Monday, 26 June 2017


On Saturday I attended The Mockingbird Ball, the launch of The Anna Wilkinson Mockingbird Trust a new charity with which I'm very proud to be involved. The Ball was the culmination of almost a year's planning and I wanted to enjoy every last minute of it.
And so it was that I finally got to bed at 3am.
Yesterday was therefore a little, erm, tricky. Lots of the tearooms staff had gone to the ball; those of us who had to work the following morning were propped up by those who hadn't.
I felt fine. Just a little tired. I realised just how tired when I had a conversation in the garden in late afternoon.
A couple was asking about the walled garden, the grounds etc. I am asked these questions a good deal so I say the same things a lot. I was telling them about the walled garden which goes round the former gardeners' cottages.
I went on: "if you walk over to where that bench is you'll see a perfect rectangle which was a tennis court."
They looked surprised. They looked confused.
"Really?" they asked, shaking heads, "how did that work?"
Which made me play back the last words I said in my own head.
I had substituted "rectangle" for "triangle".

We spent the next ten minutes devising rules for a new 3-player game which we've decided to call Trennis.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Hotter than July?

Since Saturday we have been in the grip of a heatwave.
I have always thought heat and sunshine were good for tearooms business but from Saturday to Monday we weren't as busy as we'd expected. We were far from quiet, but customers seemed to be arriving at a slower pace. Good for us as we needed time to drink and sit down.
I now consider that it can be TOO hot.
The conservatory is like a sauna (though that didn't put off one couple on Saturday who thought it was "a bit breezy outside").
All the tables are under the trees and have stayed there all week.
We have temporarily removed jacket potatoes from the menu. Having the oven on all morning to cook them was, well, hellish.
Today has dawned a little cooler. Much more manageable.
But the fans will still be the first things switched on this morning...

Saturday, 17 June 2017

It's the small things.

We are in a proper heatwave.
It's 28 degrees. The tables are being dragged under the trees where the temperature is bearable.
There's a gardening event at the Court and in early afternoon the head gardener, Jasmine, rushed into the tearoom asking if we had a spare black apron she could borrow.
One of the English Heritage staff had split his trousers and needed a pinny to cover up. That's a first.

A lovely couple came in the late afternoon. There were no tables free so they pulled up a third chair to act as a table for their tray of goodies. When I took their order out I brought them one of our small bench tables to use instead.
"You are as kind as you are beautiful," he commented.
I rolled my eyes.
She told me he hadn't changed his patter for forty years.
"Well it won you over," he told her, "so it clearly works."

Then there was the party of eleven who came for a birthday high tea. The birthday girl was sixty and actually she wanted coffee.
I took her an americano, as requested.
She looked thrilled when she saw it and practically clapped her hands: "it's in A MUG" she said to all, "I can't bear it in a cup".
Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

One man and his dog.

As we opened this morning a man came in. He ordered four pieces of cake, a glass of water and a pot of tea.
"It's just for me and the dog," he laughed.
I thought he was joking.
He wasn't.
A chocolate Labrador and one man took on two pieces of carrot cake, a praline cluster and slice of Victoria sponge and won. Then walked the mile home together.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Great Witley speaks.

Cake election results
We've just counted the cake election votes and I am, yet again, surprised. I realise that this may not be of great interest to anyone else...

Lemon Drizzle - 32%
Carrot - 20%
Coffee/walnut - 16%
Chocolate - 14%
Fruit and Victoria Sponge - 9% each

Lemon drizzle has increased its majority by 5 percentage points from two years ago. Almost one in three people voted Lemon Drizzle.
Carrot has risen from fifth place to second, with 20% of all votes cast.
Chocolate and coffee & walnut both lost a little in percentage terms since the last election but the big loser is Victoria Sponge which lost 5% of its votes and brought up the rear with last time's loser fruit cake. 
Is it time for Fruit cake to bow out gracefully?

Lemon Drizzle 27%
Chocolate Cake 18%
Coffee & Walnut 17%
Victoria Sponge 14%
Carrot Cake  13%
Fruit Cake  11%