Sunday, 10 December 2017

the big chill

When we decided to trial winter opening I remember laughing and saying something about snow.
We haven't really had snow in these 'ere parts for 8 years.
Not proper snow.
Not like this:

It was forecast so I decided that I would open up for a couple of hours and see what happened.
I live closest and don't have to venture onto a main road. In fact, I can walk. Which is what I did.
I hadn't been there many minutes (hadn't actually taken off my coat) when into the door came a couple from the village.
They'd walked up to the Court, found it closed and thought they'd chance their arm at the tearooms.
They could probably see my footsteps.
The only ones in the snow.
We sat with tea and chatted for an hour. Topics of conversation - kids, the rise of China, university applications, Brexit.
It was something rather special, and will probably never happen again.
The snow can do that.
They went on their way.
I locked the door at 1pm and walked home.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

It's beginning to look a lot like the end of November

Every year Geoff and Maureen, two of our friend-customers (i.e. started out as customers, now our pals) order a whole fruit cake from us and spend a couple of months "feeding" it with alcohol. Then Geoff eats it. Maureen, who does the "feeding" isn't a big fan of fruit cake but she lovingly pours whisky into cocktail-stick-holes. Geoff insists on whisky even though Maureen thinks brandy would be preferable. She's a little nervous this year because after using up a bottle of whisky on the cake last year Geoff announced that he couldn't taste it.
Up until now that has been our only link with Christmas.
Now though we're in new territory - the land of Christmas gifts.
Last week on one day we sold twice as many gifts as tea/coffee/cake/lunch combined.
And we are venturing into the realm of gift vouchers:
Ho Ho Ho 

Monday, 20 November 2017


Occasionally two large wolfhounds are walked up the drive to the tea rooms by a couple who live in the village.
Last week one of them, Bran, was brought on his own. His back is about level with the tables. His head is bigger than mine. He was a little muddy from the track and Jean, his owner, insisted they stay in the cold conservatory while she had her tea and cake.
I brought her drink and slice of Victoria sponge and we chatted about her five dogs. YES,  FIVE. All Irish wolfhounds. All massive. As we talked Bran sidled up to the table, put his head on one side and took a great big bite out of the cake.
She chastised him, made him lie down and said he was always embarrassing her. She also insisted I didn't replace the cake, that she would cut off where he'd chomped down and would eat the rest.
Her other dogs are much better behaved but he's the youngest and gets away with all sorts of mischief, she says and went on to explain where they live and how long they've bred and trained dogs.
Bran stood up suddenly, made a swift move to the table and swiped the rest of the cake. In one mouthful.
He did not look at all guilty.
I brought a second piece of cake, put it on the other side of the table and left them to it.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Busman's holiday

One of the joys of my job is that a piece of cake in another establishment can be deemed to be work.
Yesterday I found myself in Knaresborough, which is a four hour train journey away.
I had been lured by a friend with the promise of a lovely tearoom which is open all year round. She thought it would be useful to see it and I could pick their brains....
It's called Marigold, family run, right on the river near the gorgeous railway bridge, warm and friendly and right up my street.

I talked at length to owner Jo about the good things and the trickier things which go hand in hand with serving tea for a living. It was marvellous therapy. And with a cream-filled scone and a hot chocolate alongside the counselling session I came away very happy.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Will you share our joys?

We like the winter season so far.
We're just dealing with one room, the heating is on, the customers aren't in a hurry to leave so we spend the day making coffee and lunches, chatting and fiddling with the gift display.
There was one downside yesterday.
Three people came for lunch and sat near the window. I was pricing up Sophie Allport mugs and Heyland and Whittle soaps when I overheard one of them mention Ovaltine and the ovaltineys song.
My mum used to sing it around the house. It's originally from the 1930s but was used on an advert in the 70s.
I know all the words.
It is now firmly stuck in my head.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

New shoes

A new era has begun in my world.
Having ended the main season on Sunday we reopened today for our new winter hours:
Wed-Fri 9am-3pm and weekends from 11am-4pm.
Bev slept fitfully, worried that we might not have enough staff.
Annie woke up worried we may not see any customers at all.
We landed somewhere in the middle with a fine mix of regulars and new visitors.
Perfect for a first day.
Everyone who came sat in the main tearoom - the conservatory is already proving too cold.

This morning I went to the garage to pick up my car.
It had to have new handbrake shoes.
Who knew that was even a thing?

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Winter longing

Another good Sunday following what was a mediocre Saturday.
Today saw 98% of people sitting inside as it was pretty chilly but it didn't rain and we had enough tables as families came and left and more families arrived.
Two soups today - spiced pumpkin and butternut squash & carrot. Very autumnal.
We now have daily conversations with people expressing their happiness that we're staying open for the winter months.
Let's hope the weather is kind to us and they hanker after a bit of cake.