Friday, August 14, 2015

I Never Knew...

I'd have so much trouble having a proper tea in England! I love tea---that's no secret. I make a pot every morning---from loose---no bags for this girl.

When I travel, I love to have high tea. I've had tea at The Plaza in New York City, The Drake Hotel in Chicago and other little places here and there. There aren't that many places that do it. We don't have a single place in Nashville. Butch is really good about finding tea rooms for me.

4 years ago when we were here, in England, Butch went with me for his first and only high tea. We were staying at this boutique hotel in the Cotswolds. It was delightful and delicious. Butch even enjoyed it---although at one point he asked, "What exactly is "clotted cream?" Sidenote---Mindy would not touch anything with the word "clotted" in it. She's funny about words and what they describe in her mind---"congealed" is another. Anyway, later, Butch surprised me by seeking out Twinings Tea for me. I was blown away. This is the original location from the 1600's.
The shop is long and narrow. The upper walls are lined with portraits of the Twining ancestors dating back to the beginning. The lower walls are lined with shelves to house the many teas. In the back, they have tastings. Visiting here was one of the three things on my list for this trip. I walked there the very first day with my friend. Tea purchase---check.

On to my story.

Who would have thought that I'd have so much trouble having a proper tea this time?? My first two days here, there simply was not time to seek out a place for tea. The day we got to Bath, I had planned to have tea instead of lunch. I found a cute little place, went in and was seated. When I requested "high tea," I was informed that they only serve it for two people. Bummer. Oh well, I had a sandwich instead---with iced tea. I had no idea when I ordered the iced tea that it was of the bottled variety. Bummer again. At home, I even make my iced tea from loose tea---it's the best!

As I was browsing around town in Bath, I came across this:

Since I had already eaten, I just ordered a pot of tea. I sat outside and people watched. Very enjoyable and the tea was delicious. I wasn't too worried because I definitely planned to have high tea at Highclere Castle (home of Downton Abbey).

The next day we went to Oxford:
 Bampton (where the village scenes from Downton Abbey are filmed):
 The church where Mary and Matthew got married---and Edith was stood up.
This is Mrs. Crawley's house.
and Highclere Castle. Karolyn, her sisters and I purposely did not have lunch along the way---we were planning high tea at Highclere. My plan was to make reservations as soon as we got there, then tour the house. The tour guide assured me that it wasn't necessary as they have three tea rooms. When we arrived, there were about 8 tour buses and a hundred cars. I was starting to feel a little panicky---like---would we really be able to have high tea? I wanted to put tea AHEAD of touring the castle. Once again, the tour guide assured me that we wouldn't have a problem. I may not have ever mentioned that I wanted "high" tea or a "full" tea. I think I just said tea.

I guess you can figure out where I'm going with this. Well, the tour guide was correct. We did not have any trouble having "tea!" It was just not "high" tea. Turns out you have to make advance reservations prior to even getting there for that! I have to admit, tears slightly sprang to my eyes, but I quickly made myself get over it.

Elizabeth had never had tea at all, so I ordered for us. We each got a scone and some clotted cream---a pre-packaged variety. Forget the sandwiches--they, too were pre-packaged in one of those plastic containers. I was so disappointed that the tea came in those little stainless steel pots like every restaurant in the states uses. And to add insult to injury---it was a friggin' tea BAG!!!

Tea is supposed to be a ceremony!! It's a relaxing situation with soft music playing in the background. Tea is silver trays and cutlery, a china teapot and china cups. Tea is fine linens---tablecloth and napkins.Tea is supposed to steep whilst (don't you love that English word?) you examine all the goodies on the artfully arranged tiered plate. Tea is at least an hour! Instead, we went through a food line, juggled all of our stuff to an outside tableclothless table. Immediately, we were under attack by honey bees. I don't mean a few, I mean dozens. We ended up putting our stuff back on to the tacky tray and moving in to a hot and humid tent.

Although this was not what I had in mind at all, the currant scone was very good and the pre-packaged clotted cream was good too. Still, I was disappointed not to have enjoyed a proper tea in England. Those opportunities just don't come along too often!

When I got home, before I even had a chance to tell Butch about my tea-less trip, he told me that he'd found a really nice tea room for me in Oregon! We're going there with Walter and Chris in a couple of weeks. Bless his heart!!! I never knew I'd just have to come back to the states to get a proper tea!

So what do you do in England when you can't get a proper tea?
You DRINK at the oldest pub in London---The Albert!
I had their signature drink. It was unusual, but good. I'm not really a huge drinker, but I like to try new things.
We ended our trip with a nice dinner at this pub. We witnessed a proposal---and the make-out session afterwards. The people were so very nice everywhere we went.

Despite all the crazy mishaps, it was a fabulous trip. Even if I knew my trip would be exactly like it was, I'd go back in a heartbeat. It's an incredible place and I'm so thankful I got to experience it again!

Oh, one last thing:
I might have had a lot of trouble, but I had no trouble minding the gap!


  1. it's so nice to read about your time here...even if the tea wasn't up to scratch. Next time .... i'll have to take you for Afternoon tea...real tea with freshly made sandwiches and scones x x

  2. Like Louise....I could take you out for a proper English tea next time you're over.....mostly they do need to be booked in advance.....and they rarely sell them in 'tourist' spots....simply too many people to you said, a proper English tea takes time.
    So glad to hear that everyone was nice though.

  3. come and visit my little seaside town and you can have afternoon tea in Charles Dickens house!

  4. So sorry to hear you didn't get your tea! Definitely come back and we'll try to arrange a tea somewhere, or I'll just bake the scones and get Wookie to make the tea.


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