I have been having a bit of a tough time lately, with a family illness causing me a lot of upset. A couple of months ago James and I booked an afternoon tea and after a discussion with my sister, we decided not to cancel it. It turned out to be exactly what I needed. After writing a blog post about afternoon tea back in January, I had really been craving a new food adventure! So I had a look at what we could try within a reasonable driving distance. We ended up in Henley at a hotel called Hotel du Vin.
I was having a bit of a dilemma about whether I wanted to wear lolita or not. On the one hand, I have gotten my groove back and am dressing in lolita regularly again (I do keep meaning to share my outfits. Maybe I will compile them for a blog post soon...) but on the other hand, I wasn't in the mood to attract a lot of attention. I guess I have been feeling a bit vulnerable with everything that has been going on. In the end, I compromised. I wore the Primark dress that years ago a lot of UK lolitas went out and brought. Obviously it is not a lolita dress, but I tried to style it in a laid-back lolita outfit. I added an under-skirt and matching red blouse. For some reason, I really love wearing the colour red with this dress. I tried to keep things looking a bit mature and I even ditched my petticoat later on in the day. It worked- nobody bothered me, but I still felt as though I had made a bit of an effort. After all, as I mentioned in my afternoon tea blog post, part of the fun of the experience is dressing up.
We went to Hotel du Vin. Pictured is the sweet half. The savoury half was really impressive. Rather than doing sandwiches there was a tart, a quiche, a croissant, brioche bun and bagel. There was quite a bit of food for our money! This afternoon tea is actually done in a few branches of the same hotel, but the chain is very small and there were some interesting inclusions which made it a bit more original. I especially loved the inclusion of a gin and tonic sundae and a rhubarb and custard doughnut. Candy floss seems to be increasingly popular as well! This candy floss was meant to be apple flavoured, but it tasted like standard candy floss to me. My favourite bit though, was actually the scones. They were still warm from the oven (a big bonus, in my opinion) and were really soft. The strawberry jam and clotted cream complimented them perfectly.
The raspberry and chocolate teacake looked like the Pokemon Pyukumuku! I was seriously tempted to draw a face on this picture! Pyukumuku is one of my favourites from the latest generation. After taking a bit of a break, I am getting back in to playing Pokemon Moon again. At the moment I am trying to breed a shiny Alolan Vulpix (another favourite of mine).
Afterwards we went around the town centre for a little while. Henley is quite a small town, so there isn't really many decent shops to browse in. There are a lot of "boutique" clothing stores which are typically aimed at woman of a certain age and wage bracket, if you get what I mean. There was however, a gift store selling a lot of Pusheen merchandise! We went inside to check them out and I was so tempted buy the fuzzy notebook. My favourite was the mermaid Pusheen, but James likes the one holding the slice of pizza.
There was this random contraption being pushed around the town centre. I had earlier spotted signs saying "fun this way!" and naturally, I followed them. It led us to a bunch of kids playing with these small steampunk-like sculptures. I decided not to join in, but it was amusing watching this bicycle-thing getting pushed around.
I spotted these beautiful flowers in the town centre. At this early stage of Spring it is unusual to see such pretty flowers in bloom in town centres. The blossom is coming in nicely though and we spotted several beautiful trees with pink blossom. It is a bit of a double-edged sword for me though, as blossom gives me hay fever symptoms!
We finished our afternoon by going for a stroll along the riverside. Henley is famous for its annual regatta, so the river has a lot of beautiful bridges, tourist attractions and unusual boats. I even saw a boat with some solar panels on it, which I think is cool. Henley is definitely a good place to come for peaceful outings and quiet contemplation. I really enjoyed strolling hand-in-hand along the river.
After initially floating on the other side of the river, this pretty crested bird came a bit closer, so I got several photos of it. I have no idea what kind of bird this is, but I became very enamored with it. It is so pretty!
Believe it or not, these houses are not on the other side of the river, but floating on an island in the middle of the river! As I was saying to James, could you imagine needing to pop out for a pint of milk and having to take a boat? But most of the houses looked empty, so I assume they are Summer houses. I daydreamed a little, with this romantic idea of being well and truly cut off from the outside world by a wide span of river but realistically, I don't think I could live in a place like this!
We stopped in a cafe for a drink before heading home. I felt rejuvenated and a bit more at peace with my current situation. The coming weeks are going to be hard for me, but I will always be grateful that James and I experienced this quiet day together. This actually wasn't our first choice for afternoon tea, but I am so glad we came here. And we now have another afternoon tea experience to look forward to, hopefully in the near future.