So I was a very excited to hear the news that Saltwell Towers, the beautiful gothic mansion in the middle of the Park, was going to be hosting "Tea at the Towers" on the last Sunday of every month. The tea has only been running since March but being a pair of eager beavers we booked a slot for the April tea.
Unfortunately on the day the weather was typical of British Spring time ... dark clouds, lots of puddles on the ground and frequent showers. Not really what you want when you're doing a 40 minute walk to afternoon tea. We embraced it though, and I was quite happy wrapping up in my big parka, putting on my favourite "stompy" boots and doing the up hill hike to earn my afternoon tea.
I think the promise of cake made us walk extra fast as we reached our destination in record speed and ended up having a lovely slow stroll through the park in the rain towards the Towers. We stopped off at the lake and I attempted to impress Simon with my ability to name all of the water birds (the benefit of having grown up on the Norfolk Broads). As we approached the Towers I actually quite appreciated how dark the skies looked as it made the lights beaming out from the windows of the Towers look really warm and inviting.
The Afternoon Tea was served upstairs in the gallery and the stairs to access it were roped off for a "private function" which made it all feel rather special.
The Gallery is a great area at the best of times, it's very light and has beautiful big windows overlooking the Park, but it looked even better set up for afternoon tea. There were a few tables dotted around covered in white tablecloths, each one already set up for afternoon tea complete with gorgeous menus.
The staff running the afternoon were amazing, they went the extra mile to make every guest feel welcome. I'd actually say there are some afternoon teas I've had at grand hotels that haven't been as welcoming and accommodating as the people at Saltwell Towers. We were very well looked after - our coats were hung up, we were offered endless pots of tea and there were plenty of people around to make sure we were happy.
I'd actually been a little bit of an idiot and had forgotten to mention my nut allergy when I booked. I felt a little silly admitting it once they'd brought out the afternoon tea (bit late really!) but the staff didn't bat an eyelid and immediately brought me out some freshly made sandwiches on a separate plate and pointed out which cakes to avoid. I was so impressed at how kind they were considering I'd made such a silly mistake.
I really wasn't sure what to expect of the afternoon tea, in all honesty I'd gone not expecting a lot and I was proved very wrong. It was very professional, the servings were really generous and the delicious food was homemade on the premises.
The sandwiches were really lovely non-fussy fillings (our favourite) and were served on the tier with a beautiful little flower made out of a tomato and a cucumber fan.
Of course, you all know that our favourite tier is always the cakes and Tea at the Towers did not disappoint. We had a little square chocolate cake (I didn't touch it because of my nut allergy but it was clearly very good as Simon ate both bits!), a strawberry and cream tart and a lemon mousse. Each cake was the perfect size and absolutely beautiful.
I'm very pleased to let you know that Simon has finally given me an afternoon tea name, and has chosen Margery. I think he was hoping I'd hate it but in all honesty I am fully embracing it. Maybe I should start up a new blog - Cecil and Margery do afternoon tea?!
Feeling rather full after the cakes it was lovely to be able to have a nice amble around the park before returning home. We plodded amongst the bluebells and watched the squirrels.
We had a really enjoyable afternoon and I really recommend that anyone reading this who is in the North East book up immediately! The Tea costs £12.50 each and the next date will be Sunday 25 May. You can book by telephone 0191 433 3267 or by e-mailing email@example.com