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Indulge in a great British foodie tradition and celebrate Afternoon Tea Week in the New Forest

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WITH Afternoon Tea Week kicking off on Sunday, now may be just the time to think about partaking in the great British tradition at one of the New Forest’s many venues – or even from the comfort of your own home.

Before the pandemic, indulging in that most quintessential of English customs usually meant a trip out to a café, restaurant or hotel, but the trend now – which really established itself during lockdown when we were all looking for a pick-me-up – is for a spread delivered right to your door.

The Trough, a bar and catering business run by Jo Butler, provides exactly that. What sets her apart is her use of New Forest produce, including Naked jams, trout pate from the New Forest Smokery in Fordingbridge, eggs from Noah’s Ark Farm in New Milton and sparkling wine from Brook Hill Vineyard in Bramshaw.

Jo Butler at The Trough (photo: Becky takes Photos)
Jo Butler at The Trough (photo: Becky takes Photos)

Founded as a horse box bar, the Trough is described by Jo as a “passion project” that has grown.

It provides afternoon tea parties tailored to clients’ events, bringing sweet and savoury treats with a choice of fizz or cocktails to homes or venues.

“We provide all the crockery and cutlery, and our team sets up, serves and clears everything away, making it an event the host is able to join in with and enjoy themselves too,” said Jo.

Captain's Cabin at Buckler's Hard (photo: Samantha Cook Photography)
Captain's Cabin at Buckler's Hard (photo: Samantha Cook Photography)

The Trough, based in Sway, began offering tea in a box throughout the various lockdowns, which really took off.

Catered tea parties cost from £22.50 per person, while tea boxes are priced at £18 each, with a minimum order for two people. This includes delivery within seven miles of Lymington, with a small charge applied for those further afield.

For more information, visit www.thetroughnewforest.co.uk or call 07747 778732.

Afternoon Tea from Fi, run by Fiona Anderson, offers a similar service across the New Forest, catering for all group sizes with the option of vintage crockery hire.

“I started my small, independent business because I love baking,” Fiona told the A&T. “I moved from Scotland to Pennington 24 years ago with my husband and two children.

“I worked in local schools in admin roles and would regularly leave home-baked goods in the staff rooms. Before long I began receiving requests from friends and colleagues to provide cakes for parties and functions.

“When I left my job almost four years ago to help with my grandchildren, the orders kept coming and my circle of regular contacts continued to grow.

“I was aware that afternoon teas were regaining their popularity and this has now become my main focus. I cater for groups of any number, whether it be a treat for your loved one or a large party, baby shower, hen party, wedding breakfast or wake.”

For details, visit www.afternoonteafromfi.co.uk or email Afternoonteafromfi@gmail.com

Afternoon tea at Furzey Gardens
Afternoon tea at Furzey Gardens

Lovers of afternoon tea taken in decadent surroundings can opt for one of the Forest’s luxury hotels – the Chewton Glen or Lime Wood to name a couple. But for those looking for a more simple affair in natural surroundings and a bit more going on, there are a few places locally that may take your fancy.

Furzey Gardens in Minstead has a charming thatched tearoom offering cream teas and full afternoon teas, with cakes and pastries made in the kitchens of the Minstead Trust charity, which supports people with learning disabilities to learn skills in hospitality.

“An afternoon tea at Furzey Gardens tea room not only provides a lovely afternoon out, but it also supports the charitable work of Minstead Trust, providing opportunities for people with learning disabilities to gain valuable skills while working in the gardens,” said a spokesperson. “This makes such an important difference to each individual by providing a sense of purpose and self-worth.”

For more information, go to www.minsteadtrust.org.uk/furzey-gardens/

Captain’s Cabin Tea Rooms at Buckler’s Hard, Beaulieu, is also offering cream teas to take away and enjoy on the terrace or within the grounds, with its many picnic benches and grassy areas offering beautiful views of the river.

Visitors can also enjoy a visit to the Maritime Museum and Shipwright’s Cottage, or a river cruise.

For details, visit www.bucklershard.co.uk/attractions/

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