Afternoon Tea. What a quintessentially British institution, wouldn’t you agree?
The very first time I was treated to
Afternoon Tea was when my American Exchange partner, Wally, was staying with us in England and took me to tea at the Ritz. Or was it the Savoy? I am ashamed, indeed, to admit I cannot quite remember to which hallowed place he took me. I do remember the maître
d said there were no free tables until he heard Wally’s American drawl - at which one miraculously became available. I do remember the atmosphere, the pianist playing away at a grand piano and looking round at all the other tables which seemed to be
frequented by women having a time as grand as the piano. One day, I told myself, I too will be a “lady who takes tea.”
That was eighteen years ago and I still haven’t managed
to become a regular at the tea table, though I have experienced four most enjoyable Afternoon Tea occasions, one with each of the Darling Daughters and one with the Jolly Girls. The first occasion was at a hotel near Wimbledon Common with the Middle of the
Darling Daughters where we carefully cut all the delicious cakes in half so that neither of us missed out on any one. The second occasion was two years ago with the Youngest of the Darling Daughters who took me to beautiful Amberley Castle to celebrate my
seventieth birthday where we met up with the famous white peacock when we took a turn around the grounds after our sumptuous feast. The third occasion was more recently with the Eldest of the Darling Daughters who chose me to share her birthday gift of Afternoon
Tea at Patisserie Valerie.
As for the Jolly Girls Outing - well, that was over three years ago, soon after the Twinkles were born, when the Middle of the Darling
Daughters couldn’t leave her new-born twins for long enough for a theatre trip - so Afternoon Tea did very nicely, thank you very much.
In case you are wondering
why the Daily Blog is waxing lyrical about Afternoon Tea, then I must explain that this afternoon was the Questers Finale, celebrated with - yes, you are there before me, you clever things - Afternoon Tea. Questers, regular readers among you may remember,
was a group which organised “behind the scenes” visits to places of interest, some local, some further afield. Sadly, the two leaders have decided, understandably as organising Questers is a bit like herding cats, to call it a day. This afternoon
was our “Final Hurrah” when we ate cake, drank tea and reminisced about Outings We Have Enjoyed.
There was the trip to Wimbledon, made extra special
because of our excellent Blue Badge guide and the opportunity it gave Mr B to share memories of his days as a Wimbledon Ball-boy; the visit to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry where Big Ben, the Liberty Bell and the 2012 Olympics Bell were all cast; and a chilly
but fascinating tour of Bignor Roma Villa where one of the members of the family played marbles on the ancient mosaics as a boy. Then who could forget the visits to some of Worthing’s hidden gems, including the Museum, home to an amazing collection of
clothing, including a pair of Queen Victoria’s knickers and woodwind instrument specialists Howarth of London, tucked away in a back street of our very own home town.
The Pavilion Café, venue for our Afternoon Tea, is humming with conversations, many of them starting: “Do you remember...?” or “Did you go to...?” Several people remind me that they were on the trips I organised and it’s
rather heartening to think I helped make memories for them.
We feast on sandwiches, scones and fancy cakes. We have each been given a named menu, with our food
choices printed inside, just in case we forget what we fancied when we first placed our requests. I decide to take my slice of carrot cake home to Mr B who is, after all, a former Questers member. There is one embarrassing moment (only one! I hear you exclaim)
when my Problem Shoulder gives way as I attempt to raise my cup to my lips and coffee splashes everywhere. It wouldn’t have been so bad had it splashed all over me, I might have got away with it - but, no, it went all over my friend Di sitting next to
me. “Don’t worry, it will wash,” she reassured me, kindly, as we dabbed ineffectually at her pretty skirt with inadequate table napkins. It was noticeable that after this unfortunate incident, nobody on our table asked me to pass them anything...
Farewell, Questers, I will miss our excursions, near and far. So many splendid discoveries we have made over the years as we ventured “behind the scenes.”
My thanks, and those of Mr B, to our stalwart leaders, David and Marion - you thoroughly deserve a rest from your labours on our behalf.
Now, anyone for