Sunday, 18 March 2018


I sent a text to Nancie this morning telling her not to attempt to make the journey to work.
This afternoon she rang to tell me that she’d been thinking about it and that she thinks Putin is to blame for this weather. And that, in retaliation, we should get a tearoom in Russia closed for the day.

Get a grip

Yup. Snow.
Snow and freezing temperatures.
Accentuating the positive at least it didn’t snow on Mothering Sunday.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Time Marches On

Over the past few days I’ve been working on the Easter rotas.
It’s two weeks away but it’s never too early to look ahead to a bank holiday weekend and convince people they really really really want to work.
Easter starts in late March this year.
We are currently in mid March and there’s more snow forecast for this weekend.
That would be the fourth snowfall of the winter.
Enough now. Thank you.

Monday, 12 March 2018

The mother of all Sundays

If ever I forget, remind me to open on Mothering Sunday every year.
We were wonderfully busy. It reminded us of a summer day in every way except the weather.
The conservatory tables were all reserved (new table coverings- dotty smoke) for those who’d booked the special Afternoon Tea - 36 in total.

We decided we wouldn’t take any other reservations. Space is more limited over the winter months and after a flurry of phone calls over the past week we could have reserved every last table in the main room but then disappointed regulars or those just coming on the off chance of a cuppa.
The special afternoon teas were served between 1.30 and 2.30.
Tea, a glass of elderflower presse (or ginger beer or raspberry lemonade), finger sandwiches, red onion and Stilton tartlets, then scones with jam and cream, lemon drizzle cake, tiffin, carrot cake, chocolate mousse and lime cheesecake. The cheesecake recipe called for the zest of three limes. I used five. I like citrus flavours to be good and strong. The chocolate mousse trial during the week had gone disastrously wrong but I changed to Charlotte’s granny’s recipe and it saved the day.
My feet hurt by the end of yesterday.
A good sign.
And the shape of things to come.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Snow business

This is the winter I choose to stay open.
The one with three big, proper deluges of snow. One in December, one in January and one just as I started to see light at the end of the tunnel, as February met March.
The one with a storm called Emma which hit from one angle as the beast from the east came in from another. Days of freezing temperatures when we either couldn’t or wouldn’t open.
We’ll reopen on Wednesday.
We’ll light the fire.
We’ll hope the pipes haven’t burst.
We’ll hope the roof hasn’t leaked.
We’ll prepare for our first Mothering Sunday.
Come on, Spring. We’re waiting.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Out of this world

It’s certainly been worth opening for February half term. It’s very cold but the weather has stayed dry so families, grandparents, dogs have all ventured out. A hot chocolate at the end of a walk has been very welcome. We now add cream and marshmallows if desired - we’ve called it a Witley Works.
Yesterday a man approached the counter.
“Could we have a couple of coffees for outside?” he asked, “we’ve got a dog.”
I told him he could bring the dog inside as long as it was on a lead. Out of the cold.
He skipped back to tell his partner and they sat near the window having ordered a cappuccino and a chamomile tea.
I took the drinks to their table. To be honest I wasn’t terribly proud of the froth on the coffee. It was pitiful. But when I put it down in front of him I had a response I’ve never had before.
“Cosmic,” he said.
I pointed out he hadn’t tasted it yet.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Nine day wonder

Today the local schools break up for February half term while most of the rest of the country is finishing. We’ve never been open for this holiday before so obviously we have no clue how it’s going to be.
It feels like my first season all over again.
The weather is promising.
The Court is open every day.
The church is open every day.
We’re open every day.
We have drafted in a few members of the main season staff to help us out.
The cake makers have been limbering up for tomorrow.
We’ve ordered more milk and more bread.
Will February deliver and make the whole winter experiment a success?