c November 2013 | Garden, Tea, Cakes, (Books) and Me

National Botanical Gardens of Wales

National Botanical Gardens of Wales

My recent holiday to Pembrokeshire gave me an opportunity to visit for the first time, the National Botanical Gardens of Wales. Now I admit the middle of November is not the ideal time of year to visit a garden.  It was indeed a very cold day, but two of the warmer features of the gardens to look forward to would be The Great Glass House and the Tropical House. Sure to supply a flower or two.


The first place visited was The Great Glass House, alas on this day the heating had broken down so there was no need to take off my coat. I have no doubt this was equally as much a shock to the plants as it was to myself! The planting is split into zones Australia, South Africa, Chile, Mediterranean, Canary Islands and Californian, you will even find a fair sized water feature within the domed structure.
My sister thought this flower reminded
her of a liquorice allsort
One of my favourite features of the visit was the Fungi exhibition, this was extremely interesting, informative and best of all fun. Something both adults and children alike would enjoy and learn from. 

A slight Alice in Wonderland moment!

I must say there was a magnificent sized walled garden, which I imagine would looked spectacular during the Summer.

A quick mention for Stan who was one of the volunteers who drove an   electric buggy around the site, he also gave a great mini tour of the Broadwalk and Slate Beds.

Orchids in the Tropical House
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An impromptu afternoon tea

Usually when I lay on an afternoon tea I put quite a lot of preparation into it. This week I have been away to Bluestone, Pembrokeshire -  a free holiday thanks to a competition on the Bluestone Facebook page! 

crisp sandwiches
An impulsive afternoon tea
One of the days was spent milling around a lovely village called Narberth, there picked up some scones and a cake or too before heading back to Bluestone. With limited food in the lodge as we ate out mostly, when we returned the idea of a sandwich escalated into an impromptu afternoon tea. We had really limited food supplies, so had to work with what we had - you will understand when you see the menu!

* Impromptu Afternoon Tea Menu *


Banana and Nutella


Pineapple tart
Rocky road

Shortbread biscuits
Mint Matchmakers



This was such a wonderful one off afternoon tea, doing something on impulse is such a good thing. The teapot and set in the lodge really did make this afternoon tea, very impressed with Bluestone there was a milk jug and even a tea strainer. I will remember my first visit to Pembrokeshire for a number of reasons, this special afternoon tea being just one of them.

I will leave you with this thought, we should eat crisp sandwiches more often.
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John Lewis Christmas hamper and festive foods - Review

A John Lewis Christmas
The countdown to Christmas has started, and you know you need to get your 'organising' act together when you see the John Lewis Christmas advert on the television. When I was given the opportunity to receive a little bit of John Lewis magic myself I was quick to accept the offer. I received my very own John Lewis Christmas Hamper, with a selection of their fine food and drink from this years Christmas food gifts.  

There is an extensive selection of John Lewis hampers to choose from, my particular favourite is the Winter Warmer Hamper. Do you have a favourite?

My personal hamper contained:-
  • Holdsworth champagne cocktail chocolate selection
  • Ambassador's of London Merry Christmas chocolate bar
  • Penguin gingerbread biscuit
  • Milk chocolate nutty hippos
  • Ambassador's of London jelly beans
  • The Lawn classic English Breakfast tea
  • Paxton & Whitfield cheese grater and chutney set
  • Il boschetto lemon infused extra virgin olive oil
  • John Lewis bottle of special reserve Port
  • Coole Swain Irish Cream liqueur cocktail set
  • The modern cocktails margaritas mixers
  • Staffordshire brewery Cheddleton Christmas ale 
  • a wonderful basket
Hot chocolate with a twist
Anyone with a sweet tooth will be pleased with the great choice of treats available. The little Almond and Honey Hippos taste divine. I am looking forward to trying the Toffee Fudge Hot Chocolate when my niece visits for a sleepover this weekend, the perfect toast whilst we watch Strictly Come Dancing!

Handmade Champagne Cocktail Chocolates 
Merry Christmas Chocolate  and Jelly Beans
Divine tasting Hippos, yes really hippos!
Savoury treats, include the Chutneys for Cheese and cheese grater gift set. A bottle of lemon infused olive oil which is packaged in an attractive tube, making it easier to gift wrap and protect it from any unexpected bumps.
Chutney for cheese, ooh yes please
Infused Olive Oil
Many of us love a tipple during Christmas and will often buy alcohol as gifts. I jumped up and down when I spotted this bottle of John Lewis Port in the hamper, I do enjoy indulging in a glass of Port and Lemon over the festive season. I am not an ale drinker myself, but specialist ales usual feature on my Christmas present shopping list, either for my brother or uncle so I particularly liked the Christmas Ale, which is a good hefty bottle.

Irish Cream Liqueur cocktail set
Chin chin - its cocktail time
Hamper time
Disclosure - I was sent a hamper containing a selection of John Lewis Christmas food gifts for the purposes of this review, all opinions expressed are my own.
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Garden update November and squirrel proof bulbs

Squirrel proof?
Have you planted Spring flowering bulbs in your garden? If you have and like myself have some of your bulbs planted in pots, and also have  squirrels in the area be sure to protected them. The bulbs that is not the squirrels! I can not stop the squirrels from digging up the lawn and burying their little food treasures, so they may survive Winter. But by placing a little wire mesh over the soil in the pots, I will hopefully prevent any flowering disappointment come Spring.


I am down to the last remaining carrots in the raised bed, just enough for another few meals. I have some onion sets left from last year, so I may chance my luck and plants these in the next few days. The other raised bed was empty in October, I broadcast sowed some green manure, mustard seeds. Broadcast sow, makes it sound like an acre, but it it just your average raised bed. You can see from the photo below it soon grows, once it has grown a little more I will then pull it up, crush it and dig it into the soil, to add back some nutrients.
Mustard plants - green manure
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Win a Case of Nakd Bars - Giveaway

It's giveaway time! Who fancies a chance to win a case of Nakd Bars? Well one lucky reader of Garden, Tea, Cakes and Me will win a case of healthy Nakd Bars thanks to Natural Balance Foods. 
Nākd bars are completely different to other cereal bars because they’re made with a wholefood approach, which means that we believe in minimal processing and we don’t add any sugar, syrups or mysterious additives to your food. 
So if you are looking for a healthier alternative for those days you want to avoid chocolate, or you are in a rush and looking for healthy breakfast ideas, Nakd bars is here to help. 

How to enter
To be in with a chance of winning this lovely prize confirm your entry using the Rafflecopter widget, for extra entries complete the additional tasks. If you can not see the Rafflecopter widget below, you may need to refresh your page using F5. 

Remember if you enter the competition by tweeting be sure to include the link to your tweet.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to Natural Balance Foods for providing the prize for this giveaway 
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Haribo and Celebration Birthday Cakes

Happy Birthday
Thought I would share a few cake bakes I have made recently with you. The flower cake as you can see was for a 70th birthday celebration, made using a vanilla sponge cake filled with vanilla buttercream and strawberry jam. For the recipe I used my standard fairy cake recipe, only a four egg and eight ounce mixture for this large cake. The flowers are made with petal paste using large blossom cutters and finished with a sugar paste button made using my button mould. If your skill is not piping, then keep it simple as I have. I did get a little carried away with the pearlised cake decorating spray.

Following the success of the Sweetie Birthday Cake back in July I made another for a family friends birthday. The cake hidden under all those sweeties is a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream and damson jelly, topped with Haribo sweets and chocolate fingers.
Haribo Birthday Cake
I am entering these two cakes into the newly launched Celebration Cakes and Bakes blogging challenge, hosted by Mummy Makes Cakes#CelebrationCakesAndBakes 
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