Sunday, 23 March 2014

Heydon Village Tea Shop - In Conversation With Cindy

In our previous review of the wonderful Heydon Village Tea Shop we attempted to share with you some of the many reasons why this particular Tea Rooms holds a special place in the firmament of Ragged Society of Antiquarian Ramblers favourite cake-related haunts. However, although I think that we managed to convey a sense of why you must visit this special place, we were left with a feeling that we could do more - that something was missing. 

Having reflected upon this, Thadeus Basil-Snapper (the third) and myself (Munro Tweeder-Harris Esq.) decided that what we needed was the voice of the person at the heart of this special place. Hence, we approached the co-owner and cake baker extraordinaire, Cindy Watson, and asked if we could interview her. We were absolutely delighted when she agreed to our request. 

Starting with a stop-go animation that takes you - in virtual terms - from the entrance of the church porch to the door of the Tea Shop, this piece will combine excerpts from our interview with Cindy, with photographs we took during our visit. What really comes through in this piece - aside from the obvious excitement of Ragged Ramblers talking about cake! - is the love that Cindy and Jamie have for this venture. To quote Cindy's words directly, "it's our baby."

We hope that you enjoy this more intimate portrait of the Heydon Village Tea Rooms. Of course, this can never be a substitute for actually visiting these special people and their special place, but it is our hope that it give you a flavour of what make it tick, purr - sing! 

Postscript: our thanks go to Cindy & Jamie Watson for giving us their time - and their scrumptious cake. Thank you so much!

Please note: if you are intending to visit the Tea Shop yourself, we do advise that you book a table in advance. 

~ Thadeus Basil-Snapper (the third) & Munro Tweeder-Harris Esq. ~

Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Heydon Village Tea Shop - The Magic Ingredient is Love

A slice of delicious Fig & Orange cake

Let us start this introduction to The Heydon Village Tea Shop with a look at The Ragged Society of Antiquarian Ramblers mission statement:

We of 'The Ragged Society of Antiquarian Ramblers', are dedicated to the pursuit of the many shades of meaning to be found in wonderful old places. With learning, tweed, companionship, cake and laughter, we rove in search of historic delectations. Huzzah!

As you will see, 'cake' is given an explicit mention in this, our founding charter, and the pursuit of a fine slice has always been a part of our quest. I mention this in order to emphasise the extreme seriousness with which we approach the subject. To reinforce this point, here is a short stop-go animation I made on location today, to demonstrate what happens when a Ragged Rambler encounters a scrumptious slice of cake...

Having made that clear, let us move onto the business at hand...

The Magic Ingredient Is Love

In my opinion, The Heydon Village Tea Shop is quite simply the finest tea shop in Norfolk... in fact, it is my favourite anywhere! 'Quite a claim!' I hear you exclaim. Perhaps it is, but, given the extensive cake-related research that we Ragged Ramblers have undertaken over the years as we scour this land for heritage-related wonders, we can make an informed judgement I feel. 

Just as a beautiful musical ensemble involves the interplay of lots of elements, so it should be with a place I choose to eat, relax and spend my time (and coin). What are the 'ingredients', then, that make this tea shop so special? 

A Warm Welcome...
I have to be honest, having visited Heydon Church on a number of occasions I hesitated to cross the Tea Shop threshold, being fearful that it might prove to be a bit... well, a bit too posh for the likes of me ("He's just a poor boy from a poor family, spare him his life from this... gastronomy"). However, I couldn't have been more wrong about this. From the very first time I made the excellent decision to visit the Tea Shop, I have been struck by the warm and natural way in which we have been greeted. 

Personality & Passion...
The Tea Shop is borne of a passion and dream held by the current proprietors, Cindy and Jamie. From the moment you bite into one of Cindy's cakes you know that, for her, making and baking cake is a labour of love. All of the cakes are made by her. Although she is always experimenting with new ideas, many of the cakes are family recipes handed down from both of her grandmothers. I love this element of baking heritage. We get to taste the fruits of accumulated knowledge and know-how. The food here has both integrity and authenticity.

Care & Quality...
There are so many thoughtful personal touches in The Tea Shop. For instance, if you are a keen baker yourself there is a small library of recipe books available to browse through. Today, when I enquired to Cindy about the lace net that covers the sugar bowl, she explained that these were made from the curtains that they inherited when they took over the shop. In addition, the single button on each one once belonged to her beloved grandmother. From the china to the cutlery to the decor, the 'feel' of the Tea Shop is tasteful and elegant. It is a space composed with a designer's 'eye'. 

As well as sampling the outstanding quality cakes, I have taken it upon myself to try most of the lunch menu. In keeping with the cakes, everything has been of the highest quality - locally sourced where possible and beautifully presented. To cite just one example: I am not usually a fan of the baked potato, but here at the Tea Shop the humble potato is made to 'sing'. Lavish and tasty toppings with a lovingly prepared salad make for a really pleasing lunch. 

Value for Money...
The prices are what I would describe as 'mid-range'. However, in relation to the quality of the food, the service and the ambience, I think that they represent great value for money. Another important reason for me really loving it here, is that the staff are very forthcoming with extra hot water to top up one's tea. For me, this is always something that is much appreciated. It is no coincidence that the two main establishments I know of who offer this are the ones I most regularly frequent. 

I noted today that they have 'Heydon Village Tea Shop Vouchers' for sale as gifts. What a lovely way to show your appreciation of someone - say, a good friend in a tweed jacket. I can tell you now that were any of my fellow Ragged Ramblers to decide to treat me to some of these, in recognition of my services to antiquarian exploration and absurdity, it would be simply capital!

The Tea Shop is located in one of the most picturesque villages in Norfolk. It is the archetypal manorial village - indeed, it is actually one of the few privately owned villages in Britain. The church, with its fascinating medieval wall paintings and gargantuan memorial to seventeenth century Lord of the Manor, Erasmus Earle, is well worth visiting in its own right. Likewise, the grounds of Heydon Hall are open for the public to walk around. 

Summing up then, The Heydon Village Tea Shop is a very special place. 

Go see for yourself (but save some cake for me!)

A cake is not just for Christmas!
The Heydon Village Tea Shop has been added to the Ragged Ramblers Google Map (see below).

View The Ragged Society of Antiquarian Ramblers map in a larger map

~ Please note: this review represents the personal view of Munro Tweeder-Harris, Esq. ~

Saturday, 5 March 2011


This is a quick, on the move review of a fantastic little market coffee bar.
If you want a really good coffee, bacon rolls, sausage and egg bap or my personal favourite, which accounts for a good portion of my stature, the large bacon and egg bap.
The service is friendly, down to earth and best of all, very economical! 80p for a mug of steaming hot milky coffee.... Mmmm lovely.
Anyway, if you are on the Norwich Market and in need of refreshment, you can't go wrong with Charlie's. Find the bar at stall number 74!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone thingy type modern instrument