I’m a hoarder. My garage is so full of stuff that the car has to be parked on the drive at the full mercy of the English weather. However, if I sold the entire garage contents at a car boot sale, it wouldn’t raise enough to get the car fully valeted at my friendly local ‘hand car wash’! But hoarding has it’s advantages.
I have a pile of LPs, some dating back to late 60s, and I decided it was time to revel in nostalgia with the rich sound of vinyl. Everything was in place, new speakers, state of the art amplifier and the old Pioneer deck, dusted off and ready to go. The only problem was that the needle, sorry stylus, on the pick-up had seen better days and needed replacing. A few phone calls later I located one in Burton-on-Trent and a short trip south, along the A38 would reward me with the sounds of my miss-spent youth.
On an overcast Thursday Susan and I drove down to The London Wireless Company in Burton, and collected the final, vital component for my nostalgia fest. It was a day for taking things easy and so on the return journey we decided to avoid the busy A roads and instead, meandered back via Eggington, Etwall, Radbourne and Kirk Langley. We crossed the A52 Ashbourne Road and headed towards Kedleston Hall. It was lunch time and on a care-free day a tranquil place for lunch would be ideal.
Situated on the eastern side of Kedleston Park, Meynell Langley Gardens and Tea Rooms is an oasis in the rolling South Derbyshire farm lands. Once the kitchen gardens of the Meynell Langley estate, it is now a busy nursery supplying shrubs and seasonal bedding and vegetable plants.
We parked under the trees sheltering the long drive, that acts as a car park, and walked through the nursery where a passion vine climbs over part of the gate-way.
Before lunch we had a stroll around the nursery. The Gardens and Tea Rooms is a family business. Originally began as a wholesale supplier it is now a mecca for gardeners. The glasshouses contain seasonal plants and many where being made ready for autumn and winter varieties like the iconic poinsettia. Having made a mental note of new plants I’d like to see in our garden – but sadly there isn’t room, we made our way back to the entrance where the contemporary, wood and glass Tea Rooms is located.
There are two dining areas; one an enclosed space with formal tables and a comforting log burner for those chilly winter days and the other is the stunning conservatory where the rattan style seating and generous, round tables continue the cosy theme.
The view from the from the Tea Rooms is across a sea of flowering plants to the old kitchen garden wall acting as an authentic back-drop. However it’s inside where the plants take centre stage. A row of hanging baskets cover the solid wall of the conservatory in a riot of colour.
We chose a table and selected our lunch from the wide range of fresh foods on offer. I ordered our lunch plus a cafetiere of coffee from the counter where a display of tempting, homemade cakes beckons you to try them all.
From the fresh salads Susan chose the ploughman’s at £6.75. As she pointed out you don’t see this on many lunch menus today and they are all different. This one fulfilled the romantic notion of a ploughman’s lunch; two generous portions of cheese, a cheddar and a red Leicester, were accompanied by an individual pork pie, pickled onions, a sweet onion chutney, coleslaw and a crisp, green salad. The bread roll was a warm, wholemeal miniature loaf.
3 varieties of quiche are on the menu, cheese and onion, a classic Lorraine and the one I selected, Stilton and broccoli. A generous portion; it was packed with broccoli and the tasty cheese was not overpowering. This was served warm along with a crisp salad, coleslaw and chutney.
Other hot dishes on offer include paninis with a variety of fillings, a vegetable lasagne and jacket potatoes topped with either cheese, beans, tuna or prawns. If you want a more simple lunch there are a sandwiches available, with at least 6 different fillings and homemade, seasonal soup.
This is a very relaxed way to lunch and I could have stayed longer but a record deck was waiting to be fixed but not before we took a tour of the Trials Garden; something every keen gardener should see.
The Tea Rooms is open all year round from mid morning to late afternoon. The Trials Garden is only open in the Summer. A big thank you to Karen and Robert and we’ll be back for one of those poinsettia and 2 bowls of warming, homemade soup.