The school hols is a great time for a change of routine. Some lucky families decamp in caravans or campervans, or go to beach huts or cabins in the woods for weeks at a time. The pace of life slows down and is lived almost entirely out of doors. That’s not us!  But even if you’re stuck at home on sunny days you can still venture out to somewhere special for the afternoon and be back in time for a proper afternoon tea .

Tea should be a relaxed affair –  homemade lemonade, tea or coffee, crumpets, muffins  or sandwiches (crustless of course), a bowl of raspberries and  homemade cake or scones. Lay the table outside if the weather allows  and let the children do the bulk of the prep. (Yes really!) This is manna from heaven for busy mums and dads who struggle with the daily dilemma of what to cook for tea. Baking a cake and keeping a stock of bready goods is easy peasy in comparison!

We’ve tried some interesting sandwich filling combos,believe me ,but our top five eats are egg and cress, cucumber, cheese and chutney, tinned salmon and marmite and alfafa. Summer teatime cake favourites are lemon drizzle, Victoria sandwich, chocolate, cherry and almond and courgette with lime curd.  (The last is a slight exaggeration as it is my particular favourite but I can’t get the rest of the family to touch it!)  If making scones why not throw a small handful of crushed lavender flowers into the mix for a summery feel. It’s an acquired taste which we first tried at Petworth House in West Sussex with honey and takes us back there every time we eat them.

One of our fairly regular excursions is to The Courts in  Holt – seven acres of arboretum, wild garden, herbaceous borders, veg patch, orchard, lily pond and rose garden, perfect for free range children and somewhere we have spent a lot of time as a family over the years and especially last Summer whilst I directed a production of Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ there.


A good friend gave me a copy of a teashop cookbook at the time. It’s written by Margaret Vaughan, who runs a tea room in nearby Lacock, where the Colin Firth version was filmed. It has provided us with some lovely recipes for our afternoon teas. and puds throughout the year.

 In fact I like it so much I have acquired a second copy as a giveaway for anyone who subscribes to my blog or comments during August.Why not tell me what are your favourite afternoon tea bites or where  you like to go for a summer holiday wander?

 I’ll pick the winner out of the ‘bonnet of opportunity’ and announce the winner on September 1st.