I love the feel of this old country house; far enough from London to feel like you’ve escaped the big metropolis for an afternoon. As I enter the lobby, there she is, my dear friend seated on a chesterfield sofa by the grand fireplace, a beautiful arrangement of roses, orchids and dahlias decorating the side table beside her. We greet each other with a hug and a smile, and make our way to the lounge. The waiter welcomes us in and before we know it we’re sitting at our circular table draped in a crisp white tablecloth, sipping champagne and reclining in our comfy armchairs.

 The place is busy and the hotel guests and tourists are gathered round their tables, chatting away and enjoying their afternoon teas; each table is spaciously laid out, exuding its own ambience and sense of privacy. The décor feels Georgian, the lounge is painted a muted shade of oyster grey and the wall cabinet to our left is furnished with antiquarian books. I look out through the tall sash windows onto the perfectly kept lawn and elegant trees.

 As always with old friends, we chat away, sharing our news as if we’d only seen each other yesterday. The table lamps illuminate the space in a soft peach light, creating a calming ambience. The waiter approaches and sets up the silverware along with two china teapots onto our table. I opt for a pot of vanilla tea, and it’s a Jasmine tea for my friend. We watch him pour as we sip champagne. The cake stand promptly arrives, crammed with finger sandwiches, scones and sweet delicacies, not forgetting the clotted cream and preserves.

 We leave feeling relaxed and refreshed; outside, the sun is setting and peonies are still in full bloom. We’ve had a wonderful afternoon and look forward to coming back for a Spa day, or maybe even an exercise class, actually scrap that, we both agree that we need to make time in our lives for the important stuff like more bubbly and cake!