It’s really starting to hit me now that Big Sis is starting secondary school later this year and it’s freaking me out.
I adore spending time with her, and I worry that as soon as she hits high school she’ll grow up overnight, make loads of exciting new friends and not want to hang out with her boring old mum anymore. Yes, I’m being needy.
But her independent, adventurous spirit (something I recognise from myself) is one of the attributes I love about her the very most, and I’d never want to squash or dampen that down for my own selfish reasons… as tempting as it might be.
Instead, I’ve vowed to spend as much quality time with her as I can get away with before ‘The Big Ditch’ begins. Just before Christmas she and I went away for the weekend (will post about it soon) and discovered a mutual love for that most English of traditions – afternoon tea.
Which is why I was so excited to discover the new Laura Ashley Tearoom Burnham Beeches, situated in the Burnham Beeches Hotel, Berkshire, and within easy driving distance from us. I got in touch with the team and was thrilled when they invited us to enjoy their afternoon tea.
Big Sis is usually a sweatshirt and leggings kinda girl, but I could tell she was quite excited to have an excuse to get a bit dressed up; she even let me curl her hair (which she moaned about, but actually loved once it was done). Driving deep into the ancient woodlands, we arrived at the old Georgian manor house right on time for the earliest sitting at noon.
The room was just how I imagined it would be – decorated in that instantly recognisable Laura Ashley ‘Victorian country garden’ style of pretty pastels and delicate florals.
Natural light streamed though the floor-to-ceiling sash windows and pooled on the gorgeous chevron parquet flooring. Crisp white table clothes draped the tables, laid with simple white crockery, gleaming glasses and fresh stems of alstroemeria.
‘It’s so pretty,’ Big Sis breathed, as we were seated at our window table. ‘Lemon or cucumber water?’ our waiter asked, then he presented us with the menu. ‘Just so you can see what’s coming up…’
Wiltshire ham with grain mustard on onion bread, Loch Duart smoked salmon and lemon butter on rye bread, Montgomery cheddar with chutney on tomato bread… my mouth was literally watering.
As we waited for our afternoon tea to be prepared we sipped on steaming Jasmine Pearl tea and caught up on all the school ground gossip. It was lovely to have that one-on-one time as my attention is divided when both the girls are present (plus, they waste a good percentage of that time squabbling with each other).
Then, our waiter reappeared, carrying a tray laden with deliciousness. As well as those amazing finger sandwiches, we had fresh scones with artisanal strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream, and a selection of patisserie and fancy cakes.
I’ll be honest, I was too busy deciding which one to eat first to truly pay attention to the names of the cakes, but – in laymen’s terms – they included a coconut ball filled with a creamy soft coconut centre, a square of banana cake with a delicious tangy layer of citrus jam (orange, I think), a pistachio cake topped with a chocolate disk and a gorgeous raspberry mousse dome, and a creamy coffee and chocolate bar.
We ate until we literally couldn’t fit in another bite. ‘It’s harder than it looks,’ our waiter laughed when we apologised for not emptying our plates. ‘The cakes are small, but they’re rich and surprisingly filling.’
‘That was amazing,’ Big Sis sighed, as we walked back to the car. ‘When can we go back again?’
• thank you to the Laura Ashley Tea Room, Burnham Beeches, for inviting us to enjoy their traditional afternoon tea
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS, READ ABOUT MY VISIT TO THE IVY, MARLOW GARDEN