On Monday we celebrated our seven year wedding anniversary (18 years together) and Avery's half birthday. We headed in to Manchester for a museum visit and a delicious afternoon tea.
What better way to celebrate still being married by eating some posh sandwiches and cakes?! It was Avery's first ever afternoon tea, so when The Tea Room at The Midland Hotel invited us to try out their afternoon tea, we tied it in with the special occasion.
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I started the day with a beautiful sunrise run (the sunrise was beautiful - the run not so much). I have started the Couch 2 5K programme again and I am trying to get the run done first thing in the morning. We have some lovely fields and woods behind our house and I even saw a deer on the run! It means Dave and Avery can spend some time together and I can head out before breakfast. When I came back, this delicious breakfast was being served up. Totally earned some husband points there.
It wasn't just our 7 year wedding anniversary, but Avery turned 18 months old. I know everyone says it, but where does the time go? I am sure she was a tiny baby just a month or so ago. Check out the awesome dinosaur skirt that she is rocking! I know most people look up to celebrities as their style icons, but honestly I wish I could have Avery's wardrobe!
We headed in to Manchester after breakfast and because of the early start a coffee was very much needed. We stopped by Pret and did a little celebrity spotting, as 2 of the actresses from Coronation Street where there (Dave spotted them), and I picked up one of their vegan dark chocolate and almond butter cookies that I had been meaning to try. Best. Cookie. Ever! It is so rich and gooey. Try them!
We had some time before our table was booked for afternoon tea, and we had heard that the kids activities at the Museum of Science and Industry were really good. It is free to get in, although a donation is very much appreciated, and there are activities for all ages.
There are a couple of little soft play areas for smaller kids where they can build stuff and knock it down again, and climb over everything. From this photo you can see that it's just as fun for adults too.
Other than that there wasn't much for Avery to do as she was a bit young (and short) for the rest of the activities. Also, she was tired and getting grumpy, so that didn't help. There was a display where you could have your photo taken and have it projected on to a photo tree. As you can see, I didn't time it very well and the photo was awful. So, I took a selfie with my terrible photo on the screen haha.
No trip in to the city is complete with a visit to Paperchase. In all honesty, I shouldn't be allowed in there as I spend way too much money. £11 on 3 pens? What is wrong with me! But, I did find My Mindful Journal, which I love. It's a bit pricy at £10, but I will use it daily, so it's worth it. If you have been following my Instagram stories, you will have seen that I am doing some meditation every day and the focus is on mindfulness and gratitude.
We picked a great day to go in to Manchester, as the weather was beautiful. Warm, but not too hot, and beautiful blue skies. Avery finally fell asleep after much protesting, so we just walked round the city for an hour and managed to clock up 15,000 steps before we had even had lunch.
Speaking of lunch, it was time to head to The Tea Room at The Midland Hotel for our afternoon tea. We arrived 10 minutes early, so were asked to wait in the bar area until our table was ready. There were a lot of empty tables in there, so I am not sure what the wait was for, but it might have been to make room for the pushchair we had with us.
The room is light, airy and tastefully decorated. It was probably about half full, but the tables are spaced out enough that even when it is full it wouldn't feel over crowded. We both went for the Royal Afternoon Tea (the vegetarian option for me) which costs £32 per person and Avery had the children's afternoon tea which is fantastic value at £12.50.
The royal afternoon tea comes with a glass of champagne (Montaudon Cuvee Brut to be exact) and as Dave was driving I drank both of them - as you can see, Avery didn't overly approve of this! You can order as much tea as you like from their extensive menu. I went for a mint and caramel tea that was lovely and refreshing and the caramel really came though, which doesn't usually happen with tea. Dave had a chai tea which had a good amount of spice to it.
We sat and watched everyone else's food come out, even people that had arrived after us and still ours was not here. Our waitress (who was incredibly friendly and knowledgeable) said there would be a little delay on the vegetarian food as it had to come from another kitchen, but it would be here in a few minutes. After 20 minutes, it arrived. We were enjoying the champagne and the tea, so it wasn't too much of an issue, but it was a little slower than we would have liked.
Where the afternoon tea really shines is in the creativity of sandwich fillings and the cakes. It isn't just your boring ham and cheese - the standard afternoon tea came with Chicken, Mango & Coriander on Granary Bread; Honey-baked Gammon, Pickled Cabbage Choucroute on White Bread; Asparagus, Artichoke & Parmesan Mimosa on Brioche Bun with Cured Egg Yolk; Smoked Salmon, Dill Pickled Cucumber & Pastrami Mayonnaise on Granary Bread and Portobello Mushroom Duxelle with Tarragon Cream Cheese on White Bread. The vegetarian option came with Feta Cheese, Roasted Red Pepper & Rocket on Granary Bread; Asparagus, Artichoke & Parmesan Mimosa on Brioche Bun with Cured Egg Yolk; Portobello Mushroom Duxelle with Tarragon Cream Cheese on White Bread; Beetroot Chutney & Goats’ Cheese on Granary Bread and Duck Egg & Mustard Cress on White Bread.
The bread was a little dry, as I imagine they bulk make all the sandwiches and just serve them up as and when they are needed. But the filings are really delicious, so that made up for it. For me, the beetroot chutney and goats cheese was the best of the selection.
Lucky little Avery got her very own afternoon tea and this was definitely the highlight of the visit. She loved everything, especially her very own strawberry milkshake which she finished after a couple of minutes. She had her own selection of sandwiches (Honey Roast Ham on Granary Bread, Cheddar Cheese on White Bread, Roast Chicken on White Bread and Cucumber & Cream Cheese on Brown Bread) along with some celery & carrot Sticks. It was a lot of sandwich for a toddler, but this option is for children up to 12 years old, so it's the perfect size for older kids.
When it comes to afternoon tea, I think dessert is the main event, so we were really looking forward to trying the selection. Dave had Peanut Butter & Blackberry Jelly ‘Sandwich’; Elderflower & Gooseberry Cake; Tonka Bean Panna Cotta; Rhubarb Compote & Ginger Bread and Dark Chocolate & Salted Caramel Tart and I had Olive Oil & Pistachio Polenta Cake; Dark Chocolate Mousse with Frosted Walnuts; Soy & Vanilla Rice Pudding with Nut Crust and Blueberry & Lemon Meringue.
I was really looking forward to the pistachio polenta cake, but sadly it was really dry. Again. the cakes are all ready made and kept behind a counter and served up when needed. It's a shame, as olive oil cakes should be really moist. The dark chocolate and salted caramel tart was incredible - so rich and the the blueberry and lemon meringue was amazing too, but very sweet.
Avery got her own little dessert plate too which came with a Slice of Watermelon ‘Pizza’, Mini Jar of Jelly Sweets, Paint your own Gingerbread Man and a chocolate muffin. She loved decorating the gingerbread man almost as much as she loved eating the icing straight from the piping bag. This is such a good addition to the kids afternoon tea, as it keeps them occupied for a bit whilst you enjoy another glass of champagne.
We had scones to finish off the afternoon tea and you get 2 each with cream and then they serve the jams at the table. You can choose from raspberry, strawberry, damson or lemon curd. Or get a little of each, which is what I did. The damson and lemon curd were especially good. The scones were huge too, so I could only manage one - Dave had three!
It's a beautiful setting for afternoon tea and despite a couple of small issues we had a lovely meal and felt like it was really good value for what you get - especially for the kids option. So, if you have a celebration coming up, or even if you just feel like treating yourself, head to The Tea Room for a tasty afternoon tea.
We were so full that we couldn't really think about doing much else whist we were in the city, so we had a slow sunny walk back to the car, whilst reminiscing about our 12 years living in Manchester. We do miss it, and it's nice to go back for a visit and we are lucky to only live 45 minutes away, but we love where we live now so much more.
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** Thank you to The Tea Room at The Midland for inviting us for a complimentary afternoon tea. All opinions are our own **