Bookworm and I went on a mummy-daughter-date today. We heard the word on Twitter that a new tea room was opening called Beatons, and were having a launch today in support of local charities. There are apparently another two of these in the country and we were excited to hear the small franchise had made it to our doorstep.
They are located right next to the beautiful Cathedral which has a separate bell tower in its gardens. We were welcomed with smiles and Bookworm was asked to write her name on a tag that would be added to a large picture of a bell tower. She then got a choice of little bells to ring. Uncharacteristically she chose the more delicate sounding ones. They were fundraising for various charities, which Bookworm asked questions about. Not so much about their choice of charity, but about the acronyms as it frustrated her that she couldn’t read the words on the poster. She has explained to me that reading is like her secret power. She can do it anytime she wants. She can read shop signs, house names, newspaper headlines, all in her head and no-one knows she is using her reading power.
Upon entering I realised that Beatons really does do tea in a big way. There was a vast array of loose leaf teas to choose from and the coffee menu didn’t disappoint either. I went for coffee. I had a Sumatran blend which came in a stainless steel cafetiere. It was also served with a pot of hot steamy milk. This was excellent as the coffee was kept nice and hot as Bookworm and I chatted away. The complementary cup of white tea we were served on arrival was light and sweet. Perfectly brewed, in my very humble tea opinion.
As much as I was trying to persuade Bookworm to opt for something savoury, as it was only 10.15am, the chocolate cake displayed in a Beauty and the Beast-style dome was far too tempting. I would have chosen the lemon polenta cake or the coffee cake. I was allowed to choose something. A bacon bagel. It was very scrummy.
The chocolate cake was massive and the buttercream icing abundant. Bookworm had an Italian-style blood orange soda to cleanse her pallet after each dainty (or not so dainty) mouthful.
As I overheard the manager say, Beatons – inspired by designer and photographer Cecil Beaton – was designed to bring a historical experience, with exceptional customer service and quality food and drink. Around a third of the floor space was dedicated to selling books. Although displayed on two bookshelves the variety was impressive. Some quirky and arty titles appeared among a well thought-through selection of politics, travel, children’s novels and many other genres.
A man spoke to me about how he wanted to encourage people to sit down with a book and relax. To sit down with a physical book and feel the pages and connect to something that used to be more of our country’s past time.
I’m a fairly obsessed technology junkie. To actually turn off my phone (well, put it on silent) and not even look for a Wi-Fi connection is a real challenge. But it’s a challenge I’d like to accept. Hopefully Beatons can become for me a technology free zone. I’m pretty sure I remember how to read a book.
And on a day when I am unable to sit in quiet contemplation (which is most days) I may still be tempted to pop in with kiddos in tow. An advantage of Beatons’ location is the space. Many independent cafes and coffee shops struggle in Chester because of the rows and the small letting spaces. Beatons has been given a gift with their larger-than-average floor space, which makes it buggy friendly. Yay!
The staff were all very brilliant and smartly dressed. Bookworm got a lot of attention from many of the customers. She was, of course, clothed in one of her few pretty dresses. This one actually has teapots and teacups on it. See what I did there?
Bookworm gave Beatons’ 80,000 out of ten. She was particularly impressed by the tiny, soft towels that you were able to dry your hands on and put in a small wooden box. She dislikes hand-driers, so this was a welcome toilet experience for her.
To keep up to date with all going on at Beatons, you can find them on Twitter.
And for a more in-depth and informed review please to do look out for our friend Laura’s post about her experience at Beatons’ exclusive Bloggers’ High Tea.
Do you have a favourite ‘date’ spot with one of your kids? Let us know in the comments.