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.

Alphabet Dating - F is for Friends Fest

Alphabet Dating – F is for Friends Fest

aka The One where we went to Friends Fest

OH. MY. GOOOOD!

Could I BE any more excited?!

Yup that’s right, we only went and got much coveted tickets for Comedy Central’s Friends Fest. Touted as “the ultimate celebration of the world’s greatest tv show”, Comedy Central UK are embarking on a six week tour bringing all things Friends to a selection of venues across the UK. We managed to bag ourselves tickets to one of the first dates which was at Haggerston Park in Hoxton, London.

When you book tickets you have to pick a time slot for your visit to Monica’s apartment and as we already had tickets to see Aladdin the musical that afternoon (a belated birthday present for me!) we decided to go as early as possible and opted for the 9.30am slot, which was shortly after the event opened. It was actually a good thing we tagged Friends Fest on to our already planned London visit as we were only there for around two hours.

The basic set up of the festival is that you get to see some of the sets and props (quite possibly replicas) and have your picture taken with them. There was the sofa and umbrellas from the opening credits, Monica’s apartment, some items from Joey and Chandler’s apartment (La-Z-Boys, foosball and that canoe from when all their furniture got stolen – episode ‘The One with the Cat’).

Friends Fest - Haggerston Park, London

Monica's apartment at Friends Fest in Hoxton

Montage of Monica's apartment at Friends Fest

Joey and Chandler's apartment at Friends Fest

Comedy Central's Friends Fest

The rest of the sets at the event didn’t require a time slot and there were always staff on hand to take pictures of you. Sadly, there was no opportunity to grab a coffee in Central Perk – every single prop was stuck down! But you could get a picture on the famous sofa and also do your best Phoebe impression by singing ‘Smelly Cat’.

And yes I did sing ‘Smelly Cat’.

And no you can’t see the video.

Friends Fest - on the sofa at Central Perk

Central Perk montage - our F for Friends date #AlphabetDating

There were some Friends themed eateries such as the Moondance diner that Monica worked at (that was really more of a burger van than a cool American diner) and also a crepe wagon called Mockolate but we didn’t eat at any of them. I might have had a cocktail at the Chick & Duck bar but it was probably too early for booze!

The other bits that were there (besides a small gift shop) was Phoebe’s famous yellow taxi, a Vegas type set with props you could pose with such as the Roman gear that Joey wore and bridal clothing, plus a silent disco where you could recreate Ross and Monica’s “routine” if you so wished.

Posing with props at Friends Fest in Hoxton, London

The chill out area consisted of deckchairs and a stage with a screen showing some of the funniest clips of Friends and as the weather was good, we sat and chilled for a bit. A friend of mine who had gone the day before us said that while she was there, they had some people entertaining on stage too.

The stage at Friends Fest

All in all we had an enjoyable morning and I absolutely love the idea of a festival based on a tv show, however I was expecting a bit more… more props, more sets, perhaps some lookalikes? Maybe I had been slightly spoilt by my visit to the Warner Bros Studios in Los Angeles (which I will write about as it was AWESOME!) but I was expecting to be at Haggerston Park a little longer than we were and not so rushed through Monica’s apartment. Still, I would say that if you are a Friends fanatic then Friends Fest is a must!

So what I want to know is, who is your favourite character and what is your favourite episode? I’ve always liked Phoebe as she reminds me of me and I think my favourite episode is ‘The One where the Stripper cries’. Leave me a little comment below. 

Right now I fancy sipping on a giant cup of coffee and watching my Friends box sets so, see ya pals!

Alphabet dating - E is for Escape Plan. Can you escape the room in less than an hour?

Alphabet Dating – E is for Escape Plan

Escape Plan

I was mega excited about our ‘E’ date because I had a brilliant brainwave to do one of those Escape the Room type thingies. They seem to be popping up all over the place at the moment! I’ve seen it on The Big Bang Theory and 2 Broke Girls but ours was nowhere near as fancy as those ones. It was situated in a haunted 300 year old fort though, so there’s that.

Escape Plan at Fort Amherst in Kent, UK
Part of the fort we ‘escaped’ from

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Escape Plan is basically where you are locked in a room for an hour and have to solve puzzles in order to escape the room. Ours was a murder mystery theme where we were told we needed to figure out the name of the killer and then we had to find the key to the door to get out. The room held a maximum of 8 people and as we hadn’t booked the room out to ourselves, our group of 4 was teamed with another group of 4 who had booked the same time as us. They were a nice enough bunch of people but to be honest, 8 people was too many!

The room was very basic with just a chalk outline of a body on the floor, a few odds and ends scattered about the room and then a couple of padlocked boxes. We had to figure out the codes, based on clues in the room, in order to get into the boxes. Unfortunately photography is not permitted so I have nothing to show you how it looked inside and I don’t want to tell you too much detail as I think it would spoil it.

The door to the room which we needed to escape from
The door to the room which we needed to escape from

So… did we get out in time? YES! We got out of the room with literally a minute or two left on the clock. In fairness, the guy running Escape Plan did pop in halfway through and gave us a few hints which I don’t think we would have got without him (or more time) but we did it!

I was really proud of myself for getting a bit of a cryptic clue and unlocking one of the padlocks that no one else really figured out and I would definitely like to try some other versions of this game some time!

Have you ever been to Escape Plan or something similar? What would you do for an E date? Stay tuned for F but in the mean time, hit me up with any ideas for G!

Escape Plan - An alphabet dating idea for E

12 things I have learnt about British summers

It’s true what they say, us Brits are OBSESSED with the weather. So while I’ve been enjoying a slice of British summertime I got to thinking of all the things I have learnt about British summers.

1. Make the most of every sunny day
…because you never know how long it’s going to last!

2. Spontaneous barbecues are a thing
Planned barbecues will inevitably summon the grey clouds, so spontaneity is the key here. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve hot-footed it to my local Morrisons for burgers and corn on the cob as soon as the sun gets his hat on.

Camping in England

3. Spontaneous anything, really
Beach, park, camping – go, go, GO! Of course, the rest of the country will most likely be there with you crowding up the place, but that’s a small price to pay for some vitamin D.

4. Make full use of all barbecue opportunities
Yes dessert could be toasted marshmallows but how about alcoholic bananas? Seriously, slice the banana in half down the middle, soak it in vodka or rum, sprinkle with brown sugar, wrap it in foil, bung it on the barbie! That’s my dad’s recipe. Get creative, doesn’t all have to be burgers and sausages.

Toasting marshmallows over a barbecue
Toasting marshmallows 🙂

5. Summer clothes are cute
Pretty dresses, cute skirts – makes a pleasant change from living in jeans and jumpers! Plus I always get told I look nice when I’m wearing my summer wardrobe. A girl loves a compliment, amiright?!

6. Pimm’s and pub lunches are necessary
Ooh I love a Pimm’s with bits of citrus fruit, mint, cucumber and strawberries floating in it, it’s the ultimate summer drink. Team it with a ploughman’s lunch while sitting in a pub garden and you’re onto a winner!

Anyone for Pimm's?
Anyone for Pimm’s?

7. Hay fever is why we can’t have nice things 
We can’t enjoy anything can we? When the winter cold season is over, the sneezing isn’t and it brings along its irritating cousins – itchy nose, throat and eyes.

8. Approximately 76% of all picnics will be spoiled by wasps or unexpected rain
Ok I made that stat up but it’s probably true.

Hot and bothered cat tries to chill in some shade
Hot and bothered!

9. Sleeping is difficult when it’s hot
Alright so it only happens about one night a year, probably mid-July, but that one night (ok maybe two nights) when it’s too hot with the bedroom windows closed but too noisy/bug infested to leave them open is tough!

10. Air conditioning is a blessing and a curse
So our houses here in Blighty don’t come equipped with air con as we rarely have the need for it. However, most workplaces these days have it, which is great when it’s a glorious 25 degrees outside and you’ve just arrived feeling a bit hot and bothered. Not so great an hour in and you’re sat there dressed for the outside when it’s about -5 in the office and your goosebumps have goosebumps!

Hands forming a heart shape at sunset

11. Nothing beats a cold shandy on a warm day
I don’t even really like beer/lager/whatever – it all tastes the same to me! But top it up with some lemonade and you have the second best summer refreshment right there (after Pimm’s of course).

12. We Brits will always moan about the weather
Everyone: “It’s too cold/rainy/grey, typical crappy British weather!”
cue day 1 of hot weather and sunshine
Everyone: “Yay! Summer’s finally here!”
cue day 4 of hot weather and sunshine
Everyone: “It’s too hot”

View from the London Eye on a dreary day in June
View from the London Eye on a dreary day in June

So come on tell me, what have you learnt about British summers? Or summers abroad? Leave me a comment below!