Sixty Tearooms on Two Wheels – The saga continues

Well, it seems a lifetime since I wrote the last tearooms blog… Anyway, Spring has sprung, and the sun has come out for a weekend and we had some time on our hands. What better than to clean the bike for my lady, (can’t have her sat on a dirty bike 😉) and then hit the road.

We didn’t want to go far today so we kept it within 25 miles and being members of the National Trust, we decided to go to Mottisfont House and Gardens near Romsey in Hampshire. It had been a long time since we had been there, but never on the motorbike. The route to and from is very good with nice cornering roads and scenery. On arrival we were surprised to see how much it had changed; it was a little hut on the last visit, now it’s a large building and shop for the entrance with decking walkways to the main bridge leading to the gardens and house.

Additionally, we also found out that they now have three beverage establishments within the grounds, two restaurants and a small tea and sandwich shop in the walled gardens. Wow, potentially three eating houses in one hit 😊.

Apart from the amazing scenery around the grounds and gardens, the main point of this blog is the eating. National Trust have never let us down, the assorted sandwiches, hot food and cakes is perfect and reasonably priced. They have even gone down the environmental route for cutlery, plates and cups of which are all compostable… of which I believe they do themselves, having seen a sign stating they wish to make 150 tons of compost this year… Impressive.

Last time we went to Mottisfont, the restaurant was only in the main house, now they have an additional one in the old stables with seating inside and outside in the stable yard, be warned on a warm day, it’s a bit of a sun trap. They also have a small teashop in the walled garden with one end of the garden laid to gravel and tables and they have also now included some grass areas for picnicking that overlooks the Rose garden. The main house restaurant has seating outside that overlooks a large lawn and fields, with willows hanging down over the chalk stream with an abundance of Brown Trout, small to very big. I am sure if you went on a weekday, it would be so peaceful, a little nap under the shade of a tree would be welcoming.

We spent about two hours in Mottisfont and then made our way back, as we had another spot in mind for lunch. A small establishment called “The Water Garden Café” in the grounds of Romsey World of Water garden centre. This is another little one that has expanded since the last time we visited. The food is good, the cakes and other goodies look homemade and they certainly taste good. A good selection of teas, but no Red Bush, we won’t hold it against them, I am sure they will have some next time we pass 😉. We ordered jacket potatoes, one with Tuna Mayo and the other with Beans and Cheese. A good helping and with side salad and coleslaw.

The café has plenty of seating in and out and once again a bit of a sun trap, but they do provide parasols for a little bit of shade. If you like water gardens and feature, the garden and aquatic centre have some fantastic displays. Additionally, they have a bit of newsworthy history for a couple of there fish. Several years ago, when the river flooded it was that bad that the grounds where flooded as well and a number of these fish escaped. But they were able to retrieve some of them, mainly Koi Carp and a Sturgeon. I understand that they were found near the local petrol station floundering, they were retrieved and are now happily back in the aquatic centre, living it up.

Well, hopefully that’s the first of many this year, as we continue our sixty tearooms on two wheels. Thanks for reading and if you are in Hampshire, go and sample some of Hampshire’s history, food and scenery.

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Sixty Tea Rooms and Two Wheels – Cornwall Day One

A recent short break took us to the West Country of the UK and glorious Cornwall. We stayed with a friend (fellow rider) who lives in North Cornwall close to the Devon boarder. As this trip was taken over three days, I will be writing this in three parts, so please keep an eye out for the remaining trip and the sites we saw while in Cornwall.

Lets Go

So here we are ready to go, our route took us along the south coast from Hampshire for a first stop just out side Ringwood for a coffee. We had only been on the bike 45 minutes, but needs must and all that.  I heard a little voice in the intercom and she who speaks must be obeyed.  Following decent coffee break, we proceeded towards West Bay in Dorset for a spot of lunch.  I had heard that the Station Kitchen near the main carpark was good for cream teas, so that was the first on the list for the trip.

On arrival at West Bay we parked up directly opposite the restaurant. As you can imagine by the name “Station Kitchen” it was the old West Bay railway station with a carriage as well.  Both the station and the carriage were dining areas and very well laid out. The weather was hot, and we needed some shade, so we opted to eat in the carriage. Although nice, it was a little warm even with the doors open, unfortunately there was no breeze, but the surroundings were fantastic and quirky.  Although we were looking for a cream tea initially, we looked at the menu and decided to have something from the main menu. While the food was prepared we were offered fresh bread and an olive oil and balsamic dip. The bread was fresh and two different types and delicious.

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The food took about 20 minutes, but we were in no hurry, just thankful for a little shade. We both had a freshly made flatbread one with local crab and the other with goats’ cheese and both drizzled with olive oil. once again delicious. I have since found out that the restaurant is one of the best in West Bay, I am amazed we manged to get a seat. The staff and service were friendly and attentive, and I would highly recommend them. We will be going back to try something else when we go out for a Sunday ride.

From West Bay we proceeded west along the coast road through Lyme Regis towards Exeter. We briefly hit the M5 and then turned on to the A30 towards Okehampton and Launceston. We needed a break, so we stopped at a service station just off the A30 called the Hog and Hedge at Whiddon Down. For a service station it was surprising comfortable and clean, and the food served was good. Having stopped for 30 minutes we made a way to our destination, arriving at around 5.30.

We had left at around 10.30 and mainly followed the coast road, making it a pleasant and scenic journey.

Sixty Tea Rooms and Two Wheels – Cassandras Cup

It feels such a long time since I last wrote about our adventures and its all because of the weather that the UK has been experiencing since the false start of spring. We have had rain, lots of it, and snow across the whole country. Last weekend was the driest it has been for a while and the sun actually decided to show its face.

With the sun out and the roads dry, it was an opportunity to get the bike out and get back in to the challenge for my 60th year. So initially, we headed towards the “Departure Lounge” in Alton, when we arrived, it felt a bit empty, as it normally teaming with bikes.. just our luck, a private function was underway. So, where to next?

Always have a backup plan, I had found another tea room in the local area , so we headed towards Chawton, the home village of Jane Austin. Directly opposite the Jane Austin museum is “Cassandras Cup” a small tea room in the corner of the village.

First impressions as we sat on a small terrace patio in the sun was that it was quiet and the patrons sat around were enjoying themselves, relaxing in the sun. We browsed the menu and were quite shocked at the prices. So between us we had smoked salmon and cream cheese on brown bread and tuna mayo wrap, they both came with a sprinkling of crisps and salad. We ordered Red Bush Tea, but were told after then order was taken that they had run out… not sure about that one, I wouldn’t say its a popular tea in the English country side, so we ended up with good old Earl Grey.

Food tasted OK, but as I said, it was a tad expensive. Total for the two of us was just under £19.00, that is a lot of money for two sandwiches and a pot of tea for two.

On arriving home I decided to look at trip advisor to see what comments had been made. It was a mixture, some saying the food was good, indifferent or as we found, expensive…. it would appear from reviews that the afternoon tea is the favourite of all items served. However, my favourite statement came from an ex member of staff, not a very happy bunny to say the least.. worth a read, if it is still there, as the owners have not yet removed it from Facebook or Trip advisor..

Well, although we didn’t make it to the intended stop, we found another, like all tea shops out there, they are down to individual taste, on this occasion, I don’t think we will be going back, sorry Cassandra…