Favourite Tea Rooms


When we wander out and about, especially when we are on holiday, invariably we end up having a well earned cup of tea for me, or cup of coffee for Chris in some tea room somewhere. Usually we search for a traditional cafe or tea room - not one with plastic cups - with scones and cakes, home baking, etc. I prefer tea (loose leaf rather that tea bags) in a tea pot left to stand for about 5 minutes. I take my tea black - no milk, no sugar. Milk should of course be served separately to be added to taste. But sometimes I still get caught out eg in a cheap and cheerful seaside cafe where I have forgotten to say no milk. We have books on recommended tea rooms - "The National Teapot Trail - teashops of Great Britain, and "The Scottish Teapot Trail", but these recommendations are few and far between. Often we just have to take pot luck - and occasionally we find a new delight to add to the list of places to visit again.

From our wanderings there are lots of places that we do revisit and can recommend - but with a word of caution. A place is only as good as the people running it - if they have retired or moved elsewhere standards may have slipped. Sometimes places change names but remain almost unchanged. We used to like a tea room called Kerfuffles in Herne Bay, but it became too expensive and lost custom. It was then called called Wades, and then it closed down. It's not mentioned here.

I have two other general suggestions. The first is wherever you are - don't forget church halls. These are often open as temporary tea rooms to raise funds - although they can vary in quality they are usually always good value or money. In Herne Bay United Church in Sept/08 we got a tea, a coffee, a large slice of home baked walnut cake and a large slice of excellent cream sponge all for 1.54. The lady who baked the sponge was there and I was able tell her how much I had enjoyed her baking. On the other hand you can get dry scones bought they previous day from a supermarket economy pack. Quality is variable, but its sometimes worth a try. The second suggestion is not to completely ignore chains, so I have added a mini section on these at the bottom of the following list.

The following is the start of a new section of tea rooms - only started in May/07 - and I have got lots more still to add.



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Afternoon Tea at Claridges - June, 2014



 
I have put Afternoon Tea at Claridges outside my normal listings, as it is not really a recommended tea room because of the price. We do not normally visit such places for tea, nor do I wear a Rolex watch, nor drive a Rolls Royce. It's a terrific indulgence, an experience to be savoured and talked about, some thing to be dropped casually into conversation -"When we were taking tea in Claridges, ...........", etc. Afternoon Tea for Two was a Christmas 2013 present from our Australian grand children Lachlan and Charlie - thanks. The present arrived as a glossy Claridges brochure, with a certificate entitling us to two afternoon teas. We waited until the better weather came and tube strikes were out of the way, and then phoned Claridges to arrange a suitable time. And so we presented ourselves to Claridges at 14:45 on Monday, 2nd June 2014 for a long anticipated treat.

We actually arrived around 14:00, so we introduced ourselves and took a seat in the entrance hall to wait. The picture on the right is not best quality, but is a scan from the Claridges brochure. The seats on the bottom left were where we waited, under the chandelier, and then for tea we were seated in the imposing room as shown in the picture, at the back left. There was a pianist playing afternoon tea music on a grand piano, and accompanied by a lady cellist. Service was attentive, formal but friendly, and we were told to take our time, were offered repeat servings, and tea was made fresh at our table for two, and poured through a silver tea strainer into decent sized green striped cups. Of course there was a choice of teas - we chose Claridges own blend, i.e. when in Rome, etc.

After being seated we were given a menu booklet describing what was on offer, and the other pages gave more information about the teas and the sandwiches, etc. We were asked if we had any dietery requirements. A lady on a near by table said she didn't eat meat, and so she got appropriate sandwiches. We just took all that was on offer. We started with a tray of about 5 pairs of finger sandwiches. I ate the ham, etc ones, the organic chicken, etc ones and a cucumber sandwich. They were tasty, and when we had finished them, we had the same again. Next came the scones - small, but very tasty. We had two small scones each - a plain one and a raisin one. They were served with Marco Polo preserve (strawbereyy jam) and clotted cream. We declined extra scones, because we wanted to leave room for our pastries. There were eight small pastries - we had two each, and took the others home in a doggie bag - see other picture. We also got a small packet of sweets each as we left. A very pleasant tea in lovelly surroundings, and we were made very welcome.

We were about the first to arrive, and got to choose wherever we wanted to sit. The place filled up as the afternoon progressed, but there was always plenty of room. Naturally we tried out the wash room facilities. Christine said in the Ladies, an attendant turned on the wash taps for her. Luckily I escaped this in the Gents. We dried our hands on individual small white towels. The experience lasted about 75 minutes, but we could have taken longer had we wanted to. Various ranks of hotel employee wandered over to ask if all was as it should be / were we being well catered for. We had thought that photos were not allowed, and so we did not take our camera, but we did notice that several tables had handed mobile phones to the staff who appeared pleased to take a photo of the happy party.


Would we recommend that you all rush off to Claridges for afternoon tea whenever in London - of course not, it's far, far too expensive. But if it's very special occasion - an engagement, a wedding, a special birthday, a retirement, you've won the National Lottery - in short if its an occasion when the price doesn't matter, then yes it is something "very nice" to do. Next time we are in a cafe for pot of tea at 1.80, and a scone about 1.50 we will probably comment that it is not quite the same ambience as at Claridges, but we'll pay our bill for two and get change from a tenner. You can't do that at Claridges, but that's not the point, is it ?






Date of last visit : 2014

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Thames Afternoon Tea River Cruise



 
The photo is yours truly having afternoon tea on the Harmony river cruiser.

Like our afternoon tea visit to Claridges, this too was a Christmas gift from Jamie, Jacqui, Lachlan, Charlie and Fraser. Our gift was the premier package, so we got a window seat, and a welcoming glass of champagne. A pianist at a grand piano added to the ambiance. Thanks ever so !

We know London, the Embankment, and the South Bank quite well, but to see all the familiar sights from the river was a novel experience that we greatly enjoyed. We had an excellent seat, and got perfect views of The Houses of Parliament, The London Eye, The Tower of London, etc, etc.

We arrived at Embankment Pier about 3:00 pm, and picked up our boarding pass. The Harmony was already moored there, and we boarded about 3:15, ready to set off for the hour and a quarter cruise at 3:30. We were shown straight to our table for two (table 50) by a big window, and our glasses of champagne were waiting for us. We were later asked if we wanted a champagne top up, but we declined - we wondered later if perhaps we might have been charged for the top up - this was after being offered and later charged for some still water ?

We had a limited choice of teas - and both chose Assam. This arrived in a large glass teapot with the tea leaves in the middle in a stainless steel mesh basket. The problem with this set up is that the tea can tend to stew a little on sitting. There was no pot of hot water - but perhaps we could have asked for one had we wanted to. We got a second teapot when we had drunk the tea in the first one . The food was served all together on a three tier cake stand. On the bottom layer were the sandwiches - tasty enough - in the middle layer a scone, jam and cream, each, and the pastries and cakes were on the top tier. We finished the sandwiches first, and these were replaced, but there was no offer of an extra scone, nor extra pastries. The pastries were not the finest patisserie, but were fresh and tasty, and all in all we had more than ample to eat, and it was all very enjoyable.

The high point of the package was the cruise itself - comfortable seats by a large window, quality linen table cloth and napkins, attentive service, good lounge ambiance with the pianist, and views out of the window of a lot of London's history. What's not to like ? We thought it was a quality package, and a lovely afternoon treat.

There was only one very slight blot. When we sat down our waiter asked if we wanted still or sparking water. We chose still without thinking about it - and were later surprised to be given a bill for 3.95 for a bottle of still water. On thinking about it, it is fair enough to charge for extras, and it was Scottish water - Glenlivet Spring. But at the time, the bill came as a surprise, and perhaps it should have been mentioned that we were not being offered water, but being sold water.




Date of last visit : May, 2016

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Aberdeen Tearoom - The Music Hall



 
The photo is of the outside of the Music Hall on Union street - the tea room is inside and turn slightly to the left.

When we visited in August 2016 we found that the Music Hall was closed for 2016/17 for major refurbishment. I have just left the write up here, in the hope that the new tea room will be as good as the old one ! Perhaps you might try Michies tea room - across the road and up towards Holburn junction.

There are lots of tea rooms in Aberdeen that we visit and could recommend. But if we had to mention just one I think it would be the Music Hall on Union Street - the main street - and mostly for the setting. You go up the steps past imposing pillars and into the music hall. The tea rooms are on the left in a large circular room with high and elegant ceiling. Be careful of the perfect accoustics - if you sit by the wall your voice will carry round the room. There is an overspill room further on, with more room, where you can sit longer undisturbed.

Have a cup of tea / coffee and a rowie - an Aberdeen buttery roll.

In July 2014, a very tasty rock cake, a fruit scone, a pot of tea and a coffee cost 6.35, a very fair price, I thought.




Date of last visit : 2015

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Aberdeen Tearoom - Dobbies , Lang Stracht



 


We often visit Aberdeen, and usually visited Dobbies Garden Centre when it was at Hazlehead for ideas / as a place to go if it were raining. But strangely we never got round to having a cup of tea there.

When we visited Aberdeen in August, 2010 we found that Dobbies Garden Centre had moved from Hazlehead to The Lang Stracht. From the Bridge of Dee, go up Anderson Drive, then after a few miles, turn left into the Lang Stracht about the first turning after "The Cocket Hat" pub, and Dobbies is on the right hand side about as far along Lang Stracht as you can go.

We had intended to be good, cut down on the calories, and just have a cup of tea. But there were so many treats on offer that we could not resist . There were huge, tasty scones of all kinds - fruit, treacle, cinnamon, cherry, cheese - as well as cakes, biscuits, pancakes, shortbread, etc.

It's a huge place, with lots and lots of tables and seats And there was also an outside seating area. Prices were fair for the size and quality. A definite recommendation. We also took away a Victoria sponge as a present for a friend that we were visiting the next day. There are Dobbies Garden Centres throughout the country. I don't know what their cafes might be like, but I do recommend the new Dobbies in Aberdeen.

In July, 2014 we had two large tasty treacle scones, a large pot of tea, and a coffee for 8.40 - a bit overpriced I thought, but it's nice surroundings, and the place is always busy. In 2017 it was very pleasant to sit outside in warm sunshine !




Date of last visit : 2017

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Aboyne Tearoom - At the Sign of the Black Faced Sheep



  The picture was taken in early January, 2008.

Aboyne is a pleasant village about 30 miles inland from Aberdeen on the main Deeside road - the A93. The usual trip is inland from Aberdeen heading to Braemar - you pass through Banchory, then Aboyne, then Ballater and then reach Braemar. Park in the square car park in Aboyne immediately off the A93 main road, look at the local shops then walk back along the Ballater road past Station Brae the opening down to the station on your right hand side and in about 200 yards you come to the Black Faced Sheep on your right hand side.

The shop is a mixture of a high quality (somewhat expensive) gift shop and a tea room. The tea room is on a slightly raised platform with assorted tables from which you look down on the gift shop. There is a smaller overspill room just behind. There is blackboard menu with all sorts of home baked rolls, cakes, sponges, scones, etc - or you can have something more substantial if you wish. There is a choice of teas, or you can have a caffitiere of coffee etc. We have visited here lots of times for cake and tea/coffee, and never been disappointed. You used to be able to order and take away whole cakes and sponges - but they needed notice for this. Through the years the tea room has grown and the gift shop side shrunk.

But when we visited in 2012 we were disappointed to read a small notice on each table saying anyone wishing to share one dish and requiring two plates would suffer a 2.50 service charge. I certainly don't agree with this. Would it apply if splitting one meal between two young children ? It's not the cheapest of places - they should be delighted to oblige paying customers, it's petty to charge an extra 2.50 !

In July 2014 we had two lovely scones, a large pot of tea and a coffee for 8.30 - again I thought a bit overpriced v about 6.60 elsewhere. In Aug/15 all seemed OK. In 2017 they only had one scone left when we wanted two, and it was a small scone at that.





Date of last visit : 2017

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Australian Tearooms - Miscellaneous



I have previously listed two tea rooms in Australia - the Gum Nut, which used to be in the Nurses Quarter, near The Rocks in Sydney, and Lynams , a gem of a tea room which used to be in Crookwell, NSW. Both alas have now closed. But we go to Australia once a year, and we visit lots of tea rooms, so I thought I would just list a few that we have found ourselves using quite a few times.

Crookwell, NSW - The Chat-a-Way Cafe. Crookwell is two to two and a half hours drive inland from Sydney, through Goulburn, and heading towards the Blue Mountains. Crookwell is the nearest town to my son's farm near Bigga. The Chat-a-Way cafe is on the left hand side of the main road as you head inland from Sydney. Crookwell is not a large town - look for the town centre supermarket, and the cafe is just opposite. Checked it was still there - 2017.

We used to visit Lynams , which was a lovely old fashioned tea room with shelves lined with Australian memorabilia, but sadly Lynams closed in January, 2013. Chat-a-Way is just a few yards along the road from where Lynams used to be. You get a good pot of tea in the Chat-a-Way, there is choice of teas, to wash down some excellent cookies, or good, but smallish, scones. All in all, fair value for money in pleasant surroundings.

Panania, nr Sydney - the Chilli Bean Cafe . When we visit my son and his family in Sydney, we stay with Jamie and travel in and out of Sydney on the East Hills railway line. As you head into the city, Panania is the next stop on the line from East Hills, our nearest station. Alternatively its a pleasant 45 minute walk away, along the Georges River. The Chilli Bean Cafe is on the main street of Panania - its address is 61, Howard Road - or if you get off the train at Panania station the cafe is a very short walk up a slight hill towards the main road.

You get a good cup of tea here, and some tempting cookies , etc if you are feeling peckish. We have had excellent service from a very friendly owner - including free orange juices or a lolly or jelly for grandson Lachlan and granddaughter Charlie. Their toasted raison and nut bread is excellent. Two pots of tea, and one raison toast cost c 6 in November, 2013 - very good value for money. In 2015 they were still selling Melting Moment biscuits for 80 cents, cf $1.50 or even $2 elsewhere. In 2017 they were $1.00, but still cheaper than anywhere else. Usually we sit at an outside table, but the cafe is air conditioned if it's too hot, or you are driven inside by the smokers. In 2015 unusually my tea consisted of a mug half filled with boiling water, and a tea pot filled with boiling water and a tea bag. Date of last visit : 2017

Padstow, nr Sydney - The Vanilla Bean and Lime Cafe. Padstow is also on The East Hills railway line, two, three stops from East Hills as you head into the city. The cafe is just outside the station on the corner of the two mainish streets of Padstow. This is mentioned for the excellent quality, but it's just a little on the expensive side. I got quite a small pot of tea and a small tea cup. Their molten chocolate volcanoes / muffins were scrummy, as was their nut and raison toast. Date of last visit : 2017

Cronulla, near Sydney - Annie's Shop Round the Corner Cronulla is the end of the line for one of the railway lines that radiate out of central Sydney. For us, visiting Sydney, it's take the East Hills line, change at Wolli Creek, and get of at the terminus of the Illawarra Line.

Cronulla is a lovely little town, with a famous surfing beach. Famous yes, but less well known than Bondi, Manly or Coogee. The locals like it to remain a well kept secret. There is a good choice of small shops, a wide pedestrianised main street, and of course a stunning beach reached by walking through a small shady park. There are also a series of cliff walks around the bay, with a successions of smaller inviting beaches.

As you leave the railway station, walk straight in front of you, cross the road, with the main steet to your left. Head straight on, and Annie's is on your left. It's an old fashioned tea room with lots of second hand books on display, and for sale. The table tops are covered with pages from old books, coated with a clear lacquer. Different, but effective. Service is very friendly, as are the locals. They served good loose leaf tea, and there was a good choice of cookies, etc. Date of last visit : 2017





Date of last visit : 2017

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Banchory Tearoom - perhaps Chatterbox


  No photo yet, sorry.

Banchory is about 18 miles inland from Aberdeen on the main Deeside road (A93) and has a main street - the High Street - with various shops, pubs, hotels etc - it's well worth a visit. One of our very favourite tearooms was the The Shieling - going inland from Aberdeen turn left off the High Street down Dee Street, and The Shieling was about 100 yards down on the right hand side. The address was 18, Dee Street. Sadly The Shieling closed in July, 2012, but temporarily I am recommending Chatterbox, which is a few yards away from The Shieling. There is a big pay and display car park opposite some part of which is free parking, some street parking, or a small free car park to the left at the end of the High Street.

I can't understand why the Shieling closed. It was a great place - terrific home made scones, pots of jam, etc. It always seemed busy, and there always seemed to be a lot of locals using the place - so what went wrong ?

Looking for an alternative, we tried "Tease", at the end of the High Street, on the right hand side if heading inwards away from Aberdeen. This place was very busy, which is a good sign. I thought the write up at the start of their menu was a bit over the top. They also seemed a bit overpriced, at 2.10 for tea, 1.65 for a scone in 2012, and jam would have been in a mini jar costing I know not what if I'd wanted it. The home made scones had lots of raisons (good), but were slightly under cooked (bad). Overall, not really worth a recommendation, but you can always give them a try and see what you think. They have a web site www.teasecoffeebar.co.uk. In August, 2015 we tried them again, but still very expensive.

Next we tried Chatterbox, a few yards up from the Shieling (ie on Dee Street). The scones here were difinitely better than at Tease - we had an excellent date, apple and cinnamon scone for 1.80, a pot of tea was 1.60, and you got a free pot of jam with the scone. Probably Chatterbox is a little bit better than Tease, and certainly cheaper, but there is not a lot in it. Better, but not outstanding.

We will continue our search, or perhaps the Shieling may reopen, fingers crossed.

Whilst in the area be sure to visit the Brig o' Feugh to see the salmon jumping up the Falls of Feugh - continue along Dee Street onto the B974 and the Brig o Feugh is about a mile from Banchory. Alternatively use the lower Deeside road to go from Aberdeen to Bachory and you cross the Brig O Feugh.



Date of last visit : 2013, but still there in 2015.

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Bishop's Stortford Tearoom - Rosey Lea



 

I have copied their logo from their web site - hope this is OK.

Bishops Stortford is about 7 miles from where we live, and is generally a nicer place to shop than Harlow, our nearest town. I used to recommend having a cup of tea at Gluttons, but it changed for the poorer in 2012 when it had a makeover, and a change of name to the rediculous "Good Food, Love Food, Knead Food." Now we mostly use Rosey Lea, which is at 12, Market Square. Market Square is in the centre of the town just before The Halifax bank. Coming from the Harlow direction, turn left up a lane, and Rosey Lea is about 50 yards back, on the left, and up some 3 or 4 steps.

I have some reservations about recommending Rosey Lea but I do recommend tea rooms all over the country (and abroad), and so I feel I should at least recommend some local places. Rosey Lea is a bit over priced really, and if you ask for jam with your scone it comes in a little jam jar for which you are charged extra. I hate places that charge extra for jam, especially expensive places that charge extra for jam ! What do I mean by expensive ? In October 2014 we had a pot of tea, a large cup of coffee, and one fruit scone and butter which cost 7.95, whereas a caffetiere of coffee, a pot of tea, and two fruit scones costs 4.60 in Bury St Edmunds.

But at the end of the day, we do keep coming back to Rosey Lea. They do good home baking, and you get a huge pot of tea which refills the smallish china cup lots of times. I usually don't manage to empty the tea pot. They use proper tea leaves, and supply a small tea strainer per serving. Usually I forget to use the strainer when I refill the tea cup, which is somewhat annoying, but I take my tea black, so this is not really a problem. I just pour the cup back into the pot, and repour using the stainer. For the prices charged I think you should get a pot of hot water per serving - not to provide extra volume but just for use if the tea is too strong for taste. It's a big pot of tea which takes a lot of drinking, and the tea does get stronger as it sits there. The home made scones are very tasty - remember not ask for jam. It is a nice enough setting, and is usually well patronised.

Rosey Lea opened in 2012. They have another site, still in Bishop's Stortford, at Wickam Hall. This opened in 2014, but we have never been there. We will need to give it a go. There was a write up in the local paper (The Herts and Essex Observer) with details of the owner, a young lady who went to the same school as my daughter ( but probably not at the same time). They have a total staff of 12, run workshops, and have a web site - google Rosey Lea, Bishop's stortford.






Date of last visit : 2015

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Boston, Lincs Tearoom - Rumble Tums



 
The picture was taken in 2012.

I have just left this listing although the original reason for mentioning it - i.e. the extraordinarily low prices - has now gone. But it has survived for many years, so well done for that!

Boston in Lincolnshire is about 20 miles inland from Skegness - one of the holiday places we sometimes visit. It is quite a pleasant market town. It has a huge, cathedral sized church - St Botolphs, construction of which started in 1309. It's huge square tower is known locally as "the stump", and at one time it was the second highest tower in europe. So it's a landmark that you can spot from afar. Do visit St Botolphs if you are in the area. Entry is free - but you can make a donation if you like. Inside there is such a lot of interest about the history of Boston , the pilgrims who emigrrated to the USA, and about the current day links with Boston, USA. When we visited in 2017 they were one year into a hoped for 3 year project to build a model of St Botolphs in Lego, but sadly were way behind schedule. We paid 2 for two bricks to help them on their way.

The church itself now has a tea room inside the building. Running up from the church to the market square is a small lane called Church Street. There is a nice tea room "Churches" at the St Botolphs end of the lane, which has excellent quality, but is a bit expensive. Instead we tried a small back street cafe - Rumble Tums - which is at the other end of Church Street. It was recommended as a "value for money" place - ie it was cheap. In April 2010 we got a scone, jam, and cream, and a good pot of tea (or a filter coffee) for 1.50. You can easily pay 1.50 just for a cup of tea at most places. It has a normal / disabled toilet at the back of the cafe, but this is up a step - not so handy for those in a wheelchair. The cafe was there in 2007, and was still there in 2010. In 2012 a pot of tea cost 50p, a mug of filter coffe 55p, and a tasty scone, butter and jam 90p - remarkable value. However, when we returned in 2017 after an absence of 5 years, although we were pleasantly surprised to see Rumble Tums still there, prices had risen to not much less than just average for the area - i.e. 1.20 for a mug of tea, 1.30 for filer coffee, and 1.25 for a fruit scone. These were still fair prices, but it's a transport cafe / all day breakfast sort of place - there are more convivial places in Boston to have tea and cakes.


Date of last visit : 2017

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Bovey Tracey, Devon - The Old Cottage Tea Shop



 
The photo was taken in November, 2010.

Bovey Tracey is a pleasant little village in Dartmoor - you would probably pass through it if visiting Dartmoor , perhaps en route to Widdecombe-In-The-Moor (Uncle Tom Cobley, and all). The Old Cottage Tea Room is on the main street of Bovey Tracey, on the right hand side if you are walking down the hill - or on the left hand side if you are walking up the hill. Further down the hill but on the other side of the road is an excellent craft centre - The Devon Guild of Craftsmen. This is free and well worth a visit. It is a huge display over lots of rooms, like an art gallery, beautiful stuff, but all very, very pricey. There is an excellent tea room upstairs which we can also recommend - good tea and scones, and plenty of space. This place is just as good as The Old Cottage, really. There is even a kiddies corner with toys, paper, crayons, a blackboard and chalk, etc. There is a good park with excellent swings etc for the youngsters just opposite the craft centre.

The Old Cottage Tea Shop is the proper set up. There is a choice of teas (or coffees) and the teas are loose leaf served in a pot with a pot of hot water, a tea strainer and a holder. The scones are a little on the small side, but are served with proper jam in a dish (ie not a plastic sachet). Everything is tasty and pleasant, and the prices are more than reasonable. What more do you want? Its well worth a visit if you are in the area.


Date of last visit : 2013, but still there in 2015

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Braemar Tearoom - Gordon's Tearoom and Restaurant



 
The picture was taken in August, 2010.

Braemar is a lovely little village up Deeside from Aberdeen. It has a good visitor centre, the scenery is superb, but it can get very cold in winter. I think Braemar has the record for the coldest recorded temperature in the UK. Gordon's Tearoom and Restaurant is on the right hand side (if you are coming from Aberdeen) of the main street in Braemar. The address is 30, Mar Road. It is just a little way past the Fyfe Arms Hotel. The food is good, but the value for money is really quite outstanding.

Driving out from Aberdeen up Deeside, there are lots of good places to stop for a cup of tea. The best by a long margin in my opinion was The Shieling in Banchory - excellent home cooking and fair value for money, but sadly now closed. The Black Faced Sheep in Aboyne is good, but just a wee bit expensive. If you are driving on to Braemar it would save some money to wait and have your tea at Gordons. That said though, the last time we visited (August, 2011), the place was too crowded, and the prices seemed a bit more expensive. We tried to visit again in 2017, but it was closed on Thursdays, and unfortunately we had tried to visit on a Thursday. If you can't get in, wander further along the road away from the Aberdeen direction, down the hill towards the catholic church, and facing you you will find Taste , a quite a good tearoom on the mini roundabout. Alternatively, you used to be able to get a fairly priced tea or coffee, and biscuits etc in the Fyfe Arms itself - and with very comfortable lounge seats. However this closed for refurbishment in 2015, reopening 2018.




Date of last visit : 2011 - it's still there in 2017. We tended to visit the Fyfe Arms, but it closed for refurbishment in 2015, opening again 2018.

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Bridlington Tearoom - Goldings



 
I don't have a picture of Goldings, so I've picked up a photo of Bridlington off the internet - hope this is OK with the photographer.

We often have a week's holiday in Scarborough - its a nice place and a good centre for visits to the Yorkshire moors, to York, etc. One of the day trips along the coast is to visit Bridlington. This a nice, quietish sort of place. It used to be a popular seaside resort, and it still is a resort. A lot of money has been spent on the seafront, etc. If you park at the north end of the esplanade, and walk back towards town, turn right when you get there, and you will easily find Manor Street, one of the main streets. Goldings is about No 10, Manor Street.

Goldings is a bit variable, but we have visited there several times, and you do get a good cup of tea, and an excellent scone. When we first visited the place was quite busy, and they had their upstairs open. This was a comfortable lounge. It was waitress service. The next time we visited, it was only the downstairs that was open and it was self service. You seem to get what you ask for, and what you got depended on who served you. So if you ask for a cup of tea, you get a cup of tea, if you ask for a mug of tea, you get a mug of tea, and if you ask for a pot of tea, you get a nice pot of tea. But if you just ask for a tea, you might get a cup, or a mug, or a pot. So be careful to ask for what exactly what you want! That said, it is a good cup of tea (or pot, etc). The scones are large, seem home baked, and the prices are very fair.




Date of last visit : 2009

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Buckie Tearoom - Bijou (by the sea) / formerly Aurora



 
Many, many thanks to Martin from Buckie for supplying the photo in March, 2010. Martin had put Aurora into Google to try to find out opening times and found my web site. Martin kindly got in touch, visited Aurora with his camera, and then e-mailed me the photo shown opposite. Martin also advised later that Aurora was up for sale, and the latest news was that the place had been sold. Happily the place had re-opened as Bijou (By the Sea, to give it it's full title) when we visited with my cousin in July, 2014.

When we visit Aberdeen, we usually manage to fit in a visit to Buckie. Buckie, or more specifically Ianstown, is where I was born (more than just a few years ago now), and I still have a cousin Jean who lives there. So I like to visit Jean, and sort of try to keep in touch with my roots. Jean has taken us to some nice places for a cup of tea or a spot of lunch - up to now the favourite has been Puddleducks, in Cullen. Puddleducks was later called Pudddleduck Patch and then sadly closed. However when we visited Jean in June, 2009, a new place had opened and we thought we would give it try for a change.



Aurora opened in November, 2008. Head from Buckie to Cullen along the coastal trail road that hugs the sea shore and just outside Buckie, on the road to Strathlene, and almost at Strathlene you will find Aurora. It is a fair sized place, with good parking. Why have I added Aurora to my list ?. Well, you will get a good cup of tea in a big tea pot that gives lots of refills, the place is very well stocked, and everything is fresh and good value for money. But most of all I recommend you visit Aurora for the the view.

Aurora has huge picture windows, and if you get a table by one of the windows the view is spectacular over the Moray Firth just a few yards away. It was a glorious day weather wise when we visited. The sun was shining brightly, it was scorchingly hot - yes, really - and the sea was as blue as blue could be. You'd have thought you were abroad looking at the Med ! But I'd also like to return to visit when the weather is stormy - you'd be warm and cosy inside, with a good view looking out at the stormy sea. When we visited (Jun/2009) there did not seem to be many customers and it is a fair sized tearoom / restaurant. There is a caravan site across the road - hopefully they will provide lots of custom in the season. I do hope it will be a commencial success. So do visit for the views whilst you can. In March/2010 Martin (who kindly supplied the Aurora photo) advised that Aurora was up for sale, and I feared that the place might close. But in August 2011 it was still open, and we met Martin and his charming wife Jean for tea and scones, and bacon baps.

When we visited Buckie in August, 2013 we found that Aurora was temporarily closed for refitting, but that it was due to reopen in September or October as a tearoom / gift shop. Apparently the place had been bought by the owners of a newsagants in Buckie. I wish them well, but there are too many shops selling stuff. And of course its now open again as Bijou.

We visited there with my cousin Jean in July, 2014 when we had a light lunch. I had a nice, big pot of tea, and I noticed that they had some large, tasty looking scones. But I had a bowl of Cullen Skink soup that was only average - it tasted OK, but it was far too thin, had been made with new potatoes, and there was not enough fish. The waitresses were young girl trainees - why not also find a place for a mature woman too ? It took far too long to queue to pay at the counter on leaving, for which they apologised. Bijou is only a stone's throw from Cullen - Cullen Skink should be better / a speciality. I would rather pay more for better quality - I was a bit disappointed. So it's still OK for tea and scones, but go elsewhere for your Cullen Skink. On the other hand a light lunch (not soup) in 2015 was excellent, and fairly priced.




Date of last visit : 2017

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Bury St Edmunds Tearoom, Suffolk - Just Traid, Fair Trade Cafe



 


We often visit Bury St Edmunds, and it's a favourite place to take the occasional visitor. It's about 55 miles, or an hour away from us and is a charming market town with such a lot of history, some really old buildings, a magnificent cathedral, the ruins of an old abbey ( free entry to the grounds ) set within the beautiful Abbey Gardens, the smallest pub in England (the Nutshell), a local brewery (Greene King), loads of charity shops, old fashioned streets, little shops, pubs, tearooms, ducks to feed, etc, etc. There is a good market on Wednesdays and Saturdays - the local Suffolk produce is fresh and top quality, and the prices are keen. And there is an excellent Christmas market. What's not to like.



We used to visit the old Cornmarket for a cup of tea - it had a huge hall upstairs with craft stalls round the sides and tables for tea in the middle - tea, scones etc were self service from a service hatch at one end, and prices were extra-ordinarily low. Unfortunately the place closed towards the end of 2010, bought by a chain of pubs, perhaps Wetherspoons ? So now we use Just Traid, a Fair Trade Cafe in the converted church hall of St John, the Evangelist Church.

The Cafe is on the right hand side of St John's street, as you walk down St John's street, away from the market. We drive to Bury St Edmunds from the south, along the M11,the A11, and then the A14. There is a slip road off the A14, round a roundabout, and the centre of Bury St Edmunds is about 2 miles further. We park on a side street just before the town centre, and walk the last few hunded yards. Once in the town centre, the first main street to your left is St Andrew's street which leads to the bus station, and about 20 yards further on is St John Street. You can see the market in the town square (if its market day) to your right, and down on the left is St John's centre, the church, the church halls, and the cafe.

In the picture, the entrance is through the vaulted door of the church halls, just under the burglar alarm. This takes you into a fair trade shop, but the prices are a bit on the expensive side. Through the shop, and you are in the Fair Trade Cafe. It's quite a big place, and there is further seating outside if the weather is fine. It's a purpose built permanent cafe run professionally by volunteers. You get a good pot of tea, or caffetierre of coffee, and there are scones (fruit and cheese), cakes, shortbread, etc. The jam is not home made, but is served in little dishes. Prices are very good. At the serving counter they tick boxes on a form to say what you have ordered, and you later take this form to the pay counter in the shop, and pay on your way out. The toilets are off another hall, still part of the same complex, and are reached through a connecting door to the right of the kitchen counter. But if the adjoining hall has been let, the connecting door is locked, and you have to go out, round, and in another door to get to the toilets. Not the best of designs, but hardly any great hardship.

We used to come here for a cup of tea in the days before the cafe was redesigned. Then the old cafe was closed for a few months during the building alterations, and the cafe was temporarily in the actual church itself. Now its quite a nice set up, and everyone is very friendly. Its table service with a smile, or you can order at the counter as you prefer.




Date of last visit : 2017

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Cambridge Tearoom, - Livingstones Coffee Shop



 


Temporary recommendation - this place is too expensive !

Although we only live about 30 miles from Cambridge, we don't go there very often. If we have visitors, we might take them there for a day out, but by ourselves we usually just go to Bury St Edmunds, or London, or perhaps Clacton for the sea side. But we do go to Cambridge sometimes, so I thought I should recommend a tearoom.



Rather than having a blank opposite Cambridge, I have suggested Livingstones Coffee Shop, 43, St Andrews Street, Cambridge. It's part of St Andrews Street Baptist Church - but it's a purpose built coffee/ tea shop - not just a corner of a church hall. But I am a bit reluctant to recommend this place not because of any doubts about the quality - you get a good cup of tea, and the fruit scones are a fair size, and really fruity. The problem is that it is all a bit overpriced. In May, 2012, a tea, a coffee, and two fruit scones cost 8.30. At Fair Trade, a sort of similar set up but in Bury St Edmunds, the same round would cost only 4.40.

Livingstones is fair sized place, with friendly waitress service. There is even a play area for the kiddies, located in a corner, with books, toys, and even a Wendy House. The tables are well spread out, and it doesn't seem over busy - perhaps because of the prices ? Also there is a Witherspoons next door, where you can get a coffee/ tea, and a muffin for 2.

We usually park in the Queen Ann car park on Gonville Place. In May, 2012, 4 hours parking cost 4.50, 5 hours 6.00, but then it gets extremely expensive at 9.70 for 6 hours. Next time, I think we will try the park and ride, and see what that costs - I might even be free with my bus pass.

Roughly, at June, 2012 prices, we would expect to pay not more than 1.50 for a fruit scone and jam, 1.30 or less for tea, and say 2 or less for filter coffee - so that comes to 6.30 for the two of us, maximum. Usually we pay a lot less. 8.30 is way too expensive, so I will need to recommend somewhere else. For now, if you visit Livingstones, I'd stick to a tea and a coffee.




Date of last visit : 2012

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Cairn O Mount Tearoom - The Clatterin Brig Tearoom



The picture was taken in August, 2010.

Take the B974 from Banchory heading to Fettercairn, turn left at Strachan and follow the very scenic Cairn O' Mount road. It is a very steep climb up, and then equally steep down over the Devil's Elbow. The Clatterin Brig tea room is on the right hand side at the bottom of a very scenic valley with a river and picturesque old bridge. There is a private car park and you climb up a little hill to the tea room. Fettercairn is only a few miles further on.

The Clatterin Brig Tea Room was originally owned by a cousin of the Queen Mum. There are home baked scones and pancakes, etc and good views. This really is "in the middle of nowhere" and so in the off season (October to March) is only open at weekends. If it is closed, carry on to Fettercairn and the Fettercairn tea room.

We went there in July, 2014 when The Arch, at Fettercairn was closed. We had two very tasty, fair sized freshly baked scones, coffee and a pot of tea (with a pot of hot water !), very well presented with small pots of jam. There is a lovely view from the windows, and at 7.35 we thought it good value. In 2017 we had very good scones served with butter and their own little dish of jam. I had a big teapot of tea, and a pot of hot water too - and the view was just as good as ever.






Date of last visit : 2017.

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Clacton On Sea, Essex Tearoom - The Cup of Coffee



The picture was taken in September, 2011. And yes, it does seem strange to recommend a place called A Cup of Coffee as a tea room !

We often visit Clacton on Sea. It is about one hour and twenty minutes away, about 60 odd miles and so is our nearest proper sea side resort - if you discount Southend on Sea ( not on the sea, on the mud flats.) See more under this link :
A day trip to Clacton on Sea.          Usually we just go to one of very many cafes / tearooms for a cup of tea - none very special really, but most OK. We did tend to use a place called Gossips quite a lot as it was remarkably cheap. But they were struggling to stay open, seemed to change hands regularly, and possibly didn't have the turnover to buy bakery fresh each day. I got served a very stale tea cake one day, I couldn't be bothered to complain, but just stopped going there.


We do like "The Pantry" (58c Rosemary Road) for a lunch time snack, but it's nothing special as a tea room. But if pressed to recommend a place for a cup of tea in Clacton, we would probably plump for "The Cup of Coffee", and so I have added it to my list of recommended places. Stand on the sea front with the pier directly behind you, and walk straight away from the sea, into the centre of Clacton, along a major road with amusement arcades, across a roundabout, up the main street past WH Smith, M&S, etc, and at the end of this street, across another roundabout, you will see "The Cup of Coffee". Don't let the name put you off - they sell good pots of tea, and tasty scones and cakes. They do small and large scones, but I always go for a large one. I wonder if anyone buys the small ones. Why not just sell big scones ? Prices are OK, nothing too expensive, but probably they are a bit above an average price for Clacton. This isn't a "must visit" place but its OK, there are lots of seats inside, it's quite nice upstairs, and is as good a place as any in Clacton.



Date of last visit : 2016

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Cleethorpes Tea Room, Gallagers, formerly The Coffee Lounge and Tea Garden



Cleethorpes is about 30 miles up the coast from Skegness. It's an old fashioned sort of place, with donkeys on the beach and a small fun fair. It does have a pier, but it was not open and had a "for sale" sign up for a few years. Happily though, when we visited again in 2017 after a lapse of 5 years, the pier was open again with access to a large single building, half set up as a pub/ bar, and half set up as tea room (which we didn't have the time to try). There is free parking on the sea front - but along the front a bit away from the attractions.

The main street which runs parallel to the sea front is St Peter's Avenue, and "The Coffee Lounge and Tea Garden" as was, was is at the north end of the avenue about no 20. When we returned in 2017 after an absence of 5 years, we found a name change to Gallagers, but the place seemed much as before. Sadly though, when we called in on a late morning in September we could not find an empty table. That seemed to me to be a good sign for quality / price.

I like Cleethorpes. Although it is in a sort of depressed area (in the financial sense) it does have lots of places where you can get an inexpensive tea and scone. The particular recommended tea room was about medium in price, but it did serve an excellent pot of tea in very pleasant surroundings. There was an excellent choice of tasty fresh cakes ! I enjoyed a coconut slice large enough to cut into three fingers each giving four bite sized portions. The chairs were low, comfortable wicker ones, and there was lots of space between the tables. The place was quite busy with local business, and we got a seat easily enough in 2012, but not 2017.






Date of last visit : 2017    Still a nice comfy place .

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Colchester Tearoom, Patisserie Valerie



I have justy copied the photo from the internet - hope no one objects.

We usually stick to small independent tearooms - the big boys can take care of themselves without me recommending them. Patisserie Valerie is of course a huge chain and their cafes can be found throughout the country. They have lovely cakes, and look plush / posh places, but also look expensive. We had not patronised one until we visited Colchester in June 2015, and we found ourselves outside 41, Sir Issacs Walk and decided to give it a go - just for a change.

Colchester is about an hour away from where we live, and it is one of the places that we occasionally visit for a day out, a list that also includes Clacton, Bury St Edmunds, St Albans, Newmarket, etc, etc. Colchester is a fair sized city with lots of fine tea rooms, lots of interesting places to look at, a fine park, and lots of charity shops. We parked at Butt Road, one of the city centre long stay car parks, paying 2.50 for the day, which we thought was very reasonable. (You have to press the green button on the ticket machine to access specials, one of which is the 2.50 parking deal.)

Patisserie Valerie has a very pleasant ambiance, and some scrumptious cakes, and when we visited about 10:30 one Wednesday morning it was neither too busy nor too quiet. It is waitress service, and our waitress was very friendly and helpful. We just wanted a tea and a scone for me, and a coffee and a scone for Christine, and saw that a cream tea was slightly expensive at about 6.45 each, but we didn't want cream teas, and so ordered two scones, a tea and a coffee. The waitress advised that they did a special package of two hot drinks, and three scones which would be more for less money, so we went for that at a total cost of 7.85. This, we thought, was good value for money considering the surroundings and quality. We got 1.5 warmed scones each, lots of butter, and a choice of jams served in sealed jars and arranged on a kind of tiered cake stand. Ten out of ten for presentation. I don't know if the 7.85 package is available all the time, and everywhere, but we were impressed by the place, and if their other outlets are comparable, we can recommend a visit. I should add that when we revisited in April, 2016 the offer was two scones, and two drinks for 7.95, but still a fair price, I thought, for the quality / surroundings.

I noticed on their web site that they have a cafe in Bury St Edmunds - but we like Just Traid, the Fair Trade cafe attached to St Andrews church, and will stick to that.








Date of last visit : 2017    .

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Corgarff - Tearoom



This picture was taken in summer and the place seems fairly crowded - but we have never had any trouble in finding a table.

Corgarff is in the highlands of Scotland, about 20 miles North of the Deeside road which goes inland from Aberdeen to Braemar. Turn right after Aboyne, heading along the A 939 to Tomintoul, and Corgarff is a wooden ranch like structure / ski centre/ gift shop on the right hand side. Alternatively go up Donside from Aberdeen again heading for Tomintoul go through Strathdon on the A944, then you will eventually get to Corgarff.

The shop side of Corgarff sells postcards, woollens, ski wear, gifts. The tea room is to the left of the shop. As usual you get tea, scones, cakes, etc. All very acceptable. But I think it is the setting and the drive to get there that is the real reason for adding Corgarff to our list.

In July, 2014 two medium sized fruit scones, a pot of tea, and a coffee cost a very fair 6.50. It's still a lovely setting getting there, and once you have found the place. In 2015 it had been slightly refurbished, increasing the cafe side, reducing the shop size.






Date of last visit : 2017

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Dawlish, Devon Tearoom - A Piece of Cake, 15, Brunswick Place



We often visit Devon now that daughter Kirsty, son in law Andrew, and our two grand children Chloe and Alice live there - in Newton Abbot. We like the sea side and usually stay in a self catering apartment of the sea front of Teignmouth, which is about 5 miles from Newton Abbot. Travel out of Teignmouth along the coast, but in the opposite direction from Newton Abbot, and you come to another charming Devon sea side gem - Dawlish. There is a lovely park / gardens in the centre of Dawlish, adjacent to the river that runs through the town. Do look out for the famous Dawlish black swans.


Travelling into Dawlish from Teignmouth, you go down a steep hill into the town centre. Turn sharp left just before crossing the river, and you are in Brunswick Place. "A Piece of Cake" tearoom is about two thirds of the way along Brunswick Place, on the left (obviously as the river is on the right !) at No 15, and not quite as far along as the theatre. There is a large car park at the end of Brunswick Place, turn left, then sharp right in to the car park. There are swings, etc, for the youngsters, just through the par park, past the medical centre.

A Piece of Cake is open all year round - although it might be closed for a few weeks in winter if the owners are grabbing a quick out of season holiday. We often call in for tea and generously proportioned home made scones. In 2012 a fruit scone and butter cost 1.50, and a pot of tea 1.80 - so I would describe the prices as qute fair, value for money. You get a fine china tea cup which I don't mind (usually I drink from for a mug of tea at home). You also get a china tea pot, well filled, and with two tea bags. You also get a separate pot of hot water, which is as it should be.

It's nice when the town is quiet, to sit in the tea room window, and watch the swans and ducks on the river just opposite. But often, as in the picture, there is a car parked just outside, partly spoiling the view. If you want to save a little money, there is a small church a few yards further up Brunswick Place, and usually they are selling teas in the church hall for 50p a go. Support a local tearoom, or support a local church - the choice is yours. Why not do both.






Date of last visit : 2016

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Edzell Tearooms - Tweedie Coffee Shop / The Naked Bean



The picture was taken in August, 2010. The tearoom is on the main street on the right looking towards Adzell Arch - the address is 1, Dunlappie Road, Edzell.

Edzell is on the B966 off the main road south from Aberdeen, south of Stonehaven, and then inland. It is a village with one very long, wide main street, with an arch at the end. Coming from Fettercairn direction, the tearoom is on the right hand side of the main street almost at the end of the village.

Edzell tea room is part tea room, part gift, local clothing and local produce shop. It is not all that big a place, but you do get a good cup of tea, and home cooking. There were several wasps flying around the second time we visited - I guess attracted by the jam.
When we visited Edzell in 2013, we noticed that the tea room had been renamed "the Naked Bean", but in 2015 I can't say that I noticed this.


Date of last visit : 2015

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Fakenham, Norfolk - Q's Coffee Shop and Bistro



No photo yet, sorry.

We visited on a Thursday which was market day, and popped in to Q's for a tea and a scone. Its very central on Quaker's Lane near the market. There was a good choice of home baked scones - fruit, cheeze, and date - served warm with butter and jam, (but the jam was in a sachet). Its a fair sized place with lots of room, but it wasn't too busy when we called. Prices were middling, but there were special offers. It was a good, fair sized pot of tea, but there was no pot of hot water.

It's worth a visit if you are in Fakenham. Near Fakenham is the famous Thursford Collection - G.T Cushing's collection of steam and fairground organs. Robert Wolfe is usually in residence (since 1981), and he usually gives 2 half hour performances on the mighty Thursford Wurlitzer Organ.


Date of last visit : 2010

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Fettercairn Tearoom - The Arch, formerly Alastairs.



The picture was taken in August, 2010.



Fettercairn is a very small place about 35 miles from Aberdeen if travelling via Banchory - about 17 miles from Banchory. There is no problem in finding the tea room once in Fettercairn - it is on the left of the square looking towards Fettercairn arch. We first visited when it was called Alastairs. Then it tended to open lateish, and even in summer (eg July,2007) it could be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. But surprisingly it was open on a wet Thursday in early January, 2008. We got there earlier than we expected - the scones were just about to go into the oven. So we settled for tea and home made cake.



When we visited in June/2009, Alastairs was closed for renovations. We were told it was to reopen in August 2009, and hoped to specialise in food cooked using local organic produce. When we visited in August, 2010 it had reopened as The Arch, Farm Shop and Cafe. It was more or less as we had remembered it but had been spruced up and looked all the better for it. It was mostly cafe - we didn't see much evidence of a farm shop, but there were some expensive tourist goods on sale - very nice, high quality, but expensive. It was run by a lady with an American accent who seemed to be having problems with the local accents. We had tea and a scone. The scone was tasty, and we got proper jam in a large pot. I didn't enthuse over the tea at first taste, but it was OK. They sold Suki tea - I wonder if this was what they used. I'd have preferred some more familiar brand. When we visited in August, 2011 the tea was fine, and the adverts for Suki tea had gone. I'm not sure, but I half think I heard them say the place was up for sale again - we shall see.

We visited The Arch again in August, 2013, and the place had indeed been sold to Fasque Estates, who had done the place up very tastefully, and got rid of most of the stuff for sale apart from a select choice in a corner. It was all a great improvement. It has also added Bisto to its name - they serve quality "executive chef" repared meals at night. We had the usual tea, coffee, and two fruit scones. The scones were fresh, very tasty, and just the right size. But it was a bit pricy at 8.50 - cf 6.50 at Nat Trust tearooms, 5.10 in Clacton for comparable quality.

The Arch was closed when we visited in July, 2014. One local gentleman said it had closed weeks ago, and no one knew what was happening. The waitress in the nearby Clatterin Brig Tearoom (q. v. ) said it often closed, and reopened under new management after a refit, and she thought this was what was happening again. We will need to wait and see. In 2015 it was open as normal. They said they were open 7 days a week in August, 2016. In 2017 it seemed to be up and running, but was closed on Mondays - and we had visited on a Monday !




Date of last visit : 2017 (probably open, but not on Mondays)

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The Salon Variety Theatre tearoom, Fuengirola, Costa Del Sol, Spain.



I have lifted this picture from the internet - hope no one minds.





We like to visit Fuengirola in the Costa Del Sol region of Spain to get some winter sun. It is easy to get to Malaga airport from Stansted, and then to take the train to Fuengirola - the ticket machines are in English and are simple to use. Usually we get off at Los Boliches, the last but one stop, and walk the short distance to Nuria Sol apartments. It is an easy, lowish cost holiday - it doesn't cost much more to stay for 12 days v. a week.

We had been to Fuengirola lots of times, but it was not until 2014 that we were introduced to the Salon Variety Theatre by my sister and her husband who happened to be on holiday in the area at the same time. The theatre is run by a group of enthusiastic British ex pats who need lots of help to keep the place going - so hence my humble mention.

The simplest way to find the theatre is to walk along the sea front in the Malaga to Marbella direction, and turn right at a main road just at the end of the port - this road leads from the sea front up to Fuengirola train station. Turn right off the sea front, then left along a lane just before the first set of traffic lights, and you soon come to the theatre. The tea room is in the foyer of the theatre, but also spills out onto a little square in front of the theatre.

We got a good pot of tea (tea bag in a solid tea pot) with friendly service, and were surprised at the quality of their "pot of tea and a piece of cake" offer - remarkably only 2 euros ( 1.75) in March, 2014. Lots of places did such offers for about 3 euros, but their cakes were miniscule. The Salon Variety cake was a good portion. I liked their cherry cake best which came with cream and a very generous drizzle of cherry juice / jam. The cafe seems to be run by volunteers, and once I got a pot of tea with no tea bag - but this was quickly corrected with a smile, and profuse apologies. They also do light meals, baguettes, etc.

As an aside we saw their production of "Whistle Down The Wind" in March, 2014. It was 16 euros each for a seat, and the singing was good, the lead ("Jesus" ) and second lead "Swallow" were very good, and the children were excellent.




Date of last visit : 2014

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Gibraltar Tearoom - The Royal Calpe, The Clipper



The pictures were taken in March, 2012.

It's a bit like waiting for buses - no tea rooms recommended in Gibraltar, and then two come along at the same time.



Nowadays, most of our holidays are spent either in Teignmouth - two granddaughters Chloe and Alice to visit - or Sydney - grandson Lachlan to play with. But we do still manage an occasional non family visit holiday, and we usually manage to find our way to Fuengirola on the Costa Del Sol, Spain, at the start of each year, searching for some cheering sunshine. The attraction of Fuengirola is that we can easily build our own travel package - "cheap" Easyjet flights out of nearby Stansted to Malaga airport, then jump on the coastal train (20 min service) to Fuengirola, get off at Los Boliches, the stop before Fuengirola Central, walk about 150 yards up a little slope, and then into Nuria Sol Apartments, where we have booked online with Travel Republik say 10 days accommodation. The apartments are clean, well appointed, and the TV gets BBC1, BBC2, ITV1 and ITV2, so we can keep up with the news without having to buy an expensive UK paper each day.

Usually we hire a car for say 5 days, and use it to go sight seeing slightly further afield to compliment using the local train. A visit to Gibraltar is a must. Gibraltar is just over 100 km, say 70 miles from Fuengirola - it's about an hour and a half drive to get near Gibraltar, and then half an hour to an hour to cross the border, zig-zag past Spanish border control, and then find a parking spot in Gibraltar. We usually head for the cable car, at the foot of which is a free car park. This seems to be well used by the locals coming and going, so if you drive round it for five to ten minutees, you should find a parking slot. Maybe we have just been lucky each time we have gone.

I have recommended The Royal Calpe - it is at 176, Main Street - because we have used it several times, and its quite a pleasant place to relax. It looks busy in the picture, but go inside, then through to the back, where there is big comfortable conservatory where we have always been able to find a seat. The tea and coffee are OK, and you can get scones and cake, etc. It's waitress service. Prices are OK - 1.25 for the tea in March, 2012 - but the scone and tea, cake and tea package was a bit overpriced - 3.30 in March, 2012. At that time we had been paying about 80p for tea in Fuengirola, and less than 2 for a scone and tea package. For better value, this is where The Clipper comes in. It's in the "Irish Town" part of Gibraltar - this is a street running parallel to Main Street. Tea and a cake at The Clipper cost 1.30 still in March, 2012, and the tea tasted just the same as at The Royal Calpe. The Clipper would also be a cheaper option than The Royal Calpe if you wanted a snack lunch.

Whilst on the subject of tea rooms near Fuengirola, if you visit Mijas, a picturesque mountain village just above Fuengirola, do look out for The English Tearoom, but it isn't open on Sundays. Walk along the main street of Mijas, heading towards the touristy old town, go past the square, and take about the last opening leading to the old town. Look into the little court yards on your left hand side walking towards the old town, and at the back of one of these you will see The English Tearoom. This is a place where the expats in Mijas meet for a morning cuppa. The tea is a good, traditional brew. Adding something to eat to the tea is a bit expensive, but a pot of tea is always affordable.




Date of last visit : 2012

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Horncastle Tearoom - the Bridge



We first visited this tea room in July, 2008. The photo was taken in March, 2010 - when we noticed that a small antiques shop across the road was closing down, and relocating to upstairs at The Bridge. We visited up to 2012 then had a gap of 5 years before visiting again in 2017.

Horncastle is a nice little town in Lincolnshire which is well worth a visit if you are in the area. There is an especially recommended antique shop / junk shop in Horncastle in the old Co-op building. Its a shop with lots of rooms packed and stacked to the ceiling with all sorts of interesting items, plus outbuildings, plus a huge yard with table after table of items -all exposed to the elements - and sheds, etc also packed with "antiques". When we visited once, someone said if they sold all their stock at 50p each, they would be millionaires. They have an awful lot of stuff !

Initially I was in two minds as to whether to recommend this place. It was then called "Tea at the Bridge." This was not because of any doubts about the quality, but prices in Lincolnshire are generally on the low side, and "Tea at the Bridge" was a bit expensive. There were lots of places in Horncastle where you can get tea and a scone for a lot less than 2, and its was over 3 at "Tea at the Bridge"! The first time we visited you got a nice pot of tea, well served, plus dolly mixtures at the side of your saucer, and we got a strawberry with our scone, and jam in a proper mini pot. The second time, there was no strawberry - perhaps they were out of season. Anyway, you pays your money and takes your choice. When we returned in 2017 the place was called simply "The Bridge" and thankfully prices now seemed just average for the area, although it would have been an extra 50p for jam with our scone. My fruit scone and butter cost an acceptable 1.75, and was served once again with dolly mixtures, mini sliced strawberry and Kiwi, and dusted with icing sugar. A regular gave us his table at the window overlooking the stream as he was off to walk his dog - he left his dog biscuits and shopping bag, presumably to return again for lunch. In short, it's a friendly place.


Date of last visit : 2017    

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Lumsden Tearoom - The Bothy



Sorry, no picture yet.

Go inland from Aberdeen to Banchory, then head up the A980 to Lumsden. The Bothy is part of a farm up a little track where there is a shop specialising in mohair goods from their own pedigree herd of goats and of course there is an attached tea room.

Its is well worth a visit just to look round the shop. It is quality goods and the prices reflect this but perhaps there might be a sale. I can recommend their "bonny socks". These are mohair socks where the claim is that because of the structure of mohair you can wear the socks for several days (up to a year ?) without them smelling / needing to be washed.
In the interest of science I wore a pair for 3 consecutive days without washing and all seemed well. So possibly you could wear them longer if the need arose.

The tea room is very pleasant overlooking the water garden, where there are lots of ducks to look at.

Billy Connolly used to be an occasional visitor - and why not. His house used to be not that far away and perhaps like me, he liked the bonny socks.


Date of last visit : 2010

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Ludham , Norfolk - Al Fresco Tea Rooms



The picture was taken in July, 2010.

Ludham is on the main road between Great Yarmouth and Wroxham. As you drive towards Wroxham, you come to Ludham, and within Ludham just after a bend in the road to the right is St Catherine's church on your left, and immediately opposite is the Al Fresco Tea Rooms. Here you get proper leaf tea, with a tea strainer, a pot of hot water, choices of teas, etc. You can choose from a range of home made scones or cakes. You get proper jam in a little pot with the fruit scones. The menu advises that they try to source all ingredients locally, within a 12 mile radius - and they then go on to list their suppliers. Prices were reasonable.

We visited last in April, 2009 - it might get a bit busy in summer. Do have a visit to the mediaval church opposite. Oh, the tearoom has an outside area - hence the name Al Fresco Tearoom.


Date of last visit : it was still there in 2017

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Mango Cafe -English Tearoom, Mijas, near Fuengirola, Costa del Sol, Spain



I had just lifted this picture from the internet - hope no one minds - but its out of date now !.

A 2017 update
It was a Tuesday when we visited - they still close on Mondays - and so happily we finally found the Mango Cafe open and the tearoom up and running again after a period of closure. The new owners said they took the place over in October, 2016, and gave the place a much needed face lift. It certainly looked very attractive - clean and modern.

Sultana scones were just out of the oven, so we had two scones and strawberry jam at Euro 2.50 each. They were medium sized scones, presented on a rectangular plate with little individual pots of jam and butter. I had a good sized pot of Yorkshire tea, and Christine had a large cup one third full of very strong coffee, and a jug of hot water to dilute the coffee to taste. Both drinks cost euro 1.95. I thought the prices were very fair.

The owners were friendly and welcoming. Strangely, we were the only customers in the place - it was about 10:30 am on a Tuesday in May. The cafe is somewhat tucked away at the back of a small arcade. Hopefully, they usually get more customers.

This is what I said previously :-

When we visited in May, 2015 the English Tearoom was closed, and a notice in the window said that, as the building had recently been sold, they were no longer running the tearoom at Mijas. Possibly this only meant that the place would have a change of ownership, but would open again under new owners. So, I left this write up here, pending our next visit to Mijas. In April, 2016, the place was still closed, and the premises still vacant. Nothing else had opened in the spot. We then visited again in November, 2016 and found that the place had opened again under the name Mango Cafe. Sadly though, it was a Monday when we called, and the cafe did not open on Mondays. I should not really "recommend" a place I have not visited, but next time we go, we will make sure it is not a Monday.



We usually visit Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol, Spain say once a year to get some winter sun. It's an easy, reasonably priced holiday flying Stansted to Malaga, train along the coast, and then a short walk to say the NuriaSol apartments. We might go for a week, or 12 days or so, and usually hire a car for part of the stay. And the first day's car trip is usually the short one inland from Fuengirola for a few miles into the mountains to the lovely little, picturesque village of Mijas. There are lots of tourist shops, cafes, whitewashed buildings, a bull ring, an old church, quaint narrow lanes, the donkeys, and a mini botanical garden with panoramic views down to the sea. The English Tearoom has been there for years - to find it walk along the main road along which you entered Mijas from Fuengirola, and turn right to head up to the old town at the very last turning, and the tearoom is on your left. If you go up the steps from the crescent / square in the middle of Mijas, turn left and head away from the old quarter, and the tea room should be on your right. Mijas is not that big a place, so it should be easy to find the tearoom

We have visited this tearoom lots of times, and I thought it was on my list of "recommended" tearooms, but when I went to do an update after our March 2014 visit I was surprised to find that it was not listed. I usually add tearooms in interesting places that we have visited several times - it was always a good place for a cup of tea, but it did tend to be on the expensive side - so perhaps this is why I did not include it. Anyway, it is added now.

This tearoom seems to change hands regularly, but more or less stays the same. In March, 2014 the owners had taken over some six months ago. They were a Yorkshire couple, who offered various teas, but "specialised" in offering Yorkshire tea - but not Yorkshire water, of course. Everyone there spoke English, the customers were a mix of visitors and local ex pats, and everyone was very friendly and chatty. I got a good cup of Yorkshire tea in a large tea pot, and it came with an equally lage pot of top up hot water. We thought that the prices were very reasonable (exch. rate 1.14 euros to ) with 1.75 for a scone and butter, and 1 for the tea.

If this place were in England there would be nothing special about it to warrent inclusion, but in Spain it is a good tea room in an interesting location.




Date of last visit : 2017, as the Mango Cafe

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Milfield, on the A697, Borders Region - Maelmin Cafe



The picture was taken in August, 2010.

When we drive up to Aberdeen from Hertfordshire we go up the M11, A14, A1, and then just above Newcastle take the A697 to cut off the corner and head towards Edinburgh. Milfield is a small Borders village on the A697, about 14 miles south of Coldstream and the Scottish border. Cafe Maelmin is the left hand side of the road as you head north.

Cafe Maelmin is the new name for a place where we have been stopping for a cup of tea and something to eat for many, many years. I think formerly it was just called Milfield Cafe and Information Centre. It used to be self service, so we could get in and out quickly and so on our way. It changed to waitress service in 2009, and in 2010 it changed its name.

It's a bright welcoming place, and you get a good cup of tea. There used to be shelves with tourist items for sale, but most of these went when it was revamped as Cafe Maelmin. There also used to be more information about the local area, but most of this has also gone. I much preferred it as it was, but someone must have thought it was time for a change. Who am I to disagree ? However you still get a good cup of tea, so if in the area why not give it a go.

When we visited in November, 2012 we wanted a quick snack - eg a cup of tea and a bacopn, or black pudding, or sausage roll. These didn't appear to be on the menu any longer, so we left, and carried on to Services at Brandon, on the AI. We visited for a cup of tea only in February, 2013.

We visited twice in July, 2014. Once was on the way to Scotland on a Friday afternoon when we had two tasty cheese scones, a tea and a coffee - a bit pricey at 7.80, 6.80 would have been OK. On the way back the place was busier, and rather than wait whilst two tables in front of us were served, we left. The place was better before it switched to table service !

As an alternative, if the Milfield / Maelmin cafe was busy and we were heading towards Scotland, we used to continue on for a few miles and stop at the Bluebell Inn. Here also you used to get a good cup of tea, and perhaps a biscuit. It's quite a while since we have done this, though. The Bluebell Inn closed, and then re-opened. However in 2017 we discovered a lovely little tearoom attached to Glendale Garden Centre, just outside Wooler. Wooler is just before Milfield if you are heading north, and the garden centre is just as you come into Wooler, on the right hand side heading north, just after a caravan park set back on the left hand side. In 2017 we got a pot of tea with a separate pot of water, a coffee, and two scones for only 7.10. The cheese scone was served with chutney, the fruit scone with it's own little dish of jam. Very tasty !




Date of last visit : 2014, but still there in 2015.

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Montrose Tea Room - The Coffee House



The picture was taken in August, 2010.

We often visit Aberdeen, and Montose is a pleasant drive about 35 miles down the coast through Stonehaven, and keep going, following the coast. The Coffee House is at the top (South) end of the main street on the left hand side with Aberdeen behind you. The address is 119, High Street, Montrose.

Inside it looks as if the building had once been an old jail-house. Montrose is generally a depressed area, and so most of the goods in the shops are keenly priced. We had lunch in the Market Arms - also on the High Street - and had a good tuck in for 2.10. This comprised a good helping of stovies with 2 oatcakes for 1.50, and a pot of tea for 60p. Outstanding value , I thought.

The Coffee House is not the cheapest tea room in town, but gives good quality with fair prices. I got a huge pot of tea which refilled my cup lots of times. The scone was tasty, but the jam came in a plastic sachet for which I was charged 15p. Including this, tea, scone and jam cost 2.10 - the same as lunch. Black marks for the plastic sachet, but each time we visit Montrose, we usually visit this tea room - so all in all, a safe recommendation. They were still charging 15 p for jam in 2013.

We had a light lunch there in July, 2014. It was 7.80 for two coronation chicken "Baguettes" (long, soft rolls, really), a tea, and a coffee. A fair price, I thought. In 2017 I had a very tasty rock cake, although it was a bit on the small side.




Date of last visit : 2017

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Newmarket Tea Room - The Pantry (& The Stable)



The pictures were copied from the Internet - hope that is OK.

Newmarket is a nice, unspoiled market town just over the border into Suffolk. Prices there are mostly modest, but there are also some very expensive houses in the area - Newmarket is the UK home of horse racing - so I guess it's a sort of mixed economy. The town is about 37 miles from where we live, so it's just over 50 minutes away by car. It's one of a collection of places that we visit regularly for day trip - others include Bury St Edmunds, Ely, St Albans, Clacton on Sea, etc. It's quite a small, compact town centre - and it doesn't really fill a full day away, but almost does. There are lots of charity shops for us to explore.



There are lots of places that do a good cup of tea, but the one we use most, if we can get a seat, is The Pantry (see top picture). It's just at the corner of the The Guineas Shopping Centre just off the High Street, to the left as you enter Newmarket from the South. It's quite an upmarket kind of place - it's also a delicatessen, with a huge range of cheeses. The restaurant / teashop side of things also sells wine, bottled beer, and bottles of champagne, presumably to celebrate successful days out at the Races. They do lovely, large, very tasty, white dusted fruit scones which are served with proper individual butter and jam portions in little dishes. For the quality, I thought the prices were very reasonable - 7.40 for two scones, with butter and jam, a large pot of tea for one, and a large coffee, (in March 2016).

I have also recommended The Stable on the High Street (it's No. 65). This is a community facility set up and supported by various Newmarket churches. It serves teas, coffees, and meals, is a meeting place, and they run a safe environment coffee bar in the evenings for the local youth. It's in the door of the picture, and upstairs - there is a lift if required. Once upstairs, there is a fair sized hall, with a big kitchen and serving counter to the left. We usually go here for a very tasty and modestly priced proper home, freshly cooked lunch. Their own baked quiche is especially recommended - light, fluffy, and very tasty - and is served with a salad. A quiche and salad, baked potato and cheese with salad, a pot of tea (you do get a pot of hot water too !) and a coffee cost 10.15 (in March, 2016). A bargain, I thought. They are open roughly 10:00 am to 3:00 pm most week days. There are scones and cakes if you just want to pop in for morning tea.




Date of last visit : 2017

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Newton Abbot, Devon Tea Room - The Pharmacy



The picture was taken in November, 2010.

We know Newton Abbot quite well from lots of holiday visits to Teignmouth in Devon. Newton Abbot is about 5 miles from Teignmouth and is a lovely market town well worth a visit. Our daughter Kirsty, and her family moved there in October, 2010 - so, no doubt, we will get to know the place even better.

The main street in Newton Abbot is pedestrianised. Off this runs the second main street - Queen Street. Walking away from the centre along Queen Street, The Pharmacy is on the right hand side at No. 58, Queen Street - it's just past a Wetherspoons.

As the name suggests, the shop began life as a pharmacy, and all the old pharmacy fittings have been left in place - huge wooden cupboards with little drawers each labelled in latin with the name of old chemicals and remedies - all I fear of doubtful use, but all that was available at the time.

There is a good choice of teas, coffees, scones, cakes, and lots to look at. The toilets and extra seating are upstairs. Everyone is very friendly - it is Devon, after all.

I picked up a leaflet about the history of the shop -i.e. from when it was J Bibbings and Son, Pharmacy. George Bibbings was born in Newton Abbot in 1816, and earned a living as a blacksmith. He had two daughters and four sons, and John, one of his sons, became a pharmacist and opened his Queen Street shop in 1877. The leaflet explains that his first customer was a tramp, and his second, an earl. There were minor interior alterations to the shop in 1897, but otherwise the shop remains as it was. The floor of the shop is an original mosaic, on which stand the magnificient mahogany fixtures and 10 foot high cupboards. A date holder dates to 1877, and is still in daily use.

Well worth a visit !




Date of last visit : 2016.

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St Albans, the Abbot's Kitchen in the Cathedral



I have just lifted this picture from the Cathedral web site - hope no one objects. It's of the Abbots Kitchen before it closed for renovation in March, 2017. Now the tearoom is in a tent outside and just round the corner. It may be 18 months before normal service may be resumed. The tent will be lovelly in summer, but what about winter ?



Although St Albans is only about 30 miles from where we live, we seldom go there. We prefer to visit Bury St Edmunds as it is larger, and there are more, and varied things to do and see there. But St Albans is a lovelly, historical place with some very old buildings and a thriving market. Once in St Albans you cannot miss the Cathedral - there are lots of signs or just look up for the spire, and head in that direction. Entrance to the Cathedral is free, but they do suggest a minimum 4 donation. We didn't think this applied to us, as we headed straight to the kitchen / tea room. Most places that charge for admission do allow free entry to their tea room. We did have a look round the cathedral afterwards - it is difficult not to, and we were impressed by the displays, and especially a working model of an exceptionally old astronomical clock. And of course we did make a small extra donation over and above what we bought in the tea room.

We entered the Cathedral by the side door, the one nearest the town centre, and had to walk along a well signposted long corridor to get to their tea room - called appropriately "The Abbots Kitchen". If you enter by the main entrance the Abbot's Kitchen is just in front of you. It is a nice setting in the tea room, and the place is very well staffed augmented by volunteers. A notice advised us to wait to be seated, but no wait was involved. Although it seemed to be set up for self service, it was in fact waitress service - but see footnote. I noticed some people were using it as self service, and paying at the till but their tea, etc was delivered to their tables after they sat down. The scones were good, there were other goodies to eat, and I got a big pot of good tea. Prices were reasonable. To be honest, although a good pleasant tea room, it's not exceptional. It is recommended more for the setting, everyone was very friendly, and it is a good cause.

Footnote - when we visited in 2015 it was self service, and a lot better for that we thought.




Date of last visit : 2017

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St Andrews - McGregors



 
No photo yet, sorry.

St Andrews, on the Fife coast of Scotland, home of golf, university town ( and a very famous ancient university at that), fishing harbour, tourist beaches, Castle, cathedral, etc needs little introduction and is well worth a visit. Our daughter Kirsty used to leave here when Andrew was a student here, and she and Andrew got married in September, 2006 at Russacks hotel in St Andrews. If you are feeling affluent have coffee or lunch (lunch 37.50 in July, 2007) at Russacks overlooking the old course. If you just want a good cup of tea, or a light lunch, etc - go to McGregors (on the left hand side of Market Street if you are facing the cathedral ruins)

McGregors also is a shop downstairs and the Tea Room mostly upstairs. McGregors gives great value for money, and so gets very busy sometimes, but all in all its well worth the wait. There are scones, cakes, etc. The cakes are sliced into very generous portions. You can also get lunch, etc.


Date of last visit : 2010

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St Martins in the Field, London, The Cafe in the Crypt



 
The photo was taken in October, 2010. St Martins in the Field is the building at the right of the picture, and along side it is the modern looking glass entrance to The Crypt within which you will find the cafe.

St Martins in the Field is a very famous church just off Trafalgar Square in the very centre of London. To find St Martins, stand in Trafalgar Square with your back to Nelson's Column. Face the National Gallery, and St Martins Church is in the top right corner just across the road at the side of the National Gallery.

We often visit the West End of London to see a theatre show (mostly a matinee). We usually take pot luck and get our tickets from one of the cut price ticket booths near Leicester Square. It's just a case of looking at what is on, drawing up a list of what you would like to see, and then finding out what tickets are available at what cost on the day. Or we might be in central London meeting friends / or perhaps showing visitors the sights.

Anyway, when in central London as often as not we will visit the Cafe in the Crypt at St Martins in the Field for a cup of tea, and perhaps a biscuit or a muffin, etc.

When on holiday we often come across coffee mornings in church halls, and usually pop in to see what is on offer. Quality is sometimes a bit variable, but these coffee mornings are nearly always very good value for money (ie you can get a cheap cup of tea). However, do not confuse what is on offer at St Martins with a coffee morning in a church hall. The setting in St Martins is very impressive, and the catering is done professionally. The entrance to the Cafe at the Crypt is through an imposing glass structure at the left side of the church. There is a glass lift down to the Crypt for wheel chair access, or a short flight of steps. From the lift or from the steps you emerge into the large vaults of the church, an open space which amongst other things houses quite a good gift shop. The Cafe is easy to find through some arches. It's self service and there are lots of tables set out like a refectory. You can get a pot of tea for about 1.70 (2009) and a cup of filter coffee for about the same price, which is not bad for central London. And of course you are helping a most deserving charity. There are usually packets of biscuits for less than 1, but I mostly pass on the pastries which seem tempting but just a little expensive - although again not for central London. If you are hungry they also serve some tasty looking meals.

We have one small adverse comment to make however. Once, when we ordered a cup of black coffee, we got very poor messure - only a half cup really. We had to ask them to top up the cup, which of course they did without comment, but this should not have happened. When you order tea, you get a pot of tea, but when you order coffee you get a mug of coffee. It's fair enough to leave a bit of a space for milk, but serving short messure is not on! It only happened once, has not occurred again, and so we still use and recommend the place.

Whilst in St Martins, be sure to go exploring. There are all sorts of displays advising of the history of the place, the charity work done, etc, etc. The gift shop is a good one, with quality gifts but unfortunately at quality prices. On a cold day, the Crypt is always warm and welcoming. Its well worth a visit, and you are supporting an excellent charity.




Date of last visit : 2017

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Southwold Tearoom - @51 (formerly The Tea Shop, formerly Tillys, formerly Sarah's)



 
The photo, now out of date, was taken in July, 2010.

No longer recommended - too expensive

When we revisited in June, 2017, there had been a refurbishment to a bright, clean cafe format, and a change of name to "@51" (from it's address). A tea, a coffee, and two scones with jam and butter cost 9.90 (or 9.9 as they would have it !) - about 2 to 3 too much. The menu prices were shown as 1.9 not 1.90 - very pretentious I thought.The scones were home baked and very tasty, but not very big, and not worth 3 each. The price did include a little sealed jar of jam - a very expensive way of serving a single portion. Also it looks nicer in a dish. However we could have had scone, butter, jam and cream for the same price.

As before, there was a tiny outside tea garden, beside the outdoor loo.

Not a terrible place, so I have just decided to leave it here pending its next reincarnation - but not value for money. Go further along the High Street (heading away from the sea), cross the road, and try Adnams restaurant where a very tasty looking large fruit scone costs 1.95.

This is what I said before :-

Southwold is a lovely old fashioned place on the Suffolk Coast. It has a new pier, traditional beach huts, and a main street - the High Street - with proper, small, varied shops. It also has Adnams Brewery and the horses. In short - it is completely unspoiled. There is free parking on the sea front, and side streets.

When we first visited Southwold, the tearoom was called Sarah's Tea Room. It is on the High Street (No 51a) - on the left hand side with the sea behind you. We warned that in season Southwold and Sarah's can get very busy. That Sarah's is quite a small place and it can be difficult to get a table - even in its sheltered garden. The toilets are in the garden shed. There were also gifts for sale dotted throughout the shop. There is tea / coffee and scones or cakes - but mostly Sarah's is just a nice location. Sit in the window if you can, and watch the world go by.

When we visited in May, 2009, Sarah's had changed, and was now called Tillys. The waitresses wore black outfits with white aprons. The gifts had gone, and the shop was entirely a tearoom. Prices seemed just a little on the high side. We didn't think it was quite as good as before, not as much character, but nevertheless I left it in the list.

We then visited Southwold twice in the same week in 2013 - we were staying in Gt Yarmouth for a week. Amazingly, the place had yet another name - The Tea Shop. We could not sample the fare as on each day the place had not yet opened. It seems to open about 11:00 am, which is far too late. We are usually more than ready for a cup of tea at about 10:30. I think I will need to recommend some other place. There is a goodish tea room / cafe down by the river which is a fair distance from the High Street, but it's a pleasant walk. When you get to the river, turn right, walk past the ferry to Walberswick, and keep going past the wooden shed where they sell good fish and chips, and eventually you come to another wooden shed - and here you will get a good a cup of tea, and a scone or whatever.



Date of last visit : 2017

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Stonehaven Tearoom - The Waterfront Cafe Bar



 
The picture is a view from the walk way by the sea shore, and was taken in August, 2010.

Stonehaven is a coastal town on the north east coast of Scotland, c 18 miles south of Aberdeen. There is a town square, where you can pay to park and a delightful harbour, with free parking in a car park along the quay and turn left. There is also free parking on many wide side streets only a short distance away from the centre. It's a good idea to park at the harbour, and walk along the wooden walk way into town - so that you will be ready for your cup of tea. (There is an excellent local butcher McHardy on the town square. It's from here that we bulk order pies to take back down south with us).

If you park at the harbour and take the walk way towards town you will find the back door of the Waterfront Cafe Bar on your left hand side - the sea is on your right hand side.

We have been visiting The Waterfront in Stonehaven for years. Before that we used to visit Maggie Mays, but its now closed.

The Waterfront is on the left hand side of the main street in Stonehaven as you enter from the Aberdeen direction. Its a long, thin place, and as I said, there is a back door exiting on to a patio and then to the sea shore. You get a good cup of tea, and a good scone, or whatever, prices are fair, and it's waitress service. You get a friendly welcome, there is usually plenty of space, and in the corner they have a big chest full of toys for young children.

In July, 2014 it was only 6.35 for two fair sized tasty scones, a pot of tea and a coffee - very fair value. And surprisingly it was a hot, sunny day - we were almost tempted to sit outside on their verandah (but don't like smokers).

As a footnote, in both 2015, 2016, and 2017 we also visited, and liked the Splash Cafe in Stonehaven's famous Open Air Swimming Pool. There is no entrance fee to visit the cafe, and you can sit by the big windows and watch the hardy swimmers outside. A good cup of tea, home bakes and biscuits, and modest prices. In 2016 we thought The Waterfront seemed very noisy, and thought Arduthie House in Ann Street more pleasant. No such problems in 2017, however. Possibly we started to go off the Splash cafe in 2017 - we had walked past a row of good looking cafes on the seafront all with sea views. Perhaps the novelty of a cafe attached to a swimming pool has started to fade.





Date of last visit : 2017

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Tarfside Glen Esk Tearoom - The Retreat



 
The picture was taken in August 2010.

The Retreat really is a treat if it is open. In summer you should be OK - it seems to open about 12:00 noon. Off season ie October onwards I am not sure when it might be open. The journey there is very scenic - so if its not open, no problem as you have had a nice trip. Alternative tearooms are in Edzell, or in Fettercairn. Take the main road south from Aberdeen, and turn right just south of Stonehaven along the B966. There will be a sign post to Glen Esk on the right hand side. Whilst in the area, be sure to visit Lochlee church - a tiny church in the middle of no where where the door seems always open. Pause, please, in the graveyard at a grave on the left of the path to the church with a headstone to the memory of a Jane Michie who died on 10th November, 1944 - my birthday.

The Retreat is a local centre with tourist information, which also provides office facilities and meeting rooms for local businesses. There is the usual shop, and of course a lovely tea room with home cooking and very reasonable prices. In July 2007 a pot of tea, a scone and jam, and 2 small pancakes cost 3. You can also get a more substantial meal if you wish. Its a very friendly place in a quiet tranquil setting. Well worth a visit. I can't remember what the prices were in August, 2011 - so they are probably still very fair.

When we visited in July, 2014 entry to their museum was free. This was a splendid portrayal of life in Glen Esk through the years - but sadly also one of declining numbers of families living in the glen. This seems to be an all too familiar story. Museum just as good and still free in 2017. I got a huge pot of tea for one, and a separate pot of hot water.




Date of last visit : 201



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Tea Palace, Westbourne Grove, London



 
I've borrowed this picture from their web site.

The Tea Palace is a range of somewhat expensive tea rooms and shops in London - but worth noting if you want to treat yourself. Don't go there just for a quick cup of tea or if you are on a tight budget.

Jamie and Jacqui took us to their Westbourne Grove Tea room one Saturday morning in December, 2007. We were going to the theatre that afternoon, and so we all met up for brunch. It is quite an elegant place, and is split into two sections. You enter the right hand section which is the tea shop, and then progress through to the left section which is the tea room proper. There is a very extensive menu listing well over a hundred different teas. I chose from the Assam section, and Chris had builders brew from the general section. A pot of tea is 3.50 to 6.00. Everyone gets a small dish with a few dry tea leaves per their choice. So we all sniffed each others selections, reading the notes describing the flavours we should detect. It sounds a bit pretentious, but is was OK really, and fun. Service was excellent but not overbearing

For brunch I had scrambled eggs on toast for about 6.75. Some of the pork and duck dishes were about 12 to 15.00. I didn't have afters, but Chris had a concoction that included green tea ice cream. It looked very exotic, and the taste matched the looks. Afternoon tea was available later in the day, and seemed to be about 20 to 30. All in all, a lovely place for a very special occasion if you don't mind up market London prices, or if you want to impress.


Date of last visit : 2007



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Teignmouth Tearoom, The Oyster Catcher, Northumberland Place



 
We have visited Teignmouth many, many times through the years. We used to come when the children were young, and now we take our grandchildren. Doesn't time fly !

Now that our daughter lives in Newton Abott, we visit Devon several times a year, and usually stay on the sea front in a self catering apartment which has a large bay window, and lovely sea views. Teignmouth is a nice, small, old fashioned, quietish, English seaside resort.

There are lots of cafe's and tea rooms in Teignmouth - and none of them is very expensive. We don't really have an absolute favourite - we visit quite a few. However I have recommended tea rooms for most of the surrounding places, and so I thought I should really add one in Teignmouth itself. I used to recommend "The Funky Giraffe Cafe" which was on the main pedestrianised street in Teignmouth - on the opposite side of the road from the Co-operative supermarket. The road runs parallel to the sea front - go directly inland from the pier, and turn left. Sadly, when we visited Teignmouth in September, 2012 we found that The Funky Giraffe seemed to have closed. So now the recommendation is to go along the same main street (Bank Street) where the Funky Giraffe used to be, but turn left in to Northumberland Place, and the Oyster Catcher is on the left, just past Amanda's - do look in Amanda's window at all the cakes, pasties, etc, and go inside to buy a delicious, generously proportioned ice cream. Brown's tea room later opened on the site of "The Funky Giraffe", but it wasn't as good in my opinion.

The attraction of the Funky Giraffe used to be it's stunning combination of top quality and low prices. The Oyster Catcher perhaps doesn't quite match the quality, but its prices are still quite fair. There is nothing wrong with the quality, it's just not as outstanding. But the Oyster Catcher does have it's own quirky charm, and sense of humour. I wonder how many visitors look up high on the wall to the left of the counter where you place your orders, and notice a soft toy in the shape of a rat. Not many eating places would have the confidence to tease with a toy rat !

The Oyster Catcher is a very friendly place and does a good pot of tea. There are cakes and the usual choice of bits and pieces to eat. Sometimes they have Ugli Buns, made by a local bakery in Shaldon. These are very large, spicy, chelsea bun like creations - one between two usually works ! It also does lunch time snacks, when it can get a bit busy, but so far we have always managed to get a table, even when there were 5 or 6 of us. Once when we ordered babyccinos for the grand children the particular lady who served us confessed that she had never made them before, but she would give it a go. We had of course had babyccinos there on previous visits, but obviously from a different waitress. And all that said, we got two splendid babyccinos, which disappeared quickly enough, obviously passing quality control.

Just opposite the Oyster Catcher is a tattoo shop, with a statue of a fierce pirate on the pavement outside. Jamie, Jacqui, and Lachlan were over from Sydney in early 2012 - and the sight of this pirate prompted Uncle Jamie to suggest to his young niece Chloe (3 at the time) that they might see some real pirates. We then all took the small passenger ferry across the river Teign to Shaldon. After the crossing, Uncle Jamie again brought up the subject of pirates, telling Chloe how disappointed he was not to have seen any. "Well", confided young Chloe, in best tourist humouring mode "sometimes you see them, sometimes you don't." These pearls of wisdom I have been quoting ever since.




Date of last visit : 2017.



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Thaxsted Tearoom, Poppies

Thaxsted is a charming little town / township in Essex, not far from Dunmow, about 10 miles roughly east of Stansted airport. It's a nice place to aim for when taking visitors for an afternoon drive in the countryside. It has an ancient Guild Hall, an old church with a huge spire that is visible from miles around, and a restored windmill. There are a few shops, and several tearooms - and its all very peaceful and calm.

We usually park in the free car park off to the left (looking towards the guild hall) from the main road as you drive into Thaxsted. There is a good St John's charity shop in an old scout hut beside the car park - welll worth a visit if it is open. A favourite walk is to do a circular tour along the main road, left at the Guild Hall up the curiously named Fishmarket Street, past some charming thatched cottages through 2 kissing gates to the windmill, then back and into the church, then out again and down Watling Street and back to the main street.

Poppies Tearoom is to the left of the guild hall, on the left hand side of Fishmarket Street as you climb to the church, or windmill.

We have been visiting Poppies for years, but I had never got round to adding it to the recommended list until we visted with two Canadian visitors (Jennifer and Carol) in June 2010. It is quite a little place but they do a wide range of teas made with loose leaf tea, and served in individual tea pots, with separate tea strainers. There is always a range of home made cakes, and the scones are very tasty, but not very big, unfortunately. Jam comes in little dishes - so much better than plastic sachets. Prices at June 2010 seemed quite fair - ie its not a cheap place, but neither did it seem expensive.

Once we visited when it was very busy indeed, with people overspilling into the road and racing bicycles everywhere. We managed to squeeze in and found out that it was being used as a stage point in a cross country fun ride. So, it is a nice place to aim for on a bicycle too.

There is an annual Thaxsted musical festival with the large church and its high ceiling providing an excellent venue with good acoustics. My son Jamie sang there when the Harlow Boys Choir accompanied the Harlow Chorus - both then had the excellent Michael Kibblewhite as musical director.


Date of last visit : 2013



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Torquay Tearoom, Debenhams Restaurant, The Harbour, Torquay

When we are in Devon, we usually base ourselves in Teignmouth - in a self catering apartment on the sea front beside the pier with sea view from a big bay window, etc. Teignmouth is a good centre for touring, and there are lots of places within easy reach. One of these places is Torquay - just over 10 miles away. Usually we manage to find free parking on the sea front (free as at March, 2011), and then we walk along the sea front back to the town centre, and past the Princess Theatre, the Pavillion, the Marina, and towards the harbour. It's a pleasant stroll, with lots to see.



The picture is a view over the harbour from the sea side, just round from the marina, and the light coloured long middle building in the distance is Debenhams department store, which overlooks the harbour. The restaurant is on the second floor, and has huge windows which overlook the harbour. So this is a place that is recommendeed mostly for the view.

Tea is served by the pot, and its usually quite a decent brew. There is plenty of choice in the way of cakes and scones - but the scones are individually wrapped in plastic which keep them fresh, but its hardly "olde worlde tea room" charm. It is a restaurant which can get quite busy at lunch times, but we have visited several times, and always managed to get a seat at the window - perhaps we have just been lucky.

It is quite hot sitting next the window, but the reward is a great view over the harbour, and the tea, food, and coffee are all more than acceptable. Prices are slightly above average, but OK. So why not give it a try? We recommended it to my daughter and family who now live near Torquay, but they already knew about it. There are lots of seats beside the harbour if you just want to get an ice cream, and relax and enjoy the view.

Other branches of Debenhams that we use include the Colchester one which we visit quite frequently. In a strange town centre if we can't find anywhere, we quite happily pop onto the local Debenhams.


Date of last visit : 2017



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Totnes, Devon Tearoom, The Terrace Coffee Shop

Totnes is a delightful little town in Devon, about 10 miles inland from Newton Abbot. It sits on the river Dart, and has one main street running up a hill at right angles to the river. There are lots of traditional shops on this main street - butchers, bakers, high class grocers, a Devon fudge shop, etc - just as High Streets used to be. It's quite an old historic town, and there is an old arch that straddles the main street about half way up the hill. Walking up the hill, away from the river, The Terrace Coffee Shop is on the right hand side, not far from the arch, a few yards up a little turning, beside the local Co-Op.

There are lots of tempting tea rooms on the main street, but each time we have visited Totnes we have usually visited The Terrace Coffee Shop, and never been disappointed. You get a good pot of tea, and there is a good choice of cakes, buns, etc to tempt the palate. There are usually free newspapers to peruse whilst enjoying your cup of tea. That said though, in 2016 Christine thought the coffee was dreadful and very weak !

When we visited in November, 2010, the place was very quiet, and we got talking to the waitress. She was a young opera singer, and was waiting to hear about her audition to try to gain entrance to the Guild Hall (I think) College of Music in London. Fingers crossed that all went well.








Date of last visit : 2016



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Van Hage Cafe, Van Hage Garden Centre, Amwell roundabout, Ware, Herts



 
I've borrowed this photo from Van Hage's web site - I hope this is OK with them.

Van Hage's Garden Centre is an excellent, but somewhat expensive garden centre, about 6 miles along the road from us. Its a big centre, with a good choice of plants, and it also has a large retail section. Everything is very well designed - it really is a nice shopping experience. Their Christmas displays attract crowds every year. They also have a free mini "zoo", which is a good attraction for the kiddies.

When we visit Van Hages, and especially if we have guests with us, we usually visit the Van Hage Cafe - its quite a superior cafe, but the prices are affordable. They serve meals of course, but it is good place to visit just for a cup of tea. You get a good pot of tea, and there is always plenty of space to find a seat. There are biscuits, muffins, scones, pastries, etc, etc. In short there is wide range of tasty fare. Butter or Flora with your scone is free (ie included in the price of the scone) but jam unfortunately is in little jars that you have to buy. I would rather have home made jam in pots on each table, but I guess this place is just too large for that.

If you buy a lot of plants it might be worth paying an annual subscription to be a friend of Van Hages, and then you get a discount on all the plants that you buy. When I "retired" the second time I got a generous gift of Van Hake gift vouchers. To buy even more with the vouchers I found it cost effective to join the annual membership scheme. That was a few years ago now, but the point of mentioning it here is that one of the side benefits of membership was to get a free pot of tea in the Cafe - but this was only available in the mornings. Perhaps the offer still stands.




Date of last visit : 2016



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Pret a Manger Cafe / Coffee bar



 
I've borrowed this photo from the internet - I hope this is OK.



We often have a light lunch when we are in London at the Pret a Manger branch in Fleet Street / The Strand opposite the Royal Courts of Justice. You get proper cups if you are dining in (as opposed to take away), the coffee is OK, the tea is just a tea bag in a mug, but its OK too. Their baguettes are very fresh and tasty - but 660 calories for a posh pickle one. Do look at the very old tea shop next door - Twinings have been trading there for over 300 years !

We have also used the Pret a Manger branch on Union Street in Aberdeen - eg in 2017 when The Music Hall was still closed for renovations. I had a mug of tea and a really smashing raisin, spelt and oats cookie. Prices are very fair.

In Cambridge we have rather gone off Livingstones Coffee Shop , and quite often use the Pret a Manger branch near the Market Square. Like all branches Pret a Manger branches, it can get very busy at times.




Date of last visit : 2017



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