No Ordinary Afternoon NovelTEA at Lumley Castle

Everyone loves a bit of luxury in their lives right? especially if it comes with an affordable price and that’s exactly what’s on offer at Lumley Castle Hotel in the form of their recently launched No Ordinary NOVELTEA – a delightful Afternoon Tea with a difference!

Afternoon tea has been one of the most popular dining experiences of the past few years and doesn’t appear to be losing it’s popularity, as even the most humble of cafes now seem to offer a version of this traditional British fayre. However, I love the decadence of taking afternoon tea in a sumptuous setting and they don’t come much more inviting than the grand rooms of Lumley Castle Hotel, where a few years ago I enjoyed the what I’d describe as my favourite afternoon tea experience, and I’ve sampled a fair few! So imagine how delighted I was to be invited to preview their latest afternoon tea experience – No Ordinary NOVELTEA – which sees the traditional sweet and savoury treats served up with alcoholic tea!…yes, you did read that right, alcoholic tea!


Lumley Castle have teamed up with the founders of NOVELTEA, an alcoholic tea product, to offer a new afternoon tea experience to their customers. As explained by Claire Mitchell, Sales Director at Lumley Castle ‘afternoon tea has always been very popular here at the castle and as soon as we tried the NOVELTEA products we knew our customers would love them’.

Lumley Castle boasts an enviable elevated position over looking the Durham countyside whilst being easily accessed thanks to its proximity to good transport links including the A1 motorway and rail links of nearby Chester-le-Street. Approaching the imposing 600 year old Castle by car is always a thrill as it appears from the dappled cover of the tree lined driveway and the interior is even more impressive. It really is a step back in time and even after visiting the hotel several times, including a stay in one of the beautiful castle rooms, I’m always enthralled by it’s historic grandeur and it’s easy to understand why they brand themselves a No Ordinary Hotel.




Afternoon tea was being served in the Garter state room. Described on the hotel website as ‘the largest and most ornate of our State rooms’ it was very grand but with a serene air. I attended the event with my Husband Ron and we were met with a glass of chilled prosecco or soft drink on arrival and invited to sit at any of the large circular tables, which were simply decorated in white with ornate candelabras as a focal point. The soft glow of real candles, which is a rarity these days, was lovely.


As the tables filled up with guests we were given an over view of the partnership between Lumley Castle and the founders of NOVELTEA from both Claire Mitchell, Sales Director at Lumley Castle and NOVELTEA creators Vincent Efferoth and Lukas Passia.

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Claire Mitchell, Sales Director at Lumley raising a glass with NOVELTEA founders Vincent Efferoth and Lukas Passia

These two ‘Geordies by Choice’ are Newcastle University graduates who hail from Cologne in Germany. Having now settled in the North East, their observations of popular culture gave them the idea of combining the Brits love of tea and craft spirits to create Noveltea. The pair have infused selected teas and popular spirits to brilliant effect to create two very appealing drinks: ‘The Tale of Tangier’ inspired by the ceremonial tea culture of Tangier and ‘The Tale of Earl Grey’ which celebrates Earl Charles Grey and the history of this famous tea blend. These drinks with a difference have come to the attendtion of trendy bars and 5 Star establishments and can be found in many Artisan Food Halls including Fenwicks department store in Newcastle.

NOVELTEA founders Vincent Efferoth and Lukas Passia

It was now time for the main event of No Ordinary NOVELTEA and I must admit to being a bit disappointed to find that for this event it was presented buffet style, instead of being served at the table in the traditional way. I can understand that it may not have been the most practical way for the organisers to deliver this event considering the number of guests however, I felt it would have been better to experience the afternoon tea as it will be served to customers.

That observation aside, the selection of fayre on offer looked delicious and consisted of the following treats:

Assorted Finger Sandwiches Ham & Dijon Mustard; Poached Salmon, Cream Cheese & Cucumber; Cheese Savoury with Vine Tomato; Roast Beef & Rocket with Red Onion Marmalade

Scones Fruit Scone served with Butter, Fruit Jam and local Clotted Cream

Cake Selection Nutmeg Egg Custard Tart; Chocolate Caramel Cupcake; Blueberry & Lemon Cake with Lemon Icing; Rhubarb, Raspberry & White Chocolate Fool; Strawberry Macaroon with White Chocolate Ganache


Taking our seats to enjoy our selection, whilst listening to the lovely voice of live singer and musician Jessica Avison, it was time to sample our Novetea tipples!

Jessica Avison

Now I’ll admit I’m not really a ‘traditional’ tea drinker with my preference being coffee or a glass of something sparking to accompany my afternoon teas, so I wasn’t sure what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised! These two alcoholic teas were both tasty and refreshing, we tried ours served over ice, though you can have them served hot too which I think would be equally delicious, especially if enjoyed in front of the open fire in the Library bar!

The Tale of Tangier

A blend of Moroccan green mint tea and rum which when sipped reveals hints of exotic fruit and citrus flavours.


The Tale of Earl Grey

A bergamot infused black tea and gin delivering a smooth, distinctive drink, thanks to it’s infusion of hand selected botanicals.


Personally The Tale of Tangier was my favourite but being a rum drinker that wasn’t a surprise!

The drinks service to our table was quietly efficient but it would have been nice to experience the full service a customer would receive. With that in mind I can only reflect on my previous experience when I can honestly say the service, setting (Library bar) and afternoon tea itself was faultless and I’d like to think that remains the same.

Claire and the team at Lumley Castle certainly seem to have their finger on the pulse of what their customers will enjoy which goes a long way to explain why Lumley Castle has remained a popular venue for many years. They offer a wide range of entertainment options from the immensly popular Elizabethan Banquets (we enjoyed this for Ron’s 40th Birthday) to hosting special celebrations to weddings. Lumley Castle is certainly a spectacular setting for a wedding and offers Wedding Packages starting from only £2500!

If you’d like to experience the luxury of a No Ordinary NOVELTEA in the fabulous setting of he Library Room or Black Knight Restaurant* the afternoon tea will be priced at £23.95 per person, based on 2 people sharing and will be served with a small bottle of either the Tale of Earl Grey or Tale of Tangier.

Have you enjoyed the No Ordinary NOVELTEA or another of the afternoon teas at Lumley Castle? I’d love the hear about your experience. Or perhaps reading this has tempted you to try it, let me know about your plans to visit! if you’ve tried the NOVELTEA drinks, tell me your favourite!

Thanks for reading and bye for now

June xx

*On busier occasions this may also be served in one of the State Rooms.

**I recieved food and drinks as described for me and a guest in exchange for an honest review.

The Jam ‘About The Young Idea’ Exhibition Review

I recently visited a fantastic exhibition ‘About The Young Idea‘ showcasing the journey and success of Punk Rock/Mod band The Jam. It’s located within the beautiful Cunard Building in Liverpool. The popularity of the exhibition has seen it extended until the 6th October 2016. Just typing the words The Jam fills me with happiness and transports me back to my youth, so before I start daydreaming I’ll tell you more.

The Jam and me

I fell head over heels in love with The Jam as a teenager in the late 1970’s. I know! I’m sort of giving my age away, but I don’t care, it means I’ve had years of listening to their brilliant music which is as relevant and popular as ever and would not be out of place in the music scene today. They famously disbanded in 1982 at the height of their fame to the shock and utter dismay of their millions of fans. Yes, tears were shed, not as in sobbing (no hysterics, a la Take That!) just quietly in the company of my fellow Mod friends.

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A sad day for The Jam fans

So…you can imagine my excitement when I heard about this exhibition coming to Liverpool following a successful run at Somerset House in London.

Visiting the exhibition in London wasn’t an option due to life’s commitments, so I was wondering if I’d run out of time to go along, then I had an idea! We were due to go on holiday flying in and out of Manchester Airport in September so on our return we could head straight from the airport to Liverpool. Now, on landing at Manchester Airport any ideas I’d had about visiting the exhibition followed by al fresco food and drinks at the Albert Dock (not to mention an overnight stay) were dashed by…yes you’ve guessed it, the good old British weather. How silly of me to think such indulgences I’d just enjoyed abroad would be a reality in the UK. Never one’s to let rotten weather spoil any fun, Ron and I headed to Liverpool.

The Jam – About The Young Idea Exhibition

The exhibition was taking place in the beautiful Cunard Building, one of three Iconic buildings sited at Pier Head on the river Mersey and collectively known as the Three Graces. The others being the famous Liver Building and Port of Liverpool Building.


I was so full of anticipation and excitement and the exhibition didn’t disappoint. On entering the building, I was met with ‘In The City’ by The Jam filling the air. There was a real buzz about the place even before we paid our entrance fee (£9.50 weekends/£5.00 weekdays) and headed ‘Down In The Tube Station…’. Yes, the entrance is a genius tube station tunnel! leading into the exhibition.

Fan’s will recognise  the figure of John Weller and the words he bellowed at the start of every The Jam concert

The exhibition, named after a lyric from single In The City, has been curated by Nicky Weller (Paul’s sister), Russell Reader and Ben Davis who have unearthed unseen content and exhibits from the bands extensive archives. A fantastic new interactive element has been added to the show , thought to be a world first,  where a new free app allows you to engage with the exhibits by scanning V Codes. You can also download five of your favourite exhibits to enjoy at your leisure. Details are provided when you purchase tickets. Here are just a few of the fantastic items on show.

Concert footage is screened over a stage complete with original kit


Just hangin’ with the band!

I love the fashion associated with the Mod era and The Jam. It still forms the basis of my style today. Obviously not on this occasion! I would rather have been wearing my ‘coughs’ ahem!…35 year old concert T Shirt instead of a pink top with a frilly heart! (well I do like to fly in comfort you know!)

I’m just glad it still fits!

Now that’s what I call style! There was a fantastic selection of clothing on display including items worn by the band members. The scooters, which had been kindly loaned to the exhibition by their owners, were works of art.




img_8561I still dream of owning a Lambretta or Vespa and Ron and I keep meaning to take lessons. Oh, if only we had the continental weather to go with them.

As we strolled around I was impressed by the variety of items on display. There were lots of interesting elements and I couldn’t resist posing with a giant  centerpiece of the album All Mod Cons. I loved checking out the  personal items belonging to the band members which included photographs spanning the years. There were room sets and much more so you really got a sense of the bands journey to stardom.


I wonder how many of these badges I have
A selection of the bands guitars including Paul Wellers ‘Whaam’ Rickenbacker 330


The score to this classic anthem and something to aspire to with my guitar lessons!
Personal items including cartoon type sketches of ‘Paul The Mod’ by Paul Weller
Hey! I used to have this poster (and many more) in my bedroom

The huge wall art depicting the NME reader choices of 1982 showed the popularity of the band at this time with the band, band members, singles etc. topping the majority of the categories including Best Group. Paul Weller was even voted Most Wonderful Human Being, such was their influence (Margaret Thatcher was Creep of the Year!).


The Jam were the voice of a generation, with their lyrics echoing everyday realities as well as a desire for change. They were loved by their legions of fans and I genuinely feel that The Jam loved them back. As a fan you really felt as though you were a part of some exclusive club, just a club with millions of members. The was great camaraderie among fans too due to their shared love of the band and all they stood for.


To be honest I could have spent a lot longer admiring the shear number of exhibits but I’m the fan not Ron so it wouldn’t have been fair, also he had the 2 1/2 hour drive back home!

I’ve just shown you a snap shot, there’s so much more I could’ve shown you but I don’t want to spoil it for those who’ve not yet visited. The exhibition was everything I hoped for and more. It reinforced my love of this iconic band and their music and reminded me just how big a part they had played in my young adult life (They even got a mention during my brothers speech at my wedding!). It also reinforced my love of Mod Culture as some people, me included, slip away from that once adult life and responsibility comes along. So I’m off to hunt down a boating blazer and a lovely new parka!

Have you visited this exhibition or have plans to go? I’d love to hear about it.

Thanks for reading and bye for now, June x

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