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Years ago, the concept of a “Mother’s Day afternoon tea” conjured up – for me, at least – the image of ancient women in a faded, musty café, sipping tepid cups of tea from china and eating stale cakes.
Since actually becoming a mother, however, I’ve discovered such events are often a bit more luxurious: elaborate sandwiches, fancy cupcakes, glasses of Prosecco – generally within the confinements of an expensive café. How you’re supposed to eat these while out with small children is another matter. Babies, fine, but anything aged toddler and above means devouring said cupcake and booze at lightning speed, while pretending to yourself you’ve had time to relax.
The concept of having an afternoon tea delivered, then, is something that’ll be popular – especially right now. So Morrisons had the right idea when they created a Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea Box for £20 (£25 with Prosecco) for 2021.
Is the bargain deal the ultimate treat for mum? I was tasked with finding out.
When the food box arrives, it’s satisfyingly heavy. Having done absolutely no research into what lay inside, I’m a bit surprised at the contents. A large white loaf of bread, medium sliced. A slab of plastic-looking cheese. A tub of slightly toxic-coloured egg mayonnaise. A carton of milk. Some tea bags.
“What IS this?” I say to my husband – “a self-isolation emergency pack?” Alright yes, I admit, it does also contain Mr Kipling chocolate cake slices, cherry bakewell tarts, scones, jam and Rodda’s clotted cream.
Oh, and a bottle of Prosecco.
At first, I consider downing the Prosecco before attempting to eat the contents. But my family – my husband and two boys, aged two and six – make me put my snobbery aside. We do it properly and lay the afternoon tea out for lunch. I admit, it does look pretty damned good.
We still open the Prosecco first. “It’s SOAP!!” my two-year-old declares excitedly as it froths out, clearly a victim of seriously reduced life experiences. (Don’t worry, we didn’t feed him any). But he does eat all of the cakes. All of them. And screams like a banshee when we attempt to get near them. I can only assume they taste good.
As for the rest – the cheese and ham sandwiches are surprisingly tasty; the bread is soft and the ham has flavour, even if the cheese doesn’t. The crisps go down well – unsurprisingly, another hit with the kids.
“I have incredibly low expectations when it comes to the scones.”
I have incredibly low expectations when it comes to the scones, partly due to the fact they contain raisins. But a tentative bite pleasantly reveals that, at least once laden with cream and jam, they are sweet and spongy, and work very nicely with the bubbles (which was dangerously very drinkable). Fortunately, a pot of tea helps us sober up afterwards.
Is this the ultimate Mother’s Day treat? If my other half – or future older children – secretly prepared it and presented it, I’d be very pleased. But if I opened the box and thought I had to make it myself... less so. I can’t think of how you could beat the price. It could have done, possibly, with a cucumber or some strawberries, but only if you really want to make a fuss.
We use the leftovers for a picnic the next day, which, funnily enough, feels a bit more relaxing than sitting in an over-priced shop pretending to have a good time.