Following the joys of Stir-Up Sunday I’ve surprisingly woken up bright and early, but I wonder what you’re up to?
Maybe you’re still in the land of nod, nestled within the warm layers of your soft, brushed, cotton duvet – How blissful! Or possibly I’ve startled you from your sleep and now you’re walking like a zombie towards the kettle – definitely time for a cuppa! Either way, I’m going to tell you all about Mrs Beeton’s Traditional British Christmas Pudding – which I re-created with a bit of a Miss Windsor twist, of course!
Darlings, but before I proceed, I do wonder if you know what Stir-Up Sunday actually is? “Hmm, that certainly rings a bell,”I hear you grunt from deep within your bedclothes!
Afternoon Tea with Cllr Marcia Hill & Beloved Consort Mr Hill at Hestercombe House & Gardens, Taunton, Somerset!
I’ve been utterly immersed with excitement since my last visit to the green rippling countryside of Somersetshire, “Ooh arr, Ooh arr!” I hear you bellow with sheer delight! Oh, and please note, this is the archaic name for such a spiffing snippet of the West-Country, which is simply known in this day and age as Somerset!
So, darlings, please join the gaiety for a merry jaunt down memory lane, then a bimble into the present, whilst I reveal many humorous and riveting titbits about Taunton Deane’s very own, illustrious, dynamic duo – Mr & Mrs Hill.
Who I recently joined for a scrumptious spot of afternoon tea in The Column Room at Hestercombe House, which is pleasantly plonked within the parish of West Monkton, and beautifully nestled on the Quantock Hills, near Taunton, Somerset.
In 1861, during the reign of our sovereign - Queen Victoria (curtsey please!), Mrs Isabella Beeton’s most treasured creation – Beeton’s Book of Household Management was first published. And as nature intended, she flourished into the worlds-greatest teacher of all things ‘domestic and culinary’.
In fact, Mrs Beeton’s been hailed as ‘the grandmother of the modern-day domestic goddess’ – but frankly my dears, I beg to differ! As clearly, due to her untimely farewell via the Pearly Gates, the honourable title of ‘godmother’ is a far more suitable fit – Concur?
I excitedly present Whimsical Winnie – round of applause, please!
Well, I say, Winnie or Wynette, but you may address her by Your Majesty – curtsey please – is immensely charismatic; and bursting with buoyancy!
Oh, and she’s blessed with magical ‘green fingers’ – just one teeny-weeny touch of a seed, and hey presto it’s blossomed into an abundance of fruit or vegetables! And of course, I’m always chuffed to receive a hamper of Winnie’s harvest from her bountiful allotment at Fulham Palace Meadows where she’s been a plot holder since 1996.
First off, my apologies for the slight delay in publishing my frightfully spiffing experience about Somerset Day, Bishops Lydeard, Taunton – which took place at the village hall on Saturday 12th May.
“But what the heck is Somerset Day?” I hear you utter! Well, it’s a DAY that celebrates Somerset as a place to live, work or play – Hear, hear! In fact, you’ll be pleased to know that this wonderful event raised money for St Margaret’s Somerset Hospice and Greenway Community Hall – round of applause, please!
Mrs Simkins and I have joined together in ‘matrimony’ – Ha, ha, got you there! Of course, I meant to say the beauteous Meghan (real name: Rachel!) and dashing Harry (real name: Henry!) exchanged vows on Saturday 19th May 2018 and became the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – curtesy, please! Indeed, I wish them every happiness in their covenant of LOVE.
Moving on gracefully - to my spiffing collaboration with Mrs Simkins! You see, to complement her scrumptious Lemon and Elderflower Butterfly Cakes, which tastefully mirror the married couple’s glorious wedding cake of lemon and elderflower sponge decorated with Swiss meringue. I sourced an extra special tea created by Fortnum and Mason of London – The Wedding Bouquet Blend – which commemorates the marriage of Miss Windsor’s royal counterparts!
Before I saturate your taste-buds with my ‘tea-tastic’ review about Miles Berry Berry Loose Leaf Tea - merchants of the finest tea and coffee from the West-Country since 1888 - I wish to share a few riveting details about how I spent my first ever British National Tea Day.
Well, I dare say, it was a real blast! In fact, it was a joint celebration of the regal and tea drinking kind, as our darling sovereign - Queen Elizabeth II turned 92 years old – GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!
Following my frightfully fabulous scone munching, tea tasting experience at Mr Miles Tearooms, Taunton, Somerset; I became rather enamoured with Miles West-Country Original Blend Tea. But I dare say, although I’m a West-Country lass at heart, my new ‘amour’ was a match made in heaven! Thus, this heavenly taste sensation is now part of my daily tea break routine – “Oh, jolly good,” I hear you utter!
Mr Miles Tearooms, 3-4 High Street, Taunton, Somerset – What a ‘gem’ of a find!
I must say, following my scone munching, tea tasting visit I decided to showcase my review via my shiny new website, and, to be part of the gaiety on British National Tea Day – so here it is!
Darlings, many moons ago I stumbled across this rather enchanting, traditional, tea and coffee parlour which oozes the timeless flavour of a bygone era – a honey-pot for ‘ladies who lunch’, afternoon tea for tourists, cream tea for the locals, or just a mere cup of Miles Smugglers Gold Tea will do for the poor commoner – a menu to suit ALL patrons!
Well, I say! what a wonderful start to the festive season, as I hosted a glittering ‘soiree’ at the one and only – The Ritz London, Piccadilly! Where I dined and caroused my delightful compeers with the Christmas themed afternoon tea – famously known as ‘Tea at the Ritz’ - Oh, isn't Miss Windsor so generous!
One must say, it feels like an age since our last culinary rendezvous! But fear not, Miss Windsor has returned to flurry upon you exciting news about the discovery of a remarkable, handwritten cookbook from 1793 that originated from Begbrook House (Frenchay) Bristol, England , not too far from Miss Windsor's hometown of Backwell.
But, according to the local and national press, this extraordinary ‘slice’ of Bristol’s culinary past – the Begbrook Kitchen Library, could possibly contain the oldest recipe for an English CHICKEN CURRY – Well, let’s see about that!
Foraging in South-East London, now who would have thought it!
Blackberry season is surely upon us, but not if the dreaded rain has anything to do with it. So, given the current state of affairs with British ‘summertide’ weather, Miss Windsor scuttled around the provincial areas of South-East London in a fraught attempt to relive a joyous, yet nostalgic, childhood past-time of ‘blackberry picking’ in Somerset, England.
Since our last culinary rendezvous, and by a sheer stroke of serendipity I discovered Patricia Matthews of Bolton, Greater Manchester, England via social media – Well, what do ya know! And at the grand age of 67, Patricia became an author of her first cookery book – Grandma’s Antique Recipes, a YouTube sensation, and local celebrity.
With a jaunty swing in one’s step, Miss Windsor meandered along the historical, cobbled streets of Cambridge, whilst she dreamed of devouring a delightful ‘scone’ or two at Harriet’s Café Tearooms - 16 & 17 Green Street, Cambridge, CB2 3JU, England.
Of course, careful not to lose one’s footing due to an inappropriate choice of footwear – namely kitten heels, I came to an abrupt halt! And there I stood enwreathed by the clear blue sky above, whilst captivated by the golden, sizzling hot sun rays that gently shimmered across the River Cam.
On a delightfully bright summers day, Miss Windsor and her companions couldn’t wait to descend upon The Orchard Tea Garden for a jolly good munch on their pageantry of sweet treats!
So, riddled with excitement we bundled into our chariot and proceeded to The Orchard Tea Garden, Grantchester Village, Cambridge.
The delightful month of June is surely upon us, and with a ‘spring in our step’ we look forward to two magnificent weeks of tennis at The Championships, Wimbledon – London, England.
This year marks 140 glorious years of The Championships, Wimbledon! (also referred to as Wimbledon) But for those who are not in the know-how regarding the history of this world renown All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club - it held it’s first ever ‘men’s singles’ tournament in 1877.
During a delightfully showery summers eve, Miss Windsor gathered together her eccentric (Oh pardon me darlings, one means ‘eclectic’!) assemblage of her favoured peers, to dine and carouse within the sumptuous surroundings of The Gilbert Scott restaurant.
In fact, this exquisite establishment forms part of the stupendously glorious and famed Victorian Gothic construction – The St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel. Also known during its glory years as the Midland Grand Hotel, which was built in 1873 by the illustrious architect - Sir George Gilbert Scott - who was chiefly devoted to the English Gothic revival - Oh, how spiffing!
During a leisurely jaunt to Canada, Miss Windsor spent a splendid afternoon sampling the afternoon tea delights at the Fairmont Empress Hotel – 721 Government Street, Victoria, BC, Canada, V8W 1W5.
And according to the jolly old internet (www.fairmont.com)
AFTERNOON TEA - HOT AND STEAMY SINCE 1908
A grand tradition for over a century, the world renowned Fairmont Empress has served England’s most beloved ritual of afternoon tea to famed royalty, celebrities and dignitaries alike. Reinvigorated in our timeless, sophisticated Lobby Lounge, Tea at the Empress will continue this quintessentially Victoria experience.
Miss Windsor replies "I couldn't agree more!".
Photo credit here - Fannie Merritt Farmer - pioneer of the North American measuring cup!
During a brief stay in the USA, I decided to carry out some research regarding 'female' cooks and food writers from a bygone era. And to my surprise, I discovered the celebrated American cook – Fannie Merritt Farmer who is, in fact, the perfect ‘nemesis’ to our English culinary marvel - Mrs Isabella Beeton!
As an ongoing project, I shall re-create recipes by jolly old Fannie Merritt Farmer, and document the results in my recipe section.