Christmas Afternoon Tea at The Secret Garden Inn…

Today we headed to Kingston’s always-bustling downtown area for some window-shopping, and ended the morning with afternoon tea at The Secret Garden Inn.

Our first stop was the Kingston Olive Oil Co.

Such a variety of the finest virgin and infused olive oils, as well as balsamic vinegars! Unfortunately, with all the glass bottles –and also with a hole in the floor leading to the basement– it was a store that made us nervous to be in when we had such wee ones around. We plan to return when it is just the two of us, or if that never happens, order something(s) online.

Next, we skipped (all right, trudged with a recalcitrant stroller not suited for winter pavement conditions) across the street to Cooke’s Fine Foods & Coffee. A true Kingston institution since 1865, it was fashioned after a store somewhere in England, and I’ve been told the wood, counters, shelves and even light fixtures are all original, and well maintained.

Though we did not buy anything, I saw an excellent selection of goods from around the world; just as Cooke’s has always been famous for since the very beginning.

Then we went through a short, old alley –which absolutely thrilled our eldest child… and found our way to Berry & Peterson Booksellers.

The proprietor was as if taken straight out of the pages of a book –reticent. We were left to ourselves and that suited me just fine. There were so many books, some dating back to the 1800s, and I could have stayed there for hours… but alas, not to be with the youngest one. At the time of this expedition, he was still hostile to the notion of boots, and was thus sequestered in a stroller, and very quickly became antsy. Our Little Man, however, showed an enthusiasm that gladdened my heart. He ran up the ‘ancient’ stairs, and beckoned me upwards, saying with glee and goodwill that it would take hours to read all the books, so we’d better get started…

Unfortunately, my payment methods were too high tech (apple pay doesn’t seem to be accepted here), so we left empty-handed and I could have kicked myself for not bringing cash. This here is my vow that I Shall Return One Day!!

Off we went to the main reason for our outing…

It was our first time going for afternoon tea as a family, and the place was absolutely beautiful… I wish I could have gone up the flight of stairs and peeked into all the rooms.

I’m also adding a picture of the late Her Majesty the Queen. This picture of the Secret Garden Inn behind her was taken when she stayed across the street for an event, and if I remember correctly, she just went to visit the Inn. I wonder if she regretted not having stayed there. 😉

I still can’t believe she is gone…

It was a lovely Christmas treat/experience, especially with everyone being so kind and friendly.  The lady (I assume she was the owner) who presided over everything was very understanding and helpful and game to take photos of our little family. I especially appreciated that she did not seem phased that her pristine white tablecloth quickly became smudged and grubby from the enthusiastic eating methods of Little Fellow.
While the variety on the afternoon tea tier wasn’t as copious in number compared to other establishments we’ve been to, the food itself was scrumptious, beautifully presented, and we were impressed to know that they smoke their own duck in-house, which was featured as one of the savouries! Big smiles all around with nobody finding fault with anything, and the children loved being so grown up as to have their very own teapots, each!

Because it wasn’t busy, the owner took our little ones on a surprise visit to peek at the inner-workings of their kitchen, and chatted with us a little.  We were also very impressed and inspired to hear that they and other inns/hotels around the downtown area all came together, to pick 25 children from underprivileged homes and try their best to grant them their Christmas wishes… a wonderful stack of presents was assembled in one of the little sitting rooms, waiting to delight those little girls and boys.
We will definitely come back again, perhaps next time to stay.

For now, I will leave with the ‘best’ of the family photos that were taken on that day. Alas, it is only too true what everyone says… that mothers want all the pictures… and none of them will ever quite turn out right. Such is the mum life. I have embraced it with a wry expression on my face.

If I don’t pop by here again soon… I wish you all a very happy, peaceful Christmas!!

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