Sunday, 16 September 2012

Tommy the turtle, my tea shop habit and a walk around Bradford-on-Avon

Tommy the turtle

Hard to believe, I know, but I have actually done some sewing this week! The muslin curtains for our holiday flat are probably not worth a photo, but do let me introduce you to Tommy, a patchwork turtle. This is a gift, rather than a design for future retail, but I rather like him.
patchwork turtle, Tommy
His distant cousin, tortoise Tommy-Fred, seemed quite curious about him...

Tommy and his cousin

My tea shop habit

My mum says I was born middle-aged. There's nothing I like better than a bit of a walk and a nice cup of tea in a tea shop or tea garden. I am very proud of the story my family likes to tell of when I was 11 or 12 and we had a school trip to London Zoo. Most of the year were acting their age, being rowdy and generally misbehaving and our form teach, Mrs Hicklenton, was concerned that she could not see my friend Karen or me. Eventually she found us sharing a pot of tea in the tea rooms, like a couple of pensioners. That's me - tea drinker, and proud of it!

As part of my plan to lose weight and get fit, I have been walking to my Fiday singing lesson (only about 2 miles each way). The trouble is that, as I have also saved myself the cost of parking the car, I feel entitled to pop in to a tea shop before my lesson. If it were just a cup of tea it would not be a problem, but sometimes, I feel obliged to have a little something with it...

I often walk past the Bertinet bakery, but only recently found out it has a cafe upstairs. I felt I owed it to  any future visitors to check it out!

The window display always looks so tempting, but I have so far only tried a loaf of bread (which was excellent).

pain au raisin - my favourite!
I find looking at the pains au raisin, cloud meringues and Portuguese custard tarts too long can result in embarrassing drooling. Worse still, I noticed in the cafe they serve cloud meringues with icecream and either salted caramel or berry daily calorie allowance simply would not allow it, but it sounds amazing!

cloud meringues and portuguese custard tarts (pasteis de nata)
The cafe was very busy, but a couple got up to leave just as I got there, so I got a nice table by the open window. It looked good, and I love that they have toasters on the table and will provide you with slices of their bread and your choice of preserves, so you can make your own toast.
However, I did have to wait quite some time for my Bristol blend tea and abricotine - although neither required a great deal of effort. The plates and cups from the couple before me were not cleared away until my order was brought to the table, and I sat there for some time before I heard the waitress tell someone else that they should go to the counter to order...a notice, or making sure they tell all customers would have been helpful.

The apricots in the abricotine were lovely and flavoursome, but the pastry itself was somewhat heavy, flavourless and disappointing. I am glad I went to see what it was like, and would certainly buy from the bakery again, but I don't think I am likely to go back to the cafe. It really was not in the same league as Bea's Vintage Tea Rooms, the Bath Tea Emporium, the Fashion Museum cafe, the Jane Austen Centre Regency Tea Rooms, the Pump Room, Coral Quay, Roscoff Deli, Patisserie Valerie or the Courtyard Cafe.

...mmmm...I think this tea shop thing could be a clinical obsession!

A stroll around Bradford on Avon

I suspect my middle-agedness has rubbed off on Mark. Today it was his suggestion we should head to Bradford-on-Avon for a bit of a walk. We had hoped for a cycle ride, but my dodgy knees have been particularly dodgy this weekend, so a gentle stroll seemed like a better idea. We usually walk by the canal and the river, but there were a lot of people with the same idea, and Mark suggested we walk up to Tory - this meant nothing to me, but I readily agreed. It turns out Tory is the topmost row of houses looking over the valley towards the Westbury white horse (a big chalk horse carved in to the hillside - there's an interesting site about Wiltshire white horses).

Bradford-on-Avon nestles among the Wiltshire hills between the Mendip Hills, Salisbury Plain and the Cotswold Hills. It's origins are Roman, developing around the ford over the river Avon, later with a Norman bridge, which is still there (and has very narrow pavements and far too much traffic!). The bridge was widened in the 17th century, when the river helped a thriving textiles economy flourish.

So we started off by crossing the river - this wet Summer has made everything so green!

River Avon at Bradford-on-Avon

Then, rather scarily, we had to cross the railway line...and the path started heading upwards.

We found such pretty houses - I love the glass in the door on the right (left-hand photo), and the lovely English roses; the scent was wonderful too.

There were flowers everywhere. I seem to recall it has won Britain in Bloom competitions in the past.

Throughout the little town there are tiny pathways, with loads of steps, cutting vertically between the streets that run horizontally along the side of the valley.

Once we got to Tory Place, the views were amazing - I was lazy and didn't switch to a zoom lens, so you cannot see the Westbury white horse very clearly...sorry.

what a view from this garden!

The houses look lovely in the old stone, but I wouldn't want to carry my shopping up those steep paths!

St Mary's Chapel, Tory

Heading back down towards the centre of the town, we saw a slightly incongruous house - although I quite liked it. I have heard of 'getting your ducks in a row', but never swans!

I know graffiti shouldn't make me smile, but this did...
graffiti letter box

Somewhere to water your horses?
pretty water trough

I really liked the door on the old Priory Barn

Even the cashpoint is pretty!

Masonic Hall
This house seemed rather grand compared to its neighbours.

The Saxon church (early 11th century) is very small and simple, but has lovely light and really feels like a place of worship:
the Saxon church

the old woollen mill

We enjoyed meeting some of the locals!

The heron was a little too fast for me, but I still quite like the feel of the photo:

There were lots of cats:

At the little row of craft shops near where we parked the car, this little lady (Zoe, I gather from the regular shout from one of the shops) took it upon herself to welcome every new visitor personally. We thought her very charming, but the people behind us had other ideas...!


  1. I am truly glad that you take the effort of investigating all the tea shops in Bath prior to our visit - you take your duties as a host very seriously, I can tell! :-)

    As always I love your photos - and you must show me how you do that, only have one colourful object in a black/white photo!

  2. It's a tough job - testing tea shops - but someone's got to do it!

    You can make colour-splash photos in Aperture, but I cheat and use the iSplash app ($0.99 - very cheap, and very easy). You just select a photo, the app makes it black and white and you select the area where you want the original colour to be put back. I never could keep a secret...! ;-)