Local tea rooms

I wrote about meeting Kalem (Patterson) to interview him about the play he’s starring in at the Live Theatre, Day of the Flymo.  We arranged to meet up at Bradley Gardens (off Sled Lane between Crawcrook and Wylam) a place I haven’t been to for about six years.  It was _DSC0005never particularly busy, so I was surprised to find that I couldn’t get into the car park and had to use the overflow facility.  The restaurant was packed, but even though all I wanted was tea, I wasn’t turned away and I was served promptly.  While I was waiting for Kalem and his Dad Sunday lunches were being wafted around under my nose.  They looked so delicious that I spoke to a young lady called Sarah, and she booked Heather and I in for today.  Our beautifully presented meal tasted every bit as gorgeous as it looked, and one of the things I like about this restaurant is that although it was full,  there were plenty of staff on duty to cope with the demand – all of them courteous, friendly, and efficient.  I recommend the spicy chipolata sausages as a starter, and then both of us had pork, followed by sticky toffee pudding for me, and the Bradley fruit fool for Heather.  Sunday dinner is a set price of £11.50, and £4.50 for desert, and I would say that booking is a must.  I’ve copied and pasted the Sunday menu here, but for full details of opening times and what else is on offer, go to Bradley Gardens

Roasted dry aged rib of beef
Honey roasted loin of rare breed Crane Row Farm pork
Roast breast of chicken with homemade
lemon and thyme stuffing
Served with
Homemade Yorkshire puddings, duck fat roast potatoes,
fresh seasonal vegetables and proper gravy

Bradley fruit fool
Vanilla crème brûlée
Sticky toffee pudding and hot toffee sauce
Soft brown sugar meringue, red fruits & vanilla cream
Farmhouse Cheeses, Biscuits & Homemade Chutney
Bradley Ponds

Tea with Lisa

Lisa and her Mam, Jean

It’s always interesting when someone tells you they’ve had a change of career. In Lisa Richardson’s case it’s been quite a leap, because she’s switched from being a dental nurse for 22 years, to running her own business, Lisa’s Little Tea Room, on the Main Road in Barmoor, roughly opposite the rugby club. She is ably assisted by her Mam Jean and her Aunty Elaine, so it’s quite a family affair. The Tea Room has only been open for two months, but today is the third time I’ve been in and it’s always busy. It’s a lovely place, cheerful and un-rushed. There are lots of home-made cakes and scones (I recommend the apple) and you can buy sandwiches, breakfasts, jacket potatoes, paninis, and drink Pumphreys coffee, made according to your taste. The tea room is open every day except Sunday from 9am to 4.30pm. Telephone 0191 4136613 or click here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Look out for children’s activities and events taking place over the school holidays.


David and Becky
David and Becky

It’s a Perfect Blend!

Isn’t it great when you find a new place to go? It is especially fabulous when it’s somewhere you would be happy to drive miles to get to – but in this case there’s no need because the Perfect Blend is in Crawcrook.

 Our friend Jackie took Heather off my hands for a bit on Saturday morning. I watched the two of them get swallowed by the mist, heading from Greenside towards Mickley for their walk. It was arranged for me to pick them up from their destination, and so I arrived deliberately early, looking forward to a cup of freshly roast coffee and a cosy hour with my book. I was settled peacefully in a corner of the cafe, on one of the soft seats, with a cup of steaming Americano, when my mobile buzzed. Glancing at the phone lying on the table by my saucer, I could see Heather’s face on the screen. I considered ignoring her, but on weighing up the repercussions/consequences/hell I’d be in, I concluded that it probably wasn’t worth it.

 “Can you come and get us?” I was cursing myself for not having turned the bloody thing off. Never mind, every cloud and all that, because instead of returning to have something to eat in Mickley, I asked if we could try the Perfect Blend in Crawcrook instead, because I hadn’t been before. It was very full, but the rain had stopped so a table and chairs were kindly put outside for us. It was lovely sitting there, watching the shiny main road drying off in the sun, and contemplating what we were going to order. All of us went for the Lakeland tea, which is a traditional afternoon tea reminiscent of ones I’ve seen being consumed in Upstairs Downstairs. We had finger sandwiches (you can choose your own fillings) fruit scones with jam and cream, a delicious caramel desert, a massive chunk of raspberry cake, shortbread, and an endless supply of tea.

Diet Coke and some beautifully presented water.
Diet Coke and some beautifully presented water.

You can chuck about superlatives when you talk about a place, so I’m trying not to, but it’s hard because Perfect Blend really is the best tea room I’ve ever been in. The shop is owned by David Rutherford and his partner Gavin Younger. The couple started the business last November, and word is spreading rapidly. Both are local lads and they live in Greenside. Gavin is a nurse, but he lends a hand, along with David’s sister, Anna Graham. Becky Spragg works there full time. David and Becky met when they both worked for Pizza Express. Pizza Express’s loss then, is our gain. Everyone is friendly and attentive without being pushy. We ordered two bottles of water (see photo) and when we came to pay, we asked why we hadn’t been charged for them. No charge apparently, because it was tap water. Look how beautifully presented they were! Everything sets this place apart, the home cooking, the service, and the attention to detail.

Perfect Blend is open 7 days a week. Monday to Saturday the opening times are 9am to 5pm. Sunday 10am until 5pm. Breakfasts are served until 11am. It is always busy, so if you want to take a party of people it might be best to ring first. 0191 4131000 You can find their website here The Perfect Blend