c Garden, Tea, Cakes and Me

The Haughmond, Shropshire Afternoon Tea Review

Afternoon Tea Shropshire Review The Haughmond Upton Magna near Shrewsbury, Telford

What a delightful surprise, Afternoon Tea in Shropshire at The Haughmond, Upton Magna a modern coaching inn. Keep Saturday afternoon free my sister asked, I have a surprise for you and my eldest sister. Clues had been dropped and we had worked out our treat was an afternoon tea, and 'oh my' how I love an Afternoon Tea.


Afternoon Tea Shropshire Review The Haughmond Upton Magna

The fun began when my sister and niece chauffeured my eldest sister and I to our mystery destination.  We headed down the B4380 from Wellington,  I was thinking Lady Berwicks at Attingham Park, as I've enjoyed afternoon tea there many times, or maybe The Mytton & Mermaid. There was lots of deception and intrigue taking place, my sister indicated to turn into the Myttom & Mermaid but then turned into the entrance of Attingham Park, we proceeded to do a drive through the estate, to the exit - ha ha!  But on we went, a few miles further to The Haughmond at Upton Magna. Conveniently located between Shrewsbury and Telford.
Best Afternoon Tea Shropshire Review The Haughmond Upton Magna

Afternoon Tea Awaits
This is the first time The Haughmond have held afternoon tea, and boy did they do a great job. I have heard many good things about the food at The Haughmond but have never eaten there. But my expectations were high.
Afternoon Tea Shropshire Review The Haughmond Upton Magna

They have converted the private dining room to hold the afternoon teas, it was the perfect size and held around 7 tables and not too close to each other. 

The table was styled with classic white linen tablecloths, fresh flowers in quaint vintage styled glass jars. We were seated at the table by the window, I do like natural light makes it so much easier to admire the cakes. We were all anticipating some tasty and delightful scones and cakes, oh and of course sandwiches. But it's always the scones and cakes that get my attention. I blame that sweet tooth I was born with.

Our order for tea was taken, they had a very good choice of teas. Breakfast, Earl Grey, Chamomile, to name a few and a good selection of fruit and herbal teas. With linen napkins placed on our laps we sipped our tea from the vintage china cups and saucers, and behold two wonderful 3 tired cake stands were placed on our table.


Afternoon Tea Shropshire Review The Haughmond Upton Magna
Heavenly scones the Devon way ;)

The Haughmond Afternoon Tea Menu

Assorted teas

Finger sandwiches

Cucumber and mint
Egg and cress
Smoked salmon
Cheese and pickle
Sausage rolls

Cakes

Scones served with clotted cream and strawberry jam
Macaroons 
Bara Brith
Orange drizzle cake
Chocolate raspberry cake
Lemon posset 

£15 per person 


--------------------

There was a very good selection of sandwiches all served as traditional dainty finger sandwiches and very fresh. The sausage roll was tasty but rather jumbo compared to the sandwiches. I did spot that the table next to us had what looked like a very appealing mini vegetable quiche, I am quite partial to pastry, but who isn't.


Afternoon Tea Shropshire Review The Haughmond Upton Magna
Scones and Bara Brith
The were a number of highlights to this afternoon tea. The scones were quite simply perfection, slightly warm, light an absolute pleasure to eat. The jam was clearly not from a jar again very fruity and tasty and easy to spoon onto the cream. I'm a Devon gal when it comes to scones, cream first. I should add that the following week I had a cream tea at a local independent hotel whose fresh scones were heavy going and claggy to eat, with jam straight from tub. They could learn a great deal from The Haughmond.

I have had many a lemon posset, and this one is up there with the best.  In fact I could not fault the cakes, they were clearly freshly made and tasted light yet decadent. Just look at the sheen on the dainty chocolate cake. I am not a fan of Macaroons but my niece had no trouble in eating her share and mine. I was taken aback by the Bara Brith, I think I have only eaten this a few times and I was thinking tea loaf which is quite a heavy cake with no fat in it, So to bite into something so light and fruity was a real pleasure. 

Afternoon Tea Shropshire Review The Haughmond Upton Magna

The staff were attentive without being intrusive and happily topped up our teas frequently. 

We gave some feedback before leaving, as we were asked what we thought of the afternoon tea. We complimented them on serving a high quality afternoon tea with some great attention to detail, and quite frankly an absolute bargain at £15.   Apart from missing a few extra pieces of cutlery and the giant sausage roll it was an outstanding success. One of the best afternoon teas I have experienced in a long while, and a delight to discover it so local to me in Shropshire.

We did not quite manage to clear the 3 tiers of all the cakes and sandwiches, so I enjoyed the remaining cakes later that evening whilst watching Strictly Come Dancing, that's how my Saturday nights roll!   

Never be afraid to ask for a goodie bag for any leftovers, no cake wants to be the one left behind on the stand :)

I am looking forward to enjoying another Afternoon Tea at The Haughmond. I wonder if they will do a festive version? 

Afternoon Tea Shropshire Review The Haughmond Upton MagnaAfternoon Tea Shropshire Review The Haughmond Upton Magna

Love Afternoon Tea? Read more of my reviews of Afternoon Tea at David Austin Roses, The Berkeley Hotel London, Fortnum & Mason, London.
Best Afternoon Tea Shropshire Review The Haughmond Upton Magna

Do you have an recommendations for Afternoon Tea in Shropshire? Or maybe you have you discovered a tea room that serves the perfect scone.

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Reading Challenge Update : The Night Circus Review

Night_Circus_Book_Review_Erin_Morgenstern_Good_Reads

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, my second book of my 2017 reading challenge.  

This book is quite a change for me for a few reasons. The word 'Circus' in the title which would in itself stop me from picking this book up, my aversion to clowns you see. Also the blurb on the cover of the book just did not capture me. But it was recommended by one of my sisters, as a very different but interesting read. 

I will never giveaway any spoilers in my reviews, just my honest opinion on how I found the book. So you can read my review with the confidence if will not ruin the story for you.


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I would describe the genre of this book as mystery, the story is set during the victorian era when there was a real fascination with superstition, illusion and the occult. It focuses on two established magicians who find two youngsters with great potential, they will unknown to the youngsters be pitch against each other once they have trained them. 

Synopsis 
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. 
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway - a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love - a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. 

I think this is the first true mystery story I have ever read, and it was quite refreshing.  I could not tell or predict what would happen in the story, it really was a case of the mystery revealing itself page by page. 

Set amongst a circus that performs only at night which travels across land and sea, visiting cities of many countries. You explore the Night Circus not only through the eyes of its creator the eccentric Chandresh, but also the many performers and visitors discovering how all of their lives entwine. There any many characters in the story that you will be drawn too, some you may dislike but all are interesting and important to unravelling the mystery of The Night Circus.

The magic that is demonstrated by the two main characters Celia and Marco is far beyond the magic I anticipated, the author Erin Morgenstern created a sophistication to the magic that, amazed me as a the reader and was very believable. I did not doubt at any time the magic ability of Celia, a strong female and very likeable character which I enjoyed discovering through the book - I felt sympathy for her as a child, and as she grew into an adult constantly having to prove herself to her magician father.  As an adult she proves pivotal to the success of the Night Circus. 

I flipped between how I felt about Marco, sometimes I pitied him and other times I thought him deceitful and annoying. But I do not want to give anything away so will say no more. 

This was a great read, unlike anything I have read before. I really enjoyed the authors depth of description particularly the interiors of the victorian houses, the costumes and differing circus performances. I am not a skipper of sentences when I read a book, I found this detail enveloped the reader into the mystery of the characters and story. Definitely one to add to your bookcase. 

I scored this book 4/5 on Goodreads.

You can order this book online or download direct to your Kindle or E-reader
 

Keep up to date with my past and present reads by visiting my Goodreads page, see the link in the sidebar on the right hand side of your screen. 


Night Circus Book Review Erin Morgenstern Good Reads

Have you read any good books of late? Or have you read The Night Circus and enjoy it as much as I. 

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Cruise Around Britain with Cunard Invergordon Scotland Port of Call

On to the second port of call Invergordon on my cruise around Great Britain, on Cunard's Queen Elizabeth. You will find that most cruise liners refer to this port as Inverness which is a distance of 24 miles away.  You can find out more about the first few days on this cruise on my previous blog posts, Edinburgh Port of Call and Cruise around Great Britain
Cruise Britain Scotland Ports of Call Cunard Review

Day 3 Invergordon
We arrived early morning and enjoyed one of the most fascinating and picturesque journeys into a port of the whole cruise. It was early 7am as we looked out from our balcony sailing up the Cromarty Firth, a deep sea inlet of more than 15 miles. We passed very close to oil rigs that have been brought into the protection of the inlet for maintenance. They were fascinating to see, along with beautiful and dramatic scenic views of the shore and beyond. It was a wonderfully sunny June day. 
cruise britain ports of call scotland Invergordon cromarty firth
Cromarty Firth dotted with oil rigs

cruise britain ports of call scotland Invergordon cromarty firth



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V The Second Generation - Book Review & Nell Makes Giveaway

V The Second Generation Book Review Sci Fi book reading challenge
Reading and Apple Crumble cupcake go so well together 
Four months into the year and I have only just closed the book on my first read of my 2017 Reading Challenge. Having been unwell I have neither had the energy or focus to read a book, flicking through a magazine was the best I could manage until recently. I picked up and read my first book of the year in April - yay! If you love the Rainbow book mark in the photo above then keep reading as I have a giveaway for you to win a handmade crochet bookmark from Nell Makes.

So, onto my first book of the year, V The Second Generation by   Kenneth Johnson.  Some of you may recall a science fiction tv mini series in the 80's called V. An alien race that look human visits earth in 50 huge mother ships asking for help and in return they will exchange medical advancements and healing the earth of the damage caused by humans. But it soon becomes apparent the visitors are more reptile than human, and are here to harvest the earth of its vital resources including humans. 

I read the book of the mini series back in the 80's along with many of the subsequent follow on books. I even have the dvd of the tv mini series. Can you tell I really enjoyed V! So when I realised Kenneth Johnson had written a sequel I was eager to find out how the fight for earth had gone. I should say that you do not have to have read the original book to enjoy this book.

V The Second Generation by Kenneth Johnson
The book is set 20 years on from when the Visitors first arrived at Earth. The fight by earths resistance army continues but they have suffered significant set backs over the years. The visitors have raped the planet of its water, oceans have been depleted travel harbours and ports around the globe are unusable. A new generation of humans know no other life than Visitors occupying earth, they work alongside them. A new species of humans and visitor children have grown up, half breads or 'dreg' they are disliked by many humans and visitors alike - but can they unite the two species together. 

There are plenty of new characters in the book and also some of the original characters both resistance and visitors that I loved to hate. Can a message sent out to space by the resistance on Earth make a difference to the fight they face 20 years later. As the saying goes 'My enemies enemy is my friend...but are they. Never one to give too much away as I would not want to ruin any book for someone. I will say yes the fight continues and you will be drawn into resistance plans to save Earth and the human race from destruction. 

This book is a great sci fi read, if you have not read the original  'V' book I recommend it you do not need to read it before the Second Generation book but you will enjoy it all the more. You will also not have to wait 20 years to read the sequel. Having finished the book I was surprised to read some of the negative reviews it received, totally uncalled for in my opinion.

I scored this book 4/5 on Goodreads.


I am just starting my next book, which has been languishing on my bookshelf for a few years. I have no idea how my reading challenge will progress this year, but I am just going to read and enjoy what books I can, when I can. 


Review & Giveaway Handmade Crocheted  Bookmark from Nell Makes
As a way of celebrating ticking the first book of the year from my Reading Challenge, I am running a giveaway. You have the chance to win a handmade crocheted bookmark of your choice from my talented friend Nell Makes

I have been using one of her colourful and cute Rainbow bookmark clips, not only in my latest read but also in my bullet journal, and whilst doing some holiday planning and research. They are just the cutest bookmarks made up of tiny crochet stitches. 

Nell Makes has created a range of beautiful crocheted bookmarks, not only the wonderful and colourful rainbow bookmark (my favourite) but also other fun designs - an owl, unicorn, watermelon (I carried a watermelon, yes are you saying that too!) and more. 

If you want to buy one or see her other designs please do visit Nell Makes Etsy page or Nell Makes Facebook page where you can also see the many other some beautiful crocheted items she makes along with felt greetings cards. 

Giveaway time! To win your choice of crocheted bookmarks from Nell Makes I have a competition running on my Garden Tea Cakes and Me Facebook page, so be sure to pop over and enter today.
Crocheted bookmark Nell Makes Etsy

You can keep up to date with my past and present reads by visiting my Goodreads page, see the link in the sidebar on the right hand side of your screen. 

Have you read any good books of late?
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Gardening Catch Up April

So not only has it been some time since my last blog post it has been months since I shared a gardening related post. I am still, yes still, recovering from my chest infection, I am making progress however I find the unpredictability of the fatigue impossible to make any plans - so I don't! 
Robin in Apple tree

The gardening springing into life has been a delight to see, and has made my green fingers itch for the want of seed sowing! I sorted through my seed tins a few weeks ago from the comfort of the kitchen table.  I may be a little behind with my seed sowing but at least I have a planting plan.
Forget Me Nots April Garden

For the last few months my sister has been very active in the garden and has happily asked for me to add to her to do list - luckily for me.  The two raised vegetable beds have been dug out and had new compost added, ready for a bumper year of carrots, kale, beans and courgettes. The greenhouse is usually my domain, but when you need a little help, you need a little help, so my sister kindly set up all my seed trays and compost. I literally strolled from the kitchen door into the greenhouse and sowed my vegetable and flower seeds - my green fingers satisfied.  
April Garden Shropshire Greenhouse
Copper Beech Tree, Acer and greenhouse
It is a few weeks later and the Saturday of Easter weekend and I have picked up my camera and taken a stroll into the garden. There are photographs galore!   
  • The seeds in the greenhouse are mostly growing well, there are some tender plants including the sweet peas from Sarah Raven being protected from those chilly nights. 
  • The blossoms on the plum tree have vanished, the pear tree blossom is past it's best but the blossom on the apple trees is just bursting open. 
  • The Acer is now in full leaf, the Bluebells are flowering and the fronds of the ferns are unfurling. 
  • The Copper Beech tree, which dominates the bottom of the garden is a week away from being in leaf.
Gold lace Primula
Gold Lace Primula

Alpine Planter

Greenhouse April seeds

Greenhouse April seeds cosmos

Blueberry flowers
Blueberry flowers

Pear Tree Blossom
Pear Tree Blossom

Apple Tree Blossom
Plum Tree Compost bins
Plum tree & compost bins

Woodland flowers bluebells primulas

Ajuga reptans 

Fern Frond

Fern Fronds

Garden tree swing

Ladys Mantle

Clematis Pixie Sensation
Clematis Pixie Sensation 

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Gardening Tips & Inspiration 
 Fruit & Vegetable Pinterest board 
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Greeting Cards Review from Berni Parker Designs Plus Free Birthday Planner Download

I love sharing details of British companies with you my lovely readers, and what better than one based in the Midlands. Berni Parker Designs create greetings cards, and I am very fortunate to share with you some of their gorgeous designed products. But that's not all. I also have a free birthday organiser download you can print to help you organise your family birthdays - never miss another birthday, anniversary or special day! Plus I will also share an exclusive discount code for your next purchase from Berni Parker. So do read on...

stationery review greetings cards berni parker designs


A few weeks ago I received a lovely selection of greetings cards from Berni Parker Designs, along with a selection of their gifts. All the cards and stationery designs are created by the talented Bernie Parker herself, they capture fun, love and humorous moments in life, which you can identify with. It is quite likely you will be familiar with Berni Parker Designs, the cards and gifts can be found in over 700 independent outlets such as garden centres as well as National Trust shops.


Keep reading to download my free birthday Organiser/Planner.

stationery review greetings cards berni parker designs
Add caption

Greeting Cards Galore
There are 10 different card ranges, I received cards from the Ladies Who Love Life, Men Who Love Life and Animals Who Love Life ranges from Berni Parker. These captured fun and humorous moments just like in life  - I certainly identified with or associated friends with these and I have already matched these perfectly to some family members. Watch out for the animal cards, they are adorably funny. The inside is blank so you can add your own personal message or sentiment. The Whisper On Wings collection is perfect for those lovers of all things fairy related. 
stationery review greetings cards berni parker designs

Quality cards
I keep a stash of generic occasion cards. You know the type - get well, sympathy, new home, wedding, new job and congratulations. Again Berni Parker has created cards that capture these occasions perfectly. The cards and envelopes are of very good quality, and easy to write on - no shiny pen proof envelopes. Greetings cards range from £2.25. 
stationery review greetings cards berni parker designs
I know just the walker who will enjoy this card
The Welsh Factor
Living in Shropshire I am located near the Welsh border so love the fact that Berni Parker include Welsh text greeting cards in their collection too.

Stationery Love
It is not just all about greeting cards, but stationery too, and who just does not love stationery! Notepads, shopping lists, note card sets and invitations. I am a list maker and I ALWAYS have a selection of notepads and magnetic shopping lists in my cupboard. As you can see I have already started using the shopping list note pad I was sent, your list tears easily from the pad to pop into your handbag for your shopping trip. 

The gift bags match with the Ladies Who Love Life and the Whisper On Wings range - co-ordinating your gifting of presents. 

If you love your stationery keep reading to get your 10% discount from your online order with Berni Parker.
stationery review greetings cards berni parker designs
Shopping prep 
Gifts
Supporting the well designed greetings cards are a great selection of gifts aimed at us females. Perfect pressies that easily pop into a birthday card and make the perfect token gift - bookmark, handbag mirror, notepad or wine glasses. 
  • I have a thing for bookmarks at the moment, and love this quirky magnetic bookmark - I have not seen one like this before. They come in a fun feminine designs and are just £1.99, what a bargain. 
  • Handbag mirror, who would not welcome one or more of these as a present. I not only have one in my handbag but also my toiletry bag - very useful for holidays or unexpected hospital admissions. Am I the only one who finds went out with friends someone will at some point ask. Does anyone have a mirror? There are several designs but my favourite is the Mirror, Mirror on the Wall just £3.49 and presented on a printed card matching the mirror design, wrapped in cellophane.  
stationery review greetings cards berni parker designs
Perfect gifts - Handbag Mirror, Bookmark  and Notepad

About Berni Parker


A family run company based in Worcestershire, not only do they create illustrated greetings cards but also stationery and gift ware  - all from original art work. Berni Parker has over 20 years experience in the greetings cards industry before launching her own company based in her home studio in the middle of the English countryside (what an idyllic workplace), in Worcestershire.  The business as it has grown is now a family affair, with her husband and sons actively involved.

Get 10% Discount Online Order
Place an order online at Berni Parker before 1 May and use Code BLOG10 to claim 10% off your order. Get organised today, why not download my birthday organiser and batch order your greetings cards from Berni Parker.

Birthday Planner Organiser Printable Free Download organizer

I am from a family of organisers, we all have our way of organising and remembering birthday, anniversaries. I have mine recorded on an annual birthday planner - no need to update your diary every year. So I wanted to share this handy Birthday Planner with you, and help you keep all those important dates in one place.


Click to download and print my free 
birthday planner(print it double sided
 to keep it on one sheet)

Grab a cuppa and spend half an hour completing 
all your birthdays and anniversaries 
on to one form

Pin onto a noticeboard - or fold 
and keep in your notebook/diary

Batch shop for your greeting cards

birthday planner printable birthday organiser organizer free

Disclosure: I was sent a selection of greeting cards and gifts for the purpose of this review.
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Recuperation, Birds, Crochet and Garden Planning

nhs prh hospital Shropshire
Would you believe it, this blog post has been three weeks in the making. I was in the process of putting together an update on how I was taking things easy recovering from my recent hospital admission for a chest infection picked up mid/late January. All of which was complicated by my scoliosis (curvature of the spine), I was occupying myself with some crochet and tv - ridiculous really but that was my limit. The days flipped between tiredness, recovery, tiredness, recovery. Then two weeks home and the recovery element ebbed away to total tiredness and breathing problems again - and so it was I found myself back in hospital, this time just for a week. 

But that was a week ago and I am home again and with each day I am feeling a little better, and hoping not to tempt fate with those words. I am focusing on some positives - what you can enjoy whilst trying to do nothing and appreciate the little things in life.

Nature on my doorstep
I may have totally missed the wonderful display of Snowdrops in the nearby parks and gardens but I have been able to enjoy the sight of the birds in my garden. They have been very active searching out nests. The day I came out of hospital I was greeted by a pair of Blackcaps on the bird feeder, birds not seen in the garden for a few years. But the Robins, Blue Tits, Great Tits and Wrens are still my favourites. From the comfort and warmth of my garden room I have been able to capture some lovely photographs of the birds, the little Wrens are very timid though and require a little more patience than I can give at the moment.
Blue Tit nesting
Blue Tit on the garage roof
Restorative Power of Cake
I can happily enjoy the benefits of eating cake, even though I am not able to bake it which I equally enjoy. A delicious slice of my favourite piece of cake contains many restorative powers, I am sure no one is going to disagree with me on that!
Search Press Crochet Books

A Little Good Luck and a Win
I received this lovely book of 200 Fun Things to Crochet whilst in hospital, won in a giveaway on the Search Press Art and Craft Books Facebook page. If you are UK based they have giveaways on a Wednesday and on free books for review on a Friday, which is how I won.  It was a lovely surprise as I had forgotten all about it. Now as you can see I have picked up my crochet hook this week and created some pretty flowers. Not without faults, I made one or two small mistakes something I will learn from. But the book is full of lots of creative small projects for varying skill levels. A book I will not be easily parted with, read my review or find out more about 200 Fun Things to Crochet
Family and Friends
Never to be underestimated or taken for granted, it is during times of illness that you truly appreciate the support and care shown by family and friends. From my sister who has basically been doing just about everything for me during the last month, to those who call by or send kind thoughts. It is all so very much appreciated and I hope that soon I will be able to somehow repay that kindness.  To my lovely blogging friends, particularly my Instagram followers it has been a real pick me up to read your lovely messages of support. I hope soon to be up to sharing more photos with you soon.

Armchair Gardening
With the garden bursting into life before my eyes, pots planted with bulbs in Autumn have started to grow and are close to flowering. I have a greenhouse that is calling out to me... I long to be seed sowing. But in the meanwhile I can be doing some garden planning, such as looking through seed catalogues. This year the Sarah Raven catalogue has been a favourite, since I completed my online FlowerStart flower arranging course last year its my wish to grow more cut flowers grown in the garden.  I have ordered a selection seeds including the Opal Sweet Pea mix - oh how I love growing and enjoy picking Sweet Peas.  Currently you can get an extra 10% of any orders from Sarah Raven using the code SRKGSP17.  I can recommend the Inspire Me section of the website if you are looking for some inspiration or need to narrow down or increase :) your choices for your garden this year.
Great Tit perched in pruned apple tree
Great Tit perched on the Apple Tree
Meanwhile I will leave you with these words of wisdom...
A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.
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