Making People Happy With Cake

Posted by Gill on

 A Saturday in July would usually yield ice cream, cold drinks and iced lattes sales with customers sitting outside enjoying the warmth of the day in the garden.

Today was more like an autumn Saturday. 

It rained, it was cold. The doors and windows in the conservatory remained closed. We had a very slow start. 

Then, suddenly, as we were about to close the kitchen at the end of lunch service, we took a raft of panini orders, coffee orders, scone orders, hot chocolate orders. A hen party of seven turned up. We were busy. 

But we were all out of there by 4.30pm and home to watch the England match. 

Posted by Gill on

This is my fifteenth season.

I have recently decided that it will also be my last. I’ll be hanging up my apron on Sunday 3rd November and handing over the tearooms to a yet-to-be-decided someone.

Like the Conservatives I have been in power since 2010. It’s time for a change. 

I shall try to document these last few months if only so that I remember them in the years to come when I’m hoping to be doing something entirely different. 

I’ll miss it, I’m sure. There are so many good things about working there. So many things I’ll miss.

On Sunday a lady ordered a smoked salmon panini for her young son. We asked her if she was sure? The smoked salmon would be heated by the panini press. We had never done one before. 

Yes, she said, he was a fussy eater and that’s what he wanted. She thanked us for doing it.

Later she thanked me for clearing up the mess after her son threw up on the patio.

Yes. There’s a lot I shall miss. 

Posted by Gill on

 “The cheese you use in your sandwiches, what is it?”

We use a Taw Valley Cheddar.

“Is it nice?”

I answer that it is, despite the fact that I don’t like cheese. Unless it’s melted. Which doesn’t count here. I answer yes because we’ve always had good comments on it. 

She continues:

“And the plum and balsamic onion relish,” she is reading from the menu, “is that nice?” 

The urge to use sarcasm is strong.

I squash it.  

Posted by Gill on

The last weekend of the season is upon us. That’ll be fourteen seasons under my belt, each one different from the last. 

Months of very changeable weather have been the biggest challenge this year. We end with a busy week but not without more heavy rain. 

The next challenge is when to bring in the damp wooden outside furniture. 

The easier conundrum will be what to do with any leftover cake. Plenty of helpers on Sunday for that task. 


Posted by Gill on

 Our gate remains closed today. 

I’ve taken the unusual decision not to open after going out this morning for supplies and being stopped by flood water in every direction. 

We’ve had some awfully quiet rain-hit days in the past couple of weeks. Today was a day too far for me.

I did venture in just to receive a delivery. The driver told me he’d come through water which reached the wing mirrors of his van. It’s still raining. 

We’ll be back open tomorrow. I’ll be taking towels to dry the outdoor furniture and maybe even some of those inside. 

Posted by Gill on

We have just over two weeks of this season left. 

It’s the time of year when we slow down, start putting things away, don’t order as much, write lists of what needs to be achieved in the winter months.

This year, instead, we have taken delivery of a new till. All singing and all dancing and the giver of all headaches. It’s touch screen and integrated with the card machine- no searching for a pen, no writing orders on a pad, no having to read the order-takers scrawl.

The plan is to get used to it, iron out any problems, set it all up this year so we’ll know what we’re doing when the Easter Bank Holiday hits early next season.

Today I was surprised to find that if the order paper in the little printer runs out then the till drawer won’t open. Perhaps the system might be a little too integrated for my liking…

Posted by Gill on

 A few weeks ago an envelope arrived in the post addressed to The Garden Tea Rooms. 

Inside was an old postcard. 

No message. 

It appears there used to be two other tea rooms in the small village of Great Witley once upon a time. This one was definitely there in the late 1960s and possibly as early as the 1940s. It had a truck stop next to it. The other one was a particular favourite of those who came to fish from the River Teme. I wish I could thank whoever was kind enough to send the postcard to us for sparking a good number of conversations and memories.

Posted by Gill on

Today Anne came to rearrange the contents of the lockable display cabinets from which we sell local crafts. 

We couldn’t find the key. We searched. And searched. Took everything off the shelf where it normally lives. Nothing. I searched through the bin which sits pretty much underneath the shelf. A bin full of coffee grounds and used tea bags, cheesy baking parchment and cake crumbs. 


I called a locksmith who said he could open them up but probably didn’t have the right sort of lock to replace them.

I put on some gloves and went to the big bins full of rubbish gathered since last Thursday. Took a deep breath and started my search. This tale has a happy ending. But it’ll take me a while to get over the experience. 

Posted by Gill on

 I haven’t posted this season. So much that happens has happened before so it doesn’t feel worth writing about. 

Today we faced a new challenge. A burst water main somewhere left us with very low water pressure. We muddled through as best we could. 

Then the supply dried up completely. We had no choice but to stop serving and tell everyone that (as we couldn’t make tea or wash up and as the loos were out of action) we’d be closing.

An hour later and the taps were back to full strength.

This customer wins the prize for most appropriately dressed.

Posted by Gill on

2023 is proving such an odd season. 

Lots and lots of rain. Lots and lots of wasps. And now, as September arrives, the sunshine turns up.

Finally the weather apps and websites are in agreement and the gazebos can stay up in the garden without us being in fear of storms or gusts. Unless they’re all wrong of course.

Today was the third in a row that we ran out of our panini rolls. Yes, I did order more. Every day. So tomorrow I’ve ordered even more. Let’s see how that goes.

Yesterday I advised a man that we don’t allow smoking in the garden. He nodded and carried on. I watched him as I cleared tables in the garden and all the while I was there he continued to smoke. 

After his lunch he lit another cigarette. I girded my loins and approached again. “Just a reminder, sir, that we ask you not to smoke in the garden.”

“I’ll be finishing this one” he said.

“You finished the last one,” I countered.

“I didn’t actually,” he said, “I put it out”.

I lost. He won.