Exploring: Afternoon Tea at Betty’s, York.

Whilst back in Blighty the other week I indulged in something stereotypically British…a spot of afternoon tea. I don’t think you can get anymore British than this, it is the epitome of British-ness and seems to be making a comeback lately – a lot of my friends back home are posting pictures on Facebook of them having afternoon tea somewhere.

I wanted to get in on the act, so, after less than 24 hours in the country and with the help of Ma Cook, I went to get my fill of it here:

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Betty’s Café Tea Rooms in York. This is THE place to go for some afternoon tea. It’s a traditional British tea room where you’re transported back in time with old-fashioned shop fittings and employees dressed in long skirts, high collared shirts with a brooch in the middle and an apron. You really do feel like you’re in a special place – people come from all over just to visit these tea rooms and partake in some afternoon tea. There’s always a queue around the block to get into Betty’s but believe me, it is definitely worth the wait!

Afternoon tea was originally popular among the wealthy people in England and eaten between 4pm and 6pm. Nowadays though everyone eats it and at anytime of the day – Ma Cook and I tucked into it at around 2pm, we were hungry! We rocked up to Betty’s, took our seats and ordered our afternoon tea for 2.

First came the tea:

A proper brew!

A proper brew!

Now, we’re not talking any old tea here, oh no, no. This isn’t just dumping a tea bag in some hot water, squeezing it out and sploshing in a glug of milk. Nope. At Betty’s we’re talking actual tea leaves that have to be strained into your cup. Here’s a demonstration from Ma Cook:

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Beautifully done there and let me tell you it tasted lovely. A proper brew, with proper tea leaves and even sugar cubes! Who gives you sugar cubes anymore? Then, after a few sips of tea came the main event – the food, and we all know how much this blog seems to revolve around food! Once again I wasn’t disappointed. Afternoon tea is traditionally served on a three tier plate stand and looks a little bit like this:

Fancy

Fancy pants! Our faces lit up when these were placed on the table and we eagerly looked at what was on offer. Sandwiches, a scone, cakes – we were in heaven! When it comes to eating this delight you start at the bottom and make your way to the top, that meant the sandwiches were the first to be demolished. We tucked into ham, chicken, egg and smoked salmon sandwiches and were quickly ready to move onto the next level…a scone. (I need to point out now that I pronounce it sc-own. There’s an argument as to whether it is sc-own like I say or sc-on. I’m sticking with sc-own!) Of course it came with jam and cream and before we know it our scones were piled high and heading into our mouths:

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It was one of the nicest scones I’ve ever tasted! By now we were over halfway through our delights and possibly starting to feel a little full but we definitely didn’t have any plans to stop there. The top tier was covered in miniature cakes that, like everything else in the café were handmade and they had our names on them.

afternoon tea 6First I tucked into the raspberry tart in a little pastry case that had custard underneath the fruit – so tasty! Then I moved onto the chocolate cake, it was very rich so the miniature piece was just enough. My taste buds were very happy but they were about to get even happier! I definitely saved the best for last when I sunk my teeth into the lemon macaroon – it was full of flavour and had just the right amount of crunch and chewy-ness (if that’s even a word!) that left me wanting another 10 of them! Sadly though, my three tiers were now empty – I’d polished off the lot, definitely not good for the wedding diet but the best bit of cheating ever!

We finished off our tea and headed out of the store, but before we left we couldn’t resist buying a few of Betty’s famous fat rascals for Pa Cook, and my bro and sister-in-law and of course some more of those tasty macaroons. We ended up with a gift box of 6 which soon disappeared once we got home…whoops!

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With our bellies full and feeling very British indeed we waved goodbye to Betty’s and carried on our merry way through the streets of York. Afternoon tea was ticked off the list and I was one very happy lady!78950-traveltueslinkup_zpsd47191b028129g

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Exploring: The Cross Keys, Leeds.

One of the top things on my ‘to do’ list whilst being back in England (alongside the likes of having a curry and eating fish and chips) was going to the pub! Yep, the pub is an institution in England and man have I missed it! I mean, massively missed it. We’re talking hugely missed it, like pining for a pint and a pie for months missed it!

So, after being back in the country for less than 24 hours, I am not joking about this either – within 24 hours of setting foot back on good old British turf we found ourselves here:

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The Cross Keys in Leeds – one of the greatest pubs in the world! Now before our move Stateside, this was mine and the German’s local pub, the place where just about every Friday and/or Saturday we’d walk the 10 minutes down the canal and get our fill of amazing food, wine for me and wheat beer for the German! In fact, once when the German asked how long they’d have a certain German wheat beer on tap the bartenders reply was ‘it depends how quickly you drink it!’ Yep, we were well known in this establishment, we had a favourite corner we preferred to sit in (and got a little bit miserable if someone nabbed it before we got there!), we even had a leaving party there before jetting off to Atlanta, it was a given that we would be heading back there ASAP!

This is kind of a posh British pub, or a gastro pub as they like to call them nowadays (how old do I sound?!) but it still has the atmosphere of a typical British pub! It’s warm and cosy, has open fires and proper beer on tap – I’m talking lager, ale, wheat beers and of course cider! We walked in and went straight into our usual corner – we were back!!

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We sat down and ordered our usual drinks (a wheat beer and a glass of rose!) and perused the menu – we’d also brought along a few stragglers – Ma and Pa Cook along with the bro and sister-in-law – this trip was a family affair! After perusing the amazing dinner menu, we made our choices and placed our order and man was I excited! I was in my element – back in the pub, with a glass of wine and waiting for some proper pub grub!!

And when it came I was, once again, not disappointed! First up was a black pudding scotch egg – you can’t get more British than that! It looked a little bit like this:

Yummy!

Yummy!

It’s basically a boiled egg (that’s still a bit goey in the middle) surrounded by black pudding and pork, covered in breadcrumbs and deep-fried before being served with some brown sauce! A-MA-ZING!! I was in heaven!! Next up was the main course – I’ve been dreaming of a proper British pie for ages and there was only one thing on the menu that was going to cut it – venison with red cabbage and an oxtail cottage pie!! It was the oxtail cottage pie that swung it for me and when it came I was once again transported to a little cloud in the sky!

Delish!

Delish!

Now let me explain the delights of the traditional British cottage pie to you (sorry British friends of mine – this is a bit of a teaching you how to suck eggs moment!) it’s usually mince with onions and carrots in a gravy sauce and topped with mashed potatoes! Sounds amazing right? This one was a little different though – it was made with oxtail and served in a teacup – quirky and VERY tasty! My British pallet was definitely satisfied!

One happy Brit!

One happy Brit!

By this point my belly was about to burst after getting its fill of British goodness but the German had room for more! As was tradition when we went to this pub he ordered a cheese board:

One happy German!

One happy German!

I obviously had a little taste of the delicious cheese – it’s the law!! By now the buttons were about to pop off all of our trousers so we finished our drinks and waved goodbye to what used to be our second home! Sad times!

The great British pub is one of the things I miss the most living in America – I miss being able to walk to get a drink and not having to worry about somebody being Des to drive home (even though back home we could walk home from said pub, the German often ordered a taxi and we ended up with an annoyed taxi driver because we were a cheap fare – lazy bum!), I miss the cosyness (if that’s even a word!), I miss being able to go to a bar that doesn’t have some sort of sport on a TV screen, I miss the friendliness of being a regular and having a chat with the barman, I miss the traditional food like pie and fish and chips, lets face it – I just love the pub!!

 

* This is an unsponsored blog, I did not receive any payments for this review, all views are my own.

Heading home for the Holidays!

That’s right peeps, the day is here!! We’re heading home for the Holidays or Christmas if you’re European!! Woooooooooooooo!!!!

Heading HomeSo depending on when you read this I’ll either be frantically running around the apartment doing some last-minute packing and sitting on my suitcase to make sure it shuts and all the Christmas presents fit in! Cleaning the apartment for the burglars (why do we do this? clean the house before we go away? Is this a worldwide thing or just something us mad Brits do?) running through the airport Home Alone style to catch our flight (this actually did happen last time we went to Europe! It was touch and go as to whether we would make it!) chilling out in the airport with a holiday drink (I’m hoping this is the case this time around!) or attempting to sleep on a 10 hour flight to Amsterdam, getting swollen feet and legs despite the flight socks and no doubt surrounded by screaming children who are determined not to let me sleep at all and kick my seat throughout the whole flight (why am I always the one who ends up this situation? It’s usually nailed on for this traveller!) That will then be followed by a connecting flight to Düsseldorf! Phew! The travelling doesn’t stop there though – after that there’s a 1 and a half hour drive to the German’s parents house!

So as you’ve probably gathered the first stop is Germany! That means a trip to the Weihnachtmarkt (I’m so excited that we get there before it closes!!) meaning Glühwein and a million other German Christmas treats, catch ups with friends that may also include a trip to the German’s local pub, and when I mean local I mean the only pub in his little German village that everyone goes to, and we all know how much German’s like to drink beer right? I’m sure a lot of it will be heading our way! Then there’s Christmas day with the German family where we’ll eat Rouladen and generally do nothing followed by Second Christmas Day as they call it in Germany (or Boxing Day to us Brits!) where the rest of the German family will join in and I’ll be lost in a sea of German and probably thinking about what I’ll be eating for tea/doing in England/getting up to in the morning and other pointless junk because I can’t understand anything (I have to point out here that I do try but once everyone’s talking at the same time and it’s really loud I’m literally lost and switch off!) oh and there’s the wedding planning. Yep, a large majority of our time in Germany will probably be spent planning the big day next year! We have to meet the priest, the guys at the wedding venue, find a florist, find a DJ (I’m kind of worried we won’t have any music at this wedding!) the list is endless! We’ll probably need a holiday to get over this one!

Then after a week in Germany comes the fun part – a week in England!! Blighty, I’m coming back and I am sooooooo excited!!!!! First up is another Christmas present opening session, this time with Ma and Pa Cook and the Big Bro and sister-in-law who I am sure will all be getting fed up of waiting for us to arrive! Then seen as though the Big Bro and I are missing Christmas at home (he’s going to my sister-in-law’s parents) Ma Cook is doing Christmas all over again on New Years Day! Oh yes, that British Christmas dinner will be heading my way a week later than planned!! That means Christmas crackers (don’t worry American friends of mine, I’ll explain what these amazing things are at a later date!!) mountains of food including turkey (hello turkey coma!) Yorkshire puddings (again I’ll explain these at a later date!) roast potatoes, pigs in blankets, stuffing, mountains of veg including sprouts even though nobody really likes them, christmas pudding, mince pies, the list goes on and on! Basically I’m going to get fat and come back to the States in January with the fear of not fitting into that wedding dress and going on a HUGE diet! But nobody can diet during the Holidays right? Exactly! So I’m heading home to make the most of it!!

I also can’t wait to see my family (it’s been about 6 months!) have long overdue catch ups with my friends and of course my best friends baby girl who when I last saw her was just a week old!!! She looks huge in the pictures now! I can’t wait for some baby cuddles! I’ll be hotfooting it to the pub for some proper pub grub (I’m thinking a big meaty pie or something similarly stodgy!) getting fish and chips from the chippy (I’ve been having a craving for this English delight for the past 3 months, even though I hardly ever ate them back in the UK!) and not forgetting a legendary curry from the Dil Raj in Barnsley – no trip home would be complete without it!! Oh and once again there’s that wedding planning to get done! I need to go bridesmaid dress shopping with my girlies, look for things like favours and table decorations, find suits for the boys, try out hairstyles, jeez this thing is never-ending! I’m sure we’ll get it all sorted though!

This does, however, mean a plethora of blog posts for you all to enjoy! I’m sure there will be lots to report back on! So while I may be off the radar for a little while, I’ll attempt to get something written for you lovely people! However, I’m not going to promise this, you might just get a big update when I’m back!!

There is one more thing:

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!
FROHE WEIHNACHTEN!!*

I hope you all have an amazing Christmas/New Year/Holiday Season!!

*The German has informed me that I’ve spelt this wrong on every Christmas tag I’ve written to our German family! Whoops! Bad English wife! Apologies to my German family! The one up there IS the correct spelling though! Well done me!

The Richter Hotel…

Has been open for business again this weekend when it welcomed my Aunty, Uncle and Cousin! And here they are…

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On one of the longest escalators (sorry elevator as it’s called over here!!) in the world as we headed onto the Marta to do some exploring!! Now they were only here for a flying visit on their way to Florida so we had to pack A LOT into the 2 full days!!

Day 1 therefore, included a trip to Downtown Atlanta where we visited the Centennial Olympic Park, the CNN Center (where we munched the BIGGEST burritos you’ve ever seen!!) and the World of Coca-Cola! This was now my third visit and my second in less than a month! Good job I invested in that annual pass when me and the German first visited back in February!! We had to queue for an hour to get in (ridiculous I know but it was probably the shortest queue of the day!) and ventured around finding out about Mr Pemberton and how he created (and was robbed by selling the secret formula!) the global brand that is Coke but my cousin was less than impressed when the secret formula was locked in a safe where he couldn’t see it!

The bit he was looking forward to the most (along with my Uncle and the German who was dying for some Mezzo Mix) was the tasting room at the end! Yep more than 60 flavours of coke were waiting for us to dig into! We lost each other as we ventured through Europe, North America, South America, Asia and the rest of the world tucking into some exotic flavours! One of my faves was the Melon Frosty (sadly I can’t remember the country it’s sold in!) along with a pineapple Fanta that you can get in Greece! Eventually we bumped into each other again (the German has successfully found his Mezzo Mix and set up camp there for a good 20 minutes whilst he guzzled a few cups full!) with my cousin declaring that he’d drunk his own body weight in coke! Well done!!

So off we trotted, bloated and full of the fizzy stuff, back to the Marta and into Roswell for some dinner before heading off to bed for another packed day of exploring! Day 2 started with a trip to Stone Mountain! Again it was my third visit but I was ok with that! So we headed on up the mountain in the cable car with my Aunty firmly in the middle away from the edges looking straight ahead so that she didn’t look down! She’s not the biggest fan of cable cars! Now the first time I went to Stone Mountain it was jeans weather, perfectly acceptable for trekking down a huge mountain! The second time it was slightly warmer and shorts weather but still acceptable for walking down a mountain! This time I realised the heat was here…I had shorts on and a vest but man was it HOT!!! Here we all are before we started the big trek…

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We didn’t look as bright eyes and bushy-tailed by the time we got to the bottom – we were hot, red in the face and very sweaty, well at least I was! Not the best look to be sporting but hey I had no other option!! So once we’d been mountain trekkers we grabbed some food at the Man v Food haunt that is The Vortex (that warrants a post of its own hence why I’m not going into much detail!!) then headed to Turner Field to take my cousin to his first ever baseball game!! Exciting times!!!

We got there slightly early and had a mooch around the stadium where the German and I made a new friend…

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Yep the Atlanta Braves Mascot, Homer! The German was pestering me to have a picture with him so I told him I would if he joined in…he had no option!! After that we grabbed some beers (vital when watching the ball game!) and headed to our seats! The first pitch took place and we settled down in the sweltering heat! Man it was hot and humid!! Whilst the game was taking place I was explaining the rules to my Aunty and the Braves started notching up the runs! Yay!! Then my cousin went to get a beer and disaster struck – well for him not the Braves! They scored a home run!! Woooooo! Sadly my cousin missed his first ever home run because he was in the beer queue!!! Epic fail!! He now knows not to head to the bar when the Braves are batting!!! Sadly that was the one and only home run of the game but the Braves did beat the St Louis Cardinals 5-2! Wooooo! It was the last of 3 games against the Cardinals and the Braves won them alll!!! Amazing!!

Sadly the following day my Aunty, Uncle and Cousin were checking out of the Richter Hotel and heading to Florida for 2 weeks – maybe not sadly for them, they were heading to the beach!!! And one of the best beaches in Florida – St Pete’s! So I dropped them off at the airport, shed a little tear and waved goodbye until the end of the year…sad times. But I loved having them here and I’m sure they’ll visit again soon – well maybe next year on their way to Florida again!!

Oh and one more HUGE thing…Happy Yorkshire Day!!! Yep it’s the day we celebrate the county where I am from in England!! We get our Yorkshire flags out, flat caps and ferrets (maybe not the ferrets and flat caps, we don’t all own was as is the stereotype!!) and celebrate what’s known as God’s own county! It’s a beautiful place with lots of green fields and the nicest people in England! I wouldn’t change where I am from for the world! And you’ll be pleased to hear we have a little tribute to Yorkshire here at the Richter house and it’s there all year round…

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Ignore the bike handle but yep we have a Yorkshire flag flying (in the spare closet because there isn’t really anywhere else to put it!) all year round!! So Happy Yorkshire Day and all together now – Yorkshire…Yorkshire…Yorkshire!!

Back it up like a Tonka truck!

Yep it was just like that well-known song (or maybe not so well-known song if you don’t work in radio) by J-Lo here on Sunday – our container finally arrived and in a Tonka truck that backed up towards the apartment! You couldn’t make it up! And before we go any further I’ll let those who don’t know what the hell I’m on about check this out…You need to listen up until about 47 seconds in for that famous line!

Aaaanyway – back to Sunday! So here’s the evidence of our stuff – that I waved goodbye to back in January – finally arriving at our new apartment…

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And yes that’s the German watching the Tonka truck after having to go out in his car to find the stricken delivery drivers who had got lost on our apartment complex…I kid you not!

So it arrived and I have never, ever, ever been so excited to see so many brown cardboard boxes in my life! To be precise there was 52 items to be delivered and unpacked – something that would probably strike the fear of God in some people but I actually couldn’t wait! No longer would we have to suffer with 4 plates, 4 knives and forks and 2 glasses, no longer would I have to drink wine from a mug or wash cups and cutlery before every meal – a mahoosive supply of cutlery, plates, glasses, mugs and everything else you might need for your kitchen was arriving at my house – last seen in Leeds all those months ago!!

Now as you know the brother and sister-in-law arrived on Friday – if you ask me just in time! Yep they weren’t getting away with sitting on the sofa and watching the German and I unpack – oh no no! And to sweeten them up (and celebrate Easter!) I plied them with this…

Yum Yum!

Yum Yum!

An Easter basket full of treats! Now this had quite a big dint in it by the time the container arrived at 2pm but I’m thinking the sugar rush helped them along! They were put straight to work…in the kitchen! After being packed in newspaper EVERYTHING had to be washed and I mean everything! And there was a lot of stuff!! But they did a grand job and I reckon reduced the unpacking time by a few hours easily! Mahoosive big up to them!!

So while they were beavering away in the kitchen the German and I unpacked the rest of the stuff. Now I do have a confession to make…picture the scene…52 cardboard boxes arrive with things in you haven’t seen for months…now when I say it was like Christmas it really was! Every 2 minutes either myself of the German would shout ‘Look!’ or ‘I forgot about this!’ or ‘Yay it’s finally here!’ as we re-discovered what was in the boxes! I therefore, was a little slack on the picture taking front for the blog…the Tonka truck was the only one I took! Therefore you might have to use your imagination a little bit further on in this post! I know – I’m useless! You’d think I’d have this blog lark sussed by now…it would appear not. I’ll hang my head in shame.

So we unpacked cabinets, drawers, LOTS of kitchen stuff, books, DVD’s, a stereo (that thankfully works over here despite their stupid low voltage electricity!) pictures, a bike and loads, loads more things!! It took us about 6 hours but the house is now finally looking like a home…

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Yep we have pictures on the walls, cabinets and placemats in the dining room…

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And somewhere to sit on the balcony and watch the world go by! The spare room has a book-case and drawers and no longer looks empty but my closet (sorry wardrobe for those of you in England!) still has room in it despite the arrival of more clothes…

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This technically means I can buy more to fill it up…but that would mean spending the German’s money which I don’t think he’d be very pleased about – I seriously think he is turning into my Northern, Yorkshire dad!!

So 52 boxes later and there was a LOT of rubbish – here’s where you have to use your imagination – we technically couldn’t get out of the house…see this hallway…

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The rubbish was literally piled to the ceiling – blocking the exit. MASSIVE fire risk I know but hey there wasn’t a blaze and we’re all still here! Thankfully we managed to get all the cardboard, paper and bubble wrap (yep I did want to stand and pop all the little bubbles but sadly there was too much unpacking to do!!) out of the house and to the recycling centre which is just over the road! Phew!

Most things did all arrive in one piece which is surprising considering their looooong journey but we did have a few breakages – a few champagne flutes (not that we drink champagne every night of the week!) a wine glass, a mug and a baking dish all went to that kitchen heaven in the sky and a couple of bits of furniture came with a couple of chunks missing but apart from that everything is a-ok! Woooooo!

This also means that I now have an iron. I need to check if it works properly, what with the low voltage and all,  but it means my housewife duties once again include ironing…and believe me there is a MASSIVE pile to catch up on. 😦 I’m kind of putting it off by writing this blog…and stretching it out for as long as I can…

So that’s it – we’ve not officially, fully moved over here! Everything we own is here and unpacked and Atlanta is now home! There’s still some stuff to buy though – we need more pictures on the wall and decoration bits like vases and stuff (again this means spending the German’s money so I had better shut up!!) but our lovely new apartment now looks and feels more like home! It did kind of shock me for the first couple of days because I wasn’t used to the pictures being on the wall and the apartment looking fuller but I’m definitely used to it now and I LOVE it!!

Oh and in a washer/dryer update – they were fixed yesterday…a week later! BUT, yep there’s a but and it’s kind of a big one…the oven is now broken and not heating up! Last night we had to have stuffed chicken cooked in the microwave because the oven was taking so long! I wonder how long it will take them to fix it this time…

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