Whether you call her mom, mother, mug, or mater, you have to admit that materfamilias really are some pretty special women.
Motherhood is incredibly hard work, the reality is that offspring come with no instructions and unlike faulty white goods, you can’t send them back when the going gets tough, well not easily.
Most years, I either completely forget about Mother’s Day or post a card that arrives late or just in time. But for once I managed to pull myself together and arranged an afternoon tea for two at the Ballathie House Hotel for me and my elderly mum (£25 pp).
To be honest, she deserves so much more, maybe a medal for putting up with all my shenanigans over the years. Let’s skip over my grumpy teenage years when I looked like a female hormonal version of teenage Kevin.
mom is the word
I undoubtedly tested his patience. Even as a so-called adult and mother of two, I didn’t exactly toe the line. In order to thwart popular beliefs about teenagers, I told my two that retirees were responsible for the walls sprayed with youthful graffiti.
Tut and shaking my head, I would tell my gullible offspring that those pesky old yins had done it.
For a long time, my daughters had no idea what a pensioner really was, in addition to being quite disruptive and above all not doing anything good.
My mum is now in her final years and I decide that a leisurely drive down Perthshire back roads followed by a teapot and some petit fours seems just the ticket to show her my appreciation.
On the way to our majestic destination, we cross sandstone bridges that straddle the Isla and Tay rivers and spy fishermen cast a line from manicured green banks.
Along Ballathie Lane itself the trees have been scattered like nine pins during winter gales, but the exterior of the country hotel is still impressive and delightful crocuses and snowdrops spring up to hint at the days of spring to come.
We arrive and walk towards the entrance to the vestibule which has a carved stone motto insignia “coeur fides” or faithful heart above the door.
We both laugh in front of the sign that sternly advises guests wearing dirty boots to use the sportsman’s entrance. I check my shoes to make sure I haven’t embarrassed my mom before confidently stepping inside to announce our arrival.
We’re then shown to our seats in the bright and airy front room, noting the fireplace, river views, artwork, high ceilings and cornices, and decide it’s all very chic.
Tea for two
Our waiter at the Jeeves takes our drink orders: a decaffeinated English breakfast for my mum and the specially concocted Ballathie mix for me, but a bewildering array of other drink options are available.
Pots of tea and jugs of hot water are arriving soon and with teaspoons and teacups ready, along with pinkies up, we are ready for our tea party to begin. Now we both feel exceptionally hungry and thrilled when our tasty selections are delivered.
Our server skims through what’s on offer, with occasional reminders, from above: applewood smoked cheddar sticks, homemade pear chutney and mini oat cakes.
mom is the word
The next layer includes a trio of finger sandwiches, egg mayonnaise, Coronation chicken, and slices of soft cheese and cucumber. Next is a brioche seed bun with a miniature venison burger, a savory micro scone with smoked salmon and cream cheese, and beet and tomato compote.
My veggie version is broadly similar, but with a veggie sausage in a bun, egg mayonnaise, cheese and pickle sarnie, and the must-have cucumber. We’re polishing this batch, with a single smoked salmon scone all that’s left.
I resist the temptation to tell my mother to clear her plate, as I was ordered to do when I was a child because I don’t want an armband around my paw.
However, Jeeves comes back and politely asks if we’d like to box him up so we can take him home.
Scone and jam
The next tea stall contains the sweet dish, warm scones straight from the oven and toppings of locally sourced Blairgowrie raspberry jam and a pot of whipped cream.
I avoid the conundrum of whether the jam or the cream goes on by slapping them both and making them disappear in seconds.
The next level features tiny jam jars filled with lemon or clementine posset topped with pomegranate seeds that we scoop out with teaspoons, and choux pastries topped with a crunchy caramel crème brûlée, each more delicious than others.
The basement has two delicate macaroon cookies and a mini rhubarb and custard tartlet and yet another fancy lemon curd. Although small portions at the end we were both full and as the afternoon tea with dearest mum was a great success I have already booked for the year next.