Time for a scone…

…with cream and jam.

Scone with cream and jam

I can never remember which way you should do the cream and jam when having a scone. I know that it is different in Devon to the way that it is done in Cornwall. One of them puts the jam down first, then the cream; the other puts the cream down first and then the jam!

I know I could use the Google to find this out, but I am not sure that even if I did I would remember. The real question is does it really matter, especially when you are in Somerset?

Last week I spent a lovely day in the sun exploring Dunster Castle and its grounds.

Dunster Castle

This is a National Trust property in West Somerset close to Minehead. I have been before, twice, the first time was in the 1990s, but when I arrived, the group I was they baulked at the entry prices and we left pretty sharpish to have fish and chips on the beach in nearby Minehead.

I did go in May last year, I had just received a National Trust membership as a birthday present, but our visit was cut short as one of my children wasn’t feeling well, so we left early. We had promised ourselves that we would visit again. So just under a year later we were back.

I do enjoy exploring these huge old houses, they have a certain charm and remind ourselves of a time when life was more sharply divided that it is today. Always an element of jealously as well as we see these huge bedrooms that have space, in one example at Dunster, a bed, a sofa, dressing table and a breakfast table with four chairs! I remember thinking that the library at Tyntesfield was bigger than our house!

After exploring the house, time to explore the gardens, which are mainly on steep slopes, so the paths go back and forth. However if you can find your way to the old water mill then you can find the National Trust tea room. This is not the most pretty of tea rooms, the one at Barrington Court for example is really lovely, very old-fashioned room with wooden panels and comfortable chairs and wooden tables. The tea room at Dunster was not as welcoming or as warm as others I have been in. For me the whole tea room experience is not just about the food and drink, it’s also about the environment, the feel, the room, the furniture, even the lighting.

Of course, if you find yourself in the tearoom then it’s time for tea and a scone. Oh and then photograph it and post it to the Twitter.

You never know who will respond to your tweets, but this one resulted in a reply from @nt_scones

I don’t remember how I encountered @nt_scones on the Twitter, but what a great idea (and motivation) for visiting the different National Trust places.

They not only talk about their own scone experiences but also comment and re-tweet other people’s too. They also now have a book out.

As I said in my tweet, the scone was a little dry, but was still very nice. The NT jam was nice and though I think it’s a terrible luxury, I do enjoy getting the jam in the small individual jars. There is also the nice clotted cream too. I did enjoy the tea and it did some in a proper china teapot and not one of those awful metal teapots which always dribble down the spout.

Overall a nice cream tea, but not that traditional tea room experience that I have come to enjoy when visiting National Trust properties.

T-Licious

This tearoom in Chepstow is a real treasure and a lovely place to go for a pot of tea. It has character, personality, excellent customer service and delicious refreshing tea served from china teapots.

There is a quirky decor inside, but it adds to the atmosphere of the place. Due to the layout of the building the decor changes as you move through the building and into the garden. The chairs and tables don’t match, but that adds to the feel of the place.

The tea was really nice, as was the food, as a result the whole experience was just the thought of thing I like.

Morning Tea

Morning Tea

The last time I went to Betty’s Tearooms in York was in 1990, though since then I did visit their tearoom in Harrogate a couple of years ago and had a lovely pot of tea and cream scone.

Visiting York we decided to visit Betty’s in the blizzarding snow for a second breakfast. I was surprised by how busy it was at 10am in the morning, we had to queue!

We were given a lovely table next to the window from which we could watch people struggling in the wind and the snow.

It was early so alas the cake trolley wasn’t available and to be honest I don’t think I actually wanted a cake at that time of the morning, so went with the second breakfast.

We ordered the Breakfast Tea, and this is very nicely served with loose leaves, and so you have a tea strainer. I will say that I wasn’t a fan of the tea, though I finished the pot. I think the last time I had tea at Betty’s I had a different, much nicer tea. Personally it was a little too strong for me.

Alongside my tea I went with toasted pikelets, I don’t recall having them before, but the best way I can think of to describe them is they reminded me of a squashed crumpet, and they certainly tasted more of crumpet than pancake. In some areas of the world pikelets are more like pancakes, the ones from Yorkshire are more like crumpets.

Alongside the pikelets we had toast and crumpets. This was all served very posh like on cake stands.

It was a lovely second breakfast and with wonderful friendly service we all felt we had been really spoilt. Even though the place was really busy, we weren’t rushed and the whole affair was very relaxed. By the time we finished, the snow had gone and we were ready to continue with our day.

Dragon 4 Flowers

When I last wrote about Tea Monkey in Bath I said the next time I visited I would try one of their flowering teas. So when I visited Tea Monkey recently I did go for one of their flowering teas, Dragon 4 Flowers.

Light lavender notes with a floral bouquet giving depth and body to this early season green tea.

It was certainly an interesting experience, a small dried “bud” in a clear teapot which as it brewed opened into a flower.

Certainly a spectacle to watch and the flavour was light and delicate.

Tea Monkey

Okay this may surprise a few people, but when I was in Bath the other day I went to Tea Monkey and had a pot of tea.

Tea Monkey #366photos

I went for a pot of Darjeeling.

Darjeeling (Margarets Hope*) – From one of Darjeelings best known estates…a lovely muscatel flavour with delicious astringency

They used a glass pot and loose leaves, no tea bags in this place.

It was a lovely cup of tea and I really enjoyed drinking it. There is something very different about drinking proper tea (in the same way I guess about how I feel about drinking proper coffee). The tea was very refreshing and certainly perked me up for the rest of the day.

There is plenty of choice at Tea Monkey and, yes if you want one, you can get coffee, but I think the real reason to go to Tea Monkey is to try the tea. Next time I may be adventerous and try one of their flowering teas.

I also liked the fact that they serve toast, even when it isn’t breakfast! If you want toast for lunch, then you can have toast for lunch. You could also have crumpets or a teacake. As well as the toasted stuff they have a range of sandwiches and cakes too.