Driving through the Notts countryside on one of the hottest days of the year in search of a lunch stop, it crossed my mind I could have been jaunting through rural France.
The scenery around Clumber Park, Sherwood Forest and the Thoresby Estate is second to none. Especially during summer.
Rolling fields, acres of lush green forest, lakes and rivers criss cross this green and pleasant land.
And situated amongst it all is a wealth of history and heritage, not to mention quaint villages with shops, markets and eateries galore.
It was while passing through one such village, Budby, that I happened upon Dukeries Antiques Centre and its adjoining cafe Judith Ann’s Tea Shop.
After browsing the treasures and oddities in the antiques centre, my partner Liam and I had worked up a ravenous appetite.
We headed out into the courtyard where Judith Ann’s Tea Shop is perched in the far corner.
A few people were already having a bite to eat in the glorious afternoon sunshine.
So we eagerly grabbed a table under the shady veranda before anyone else did.
I was pleasantly surprised by how extensive the menu was.
From light snack like toast, muffins and scones, to freshly made sandwiches, main meals, toasties and salads. Every meal is catered for.
Then there is the specials board, afternoon tea and a selection of delicious desserts.
I opted for the special ploughman’s platter (£7.25) consisting of home roast ham, a choice of cheeses, large salad, pickles, homemade coleslaw and rustic bread.
Liam had eyes for the Quiche Lorraine which was served with a warm potato salad and mixed salad (£6.95).
We washed it down with a cooling glass of organic ginger beer (£2).
I was aghast at how huge my ploughman’s platter was when it arrived.
There was a mountain of my chosen cheeses - brie and stilton - and reams of thick, juicy ham.
The vibrant salad included tasty touches of orange, grapes and pine nuts, along with the usual lettuce, cucumber, tomato and peppers. It was treat to eat.
Chunky chutney and creamy coleslaw were presented in petite ramekins. And a couple of tangy pickled onions were dotted on the plate.
Accompanying the feast was piles of crusty brown bread.
I gave it my best try, but couldn’t finish all the cheese.
A nice touch, I thought, was the waitress asking if I wanted the cheese leftovers wrapping up to take home. I didn’t, but thanked her all the same.
Liam was equally impressed with his quiche. He said it was rich and full of taste.
He especially liked the grilled cheese flavour of the crispy topping and the sweet, chewy bacon strewn throughout the eggy flan.
We took our time over lunch, as it was such a beautiful day.
And once our tummies had settled, we miraculously found room for something more.
A strawberry cream scone (for him) and a ginger and rhubarb cream scone (for me) were just the sweetener. They were a reasonable £2.50 each.
Light fluffy scones smothered in sticky fruity jam, topped with lashings of whipped cream. Mine even had a sprinkling of crystallised ginger on top.
The total bill came to £23.20. And we enjoyed every penny of it.