Celebrating RHS Chelsea Flower Show in Woburn Sands

The sweetest floral, the most delicate potted treasures and rows upon rows of, well, sandwiches.

Review: The Anchor Aspley Guise

The Anchor is a pub and restaurant in the village of Aspley Guise on the outskirts of the borough of Milton Keynes. Under new management it has recently undergone a very expensive face lift to the tune of £600k that has completely overhauled this village pub into an exciting and sophisticated social spot.

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How could I resist heading over to Aspley Guise to see exactly what’s been happening in this laid back village…?!

M&S CAFÉ: AFTERNOON TEA

Just past the knicker aisle then turn right at the gentleman’s slacks and you’ll find a place for tea

I am being completely serious. M&S are renowned for many things including tasty premade sandwiches and good quality food products. So if you happen to be in the throes of an intense shopping spree and acquire a craving for Afternoon Tea, then an M&S Café is sure to be something worth considering.

Arriving in the café it was easy to see the poster advertising the Afternoon Tea. Giving it a quick glance over and then heading straight to the till and ordering. “Plain or cheese scone?” I was asked and also “Classic or vegetarian sandwich selection?”

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Questions answered, I was given a hot pot of tea with cup, saucer and milk jug to take with me immediately and also a table number to display when I choose where to sit.

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Sugars, cutlery and napkins are something you have to pick up yourself but hey, it’s no biggie really, is it?

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When the tea stand arrived (which it did promptly) it was perfectly pretty and elegant to look at. Sandwiches on the top tier, scones in the middle and cakes on the bottom.

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Sandwich selection came in four varieties:

Egg and cress

Beef and horseradish

Ham and cheese

Smoked salmon and cream cheese

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Although they looked different in shape from the classic triangle M&S sandwiches you pick up in the lunch section of the food hall, they were undoubtedly M&S sandwiches. Fresh, tasty enough and very pleasant chunky oblongs to eat.

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For the scones I chose plain. I am not a huge cheese scone lover and not sure if it’s something I’ve ever seen on an Afternoon Tea menu before, but worth noting that M&S offer those if that tickles your fancy (and they’ve run out of fruit). 

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With the scones came an individual mini jar of M&S strawberry jam and a pot of clotted cream. I’m not sure if it’s the regular way of presenting the clotted cream but my cream pot was still in a cling film wrap with a food dating sticker on it. Not that it took much effort to unpeel but it did look a bit unappetising and made me feel like I was unwrapping airplane food.

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Aside from that though, the portion of cream and jam was generous for the scone and made for a very extravagant affair. Scone was nice, a little crumbly but still buttery and definitely no nasty surprises. The M&S strawberry jam was lovely. 

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The cake selection came as a selection of three minis:

Strawberry macaron
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Chocolate profiterole
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Mini cupcake
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These could have been (and probably were) just unpacked from the M&S food hall. In fact I recognised all three as things I’ve eaten before at home. That’s not a slight though. M&S produce great food for a great price. The Strawberry macaron was lovely as was the super moist mini cupcake. The profiterole was just that. Neither wow nor disappointment, just a lovely single profiterole filled with cream. 

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So there’s no frills, fancy table linens or famous chefs behind the scenes but there’s a casual café ease that you could visit in any given mood and feel comfortable. The kind of place you could take your Mum or Nan and earn sure fire brownie points with very little legwork or purse damage.

Something to note. As most eateries require at least 24 hour notice for an Afternoon Tea booking, perhaps M&S café has got itself the perfect niche. You can walk in on any given day and order an Afternoon Tea at the till which will be presented to your table within minutes, pretty three tiered tea stand and all. Fast, efficient and for £12.95 for two, that’s brilliant value for the savvy tea lover.

M&S CAFÉ Afternoon Tea is £6.95 per person or £12.95 for two.
Date of visit: 08.08.16
M&S Café Stadium MK
Unit A Retail Development
Milton Keynes
MK1 1ST
01908 368 545

 

AFTERNOON TEA WEEK 8-14 AUG

HOW DO YOU TAKE YOUR TEA? With one lump or two? You put the what in first!?! 

Tea to us Brits is as much of a lifeline as water. We love it. It’s hot, easy to make, soul enriching goodness that suits every season and occasion. Whether we are celebrating at the end of a feast, need a heart to heart or just what we do when we arrive home. Tea is always there in its many forms.

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Afternoon Tea is as much of a British Institution as the drink itself, but you might be forgiven for thinking it’s been around since the early centuries. It was first introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford in 1840 (yes, we MK folk can have a claim to being near the birthplace of Afternoon Tea).

Afternoon Tea was created when the Duchess would get hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon. With the evening meal being served at around eight o’clock, the long stretch between lunchtime and dinner was just a bit too long for her to tolerate. The Duchess asked for a tray of tea, bread and butter and cake to be brought to her in the late afternoon as a stopgap until dinner. This started to become a firm habit and the Duchess started asking friends to join her and here we have the birth of Afternoon Tea.

These days Afternoon Tea is available around the world in many different ways but it will always be fondly and unapologetically British.

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Traditional Afternoon Tea consists of a selection of dainty sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam and cakes and pastries. Some real traditionalists will say one of the sandwich flavours will need to be thinly sliced cucumber but as long as they are small and delicate I don’t mind seeing more adventurous flavours on Tea Menus.

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My attempt at homemade scones

American author Alice Walker speaking on Afternoon Tea said “Tea to the English is really a picnic indoors” and I totally understand why she thinks this. With Britain infamous for struggling with our picnic weather, the aristocrats who created taking tea in afternoon prominent in history with their porcelain china skin from choosing to avoid the outdoor sun. It really is a posh indoor picnic with none of the plastic tableware.

There is a whole week dedicated to celebrating Afternoon Tea and it’s happening this coming week 8 August – 14 August 2016 so join me as I scour to find the best Afternoon Tea in Milton Keynes or if you can’t bear to leave the house, dust off your teapot, invite your friends over and do what we do best, eat cake, drink tea and be fabulous.

 

 

 

 

What’s on: Award winning Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair this weekend

After a lovely holiday in sunny Florida, I am back!

Now that autumn is here, the nights are drawing in and the weather leaves a lot to be desired. It’s good to know what events are happening in Milton Keynes and more specifically, ones that do not wholly rely on the weather.

If, like me you enjoy a bit of nostalgia, a bit of quirkiness and lots of pretty things, why don’t you head over to Stantonbury Leisure Centre this Saturday for Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair. Winner of the 2013, 2014 and 2015 ‘Best Vintage Fair in the UK’ award, they are sure not to disappoint. With a vast array of vintage fashion and home wares, as well as a vintage tea room (with the promise of proper cups and saucers!), beauty parlour AND vintage entertainment.

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I’m thinking this will be an excellent opportunity for me to make a start on my Christmas shopping, so why don’t you join me? And maybe afterwards, I’ll see you in the tea room where I fully intend to indulge in tea and cake. NOM!

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Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair
Saturday 24 October 2015
11-5pm
Stantonbury Leisure Centre
Entry is £2
(Under 12s free)