Life is beautiful for Denise Semmence...

...Denise combines her work as a skin care esthetician with life at Pretty Corner tearooms in north Norfolk. She told Angi Kennedy how she juggles the two roles.

Sitting pretty

Life is beautiful for Denise Semmence, who combines her work as a skin care esthetician with life at Pretty Corner tearooms in north Norfolk. She told Angi Kennedy how she juggles the two roles.

The bulbs are bursting into colour, the trees are in leaf again, and on fortunate days the April sunshine warms the stones. Pretty Corner Caf� and Tea Garden is blossoming into life, ready to open up once more for the many happy visitors who stumble upon this delightful corner of north Norfolk. For Denise Semmence, Easter means the start of the busy time of the year when her garden swarms with families and couples stopping to smell the flowers on their way to and from the tea shop that sits just yards from her home.

“I love it because we meet so many lovely people and often get chatting to them while we are out in our garden,” she says. “We have such wonderful staff too, who have lots of fun, so we feel really lucky.”Recent weeks have been hectic getting ready for the moment when the tea rooms opens its doors again for the season. But what makes the reopening of the tearooms a double challenge for Denise is that alongside this she also has her own business, working as a trained Dr.Hauschka esthetician providing skin care and rhythmic treatments, with a wide following of women across Norfolk. Denise has a treatment room in her home and also offers the two-hour treatments once a week in the discrete, relaxing beauty room at Jarrold store in Norwich.

“It leaves you feeling deeply relaxed and your skin nourished, rejuvenated with a healthy glow,” she explains, of the treatment, which includes massage, facial and footbath.

Denise, who lived in Canada and Australia before returning to her Norfolk roots, is a quiet, calm presence in the room, leading her clients through the range of treatments using various products from the Dr.Hauschka selection (the blissful lavender steam facial is a not-to-be-missed experience in itself).

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The Dr.Hauschka products contain no synthetic preservatives, artificial fragrances or colouring. Using homeopathic principles, they are made from extracts of herbs and plants that have been grown organically or biodynamically and are blended to complement each other to promote a healthy skin.

Denise says: “My skin is very sensitive and I had found it so hard to find skin care products that didn’t irritate my skin. Then a couple of years ago I came across Dr.Hauschka’s range and just loved them and the way they made my skin feel. They don’t claim to stop the ageing process, but they do slow it down.”

She decided to take it further, training to become a Dr.Hauschka esthetician and for the past year has been offering the treatments to those seeking a more holistic approach to skin care. She believes she is the only person doing this in Norfolk.

The rhythmic treatments treat the skin externally by using the products to cleanse and promote a healthy condition, and internally by stimulating the lymphatic system with rhythmic massage techniques that are said to help promote a healthy immune system.

“Dr.Hauschka really is for all ages, from young people with acne and problem skin to older women who are looking for a more holistic, natural and organic way of looking after their skin,” she adds.  “Some people tell me they love the treatment as a little luxury for themselves, but others enjoy it as a regular part of their skin care routine. It is also perfect for those who have been through a lot of stress and need to relax.”

For Denise Semmence’s Dr.Hauschka treatments at Jarrold in Norwich on Thursdays at 10am, 1pm and 4pm, contact the Skinspa in store on 01603 660661.For her treatments in north Norfolk, which are also by appointment only, contact Denise at Rowan House, Pretty Corner, Upper Sheringham, on 01263 822766.Dr.Hauschka products are available at Jarrold in Norwich and Nature’s Haven in Holt.

Taste of the past

Drop into Pretty Corner Caf� and Tea Garden and you’ll be enjoying a tradition that goes back 84 years. The tea rooms that nestle in wonderful north Norfolk woodland scenery at Upper Sheringham, began life in the 1920s when Ethel Samuels opened a simple pavilion to serve refreshments to the gentrified classes.

There was no water supply on site and Mrs Samuels’ husband would ride his motorbike and sidecar into the village each day to fill up a barrel with water from a spring-fed well! Cooking was done without electricity, of course, on a wood-burning stove and lighting was by paraffin lamp. One of the most difficult tasks for the Samuels was the digging of a borehole on this site which is some 300 feet above sea level.

But the geographical problems were no barrier to success, with the business growing through the years and Mrs Samuels building up an award-winning range of homemade chocolate and sweets. The Samuels built Rowan House on the site, which is home to Denise Semmence and husband Laurence Padfield today.

The tea rooms were closed at the outbreak of the second world war and were all but forgotten until the ‘Seventies when Dutchman Paul van der Horst moved in and redeveloped the site with the purpose-built tearooms that exists now, and specially designed terraced gardens.

In the early 1990s he attempted to convert the house into a 56-seater Indonesian restaurant, but the business failed and the Padfields became the new owners in the mid-1990s. They employ a manager and seasonal staff to run the caf�, which is open from Easter until the end of October, depending on the weather.

The caf� opens six days a week (closed on Tuesdays) except for the school holidays when it opens all week, from 10am to 5pm.

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