Time for tea and a scone

So there we were visiting the Cadbury Garden Centre, in Congresbury in North Somerset. We have been going there for years for garden stuff, other stuff and usually we stop for coffee and cake, or tea and a scone.

Of course with the restrictions in place, they have been forced to close their eating places. So it was nice this weekend with the easing of restrictions that we could go for tea and a scone in their cafe.

They had taken the time during lockdown to refurbish their cafe areas They have gone for a retro Victorian tearoom look to their eating area, Costa has gone and they now resemble posh tearooms. They are very white and bright.

It might be a Blue Diamond thing, as on a recent visit to Sanders Garden Centre they were also refurbishing their eating areas, in a similar but not quite the same style.

They had also lost their Costa franchise as well.

So back to Cadbury, with some restrictions still in place they have moved to table service. So you choose your own table and when you are ready to order you show a green card!

We got promptly served, we chose a tea and coffee, well a flat white, and shared a cream scone. We paid there and then which was convenient.

The service was quite fast, but they did in fact forget our scone as they hadn’t read their ticket properly. The fact that it was the manager who had forgotten was quite amusing, as she told us, she is always telling the staff to read their tickets properly!

The flat white was really good, nice and strong. The tea was served in a lovely china pot and a matching cup and saucer.

The scone was nice and fresh, fluffy and light and came with jam and cream, but no butter. It was rather nice and tasty. We weren’t rushed and after we had finished we went to do some plant shopping.

Quick Coffee Number One

With the new imminent lockdown coming on Thursday I took the the time and the opportunity to pop out to Weston town centre to do some shopping.

Wanting a coffee, I popped to one of my favourite regular haunts for coffee in Weston which is Coffee #1.

I first bumped into the Coffee #1 chain in Monmouth one lunch time a fair few years ago now. I thought at the time it was an independent, didn’t realise it was a chain.

Their branch in Weston opened shortly after that visit to Monmouth, so it became a place to go for coffee after shopping or after a walk along the seafront.

I ordered my flat white and they also had a vegan scone with cream (I know) and jam for half price, so I decided to have a coffee and a scone.

The scone was somewhat heavy, but I still enjoyed it.

The coffee was excellent, smooth milk and great tasting coffee. I was slightly disappointed that I had finished it, I think I might have had another one.

I made scones


Though I do a fair bit of baking and have done over the years, I realised that I had never made scones.

I enjoy eating scones, and though I can never remember which way you should do the cream and jam when having a scone. I know that it is different in Devon to the way that it is done in Cornwall. One of them puts the jam down first, then the cream; the other puts the cream down first and then the jam!

I know I could use the Google to find this out, but I am not sure that even if I did I would remember. The real question is does it really matter, especially when you are in Somerset?

Anyway back to baking scones.

I used a simple recipe from an old cookery book that we have in the house (which is from the 1970s or 1980s).

8 oz self raising flour
2 oz butter
2 oz sultanas
1 oz caster sugar
1/4 pint of fresh milk

You can add salt if you want.

Rub the butter into the flour until all the butter is rubbed in and the mix resembles breadcrumbs.

Now add the sultanas and the sugar.

Add the milk all at once and then mix with a knife to a soft, but not a stick dough.

Having made the dough, it was stickier than I thought it should be so added a little more flour. Using a pastry cutter I cut the scone dough into scone rounds.

These I placed on to a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Now you can placed them onto a greased tray, but I usually use baking parchment. One tip I picked up from Jamie Oliver was after cutting the parchment was to screw it up into a ball and then flatten the screwed up parchment. What this does is make it much easier to line the baking tray, otherwise the parchment as a tendency to roll back into a roll.

These were baked in a hot oven for ten minutes until golden.

They were smaller than I would have liked, but then I was the one who rolled out the dough!

I had one with strawberry jam and clotted cream and it was delicious. I my mind scones really need to be eaten fresh and preferably warm from the oven.

Time for a scone…

…with cream and jam.

Scone with cream and jam

I can never remember which way you should do the cream and jam when having a scone. I know that it is different in Devon to the way that it is done in Cornwall. One of them puts the jam down first, then the cream; the other puts the cream down first and then the jam!

I know I could use the Google to find this out, but I am not sure that even if I did I would remember. The real question is does it really matter, especially when you are in Somerset?

Last week I spent a lovely day in the sun exploring Dunster Castle and its grounds.

Dunster Castle

This is a National Trust property in West Somerset close to Minehead. I have been before, twice, the first time was in the 1990s, but when I arrived, the group I was they baulked at the entry prices and we left pretty sharpish to have fish and chips on the beach in nearby Minehead.

I did go in May last year, I had just received a National Trust membership as a birthday present, but our visit was cut short as one of my children wasn’t feeling well, so we left early. We had promised ourselves that we would visit again. So just under a year later we were back.

I do enjoy exploring these huge old houses, they have a certain charm and remind ourselves of a time when life was more sharply divided that it is today. Always an element of jealously as well as we see these huge bedrooms that have space, in one example at Dunster, a bed, a sofa, dressing table and a breakfast table with four chairs! I remember thinking that the library at Tyntesfield was bigger than our house!

After exploring the house, time to explore the gardens, which are mainly on steep slopes, so the paths go back and forth. However if you can find your way to the old water mill then you can find the National Trust tea room. This is not the most pretty of tea rooms, the one at Barrington Court for example is really lovely, very old-fashioned room with wooden panels and comfortable chairs and wooden tables. The tea room at Dunster was not as welcoming or as warm as others I have been in. For me the whole tea room experience is not just about the food and drink, it’s also about the environment, the feel, the room, the furniture, even the lighting.

Of course, if you find yourself in the tearoom then it’s time for tea and a scone. Oh and then photograph it and post it to the Twitter.

You never know who will respond to your tweets, but this one resulted in a reply from @nt_scones

I don’t remember how I encountered @nt_scones on the Twitter, but what a great idea (and motivation) for visiting the different National Trust places.

They not only talk about their own scone experiences but also comment and re-tweet other people’s too. They also now have a book out.

As I said in my tweet, the scone was a little dry, but was still very nice. The NT jam was nice and though I think it’s a terrible luxury, I do enjoy getting the jam in the small individual jars. There is also the nice clotted cream too. I did enjoy the tea and it did some in a proper china teapot and not one of those awful metal teapots which always dribble down the spout.

Overall a nice cream tea, but not that traditional tea room experience that I have come to enjoy when visiting National Trust properties.

Cheese and Red Onion Scone

So there I was in John Lewis and decided to get a coffee from the Espresso Bar in the basement in their Bristol branch. Feeling a little peckish I had a look at what was on offer and went for their “special” scone, a cheese and red onion scone.

I do quite like a savoury scone, when I visit the restaurant at Cadbury Garden Centre I quite like their cheese scones. If it isn’t cheese than I might go with a sweet one with sultanas, which means I must also have butter, jam and clotted cream. When it comes to sweet scones, for me they much have fruit, and be served with butter, strawberry jam and clotted cream. Of course the other key thing is that the scone must be fresh. Nothing worse than eating a scone that was baked days ago… Most places seem to sell not-fresh scones, that more than likely they buy in bulk ready made. Whereas there are a few places that do bake and sell scones that taste fresh. You can easily tell the difference.

This scone from John Lewis was rather nice, not too heavy, fresh and full of flavour. Certainly if it is on sale again I will probably get one again.

Devon Cream Scones

Recently at a conference I was able to enjoy these delicious cream and jam scones.

Devon Cream Scones

I am no expert on cream scones or the cream tea, but I certainly do enjoy eating them, something very nice about clotted cream. Though for me the freshness of the scone is paramount too, all too often I have had a cream tea and the scones are nowhere near fresh.

It would appear in Devon that they prefer their scones without dried fruit too, I do prefer my scones with dried fruit.

And finally when eating scones with clotted cream, it has to be for me a nice cup of tea… yes tea!

John Lewis Espresso Bar

John Lewis, the retail chain, has been at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol for ten years now.

Their restaurant at the top of the store has always been one of the better places to eat at the shopping mall, away from the KFC and Burger Kings.

True their original outside eating area was rather windswept, but at least the majority of the hot food was cooked to order, the salads were fresh, the cakes scrummy and the service was pretty good too (when it wasn’t too busy).

Over the last few months, John Lewis has revamped their eating places, making their top floor restaurant larger and by adding an espresso bar in the basement.

The espresso bar is rather nice and cosy and despite no windows did not feel claustrophobic.

The coffee was good, the tea was good, the scone was good and the service was excellent. It was even reasonably priced as well.

I was very pleased and will go there again.