THE saying "every cloud has a silver lining" could not have been more apt for chef Ann Baker when she launched her tea room in Grassington.

Outside it was lashing with rain and the wind, howling across the Square, drove visitors arriving on the first day of the Dickensian festival, to seek warmth and shelter.

Many, who had landed by the coachload from across the north of England, made a bee-line Ann's new business, Annie and Betty's Vintage Tea Room, which had flung open its doors for the first time.

"We were literally thrown in at the deep end," said Ann, who before launching the business with husband, Steve, was landlady at the Queen's Arms in Litton.

"People were queuing to get a seat and some waited up to an hour. But at the end of the day we learned a lot and found out quickly how to improve things especially how we manage the kitchen," said Ann.

"I was three years at the Queen's Arms and loved it. I started as the chef and then took over the tenancy but it was very long hours, too much for the family.

"I'd been playing with the idea of a tea room and when I saw this place - I was impressed by its size and its position overlooking the Square - I was hooked."

The vintage theme matched her memories of learning to bake as a four year-old with her grandmother Betty, the inspiration for her career as a chef.

"I spent all my holidays with her much of the time baking. I loved it and from that early age knew I wanted it to be my career," said Ann.

Her aim is to create the era of the 1950s, so people eat from period china crockery, they drink loose leaved tea - there are ten varieties - and are offered homemade confectionery, served by waitresses in 1950s style dresses. People can buy the tea and, long-term, Ann plans to offer period crockery for sale.

In the run up to the new year, the cafe will be open from 10am to 4pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10am to 4pm on Fridays, 10am to 5pm on Saturdays - and longer over the Dickensian festival. Opening hours are expected to alter later.