Walking in through the double wooden doors, not knowing what was beyond them, felt like walking into Narnia. I was instantly transported back to childhood when I spent days with my nose in the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe book, longing to join the Pevensie children on their adventures. As the doors swung open into the tearoom, we were greeted by twinkling candlelight, falling snow and an idyllic winter wonderland scene. My Mum and I squealed with delight. It was perfect. A scene straight from Lapland. Yet we were actually in the tea room of Mad Dogs and Englishmen Interiors shop in Leigh on Sea, Essex! Let me share with you the special afternoon that we had there.
A Winter Wonderland Afternoon Tea
I had heard great things about this afternoon tea at this gorgeous home wears shop, so when I saw the details for their festive one had launched, I booked me and my Mum in straight away. You would see by just browsing the Lifestyle – London Life section of my blog, my love affair with the very British tradition of Afternoon Tea. I just love it and like to try as many as possible! Usually, Mum and I go into London as we love the effort and decadence the various venues put into the experience up there, but as I had seen that Mad Dogs and Englishmen do various themed teas, we decided to support a local business, and give them a go. Well I am so glad that I did. Lets get into the details.
The attention to detail was off the chart in how they had transformed the tea room. As I mentioned, the experience started straight away as your snowy path was lit up by candle lanterns. Snow falling, twinkling candle light, fairy lights making the snow that had settled on the branches glistening and glittering and silver frosted trees. All was perfectly placed to create this winter wonderland. Walking through the entrance, a couple of steps took you down into the main tea room, and your tea theme was in abundance.
The festive afternoon tea that we had booked was The Nutcracker. Obviously, this famous book is now more famous as a ballet, so the backs of the chairs were adorned with tutu’s. Tiny pink satin ballet shoes hung from chandeliers or were on the foot of the chairs, and the entire feel was one of elegant, girly perfection. On the table, a nutcracker guarded your ballerina adorned menu, traditional tea cups and saucers were laid out, and striped candy canes poked out from the tea cups. It was perfect. Our table was situated where we could pretty much see the whole room and I think Mum and I looked around in wonder for at least 15 minutes, taking it all in, noting every single detail that had been catered for. Our eyes were everywhere!
I loved that you were given the choice of several teas. There was the simplicity of an English Breakfast tea, right through to Earl Grey and a heady Darjeeling blend. Your tea was brought in individual silver teapots, along with a silver jug of milk and a sugar bowl. The tea was wonderful, and the staff so attentive, seeing if you needed a top up etc. Just perfect.
As is tradition, your first course is the savoury delights. My non meat eating requirements had been perfectly catered for, and I was given a great selection. Finger sandwiches, tiny brioche rolls, and mini savoury pastries were all enjoyed to the maximum. Warm, fruit rich scones were tempting us from the top tier of the cake stand, waiting their turn to be enjoyed with the clotted cream and Tiptree Jam brought over. All so delicious. As you finish your scone, you are by this time feeling festively plump! Our waitress came over to clear our table, and were were offered more tea. The staff really couldn’t do enough for us. Left to enjoy our tea, and give us a little breathing space, we sat back and just enjoyed the atmosphere of this tiny tea room.
After while, our waitress brought us over a sleigh of cakes, the centre piece being a Victoria sponge with a ballerina head first into the frosting on top. Lemon mousse filled chocolate cones, eton mess cheesecake, tiny mince pie bites and the ballerina Victoria sponge completed the sweet treats. As you can imagine, we had really had our fill by now, so the waitress kindly boxed up the cakes for us to take home. I had two very happy sons…..
The shop itself
Mad Dogs and Englishmen is a very well known shop in this part of Essex, but not so well known is how amazing its afternoon teas are! The shop sells all manor of beautiful homewares, and every time I go in there I could spend a fortune. It also offers a bespoke furniture making service, and Nik and I are hoping to get a pantry made for our kitchen there next year. Like the tea room, details have been thought out in the shop, and table settings, cosy snug set ups and bedroom lay outs make sure you can picture everything in your house. Its just gorgeous. If you are ever in this part of Essex, or on your way to Southend Sea Front, you must visit.
The tea room is like an very traditional tea parlour. Velvet chairs, mismatched lamps, floral arrangements on every table make it the most beautiful setting. Its only small, so afternoon teas sell out quick, but the space has been utilised fully and I think it adds to the charm. The tables are set into little nooks and crannies and make it cosy and intimate, but without being on the table next to you’s lap! I am so glad that we gave it a go. I love supporting local business, and am chuffed to bits that I can showcase this beauty. The next theme is Breakfast at Tiffany’s, so, being a huge Hepburn fan, I may just have to pop back……..
If you would like to visit for afternoon tea, you can get the details here
The shop itself, and details of its upcoming themes are available here
I really hope that you enjoyed this post. I love that I get to shout about Essex as well as London in my little blog. Do you have any local gems that you feel lucky to have local to you? Do you sometimes overlook local and go into the bigger towns instead? Do you think the theme was as stunning as I did with this one? I’d love to hear what you think.