Sunday, 8 March 2015

About Beatons Chester

Here at Beatons Chester we ring the bells of service from 10 to 5, seven days a weekAs franchise owner it's my pleasure to welcome you to this online glimpse of what we're all about: to me summed up by 'gracious hospitality'.

To find us, head for the Cathedral Bell Tower in Bell Tower Walk. Celebrate the wonderful City of Chester with a pot of our house blend, the deliberately chosen 'Dong Ding' loose leaf tea and a large slice of our signature carrot cake from our bell shaped domes. In fact, if you'd like to hear the Cathedral bells on a Sunday afternoon we're the perfect place!

During our first exciting (if somewhat daunting) year, we've had great support from local Chester businesses and from our Chester writers too! Gill Mcevoy (now an award winning poet) holds a monthly Poetry Breakfast here and its great to get to know our regular customers popping in during their Chester shopping trips!  

We always like to give potential visitors a snap-shot of interesting places about the community we find ourselves in. Chester is quite a City. First and foremost, Chester Cathedral are our kind and long established neighbours.  It's home to a zoo, boasts the only circular racecourse in the world, the only strange phenomenon of the black and white 'Rows', and has the only female beadle to keep order.

We're always interested in theatre given that Cecil Beaton (after whom we're named) was so involved as a costume designer.You can find The Studio Forum Theatre based in the original famous Gateway Theatre, The Hammond Theatre School and plans are afoot to create a wonderful theatre and cinema space near the Town Hall in which Chester Performs (already a local air theatre group with a huge following) will be able perform inside!

We've also discovered the Chester Theatre Club - the oldest theatre in Chester, first launched in 1944! It operates from its own venue: The Little Theatre, in Gloucester Street.

Now, why not make a date with your tastebuds and book Afternoon Tea with us so you can really enjoy everything Chester has to offer and know you've factored in a restorative break?

Chester Franchise Owner
Steve Roberts

P.S. Want to hear about events via social media? Follow @BeatonsCheshire! Our central team @beatonstearooms largely tweet on our behalf while we're busy engaging live. If appropriate, they'll also add you to our #cheshireengagingtweeps or #cheshireliterarylist too. 

Beaton pops up everywhere!

On a rare day off from 'thinking Beatons' yesterday, Chris and I headed off to a National Trust property, Benthall Hall in Broseley in Shropshire... But it seems Cecil Beaton's ghost had other ideas!

Benthall is one of those lovely small 'lived in' houses - reminding us slightly of Croft Castle (a favourite). Noticing some books in the library marked Old Vic, and with my 'Mr Darcy' being an actor, we asked about them and discovered that Michael Benthall (then deemed black sheep of the family on account of being gay) was Director of the Old Vic (53 - 62) and had been presented with the three volumes about the productions during his period of office when he retired.

Thanks to the very helpful volunteer who offered to let us see inside one of the volumes.

Imagine our delight and surprise, when the page he turned to had that unmistakable signature and unmistakable touch of hand: Beaton

And it turns out Michael Benthall was Director when Cecil Beaton designed the costumes for Love's Labours Lost!  We were allowed to take this picture and just wanted to share it. 

This would be good day trip out from Beatons Chester when it opens! 

Monday, 2 March 2015

Blandford Event: 'Mischief Making' Fay Weldon In Conversation!

Photo Credit I Bella West
I must be one of Fay Weldon's newest (if not youngest) fans.

And I may become one of her noisiest as we are both singing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to the pleasure holding books in your hands and the conflict of the e-book! But first, things first - let us invite you to meet her.

One of the perks of being House Poet for Beatons is getting occasional review copies - and stealing from the blurb from Fay's publishers, Head of Zeus, about her latest book - 'Mischief'... they say, 'Now, here is Fay Weldon in her own words.'

'Of course, they're talking about reading her words, but if you come to Beatons Blandford Forum one Sunday in mid-March you can HEAR Fay, indeed meet her - thanks to some superb organisation by Helen Cooper - at an event in aid of the Corn Exchange Challenge to raise funds for Blandford's Regeneration Project

What:      Fay Weldon in Conversation
                 ... and of course reading and signing copes of her new book, Mischief

When:    Sunday 22nd March, 4.30 to 6 pm

Cost:       £6.99 per person (limited numbers)
               This also entitles you to £2 off the cover price of Mischief!
                (note: tea and cake NOT included in ticket price!)

Tickets:  From Beatons Blandford, Blandford TIC, the Council Offices
               or by e-mailing:

Jacket Design by Charlotte Jade
Mini-Review Number 1: Before I spread some Mischief, can I just mention that I'm fingering the hardback edition and that I want to SCREAM very loudly that it has THE most stunningly beautiful jacket by illustrator, 'Charlotte Jade' as you can see (in what I think is tea-spill-free material). For the vibrant matching turquoise end papers and greyscale title pages and introduction the designers at Head of Zeus Publishing have to be applauded.  See Fay's quote at the end about the aesthetics of paper - it really is a book to treasure.

So, to the contents of Mischief!
It includes a new novella - 'The Ted Dreams' which has me fighting off my own as I try to read just one more page before going to bed... and four decades' worth of short stories. Of these, I've indulged in  'A Gentle Tonic Effect' so far (very occupied with Beatons Chester launch preparations at the mo). So glad that's where my fingers landed. It's wicked, brilliantly crafted - eight un-put-downable pages multi-layered with uneasy truths about the human psyche. And a must for all therapists and counsellors to read!

I'm enjoying the book enough to have earmarked it for a full review in our Summer Reads feature in July.

Oh, and I am green with envy for all you lucky Dorset and Wiltshire fans who are snapping up tickets. I can't make the event - and nor will you unless you get your tickets quick!  But who knows, may be my path will cross with Fay's and we can share a pot of Beatons Brew together.

In the meantime, I leave you with a snippet of 'Fay Weldon in her own words':

 'And then the e-book came along, the naked text without the frills of publisher's advocacy, jacket, blurb, writer's photo: Look at me! Read this book! ... 'Good' writing is so much to do with an aesthetic, with a resonance of language which is more apparent on paper than on a screen.'  

Ironically, 'The Ted Dreams' was published as an e-book before going into this volume - and it's so plot-rich that it no doubt sings from the screen in its nakedness. However, give me a physical book to contemplate upon, feel, finger and slowly relish undressing every time... 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Beatons Blandford Praise for February!

February has been a bumper month for praise for #beatonsblandford - thank you to all our customers who have filled in feedback cards, to the tweeps who've bothered to tweet praise and those of you who have hopped over to trip advisor and left a review. Here's our visual thank you!

From our feedback cards:

'Excellent quality of food and drink, first class service. Its wonderful, we will be back.'
'Love the décor and ambience, great Italian hot chocolate! Excellent coffee cake.'
'Favourite Tearoom in Blandford!'
'Lovely, best breakfast we have ever had, service was wonderful, 10/10!'
'Such a wide variety of teas, everything is very beautifully presented, the staff are lovely'
 "The care taken over service and quality of food is most impressive. Also liked the high quality crockery"
"Chai Late fantastic and Zoe the waitress was very helpful"

'Always relaxing to come in even when on my own'

'Lovely tearooms, music very sweet and great ambience.'
And from twitter...

'Bottomlesstweepot' Offer with Brunch at Blandford!

Blandford on a Sunday morning. Calm and convivial - but not so many places to eat and relax at your leisure.... until now! 
We're pushing the brunch boat out in Blandford with our #bottomlesstweepot offer!

We're launching a special Brunch Menu for Blandford on Sunday 8th March. Discover this page through twitter or perusing our blog and you have the possibility of enjoying a #bottomlesstweepot of our gorgeous loose-leaf tea over brunch!

But you'll have to say the magic word 'bottomlesstweepot'
to our front of house team!

We've got toast soldiers at the ready, Breakfast Rarebits raring to go, and our eggy dishes poised to have your tastebuds eggsited!

Pancakes with seasonal toppings
and crème fraiche

Of course, we can also waffle on about sweeter somethings too, but like pretty pictures better... 

Go on... get breakfastea this Sunday and we'll pour you out an endless pot of Blandford inspired 'Beatons Brew' to make it a relaxed and restorative experience.

Just remember to whisper the magic word:


Beatons Bod: Zoe the sparkling Meerkat!

©  | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Zoe joined Beatons Blandford when we opened last December and it seems she's found the right group of 'animals' to be part of!
Animals? Yes, I thought it would be fun to ask our 'Beatons Bod' what they might be if they were an animal - after all, human beings are mammals!

Who are you and - if you're part of the team - what do you like/do you think you'll like best about your job?  Hi! I'm Zoe Carter. I am a mum. I love photography. I love getting to know new people! Working at Beatons as part of a team is perfect for me, I love getting to know the customers and 'attempting' to remember their regular orders. I love getting to know the people I work with and learning how to work smoothly with them, whilst still managing to have a few laughs!

What's your favourite edible or drinkable from our menu? My favourite drink is definitely the Peppermint tea, it is amazing. The scent hits you as soon as you open the jar and it warms and refreshes you in the perfect way. I love all the stews on the menu, particularly the Beef Bourguignon.

And how about your favourite book from our shelves? ) I am currently attempting to find the time to read two of the books we stock, one is called 'There are Tittles in this Title: The Weird World of Words', written by Mitchell Symons, which is a book full of odd facts about words and the sometimes ridiculous aspects of the English language. The other is entitled, 'Burn this Book', edited by Toni Morrison, which is a series of essays exploring the power of literature and the effect it can have on our life. I learned a quote from this book which I love:  'A book should be the axe that breaks the icy sea within us.'

Which of the ways we like to go about things at Beatons means most to you and why? I love the fact that we're encouraged to 'sparkle' at Beatons. Making people smile, feel welcome to our tearooms, and really looked after!

If you were an animal, what would you be? I am a Meerkat, according to one internet questionnaire, due to the fact I am a people person. I enjoy socialising and working in a group. Others apparently appreciate my loyalty and willingness to help. However I quite wanted to be an owl of some variety....silent, serious and wise, able to take to the skies silently and soar through the thermals....hmm... [Stay being a Meerkat, Zoe! 'Wol' had hopeless spelling and got terribly confused in the Pooh Adventures - engagement always wins over mere knowledge! Ed.]