It’s that time of year when all the ‘vouchers’ my family gave me for Christmas are being used up, and I am having lots of nice treats (much nicer than another pair of socks!) Last week I used my ‘afternoon tea’ voucher.
To be honest, when I suggested a voucher for afternoon tea, I had been thinking about a trip to London, to one of the big posh hotels. I have already been fortunate enough to have been invited to a tea at The Ritz (which is sort of the ‘ultimate’ traditional English afternoon tea venue) but I have heard that Claridge’s does a very good tea too. (At £70 per person, it jolly well ought to be good! The Ritz is a bargain at only £60 per person—though don’t be tempted to pay another £50 for a birthday cake, as the cake which arrives is the size of a cupcake and looks rather dry, in my opinion. I have rather strong opinions when it comes to cake).
However, my gift was not for tea in London, it was for afternoon tea at the Watersmeet Hotel in Devon—where you might remember we had an exceptionally lovely tea last year. We were staying in Instow, Devon, for a few days (Husband tends to take me there every January so I can recover from Christmas—I tend to be not very nice and exceptionally explosive when I’m over-tired, so it’s probably a good idea). I packed some smart clothes (ie, clothes not covered in dog/cat hairs or mud) and we drove to the hotel on Sunday afternoon. The drive was a pretty one, through lanes bordered with high hedges, past tiny streams meandering through valleys, and through towns with old churches and stone cottages and lanes only just wide enough for a car.
The Watersmeet Hotel has a dining room with big windows overlooking the cove. It looks very nice on their website, but last year when we arrived for our tea, we were seated in the lounge—still nice, but not quite as nice. Last year I had commented, and tried to show them my voucher, with photos of the dining room. Husband whispered that actually he had made the voucher himself, by stealing photos from their website, so perhaps my position wasn’t as strong as I thought it was! This year though, Husband had specifically asked if we could sit in the dining room when he booked the tea. We were shown to a seat, in the window, looking down on the cove. It was perfect.
The tea, when it arrived, was enough for at least four people. I had remembered this from the previous year, and had come prepared. Smuggled into my smart blue bag, were tiny plastic containers with snappy lids, all ready to store any leftover food.
We sat and drank tea (proper, strong, made with tea-leaves, tea). We admired the food, and ate the sandwiches and some of the cakes and one of the scones. I then, very stealthily, drew the first container from my bag. It was small—the perfect size for a fat scone. Husband laughed at me, and commented that his nan* would be proud of me. All was going well, no one else noticed, until I came to close the lid. Snappy lids are very loud. The sound echoed around the empty dining room, and the family sitting in the lounge looked up, surprised. Husband laughed. I looked at the remaining cakes, and glanced at the row of small containers sitting deceptively quietly in my bag. Dare I use them to store the leftover cakes and cause a whole series of loud pops?
Actually, we were offered boxes to take home the leftovers, but the cakes were delicate tarts and soft sponges and last year we arrived home to find a mangled mess of unidentifiable flavours, so snappy-lid containers are much better. If somewhat louder.
We enjoyed the view, which is so much more spectacular than any London hotel could offer.
When we arrived back at the cottage, the cakes were still perfect in their containers, and we enjoyed them over the next few days.
I hope you have some things to enjoy too. Thanks for reading. Take care.
PS. Afternoon Tea at Watersmeet Hotel is £22 per person, and with an incomparable view—but remember to ask to be seated in the dining area when you book. And don’t forget to take some containers for the left-overs.
*When I first met Husband’s family, way back in the 80’s when we were teenagers, his family were still eating the sugar which his nan had stockpiled during the sugar shortage of the 70’s! I am never sure whether being compared to her is necessarily a compliment. . .