Afternoon Tea at the Secret Garden

For my dear Nan’s 80th ahem 30th birthday (as the waiter so politely suggested), my Mum and I took her out for afternoon tea at the Secret Garden in Mersham-Le-Hatch, Ashford in Kent. Tell you what, it is a bit secret as we had a little difficulty in finding it!

View across the wildflower garden at the Secret Garden restaurant near Ashford in Kent

Once we arrived, we walked through the gardens and requested to be seated outside as it was a nice sunny day and we don’t get too many of those in England. Only downside was a few uninvited guests, but to be fair we did have prior warning about the wasps at this time of year but it’s alright, my Mum and Nan are cockneys so hard as nails, scared ’em all off with a cockney glare hahaha!

We were served our afternoon tea on chintzy mismatched china and alongside our large pot of English breakfast tea, we had finger sandwiches which were the typical afternoon tea sandwiches (cucumber & cream cheese, salmon, egg, ham), scones with cream and jam, and then a selection of sweet treats. The wasps enjoyed the jam in particular.

The desserts on offer that day (because they vary depending on season) were sticky toffee choux bun, chocolate cake, carrot cake, banoffee pie in a little pot and then a small fudge and fruit pastille type thing which were very sweet!

Afternoon tea at the Secret Garden

I didn’t manage to eat all mine but the nice waiter gave us some boxes so we could take our leftovers home. Who manages to eat all their afternoon tea anyway, right? There’s always at least one scone left isn’t there!

After tea, we had planned on taking a little walk around the garden (which FYI doubles up as a wedding venue, however no wedding was on that day) but sadly somewhere between dessert and our last cups of tea it started raining <insert grumble about typical British weather here> so we just took a couple of snaps and left.

It was an enjoyable afternoon and pretty standard pricing at £21.95pp for the traditional tea.

You can get married at The Secret Garden

And a sunny day soon turns in to rain!

If you liked this then you might like afternoon tea at Chilston Park Hotel.

Alphabet Dating - K is for Kids for the day

Alphabet Dating – K is for Kids for the day

Well we finally got round to our ‘K’ date! We decided to go to London and be kids for the day – something that anyone can do anywhere and is pretty much open to interpretation, in fact I reckon we could be kids for the day for several more dates and still not run out of things to do!

Our date began at the Natural History Museum, somewhere that neither of us have been since we were school children and my husband had told me that he was particularly fond of dinosaurs as a child. The other thing about the Natural History Museum is that its free! Perfect!

I enjoyed the animal exhibitions such as learning about toothless mammals and mammals with pouches. We also got to see some ginormous antlers, as well as a Moeritherium – one of the earliest known relatives to the elephant. And a Kirk’s Dik Dik because I was disappointed I didn’t see them at Chester Zoo (even though this was just a taxidermy one in a glass display).

Moeritherium - relative of the elephant
Moeritherium – relative of the elephant
Kirk's Dik Dik - Natural History Museum
So cute

Of course, I’m not gonna lie, the friggin great big animatronic T-Rex they had in the dinosaur bit was pretty awesome!  Yep dinosaurs in general are pretty amazing when you think about it.

T-Rex at the Natural History Museum in London

After lunch (which should have been a McDonalds Happy Meal but wasn’t because neither of us fancied it) we headed to our next stop – Alice’s Adventures Underground. Now you may remember that I already had a Wonderland experience 2 years ago with some friends, well it’s back and because I banged on about it so much first time around my husband decided he wanted to go. This of course represents a huge part of my childhood as I watched this Disney classic more times than I can tell you.

Alice Underground London

This time I chose the ‘eat me’ route and became a diamond. We met the frog, Cheshire Cat and Humpty Dumpty. We inspected the jam tarts that were being made (I was forced to hold the baby pig… not real, sadly) and we also heard the Mock Turtle sing.

Instead of eating the jams tarts (like I did last time), as a diamond we were spying on one of the other suits who were eating the jam tarts!

The ‘falling down the rabbit hole’ part as well as meeting Tweedledee and Tweedledum, plus the tea party scene, were all the same as last time around. The court scene, however, felt slightly different and I’m pretty certain that the guilty suit who ate the tarts was different to last time around too.

If you haven’t a clue what I am on about (we’re all mad here) then begin at the beginning and read about the last time I fell down the rabbit hole in Alice’s Adventures Underground.

Alice Underground

Play some flamingo croquet

After a brief pitstop in Skinny Dip to buy myself a fabulous new purse, our day of fun ended with freakshakes at Maxwell’s in Covent Garden. We ordered the Salted Caramel Donut Freakshake and the Unicorn Freakshake – you can guess which one mine was. The Unicorn Freakshake looks beautiful but the bubblegum flavour was a bit too much for me and I think I would have enjoyed it more if it had been strawberry flavoured. Ah well!

Freakshakes at Maxwell's in Covent Garden

And there ends our day of being kids, let’s not dwell too much on me accidentally using the men’s toilets at Alice in Wonderland and hubby ordering himself a beer to go with his freakshake haha.

We did want to go to a Lego exhibition and Ballie Ballerson (the ball pit bar) but we were tired and ended up just going home. There are so many possibilities with the ‘Kids for the day’ date idea ranging from spending the day at a theme park (Disneyland please!) to a movie marathon of all your favourite childhood films!

What would be your perfect ‘Kids for the day’ date? If you need some suggestions then why not have a quick read of my 10 ways to embrace your inner child.

Spring Favourites

Spring favourites

I’ve taken a bit of time out from blogging because after a long day at work the last thing I can think of doing is spending more time at a computer screen and engaging my brain when I could be binge-watching Riverdale on Netflix instead.

To be honest, I can’t believe it’s June already so I thought I would chuck all my March, April and May favourites into one neat little post labelled as “Spring”.

So here goes…

1. The Secret Life of the Zoo / Chester Zoo

I have been watching The Secret Life of the Zoo on channel 4 since it started, which if you don’t know what I am talking about, it is a documentary series about the staff and animals at Chester Zoo. It is a genuine and heartwarming programme about the highs and the lows experienced by the keepers and animals and does nothing to quell my desires to work with animals. I actually found the show so fascinating that hubby and I took a road trip to Chester Zoo so we could visit it ourselves.

The best part of the day? Well I was disappointed I didn’t get to see Natasha the praying mantis, but the jaguars were AMAZING. However the highlight goes to the orangutan who we saw shoving carrots into her mouth!

Orangutan eating carrots

 

2. Pretending to be Lady of the Manor for the weekend

We had a belated family get together for my sister-in-law’s 30th birthday where we hired out a cottage near Norwich for the weekend. Well, I say cottage but really it was a 5 bedroom mansion with swimming pool, sauna and hot tub. I could get used to such fabulous surroundings!

Lady of the manor

 

3. Oasis Tropical Placement skirt

Saw this Oasis skirt on Asos and fell a little bit in love. It reminds me alot of Costa Rica because of the heliconias and birds in the pattern so at least if I can’t be in the happiest country on the planet (according to 2017’s Happy Planet Index) then I can at least be happy wearing something that reminds me of it!

Oasis Tropical Placement Skirt

 

4. Lush Daddy-O Shampoo

I can’t tell you how much I adore this shampoo – it smells absolutely LUSH! (see what I did there!). It’s a gorgeous purple colour to help combat brassiness in blondes and it smells like parma violet sweets, my hair smelt amazing all day!

Oh and FYI I am not being sponsored for ANY content in this post but if someone from the Marketing team at Lush wants to hook a girl up then I am right here as this stuff ain’t cheap!

Lush Daddy-O Shampoo

 

5. Alphabet Dating

If you’ve been following my blog for a while then you’ll know all about my alphabet dating adventures with my husband. The reason I’m putting it here and now is because we’re halfway through the alphabet and it’s the only element of blogging I’ve managed to keep up with over the past couple of months and I’m excited to see what we get up to next. April saw us take part in a Moroccan cooking class for our M date, March took us to see TV personality and avid explorer Levison Wood on stage for L, we neglected our K date in February and instead this took place in May and all I can say is we were Kids for the day but if you follow me on Instagram then you will have seen a sneaky preview! Stay tuned for more!

Moroccan and Lebanese cuisine

How about you, what’s been floating your boat this spring? Comment below!

Alphabet Dating J is for Japanese Food

Alphabet Dating – J is for Japanese Food

We put Alphabet Dating on hold for the busy and expensive month of December, which meant that our ‘J’ date fell in January. As we both love Japanese food we decided to try out a new Japanese restaurant.

Black and red decor inside a Japanese restaurant

We went to Love Sushi in Maidstone, Kent on a cold and dreary Sunday afternoon. The restaurant was pretty quiet but was kitted out in a smart, stylish black and red oriental style. We had the option of sitting in a booth or next to the sushi conveyor belt. We chose the belt although it was pretty pointless given that there were barely any dishes circulating the belt. Still, we grabbed a random one to share and ordered some hot food – tempura prawns and chicken udon noodles. I also ordered a Philly Cheese sushi roll.

Japanese food - an idea for letter J Alphabet date

Tempura prawns - Japanese food

The food was really good, probably one of the best tempura prawns I’ve tried outside of Japan – and I don’t even like prawns unless they’re covered in tempura batter! The noodle dish was also large and filling and the sushi all very tasty and beautifully presented.

As much as we enjoyed the food, we felt that the restaurant was lacking in… something I can’t quite put my finger on. It may have helped to have a picture menu a la Yo Sushi to help identify some of the sushi dishes and perhaps the atmosphere lacked a little as it was quiet, I don’t know. Still, I’d go back but just not on a Sunday afternoon!

Udon noodles

If you enjoyed this post then whet your appetite with some other of my Japanese foodie adventures, such as my Kaiseki meal at a Japanese Ryokan or my recommendation of 10 foods to try in Japan. Or if you’re London bound then how about an Asian Fusion restaurant in Soho with an interactive menu?

You might also like to read about my other Alphabet Dates!

Alphabet Dating - H is for Halloween

Alphabet Dating – H is for Halloween

OBVIOUSLY if your letter ‘H’ date for Alphabet Dating ends up being in October then you HAVE to make it H for Halloween, am I right?

Everyone seems to have gone super crazy for Halloween this year and I think the UK are slowly catching up with America in our festivities. So anyway, this year hubby and I chose to go to one of those fright night things where you basically pay for people to scare you.

Kent Life were hosting their Halloween Spooktacular for the first time this year so we decided to go check it out. Kent Life is normally a family friendly fun day out with farm animals, it describes itself as “Kent’s Rural Heritage Experience”, however the Halloween nights were strictly for over 16s only. The theme “Kent-aminated” (contaminated, gettit?) was the zombie apocalypse. We love The Walking Dead so we were up for this. Kinda… eek!

Anyway, when we arrived we were “checked in” as survivors of the apocalypse and given overalls to wear. We were then taken with around 12 other paying guests to a tent (which was a circus tent or something during the day) but was now the hospital tent during the apocalypse. I knew that those hospital trolleys weren’t all that they seemed and of course, there was a zombie underneath one of those sheets!

We were all freaked out and laughing as we ran out of the tent and onto a train. Sadly our guide was dragged away before she could get on the train and met her fate at the jaws of the undead. The train was a cutesy land train by day, but vital zombie protection by night and sure enough, there they were banging on the windows as we passed.

A new guide met us at the other end and took us past the fields of goats (nothing to do with the evening, those goats live there) where we saw a zombie munching on a dead (fake) sheep. We then ran into the church, because I forgot to mention that you can actually get married at Kent Life.

The best bit though was as we were waiting in the church, anticipating what might happen next as the zombies banged on all the windows around us, a zombie girl appeared behind us out of nowhere and then all 14 of us screamed and ran towards the exit.

We then ran up a hill with zombies following us, headed towards the safe zone which turned out to be a bar where we had a drink that was included in our ticket prices.

The whole experience only lasted half an hour which I don’t think was really long enough. We also felt that they could have had more zombie actors and perhaps added something like us smearing fake blood on our overalls and then walking through a field of zombies, like in The Walking Dead. We were a bit confused about the overalls to be honest. All in all I found the anticipation of not knowing what was going to happen far scarier than the experience itself but I was grateful that the team asked for our feedback at the end.

A couple of years ago we did something similar at Fort Amherst (the place we went to on our E date) which had alot more to it and was much scarier… perhaps a little too scary – clown with chainsaw I am talking about you! So our expectations for Kent-aminated were already high before we had even got there. Having said that, Fort Amherst had the edge before they’d even done anything given that their venue is a legit haunted 300 year old fort.

Kent Life did well for a first try and although it didn’t quite meet my expectations (am I secretly relieved? maybe!) I would be interested to see what they plan for future Halloweens!

P.S. Excuse the lack of pictures, we had to switch our phones off so we didn’t interfere with the radio signals 😉

zombie-apocalypse