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Colchester

Afternoon Tea, Eating Out, Food

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea

Charlie and the chocolate factory afternoon tea

Cardamon Tea Lounge

Cardamon Tea Lounge & Shop in Colchester is one of our favourite tea rooms to visit! They feature on our list of The Best Afternoon Teas in Essex. Cardamon Tea Lounge specialise in magical and enchanting themed afternoon teas. Each month they introduce us to an exciting new theme. For the month of July is the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea

The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed afternoon treat is such a delight. So much effort, planning and preparation has gone into each themed afternoon tea. Your table is decorated with fun themed props. Props range from funny Wonka glasses, giant sweets and even a Wonka-vision selfie frame so you can snap some memories from your visit.

The Cardamon Tea Lounge have over 50 wonderful varieties of tea to choose from to go with your afternoon tea. The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea is also served with a yummy chocolate milkshake.

Savouries

The sandwiches served are a great selection, salmon and cream cheese, Cheddar and caramelised onion and a mini egg mayonnaise roll. We even received a Nutella and raspberry sandwich and it was a delicious taste explosion! Perfect for any Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Fan! Quite delicious!

Cake stand with sweets and cakes, Wonka glasses Top view Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea

Sweets

This themed afternoon tea came with so many colourful, exciting sweet treats. We enjoyed a cheesecake topped with candy floss and blueberries, a cupcake with a hidden surprise, a macaroon pop, a Wonka bar and we even got an everlasting gobstopper!

Lastly, no Charlie and the Chocolate themed Afternoon Tea would be complete without a ‘chocolate’ scone! A nice variation from your average plain or fruit scone.

Candy floss topped cheesecakes from the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon TeaClose up of sweets on the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea

Children’s Platter

The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory children’s afternoon tea platter is great fun! A tasty selection of sandwiches, fruit sweets and a chocolate dessert. It also comes with a mini chocolate freak shake! The children’s platters are such good value and children find them so exciting to eat. A real treat!

The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea is £20 per head and available to book for the month of July 2018 at the Cardamon Tea Lounge & Shop. Pop over to their website or Facebook page to book or for further information.

To read our reviews of Cardamon Tea Lounge’s other fantastic themed afternoon teas in Essex. Please see below:

Wizards themed Afternoon Tea, for any Harry Potter fan.

A Tale of Peter Rabbit Themed Afternoon Tea.

Mary Poppins Themed Afternoon Tea, Practically Perfect in every way.

Sherlock Holmes Themed Afternoon Tea.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea

Thank you for reading ‘Charlie and The Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea’

Afternoon Tea, Eating Out, Food, Home

Sherlock Holmes Themed Afternoon Tea

Scones, sandwiches and cakes set up for the Sherlock Holmes Themed Afternoon Tea

Sherlock Holmes Themed Afternoon Tea

The Sherlock Holmes Themed Afternoon Tea is appearing at one of our favourite tea rooms in Colchester, Essex. Cardamon Tea Lounge & Coffee Shop host themed afternoon teas, each month brings a new theme. Running for the month of June 2018 and absolutely perfect for Fathers Day is the Sherlock Holmes Themed Afternoon Tea! Elementary my Dear Watson!

Cardamon Tea Lounge offer over 50 different tea variations, so there is something for everyone. My personal favourite is Karak Chai, a wonderful blend of Assam, cardamon and made with condensed milk.

Props ready for Sherlock Holmes Themed Afternoon Tea

Savoury

The Sherlock Holmes afternoon was a real treat, served upon a board game with lots of fun props, magnifying glass, hat, pipe etc. It really looked the part.

‘A game is afoot’ sandwiches were served upon a gold tray. A delicious selection consisting of a roast beef and egg mayonnaise mini roll (which was amazing) and then cheddar cheese & caramelised onion, ham & mustard and lastly smoked salmon and cream cheese.

Served warm were cheese and bacon mini rolls, which were almost like a scone with a soft and cheesy centre. These were simply diving and shouldn’t be missed!

Scones, sandwiches and cakes set up for the Sherlock Holmes Themed Afternoon Tea

A tray of rolls and sandwiches for Sherlock Holmes Themed Afternoon Tea

 

Sweet

The sweets arrived and they did not disappoint! The spiced scones were again served warm with butter, clotted cream and jam. They had a great flavour!

‘A logical conclusion’ cakes were beautifully displayed on a framed newspaper print, complete with magnifying glass and liquorice pipe! A real treat for any chocolate lovers out there. A chocolate cheesecake, salted caramel brownie and the most delicious macaroon that melted in the mouth! The cakes were a wonderful conclusion to the afternoon tea, I enjoyed every bite!

Spiced scones Sherlock Holmes Themed Afternoon Tea

Sweet selection, cheesecake, brownies, Sherlock Holmes Themed Afternoon Tea

Children’s Sherlock Holmes Children’s Platter

A children’s version of the Sherlock Holmes themed afternoon tea is also available. They are always so well themed with a mix of sweet and savoury and served with a drink. The children always love them! A bargain for £6.50 per child.

Childrens platter Sherlock Holmes Themed Afternoon Tea

The Sherlock Holmes Themed Afternoon Tea is £20 per head and available to book for the month of June 2018 at the Cardamon Tea Lounge & Shop. Pop over to their website or Facebook page to book or for further information.

To read our reviews of Cardamon Tea Lounge’s other fantastic themed afternoon teas in Essex. Please see below:

Wizards themed Afternoon Tea, for any Harry Potter fan.

A Tale of Peter Rabbit Themed Afternoon Tea.

Mary Poppins Themed Afternoon Tea, Practically Perfect in every way.

Thank you for reading ‘Sherlock Holmes Afternoon Tea’.

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Written in collaboration with Cardamon Tea Lounge, all views and opinions are my own.

Afternoon Tea, Eating Out, Food, Home

A Tale of Peter Rabbit Themed Afternoon Tea in Essex

Cardamon Tea Lounge

With the recent release of Peter Rabbit we were super excited to try out A Tale of Peter Rabbit Themed Afternoon Tea at one of our favourite tea rooms in Colchester, Essex. Cardamon Tea Lounge & Coffee Shop host themed afternoon teas, each month brings a new theme. Running for the month of April 2018 ‘A Tale of Peter Rabbit’ themed afternoon tea is sure to delight any Beatrix Potter fan.

A Tale of Peter rabbit themed afternoon tea

A Tale of Peter Rabbit Themed Afternoon Tea

Cardamon Tea Lounge pay so much attention to detail on their themed afternoon teas and ‘A Tale of Peter Rabbit’ themed afternoon tea is no exception. On arrival your table is laid with your very own grass mat, complete with flowers and carrot accessories, setting the scene for an exciting afternoon tea. We choose one from over 50 choices of tea to go along with our food.

The afternoon tea consisted of Mr McGregors garden goods, a selection of delicious sandwiches, wraps and bread rolls filled with delights straight from the garden. Cream cheese and radish sandwich, egg mayo and advocado roll, cream cheese and asparagus wrap, houmous pot with veg to dip and a wonderful fresh feta and spinach salad with blackberries and walnuts… Mr McGregor would have enjoyed this feast, it could also be suitable for vegetarians.

Tea cup and sandwiches A Tale of Peter rabbit themed afternoon tea Abide from above - A Tale of Peter rabbit themed afternoon tea

After the savouries we had Peter Rabbit’s hot cross bun, this made a nice change from the usual scone that is expected with an afternoon tea. It even came with a mini trowel and mini bucket full of jam to spread on top!

The sweets included a deliciously moist and tasty carrot cake, a chocolate pot served in a plant pot topped with a strawberry, a lemon tart with an edible cabbage moulded from nougat and a chocolate eclair finished with petals.

A Tale of Peter Rabbit Themed Afternoon Tea was so wonderfully put together, so much effort to theme each and every piece of food. It wasn’t your traditional afternoon tea, it was a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. So much fun to eat!

Close up of carrot cake, hot cross buns A Tale of Peter rabbit themed afternoon tea

A Tale of Peter Rabbits Children’s Platter

Cardamon Tea Lounge do so many fabulous platters for kids! At just £6.50, the children’s platter includes a yummy milkshake, shaped sandwiches, along with lots of yummy biscuits, chocolates and even a few sweets! Eden absolutely loves the kids platters and the Peter Rabbit platter was no exception!

The Tale of Peter Rabbit Themed Afternoon Tea is running for the month of April 2018 and is £20 per head (at time of publishing). Children’s platter is £6.50. Pop over to their website or Facebook page to book or for further information.

Children’s platter - A Tale of Peter rabbit themed afternoon tea

To see a review of their Magical Wizards Themed Afternoon Tea please read here.

Thank you for reading ‘A Tale of Peter Rabbit Themed Afternoon Tea in Essex’.

Eden enjoying her children’s platter - A Tale of Peter rabbit themed afternoon tea

Afternoon Tea, Eating Out, Food, Home

A Wizard’s Themed Afternoon Tea in Essex

The Cardamon Tea Lounge

A couple of years ago we found The Cardamon Tea Lounge in Colchester, Essex. We happened to be walking by and spotted this quaint little tea room and decided to give it a try. Since then it has been one of our firm favourite tea rooms. We aren’t the only ones that like it, it won the Essex Life Food and Drink Awards 2017 for Best Coffee/Tea Shop. Now its quickly becoming a popular spot for wonderful and imaginative Themed Afternoon Tea in Essex.

My daughter fell in love with this place right away and refers to it as the ‘Alice Cafe’. As you step inside there are so many wonderful trinkets and handmade crafts, many Alice in Wonderland themed and available to buy. There are teapots and cups as lampshades hanging from the ceiling and spoons as door handles. Every time I visit I see something new. My daughters favourite part is the little cupboard under the stairs, a cosy spot for the little ones to play.

Shop front of The Cardamon Tea Lounge in Colchester. Themed Afternoon Tea in EssexSome Alice in wonderland crafts and decorations Themed Afternoon Tea in Essex.

A Wizard’s Themed Afternoon Tea in Essex

The Cardamon Tea Lounge create wonderful and imaginative food and children’s platters, each with your chosen theme. Everything is made on the premises with such attention to detail. I particularly love their Alice in wonderland creations. It’s so much fun having your salad served in a giant teacup!

More recently The Cardamon Tea Lounge have been creating other themed afternoon teas. Introducing for any true Harry Potter fan ‘a Wizard’s Themed Afternoon Tea’. Both Eden and I are huge Harry Potter fans so as soon as I saw this, I couldn’t wait to try it. Any Witch or Wizard would be delighted with this magical wizard’s themed afternoon tea in Essex.

The Food

Before our visit we picked 4 sandwich choices from the menu. There were some really interesting and tempting flavours available. We chose ham, brie and apple, it was simply delicious, we also went for egg mayo, cream cheese and cucumber and salmon. We opted for mixed bread and when our sandwiches arrived one side was white and the other brown! What a great idea! The sandwiches were freshly made and simply delicious. They came served in a wooden chest! Our Wizard’s themed afternoon tea was filled with so many magical and exciting delights. We were treated to our very own multicoloured potions (which tasted amazing), popcorn served in a cauldron, and we even had our own mandrake cake! The scones were pumpkin spiced and the white chocolate and almond cake was light as air. Alongside the Wizards afternoon tea you can choose from over 50 variations of tea. We opted for the Dragonfruit tea and it was fruity and refreshing, it complemented the Afternoon Tea perfectly.

Wizards themed afternoon tea in EssexSandwiches in chest Harry Potter afternoon teaWizards themed afternoon tea, potions and mandrake chocolate cakeAfternoon tea cakes Harry Potter Wizard themed Tea cup in front of the Wizards Themed Afternoon Tea

Children’s Afternoon Tea Platter

The Cardamon Tea Lounge offers lots of wonderfully themed platters for children and the Wizard’s platter is no exception. The sandwiches were accompanied by many magical treats, a pretzel broomstick, a cauldron of popcorn, veggie sticks, a cupcake, sweets and a drink. Great value for £6.50 and Eden was so excited when it arrived, I think she enjoyed every bite!

Any witch or wizard would have a truly magical and enchanting time working their way through this Wizards feast!

 

Children’s Wizards platter Eden wearing Harry Potter glasses Wizards themed afternoon tea in Essex

Each month The Cardamon Tea Lounge will be changing their themed afternoon tea… next up ‘A Tale as Old as Time. There are so many exciting afternoon themed afternoon teas to come.  All afternoon tea’s should be prebooked, please get in touch with The Cardamon Tea Lounge, 44 St John’s Street, Colchester, Essex CO2 7AD. Telephone number: 01206 504180.

To read more about our favourite afternoon teas in Essex click here.

Wizards themed afternoon tea in Essex Harry Potter

Thank you for reading ‘A Wizard’s Afternoon Tea’.

Written in collaboration with The Cardamon Tea Lounge, we were invited along to review their afternoon tea, please note that all views and opinions are my own.

Days Out, Museums, Outdoors, Parks, Unusual

Fun and free kids days out in Essex!

Okay so as we approach the kid’s summer holidays. Some of us with welcome arms while others are more likely burrowing their heads in their hands! It can be daunting, thinking ahead of 6 weeks of entertaining your offspring! It can also be very expensive so I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite free and cheap days out for kids. Here is my list of my favourite fun and free kids days out in Essex! So in no particular order:

Free kids days out in Essex

1. Priory Park, Southend

Priory Park is a particularly picturesque park, not only does it have a large children’s play area, it has a lake, a woodland walk, a cafe, beautiful walled formal gardens and it’s the home to Prittlewell Priory Museum. The Priory originally formed part of a Cluniac Monastery dating back to 1180. There are plenty of nice spots for picnicking and letting the kids run off some steam.
The museum is free to enter and if you particularly enjoyed your visit then donations are welcomed.
Free parking onsite (although not a huge car park).
Opening times – Summer opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 10:10 – 17:00
Bank holidays 10:00 – 17:00
For more information visit their website.

2. Wind in the Willows Sculptures at Hanningfield Resevoir

Hanningfield Resevoir in Downham, Billericay is a great family day out. Stick on your wellies and take a wander through the woods to spot the well known characters from Wind in the Willows. A special map is available to purchase at the visitor centre. At each sculpture you can use the back of the map to make your very own brass rubbings of Badger, the Weasels, Ratty, Mole and Mr Toad.
You can visit for free but there is a suggested donation amount of £2 per adult, £1 per child or £5 per family.
They also offer a range of children’s activities during the summer holidays for just a £3 donation. Check their website to see what events are running.
The visitor centre has a refreshment area, gift shop and toilets with baby changing facilities. There is also a viewing area with views out across the Reservoir where you can relax and enjoy watching the wildlife.
There is free parking available onsite.
Open Daily: 9am – 5pm.
For more information visit their website.

3. Peter Rabbit Sculptures at Langdon Visitor Centre

Langdon Visitor Centre is in Lower Dunton Road in Basildon. It is a lovely nature reserve with a trail, meadows, woodlands and lakes. As you take a wander around the trail you will meet wonderful wooden characters from Peter Rabbit. They also offer lots of children’s activities during the summer holidays from scavenger hunts to making arts and crafts for just a £3 donation. Check their website or Facebook page for details.
The visitor centre sells refreshments, has a gift shop and toilets with baby changing. To the rear of the visitor centre is a pretty wildlife garden.
There is free parking onsite.
Open Daily: 9am – 5pm.
For more information visit their website.

4. Hollytrees Museum and Colchester Castle Park

Hollytrees Museum is a great museum set in Colchester Castle Park overlooking the picturesque Colchester Castle. There is a cafe, formal gardens and children’s playground with large sandpit play area to explore.
The museum gives a glance into life in Colchester and how it has evolved over the years. It has some really interesting exhibits and interactive parts to keep the kids interested and entertained.
Free entry.
Opening times of Hollytrees Museum:
Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm
Sunday 11am to 5pm
Parking is not available on site, you would need to use Colchester Town car parks.
You can visit the Castle Museum but there is a fee to enter.

For more information check their website.

5. Stick Man Trail at Weald Country Park

Another great free kids day out in Essex is Weald Country Park. It is set within 500 acres of parkland in Brentwood and home to The Stickman Play Trail. A fun trail bringing to life the story by Julia Donaldson encouraging imaginative play. A gorgeous walk through the woodland and parkland with activities to explore at each stop. It really is a lovely walk round and the children love investigating and playing around the wooden structures.

You can purchase a map at the visitor centre. There is also a deer to visit, cafe, play area, gift shop and toilets.
Free entry and parking is onsite, there is a charge for parking however:

Up to 1 hour £2.20
Up to 2 hours £3.30
Up to 3 hours £4.40
Over 3 hours £5.50

For more information please visit their website.

6. Hylands House & Park

Hylands House is based in Chelmsford in Hylands Park. The Grade II listed house is set in gorgeous landscaped parkland, with pretty formal gardens to explore, a cafe and adventure castle play area.
Free entry to the park and free onsite parking.
To enter the house is £3.80 for adults and free for under 16s.
Please check their website for opening dates and times of the house and cafe. Please also be aware that it will be closed for visiting during a weekend in mid August for a Festival.
For more information please visit their website.

7. Canvey Island Transport Museum

The museum in Canvey Island is the home to a selection of vintage buses, coaches and classic cars. In addition to the museum there is a model railway and gift shop selling die-cast models and transport souvenirs.
Entry is free but donations are welcomed.

Open the first and third Sundays between April and October.
Opening times 10am to 5pm.
For more information visit their website.

8. Chelmsford Museum at Oaklands Park

Chelmsford Museum is actually in Oaklands Park situated Moulsham Street, Chelmsford.
Set within gorgeous grounds with two fantastic playgrounds for the children, one for older children and one for younger.
Chelmsford Museum has some really interesting exhibits and also houses Essex Regiment Museum.
During the summer holidays they are hosting a number of themed craft sessions for school aged children. Children are encouraged to get creative, using the museum’s collections and displays for inspiration. £3 per child.
Free entry and free parking is available onsite. Please note there is some renovation work going on during 2018 but the museum is still open.
Opening times:
Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm
Sunday 1pm to 4pm
For more information please visit their website.

9. Rayleigh Windmill

Rayleigh Windmill is a 200 year old Grade II listed building where you can learn how the Windmill worked, climb to the top, try the quiz in the museum, dress up in traditional costumes.
Entry is free of charge but a donation of £1 per person is suggested. See our full review of Rayleigh Windmill here.

Opening times:
Wednesday 10:00am – 1:00pm
Saturday 1:00 – 4:00pm
Sunday 1:00 – 4:00pm

Please check in advance as they close for some private events at weekends.
Parking is at Mill Hall Car Park which is a paid for car park but free after 1pm on Saturday and free all day Sunday.
For more information please visit their website.

10. Great Notley Discovery Park

Great Notley Discovery Park is situated in Braintree. A great place to explore with the kids with interactive play equipment and sensory trails.
There is a cafe onsite, toilets and car parking.
Free Entry.
Opening times: The park is open daily from 08.00 till dusk
The visitor centre and cafe is open daily from 10.00 till 16.00. (Except 25 December).

11. Thames Chase Nature Reserve.

Thames Chase Nature Reserve based in Pike Lane, Upminster has a great nature trail with activities as you go round. It also boasts a play area, very nice cafe, gift shop and bicycle hire. It’s a great place to take the kids bikes to cycle round.
There are some great wooden structures as you go around the trail for the kids to play and climb on.
They are organising a range of children’s activities through the summer holidays on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday each week from 25th July to 24th August between 10:30am and 12:30pm. £3 donation per child.
Free entry.
Opening times: 10am-5pm weekdays and weekend (10-4pm in the winter).
Includes café and shop with toilets and baby changing.
Parking is onsite for a small fee.
For more information please visit their website.

12. Wat Tyler Park

Wat Tyler Country Park in Pitsea, Basildon has 125 acres of country walks, wildlife spotting adventure play area for kids and a miniature railway. The park has a fascinating history and was originally an explosives factory. There are informative signs as you walk around the trail.
There is a cafe and gift shop onsite with toilets and baby changing.
Free entry and free parking onsite.
Railway runs in the school holidays, adults £2.50 and children £1.50.
Opening times:
Monday to Sunday 10:00 – 16:45.
For more information please visit their website.

13. Hadleigh Castle

Hadleigh Castle is situated in Castle Lane, Hadleigh. The ruins of the castle are set high upon a hill overlooking the Essex marshes and Thames estuary. A gorgeous spot for settling down for a picnic and letting the kids let off some steam exploring the castle ruins.
Free entry all year round at any reasonable time.
It is situated right next to the Salvation Army Tea Rooms and Rare Breeds Farm with car park. Please note there is a charge for car parking.
Entry to the Farm isn’t free but it is very reasonable and is well worth a visit if in the area. They have a Willow maze, play area and lots of rare breed friendly animals to see.

14. Gruffalo Trail – Thorndon Country Park North

The Gruffalo Trail is in Thorndon Country Park North in Brentwood. It’s a great walk through the forest spotting all your favourite characters from The Gruffalo books by Julia Donaldson.
There is a visitor centre where you can purchase a trail guide for 50p. There is also a gift shop, cafe and toilets with picnic area.
Free entry and parking onsite. There is a charge for parking.
Opens at 09:30am.
For more information please visit their website.

So this is about fun and free kids days out in Essex. The following day out is not free but is very cheap and definitely a worth mention.

15. Canvey Island

You can get an all day wrist band for £5 to go on the fairground rides! It’s brilliant value for money and lots of rides to keep the little one happy. They also have the beach right next door, soft play centre opposite just incase it rains and Movie Starr cinema where tickets are just £3.50.

Please note all information was incorrect at time of publishing, please check venue websites or Facebook pages before you visit for up to date information or changes.

Thank you for reading ‘Fun and free kids days out in Essex!’. If you can think of any other great free days out in Essex, let me know!

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