Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Days Out: Afternoon Tea at South Lodge

It's no secret that I love afternoon tea, but it's been quite some time since I've tried somewhere new. As it was my brother-in-law's (and new sister-in-law's, eek!) wedding last weekend, it seemed a perfect opportunity to book tea for a few of us ladies the day before the wedding as we'd been abandoned by the boys for the 'obligatory' pre-wedding round of golf!

The hubs and I had visited South Lodge as a possible wedding reception venue so I knew it was stunning and, as it was en route, it was the perfect choice. It's a 5-star Victorian country house that is beautiful whatever season you visit; we've been in winter, when fires roar from gorgeous fireplaces and spring when the vast rhododendron is in bloom, but had yet to visit in summer.

South Lodge is such a stunning hotel and, with it's ample grounds, is a perfect venue for tea if you're doing the unorthodox thing of taking an active toddler with you; 93 acres are more than enough to contain even the busiest of 1 1/2 year olds!

In the summer, afternoon tea is served on the terrace or in one of the drawing rooms and we had our fingers crossed that it would be sunny enough for us to enjoy sitting outside while working our way through the delights on offer on the afternoon tea menu (it's just possible we may have tucked in before I remembered to take any snaps!). Although I didn't book Charlie in, there's always the option of Little Lodgers for children under 12. The choices look great, but we're trying to keep him away from unnatural sugars for a while longer so he had his own packed lunch.

Tea for the grown-ups was a truly traditional affair. Perfect given we had a Canadian and an aunt over from America in our party; they loved the tea, sandwiches, scones, Haley's homemade cake and seasonal patisserie (as did the rest of us!) and the fact that it was served in such quintessentially English surroundings made it even better.

As you may have guessed, I didn't get to sit still for too long! So, while the others enjoyed a relaxing time on the terrace and cuddles with our bubba who, at four months, is much more suited to such an event(!), I went for a wander round the house with Charlie. We all walked off our tea afterwards and found the lakes and the most gorgeous swing under an old oak tree. If you have older children there's even a cute map to encourage them to direct you to some of the hidden gems.

One of the things I love about afternoon tea is the excuse to dress up during the day. It's so lovely to be able to pop on a tea dress but, as I knew I would spend my time bending to pick up our toddler, I went for a cotton maxi which was a bargain in the sales and teamed it with my favourite tan heels (similar, also from Dune), fedora (similar) and aviators.

Days out with two children always require a lot of bits and bobs, so I need to take a changing bag, but it's often difficult to find one that doesn't compromise your style. To compliment the soft colours of my outfit, and wanting to minimise bag changes over the weekend, I opted for a soft grey leather changing bag which is so gorgeous you'd be forgiven for thinking it's a stylish handbag. I've been road-testing the Thea, part of Kerikit's new range, and each time I've used it I've got so many compliments and questions about where it's from. I love that it opens really wide across the top, has lots of storage pockets, an IRO (internal removable organiser), and that you can use it even on days when you're baby free.

Loaded in it was everything you'd expect, along with several essentials for days out: two Pacapod feeding pods (one for each bubba), Munchkin's miracle 360 sippy cup and two BĂ©aba formula/snack stackers (we have three and use them regularly for both babies).
Before we left we made sure we popped into one of the gorgeous sitting rooms to take our pick of yummy treats to take home with us. Really, you're only meant to take one, but I cheekily asked to take the Victoria sponge (it had a blackberry filling!) and a slice of chocolate fudge cake. Although I was still feeling a tad stuffed, I can confirm that, when I sampled what was left of each late that evening, they were delicious; pre-wedding revellers had dived in to our boxes of cakes but the hubs managed to snatch me away some while I was curled up in our room with my book and a glass of bubbles.


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