Tea and Country Matters

A new teapot cover has added itself to my cupboard.  What could be nicer than a cup of tea with your mum on Mothers' Day? I found this pattern in a magazine and decided to give it a try. I like it, especially the colours. What do you think?


I love to visit Country Matter and The Lavender Tea Room from time to time. I went the other day and took some pictures of their wares. 

I'm please to say that they now have a website. You can find out more information about them here. The website opens with The Lavender Tearoom but also covers Country Matters.


When Larry and I were in Bath recently, we visited the Sally Lunns Teashop, but we didn't go in! unfortunately we didn't have time this visit. We were waiting for a shuttle bus to go to the American Museum and we didn't want to miss it. I would have loved one of those buns too. Still maybe next time. In the meantime I took a few pictures and I thought you would like to read a bit of the history of this pretty place:

from Wikipaedia: 'A Sally Lunn is a large bun or teacake made with a yeast dough including cream, eggs, and spice, similar to the sweet brioche breads of France. Served warm and sliced, with butter, it was first recorded in 1780 in the spa town of Bath in southwest England. The same name has been applied to various unrelated breads in the US since the early 20th century.[1]

The origins of the Sally Lunn are shrouded in myth - one theory is that it is an anglicisation of "Sol et lune" (French for "sun and moon"), representing the golden crust and white base/interior.The Sally Lunn Eating House claims that the recipe was brought to Bath in the 1680s by a Huguenot refugee called Solange Luyon, who became known as Sally Lunn, but there is no evidence to support this theory.

There is a passing mention of "Sally Lunn and saffron cake" in a 1776 poem about Dublin by the Irish poet William Preston.[3] The first recorded mention of the bun in Somerset is as part of a detox regime in Philip Thicknesse' 1780 guidebook to taking the waters at Bath. Thickness describes how he would daily see visitors drinking 2-3 pints of Bath water and then "sit down to a meal of S A L L Y   L U N S or hot spungy rolls, made high by burnt butter!". He recommends against the practice as his brother died after this kind of breakfast - "Such a meal, few young men in full health can get over without feeling much inconvenience".
There is little historical evidence for Sally Lunn as a person. The Gentleman's Magazine of 1798 uses Sally Lunn as an example during a discussion of foods named after people - 'a certain sort of hot rolls, now, or not long ago, in vogue at Bath, were gratefully and emphatically styled “Sally Lunns”'.[6] But it is not until 1827 that a historical person is described by a correspondent of William Hone using the pseudonym "Jehoiada", who says she had sold the buns on the street "about thirty years ago".[7] A baker called Dalmer had bought out her business and made it highly successful after he composed a special song for the vendors,[7] who sold the buns from mobile ovens. The earliest evidence of commercial production is an 1819 advert for the Sally Lunn "cakes" sold by W. Needes of Bath, bread and biscuit maker to the Prince Regent.[2]
The Sally Lunn is mentioned alongside muffins and crumpets by Charles Dickens in The Chimes (1845).[1] The same year Eliza Acton gave a recipe in Modern Cookery for Private Families, describing it as a version of "Solimemne - A rich French breakfast cake, or Sally Lunn".Solilemmes is a kind of brioche that is served warm and popularised by the great Parisian chef Marie-Antoine Carême in a book of 1815. Carême claimed the "solilem" originated in Alsace but there is no evidence to support that claim; he may have taken the idea from contacts in Bath and then tried to disguise the origins of a recipe that came from France's great enemy.

Sally Lunn's house

The medieval building now known as the Sally Lunn Eating House, is at 4 North Parade Passage (formerly Lilliput Alley) in Bath. The site was originally occupied by the south range of Bath Abbey and the lowest floor level dates to the reconstruction of the abbey after a great fire in 1137. The faggot oven in the basement dates from this time. After the Reformation it came into the hands of the Colthurst family of Wardour Castle who sold it to John Hall of Bradford on Avon in 1612. In 1622 Hall leased the site to George Parker, a carpenter who built the current house. The Hall estate was later acquired by the 2nd Duke of Kingston, who sold the house to William Robinson in 1743. There may have been baking on a small scale during the 1700s but it only became the main commercial use of the building around the turn of the century.
The building was acquired in the 1930s by Marie Byng-Johnson who opened it as a tea-room specializing in Sally Lunn buns, promoted with a story that she had discovered an ancient document in a secret panel above the fireplace[1] explaining that Mlle. Sally Lunn was a young French Huguenot refugee who brought the recipe to Bath around 1680. The building is now Grade II* listed.


Necessity dictated that we needed a new teapot! since the other one met with an accident over the Christmas period!

So out with the old:

r.i.p ... and in with the new, just like the New Year that's just started!  The new one matches my tea set, which is a bonus and I also have a spare lid for it.  An English lady needs a lot of teapots! The design for the new teapot is Colclough Royale. I originally bought it for my mum, purchasing a few items each birthday as I could afford it.  Most of it is still intact, but this is the third teapot that has joined the cups and saucers!  Sadly, the Colclough factory is no longer in existence, making my teaset a collector's item.

The poem below describes where I am in my life right now.  I like very much being a Grandma and look forward to the days when my little grandson will come round for tea and cakes with Oma.

Copper kettle burnished bright,
Glinting in the firelight,
Starched white tablecloth in place,
Edged with newly crocheted lace,
Heady smells of fresh-baked bread,
Hand-made butter pats to spread,
Damson jam and apricot,
Tea brewing in a cosied pot,
The tinkle of those silver spoons
Brought magic to those afternoons,
Her wrinkled face, her kind, blue eyes,
The cakes that she called butterflies;
Such memories in mind I see,
Of going to my gran's for tea...

by Brian H. Gent.

A nice cup of tea,

Just right to have with a plate of chocolate chip cookies:

What follows is a picture of a child's Japanese tea set, part of it anyway! It was mine when I was little, but this is all I have left.  I may well be searching through E-bay in the future!

Does anyone else have a child's tea set from their youth?

The Tearooms at Hexton

Last week I went to Country Matters in Hexton.  Hexton is a tiny hamlet near where I live and Country Matters is like an Aladdin's Cave of treasures, old and new, to rummage through.

They serve lunches...

 and they sell eggs of all kinds...

and when you go in, there are all sorts of things to look at. Let's look at them together...
Click to enlarge the photos.

 After a little while, Jim got tired and went to sit on the seat outside...

 Here is the local pub, The Raven.  It's right opposite Country Matters.

 The Lavender Tea Rooms were so busy that we went right home where an orange syrup and walnut cake were waiting for us.

and a second visit!

I love to go here and drink tea, eat cake and look at lots and lots of pretty things.
Why don't you come with me today?

There are scones on the counter and tea in the pot!

and lots of teapots to buy!

I especially love the baby counter!

Have a lovely sunny day today!



Shillington and the Scarecrow Festival

 A high spot of the year for me is a trip to the Shillington Scarecrow Festival, held on Bank Holiday weekend in August most years. If you click on the pictures, you will be able to read the words on the placards adorning the scarecrows.

For such a small village, there is a lot going on in Shillington. Click here for details. I know if you live in the wilds of Canada or the mountains of the Pacific North West of North America or some other far flung place like Tennessee! you may not be able to go to these events.  However, come-along-a-me and enjoy the fun.

There were over 100 scarecrows on Monday, dotted about all round the village and plenty of other things to see and do, like visiting the ancient church, a picture of which appears towards the end.

These scarecrows below are locked up and the little dog has the key! Click to enlarge.

My favourites of the ones I saw and I didn't see all of them by far! were the musicians. This exhibit was so original and even had music to go with it - invisible from this side of the wall.

I love the expressions on their faces, don't you?

This next scarecrow had managed to climb up onto the scaffolding to inspect the damage but it was a bit windy and cold yesterday.  I hope he didn't fall off!

Spot the deliberate mistake on this placard! Delightful exhibit nevertheless.

I thought you might also like to see some of the old and very picturesque cottages in the village. Here they are...

The next one had some beautiful hanging baskets all over the walls of the garage and sheds.

This is the old school building, now for sale! I'l love to buy it. It is situated right on the top of the hill opposite the church.

Next door is the Old Post Office.

and further down the road, the old bakery and other essential buildings which supported village life in years gone by.

I adore the vegetable garden in this next pic. Click to see properly.

I wonder who lives here?

This is the view from the side of the church. Ancient gravestones stand and fall like aged teeth.

Click to read the inscription on the side of the church.

Here is the church itself, standing proud atop a high hill. It is not the only church in Shillington but it is the most imposing. You can read more about the church in the website above.

If you would like to see more of the scarecrows that I saw yesterday, Click Here and you will be transported to another world. Go on, spoil yourselves...

I think the people of Shillington put on a grand show.  It was wonderful, it truly was! Thank you people.



Lilley Flower Festival

From Wikipaedia:
Lilley is a small village and civil parish in Hertfordshire which stands between Hitchin and Luton in England, on the highest ground and within some of the most striking scenery in the area. Telegraph Hill is just over 600 feet above sea level.

Lilley - The Church of St Peter's - - 202359.jpg
St Peter's Church, Lilley

Lilley is located in Hertfordshire

 Lilley shown within Hertfordshire
OS grid referenceTL120261
DistrictNorth Hertfordshire
Shire countyHertfordshire
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townLUTON
Postcode districtLU2
Dialling code01462
AmbulanceEast of England
EU ParliamentEast of England
UK ParliamentHitchin and Harpenden
List of places: UK • England • Hertfordshire
The church, rebuilt in the 19th century, contains some original features and a fine Elizabethan heraldic memorial. Coincidentally, Lilley lies within the parliamentary constituency of Hitchin and Harpenden currently represented by Peter Lilley. It until recently had two Public Houses, The Silver Lion and The Lilley Arms. The recent closure and conversion of the Silver Lion leaves The Lilley Arms as the village's only pub. The low-lying land to the south of Lilley is called Lilley Bottom.
The village has a football team, although they presently do not play in Lilley due to lack of facilities. The village's cricket club ( play at the Geoff Banks-Smith Memorial Cricket Ground, between St Peter's Church and the village hall and are currently in North Herts League Division 2.
Lilley has one of the finest Pheasant shoots in the county.

Yesterday I went to the annual flower festival at Lilley Church, which is just outside the town where I live.  A ten minute drive from my house takes me right into the heart of the English countryside and Lilley is always worth a visit.

The flower ladies always do the church proud with their splended displays.  I'm sure you'll agree when you see the forthcoming pictures.

Can you see the little gate in the picture above? That's the back entrance to the churchyard.

Below is the pond.  In the second picture you can just see lots of little tadpoles, if you click and make the pic. larger.

To enter the church  we walk along the path of remembrance, which is flanked by memory stones of people who have already passed on.  Many of the stones are regularly attended and adorned.

The churchyard is very peaceful, housing many souls from the historic and recent past.

Most of the more recent graves are very well kept.

This is the church tower, standing proud in the sunshine.

Inside the church, a table was set out for tea, but if you look closely at the second picture, you will see that some of the cakes are made out of tiny flowers:-

Click on the pictures to see them more clearly.

Please click on the next one and you will see that the Rectors of Lilley church stretch far back into time.The earliest entry is for 1200.

The theme of the flower festival this year was 'Desert Island Discs'. This popular radio programme, which goes out twice a week on BBC Radio Four and is available to Podcast, allows celebrities to choose their ten favourite discs (CD's) which they would take to a Desert Island if they were marooned on one.

The first display is entitled 'Carmen' and is by Joy Robinson.

No. 2 is by Susan Constable and is entitles 'Slipping through My Fingers'.

This is the interior of the church.  It is quite tiny and beautiful with enormously large stained glass windows for the size of the whole.

The next exhibit is 'Angels' by Caroline Ferris-Brown.

and next is 'Birds of paradise' by Karen Turner.

'Teddy Bears' Picnic' is by Betty Sharp.

I loved this next one.  It is entitled 'The White Cliffs of Dover' and is by Dina Adams. White flowers represent the white cliffs and in the second picture, you can see the little bluebirds flying over the cliffs.  Above the bluebirds are some red, white and blue flowers, representing our flag. The photograph is of Vera Lynn who sang this wonderfully inspiring song during the last war and brought much comfort to the forces fighting to defeat the Germans who were threatening to invade our shores.  Vera Lynn is still alive, now in her 90's.

I hope you enjoyed my trip to Lilley flower festival.