Hopefully the Tealeaflets will be posting more this year. Me and Mo have lots of catching up to do and no doubt while we do, we’ll need copious amounts of tea and cake. Mo and Mr Mo have been off in Costa Rica in pursuit of the elusive Quetzal. Not only did Mo’s dream come true when she spotted one of these beautiful birds but she also saw a mother sloth with her baby. Meanwhile me and Mr Me have been travelling in the Land Down Under. Our wildlife tally has included a little mountain dragon and some slightly less appealing creatures, an Eastern brown snake and a red-backed spider…
On our travels in the beautiful Blue Mountains west of Sydney we came upon a teapot museum in the pretty village of Leura. The Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum is home to the world’s largest private collection of over 5,500 teapots. Although we’d come for the great outdoors, a quick peek was too much for me to miss and Mr Me gamely came along. A happy hour followed. The collection of teapots spans over 5 centuries and many styles from the classic to the eclectic.
Although it was only lunchtime the museum was already serving afternoon tea. A top-hatted waiter appeared wearing white gloves, pushing a tea trolley bedecked with Union Jacks to an accompaniment of Rule Britannia… We decided to resist and headed off to explore the Megalong Valley. The steep, winding drive down into the valley through the lush rainforest was spectacular. The Aboriginal word Megalong means ‘valley under the rock’. And there, sitting in the valley looking back up at the escarpment of the Blue Mountains, were the Megalong Valley Tearooms. We found ourselves a shady spot under the gum trees in the garden and chose our afternoon tea.
Mr Me had lemongrass and ginger tea to drink which paired well with his Lamington (a classic Australian cake) served with thick whipped cream and berry jam. I had Billy tea (a tropical Queensland blend with Eucalyptus leaves) and two of the Tearooms famous scones served with blackberry jam and thick whipped cream. Jam first, naturally – even though it’s called a Devonshire Tea in Australia Mr Me insists on the Cornish way of doing things. Never, ever cream first! Every bite was delicious and tasted even better eaten in such stunning surroundings.
The Megalong Valley Tearooms have been serving teas since 1956 and are now the only tearooms remaining in the valley where there used to be up to 6 tearooms serving Devonshire teas. Long may they prosper. With luck, one day we will return to the beautiful Blue Mountains – we thoroughly recommend a visit.
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (Vintage Classics)
Dalloway terrace lavender
Wild English flowers by Wild at Heart
On a recent trip to London my eldest son, Mr Tom, surprised me with a visit to the beautiful Dalloway Terrace at the Bloomsbury Hotel. Each season the theme of the terrace changes and this Spring it’s a tribute to the honey bee and its importance to the ecosystem. Named after Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, the walls of terrace are covered in wild English flowers designed by Nikki Tibbles Wild at Heart and dotted with bees. The afternoon tea menu is bee-themed too with sweet elements inspired by four key habitats for bees – Forest, Garden, Field and Mountain.
Honey Bee Afternoon Tea at the Dalloway Terrace -menu
A bee buzzing on Nikki Tibbles wild English flowers
More bees buzzing
more buzzy bees in the flowers
The terrace looked so pretty it was hard to concentrate on deciding which tea to drink. We chose herbal infusions – a Lemon Verbena for Mr Tom (apparently a ‘wonderful digestive’ which was useful considering all we ate) and for me a Tregothnan English Peppermint grown in Cornwall. We’d decided to forgo lunch to save some space for our afternoon tea. Our food arrived beautifully presented, so much so that a ravenous Mr Tom became a bit concerned I wouldn’t let him spoil the look by actually eating any of it. But I was hungry too…
Cheeky Honey Bee sitting on honey sponge, honey and jasmine centre, white velvet crust
all the cake!
dark chocolate & pine mousse, cacao sponge candied orange honey, crystallised pine leaves
Lemon shortbread, lavender honey & blueberry cream, blueberry glaze and honey bee
Every bite was melt-in-the-mouth delicious. Our joint favourite in the end was not a sweet cake but the dainty Shropshire Blue and Spinach quiches. We sat and caught up with our news and put the world to rights fuelled by endless refills of our teapots and two hours went by in a flash. Our waiter, Georgi, brought the bill inside a slightly battered copy of Mrs Dalloway which was a lovely touch. He told us that the exquisite little honey bees on our cakes were hand made in Romania by the mother of the food and beverage manager. We also talked with Georgi about the risk of bees becoming extinct and some of the dangers they face from pesticides, parasites, disappearing habitats and climate change. One out of every three bites of food we eat each day relies on pollination, mostly by bees. So a big thank you little honey bees and Mr Tom for a wonderful afternoon tea.
Plant flowers, save the bees and don’t forget World Bee Day on May 20th!
“I know now where the world ends”
H. V. Morton – Travel writer
The Wild Atlantic Way stretches for over 2600 km along the west coast of Ireland from Cork up to Donegal. A few weeks ago, as a family get together, fourteen of us spent a few days not far from Westport, Co Mayo and explored just a small part of this beautiful coast.
Knowing my weakness for tea and cake (and because it was my birthday), my brother and sister treated me and Mr Me to afternoon tea at Knockranny House – perched on a hill above Westport overlooking Clew Bay and it’s 365 islands, one for each day of the year. Continue reading
Today is National Tea Day in the UK and what better way to celebrate than with a cup of tea in a sunny garden? In honour of this auspicious day I used a beautiful teacup – a present for Mother’s Day and from the Wedgwood Tea Garden collection. There are four designs in the collection, each inspired by nature. Each design can be used with the appropriate tea or fruit infusion.
After a busy day it was perfect to relax in the spring sunshine with a dainty cup of green tea and mint watched over by some little froggy friends.
Happy National Tea Day!
The last few months have flown by and Christmas is almost here – and Christmas means mince pies and yule log and mulled wine and much feasting. So when we spotted a Festive Tea on offer at the Headland Hotel in Newquay Mo and I decided it would be rude not to. Continue reading
Me and Mo were long overdue a proper catch up so last week when Mo suggested heading to Falmouth and to Dolly’s, a tea room by day and a gin palace by night, I knew we’d be in for a treat. Continue reading
For our final week in Italy we headed back north to Lake Como and the lovely, unspoilt village of Torno. Set on the hillside overlooking the lake is Villa Matilda (or ‘The Castle” as it’s known locally) which has been restored with infinite care and attention to detail by its American owners, Tony and Shirley, who live there with their young son. On arrival we were invited by our hosts for early evening drinks by the pool and we were still there at midnight having enjoyed fabulous food, wine and company. It was a wonderful start to our week in Lake Como. Continue reading
Italians do so many things with style. Including, as we discovered on the long journey south to Tuscany, motorway services. The new Eataly per Autogrill near Modena is grandly described as ‘a gastronomic digression from our customary haste’ and offered an amazing choice of fresh and deli food. My enthusiasm, however, probably wouldn’t stretch as far as visiting Eataly World (aka Disney for Food Lovers) when it opens near Bologna next year.
We eventually arrived at our home for the week, Castellare di Cellole, a beautiful former priory restored from a ruin by Adela and Mauro. Continue reading
Our home for a week was Casa dell’Ava in the tiny mountain village of Pianazzola 300 vertical metres and a series of terrifying hairpin bends above the ancient town of Chiavenna in Val Bregaglia. Continue reading
(With apologies to Mo for going without her!)
Miss Lucy is on half-term and as she’s now officially a DFL (Down from London), the sunny terrace at the Hotel Tresanton in St Mawes was the perfect spot for an afternoon treat. Continue reading