Sunday, 30 March 2014
Just before Christmas I took Ma and Ma-in-law for a day out. We drove to a little village that has survived in the middle of nowhere by over thowing its rustic past, and instead, offering an amazing selection of shops and cafe's housed in the ancient outbuildings and main street cottages. In an antique store I came across some wonderfully ornate tea pots. Sadly most tea gets made in a mug with a tea bag these days, so reaching for the Brown Derby and offering... Orange picot anyone? a ritual consigned to the past.
These were made of German Silver, an alloy that was often silver plated. I was astonished that these were selling for less than £15, but the shop keeper explained that it was simply the fashion in antiques, less than five years ago they could fetch over £50. With the Ma's being adorably kind, I found myself unwrapping a silver teapot on Christmas afternoon.
Tea drinking is so very English. It is the go-to cure for all ills, no matter what the drama or grave the crisis, in so many houses here. 'Let's put the kettle on', or 'A nice cup of tea?' is the opening gambit to any problem solving.
Now that my working life includes plenty of foreign travel, I've come to accept that it's not so easy to find the elixir of life in a recognisable form beyond our shores. Yes I do pack t-bags, I accept that drinking tea without milk is better than no tea at all.
My colleagues tease me about my plaintive quest! I would so love to suck on a Latte or down an Amercano, but I just can't drink coffee. Instead I have learned that in Europe I must ask for black tea and most black tea will be Earl Grey. In the USA tea is proffered in assorted paper envelopes by the checkout and the sight of me rummaging for the rare English Breakfast among the chai, cinnamon, lemon and mint amuses restaurant staff no end. I am not a tea snob, instead, it's just the familiar little comforts that mean so much when you are an ocean away from home, and when work is an eight hour performance centre stage.
All that said, my Christmas teapot is purely decorative, the perfect place for a few flowers.