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.

Afternoon Tea at a Kent Country House

Afternoon Tea Chilston Park Hotel

Rather than the typical flowers, chocolates and toiletry gift sets, this year hubby and I decided to take our mums out for afternoon tea for their Mother’s Day presents. We didn’t go on Mother’s Day itself as other plans had been arranged (plus everywhere gets busy on Mothering Sunday) so we booked up for a few weeks later.

Our venue of choice was Chilston Park Hotel in Lenham, Kent – a classic British country house hotel set on 22 acres of parkland – fancy!

Chilston Park Hotel

Chilston Park Hotel in Kent set in 22 acres of parkland

When we entered the hotel, there were quite a few other people enjoying afternoon teas but it didn’t feel particularly crowded. There was definitely a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere about the place. The decor was very English country house style too, with its large windows and grand staircase.

We were seated in the light and airy dining room and were promptly asked what we would like to drink. Although there was a decent selection of teas available (and I do like a peppermint tea) we all decided to opt for the English Breakfast tea and I had to agree that it would be a better accompaniment with sandwiches and cakes.

There are several different afternoon tea options available but we chose the traditional tea which was a reasonable £21 each. We were served a selection of finger sandwiches – ham & mustard, egg, salmon and cream cheese & cucumber. Plus two scones each with clotted cream and strawberry jam. Followed by some mini desserts.

Enjoy a delicious afternoon tea at a classic Kent country house

The desserts were (from L-R) a lemon posset topped with marinated berries, carrot cake, macaroon, dark chocolate ganache and fresh fruit tartlet. All beautifully presented.

Afternoon tea cake selection at Chilston Park Hotel in Kent, England

We managed to devour everything but our second scones, they were pretty big and our tummies were full! So we asked the waitress if we could have our scones in a takeaway box to enjoy later.

All in all, our mums enjoyed their afternoon and are now wondering when we can go back!

My birthday weekend

Hello April, so far you’ve been fabulous.

I’ve had a fun 3 day weekend, kicking off with my birthday on Friday when I received lots of lovely presents, including that amazing Alice in Wonderland pop-up book I raved about when I went to the exhibition at the British Library (I have the best husband!). I did take some photos of it but they just don’t do it justice so I will try again another time.

Another really cool gift I got (because I am a massive nerd) was this Pan Am pilot wings pin. I love vintage travel and I enjoyed the Pan Am tv series, just gotta work out what I’m gonna wear this beauty on!

Pan Am Junior Clipper Pilot Wings

Then our day out in London was filled with some of my favourite things, namely Japanese, weird and cake.

Japanese food at Inamo Soho – an Asian fusion restaurant with cool interactive tables.

Cocktail and beer on the interactive tables at Japanese/Korean restaurant, Inamo in Soho, London

A world of weird and wonderful at Ripley’s Believe it or not at Piccadilly Circus.

Giant rocking chair at Ripleys Believe it or not in London

Ending the day with some tea and cake at Crumbs & Doilies cake shop in Soho. I chose a Peanut Butter and Chocolate cupcake with mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups on top (LOVE Reese’s!). My husband opted for a slice of the Raspberry Bomb cake which was so huge that I had to help him eat it! Normally it’s the other way around!

Peanut butter cupcake from Crumbs and Doilies in Soho, London

Raspberry Bomb cake from Crumbs and Doilies in London
My hubby had a slice of this – not this actual chunk!

Saturday then treated us with even more cake when we took our mums out for a belated mother’s day gift – afternoon tea at Chilston Park Hotel in Kent.

Afternoon tea cake selection at Chilston Park Hotel in Kent, England

In the evening we played a game of Catopoly – my most random and quirky birthday present. It’s basically Monopoly for crazy cat ladies. I’m pleased to say that I thrashed my husband in what shall henceforth be known as ‘The Revenge of Ragdoll’ BAHAHA!

FYI – you know you’re old when your Saturday is spent having afternoon tea and playing board games rather than partying until 3am.

Catopoly - a monopoly style board game for Crazy Cat Ladies

Sunday has been all about cats and coffee. I did my volunteering at the Cats Protection in the morning and then in the afternoon, hubby and I popped out for a free Starbucks, discussed our possible 2016 travel plans and I bought myself a new face cream because I’m thinking now is probably about time I develop some sort of skin care regime. I think I will, but probably won’t.

Stay tuned for some more in depth posts!

How was your weekend?

Gorgeous gifts for globetrotters

Gorgeous gifts for globetrotters!

It’s been a little quiet on the blog for the past week but that’s because I have been preoccupied… it was my birthday the other day you see. I had a great day and received lots of lovely gifts, many of which were travel themed, which has inspired me to write this post about gorgeous gifts for globetrotters!

Bon Voyage bag

Bon Voyage handbag from Accessorize

This was actually a pre-birthday present I bought for myself, but it got quite a few favourites and retweets on my twitter that I couldn’t not include it here. I have always wanted a vintage suitcase covered in stickers so this is the next best thing! It comes with a shoulder strap too so you don’t have to carry it like a suitcase if you don’t want to.

£29 from Accessorize

Gandys flipflops

gandys flipflops

After being inspired by Rob Forkan (co-founder of Gandys) at the Destinations Show, I had a look at the different flipflop designs and fell in love with these map print ones. Money from every sale goes towards building children’s homes for orphans in places such as India and Sri Lanka.

gandys flipflops and box

Even the box and the logo are beautiful.

£22 from Gandys

Travel journal

I wanted a cute journal to keep a diary for my upcoming travels and couldn’t find much more perfect than this map print journal by Wild & Wolf. It’s A6 in size so small enough to carry around too.

Wild and Wolf travel journal

£8 from John Lewis

The Book of Everything

Lonely Planet Book of Everything

I must confess, I have a bit of an addiction to coffee table travel books. I am running out of bookshelf space, but perhaps one day I will write a blog post about all of them. The Lonely Planet Book of Everything is a fun and factual book about, well, almost everything. It’s definitely a dip in, dip out sort of book but there’s some pretty useful stuff in there (how to survive a shark attack for example because you never know!).

There’s also stuff like the Northern Lights

Lonely Planet Book of Everything

Or even Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Lonely Planet Book of Everything

£14.99 from Lonely Planet

Globetrotting Percy sweets

Marks and Spencer Globetrotting Percy sweets

Need some sweeties for the road? Grab a bag of Globetrotting Percy jellies. Percy Pig is a bit of a mascot for Marks & Spencer and there are several different types of Percy sweets you can buy, including vegetarian options.

Available in store at Marks & Spencer

Disney Pixar Up pin

Disney Pixar 'Up' pin badge

Not strictly travel themed but if you’ve seen the move Up you’ll know that the characters go on a great adventure. I was actually looking for this pin when I went to Disneyland Paris but I couldn’t find it as I think it may have been a limited edition promotional item or something but my clever husband managed to track one down from who knows where – and I love it!

Note: all items featured in this post were gifted to me by family, apart from the handbag which was from myself to myself. Prices and availability correct at time of publishing.

Kit Kat Krazy

aka Things I did buy in Japan.

aka Vacation Shopping Insanity – Japan edition.

You may or may not know this, but the Japanese love Kit Kats! Why? I hear you ask. Well, the reason for this is because the name is similar to the Japanese phrase “Kitto Katsu” which roughly translates as “surely win”, or in other words “good luck”, hence why students are often bought Kit Kats before their exams. So Kit Kats are basically a good luck charm. They even have a crazy amount of Kit Kat flavours in Japan, which vary region to region. You name it, they probably have it.

So when I found out that the world’s first ever Kit Kat boutique was opening in Japan shortly before I was due to travel there, I was very excited. And I wasn’t the only one, I’d read a couple of articles about it and there was much hype and anticipation about this chocolate paradise.

But, I’m not going to sugar-coat this (or chocolate-coat this, if you will). The world’s first ever Kit Kat boutique was a big fat disappointment! Firstly, it’s not a shop. It is a section of a department store and a very small L-shaped section at that. Secondly, they did not have the massive array of flavours I was expecting, there were literally 3 or 4 flavours to choose from. and that. was. it.

kit-kat-chocolatory-tokyo

Even though it was quite expensive, we still made a purchase – one solitary box of Sakura green tea flavour.

chocolatory-kitkat-special

Sure, the packaging is pretty and it did taste quite nice but I’m not sure it was worth it. Although they did have a really cool chandelier.

kit-kat-chandelier

After the visit to the Kit Kat Chocolatory it became my mission to track down these mysterious and exotic Kit Kat flavours, I made a point of looking whenever we popped into a 7-11 or a Family Mart but I could find nothing but the original milk chocolate flavour.

After consulting the internet and keeping my beady eyes open, I did eventually manage to find the following flavours (although I hasten to add that I didn’t purchase ALL of these) – green tea (minus the sakura), cinnamon, rum & raisin, strawberry cheesecake, strawberry (minus the cheesecake), purple sweet potato, red bean, apple, chili, orange & lemon and wasabi.

Some of these were bought in random gift shops dotted around Tokyo and Kyoto but I will let you in on a little secret… the best place in Tokyo to buy Kit Kats is a little shop under Tokyo train station. Unfortunately I don’t know the name of this store but it was on a corner in the basement of Tokyo station near Yaesu Central Gate. And it looked like this –

tokyo-station-kitkats

I was an actual kid in a candy store. I probably would’ve got swept away with emotion and bought a box of each flavour but fortunately I had my husband there to calm me down. We still ended up buying about 4 boxes though, which came to about 20 quid (£20 on chocolate!!! Ack! See? Vacation Shopping Insanity!). I will also like to state that we didn’t keep all 4 boxes for ourselves, some were gifts.

The remaining Kit Kat purchases we made were, as I said above, at random shops we found on our travels but Narita airport was also a good place to find some interesting flavours – that’s where we bought the Hokkaido Red Bean flavour amongst others. The shop is easy to find, it’s pretty much the only shop you can use up all your yen coins in without breaking into a note.

So which Kit Kats did I actually try? Well here they are…

japanese-kitkats

Cinnamon, Green Tea, Rum & Raisin, Strawberry Cheesecake, Hokkaido Red Bean, Sakura Green Tea, Purple Sweet Potato, Strawberry and Shinshu Apple. Yes, we bought quite a lot but these were gifts for family and work colleagues too.

Surprises? The bars are more like “fun-sized” bars, a lot smaller than we’re used to but you get several in a box. Purple Sweet Potato is quite nice, just sweet really and Green Tea just tastes like white chocolate.

The strawberry ones went down a storm at work, the other flavours taste pretty much how you would expect them to. And Hokkaido Red Bean? I didn’t mind it, I can’t really describe it, I found this ok-ish but my husband thought this particular flavour was foul!

Have you tried any random Kit Kat flavours? What were they and what did you think of them?