A celebration lunch at The Packhorse Inn, Moulton, near Newmarket, Suffolk : June 2017

Last week I had lunch at the award-winning Packhorse Inn with two friends to celebrate a birthday. It was a glorious summer day and our meal at this five star AA restaurant and hotel owned by the Chestnut Group didn’t disappoint. Moulton is an idyllic village located to the north east of Newmarket, and just beyond “The Gallops” where they exercise the racehorses.

The Packhorse Inn is located on Bridge Street, in the picturesque village of Moulton near Newmarket, the home of horse-racing 
These freshly baked rolls and canapes made an excellent appetiser
A starter of blow-torched mackerel for one of my companions
For my starter I chose Salmon and dill fishcakes with fennel salad
Another starter of Quail with pea mash

I chose a hearty-sized main course of veggie risotto 
Another main course – Scampi with fries
Sea trout with globe artichokes was another of our main courses
Two of us chose the blackcurrant soufflé and raspberry sorbet for dessert
Another dessert – Coffee and Chocolate bar with Guinness ice cream

We all enjoyed our splendid three-course meal from the a la carte menu which was beautifully presented. The bill came to £40 per person including drinks which I thought was on the pricey side, but then this was a birthday celebration lunch so it was well worth pushing the boat out!

The picturesque Packhorse Bridge at Moulton, near Newmarket, Suffolk


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This pretty four-arched late medieval bridge spans the River Kennett on the old route from Cambridge to Bury St Edmunds

The Packhorse Inn

Bridge Street





Tel: 01638751818


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Afternoon Tea and a spa stay at Wyboston Lakes Hotel and SPA, near St Neots, Beds: June 2017

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Last Sunday my daughter and I enjoyed an excellent Afternoon Tea in The Waterfront restaurant at Wyboston Lakes Hotel and SPA, near St. Neots in Bedfordshire. To celebrate my daughters birthday we were booked into the hotel for the *Sunday Runaway spa package, (details below). Set in 350 acres, this modern 4 star hotel and spa, with a golf course and leisure centre is 2.8 miles from the market town of St. Neots.

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The Waterfront restaurant at Wyboston Lakes is in a lovely location
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A choice of loose-leaf tea was available with refills at no extra cost
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We were delighted to receive a glass of bubbly on the house as it was a special occasion
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This traditional Afternoon Tea had everything we would expect and more…..
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The ham on brioche was a delicious twist on the usual sandwich selection
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The food was served on pretty pink floral china
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The plain scones were served warm with strawberry jam and clotted cream
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The Waterfront traditional Afternoon Tea cost a very reasonable £13.95 per person
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My daughter ended her meal with a complimentary cup of coffee 
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The extensive terrace area outside the lounge bar and restaurant

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We enjoyed relaxing in the fabulous outdoor Hydrotherapy pool at Y Spa, Wyboston Lakes


This Sunday night break includes dinner, bed and breakfast, and a full day’s use of thermal spa facilities on Monday which includes a two-course buffet lunch and a choice of one of the following treatments.

  • Y Spa Fresh Face
  • Y Spa Soothing Scalp
  • Y Spa Happy Hands

£119 per person

To book call 0333 7007 667 or email reservations@wybostonlakes.co.uk

 (Many thanks to Wyboston Lakes Hotel for use of the Spa photographs)

Wyboston Lakes Hotel and SPA,

Great North Road,



MK44 3AL





Afternoon Tea at Cambridge’s cool new hotel The Tamburlaine


The Tamburlaine hotel is located on Station Road in Cambridge, very close to the railway station
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We enjoyed our traditional Afternoon Tea in the plush and luxurious Garden Room

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Afternoon Tea was served on pretty bespoke china with linen napkins

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Unusually The Tamburlaine Afternoon Tea was served on a floor-standing three tiered stand

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The finger sandwiches were freshly made with delicious fillings of egg, smoked salmon, ham and cheese and cucumber

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The large freshly baked raisin and plain scones were served warm, and there were two of each

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The top tier held a selection of gorgeous miniature cakes and sweet and tangy Mango Panna Cotta mini desserts

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The scones were light and fluffy and served with strawberry jam and fresh cream

This brand new four-star hotel is the first UK property from the Irish O’Callaghan group, who own four stylish hotels in Dublin. The Tamburlaine is ideally located on Station Road close to the rail station at the heart of the extensive regeneration of this business and residential area, which has now changed out of all recognition. The 155-room hotel had only been open for three weeks when I visited yesterday, and work is still ongoing inside and out. The staff are very friendly and enthusiastic and they gave us a guided tour after our tea. I noticed that the restaurant has an impressive fine dining menu which I intend to sample sometime.

By the way, the hotel’s name Tamburlaine references a 16th-century play by Christopher Marlowe, who attended Corpus Christi College in the city.

My friend and I were celebrating her birthday and taking Afternoon Tea amid the genteel grandeur of the Colonial-style Garden Room made an excellent start to her celebrations. With ornate Victorian wallpaper and gorgeous silk velvet sofas, this is an exceptionally light and splendid room with a unique style.

The Tamburlaine traditional Afternoon Tea cost £21.50 per person and is priced on the high side for Cambridge, so not the best value for money but the surroundings more than compensate with a strong sense of occasion. One minor quibble though – I was surprised that a selection of loose-leaf tea blends wasn’t available, although we could have unlimited tea or coffee to accompany the food. Highly recommended.

27-29 Station Road
Tel: 01223 792888

email: z.pearse@ocallaghanhotels.com


Varsity Restaurant, Cambridge – an elegant makeover and tasty food

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 Varsity Restuarant has a great central location on St Andrew’s Street in Cambridge

Under new ownership, this stylish independent has had an elegant makeover and we’d heard that both the food and service were excellent. Since it’s re-opening last year Varsity has become very popular and it frequently features in any ‘Top Five’ list of the best Cambridge restaurants. Steve and I have been waiting for a suitably special occasion to dine there, so this week we booked a table for our anniversary dinner and we weren’t disappointed,  – in fact unusually I found nothing to grumble about!

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We started our meal with the most appetising warm bread, truffle butter and succulent Gordal olives. In fact, the olives were so delicious I had to order some more!
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We drank exceptional bottled beer and lager, and a glass of Prosecco to toast our anniversary. It was good to see 500ml bottled drinks on the menu at a reasonable cost in the absence of draught beer.

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Varsity has three distinct dining areas and we were seated in one of the upper rooms. This is a cool and contemporary refurbishment of Cambridge’s oldest restaurant.

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For his main course Steve enjoyed a 8oz rib-eye steak with chestnut mushroom ragu, hasselback potato, and mushroom ketchup with a side of tenderstem broccoli, with chilli and sesame. He particularly relished the potato drizzled with truffle butter for added oomph!

For my main course I chose Roasted chicken supreme, wild mushroom and leek truffle tagliatelle, with port sauce. This chicken dish was incredibly rich and tasty, and unfortunately I had no room for a dessert.

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Steve chose to end his meal with the Cheese Board which came with a selection of his favourite crackers, with homemade chutney, fruit, celery, and a glass of port.

The staff are friendly and attentive, the ambience is intimate, and although the restaurant was almost full I observed that it wasn’t noisy or loud. Prices are a little on the high side, but I would recommend dining at Varsity for a special occasion lunch or dinner, and I noticed that people on adjacent tables were celebrating a birthday and an anniversary too. You will enjoy imaginative, Modern British comfort food at it’s very best served in generous portions. We paid £86 for our meal with drinks.


Great news for local foodies – Varsity opened a new sister restaurant called Trinity on 8th April, and I can’t wait to try it!


35 St Andrews Street



Tel: 01223 356060




15 Trinity Street



Tel: 01223 322130


The Green Man pub in Thriplow, Cambs – a village famous for its daffodils

Last week Steve and I visited The Green Man at Thriplow with two companions for a meal, because it had been highly recommended by another friend who described it as her new favourite place to eat, so I was keen to check it out for myself.

The Green Man entrance looked warm and inviting

The Green Man is a community owned pub in the picturesque village of Thriplow, which is eight miles south of Cambridge. This traditional dog and family-friendly country inn serves seasonal locally sourced food and real ales and is a very popular destination so I would advise booking ahead for evening diners. We went on a Friday night and both the bar and restaurant area were full, but fortunately we had made a table reservation. The only problem was that it was rather loud where we were seated, making conversation across the table a bit challenging!

The imaginative use of Scrabble tiles made for a unique welcome!

We fancied a little something to nibble before our main courses so we shared freshly baked garlic and herb bread with marinated olives. Unfortunately, the two dishes which we had chosen to share were off the menu. Tapas were advertised and we made the mistake of assuming we would share a selection of Spanish-style tapas, but the menu offered a wide range of small plates at £3, £4 and £5, which were more typically British pub grub starters.triplow10 (2) - Copy

Our friends both decided to have the BBQ pulled pork shoulder burger, in a poppy & sesame seed brioche bun with baby gem lettuce, apple slaw, feta salad, apple sauce, and whole-grain mustard accompanied by garlic and herb salted chips.

I wasn’t very hungry so I chose a small plate dish of Chargrilled Paphos Halloumi with rocket, tomato and sweet chilli, and a side of apple, cabbage and carrot slaw. It’s always good to see an option of small plates on a menu, – either for sharing dishes or for people like myself with limited appetites.

Steve chose slow-roasted Berkshire Pork Belly with wholegrain mustard mash, sweet potato, kale, apple sauce and red wine jus for his main course….


followed by the cheeseboard of British and Irish cheeses with salted and seeded Lavosh (crackers) and caramelised red onion chutney. Steve enjoyed the selection of cheeses, but he would have preferred plain crackers. 

One of Steve’s pet hates when eating out is that he always gets ‘fancy’ upmarket types of crackers with his cheeseboard, which is his dessert of choice. We took a straw poll amongst our party and our personal favourite accompaniments to cheese were cream crackers, water biscuits, cornish wafers, and digestive biscuits. None of which are usually served when any of us have ordered a cheese course anywhere!

We shared another dessert of Butterscotch Bread and Butter Pudding and artisan salted caramel ice cream

This community owned free house is warm and cosy with a real fire, and it’s worth noting that the kitchen and bar remain open all day. They even offer a lift home service to the surrounding villages, which must be a major plus for locals.

I was impressed with their eclectic craft Gin menu as it’s one of my favourite tipples, and I enjoyed a locally produced Pinkster gin with fresh raspberries and a Fever-Tree Elderflower tonic on this occasion.2017-03-24 21.34.37 (3)

I would certainly like to sample more dishes from The Green Mans interesting menu but I think a lunchtime may be a more relaxing and quieter time for a return visit. Despite being very busy the service was efficient and attentive, and the bill came to a very reasonable £73 for our meal, excluding drinks.

thriplow daffodil

The village of Thriplow is famous for the Daffodil Festival which takes place every Spring. It attracts up to 10,000 visitors and is one of the best-loved charity events in Cambridgeshire. 

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Tel: 01763 208855    

email: info@thegreenmanthriplow.co.uk


The Petersfield, a new Cambridge pub and restaurant : March 2017

This week Steve and I visited The Petersfield, as we were curious to try this new pub and restaurant which opened last month in the building which was formerly home to the well-loved Backstreet Bistro, in Sturton Street. We had heard quite a buzz about the place, and were advised to book by friends who had been disappointed not to get a table last weekend. The Petersfield is another addition to the ever-growing City Pub Company group, who own the Cambridge Brew House and The Old Bicycle Shop amongst other popular locals so I had expected a stylish refit, and I wasn’t disappointed.

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The Petersfield is located on Sturton Street, Cambridge
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The interior was smart and classy, but the tables were too close together for my liking

Service was brisk and attentive and despite being very busy there wasn’t a long wait for food. The atmosphere was lively and fairly loud, but although it’s new this pub should continue to do well in this location at the heart of the neighbourhood.


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The pub is full of charming design features and I loved the glass bottles ceiling in the bar

The Petersfield has a contemporary retro look with a large L-shaped bar and lots of dining tables. The décor features a rich use of colours with plush furnishings and good lighting, so this impressive refurbishment looks like no expense has been spared with a lot of thought being put into the detail.

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The ceramic fish water jug made an interesting gurgling sound when poured!

The Petersfield features an impressive range of local real ales and offers a fairly ambitious menu of British food of the gourmet pub grub variety at restaurant prices.

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Steve had Potted Goose and Sourdough for his starter
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The Petersfield had a good range of craft beers, so we tried several!
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For his main course Steve chose Pork Belly, roasted sweet potato, crispy black pudding, savoy cabbage, and apple sauce….
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and to finish his meal the British Cheese selection with pickle, celery and fancy crackers


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I had Cider-battered Haddock, chips, peas and tartare sauce, and Chocolate Fondant for my dessert

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We ended our evening with a nightcap in the bar

My general impression was that the food I had was only average and slightly over-priced. We paid £44.25 for our meal without drinks, but it’s an attractive pub and a welcome addition to the area.


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The attractive outdoor seating area made a great use of the space


The Petersfield



TEL: 01223 306 306