A few months ago I found out that an old school friend had relocated from Devon to Wiltshire and opened a tearooms on the side of the Kennet and Avon canal. Sensing an opportunity for a catch up and slice of cake, we packed the twins in the car and headed off to Bradford-on-Avon. My husband and I love spending our days off work having family days out in the country and we were not disappointed when we arrived as the location is just stunning. No.10 Tea Gardens overlook the Avoncliff viaduct, where the Kennet and Avon canal crosses the River Avon. It is surrounded by rolling countryside, quaint country pubs and a constant stream of narrow boats cruising by.
We ordered some sandwiches for lunch and enjoyed the view as I spoke to Sarah, the owner, about her complete career and lifestyle change and future plans for the tearooms.
“I just considered it a dream in the distant that would never happen”
“The idea began in a little quaint cafe in Bristol. Euan and I were being naughty and having a fried breakfast and discussing my career path as I had told him that I wanted to leave the Police. It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, not where I saw myself long term and we were also discussing living together. Euan asked me ‘is a cafe or small business anything you’d ever considered because I have wanted to invest in a small business for some time now’. I nearly choked on my brew because for years I had always wanted to own my own tea rooms and bake to my hearts content. I love tea rooms and love baking but don’t have the business mind to even think where to begin so had never pursued the idea. Just considered it a dream in the distant that would never happen. However, a business mind is something Euan definitely has and he was well up for the venture with me. I couldn’t believe it, not only had I found Euan we were making my dream come true!”
“He got straight on the internet and found the Avoncliff house and tea rooms for sale. It seemed too good to be true but we drove out and saw the place and fell in love with it and the area.”
“it has been highly stressful at times but I am doing what I love to do in a beautiful place”
“We moved in at the end of April and opened on the first May bank holiday and it has been non stop since. It has been an enormous learning curve for me to say the least! Going from a desk job in the Police to running your own business in the catering industry couldn’t be much different and I’d be lying if I didn’t resemble a rabbit in headlights at times but I have tackled each issue without any major disaster.”
“From buying the stock to making everything (sandwiches, quiches and all cakes and scones) accounts, banking, paperwork, employment of people, publicity, and the continuous maintenance of things as well as learning the role myself, it has been highly stressful at times but I am so far achieving running the business on my own and have continuous positive feedback of the improvements/changes I have made and how good the food and cakes taste and I am also doing what I love to do in a beautiful place.”
“I honestly couldn’t of achieved so much in a relatively short time frame without the assistance and continuous support from Euan and my family and close friends. I think it would of been a different story had I not of had that. I can not thank them enough.”
“Plans for the future is a possible extension on the building for more inside space as this is currently limited and to rearrange the lay out of the inside space i.e. Move the kitchen to the back and have a bigger counter space. Replace all crockery for new design, landscaping of the main garden to make the seating area larger and to improve the look of the garden space. Lots of vibrant flowers, a red phone box (to continue the British/London theme) where wifi will be available and some giant garden games. Beyond that I am not sure, perhaps own another tea rooms somewhere maybe. I would however like to purchase a dog by next March to be my tea gardens companion.”
On leaving No. 10 Tea Gardens I was in complete admiration for Sarah for leaving her ‘desk job’ and having the guts to follow her dream. I hope that after reading this you too are inspired and maybe that ‘thing’ you have always dreamed of doing may too become a reality!
You can find out more about No.10 Tea Gardens on Facebook and Twitter here and here. All photos shot on Kodak Gold and developed and scanned by UK Film lab.