Category Archives: United Kingdom

UK: Afternoon Tea

There’s nothing quite so quintessentially English as the long standing tradition of Afternoon Tea. On the turning of a new decade I decided it was time to partake of this custom with some of my best lady friends and what better place to do something so traditional as one of the great Victorian railway hotels, the refurbished St Pancras Renaissance Hotel.

The first question was, what time does one take afternoon tea? The hotel would let us book any time between 12 and 4. We decided on 3pm as the optimum time after an early light lunch to be able to eat more and not so late as to cut our evening short; and we duly arrived at the Gilbert Scott bar. You can enter the bar directly from Euston road but our approach took us through the lavish entrance of the hotel. I was rather glad it did as part of my motivation for booking our tea at this particular venue was to have a sneak peak at the hotel, one which, as a resident of London and a budget traveller, I will probably never stay at.

We ordered from the various selections  available, from a cream tea with scones and jam right up to a classic tea, with a tiered cake stand and champagne. The scones were enormous, and were very generous, in the two per portion. The classic tea came with some savoury sausage pastries, sandwiches, more scones and some deliciously rich little cakes. All was beautifully prepared, the scones still warm from the over and the cream dairy fresh.

The ambience was one of quiet dignity. The staff were polite and helpful but allowed us to get on with our afternoon, relatively undisturbed. Tasteful music played in the background and despite the bar being on the street, the traffic noise didn’t disturb the warmth and laughter of our afternoon.

The hotel itself is beautifully restored. One of England’s great railway hotels, it fronts St Pancras station but lay dormant for many years. With the redevelopment of the whole of St Pancras with the move of Eurostar to the terminal, the hotel has once again been restored to it’s former glory.

This is a tradition I would gladly partake of again if the circumstance arises and I think the ladies would happily join me!

 

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UK: Holy Island of Lindisfarne

The strand of cars winding their way down a narrow country lane suggests that we have the correct time. The smell of the sea is in the air as we drive past the cottages sporadically lining the road from the A1 to the coast. We are en route to Lindisfarne where you time your arrival to the tide. As we reach the coast the fields stop but the road continues, out over the mud flats and on. Visible to us is a thin stretch of land up ahead and the wooden poles, still slightly submerged which mark the walking route to the island. At intervals there are refuge boxes, still in use in high season, which provide shelter for those caught out by rapidly approaching water. Over on the right hand side it’s possible to see Bamburgh Castle, majestically sitting on the coast, King of the sea and all else it surveys. Continue reading