National Cream Tea Day 2019, signals celebrating the best that Cornwall has to offer... the cream tea! We visited a Bude institution 'The Rustic Tea Gardens' at Northcott Mouth to catch up with it's owner, Margaret Frost B.E.M.
With National Cream Tea Day 2019 upon us, it seemed only right that this week, we should write a blog about The Rustic Tea Garden at Northcott Mouth, near Bude.
All Bude locals know The Rustic Tea Gardens, making regular visits to drop in and catch up with their much loved cream tea maker, Margaret Frost. Margaret is also well known in Bude for her charity and community work and was recognised with a British Empire Medal in the 2018 New Year’s Honour List. So, it only adds to her charm that she serves up a fantastic cream tea. We dropped by for a chat with her this week, to find out a little more…
Margaret’s mother, Louise Prideaux, opened the tea garden in 1963 and from there on in, Margaret has spent her summers serving holiday makers sandwiches, pasties, cakes and cream teas. Recalling the early days, Margaret told us how things were a little different, her mother would only serve cream teas from 3pm onwards and holiday makers stayed mainly in hotels; a little different to the glamping pods, luxury cottages and even treehouse accommodation that todays holiday makers flock to. Happily though, Margaret has relaxed her mothers 3pm rule and will even serve you a cream tea for breakfast if you want… it is your holiday after all!
During her 56 years at the tea gardens, Margaret says that it is the people who visit her, that make this such a happy venture. Children who have visited her in decades past, return with their own children to say hello again and indulge in a sweet treat. She even receives Christmas cards from her customers and is proud to say that she feels the tea rooms and it’s customers are like one big family.
When newborn babies first visit the tea garden, Margaret likes to rub silver in the palm of their hand with a 50 pence piece. She told us how a little while ago, a small boy came to the counter and showed her the 50 pence that she had gifted to him when he was a baby. He delighted in telling her that he would never spend it, as she had given it to him and he would keep it forever, just like his mum told him.
On one occasion, after clearing down for the day and walking near the flower beds, there was a glint on the floor. On closer inspection, Margaret found a man’s wedding ring. After nobody came forward to claim it, she took it to the police station and after another six months it had still not been collected. Margaret took it back and kept it in her till, often wondering who it might belong to. Three years went by and a gentleman came by the tea gardens to spend some time, he mentioned that he had been to Bude before and lost his wedding ring. At the time he lost it, he had searched everywhere but had never retraced his steps to the gardens. Of course, he was thrilled when Margaret opened the till to take out his wedding ring, explaining that it had been his mothers before him and that he’d had specially adapted for him.
But what might you expect if you decide to visit? Cream teas at The Rustic Tea Gardens are served with generous amounts of strawberry jam, clotted cream and a proper mug of tea! Margaret says her secret to the best cream tea is ‘a fresh scone, Cornish strawberry jam with Cornish clotted cream and made by a good old Cornish bird’. It goes without saying that its jam first!
The gardens are on the edge of her family’s farm at Northcott Mouth, about 2 miles outside of Bude. They are quaint, with a little brook running through the middle and children love to make friends, splashing about in the water. They like to discover the little secret treasures of the gardens, that peek out from between the flower borders. The colours, the views and the little garden ornaments all make this tea garden feel special and even a little magical.
If you are in Bude and are able to get to Northcott Mouth, then you won’t be disappointed. The gardens are open from March to October, every day (weather permitting) and Margaret is helped by her sister, Louise. After all, she needs help keeping up with the demand! This is one Cornish Secret, that will keep you coming back time and again.