Red Velvet, Will you please?

My Mum

Dear Mum

Five years have flown by since you left. It took me a while to get used to my weekends again. My Saturday afternoons had been spent with you. After catching up, there would be a film to watch. It might have been To Kill a Mocking Bird or The Lake House with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves (Note for Kathryn. We have to watch this film).

One of the things I do like to do now on a Saturday afternoon is bake. You would love eating the cakes I make especially anything with chocolate in. One of the other things I like to do is afternoon teas with Kathryn.

As a family, we have always loved cream teas (just thinking about spreading jam across the scone and topping with a thick layer of clotted cream is making my mouth water – Kathryn, that is the correct way of eating a scone!). Last year, arranging a mum and daughter day out and both not wanting to shop, we went for an afternoon tea and decided to make it a monthly event. We even created an instagram page called onceuponascone. We did manage three teas before Christmas and had a lovely tea in February in Bath. Then lockdown happened. This didn’t put us off afternoon teas. As soon as we were allowed to be together again, we actually made our own. As it was the 5th anniversary of the day you left us, we chose Sunday 28th June to remember you. I had just got a very nice cooker so it was the first time I baked scones in it. They were delicious.

Slowly, we are getting our life back to normal (well a new normal), so we were super excited to start going for teas again. I thought I would share my lovely day out with Kathryn on the 18th August (Richard’s birthday but we didn’t invite him!). Chris had arranged a voucher for tea at Cliveden House in Maidenhead. Chris was also our chauffeur for the day so it did mean we could enjoy a glass of champagne too. Another thing you would have liked Mum!

We arrived early so we could enjoy the grounds and woodlands of Cliveden. It is a National Trust property and the tea included the trip round the grounds. Whilst I was looking forward to the tea, if I lived close to this property, I would have become a member of the National Trust and visited every week. As we experienced some rain, we didn’t get to appreciate it all but what we saw was breathtaking. We loved walking through the rose garden and going down the Yew Tree Steps (apparently 172 steps but we didn’t notice because we were laughing so much as we were in sync with our stepping. We missed Jordan at the point because he would have loved being part of that. Next visit I promise I will let you take part Jordan!) to sit by the Thames. As it was raining, we didn’t attempt the steps upwards.

Anyway, back to the tea. As I said, we are living in strange times and we now need to wear masks in enclosed areas so we had to remember to put them on when entering the hotel. Luckily we can take them off when eating! Chris made sure we had a wonderful view from our table. The champagne was waiting for us so we very quickly removed the masks. Then first course of our tea arrived. As well as sandwiches, we had chilled pea and mint soup (I can imagine you are turning your nose up mum but believe me, it was delicious), gingerbread savoury with cream cheese, cheese and ham croissant and peri-peri beef taco. The best savoury selection I have ever had.

It was then the turn of the scones, one fruit and one plain each. Kathryn did think that we didn’t have enough clotted cream but there was plenty. We had gone a bit posh with our tea (no not PG tips, mum), we had Assam. I think it’s one of my favourites. We barely had any room for the cakes but I do like to try one or maybe two! We had a lovely red velvet sponge cake, a delicious peach melba cake and a rhubarb cake presented to us. We shared the red velvet sponge and peach melba. Don’t worry mum, we took the rest home in a doggy bag, well actually a beautiful box. We also had a complimentary red velvet muffin to take away which I can confirm was very nice.

I know that you would have loved the tea although you wouldn’t have enjoyed going out. If you were still here (I wish you were), we would have definitely shared some of the tea with you.

We are already arranging our next tea which will probably be the weekend of Tony’s birthday. Can you let him know to expect a letter from me at around that time.

Love to Dad.

Love and kisses

Tina x

P.S. Why red velvet and what is red velvet any way, I hear you ask. Red velvet cake is well known in USA from New York’s Waldorf hotel which was built by Cliveden’s former owner, William Waldorf Astor. Red velvet cake is a chocolate cake with a red colour. Traditionally the red colour was due to the cocoa used but most recipes now use a red food colouring paste. I have never tried making this cake but might give it a go now.

Yew Tree Steps

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