Bradley Gardens stole my heart earlier this year when I was invited to one of their seasonal supper clubs. Unable to stay away any longer, I paid these beautiful, boutique gardens a visit one warm autumnal weekend earlier this month…
Given the unseasonably warm September we’ve had, the gardens are still a riot of colour. As the blousy blooms of mid-summer begin to die back and wither from early morning frost, sculptural seed heads, bright reds, deep greens, blushes of pink and flashes of white that can still be seen through the trees. After a meander around the potting shed and eyeing up plants for sale, I half-dragged/excitedly escorted my glamorous gran up to the beautifully restored Victorian Glasshouses for a cup of tea.
Whether you sit in the elegant orangery that looks out over the terrace and gardens beyond, or outside under pretty taupe parasols listening to the birds tweet and gentle clinking of cups and saucers, Bradley Gardens is surely the prettiest place to enjoy tea for two (or more) in the North East. If I lived closer, I’d make it a rule that all of my client meetings should be held here (although I don’t think any of them would mind).
Deciding to treat ourselves to a spot of lunch, I ordered a slice of homemade chicken pie served with crispy roasties, while Nanna choose thai fishcakes served with fresh lime on a bed of salad (told you I was a ‘dinners girl’) For dessert we shared a rum baba (rum-soaked sponge served with fresh berries and plenty of cream), along with a slice of raspberry pavlova. Lunch was delicious, nothing too salty, overcooked or cold I’m pleased to report.
During lunch the strangest thing happened…
Nanna heard the shops calling to her, and simply had to go along for a closer look. It’s no secret that the boutiques here are beautiful. The home and lifestyle store is a microcosm of the beautiful Bridgewater Interiors store (situated in the shadow of the Tyne Bridge in Gateshead), while new additions Stangers Cookshop and a ladies fashion and accessories store ensure there’s something for everyone. After treating herself to two pairs of earrings, we made our way round the rest of the gardens.
I’m a firm believer of finding beauty in the ordinary, and if there was ever a time to do so, this was it. As though plucked from a dream (or a Country Living photo shoot!), I spotted the Gardener beneath a canopy of leaves collecting fallen apples. There was something so pretty and intriguing about the way great glossy green globes lay in the sun, some spoiled, some awaiting to be picked up and carried straight into the kitchen to be transformed into something delicious.
Armed with a barrel full of apples, the Gardener decanted some of his loot into a little basket for me to take home to make crumbles and pies, pass onto family and friends, or give any spares to my guinea pigs. Nanna had her earrings, I had my apples and off we went….
Later that afternoon Biscuit and Cookie nibbled at chunks of apple while I whipped up a cutesy crumble for my dinner party with the girls.