Sixty Tea Rooms and Two Wheels – Hinton Ampner & Wickham Square

The last summer UK Bank holiday has now passed, the weather this summer has been extremely good, but, unfortunately lacking in riding days at the weekends. Where have they all gone, in fact where has the year gone? I started this challenge with the easy intention of visiting 60 tea rooms by my 60th Birthday, in November. That so far has proven to be a challenge, not because of lack of tea rooms, but everything else that goes on in life. Anyway, the challenge continues, and we are aiming to complete, even if it means rainy day riding, but please don’t tell my wife.

We recently joined the National Trust again to take in a few more stately homes and English family history and tea rooms. Today we ventured into Mid-Hampshire, to Hinton Ampner House.

The house was owned by the Dutton Family and was left to the national Trust in 1985 when the last member of the family, Ralph Dutton 8th Baron Sherborne passed away at the age of 87. The house was refurbished after a major fire in 1960 and back to the Georgian style that it originally was and has remained in full since the Ralph Dutton passed away.

The house has full access to all rooms, however, at present the first floor had the floor boards up for wiring and other electrical work. So, we will be going back for another look. The house is in 1600 acres of land and the gardens are beautiful to walk around. The tea room was the standard food fayre for a National Trust site and they also had Judy’s Ice Cream. The team room has plenty of seating both in an outside and in quiet surroundings.

Note for riders, the carpark is effectively a field on a hill and difficult to park. There is a flat gravel car park at the top of the hill by the entrance and it would be worth asking if you can park in there for ease (especially if you have a heavy bike like mine).

The ride out was a familiar one, A32 and A272, so nice ride all the way and back to Wickham.

Our second visit for the day was back to Wickham Square and Lilly’s Tea and Coffee House. We have been before and always enjoyed it. Generally, it is very busy, we didn’t arrive until about 1.45pm, so it had quietened down, so we managed to get a table outside overlooking the square. The menu is great and lots to choose from, Salad, sandwiches, afternoon tea and cake etc. Prices are reasonable across all offerings and food tastes great. Today we both went for Baked Camembert Ploughman’s, effectively a baguette with salad, pickle and a full baked cheese ring, delicious.

Well that’s was todays ride out, back to work tomorrow, three days, then it’s the weekend again, hopefully for another ride out.

Safe riding people…

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Sixty Tea Rooms and Two Wheels – Cornwall Day Three

End of day two saw us enjoying a beer or two and a BBQ, as the night drew in the clouds and the wind came with it. As the skies grew darker, it was time to check the forecast for the next day, and it was not good! Heavy rain showers forecast, and they were going to be with us for the next couple of days.  Over night the wind got up and the rain began to fall, and I mean like stair rods.

Its 8.30 and the wind had died down, but the sky was thick with heavy rain clouds. Command decision was made, move to four wheels for day and are we glad we did, the rain when it did fall during the day was heavy! The trip for the day was going to take us up to Minions (Menyon) village on top of the Moors and then to Lanhydrock House (National Trust).

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Minions Village is located at the edge of Bodmin Moor, but is also the highest village in Cornwall, you could say it also has the two highest tea shops in Cornwall. Minions Village is a mining heritage village that still has the remains of several tin mines surrounding the village. Also local to the area are the Cheesewring (a stacked stone formation) and the Hurlers Circles (three Bronze age circles 1500 BC). The sites provide some fantastic aerial photo opportunities (will be going back with the drone) as well as other photographic opportunities.

Anyway, back to the original challenge regarding tea shops. We decided to go to the Hurlers Halt, there is also the Cheeswring Hotel and Restaurant opposite. Anyway, we strolled in to the Hurlers Halt and took a seat and looked at the menu. A great choice of food and other beverages. Just over our shoulder was a glass cabinet full of very big cakes and they looked delicious.  So, cream tea was of the cards and cake was on.  The owner was friendly and had a great sense of humour as we found out towards to end.  Our friend said after finishing tea and cake “so that’s the sample what are you going to provide for the main deal” he looked at us and said “have you read the bottom of the menu?” in red the following words were written:

WARNING – prices may vary according to the attitude of the customer!!”

Laughing, we paid our bill and left. If you like history and a good cuppa and good food, worth a visit.

Next stop, Lanhydrock House, a National Trust run house and gardens and normally guaranteed to have a good tea room and normally a restaurant. We have always found that the food and beverages in all the National Trust houses are good, so I am not going to say much, but the cream tea was good, but they really need to stop serving the jam and cream in sealed tubs… because you don’t get enough. The house history is fascinating but also tragic, with many members of the family being killed during the Great War. The house has some great artefacts and fabulously decorated rooms. The park and garden are beautiful with a small chapel at the back of the house. A good end to a few days in Cornwall.

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Our final day took us back home the quickest possible route, dodging raining showers and thunder storms. Luckily, we did not encounter them, we skirted around them, plenty of wet roads, but not rain fell on us. Overall we have a good few days and we will be going back and venturing further a field in to deepest darkest Cornwall.

Sixty Tea Rooms and Two Wheels – Cornwall Day 2

We woke up to another beautiful day, the sun was shining, and the sky was clear, an excellent day for riding. Plans for the day was to ride down to south Cornwall and visit the Lost Gardens and then on into Mevagissey, memories of past times as a child. We decided to take the long route, by going west first to the A39 then south west back down to the A30 across to St Dennis, then St Austell and then down to The Lost Gardens of Heligan. The ride was good, lots of scenery, wind farms, coastal views, through small valleys and over hills.

On arrival at the lost gardens, the motorcycle bay was taken up by cars, so we had to find another parking area. By the time we arrived it was lunch time, all we could smell was good old Cornish Pasties. So, two steak and one cheese with tea and coffee was ordered. The gardens have a great selection of food outlets in and outside the gardens, quick snack to restaurant food and all reasonably priced. The gardens are on a hill, so be prepared to walk some very step paths (alternatives routes available). There is plenty to see and do for all the family, so children would have just a good time as the adults. The gardens consist of many plant forms from natural habitat to tropical plants and trees. The trails have various sculptures made from mud, rocks, plants and metal. There are various view points around the gardens that provide good panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and views of the sea.  As you walk around the gardens there are various refreshment points including BBQ, ice cream, drinks and a tea shop.  Having stopped ice cream (a must have) we made our way back to the bike ready for the next part of the trip.

We proceeded from the Lost Gardens to Mevagissey, a small fishing port that has lots of memories as we used to holiday just up the road at Pentewan Sands. We parked up on the outskirts and walked down in to town. Lots of little quirky shops and was surprised to see shops such a Fatface and other similar brands. Anyway, time to find a tea shop for the lucrative cream tea and making sure you get it right with the cream and the jam, especially while in Cornwall.  (Cream first with Jam on top). We arrived at the Harbour front, a quick look and saw a tea shop and head for it. We were lucky really, we arrived about 45 minutes before they were about to close. The tea shop we visit was “Tea on the Quay”, cream teas ordered with Earl Grey and we were in out element. Both plain and fruit scones order and the size of a fist, pure indulgence, but delicious… if you are in Mevagissey, try it out, there are others, but as usual spoilt for choice.

 

We left Mevagissey and rode towards St Austell, Bodmin then back on the A30 towards Launceston for an even BBQ at our friends, relaxing ready for the next day.