Sunday, 29 July 2012

Britchcombe Farm, Uffington

In a desperate attempt to grab what could well be the first - and last - week of the British summer, some friends and I cycled from Oxford to Uffington, in the Vale of the White Horse. I was looking forward to this trip as it'd mean I'd achieve a few firsts: seeing the White Horse up close and personal; cycling with all my camping gear; and eating cream teas at a campsite.

Firstly, I'd recommend the cycle ride. It's not far from the outskirts of Oxford - 18 miles - and there are a number of pretty villages and nice pubs en route. Take note though: if a friend is willing to drive behind you, Tour de France style, with all the camping gear don't turn them down! Sadly for me I didn't have that luxury, but using that extra energy gave me even more of an excuse to tuck into a cream tea. (We'll gloss over the pub stops and Haribo consumed along the way!)

As we cruised into the campsite at Britchcombe Farm we caught sight of the all important 'Teas this way' sign. As every camper knows, when there's cream teas to be had and pitching of tents to be done, there's only going to be one winner: cream teas. We were enticed into the outhouse-cum-cafe by a large banner of the Queen and a plentiful supply of Union flag bunting.

Cream Tea Queen Britchcombe Farm cafe

Cream Tea Queen jubilee flag

At first glance things looked good. We'd seen a fresh supply of scones being delivered from the kitchen. They were a good size and looked tasty. We therefore decided to opt for the large cream tea, complete with two plain scones. It was supplied with strawberry jam and cream (not clotted I hasten to add, although - on a positive note - additional cream and jam was supplied at no extra cost when requested).

I scoffed my way through the first half of my scone before realising how dry it was. In fact, upon cutting them the scones lost their majestic shape and fell apart. Undeterred, I piled on extra cream and strawberry jam, but I still ended up leaving half a scone; I just couldn't face it. My initial hunger/greed had been eclipsed by a realisation that I was eating a heavy, dry scone.

The only other thing left to comment on is the tea, which was your standard English breakfast brew. I liked the shiny silver teapots as the bunting reflected nicely in them. (Clearly I will not give extra marks for this fact.)

Cream Tea Queen Britchcombe Farm cream tea

So, what does this cream tea score? With each bite my score dropped and dropped, until I eventually decided to settle on a 4 / 10. The price was good (£4.80) as was the location, but the cream tea itself - the main event - just didn't live up to expectations. If I was passing by again I would carry on cycling until I got into Uffington village centre to enjoy the delicious food at the Fox and Hounds pub.

One tip: if you decide to do this trip, pitch your tent before eating the cream tea. The campsite's on a slope, so you may find yourself sleeping at 45 degrees if you don't bag a flat pitch! After a sleep-free night in the tents (which my friend quoted as "the worst night's sleep of my sleeping career") we were fresh as an old daisy, and decided to go for a little stroll up the hill to see the White Horse itself. The view was incredible, I hope you enjoy the photos!

Before that, a small and shameless plug for my friend's camping website; if you're planning a visit to a campsite then Camping Ninja is the website to visit!

Cream Tea Queen camping Britchcombe Farm

Cream Tea Queen Britchcombe Farm view

Cream Tea Queen White Horse Oxfordshire

Cream Tea Queen vale of the White Horse

Happy scone eating,

The Cream Tea Queen

Sunday, 1 July 2012

The Reading Room, Great Coxwell, near Faringdon

I was overjoyed to go on an impromptu cream tea outing today, particularly as it came at the end of a long walk. I had hit a sugar low, so can only liken stumbling upon The Reading Room at Great Coxwell to seeing a cool oasis glimmering away in the desert.

The Reading Room is located in the centre of this beautiful village. It's open for teas and cakes on the first Sunday of each month between 2.30pm-5.30pm. We therefore struck gold with our unplanned trip!

Cream Tea Queen Great Coxwell Reading Room

Decked out with bunting together with a few tables covered with a floral tablecloth, The Reading Room is very quaint. I was beside myself to behold a table brimming with an array of homemade cakes, as well as scones.

Cream Tea Queen cakes

The cakes looked too good to be true, so my friend and I had two (did I mention that we'd just got back from a long walk?!): a carrot cake and a chocolate cake. Delicious, and only £2 for each generous slice.

We also forced ourselves to have a scone each. An arduous task you might well imagine, but as your Cream Tea Queen I couldn't let you down! They were smaller than I'd normally like, but having eaten the cakes beforehand their small size counted in their favour! My trademark prod verified that they were freshly baked. They were supplied with large pots of cream and jam, both of which complimented the scone delightfully. Although not clotted cream, the cream had been whipped to perfection.
Cream Tea Queen afternoon tea

Throughout this we kept ourselves hydrated with tea poured from a pot. The pot was brown, the mugs were floral. This was true retro village style.

So, how would I rate the outing? At £3.50 each for a cream tea (£1.50 for tea, £2 for scones with the trimmings) it was a complete bargain. The location was delightful, both the village and The Reading Room itself. I'm therefore going to give it a 9/10. The only thing holding me back from going more frequently is the fact that it's open once a month!

I'm sharing with you some photos that I took in Great Coxwell. For fear of being rude (and alerting Neighbourhood Watch) I had to stop myself taking too many photos of the houses in the village. Note the huge National Trust barn, which was built in c1200!

Cream Tea Queen classic English house

Cream Tea Queen thatched house

Cream Tea Queen English sign

Cream Tea Queen poppyCream Tea Queen Great Coxwell National Trust barn

Cream Tea Queen Great Coxwell National Trust barn

Happy scone eating,

The Cream Tea Queen