Not just cake in Copenhagen
We did visit the National Gallery for the art and not just the cafe, honest! Actually now I think of it there’s rather a good shop too…
The building itself is splendid although being January the fountain was switched off. The original building is a classic temple to culture and an easy walk from the nearest station. There are plenty of other cultural sights to tempt you nearby and we enjoyed popping in to the Film Museum on the way back to Sweden.
Finding the cafe
The cafe is in the modern extension of the museum and looks out onto the gardens. So you can have a good view with your refreshments but get there early if you want a window seat as it gets busy! The ceiling is worth a look wherever you sit as its an art work in itself. You’ll spot it as you pass it on your way to the cafe on the upper floor.
Not just tea and cake
The cafe has a full menu including a buffet and is licenced. We just wanted some tea and cake and to thaw out a bit too! I had coffee in a very stylish mug along with the Danish version of a scone. My friend had tea and cake with a magnificent teapot.
The teapot was cast iron and the server struggled with it a bit. When we tried lifting it we found it was heavy enough to almost have its own gravity field. It did a fine job of keeping the tea warm as well as being good looking.
And the gallery itself?
Full of treats is my immediate thought. Galleries are themed by place and period so there’s a clear theme to follow. Our highlights were the surrealists, not least because their work was placed in the social and political context of their time, and Danish contemporary art simply because not much makes it to England.
I also liked the placing of large sculptures in the galleries. Perhaps my favourite being a life size Victorian lady who appears to be looking at a painting of a lifeboat launch.
An unexpected piece of puppet theatre
On the way to the cafe we spotted an intriguing shed like structure. This turned out to be a reproduction of a puppet theatre. It has a performance area on one side and workshop on the other. The gallery now uses it for learning activities. Worth a look if you go there!
And Paddington came too
Not only is the exterior of the building restored and a pleasure to sit outside but they serve a really nice marmalade cake. I am sure Paddington would approve. Nice coffee too although I am not sure if it was from Peru or elsewhere. A lot of my coffee seems to come from the elsewhere plantations.
Before ordering those essentials of a day out, tea and cake, have a look at the interpretation boards at the far end of the interior. They have a history of the lido and plenty of interesting images too. There are chairs and table beside this. I may have worried a fellow customer as I was peering intently at some of the old images in close proximity to their table!
One piece of advice is be prepared to make new friends if you sit outside. These will be of the feathered variety and want to know you for your cake not your sparkling wit. The pleasure of the view across the serpentine and early morning in the park is worth the feathered attention though.
Whilst walking through the gardens keep an eye out for the bright green parakeets. They are descendants of some that escaped some time ago and are very hard to photograph but it was fun trying. I was surprised they had survived the 2009-10 winter but feathers are good insulation!
The Costa del Sidmouth
I always enjoy going to Sidmouth as it’s still feels like a traditional seaside town and being small means when you look out to sea you get a fine view along the coast in both directions. The town itself always reminds me of the home counties in the 1960s. A bit like a specialist theme park I suppose.
Sidmouth has a reputation for being a last resting place for the retired. You shouldn’t let that deter you, even if such does usually deter you. Sidmouth has a fine mix of cafes for all tastes from Marmite fingers in Fields Department Store to the one I can never remember the name of but used to meet a friend for lunch there. With summer ahead I think I will have do a bit of a survey!
Tea at the Riviera Hotel
This was recommend by a colleague as being a place for a fine tea and she was spot on! There is a choice of three teas in ascending order of price. You can have a traditional cream tea, or a teacake with fresh cake, or for the hardcore tea addict sandwiches, cake, and other teatime goodies. All come with a choice of teas from traditional to herbal.
I was with my parent, who is a hardcore tea addict, but we settled for the teacake and victoria sponge (I had pointed out how large the big tea was and the price of flowers). Everything was excellent. The sponge was impressively light and the filling of cream and chopped strawberries as fresh as could be. It was nearly a tenner each but worth the investment!
And the ambience then?
I liked the big reassuring sign at the front of the hotel letting you know afternoon tea was being served. No surprises or disappointments on arrival here! The service was very good; politely friendly and no hovering.
The room itself had enough small chandeliers to keep Liberace happy. The carpet was a bit on the bright side but the rest of the room was calmer, so you wouldn’t get hiccups. Well. unless you stared at the carpet a great deal. Plenty of large chairs and settees with something of a seventies reproduction furniture look, which rather suited the place.
I would say if you like afternoon tea this is a please to go when you are feeling a bit self- indulgent or extravagant. Or simply need a really good tea!
And another thing
The hotel has a large panoramic print of Sidmouth from c. 1840.The print shows the hotel as it was originally was – three separate houses. The amount of detail from clothes to the volume of thatched buildings away from the seafront and variety of dogs by the beach make a prolonged inspection worthwhile. I believe RAMM has a copy of this print too.