Review Number Ten

10) DIY Cream Tea – Loose Valley

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Boom!

Hot off the press!

Yet another Cream Tea review!

Amazing!

I think it’s the sun, as soon as I feel warmth on my skin, my body goes into autopilot.

‘Must eat Cream Tea! Must eat in sun! Must make picnic!’

In a drooly creepy zombified kind of way, of course…

I have to be outside!

If the sun is shining, that’s it, I can’t stay indoors, it just feels unnatural and a complete waste if I don’t; especially as I’m in the UK. The weather here can be so unpredictable and frustratingly flighty. You never know when you’ll see Mr Blue Sky again, so outside I am drawn and outside I will stay.

Now on this particular occasion, this being the 16th of March and a SUNDAY, Ash and I decided to stick as close to his home as possible.

We had options; Sissinghurst Castle (the only local National Trust Property that was actually open), Headcorn and, our usual back up option, Leeds Castle.

But redoing those places just sounded a bore and unnecessarily far off… SO… as it was so lovely and we were feeling rather ‘picnicky’ we stuck to Loose Valley. We just walked out of Ash’s front door and found the closest and most scenic field available…

BUT THE PREP?!

Oh yes!

The prep!

The DIY job!

Right well, before we set off on our epically short venture we had to get the GOODS!

Ash drove us to Morrison’s to retrieve our supplies!

Roddas clotted cream: CHECK!

Cheap ass Raspberry Jam: CHECK!

Actual Raspberries: CHECK!

Scones: Errm…

DA ACTUAL HELL??? YOU ONLY HAVE FRUIT, CHEESE AND CHERRY SCONES?! WHERE DA PLAIN SCONES AT? DA HELL AM I GONNA EAT?

‘MORRISON SLAVE WHERE ARE YOU HIDING YOUR PLAIN SCONES? I SEE NONE ON THE SHELF! I DEMAND YOU FIND ME SOME OR I AM GOING TO FLIP OUT!’

‘Hang on let me check…’

*WHILST HYPERVETALATING* ‘ASH WHY IS GOD DOING THIS TO ME?’

The Morrison Drone returned with the worst news imaginable.

‘There are none.’

WHAT????!!!!!!

As you can imagine, I was dreadfully unhappy.

Ash held me as I fake sobbed dramatically.

Tightly, I might add, I think he was scared that I would beat the shit out of the Morrison employee, but my sorrow was stronger than my wrath.

I vowed never to shop at Morrison’s again.  

So after Bandicoot unruffled my feathers we went on a little adventure.

MATHMATICAL!!!

(Sorry, recently got into Adventure Time and I’ve taken to using their quirky exclamations… Amazing show… Really!)

Anyway… Spar and a Co-op were a major disappointment. I was almost losing hope, I thought for sure that none would be found, I was almost fake sobbing again… I was fit to burst as we pulled into to our last available option….

Who knew Tesco’s would be our salvation?!

I certainly didn’t, but there you go. TESCO SAVED THE DAY! YAY!

So, with a pack of four of Tesco’s finest we finally got on with our picnic. We made up some wraps, packed some samosa’s, brewed up a flask of tea, nicked the dog’s blanket and went to the valley of choice.

The sun was smiling, a river nearby trickled musically, ants invaded Ketchum’s juice cup, a soft breeze kept lifting up my dress, revealing my knickers to the world and a haze of wood smoke gave the scene a rustic smell.

Ah, it was glorious.

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And for a DIY Cream Tea, we did an excellent job. Though the scones weren’t exactly that big, there was certainly a gluttonous amount of them, quantity meant more to us that day it seems. But my finest plain scones were delicious, they were much better than the cherry ones Ash had settled with.

Oh and the jam! Like Bandicoot and I always say; raspberries are finitely better than strawberries, they just taste ‘redder’ (as Ash put it), I find strawberries are always such a disappointment. Who chose them anyway? Who decided strawberries were traditionally English? I’d like a word!

Also! Who needs to splash out for good jam? The cheap version was excellent and worked really well with our fresh raspberries.

I don’t think I need to sell Roddas Clotted Cream to anyone, it’s damned good and the sun made it gloriously spreadable!

The only downside to our DIY Cream Tea was that the tea itself tasted a little plasticky… can only blame Ash’s stupid flask…

Stupid flask.

But oh well, I didn’t allow such little trifle’s to dampen my mood. Basking in the sun, gorging on Cream Teas and lying on Bandicoots belly was utter bliss.

I treasure little moments like this.

They are truly priceless.

I definitely think I was a cat in my past life… I can’t get enough of lying on people’s bellies, warming myself in the sunshine and lapping up cream…

I can purr and I even like people stroking my nose!

I know… pretty weird…

Ah well, I’m looking forward to more sunny days and, of course, more Cream Teas.

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Review Number Nine

9) Fields – Sidmouth

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Fields of Sidmouth is a department store.

One of the few select, family owned and managed independent department stores remaining in the Uk.’

It’s a charming, old fashioned place with a luncheon room and a bustling clientele of 60+; an advantage I assure you, they make the place cosy and clean.

You won’t find any riff raff or youths here.

Except me of course… ahem but, ‘I’m with them!’

I often go there with my grandparents for a spot of breakfast and a chat, a great and refreshing way to start your day; you get a generous helping of sea air as its right by the coast.

It’s unique.

It’s like stepping back in time a few decades. I have recently become addicted to a show called Mr Selfridge, a programme about how the department store opened in Oxford Street back in 1909, and I was astounded at the similarities. Fields of Sidmouth have been around since the 1800’s and, I swear, their uniforms look as if they haven’t changed since they opened. Their staff are so well mannered and they treat all their customers exactly the same.

Everyone is a regular.

You feel as if they have always known you, it’s so personal, you can joke and laugh with them as if you have always been there. They make an effort to remember your ‘usual’ and seem to know exactly what you are going to order before you’ve even sat down.

They know exactly how you like your coffee, which is important, of course.

‘Muddy?’

‘Why, yes, thank you!’

I know why my grandparents love the place so much. It’s like a little trip into their past, a tipple down nostalgia lane. And I love it because it offers a sort of calm you can’t really find nowadays, it imbues more than just the look of the bygone days, it has the mentality too.

So the location and the staff?

Tick, tick, win win.

Now, the food.

I have more than one usual at this particular establishment. It all depends on my mood, appetite and, of course, the time of day.

If it’s really early and I’m not too peckish I have two slices of cinnamon toast with a pot of tea.

If it’s early and I feel like treating myself I’ll gobble up a caramel slice and yes, with a pot of tea.

If it’s nearing lunch and I’m starving, include a Panini or a bowl of soup with that caramel slice and you’ve got a party starting! Oh and don’t forget that pot of tea!

Nom nom nom.  

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So on the 1st of March I decided it was time I abandoned my usual’s and gave their scones a go.

I hoped the staff would gasp in unison, but they didn’t… they just took my order, with a smile, and got on with it. I guess that reaction is as good as any.

So the scone…

Needless to say, like all of their goods, it was damn tasty and served with style.

With little bowls for the jam and cream, a proper cake fork for the scone and an abundance of napkins for the potential mess… I tucked in feeling somewhat first class.

The scone was BIG, warm, obviously fresh out of the oven and they made sure everyone’s food arrived at the same time. The only negative comment I would make is that I wish they kept the scone in the oven just a little bit longer.

It was rather doughy.

Its consistency was so pliable and moist I’m sure I could’ve reshaped it into a ball and played around with it. It still tasted gorgeous but I fear the service came before the food.

The jam was very good though. Even I, the cream enthusiast, was overly generous. It was many different ‘s’s; strawberry, slippery and sweet.

I got it everywhere!

It kept sliding off my knife and landing on everything but my scone. I believe I managed to dirty every utensil on the table… it was infuriating but worth it. I’m just not sure where the jam was sourced from, may have to ask next time I visit.

The cream was proper clotted too! You could tell it was the genuine stuff because it had that crusty layer you find on the top to prove it. Again, I’m not sure if it was locally sourced but you could tell it was of decent quality. You also got the perfect amount, even had plenty to spare!

What has happened to me?!

They gave me plenty of hot water to top up my pot of tea; it endured and fuelled the whole conversation while retaining its strong colour.

They also gave me a GIANT strawberry to accompany my already indulgent breakfast treat. A lovely garnish I must say, it was sweet and juicy! No other cafe or restaurant I have been to has done this.

Pity…

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It’s the service though that really sells this place; you can guarantee there’ll be fresh flowers on every the table each morning and a vibrant smile for every customer as soon as you walk through the door.

It’s a place that really cares.

A place I can’t get enough of.

I’m going to give their cream tea a second try next time I go and see if the malleable scone problem was just a hiccup on that particular day.  I certainly recommend their cinnamon toasts and their caramel slices, I’ll be sorry to forego them next time…

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Safety Nets

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Having a boyfriend makes me feel safe.

My relationship status makes me feel secure.

I can talk to guys, and sometimes flirt with guys, without any fear of repercussions or pursuits.

I am taken.

I am off the market and men responded in kind. They feel they can talk to me, the pressure to impress isn’t there and I make sure of it.

So they open up.

I can be their friend, their compatriot, they can test their stuff on me and not worry.

I love being part of their lives without worrying about messy breakups or awkward dates.

My genitalia doesn’t define me.

They treat me like an actual person, a standard human being.

I’m just one of the lads, one of the group, they can feel comfortable around me.

Don’t get me wrong though.

I believe men and women can be single and friends without worrying about underlying sexual tensions.

The different body parts shouldn’t be a factor when building friendships.

Its jealous boyfriends and girlfriends that say otherwise.

They just don’t trust their partners… or anyone for that matter, idiots.

I digress.

It’s just, being in a relationship gives you that added factor, that added wiggle room.

You can push the boundaries a bit more and still feel secure.

Now, what I do, what I really enjoy, is observing my friends new partners.

I guess it stems from a fear.

From a past of broken friendships.

I worry about whether or not they will fit in, what they will do to our group, how they will affect us.

So I like to see how they respond, to me and the other girls in our group.

If they don’t overreact and don’t go ape-shit they are keepers.

Simple.

I respect them.

I befriend them.

If not, well… the decision is usually made for us.

My friend will either see the light and ditch their new squeeze or I, and any other lady friend, will never see them again.

I hate the latter.

It hurts.

They’ve devalued the friendship and discarded it.

It’s a stab in the back.

But some girlfriends just can’t handle my lady goods.

That’s how it goes.

I’m able to see the distinction because I am in a trusting relationship.

I don’t mind my man having lady friends and, likewise.

That’s why we are so compatible.

Guess you could call me a tomboy, but I find the phrase insulting.

I’m just normal, I have many interests.

Nothing is gender specific anymore.

The term Tomboy, is outdated.

So please refrain from using it around me.

Anyway, back to what I was saying.

I have never felt more able to be myself.

I’m not out to snag a lover.

I don’t need to.

I’m out there to find people who will accept my ridiculous personality, to be as real as possible and see what comes back.

When I was single I was a nervous wreck.

Zero confidence.

Now I can approach and engage with ease.

Flirting isn’t a clumsy tongue-tied affair.

It’s just a spot of fun.

I can also dance like a normal person.

No sexy boring dancing for me, no thank you.

I jump and mosh with the boys without worrying about getting sweaty, just bruised.

Clubbing has lost its sheen though.

I no longer find it enjoyable having men press themselves against me to gyrate and hump like a dog on heat.

Wait, when was that ever enjoyable?

Clubbing is a frenzy of singletons.

You can liken it to any mating season in the animal kingdom, every species has one.

When you’re there just to dance and have fun, little things you were able to brush over before become colossal irritations.

People bumping into you all the time, people walking through your group and people drunkenly leaning on you, it all adds up.

You begin to wonder, is it worth it?

The deafening music, the expensive drinks and the inability to really get your groove on begins to gripe you.

I have a living room, an IPod and a kitchen that can provide better entertainment.

So that’s one downside to being in a relationship, you grow up, and only go clubbing if you really, really must.

Is that a huge loss though really? No, more a relief.

Having a boyfriend has saved me from many unwanted suitors and it has also helped me to make some interesting friendships.

I must have been a very incapable singleton, a gawky novice.

I’m sure if I was single now, I’d be able to cope, but I’m thankful for my safety net.

I’m thankful I have a man that trusts me.

A man that lets me bat my eyelids every once in a while and doesn’t mind me being silly with somebody else, even if it is a man.

It works both ways though and I’m pretty sure his feelings are identical.

I can be rebellious and safe all at the same time.

It’s not a bad way to live I think.