For my Big Birthday last year our friends Gaynor and Tim gave me a gift voucher for afternoon tea for two.
There were dozens of places to choose from to take the afternoon tea but one stood out from the crowd. It's local and I have known it all my life.
The New Bath Hotel at Matlock Bath.
It was built in the late eighteenth century and the exterior is little changed.
The hotel pool, known as the Matlock Bath Lido, is where I learned to swim. My school took coaches of children to the pool each week for swimming lessons in the unheated outdoor pool. Brrrr......!!
As soon as I was old enough to work I got a job at the New Bath Hotel, working weekends and school holidays. My very first job at the age of fifteen was to sell entrance tickets and ice creams from this kiosk to visitors who came to swim in the hotel's pool.
Many years later I became a regular user of the pool as a member of the local sub aqua club. Matlock is about as far from the sea as you can get in the UK but the depth of the pool and its cold water were ideal for training in diving skills wearing a wetsuit.
Overlooking the pool was a building called the "new wing". It was built in the 1960's to provide more bedrooms, each one with its own bathroom which, in those days, was a very new idea!
The back of the original part of the building shows how the earlier rooms were arranged. Bars, restaurant and lounges on the ground floor, bedrooms and separate bathrooms on the two upper floors.
The job I did most often at the hotel was as a chambermaid. I loved it.
One of my tasks was to serve "early morning tea" to the guests who wanted an early start. It was my job to get them all to the rooms on this floor, the first floor, between 6.30 and 8 am.
Early morning teas done, I would then begin the work of the chambermaid.
This corridor had more bedrooms in the 1960's and just two bathrooms!
The room at the end of the corridor was where I had an encounter with the hotel ghost. The corridor is much brighter and lighter now.
I wonder if the ghost is still there!
The hotel closed and remained empty and unloved for a few years but has been given a new lease of life by new owners. It's stylish and comfortable now.
The tea was lovely. No crusts!
A huge thank you to Gaynor and Tim for my birthday present and for the afternoon spent in a place where I have so many happy memories.