PLACES I'VE BEEN

  • AFTERNOON TEA AT THE CELTIC MANOR

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: afternoon tea, Places I've been, places of interest

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    I was lucky enough to be invited for afternoon tea by my lovely friend, Mel. We’re both mums of two small children and so when she suggested a Monday afternoon get together involving tea and cake that would be just for us and not to share with any little ones, you can imagine how excited I was!

    Mel picked me up and we drove down the M4, chatting all the way about how nice it was to have an uninterrupted conversation and how much we were looking forward to an afternoon of sweet treats.

    Upon arrival we were taken to our seats, a great spot in the conservatory of the Olive Tree restaurant on the ground floor. It was a gloriously sunny day and we had a great view of the gardens and of people lazing around in their dressing gowns enjoying a spa day!

    When we were asked if we would like some Prosecco with our afternoon tea, we obviously said yes, and the fizz proved to be an excellent amuse bouche! Mel doesn’t drink tea (I know!) so she had a refreshing glass of orange juice and I enjoyed a pot of Darjeeling.

    When the tiered cake stand was brought over to our table, it was definitely a feast for the eyes. We were presented with crust-less finger sandwiches with a delicious range of fillings including coronation chicken, Hafod cheese and pickle, cucumber with lemon and mint mayo, honey roasted ham and wholegrain mustard and a mini brioche roll with egg mayo and cress. I liked the fact there were two of each, so no fighting over who got left with the cucumber one! Actually, I’m always pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoy a cucumber sandwich as part of an afternoon tea, although it would never occur to me to make one at home for my lunch. I would definitely recommend the lemon and mint mayo for an extra boost of flavour.

    We moved onto the cakes quite quickly. I started my dessert course with the Jammie Dodger shortbread tartlet. It was amazing! I think Mel ‘s favourite was the raspberry and elderflower macaroon which she said was the right balance of sweet and chewy, to which I agreed! The strawberry and white chocolate mousse was tasty too, as was the pressed summer Pimm’s slice.

    The pace definitely slowed at this point as we had to sit back and rest between each mouthful. Sensing we were reaching the point we couldn’t eat or drink anymore, the waitress kindly offered to bring the scones out to us in a box we could take home.

    We left the restaurant with full tummies and a handbag full of scones, jam and cream which we were looking forward to sharing with our families when we got home. I think the doggy bag made us feel less guilty for indulging and we knew our little ones would appreciate a little treat too.

    I’m already looking forward to the next time I can enjoy some civilised cake eating and tea drinking…

    Thanks Mel – let’s do it again soon!

    We had the Summer Berry afternoon tea which is available until the end of September 2014. Menu here: http://www.celtic-manor.com/resort-afternoon-teas

  • TK MAXX – A BARGAIN BASEMENT

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Cardiff, Inspiration, Places I've been

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    I can’t seem to keep away from TK Maxx. In fact, I reckon I venture into that shop at least once a week and I’d urge you to do the same… There’s always something you’ll find that you won’t be able to resist. If, like me, you love a bargain, and even more so if it’s a bargain that no-one else is likely to have, then you can be sure to find some little treasures in the basement of TK Maxx.

    It’s my first port of call for presents – think quirky bakeware like moustache shaped cookie cutters, notebooks with pretty birds on the cover, retro-inspired cake tins – and my first port of call for lovely things to buy for my new home. Picture frames, lanterns and candles – you name it, they’ve got it.

    I’d love to hear about stuff you’ve magpied in TK Maxx too so let me know about any of your exciting finds.

  • CORDIAL & GRACE – A VINTAGE LOVER’S HEAVEN IN CLIFTON VILLAGE, BRISTOL

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Places I've been

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    If, like me, you love finding an excuse to eat cake and drink tea from pretty cups, and you’ve also been known to enjoy a bit of crafting, then read on!

    Cordial & Grace is a modern tea room and sewing cafe in the heart of Clifton Village. I was really excited when I booked an afternoon tea workshop there for my lovely sister-in-law’s hen celebrations as I knew it would be a fitting way to start the weekend.  We’re both pregnant so a spa day or anything adrenaline-fuelled or involving strenuous physical activity was out of the question, so sitting around a table sewing, chatting, eating and drinking was much more of a draw!

    When we arrived we were served a glass of Prosecco (elderflower for the expectant mums!) before being shown to the sewing room downstairs which was a crafter’s paradise – shelves lined with glass jars stuffed with ribbons and buttons, home-made pastel-coloured bunting hung across the ceiling and pretty pictures on the walls.

    A complete crafting kit was provided as the lovely ladies at Cordial & Grace showed us how to make pretty fabric flowers and transform them into corsages, hair bands or clips. An hour on after a dose of patience, concentration and creativity – we all had a flower ready to create into something we could wear.

    The afternoon tea was served shortly afterwards and my, what a feast! Beautifully presented on tiered cake stands and vintage crockery (a big LIKE from Mrs Tea!) we tucked into delicious sandwiches, then moved quickly on to the sweet treats which were clotted cream, jam and scones, chocolate brownies, elderflower and Prosecco jellies (surprisingly boozy – although maybe that’s more of a sign of the effects of my nine-month abstinence!) and some tasty coconut cakes.

    There was far too much for us all to get through but we were able to take what was left back to Claire’s to continue the feasting later on!

    The great thing about Cordial & Grace is that as well as offering private hire for sewing classes with afternoon tea, they run a series of regular events and workshops where you can drop in and brush up on your sewing skills, gain confidence in using a sewing machine or make something under some guided tuition. And of course, eat cake at the same time! Their next workshop is 21 July which is a basic sewing skills class: http://www.cordial-and-grace.co.uk/classes/basic-sewing

     

  • A STUNNING SUNTRAP IN SLEEPY SOMERSET

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Places I've been

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    I was lucky enough to be staying my mum in Somerset over the lovely sunny Sunday we had last weekend. Mum’s been meaning to show me The Walled Garden in Mells for quite some time, and we’ve never quite managed to squeeze it in over a weekend until now just because we always try and do too much when I come to stay! It was well worth the wait though when we did actually find the time to go as I think our visit couldn’t have been timed better.

    Located just outside my home town of Frome, Mells is a beautiful village in the heart of Somerset. Home to the annual Daffodil Festival, it houses beautiful stone cottages with pretty rose gardens, a manor house, a tithe barn, an old jail (!) and the best sort of coaching-inn style village pub (amazing looking menu, cobbled garden, fireplaces, a speciality gin collection. They even host Sunday night movies in the Sitting Room!)

    The Walled Garden at Mells is the perfect centrepiece to such a lovely little village. A 17th century working historic garden, it houses British grown flowers, garden plants, fragrant herbs, arty garden ornaments and great views across the surrounding fields and countryside. They have a delightful little courtyard cafe which serves home-made cakes (try the carrot cake!) and a good selection of teas, coffees and cold drinks.

    What’s really special is that they also have a wood-fired pizza oven serving the most amazing thin and crispy pizzas. Mum and I shared a Royale and it was simply delicious.  I’m a big fan of al fresco eating, and sitting within such beautiful and peaceful surroundings with lovely company definitely enhanced our dining experience. I had a pot of peppermint tea (definitely soothed my late pregnancy digestion problems!) which was served in a pretty floral teapot and cup and saucer (very Mrs Tea!)

    After chatting, eating, sipping tea and taking lots of photos, mum and I went for a wander around the gardens and the conservatory which was like a jumble sale / vintage crockery shop with cake stands and tea cups galore! I resisted the temptation to buy anything (I blame the heat!) but enjoyed looking around and having a rummage through the little treasures on display.

    So if you’re going to Glastonbury this year or you find yourself in Somerset looking for a place to escape and unwind, look up The Walled Garden at Mells.