Not only have just experienced an amazing Afternoon Tea... I've just popped my public speaking "cherry" and I'm still not sure I enjoyed that element of stress and panic that led up to it, but it's a challenge ticked regardless.
How did this come about I hear you say?
Well, good question...
Thanks to my lovely friend & very talented author, Ali Harris, I was introduced to her sister-in-law, Aime, as she had been discussing local bloggers and food writers with her for an upcoming event, so I can't thank Ali enough for putting us in touch for this.
Aime and her partner, Matt, run a company called Montage Communications, which is a consumer brand marketing consultancy, specialising in social media and consumer pr, heading up a lot of PR work with Brabantia amongst other well known names.
One of their clients is The Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds, just 30 miles from Cambridge and they were asked to help this hotel showcase a new bar within the hotel, The Wingspan. With this event, they were to be showcasing their new chef, the gorgeous & very charming Jay Scrimshaw (previously of The Pheasant in Keyston, which won Best British Restaurant on Gordon Ramsay’s F Word in 2009) and his delicious canapés to accompany the extensive drinks menu they have in this underground cavern.
The food varied from cheese & onion popcorn boxes, through to Oysters, pulled pork wraps with apple coleslaw and even maple & bacon doughnuts... We were fed well and certainly didn't go hungry! Oh, not forgetting the soft boiled quails scotch egg which was my fave treat of all, served in an egg carton which put a smile on our faces.
The Angel Hotel is a four star, award winning hotel in the very centre of Bury St Edmunds, with it's sister hotel being The Salthouse Harbour in Ipswich, overlooking the marina. You can even book spa treatments whilst you are staying with either of these hotels and the very exciting news is that they are about to take on a third hotel, having recently purchased Southwold Pier... Rumour has it that the new hotel is intended to be, although equally quirky & trendy, an Art Deco themed design, so keep your eyes peeled over the coming months.
The Wingspan Bar is open to residents and non residents of the hotel and is open daily from 5pm until late. It's a dark cave underneath the main reception fashioned out of the secret tunnels that are said to run under much of Bury St Edmunds, with little nooks and crannies everywhere you look, the decor and furniture reflecting the theme of "flight", hence the name. The bar itself even created from half an aircraft engine, tables are designed from airplane wings and sofas are individually covered with German flour sacks - it puts Cambridge's "secret" cocktail bar to shame, it truly does.
As part of this event, there were two speakers to chat to the 30 guests about blogging and creativity and to offer their advice on the subject, as the guests were a mixture of bloggers and journalists, as well as professional networkers and food lovers, it was a fantastic mix of people and made for fascinating conversations throughout the evening.
The first speaker was Sarah Louise Gibbs, an award-winning interior designer who talked about colours, trends and ideas to inspire our fellow bloggers, she was lovely and knew her stuff!
And the second speaker was Jo Christy, better known as Miss Sue Flay of The Secluded Tea Party - ahem ; )
I waffled my way through a 15 minute talk on my blogging journey and my tips for the best blog posts and reviews. I plan to write up this talk into a separate post, as there is a lot I could talk about here, so visit the next blog post (click here)...should it be of interest to you.
As I was living in luxury for the evening, I decided to accept a night at the hotel and I'm so glad I did, as not only could I have an extra cheeky drink in the Wingspan, I also got to be spoilt rotten by the hotel staff and sleep in the next comfiest bed to my own!
The room was simple in decor, with splashes of colour throughout - I especially loved the vintage bird blind over the porthole window and the comfy chaise in the bay window at the opposite side of the room, perfect for some early morning blogging the next day after breakfast.
In fact, breakfast was a rare treat for me too, a pot of English Breakfast and a bagel with smoked salmon and a poached egg, best start to a day when you don't have to cook your own breakfast!
As this gorgeous spell of weather was still on my side, I used the late morning checkout to go and wander around Bury, what a pretty little town it is too... The Abbey Gardens are just stunning and I saw some ruins that looked like something out of "Lord of the Rings" of which I was not expecting hehe. I even did the unheard of and went shopping. Buying a pair of the girliest shoes I've ever purchased, it must be the nice weather and a relaxing stay ; )
My mini stay with the Angel Hotel also resulted in enjoying their Afternoon Tea in the lounge, by a gorgeous grand fireplace surrounded by candles. It was a stunning afternoon tea, with so much food, not even I could finish it all....I asked for a doggy box to take it home with me (sorry Mr Hanson, I know they aren't great manners, but I couldn't leave these stunning cakes behind, it would have been rude to have done so ; )
They did melt a little in the car en route, so weren't quite the same at the other end!
Their 3 tier stand was a trendy purple Perspex one, a lot heavier than it looked when I tried to lift it actually! With a huge selection of finger sandwiches including ham & mustard, cheddar & chutney, smoked salmon, egg & watercress all were freshly made and there were so many fingers for just one person, which was fantastic, it's newly becoming my favourite course when it comes to Tea.
There was a large warm fruit scone with strawberry jam & clotted cream, no fuzzy tongues here, it had a very slight crunch on top and was a very tasty scone indeed - all washed down (I know one shouldn't wash it down hehe) with a strong cup of loose leaf English Breakfast Tea.
The cakes...oh my goodness, the cakes! Have you ever seen "Marie Antoinette" with Kerstin Dunst?!... The cakes were like the cakes in that god awful (but visually drool-inducing) film. I was given a wedge of lemon tart, a large chocolate tower with the fluffiest ganache I've ever tasted, a raspberry cupcake and a chocolate profiterole on steroids - a crispy shell and vanilla creme patisserie in the centre, mon dieux!
I have to admit, I admitted defeat after the scone... So I had to request for the cakes to be packed up and I had a second wind for my dinner instead ; ) Back to 20 miles on my bike tomorrow!
The Wingspan Table - part of a plane wing!
No matter if you need a nice place to stay, dine or have Afternoon Tea, The Angel Hotel is a very special place and that's my honest opinion. I'm going back to try The Salthouse next time.
For the full photo album from my stay, please click here.
Miss Sue Flay
PS - Read about my talk at this event by clicking here.
Please Note - In this instance, I was extremely lucky in that the afternoon tea and my hotel stay were both complimentary. I'm not used to being given anything like this, so apologies if it sounds as though I have been bribed, I genuinely haven't and if I didn't think anything to this venue, I would have grabbed and ran a mile ; )
The best thing to do is to sample for yourself and take a look at my photos, which I simply cannot fake!
I review places of interest and items of my own accord, because I'm simply THAT geeky about tea and cake and all things in between. I do usually pay for my own food, drink, services & products, I don't tell the establishment or suppliers what I'm doing in regards to my blog reviews, unless I enjoy it so much that I want to blog about it. I then simply ask their permission to do so and I chat to them about my experience to make them aware that I (and others) have enjoyed it : )
If you would like to discuss an independent review or blog write up on any of the subjects on my blog, please do email Miss Sue Flay: firstname.lastname@example.org for a chat.