!

Greed is not a virtue, but it would’ve been rude to say no and so I scooped a spoonful of thick, clotted cream onto my freshly cut scone, then topped it off with top quality fruit jam. Good job we ended up chatting for the next four hours because I was far too full to move. I have a sneaking suspicion I won’t want any tea tonight, or any breakfast, or even dinner, tomorrow!

Raspberry Éclairs…

eclairs

When you’re juggling several jobs, feeling starved of a decent social life and the weather’s not been as ‘spring-like’ as you’d hoped, nothing cheers you up quite like having a good old natter with a couple of close friends; especially if it involves cakes. Today’s delicious treats were coffee topped profiteroles and raspberry éclairs, both filled with lashings of fresh cream. Afternoon tea does not involve calorie counting, and it never should.

We always manage to have a laugh and cover a wide variety of topics; everything from dead pigeons to farting in the bath. In fact, I doubt that there’s any subject we wouldn’t be able to discuss, and I find that very liberating. In a world of political correctness gone mad, it’s a relief to be able to ‘tell it how it is‘ knowing you won’t be judged. In fact, it feels so good that afternoon tea with friends should be available on prescription. It’d save the NHS millions.

 

Sunday Afternoon Tea…

tea

There’s something quintessentially British about indulging in Sunday afternoon tea at a fancy hotel restaurant, surrounded by traditional English meadows; which is exactly what my friends and I were doing this sunny, summer afternoon.

Pots of freshly brewed tea arrived as soon as we were seated, along with milk jugs and a bowl of sugar cubes (haven’t seen proper sugar cubes for years!) The sandwiches were sliced to perfection into identical sizes with crusts cut off (obviously), and carefully placed on the bottom of a 3-tiered cake stand. My eyes almost popped right out of my head when I saw the array of cakey treats and scones; thank heavens for elasticated waistbands! Everything from strawberry jam and cream to the moistest (yes, that’s a word) carrot cake I’ve ever eaten were all very much a joy to the taste-buds.

Wow, thank you to my fabulous friends for inviting me. Next stop, The Ritz!