Wednesday, June 15, 2016

English Afternoon Tea in Bradford on Avon, England

By now we have moved to our second cottage located in Turleigh, Wiltshire in the county of Wessex. The area belongs still to the beautiful Cotswolds.

Yesterday, after having a lot of fun exploring the pretty old town of Bradford on Avon and doing some fine hat shopping there, we treated ourselves to the first full English Afternoon Tea in this vacation at The Bridge Tea Rooms.



The cottage that houses the tea room is quite old and charming, like so many houses in England. Originally it belonged to a blacksmith and is dating from 1502. The front of the house is lovingly decorated with planters and window boxes. By the way, we had our tea behind the window to the right on the second floor.



There was a beautiful display of vintage, possibly antique blue china on the window sill. Just lovely!



In the background you can see the old town center of Bradford on Avon and the building in the middle with the round cupola I believe is the Catholic Church of Bradford on Avon.



Now we have been served tea! I chose the Guv'nors Tea and my husband had the English Breakfast Tea. Both teas had nice well balanced flavors. I was so pleased, that they served the tea in really elegant and delicate fine bone china. The maker was Duchess, England.



Tadaaa...! And here is the three tired tea stand. What a delight!



Who is able to resist an English Afternoon Tea?



This is the fireplace in the second story, very close to the table were we sat.



Attention to detail is what made this tea so enjoyable besides the edible treats. Each of us had an own tea strainer, that fit into a small metal bowl, so that it didn't leave a mess on the saucer with the little doily.



We chose the Queen Victoria Afternoon Tea to share, which contained a selection of four finger sandwiches, a scone with strawberry jam and organic clotted cream, and two small slices of cake: chocolate and lemon. Traditionally you eat the scone first, then the sandwiches and save the cake for last as a kind of desert. Let's have a closer look at the food items.



The scone was delicious and had the right texture, not too crumbly, not too moist. I loved the little bowl they served the jam in.



The cakes were also very good. The chocolate cake was rich and moist, exactly as it should be, and the lemon cake refreshing. You hardly can see it on the photo, but they were serving small wild strawberries with the cake and very small red grapes, so that the fruits were more in proportion with the small size of the cake slices. I loved their attention to detail.



The selection of sandwiches included salmon, ham, egg and cucumber. All sandwiches were very tasty, but the cucumber sandwich stood out. It was super delicious and one of the ingredients was mint, which was new to me in this context. It just gave it that extra special memorable taste that stays with you for a long time.  



The china was delicate and beautiful and I appreciated the fact that each of us had our own tea pot. If you serve an English Afternoon Tea at home, I think that would the ultimate treat for a well appreciated guest.



One extra detail that some may find over the top touristy and cheesy, but others a delight, is that the tea is served by staff dressed in Victorian costumes. Our waitresses were very friendly and one agreed that I could take a photo of her. 



The fireplace in the first story is much more elaborate than the one shown a few photos above in the second story.



Since we had read mixed review, we asked some locals about The Bridge Tea Rooms. We have been discretely told by them that the owner has changed about two years ago and that the quality has gone down a bit from really exceptional to "people still like it and go there". Hmm..., were they talking about tourists? The Bridge Tea Rooms has been awarded two times the UK's Top Tea Place by the prestigious UK Tea Guild, but maybe that was before the ownership has changed?



Well, we don't know what the quality of the English Afternoon Tea was like at The Bridge Tea Rooms before the owner changed, but we certainly did not regret our visit there. As a matter of fact we enjoyed our experience quite a bit and think it is still absolutely worth having an English Afternoon Tea in this establishment.

So when you are in the area, maybe you stop by and check it out yourself and come to your own conclusion. I hope your experience will be as pleasant as ours has been!

Warm regards,

Christina



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Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Beautiful Village of Blockley in the Cotswolds, England I

We are on vacation in England right now and I would like to take you on an early morning walk through the beautiful ancient village of Blockley. Blockley is located in the Cotswolds, an area quite famous for its outstanding beauty of the landscape, in the county of Gloucestershire in England, where we were renting a self catering cottage for a week. Usually we started the day with a healthy breakfast at our cottage but that morning we felt like having a traditional English Breakfast and decided to head out to the local village cafe and explore the village in a leisurely morning stroll by foot. The photos which are following I took on the way.


Leaving the cottage you step into a tiny but very lovingly planted cottage garden. The raised small terrace offered a very nice place to sit and enjoy the moment.



I especially liked this plant, I believe it is a Geum, which up to now I only was able to admire on photos from other garden bloggers.



Looking back through the garden gate towards 'Alice Cottage' to the right.



There was certainly no shortage of pretty cottages in Blockley.



Many of them build of the famous honey colored Cotswold stone that was quarried in the area.



Looking down the High Street of Blockley.



I love the climbing roses that were grown on many of the cottage walls. So pretty!



Here is a particular nice example of a climbing rose.



Looks like Mother Nature took over this front yard. All the rain that they have in England makes it possible that plants can thrive, even if they are not tended to by a gardener.



 I loved the beautiful detailed stone work around the door.



Many people make an effort to prettify their cottages with plants grown in containers.



The Crown Inn & Hotel looks nice from the outside, but the dinner we had there during our stay was disappointingly bland and boring.



Cottage garden charm! There is hardly any space to garden in, but British gardeners work their magic anyways!



My husband noticed the planter to the left of the door and commanded me to take a photo. So I happily obliged.



This was my favorite scene from the High Street. The pink climbing rose is just amazing and it smells very strong. Unfortunately I don't know what variety it is.

I will continue the walk through Blockley in my next post. If you want to see more scenes from this lovely village and also what our traditional English Breakfast looked like, stop by here soon.

In case you have read my last post and wonder about the Doberman puppies. Two of them have been adopted out before our trip to England. We have decided to keep one puppy, and this one is very well taken care of by our wonderful dog sitters. Still, it was a little hard to leave her behind, but we have booked this vacation six months ago and didn't had one last year, so with a little heavy heart we decided to go. We see our puppy over FaceTime almost every day though, and she seems to do very well. It looks like that we miss her more than she misses us, which is a good thing.

Wishing everyone a lovely rest of the weekend!

Warm regards,

Christina



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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Three Little Rescue Doberman Puppies!

The main reason why my blogging has come to an abrupt hold around the middle of April is this: Three four week old rescue Doberman puppies, all little girls, have found their way into our home...



...and have turned our life upside down.



All photos in this post were taken spontaneously the first evening when they arrived with an iPhone, so please overlook the not so great quality of the images.



Since the puppies were constantly moving (at least one of them always was) you neither got all three of them in one photo,... 



...nor did you get a sharp shot. 



Here is Skylar, our red Dobie boy, testing the new x-pen, the afternoon before the puppies moved in. He seems to approve of their new home!



'Can I find some mother milk here?'



Cuteness overload?!



The puppies have been rescued by Susan Kelber, Los Angeles, who is involved in Doberman rescue for the last twenty years. She got them from a backyard breeder, who was selling them individually over Craig's List at the age of four weeks. According to Susan, he claimed their mom was hit by a car and dead, and that was the reason why he was selling them at such a young age.

Puppies should stay with their mom until they are at least eight weeks old. If the mom is not available anymore, they at least should be brought up together until they are eight weeks old to keep each other company, play together and teach each other important things like bite inhibition etc.



When Susan got in contact with the backyard breeder he stated that it was a litter of ten puppies and that he had already sold four. According to Susan she explained to the man that puppies should not be separated at this age and tried to convince him to relinquish the puppies to her for rescue purposes, but he didn't want to do that. So Susan bought the remaining six puppies from him with the help of two generous and dog loving friends, to keep them safe and make sure that they stay together at least in groups of three until they can be separated at a more appropriate age.

Our friend and dog trainer Alexandra Gant, who is heavily involved in dog rescue, was looking for a second rescue Doberman for us and heard through her rescue contacts about the litter and connected us to Susan.



And so it came that three puppies went to a Doberman breeder in the Los Angeles area for fostering and the remaining three ended up at our home.



Our job was to raise and take care of them as good as we can until they are at least eight weeks old and can be adopted out.



First of all, we took them on, because we wanted to adopt one for ourselves. As I said earlier, we were looking for a Doberman companion for Skylar and we were searching for quite a while by then. But, of course, we also wanted to help these little puppies to get the best possible start into their lives, after obviously a very bumpy early beginning.



'This is a fun toy to play with!'



Skylar: 'Yes, but this one is mine and will stay mine, no matter how cute mom and dad think you are!'



The decision to take the puppies on had to be made rather quickly and I freely admit that we had no idea what we were getting into and how much work and time was involved to raise these little girls.



As luck would have it, I was taking part in a Vedic Chant workshop in Ojai, California and on the way back to San Diego, it was easy to stop by at Susan's home in Los Angeles and pick them up.



Not knowing anything about Doberman puppies, I was shocked how little they actually were when I saw them in person for the first time. But still, moments later I had them loaded up in a cardboard box into my car to take them home.



'My nose tells me that there is water!'



Crashed on my husbands leg after the long drive from Los Angeles to San Diego.



They really craved human contact.



Another one crashed in my arms. They seemed to either play, sleep, eat or poop and pee.



They were so little, they were fitting into one hand.



'Yum, puppy gruel!'



'Shall we eat some more?'

I just wanted to show you the little Dobie girls the way they looked the moment they arrived. By now, about six weeks later, they have grown so tremendously, they are hard to recognize.

If you would like to follow their story, please come back soon. I will try to post more pictures of them in the next couple of weeks and let you participate in their development!

Thanks for stopping by, as always I really appreciate your visit! Hope you enjoyed seeing some photos of the little Dobie girls!

Warm regards,

Christina



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