A little while ago Jesmond Dene House invited us to go for afternoon tea. Now, the last time Reuben and I went for afternoon tea, we went with 4 other mums and babies to a hotel in Whitley Bay, and it was touted by all as an unmitigated disaster! It was too hot, it took way too long for our food to arrive, the babies hated it and I managed to smack Reuben’s head off a table as he struggled to be free. All in all, I decided afternoon tea was good for mum, bad for baby!
When I think of Jesmond Dene House, I think decadent luxury, long lazy afternoons sipping champagne or pimms, and happy, quiet customers. In short, a baby no go zone. However, I have also heard how amazing the afternoon teas are at Jesmond Dene House are so I wasn’t going to let Reuben stand in the way (I was also assured by Nicky at JDH that Reuben was more than welcome!). So my lovely friend Kari, her daughter Ailis (pronounced ay-lish, the Irish name for Alice – you’ll see why that’s appropriate information later!), Reuben and I set a date for 17th July. The next question was what to wear.
I’m struggling with Reuben’s wardrobe at the moment, mainly because I’m not organised enough, and don’t really have any smart clothes for him that he can wear in this weather. I even dashed into Sainsbury’s as I was sure they would have some smart little summer shirts but alas, they only think little girls want to look smart. I went through everything we have and decided if I ironed something, that would then make it smart (I’m allergic to ironing so this is a big deal). This is what I managed to pull together and I think he looked rather smart even if I do say so myself!
What should a baby wear to afternoon tea at a posh hotel? – Safari meets golfer chic, of course! Not steriotyping posh people at all… (vest from Kyna Boutique, shorts from H&M, and bib from Nuby – I’m loving these new ‘smart’ bibs, I even ironed it too!)
So, yesterday we got ourselves ready despite the fact that I was desperately worried we’d have a repeat disaster and Reuben would scream the place down. It’s not really in his nature anymore but perhaps there’s something about afternoon teas that bring it out in babies?! Like when you’re going out for the evening, they just won’t settle. Just to be on the safe side, I packed extra milk and blueberries as my allies.
Ready for afternoon tea – Bravely stepping out in white, Reuben already beginning to lose the plot!
Outfit complete, off we tottered (tottered being the operative word as I decided heels were necessary, but just because you’re going to afternoon tea doesn’t mean you’ll spend any less time on all fours trying to retrieve things from under tables) in the baking heat.
Arriving at Jesmond Dene House
When we arrived the reception couldn’t have been friendlier. I was very conscious that we don’t have a bugaboo and in fact, Reuben’s buggy is covered in sun cream, but nonetheless, we were greeted by a very friendly receptionist who showed us to our table and sorted me out coffee while I waited for our partners in cream (see what I did there?!).
I have to admit, I was a little disappointed to not be on the sun terrace but it was lovely and cool (and luxurious and decadent!) in this room and once we had swapped tables (to chairs which weren’t quite as low and therefore didn’t flash my knickers – poor outfit choice in the end!), which the waiters were very accommodating with, I decided this was definitely the best place for us to really enjoy our afternoon tea without getting hot and bothered!
Keeping his cool with blueberry bribes
Keeping his cool with milky bribes (I’m trying to wean him off but this boy loves his milk!)
Our Partners in Cream
Once Kari and Ailis arrived, our lovely waitress quickly sorted out our drinks order and then the goodies arrived – queue lots of pictures of yummy food and us with said yummy food…
Afternoon tea at Jesmond Dene House
The food did taste as good as it looked. Reuben ate a whole egg and cress sandwich and most of a cheese and pickle. The pickle was lovely and fruity so he enjoyed it and got it all over himself. I really liked that there was a cheese scone as well as sweet ones, and Reuben also had some of that. I generally loved it all, fresh, not to rich, delicious. And the unlimited coffee was gorgeous too! It was a perfect portion for the four of us, so I would say if you are going as a couple, GO HUNGRY, and if you are going with children 1 portion between you and your child is plenty. All in all, if you also consider the surroundings, the attention to detail and the level of service, the afternoon tea we enjoyed (£18.50/per person) was great value.
Overall the experience was lovely, I think now Reuben is a bit older, can sit on his own and enjoys feeding himself, it is the perfect time for him to enjoy an afternoon tea. The staff were incredibly friendly (and knowledgeable – I overheard a couple chatting to their waiter about the history of the House and he knew all about it) and accommodating to our needs with kids. The only thing I would say that let down the experience was the highchair! We were in amongst all this lovely wooden, sumptuous furniture and Reuben was on a bright blue plastic chair that stuck out like a sore thumb and made him slouch. I think something like this dark wood highchair is much more suited to the environment (in my humble opinion).
That said, it was just an observation and I wouldn’t let that put you off. I think that service is way more important and the fact that I never worried once about Reuben yelling or throwing food on the floor speaks volumes about how welcoming the staff are to mums (and dads) with small children.
Full Tummies! I had to keep Reuben’s bib on as he was now covered in pickle…but managed to carefully miss his bib.
After the tea, we decided to have a bit of an explore around the beautiful gardens and make the most of the sunshine while our bellies were full. And here’s where Ailis’ name comes back into it…
Ailis in wonderland!
Reuben: ‘I don’t do walking’
So there you have it. A lovely afternoon with good company, lovely service, amazing food and gorgeous surroundings. I’d say the perfect way to spend a long, lazy afternoon with your little ones (or dare I say it, last-week-of-maternity-leave outing with your mama friends – boohoo!).