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Tennis tea and strawbs

Afternoon tea and cocktails with a tennis theme plus PYO strawberries

The great thing about tennis season is it comes with some indulgent trappings – rather more enticing than a pie at the football.

If you’re heading to the Aegon International in Eastbourne from this Friday 23 June  to 1 July (see more in my post here), or you’re getting into the mood for Wimbledon fortnight, there are some fab local options this year – namely a themed afternon tea and cocktails and a chance to bag your own strawberries.

The Grand, Eastbourne

The Grand in Eastbourne has hosted top tennis players down for the Aegon in the past and even loaded their baths full of ice for them to recover post match. It is already famous for its afternoon teas and has added a fun twist this summer with a tennis themed tea and cocktails, with strawberries, Pimms flavours and Centre Court colours featuring strongly.  They’re available from this weekend until the end of Wimbledon.

I had a sneak preview and let me tell you it’s all eye-rollingly good.

There’s a sandwich selection including coronation chicken, cucumber sandwiches (natch) and Spring’s Sussex oak smoked Salmon, plus sausage rolls.

And of course it wouldn’t be a proper afternoon tea without freshly baked scones with strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream. I always dive into those first as they’re the main event as far as I’m concerned, then see how many of the other sweet treats I can manage. Err them all as it turned out on this occassion. There was a strawberry and cream tartlet and chocolate eclair and a cute Pimms jelly complete with bits of cucumber and a flower on top.

With a choice of tea to wash it down it’s £26.00 per person – Monday to Thursday (£34.50 with a glass of Champagne), or £28.50 Friday to Sunday (£37.00 with Champagne). There’s also a scaled down children’s version for £14.50.

Now we’ve lined our stomachs, let’s look at the cocktails…

There’s a Grand Slam cocktail in Centre Court green that is a fusion of Midori melon liqueur, ginger ale and fresh lime served over crushed ice (£13.95). It’s rather refreshing and the lime will stop you getting scurvy too so it’s postively life enhancing. Don’t let the innocent looking pink hue of the English Picnic (above) fool you though – that one really packs a punch and it’s a sort of boozy smoothie of Chase English rhubarb vodka, strawberry syrup and fresh cream served with frozen summer fruits (£15.90). The special cocktails are available from the Grand’s cocktail bar from Saturday 24 June to Sunday 16 July.

You may not quite have The Grand’s flair but can try making your own tennis season treats after a visit to Sharnfold farm and shop just outside Eastbourne.

Sharnfold Farm

Not only is there a well-stocked farm shop, a butchers, a cafe and even a fishing lake but best of all there’s a chance to pick your own fruit. I inexpertly yanked up some rhubarb like a proper townie while I was there last month but June is the time to get yourself loaded up with punnets of strawberries.

They’re close to the ground so don’t do what I did in my teens – overbalance, sit on a plant and have to go on to a pub lunch with a pink stained bum – awkward! It’s probably best to wear something you’re happy to kneel in. As for eating the strawberries – get them to room temperature before serving for the best taste.

It’s a family-focused business with a nice children’s playground, an animal barn, trail worksheets and tractor rides to see the animals. Just bear in mind it’s not a petting zoo, these are the real farm – to fork deal. Sharnfold also runs fun events like lawnmower racing and pumpkin carving so it’s worth keeping an eye on year-round if you’ve kids to keep amused.

So,  I’d say that’s game set and match to anyone visiting Eastbourne over the next few weeks who wants their fill of foodie fun. Now take your seat in the stands at the Aegon International this coming week or in front of the box come Wimbledon and hope Andy Murray and Eastbourne’s own Johanna Konta do us proud.

Find more ideas here

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