We had a visit to the tea rooms from Bill last week who is 98 years old. He told us that he used to come to dances at Shepherds Hall when he was 18 years old. He would cycle to Lealholm from Roxby with 2 bob in his pocket. It was sixpence to get in, a drink was thrupence, and then he would cycle back with change in his pocket. What a lovely man he is.
We have been open for the past couple of weekends, building ourselves up gradually to be open every day, which from this Saturday, 1st April we are! We've had a busy couple of weekends and of course Mother's Day yesterday and with the weather being just great has meant lots of people around Lealholm. The village on the North Yorkshire Moors is a great place to visit so much to see and do and of course great tea rooms!! We haven't made many changes to the tea rooms, if its not broke don't fix it. A new ladies toilet and new lino in both the men's and ladies toilets, no expense spared haha. . my main worry at the moment is will the "Boro" manage to stay up and whether I win at darts tonight. Lets hope this weather continues. . . . .
I cannot believe I last did a blog at the start of the year!!! Where has that time gone? Every morning when the beeper goes after 12 minutes and the scones are baked I always find myself saying "well that's 12 minutes I'll never get back". . . .it's true time does fly when you're having fun. It's been a busy, funny, hard, back breaking, stressful and rewarding few months. Let's start with the 'Riverside Tea Garden' a new outside seating area down by the river. When people come in and order and I say where are you sitting and some say the car park I always get a bit uppity and say you mean the 'Riverside'. It's been very popular during the Summer, even today more people have sat outside than in. Of course logistics play a big part having two outside areas. Good communication between downstairs (the kitchen) and upstairs where the drinks are done is crucial. The youngsters we have had working over the Summer holidays Issy, Megan, Fern, Dominic and Rosie have all been stars, up and down the steps clearing tables, taking food out, taking drinks out. Our experienced staff Sam, Ashleigh, Martin, Grace and Sophie have really upped their game this Summer and played a massive part in preparing the food and drinks and taking them out to all areas. You are only as good as your staff as we have found out and our staff are all great!! Our Pie n Mash nights have been a great success, fully booked every Thursday during the summer, locals, tourists, friends, old school friends and relatives - we've had them all!!
Well we are finally closed for a couple of months and boy are we looking forward to it. November and December have been busy with Christmas Sunday lunch bookings and we had a few private parties which is always good round Christmas. We are not planning many changes to the Tea Room, just touching up with the paint work and maybe the odd change in the retail area, which makes a difference to last year when we changed all the tables!! We have a list. We always have a list going. I have always used a list. I can't manage without a list!!. . . . . . . . We have been to a few tea rooms, well we never need an excuse to go to a tea room. Watching how other people do things, looking at the menu, what cakes are they baking. . . . People love our home made cakes and food, but not everywhere does " home made. " Is that important to you as a customer? The number of people that say to me " is the cake home made " and when I say " yes " most people say " Oo I'll have a piece then ". We are looking to change the menu format and maybe a few different dishes so that is a good excuse for market research!! All the terrible rain missed us around Christmas time, thank goodness. Watching the news you had to feel terribly sorry for those folks who were flooded. When the River Esk floods it comes up from the bottom of our car park. It flooded last in September and we had to move all the chairs and tables up from the riverside tea garden. We always keep an eye on the Environment Agency website which does a great job up dating the river levels. Easter is early this year, Sunday 27th March, which makes Mothering Sunday 6th March and that is when we re-open, Saturday 5th March. We will be at home though to take bookings for Mothering Sunday which is normally very busy. Check our website in a few weeks for our Mothering Sunday menu. Holidays are calling, a bit of sea and sun so our next blog will be in March.
The heather has been absolutely glorious on the North Yorkshire Moors this year. The smell has been lovely too. We have had some great sun sets as well, a chance to take some photos. We tend to go up to Danby beacon and have taken some great shots round there, on a clear night you can see for miles! We have had a busy August in the tea rooms. Holiday makers, cyclists, walkers, regulars, walking groups, motorbike groups, M G car enthusiasts, knitting groups, camper vans, a groups of 30 odd walkers 9.30 a.m. one morning for bacon butties ( pre booked phew!! ) all of this has kept us on our toes. Our staff have been great, Sophie, Ashleigh, Grace, Sam, Nicola, Jim, Charlotte, young Issy, Megan and Sharon have all done that extra bit to ensure everything goes smoothly. Up and down the steps and of course our new riverside area has added extra distance to take trays of food and drink! Lealholm show was last Saturday and although the weather was a bit wet and windy it went well. We are due some good weather for the show as the last couple of years it has rained. We had the show judges for lunch and they all welcomed a warm place to sit down and enjoy their lunch. Puddings, the judges loved sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and ice cream followed in second place by ginger sponge and custard. We have started doing some ice cream desserts, peach melba, chocolate nut sundae, banana split and knickerbocker glory. People cant resist ice cream!! Why do people always go ooo ahhh when we take them their ice cream I wonder lol. So September see's the children back at school and that's when the more mature holiday makers come out. I consider myself one of them because I always booked a week off work when the kid's had gone back to school. Now then, what are the specials going to be tomorrow and just what cakes am I going to bake. . . . . . . .
Our new riverside tea garden is open and ready for business. We had ladies having tea earlier there this week after attending a tea dance at Brotton. The weather has been good this week, plenty of sun which means people enjoy sitting out. More work for us going up and down the steps, but that's why we have the youngsters working for us lol !!! Our pie n mash nights are going well, with group bookings going on to the Esk Valley Theatre, Glaisdale to see the comedy All things Considered, mixed with holiday makers and locals. Lealholm is really buzzing with lots of tourists, its such a pretty village with lots to do and the moors are such a great place to walk with the views out of this world and the heather just starting to come out. As I type this it's raining and a quiet morning, rain forecast all day but sun at the weekend. The plus side is we can get a few jobs done like the blog and look at the craft area changing a few bits about and having a coffee!
Opening day will soon be here and we are getting excited about re-opening! We have been away to Northumberland for the weekend and have come back with a couple of new ideas. Visiting other tea rooms, seeing how other people serve their customers, different sandwiches, different cakes, gives us ideas. We always look for independent tea rooms and cafes of course and hardly ever venture into those big named coffee shops! We are making progress on a few tweaks to our outside area. At the bottom of the car park we have had the sign moved and have had an area overlooking the River Esk fenced off. We hope to be able to offer seating in this area for our customers. What could be better than sitting outside in the sun overlooking the river and the bridge at Lealholm? It will look lovely once it is all done. We just need the sun to shine this summer!! We have had a delivery from our coffee suppliers, Caffe Society from Sherburn in Elmet. People always comment on the coffee, asking what blend we use. The coffee we use is a blended darker roast with a distinctive Southern Italian style. I think it’s important to have a medium coffee for our customers. The majority want it mellow and the few that like a good old strong coffee have the option of a double shot.
This Sunday is Mothering Sunday and we are taking bookings for Sunday Lunch. There are a couple of tables still available at various times and it is nice to see that some people are treating their Mums to Afternoon Tea.
Hello from Shepherds Hall Tea Rooms! Well time is flying by on our winter break and we are getting closer to our opening date Thursday 12th March and I thought this postcard was apt after all the changing, swapping, painting, new ideas and new look for our tea rooms and craft area. It's still on going in between going away on holiday and days when we just don't want to go upstairs! We are looking for different things to sell in our retail area and are currently looking at candles, scarves and bags, something different to fill our new shelves, along with our vintage items and painted furniture. We have had a bit of snow on the North Yorkshire Moors and surrounding areas, but nothing to stop us doing anything we had planned. We are still and enjoying our break and looking forward to watching Middlesbrough FC at home this weekend.
We have just received the following comment from a customer who visited last week:
We are an Australian couple who visited your tea room the other day. I have to say that the scones we had were probably the very best ever. Moreover, I wanted to say thank you to the lady (sorry I didn't get your name) who served us. We have visited the UK a number of times and YOU to me have given us the best experience in terms of service that we have ever had. When we travel we want to find those little out of the way places that only the locals know about. Apart from the stepping stones (which we would not have seen without your advise) You advised us of a road to take which was in the opposite direction that we were going. You were so enthusiastic about it, that we decided to change our direction and Thank you thank you thank you. We come from a tourism business and we always strive to give our customers the level of service that you gave us on this day. Kept up the good work.
With lovely comments like that it makes it all worthwhile!!
This great photo was taken of people going into the Tea Rooms on a lovely sunny day. Which brings us weather wise to the first of the May Bank Holidays starting this weekend. We have looked in the diary and the same Bank Holiday last year was a hot one, so fingers crossed its the same for this one. Last night we were out cutting the lawn at the front of Shepherds Hall, tidying, sweeping and removing a few weeds.
Meringues have just been turned off in the oven. Pastry crumbs done. Bramley apples for pies prepared. All to help us have an easier morning tomorrow with all the baking. Cheese scones, fruit scones, carrot cake, chocolate cake, fruit cake with a slice of apple and Wensleydale cheese, corned beef pie just a few of the sweet and savoury selections for the weekend.