The fun of Christmas seems a long way in the past now. Since that time we have experienced all sorts of weather,  snow, wind, rain and bright sunshine (We thank our lucky stars we’re not in one of the flood zones). At the week end we had a lovely reminder of that festive time through the generosity of thoughtful friends. The gift of tea came in the form of an E-voucher, a wonderful present giving the pleasure on the day, something to look forward to through a grim January and then the joy of cake and not just one cake of course!

Danny and I had a delicious ‘Slap up Tea’ at The Black Swan Hotel in the lovely old Market Town of Helmsley, just what we needed on a rather dull mid February Saturday.  We picked up one of our sons and his wife who live quite near us and parked in the pretty and bustling market square of Helmsley.  Always a popular haunt for discerning Yorkshire tourists as well as us locals. We browsed around the lovely boutiquey shops, clothes county and high fashion, antiques, bookshops, deli’s, galleries, there’s even a shop called ‘Nice Things’ they could all be called that.
At last it was the allotted hour and dressed in clothes with a little bit of give in them, well it would be rude not to be prepared, we went through the handsome front door of the Black Swan Hotel.  All around happy faces radiated pleasure, the warmth of the roaring log fires, a quintessentially English scene, families, couples comfortably enjoying an afternoon relaxing together, we immediately felt at home.
I do love politeness and manners, is that an old fashioned view? We were expected and welcomed by the manageress Alison then ushered through to our crisp white linen covered table with pretty flowers and charming vintage crockery.  Fresh water was poured for us while we browsed the Tea menu. Danny had nipped out to put some more money into the parking meter, I knew this tea session was going to take some time 🙂
It was such fun we all choose a different tea. My choice was the organic Lapsang Souchong, Danny’s was Earl Grey, the other two had the Black Swan blend and the Assam. Oh! the pleasure of ones own little tea pot and strainer, bone china cup and saucer.  I make a mental note to get my tea set out, tea tastes so different from a cup!

We had no dietary requirements and so were happy to go straight into the delights of the famous Black Swan of Helmsley Afternoon Tea. The 3 tiered plates of goodies was a stunningly beautiful and colourful affair, my pictures really don’t do it justice. We all knew to start off with the sandwiches, so working our way slowly and luxuriantly up from the bottom tier, we tasted, discussed and marvelled at the gorgeous little sweet curry canapés, open smoked salmon creme fraiche and dill on a little baguette slice, melty in the mouth ham in brown no crusts in sight, sweet tomato and brie in white, a fabulous egg mayo, but what! no cucumber!  The next layer up was the scones, plain and fruit with plenty of butter, clotted cream and strawberry jam to help them on their way. The friendly and attentive waiter Radek insisted we have more cream so we did. I wondered at this stage if I should, for a change, have started from the top just in case I couldn’t manage it all, but not to worry I managed. Pistachio macaroon followed fresh strawberry patisserie, an unusual lovely refreshing passionfruit posset served in a shot glass, a nutty crunchy chouquette and finally an amazing layered chocolate and raspberry heaven.
Someone left a scone, it wasn’t me, we were able to take it home in this cute little silver cygnet.

If you love someone very much and can’t think of the right present simply contact the Black Swan Hotel and order them up a treat. If you don’t love anyone just go and try it yourself!