Tea Room Adventure

Biddy's Tea Room - Norwich - 3


My little adventure in tea and cakes-0002

Something different today – a sneaky peek of the city where I live.  In December I visited a vintage style tea room in Norwich (England).  I wish I could invite you all for afternoon tea, but hopefully this post will create the illusion you have done just that! 🙂

From the window display Biddy’s Tea Room looks more like a gift shop, and I’ve been walking past this gorgeous teashop for a long time not realizing it was somewhere to eat and just my kind of place.   That’s what happens when you live in a tourist city, you get used to the surroundings and you don’t see things in the same way as the visitors, you can end up missing out.  I shall pay more attention in the future.

Biddy’s Tea Room was created by Charlie Buchan in 2010.  She explains on her website I’ve always been interested in history and obsessed with antiques. I wanted Biddy’s to reflect the bits I loved in each era… the whimsicalness of the Victorians, the ingenuity of the Edwardians, the romance of the pre-Raphaelites and the work ethic of arts and crafts!  It’s a lot to ask-but I tried to cram as much of this into Biddy’s as I could – I always just hoped people ‘got it’?!

As you will probably see from my pictures, she really has created a wonderful glimpse into the history of afternoon tea and cake in beautiful English tea rooms.  It was like stepping back in time to a scene from an old movie.  I loved the genuine homely antique furniture and the variety of mismatched crockery.  It was just like my Grandmothers home – none of her plates, cups or saucers ever matched.

I kept saying to my brother, “I feel like we’re going meet some really interesting person from the past, perhaps Oscar Wilde sitting in an armchair writing some poetry!  It was a unique and delightfully surreal time travel experience!!

And of course, the tea and cake was delicious.  I’m looking forward to trying the restaurant upstairs to discover more of their main menu next time.  The staff were very friendly and relaxed too, and were happy for us to take some photos.  If you click on the gallery for these pictures they look so much better, there’s also an option under each picture to view them in full size.  The first two pictures and also the last one were taken by my brother, all the others are mine.

I didn’t use the flash on my camera because I wanted to capture the cosy feeling.  I was surprised I was able to get any good pictures without a lot of camera shake, I must have a more steady hand than I thought.  And if you’re wondering what that tall building with a string of Christmas lights around it is, it’s the city hall clock tower.

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I was amazed to find an excellent video on You Tube all about Biddy’s Tea Room (See further down post).  It shows all the bits I haven’t captured in the pictures, and also what it looks like in the summer season.

I’ve been living in this medieval city since 1990.  It was only meant to be temporary, I had some vague plan to live in London one day, but you couldn’t drag me away now, it is such a beautiful place to live.

Norwich has thirty-three medieval church buildings, two cathedrals, an art deco city hall and a striking Norman castle high on a hill looking down at the city centre.  Although the exterior of the castle was refaced in 1839 with Bath stone covering over the flint and Caen stone walling making the castle blend in with a lot of other new buildings of that era.  The original walls would have looked very different and can only be seen from the inside.  If you’re into historical buildings that’s a very good reason to pay it a visit and also take a look at it’s museum and scary dungeons – and believe me, they are very creepy!!

Also there are two large shopping malls, four cinemas, five theatres and a really vibrant outdoor market, trading virtually on the same spot for almost 900 years.  On Saturdays the city centre streets often come alive with buskers, and other street entertainers, we even have our own living statue of Charlie Chaplin Anthony Arnold not only performs in Norwich but has twirled that cane in Hollywood too on his many travels with his captivating performance of Charlie.

Each year in July we have a Lord Mayors Celebration, which is basically a huge carnival, including a beer and music festival, a selection of outdoor theatre productions, and a huge firework display launched from the roof of the castle as the grand finale of the evening celebrations.  Rockabilly band Derrière (from Brighton) performed at the festival just around the corner from Biddy’s Tea Room in 2012, and somehow, I managed to miss that show 😦 – they sound so good!  If you like the sound of their music you might like Battle Plan, one of their official videos.   Time to dance now!! gfxlovers.com/smilies

If anyone living in Norwich says they’re bored, it can only be a state of mind, there are so many things to do and places to visit in the surrounding area, you can never get bored living in this city.

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45 thoughts on “Tea Room Adventure

    1. Warm and inviting is the way it felt. I’m sure it’s lovely in the summer too, but it was the perfect winter hideaway – a refuge from the hustle and bustle of the Sunday Christmas shoppers. It’s good to be back Linda! 🙂

  1. Biddy’s looks live a very lovely place. I like your pictures of the night time of the place. That was a good choice not to use flash. The place does not look like a tea room from the outside. It appears as an antique shop or an old book store. I can understand some could walk past without thinking it is a place you can sit down an enjoy the environment and food. Yes, I think it is common that that when you live in a place for a long time you trend to not looking at the place like a tourist does. I do the same. I noticed myself when I go somewhere too 🙂

    A nice post about Biddy and Norwich and it is nice to see you back Suzy.

    1. I’d like to take some more pictures, some with fill in flash and maybe some on a sunny morning, it would be interesting to see what how the place changes in different light. It looks like it’s late in the evening in those pictures, but it was about 4pm and just beginning to get dark. And no, it really doesn’t look like a tearoom from the outside. One window you can see the serving area, but if you miss that window the next one has the appearance of a Victorian gift shop. In fact, it is a bit of a gift shop too as many of those items have a price label hanging from them and are actually for sale. If you like detail, it will certainly keep you busy looking at all those fascinating items and the walls are covered in old pictures too, even some of the wallpaper is interesting to look at. They had some beautiful tranquil music playing too – I could have stayed for hours!!

      Thank you, I enjoyed the break, but it is good to be back!! 🙂

  2. It’s been a long time since I last visited Norwich. It is a beautiful city in which you really get a sense of history and time. You obviously enjoy living there, Suzy!
    Take care. Chris.

    1. I do enjoy living there – I felt very much at home from the moment I arrived, and now I could quite easily believe I had grown up there, but I had a very different childhood, much more in countryside, which was great fun too, but essentially I am a city girl at heart. I would enjoy a holiday in the country, but I wouldn’t enjoy living in the country – I’ve got to see those cars and buses and busy pavements, – love all that!! 🙂

    1. Maybe you’ll get a chance to visit one day. It has some brilliant history mixed in with some amazing new architecture – I love the mix of the old and new. Glad you enjoyed the journey Nicodemas! 🙂

  3. I have been to London and enjoyed it, but never to Norwich, though I have often thought I would love to visit. For one thing, I love to visit great cathedrals and my blogger friend Jane Stansfield, who grew up around there, became an architect and now lives in Texas, USA, tells me it is one of the most beautiful of the medieval cathedrals. I would also like to visit the church of St. Julian where Dame Julian of Norwich lived as an anchoress and penned the first book ever written in English by a woman. I was a great devotee of Julian some years ago, and did a major calligraphic artwork of. her saying “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and..etc.”. I believe there is going to.be a week of festivities in Norwich for tourists and pilgrims interested in Dame Julian this coming May.

    Your nostalgic tea room seems an utter delight, and just the spot for a stop on a wintry afternoon with a good friend. Welcome back, Suzy!

    1. There are two cathedrals in Norwich, and with the castle as well there’s a lot ancient architecture to enjoy. Yes, I know about Julian of Norwich, and have read some of her writings a while back, she has some interesting thoughts! There’s always a bit of a debate going on about the truth behind those writings – if she actually did write them herself. I guess we will never really know. But if she did, that was huge accomplishment, especially considering she was living in a city suffering the effects of plague, must have been a stressful time, and not surprising that people would have been interested in visiting such a woman for spiritual reassurance. Although I’m sure that wouldn’t have gone down very well with those in religious authority! 😉 I didn’t know about the festivities about her in May. It seems you know more about Norwich than I do, Cynthia lady of knowledge!! 😀

      Absolutely a delight, the perfect winter refuge from chilly afternoons and Sunday Christmas shopping! An afternoon I shall remember for some time! 🙂

  4. Oh wow Suzy, what a fabulous post and a wonderful place! This is exactly my kind of tearoom! It’s almost worth a visit all the way from up here in the north just for the delight of this place!

    I know how easy it is to miss places you live among. Up here we live a 10 minute walk away from what used to be Harry Ramsdens, the most famous fish and chip shop in the world, or so it was claimed! Coach parties used to arrive each weekend for years and the queues to get in used to snake right outside and round the corner. The business started many many years ago in a little hut and just grew.
    I think we had lived here about 30 years before we went into the restaurant! We went and bought fish and chips to take away but never went near the restaurant part until our daughter got a job there as a waitress when she was doing her A levels at school and we went so she could serve us!
    It’s quite sad to think that last year a huge company bought it out and it now has the disgusting name, The Wetherby Whaler. It has just become an eyesore now.

    Thank you for the terrific photos and the video which was great to watch. If I am ever in the vicinity this will dedinitely be on the list of places to visit! 😄

    1. Thank you Christine, good to hear you enjoyed the trip! 🙂 That would be quite a journey to Norwich just for tea and cake, but you could arrive early and have lunch as well. I wonder if they have a room you can book for a snooze afterwards, you might need it after all that good food!! 😀

      Oh yes, I have heard of Harry Ramsdens fish and chip shop, very famous, but it’s interesting you said your daughter worked there as a waitress – I thought it was just a fish and chip shop, I didn’t realise it was a restaurant style. That makes a lot more sense as to why it was so well known. I always thought it was unusual for a little old chip shop to have that kind of fame – the fish and chips must have been good though! That new name certainly doesn’t sound right at all. Some people have a talent for giving a business, places and even books a good name and others just don’t get it when they’ve got it wrong. Sounds very sad that it’s lost it’s glowing reputation.

      I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who takes 30 years to get round to visit places of interest. I keep saying to my brother, we must visit that castle, we haven’t been there for over 20 years. It is an amazing historical place, but I’m not that much into old buildings, I like the look of those ancient pieces of history but don’t necessarily want to visit them too often. But if we do, I’ll try and get some good images that I can put up here. There was a time when they wouldn’t let you take pictures inside the castle, they wanted you to buy theirs – they’ve got over that silliness now!! 🙄

      1. Harry’s as we called it, started off as a little hut and before long it was a take away plus a very posh restaurant! Funnily enough we always went to one of the smaller corner fish shops for ours! 😊

        1. I love those business success ideas that start out in huts – wish I could think of one!! 😀 It quite often is those smaller companies that are the best. When they become large, they lose their sense of direction. I have to admit for all the good things I have said about Norwich there is one downside, virtually no-one in Norwich knows how to cook amazing fish and chips – not that I’ve found in the last 25 years. It’s the one thing I really miss since I moved to the city. If I want fantastic fish and chips I have to go to the coastal areas. Once or twice a year, I really look forward to one of those trips, and the day usually involves nothing but food, sunshine and sea air – wonderful!! 😀

  5. Hi Suzy, welcome back, wonderful poem and piece, I visit Norwich a few times, and visited the Lavender farm nearby (wonderful nearer King’s Lynn) and the broads, had a great tea with my father at Biddy’s tea room, saw and did lots of interesting things in Norwich, what a wonderful town to live in. Fascinating area, almost when to University of East Anglia there, but as a foreigner, the post graduate course in creative writing was too expensive, as a non Euro citizen it would have cost me more than one years salary! Enjoy the rest of the weekend, and your wonderful town, best wishes and blessings, Charles.

    1. Thank you Charles! 🙂 I know the Lavender farm, have been there once myself, a very long time ago – has the fragrance of a lot of – lavender, and everything they sell has lavender in it!! 😀 You’ve been to Biddy’s Tearoom?!! It hasn’t been there that many years – when did you go?

      It is a wonderful city, I remember visiting it as a teenager before I moved there, and when you arrive there’s a sign that says Norwich – A Fine City. And that’s no boast, it really is a fine city! 🙂

      1. It was probably two years ago when I was last there. It is a fine city, always enjoyed it, but usually stayed in St.Albans, which is where my parents lived (my father died a year ago, so was over there at this time last year) which was a cheap option, but very interesting town as well, and near to London, to see the galleries, museums, show, plays and music (concerts, proms, operas and dance) and the poetry library. Enjoy , keep well, best wishes and blessings Charles.

  6. Welcome back, m’dear. 🙂 What a lovely place for tea. Your photos are wonderful. If we had something like that here, I’d go every week (or day)! Norwich sounds like an ideal place to explore, no matter the time of year.

    1. Thank you very much dear Karen! 🙂 I’m tempted to go often too, but then I think it might become everyday ordinary, but maybe it could never be ordinary. What am I talking about, it’s far from ordinary! 😀

      The best time to visit Norwich is in the spring/summer, it always looks so much more cheerful and around April/ May the cherry blossom trees on the street below the castle bloom in full glory pink, which is very beautiful. And if there’s a strong wind you can get a fairy tale pink blossom snow storm. Experienced one of those around the time when my Mum was seriously ill in hospital, it was like walking into a parallel universe, so beautiful at a time when I was very sad, not something I’ll ever forget. Funny how things like that happen when you need them most. But having said that, Christmas time is lovely too, the decorations and warmth and festivity feeling of the shops can be quite heart warming! 🙂

  7. I loved this post Suzy!!! I’m so excited about your projects and look forward to being there as they unfold and build energy. All the very best. And one day, I am certain, we will meet in this very tearoom. 🙂

    1. Thank you Rebecca! I’m looking forward to The Writing Garden developing, it makes a change to do something that is not purely my own creation – have some good material lined up for future issues.

      I shall remember that – if we ever meet, it will be at Biddy’s Tearoom – the perfect meeting point! 🙂

  8. I must admit the facade outside is hard to decipher, and I wouldn’t have guessed it to be a dining area. But it does look like a treat inside. OK, I’m drooling over that cake the host in the video was eating. 🙂 I’m not surprised that he says everything is made fresh. Is there an outdoor courtyard area? That would top off the ambience.

    Looking at your first photo, I see a long scarf on the rack – May i assume “The Doctor” was there? 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Good to see you back, and well, Suzy.

    1. Their cakes have that effect, best to eat them not look at them! 😉 I don’t think there is a courtyard area at Biddy’s Tearoom. There are a lot of other eating places in Norwich that have courtyard eating areas surrounded by historic buildings, which are very nice especially in the evening.

      Oh yes, the long scarf! I had to do quite a bit of lightening on that scarf because it came out a bit too much in the dark. I did think of Dr Who too, because that’s the same kind of stand they used to have in the Tardis in the 80’s. Going by the colour, I would say that could belong to Romana, she had a light coloured scarf. I’m sure I wouldn’t have missed the Tardis – but, the Tardis is supposed to have a cloaking device – so may it’s that old chest of mysterious things! 😉

  9. Hi Suzy! Missed your lovely posts like all the others. 🙂 Is there a dress code for the tea room? I don’t don much but jeans or sweat pants lately. Actually I don’t even get out of pajamas most days. But it does sound like a nice place to meet. Or you could just pretend to not know me.

    1. It’s quite a cosy little venue, it would be difficult to pretend you don’t know someone in there!

      Haha, no dress code!! It’s beautiful place to eat but doesn’t have stuffy airs and graces, it’s very laid back and inviting, no matter what you’re wearing. So I’m sure they won’t mind you walking in there with your jeans and sweat pants! 😉 Next time I visit, I’ll have to ask if they have Pyjama days – that could be great fun! 😀

    1. I’m thrilled to hear it made you want to move to Norwich Brenda! If you ever visit Britain one day, obviously London is not to be missed, but make sure to visit Norwich too, and I’ll meet you at Biddy’s Tearoom for elevenses! 😀

      1. LOL I would like that. I’ve visited London, Tewksbury, Cheltenham and Bath, but I never made it to Norwich. Oh, and I went to see Stonehenge. 🙂 What a beautiful country England is, even though it rained nearly every day. LOL

    1. I think it would be the perfect writing venue, especially for poetry. I know they hold various events there, one is called ‘stitch and bitch’ sounds hilarious! It’s for meeting up and bringing your knitting, sewing or other any other crafting, probably a good way to meet others who like getting creative. So perhaps they should have some poetry meetings, that could be good. And you never know, some poets of the past just might turn up!! 😉

  10. Biddy’s Tea Room does look like a very cozy place to have a spot of tea, a scone and some quiet conversation. How lovely. I’ve been to a tea room near where I live. While it was very nice, it did not have the same intimacy as the ones shown in your photos.

    Suzy … You would have loved a home I visited today to celebrate a couple’s wedding. For Florida, it was an older home. One room, in particular, had dark wood furniture, an 8-legged table (stand), dark red velvet cushioned chairs and love seat. The whole setting was a period mix of the 20s to maybe, the 40s. For me, I could envision F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda sitting around and telling stories. 😉

    1. Ooh, that sounds wonderful!! 🙂 I think I would have loved that, I do love the old antique style from quite a lot of eras. I really love it when people mix different eras together. My favourite style is steampunk, a mixture of old and modern technology. Biddy’s Tearoom is not quite steampunk, but it’s very close. I’ve been to lots of lovely tearooms for many years but I don’t think any have had the same feel as this place. So you know where to get a good cup of tea and cake now if you ever get to visit Norwich Judy! 😀

  11. Hi Suzy,

    You would be delighted to know that the ‘Tea & Cake” culture is alive and well in India, seven decades on after the British decided to call it quits.

    In Calcutta, places like Flurry’s are a huge draw during afternoon tea-time when along with pots of exquisite Darjeeling tea and its wafting aroma, pastry stands displaying a heavenly range of confectioneries, wait on you as one sits down on tables with crisp table cloths and the laced curtains drawn apart to allow one a better view outside. One almost expects horse drawn carriages to pass by but alas, the curse of technology be so real….. !:)

    Shakti

    1. I am delighted to hear that!! I love the way you’ve described that place, it sounds exquisite – definitely my kind of tearoom. Oh if only Doctor Who’s Tardis was real I’d be there in a blink of an eye! 😀 But of course tea is not British at all, but from India and China, in fact I’m not even sure the origins of cake has anything to do with Britain either. But maybe we have become famous for pairing the two together?

      I love Darjeeling Tea, I drink it without milk these days and not too strong, I found once I got used to taking tea without milk it was actually more refreshing and I get a better sense of fragrance and flavour. I tried one in another tea shop by the sea this summer it was called Sikkim, it was wonderful. My brother bought me some from a tea supplier, it was very floral – delicate and very expensive, but nothing like what I had in that tea shop. I’m still on the lookout for something that tastes similar.

      There was one thing about Biddy’s Tea Room – it was technology free, or at least it appeared that way. Despite everyone having phones with them, I never heard one telephone ring or conversation. I don’t know if that was just coincidence, but it made a refreshing change. It would have been lovely to see a horse drawn carriage go by the window!

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment Shakti, it made my day imagining that beautiful tearoom! 🙂

  12. Suzy, what a wonderful place! I would love to visit such a sweet tea shop and your wonderful town. I’ve only been to England once, and it was years ago. So sorry I missed seeing Norwich. Thanks so much for sharing the pictures and the video, too.

    1. It is such a wonderful place to live and the tea shop is so unique. I love visiting unusual venues to eat. If you get a chance to come to England again, you know one of the historical places to add to your list to visit now! The best time to see Norwich is probably May/June. All the blossom on the trees in the city will be blooming, but it won’t be too humid and hot or too many tourists in those months. Probably applies to pretty much everywhere in the country really. I hope you do get to visit again one day – thank you Janell! 🙂

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