Afternoon tea at Rockliffe Hall, Hurworth
PUBLISHED: 18:09 18 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:09 20 February 2013
There has been an increase in demand for that quintessentially English ritual - the afternoon tea. Sue Campbell went to Rockliffe Hall in County Durham to sample their offering
Afternoon tea conjures up a picture of gentility and a slower pace of life - when we all had time to sit down at four oclock and enjoy a nice cup of tea and a piece of cake.
It was our siesta - the time when everyone just took time to relax and take comfort in a refreshing cuppa, before rejoining life and work.
Sadly, the ritual seemed to be taken over by a cup of instant coffee at your desk and appeared to be going the way of other niceties, such as elevenses and lunch and aperitifs before dinner.
But, despite our quickened pace of life, the afternoon tea is making a comeback and a number of hotels and other venues - many of which have served afternoon tea for many years - have reported an increase in demand.
Rockliffe Hall near Darlington has built up quite a tea-time following. Overlooking the rolling grassland, they serve great tasting tea, a range of pretty finger sandwiches, fresh bakes scones and a selection of yummy pastries and cakes. The range is changed every couple of months, but it doesnt stray far from the format.
Lounge Supervisor Sam Blewitt, at Rockliffe for two years, brought in the trays of temptation, which we enjoyed in quiet and cosy surroundings.
Favourite sandwich was a honey roast ham and coarse grain mustard, and the scones were soft and very tasty. Irresistible was the caramel coated clair fill with chocolate and coffee cream - I could feel my waist thickening as I ate it - and the dark chocolate and almond financier.
At 18.50 (you can have a glass of house champagne to go with it at an extra 10) it might not be something you want to do every day, but for a bit of a treat, it was delightful.
Rockcliffes not the only one of course. Try Wynyard Hall in Tees Valley, The Morritt Country House Hotel in Greta Bridge in County Durham - which has one of the biggest collections of Royal Albert Old Country Roses china in the region - the Radisson Blu in Durham, or the Close House Hotel at Heddon-on-Wall, near Newcastle, to name but a few.
And make a bit of time for tea.