Satire, Tea and Life, Tea History, Tea Stories

Fine Words Butter No Parsnips

A small intro, before the main event.

I’ve always loved the saying “Fine Words Butter No Parsnips.” On a whim I decided to use it as a blog post title, with no idea what to write about. And then, on another whim, decided to challenge a few dozen other tea bloggers to use the same title, this week. I hope that many of them are linked in the comments below.
It also came to my attention that tea blogger @lahikmajoe – Ken McBeth Knowles – has actually used this as a blog title in the distant past. Well done, Ken.

So, I thought of all the clever metaphorical ways to build the saying into a blog post, and in the end, decided to just cheat with a serious of fictional pieces about actual parsnips, left unbuttered. I don’t know if that is necessarily a great idea, but it’s a bit too late in this whole process to be worrying about that.

So, where were we? Buttering parsnips, that’s where we were…

I recall, back in about 1630 or thereabouts, we were gathered in the scullery, it was the maids, the valets and I, and the butler was giving us a right dressing down.
“Her Ladyship is absolutely livid, and I am also inclined to be of that state. And I expressly know who it is that is burdened with the responsibility for this calumny.”
Over the rim of my cup, I saw him swivel his head to stare directly at me. And point.
“You. You are the responsible party, Sir.”
I thought it best not to respond.
“You take to spending all of your time with that cup in your hand, drinking that Chinee muck, and now, we’ve run out of butter. There be enough milk to be churned, but are you churning it? No!”
He narrowed his eyes.
“You speak of churning. You speak of the finest of butters. But when? After your cup of tay, you say, or maybe after another. And the result: Unbuttered Parsnips”.
I stared into my cup, seeking solace.


Do you remember, Clementine, how you slapped my face in 1662 in the Vauxhall Tea Gardens? When you opened the picnic basket and found just empty teacups?
And yet, what was so wrong of my plan? Sure, I had promised a salmagundi, some collops, some bread, some eggs, some buttered parsnips. But then I thought of another plan, to wander arm in arm, sustaining ourselves on the sweet nectar of our love and the vibrant taste of some excellent tea.
And yet, from that moment henceforth, in over 30 years I have never again gazed upon your person, with the memories that press in on me of your hard-set, retreating back as you stalked away, your parasol bolt upright, pointing to the Heavens as though to bring God’s judgement down upon me.


I flicked cigarette ash from the balcony as you confronted me with your anger, your blazing eyes so like the fireworks in the distance. “These men go tomorrow to the Somme. You, of all of us, know the horror that entails. And yet, you refuse to meet with them?”
I knew that speaking would work against me. I chose not to.
“Your fine words, Bertrand? What of them? You write and you write and they hold you up as a hero. As a war correspondent. As the man who tamed whole Boer regiments and now holds the nation spellbound with his typewriter.”
“And yet, when the time comes to meet them in person and bolster their courage, to firm up their mettle, to add your rich, warmth like best butter to the root vegetables of their raw courage, I find you here.”
“Smoking. Leaning. And drinking your damn tea!”


Winnie loomed up through the gloom of the bunker. He was not impressed.
“What sort of man are you, Browne?”.
I blinked. The question seemed rhetorical.
“I have six secret advisors. Not sixty. Not six hundred. Six. I can count them on one hand, er, … when my hand is holding a cigar. You are part of the most privileged group in Britain.”
“You sit down here, deciding how this nation rations its food. If a man is hungry in Kent, it’s your doing. If a farmer has two spare apples in Somerset, it’s your job to make sure there’s not a housewife in Fyfe, waiting for her husband to come back from a raid over Dresden, who is going hungry.”
“And you write such wonderful reports about the splendid job you are doing.”
He paused and I jumped in.
“Winnie, old chap… I…”.
The pause ended, and if anything, he looked more apoplectic.
“Don’t you ‘Winnie’ me, you reprobate, I’m your Prime Minister. And here’s the evidence I am putting to you.”
“This chit is for an entire crop of parsnips that should be in Dorking. They are in Colchester”.
“And this one is for a shipping container of butter, also bound for Dorking. But for some reason, in a barn in Flintshire”.
“Any idea what you were doing whilst these vital supplies where going astray?”
I merely shook my head.
“Well, here’s a clue. It’s a docket for a delivery of 100 pounds of tea.”
“And the delivery address is your house”.


I remember Johnny’s face when we found this place. Hidden away, no-one knew it was there.
He convinced Leslie, who had just inherited it from her grandparents, to drop out of college, to join us. And to sign the the house and gardens over to us.
Johnny’s buddy got all four of us into the Winterland, not to see Chuck Berry, who was headlining, but the opening act: The Grateful Dead.
After the Dead finished, we were buzzing and we walked and walked and walked.
And then we were here. The old house. The stables. The fields. The walled-off garden. And so help me, two cows.
That spring, we worked as we’d never worked before. Heck, most of us had never worked before.
We collected the milk and drank it, we churned some into butter.
We planted vegetables. Johnny had this theory that planting them all together worked best, so we had cabbages and tomatoes and broccoli and carrots and parsnips all in joyously contrived spirals and pentagrams. As the plants came forth, it was less about food and more about art.
But the loving care that Johnny took was part of the charm, and before long, the original four had swelled to a dozen or so.
And then, after a trip down to Ashbury, Johnny bought home Mandy.
Mandy bought a new emphasis. On loving everyone, all the time. All night, all day.
And she also bought with her huge quantities of acid. Her brother was the main man in the Haight-Ashbury area, it seems.
I never took it, I never wanted to be that out of control. And I tired of Mandy in no time.
But Johnny? Johnny seemed to melt. He tripped. He stayed tripped.
And in between, he sat in the garden, staring at the vegetables. Staring at the remaining cow after one perished when a tripper let it out on the road.
Johnny was our guru. When Johnny’s infectious energy had been stilled, all of us lost ours as well. Whilst the others tripped, I drank oolong. Endless cups of ooling, while the vegetables rotted into the ground and the milk remained unchurned.
By the time the Dead returned to play the Carousel a year later, Johnny had faded, the dream was over, and I went back to college to become a teacher.
Oolong remains my only connection to those days so long ago.


I sipped my Lord Petersham as I waited for the others.
Silently they filed in.
“It’s a decade and a half since we formed this company, just before the new millennium kicked off” said Connor, looking around the table.
“And we’ve survived downturns – in fact we’ve thrived as we’ve bought up distressed farmers and agri-businesses. We’ve never let a division go under.”
“But the butter business is no longer sustainable. We have to cut them loose. I’ve found a buyer out of Argentina to take it a good price. And sadly, this means Dennis will be leaving the Board, and the company, as his division folds.”
I wanted to object. I wanted to say that we promised those villagers jobs when we tore down half their village and replaced it with processing plant a few years ago. I wanted to point out that Dennis had dedicated every waking moment to the Company, at a terrible personal cost. But I am a coward, and my own division of vegetable growing would be safe, I hoped.
“This then gives us a problem with our line of roasted, buttered and frozen vegetables. We can’t afford them without the cheap butter.”
He looked at me: “Sorry, Christina, you’re out.”
I looked and listened, but no-one would catch my eye, and no-one uttered any fine words to save me.


I’m now the oldest, and since Boris passed yesterday, the only one on board who saw old Earth.
The children of the Ark gathered at my feet. Their parents and their grandparents, and in some cases great-grandparents, were born out here, in the vastness of space, as we sped toward our new home. A new home still two dozen years’ distant, a new home I doubted I’d see.
It’s my duty now.
I spoke of Earth, and how we had corrupted it. And how we few were all that were left. Of the war of 2115, and how there was nothing left to fight over. And no way to live upon the once green surface.
“But we have hope.”, I finished staring at children ranging from rapt to bored. “We have cargo holds full of hope”.
“We have the DNA of trees and plants and animals. All of them. Well, most of them.”
“And when we arrive, we will bring forth such a paradise, where people learn to love each other and the planet.”
“And we will no longer live off nutrient-dense ship’s rations, but grow things under the sun and in the soil.”
“Whilst we gaze upon the forests and the antelopes, the farms and the horses, the carefully built cities and the endless plain, we will live, and love, and be content.”
“We’ll sip tea, and munch on buttered parsnips, and tell the stories we need to remember.”

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Tea and Life

The Elongated and Meandering Tea Road***

Sometimes, you just need a bit of a review. Am I doing what I set out to do? And do I care?

As I sat down to get a bit of a start on post number 266 to this blog – that would be this post – I looked through a few stats.

  • 265 posts since Feb 7th 2011 on this blog.
  • About 30 posts to other blogs since that time.

So, I wonder what it is about this blog that keeps me coming back? And, have I achieved my aims? What were my aims?

Here’s the first, and shortest, blog I ever posted here in its entirety.

Why, Oh Why?
Ok, so I have a blog. And a bunch of videos.

The thing is, tea is fun, and fascinating, and can be very light-hearted, as well as heart-lightening.

So outside of my very serious blog, and my informative videos, I need a space to have fun.

I mean, three billion cups are drunk everyday. Someone somewhere is having fun. Whether it’s a Tibetan with the traditional brew with added salt an rancid yak butter, or some poor unfortunate soul that thinks teabags are acceptable, fun can be added to every cup.

So, let the fun begin…

So, that was the idea. A bit of less serious fun. I’d discovered Tea Trade via Twitter and wanted to give it a go. At the time, my “serious” tea blog had about 10 posts. (It eventually had one more.) And my serious-ish non-tea blog had about 30. (It’s had two since.) I was a tea video-blogger, but that sort of died away.

Post number two started with some light banter, but then settled down into what it really was – a eulogy and a comment on the transitory nature of life.

Are we having fun yet? Not according to the touching comments.

The third one is just a memory piece. Not great art. Not memorable in itself, but the theme of tea and memory, occurring in posts 2 and 3, is one I never seem to tire of. Again, some of the comments are lovely.

The ‘fun’ kicks in about post 5, with an anti-chamomile rant.

Then Post 6 is where I declare that I am moving all my tea blogging to this site. I even give a round-up for what some people might have missed, in a very generous and giving- or ego-maniacal – way, depending on who is telling the story.

And then it starts. A massive rant, Cafe Quackery: The Great Tea Bag Rip-off.

To some people, my defining post. I’d already made a video on the topic.

So, I was searching this stuff out to see what had changed. And there are a few things.

  • My friend Rick suggested I start video blogging. My witty wife came up with the answer to one issue: My identity. “Robert Godden” was a lousy name for a fearless tea video blogger. So she created “The Devotea” . So I adopted that name. And then started referring to her on this blog as “Mrs Devotea” to protect her anonymity. And then promoted her to “Lady Devotea”  as she has too much class to be anything else… and then we launched “The Devotea” as a tea brand. And people started reacting as though the brand was me, and not the pair of us. So I renamed myself “Lord Devotea”, because I’m married to a Lady. Are you still with me?
  • I used to just use tea as an excuse to write about whatever the hell I want. Oh, hang on, that one’s not changed.
  • Fun is great, but it is no longer mandatory.

But some things haven’t changed. It’s still Lady Devotea, and I, and tea, against the world!

But the unexpected thing I found, looking back on those posts from about four years ago, is the generosity of people willing to comment. It’s never wavered.

And I am extraordinarily proud to say that of the first 10 people to ever comment, we have now met 6. In London, in Melbourne, in New York, in Virginia, in Las Vegas. And so many more people in so many more places.

What I failed to mention in the first blog was that blogging makes you strong, lasting friendships, untroubled by distance. and so I’ll sip my Lord Petersham* and finish this piece knowing that our friends will be glad** to see it turn up in their Twitter stream or Facebook newsfeed.


 

*Just snuck the tea in there

** Could be that  “generous and giving” vs “ego-maniacal” situation again.

*** I could have used a Paul McCartney song title as my blog title, but he’s a bit of an embarrassment these days. Also he’d probably send me a bill.

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Tea and Life

Quote Me On That

I had an idea for a blog, and here it is. Unusually, it relies on other people.Leo_Rauth_Five_O'Clock_Tea with quote

Ten years ago, any reference consulted would come up with the same dozen quotes about tea. Ignoring Eleanor Roosevelt,  as she explicitly mentions bagged tea, or actually worse, is all about the bag, you get a bit of Samuel Johnson, CS Lewis, maybe some Lu Yu, maybe some Jerome K. Jerome for the adventurous.

Over the last few years, I’ve gone out of my way to actually invent some quotes. Many of them were put in boxes using a tool that is sadly a victim of the recent malware attack on Tea Trade, the site that hosts this blog, although they live on over at Pinterest.

Now, some of mine are a little strong for general consumption and convey some of my own beliefs quite firmly – such as:

“A paper bag, a staple and a piece of string are a much a part of a great tea experience as ritual disembowelment is part of a successful figure skating routine”

Some are quite pithy:

“You have one teahole and two ears. The more tea you drink, the more you will listen and the smarter you will become.”

And one gets a lot of attention:

“It is tea time right now, somewhere. Or anywhere.”

Anyway, my idea was to just ask people on Facebook and Twitter what their favourite tea quotes are, to see if the old staples came up. To make it interesting, I suggested people could also just quote themselves.

Straight away, one author came up. Three times in the first four quotes. The author? Not Lu Yu. Not Robert Fortune. Not even me. But the incomparable, unbeatable genius of the late, lamented Douglas Adams.

Tea Blogger Nicole Martin threw this one at me:

He had found a Nutri-Matic machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea. The way it functioned was very interesting. When the Drink button was pressed it made an instant but highly detailed examination of the subject’s taste buds, a spectroscopic examination of the subject’s metabolism and then sent tiny experimental signals down the neural pathways to the taste centers of the subject’s brain to see what was likely to go down well. However, no one knew quite why it did this because it invariably delivered a cupful of liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.

And my Facebook friend and Jim’s Caravan lover David Willanski added:

“No,” Arthur said, “look, it’s very, very simple…. All I want… is a cup of tea. You are going to make one for me. Now keep quiet and listen.”

And he sat. He told the Nutro-Matic about India, he told it about China, he told it about Ceylon. He told it about broad leaves drying in the sun. He told it about silver teapots. He told it about summer afternoons on the lawn. He told it about putting the milk in before the tea so it wouldn’t get scalded. He even told it (briefly) about the East India Trading Company.

“So that’s it, is it?” said the Nutro-Matic when he had finished.

“Yes,” said Arthur. “That is what I want.”

“You want the taste of dried leaves boiled in water?”

“Er, yes. With milk.”

“Squirted out of a cow?”

“Well in a manner of speaking, I suppose…”

“I’m going to need some help with this one.”

And to top it off, Nicole chimed back in with:

“A cup of tea would restore my normality.”

In amongst the Adams-fest, Blogger Nami Rosen threw in one of the classics:

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” C.S. Lewis

And then there were a few originals. Annelise Pitt of Thistledown Cozies went with:

“I like my men like I like my tea – hot and loose.”

And Julia Arrasmith-Matson of Bingley’s Teas skipped the chance to throw a Jane Austen quote in and went with one of her own, the thought provoking

“Tea needs nothing from me”

Over on Twitter, a traditional Chinese thread was happening. Tea Blogger Eleonora Byron added:

“Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one.” (Ancient Chinese proverb)

Not to be out-Chinesed, Julie Mitchell offered:

 “Tea is the Elixir of Life.” (Lao Tzu)

And then added:

“All you need is tea and warm socks.” (not sure who said that one)

I hadn’t heard it or had any idea who said it, and found out that it’s actually the name of a blog set up as, well, let’s say a fan site, as opposed to a bit of a shrill, for a large tea company.

In other words, someone doing what I’ve tried to do at times, leverage tea sales off an original quote.

I was contacted by a chap called Jace Lion Repshire. His original contribution, a nice little pun is really good:

“Steep With One Eye Open”

Well, I’m almost there, but I’m going to finish with quotes from three ladies who add a lot to my tea drinking experience: Firstly, let’s go with Verna L. Hamilton. A blogger and author, Verna pours out tea-infused motivational quotes at a frenetic rate. The way she writes – and I’ve heard her speak live – always make me feel she has no concept of “low key”. When reading a quote by Verna, it’s best to find a mirror and shout it at yourself for the full effect. And the quotes come daily, although it sometimes feels like hourly.

Here’s the one I’ve gone with:

“Good morning good #tea people! Devoting energy/effort to a fruitless pursuit is like drinking tea out of a cracked cup. Do better. #DrinkTea”

In order to calm down from that experience, it’s best to turn to artist and tea poet Jo Powell-Johnson. Jo’s site Scandalous Tea Blog is also hosted on Tea Trade, and the result is that thousands of images have been lost, many showing her wonderful jewellery and offering inspiring poetry. Luckily, I wrote one down a while back:

“Weathering the storm, wrapped in the warmth of the brew, blanketed by leaves”

This has been quite an interesting blog to curate and collect, rather than write. Over the course of it I have drunk two teas from The Devotea : an Iced Fleurs de Provence and a hot Apple & Cranberry White Tea Concoction. The latter was developed by the inestimable Lady Devotea herself, and so as I reach the end of the cup, I’ll leave it to a quote by her to finish us off:

“The very making of a cuppa is cathartic, and the drinking of it can transport us to tea fields distant” (Anne Drury-Godden/Lady Devotea)

So, I’ll see you all soon in tea fields distant.

 

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Tea and Life, Tea Stories

Random Thoughts of a Tea Stained Mind

Sitting here, I’m considering my commitment to blogging at least once a week. Throughout the week I collect ideas, some of which I jot down, some of which take off like wildfire and some of which I forget.

I could have skipped it, because last week I released two, one a poem on Beasts of Brewdom, which I now need to fix up.

Why? We’ll discuss that later.

Next week’s blog post will be an absolute ripper, as we say in Australia. But (a) I am waiting on contributions from others and (b) I’ve said that before.

So, as I sip my second tea for the day – a Lord Petersham to follow the Doke Rollin Thunder I had first up today, I consider the ideas I have for today’s blog.

Speaking of Lord Petersham, my first idea was to run a detailed keyword analysis to see if the fact that our tea was named after him made any difference to the level of interest in this basically forgotten Regency nobleman. Interestingly enough, Google groups together “Lord Petersham” with “Earl (of) Harrington” (his actual title once he acceded to it later in life) and the mysterious “Lord Stanhope” which mixes his title with his surname.
I found that as a percentage of the times searched, ‘Lord Petersham’ has gradually become a bigger percentage of the group. Which is exciting news, but not earth shattering. Not whole-blog-worthy.

So, I then considered my second idea: when does big become bad?

We’ve got the opportunity to snatch a little business from one of the truly massive tea companies – one of the top 3 in terms of revenue. If we were to win this business they would hardly notice, but it would be important to us.

It got me thinking: most tea companies start out small. And idealistic. Most stay that way or wither away. Some become moderately medium sized. Some grow quite successful and large. And some become behemoths.

In tea, most of the very large companies have several characteristics: poor tea, exploitation, commoditisation of tea into basically a delivery mechanism for tasteless stained water.

And my thought was: where is that point? Where does passion for tea become passion for profits?

A great idea for a blog, but I realised I actually don’t have an answer. If I find one, then I might blog on this at some stage.

And then, during the week whilst coming up with ideas, something very bad happened.

Our hosts, Tea Trade, were hit with several waves of Malware attacks, as well as significant spam attacks. And one of those attacks hit home.

Tea Trade is a site that means a lot to many people. At its heart are Jackie and Peter Davenport, who conceived it, built it and keep it going as a labour of love.

There’s always new sites, new technologies. Fads come and go. Users come and go. People I used to talk to via Tea Trade’s messenger I now just chat to on Facebook. Great tea bloggers no longer blog on tea.

But Tea Trade is there for us. For us, it hosts the satirical Beasts of Brewdom, it hosts the international hub that sends our customers to their local distributor, and it hosts this blog. A blog that has currently 263 posts over about five years. A blog that obviously means a great deal to me.

Over that time, we’ve visited Spain, and the UK and the USA, and on each occasion have met with firm friends we first met on Tea Trade. You know who you are. In fact, the whole Tea Trade community knows who they are.

What means even more is that on our American soujourn, we accepted an invitation to stay with Jackie and Pete. They threw open their home to Lady Devotea and myself: a scary thought if you’ve read me at my rantiest. We have many fine memories of the USA, but none more so than sitting at their kitchen table, talking all night in our refusal to admit that we might have to leave when the sun arose.

So, I’m going to end my thoughts here-ish. I have a fair bit of work in fixing problems with our sites, re-adding pictures that have been lost, realigning oddly arranged poems, all sorts. Work I’m going to do without complaint.

Sure, we could have moved our blog elsewhere. Many times it has seemed to make sense.

But nothing is more important than friends and community: Tea Trade is both.

Pete and Jackie are working tirelessly to bring Tea Trade back to full functionality – and it looks like they are almost there.

I ask all my readers to raise their teacup to Tea Trade, truly a pivotal touchstone in the building of our tea bloggers community, and to Jackie and Peter, pioneers and friends.

 

 

 

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Satire, Tea and Life, Tea Stories

The Teapot of The Covenant

As I may have mentioned in passing on my 27 squillion tweets, plethora of Facebook rants or even within the hallowed walls of this prestigious blog, I have quite a Shania Twain attitude to religion: It don’t impress me much.

Much like Ms. Twain’s grammar, pretty well all religion is questionable. Sure, the Buddhists say a few nice things. There’s a considerable amount of people who help people less fortunate than themselves citing religious motivation. And the Hare Krishna’s have an incredible array of excellent vegetarian dishes.

But sadly too much of it is either just plain irrelevant and stupid (Zen Koan, anyone? “What is the sound of a zebra’s stripes?”) or far far worse, a simple and simplistic excuse for the very worst of humanity: “My God is better than yours, and here’s a hand grenade to show what an excellent and well-reasoned basis I have for believing this.”

Usually on the subject of religion, I confine myself to taking the names of various deities in vain- “For God’s sake, hand over that vanilla slice”,  “By Jupiter, I’ll wager that’s going to make a fine cup of tea”, “This is an exceptional sponge cake, by Vectron’s Purple Toothbrush Holder” and so forth.

One of the weirdest texts around is something called “The Bible”. It is a collection of anecdotes, many of which are demonstrably inaccurate: conversations between two people that the historical record shows lived 500 years apart, for example.

The way it was put together is like this: imagine you run a short story competition entitled ” A cool thing that happened a few hundred years ago”. And you’re not allowed to use the Internet, you need to base it solely on the stories your father told you about his father’s father’s father, who happened to be in a nearby café when the trial/stoning/crucifixion/sermon/wanton act of lust took place.

You send it to a judging panel of learned men in pointy hats who are busily accumulating great wealth and suppressing the ordinary folk, and they pick the ones they like, stick ‘em all in a book and use words like “testament’ and “gospel” to reinforce the fact that they have decided it’s now true.

Then a millennium and a half later, the book gets translated from a translation of the original, and put into a modern context and setting, in exactly the same way that Romeo and Juliet became West Side Story, except the King James Bible has less catchy tunes.

So, we have a bit of a dog’s breakfast. (Sadly, a dog’s breakfast without any tea in it.)

Many people decide to live their lives roughly along the lines of this book, using it as an allegory, a cautionary tale. Such as “Jesus wants me to be nice to people, so I’ll be nice to people”.  That’s OK. “It also says you should discriminate against people with poor eyesight, but I won’t”. Another healthy choice, in my opinion.

However, there are also people to whom a simile is like a will-o-the-wisp, a metaphor is as unknown as a drowning beagle reciting Keats and an allegory is a kind of crocodile. These are the literalists, the people that believe that a 20th century interpretation of the third rewrite of a 16th century translation of various 4th century texts in four different languages based on oral histories of events 1000 to 300 years previously is the exact word of their particular God, right down to the last divine semi-colon.

Phew, I don’t know about you, but I regularly find myself in the supermarket having completely forgotten what I came for, so I’m not sure my 300- to 1000- year long-term memory is entirely reliable. But not these literalists: for them, the Bible they have in their hands is the literal word of God. Literally. Not figuratively. They literally figure it’s the literal, non-figurative word of God.

There are others, of course, who have a Holy Book and treat it in the same manner, often to horrific effect. But this story is about Ron. And Ron was a literalist.

On TV the other day was an excellent TV special “Raider Ron and The Lost Ark”.

Ron Wyatt was a self-appointed archaeologist and actual anaesthetics nurse, who claimed many discoveries. All of these discoveries happen to support the literal interpretation of the Bible, and would be excellent evidence thereof, if there was any actual evidence of the evidence.

Sadly, a serious of misfortunes and a few alleged cover-ups by alleged vested interests have allegedly denied him the alleged evidence. Allegedly.
For example, after a few practice dives in a swimming pool back home, Ron and his two sons dived in the Red Sea, and found the best possible evidence of the Biblical tale of Moses parting the red sea – a golden chariot probably belonging to the Pharaoh who was unwise enough to chase Moses and Co. across the parted seas. Full marks to Ron for finding this within ten minutes of diving, after 2000 years’ worth of Red Sea divers failed to spot it. Unfortunately, Ron by this time was very sunburned, so they returned to their hotel, where they discovered that the camera that they had used to document this find had “got drowned” according to Ron’s son.

After becoming a champion against the conspiracy that the fossilised remains of Noah’s Ark is really just a geological structure – a silly idea believed by as few as 99.999% of people who understand such things- Ron decided to go after the big one – The Ark of The Covenant.

For those who skipped both the Book of Exodus and Raiders of The Lost Ark, this is a storage unit (Ark from the Hebrew meaning chest or little cupboard) with a bunch of stuff in it, the most notable being the stone tablets on which God inscribed the 10 Commandments and then gifted them to Moses, who was sitting about on a mountain top awaiting them. (I believe there was also burning of some herbal substances mentioned in the official reports).

So, quite a decent souvenir. Of course, it hasn’t been seen for a couple of millennia since the sack of the King Solomon’s temple, so Ron needed some help to find it. Luckily, as he was walking through Jerusalem,  he came over all possessed-like, spoke in a different voice and pointed at where a grotto could be found, with the Ark in it. Happens to archaeologists all the time, according to none of them.

Happy Days! Now to just dig it up.

Over the next few years, Ron and his sons dug on the spot, which was on private land luckily, and they had no official permission, what with some Zionist conspiracy making sure the Israeli Government would only give dig permits to people who hold actual archaeological qualifications.

It was basically solid rock, and yet they persisted. Eventually, after several cracks at it, they were at a point where both of Ron’s sons had returned to the US and he was flying solo. He was working on a small hole in a very big rock.


SIDEBAR:Now I must warn you, I’ve written some long and involved blog posts before, where there is little or no mention of tea until way, way down, in a thinly disguised exercise of actually writing about something else. But I think this one sets new standards. Thank you for your patience, teapot arriving shortly.


So, back in his hotel; room, the story goes that Ron was mucking about with a camera, the type you stick in people’s orifices if you are a trained medical professional, as indeed Ron was. He stuck it in his teapot, and he realised that he could use it to peer into the rock.

FB_IMG_13924186342767398IN HIS TEAPOT! That’s the opening I was looking for. And even more exciting, the teapot used in the dramatisation by the actor playing Ron was by the London Pottery Co, and the exact model is our favourite all-purpose pot for 2 to 4.

Yes, we call it “Perdie” after Perdita, the mother in the Disney adaptation of 101 Dalmations. And it’s nice to be able to say that, in some small way, an actor using a prop teapot connects us to Ron. (And also justifies this blog). Right now, every time we make a cuppa with Perdie, we refer to her as “The Teapot of The Covenant”.

In archaeology there is saying “Lack of evidence is not evidence of lack”. Just because no-one’s ever found a discarded sword in a spot, doesn’t mean a mediaeval battle wasn’t fought there. Just because Ron never produced the evidence, doesn’t mean he didn’t find the things he said.

But it isn’t just a stack of failures to provide evidence. It’s dodgy science, sneering contempt for other religions, quoting Egyptology books from 1824 as though they were the most up-to-date interpretations of the facts and incredible leaps of logic through flaming hoops of unlikelihood that make the Wyatt Archaeological Resources site such a hoot.

Ron is no longer with us, his supporters presumably believe he has taken the opportunity to meet with his God and discuss all these things first hand. Of course, if he ended up chatting to Osiris, it might have been a tad awkward.

With his myriad faults, it’s easy to dismiss Ron as a crank, a liar, a conman. It’s very easy to use the tools I have at my disposal: logic, science, evidence, sarcasm. But I should temper that by acknowledging that I too, have a belief system, and that it partly fuels this post.

I think the the world needs its loons and oddballs, because they enliven what could be a very dull time we all have here on Earth. Perhaps I’m being charitable, but I prefer to see Ron Wyatt as a dreamer, and his dreams were so vivid that be truly believed he’d actually seen them in real life.

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Tea and Life, Tea History, Tea Stories, Uncategorized

She and He and Tea

Tea has been caught in the crossfire of a battle that is ostensibly between men and women for hundreds of years now.

Why bother, you might ask? You might say “Don’t we have gender equality now? Not only for men and women, but also every variation of gender and sexuality therein. It’s it, like, the law and everything”.

cycling twatWell, here’s a photo I snapped from the TV this week.  It shows a young man by the name of Jack Bobridge who was clever enough to win a stage of a bicycle race in my hometown of Adelaide.
And it shows two attractive young women, provided for the purposes of kissing his cheeks for the big photo opportunity.

Really? This is 2015? Even The Sun, the infamously sexist British newspaper has announced this week that the women they objectify on page 3 will no longer be topless. It’s start, I guess.

Of course, there’s more to it than attractiveness and showing some skin. The world is full of beautiful paintings of women (and men, though that’s not the point) and they all have one characteristic – they offer a multi-dimensional array of expression that The Sun could never have hoped to equal with its basic premise, which is “Mandy is a 36DD cup, here’s photographic proof.”

Returning to professional cycling, which is incredibly testosterone-fuelled (some competitors have actually been identified as injecting testosterone), I’m also going to note that it seems to often be identified with a beverage: coffee. It’s not coffee’s fault, but rather the attitude.

If you can ride a bike for a stupid amount of kilometres and drink a three shot latte, you must be a man. If you are the best in the world at it, you get the double kiss photo to prove your superiority to other men. The women are merely an indicator; a status symbol.

So, let’s turn to what women are doing about it, and where tea is involved. We’ll start in  1674, with an excerpt from the infamous petition against coffeehouses, which served coffee, tea and hot chocolate, and where men tended to hang out with other men:

“For besides, we have reason to apprehend and grow Jealous, That Men by frequenting these Stygian Tap-houses will usurp on our Prerogative of tattling, and soon learn to exceed us in Talkativeness: a Quality wherein our Sex has ever Claimed preheminence: For here like so many Frogs in apuddle, they sup muddy water, and murmur insignificant notes till half a dozen of them out-babble an equal number of us at a Gossipping, talking all at once in Confusion, and running from point to point as insensibly, and swiftly, as ever the Ingenous Pole-wheel could run divisions on the Base-viol; yet in all their prattle every one abounds in his own sense, as stiffly as a Quaker at the late Barbican Dispute, and submits to the Reasons of no othre mortal: so that there being neitherModerator nor Rules observ’d, you mas as soon fill a Quart pot with Syllogismes, as profit by their Discourses”

"Edenton-North-Carolina-women-Tea-boycott-1775" by Attributed to Philip Dawe - Edited from the image file http://memory.loc.gov/master/pnp/cph/3g00000/3g04000/3g04600/3g04617u.tif on the Library of Congress website.http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3g04617http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3a15070. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Edenton-North-Carolina-women-Tea-boycott-1775.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Edenton-North-Carolina-women-Tea-boycott-1775.jpg

“Edenton North Carolina women Tea boycott-1775″ Attributed to Philip Dawe the Library of Congress Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

 

There was another landmark instance of tea being involved in equality, and it was by women, but the issue was colonial rights, not gender equality. It was the boycott of British Goods, by women, and the famous Tea Party in North Carolina:

“As we cannot be indifferent on any occasion that appears nearly to affect the peace and happiness of our country, and as it has been thought necessary, for the public good, to enter into several particular resolves by a meeting of Members deputed from the whole Province, it is a duty which we owe, not only to our near and dear connections who have concurred in them, but to ourselves who are essentially interested in their welfare, to do every thing as far as lies in our power to testify our sincere adherence to the same; and we do therefore accordingly subscribe this paper, as a witness of our fixed intention and solemn determination to do so.”

Whilst it was the Tea Tax Act that precipitated this, tea was not the major issue, although it’s been maligned ever since in certain quarters.

Again, tea was used as a powerful symbol of an idea, and we still speak of another event as “the Boston Tea Party” today, although that term was not created until decades after the event it describes.

So at first, tea was part of the problem. It was mainly drunk by men (brewing it at home was not common or affordable back then) and was part of a system of exclusion of women.

How things changed. By the intercession of people such as Thomas Twinning, a market was created for women to buy tea (or have their servants do it) and brew it at home (or have their servants do it) and serve it to their friends (or have their servants do it).

The next innovations were tea rooms,  but it was in tea gardens where men and women could stroll, converse, take tea and pay court to each other that we see some stirrings  of equality.

By this time, in the mid to late 1800s, tea was no longer the enemy of women, but a neutral if reliable ally.

This changes with the temperance movement.

For much of human history, alcohol was a survival mechanism. Ales and wines protected against drinking the polluted city drinking water, and in many cases provided much-needed calories.
But as both sanitation and water quality improved, sugar became affordable and beverages made from boiling water became readily available, there was a reluctance to leave them behind.

But by the mid 1800s, pubs were in the same position as coffeehouses two hundred years earlier. In the 1600s men were avoiding going home to wine, ale and gin and spending their money and time drinking tea, coffee and chocolate with other men. By the time of the first stirrings of temperance in the 1820s, men were eschewing the tea, coffee and chocolate of home for the ale, wine and gin of pubs and spending their money there, drinking with other men.

It wasn’t just women leading the temperance movement, religion had a place. Early American temperance was more about not drinking whiskey on the Sabbath, and in 1847 the Rev Jabez Tunnicliff started preaching to children in Leeds, UK, on the evils of drink, eventually founding Band of Hope, a charity dedicated to rescuing young people from alcoholism. (It survives today as the drug and alcohol charity Hope.)

But with the exception of suffrage, few political movements are as identified with women as temperance. Indeed, many of the suffragettes learnt their craft as protesters for temperance, and its extreme cousin, the teetotal movement.

We often see in film, scheming women scheming over a cup of tea. It has become a signal of the female who takes charge, who has power or at least wants it. The Queen drinks it, and who’d ever argue with Her Majesty? No-one with any brains. She may no longer have the option of “Off with his head!” literally, but I think she’d be able to do it figuratively any day of the week.

Head into any really expensive tea room, and there’s a fair gender balance. But find a mid level one, putting on a nice afternoon tea, and it’s packed to the rafters with women. I’ve been the only male (other that serving staff) in a room of a few dozen tea drinkers on more than one occasion.

You have to wonder what it is all those women are plotting and scheming over tea and scones. The downfall of men? Peace on Earth? Theoretical Physics? Whatever happened to Corey Hart? Culottes vs Slacks? The enduring legacy of Lord Petersham and the overcoat he invented?

Probably all this and more. Although there’s one thing I’ve never overheard in a tea shop.

I’ve never heard women discussing their life’s ambition to kiss a sweaty, Lycra-clad, testosterone-fuelled cyclist.

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Tea and Food, Tea and Life, Tea Retail, Tea Stories

Temperance Tantrum: Get Off My Lawn!

As I have remarked before, there is a tea for every emotion, every occasion.  I have many times mentioned those occasions and/or occasions.

I drink Lord Petersham* if Downton Abbey is on the TV. Doke Silver Needle (with corn chips on the side) if I have a migraine. 1910* if bacon and early morning conversation is on the menu. And so on.

When we owned our tea shop, we had a customer who would come in and describe her mood in one or a few words: ‘whimsical’, ‘running on empty’, ‘elated’ and ‘over-monsignored**’ remain in my memory. Each time, we’d select just the right tea.

Even as recently as a few days ago, a guy whose Queen instructional guitar videos I love  (James Rundle, look him up on facebook if you need to play any Queen song ever released) was posting from the line outside the current tour and then from within. I didn’t exactly count, but I think it was 3156 photos, 746 videos and 3761 observations. This led me to think: what tea goes with seething with jealousy? In the end I drank some Seaside Rendezvous*** to get with the vibe.

But this leads me to the point of today’s blog: what about times where quality tea is so ingrained that one does not need to think about? Where it is just expected? In this case: Afternoon Tea.

Whether you call it Afternoon Tea or High Tea (let’s not have that argument here) I’d have to say there is a massively worrying trend.

A few years ago such an event would consist of delectable comestibles, wave after wave of excellent loose leaf tea and for those who like to indulge, a glass of Pimms No 1 or perhaps a flute of champagne.

Often this is reflected in the way the pricing is presented. For example, the Dorchester in Park Lane has a price with or without a glass of champagne and with or without a glass or Pimms.

In other words, why not add a nice cold, alcoholic drink to your afternoon tea experience? And indeed, it’s a fair question.

But lately, I see two worrying trends:

  • The march back to loose leaf tea has been halted, with even quite large establishments seemingly believing that it’s OK to cheat your customers by using teab*gs.
  • The idea of unlimited alcohol packages.

What? Really? What? Really?

Part of this, I am sure, is an idea that as Afternoon Tea becomes less of an event to take your Mum**** to and more of a get-together by 20-somethings (a group I am old and grumpy enough to criticise), the venues may believe they are catering to the needs of a growing consumer segment.

But surely the environment of small treats and civilised conversation cannot stand up to the truly awful swathe of destruction caused by a group of young professionals who are off their noodles by 3.15 in the afternoon?

A group whose day has consisted of skipping breakfast, checking facebook because they can’t remember what they did the night before and then filling up on sugary cakes and sparkling wine might well behave themselves. They might also dance on tables. Who knows? It’s hard for proto-adults – as many under 30s actually are – to act in a civilised manner at the best of times.

Now, I must say over the years I have met many young people – the youngest being 4 – who take tea incredibly seriously and wouldn’t dream of misbehaving.

So, I’m going to mention the Temperance movement. The one either side of the turn of the 20th century.

Contrary to popular belief these days, it was not a campaign to stamp out alcohol (though that was its stupid conclusion in the US), it was an attempt to stamp out anti-social behaviour. Mostly men blowing their week’s wages on the way home in a bar or fighting and public drunkenness.

These days, we like to fight such issues by understanding the social pressures which lead to these occurrences, and good on us, we’re all really clever until it goes wrong and then in can’t be helped and we can all wring our hands. There’s a young irish tourist in Australia fighting for his life right now after a drunken punch from his brother.

Unlimited drink packages encourage people to drink unlimited drinks. Afternoon tea should be a relaxed, civilised affair. It’s not the perfect combination.

Wonderfully presented food and  quality teaware, filled with gorgeous tea, is not sullied by the presence of a jug of Pimm’s all kitted out with fruit and mint. It is sullied by obnoxious high pitched laughter, drunken arguments and someone vomiting on the ribbon sandwiches.

To take another tack, why promote these events as Afternoon Tea? Surely venues wishing to go down that path can thaw out some supermarket frozen cocktail pies, get some corn chips into a bowl and call it by a more suitable name, like Cocktail Party, Drinks Arvo or Barf-a-thon.

So, I say, Temperance 2015 starts here. Let’s get unlimited drink packages out of the tea rooms and get drunken family brawls back where they belong: at weddings and funerals.

Perhaps we won’t organise marches in the street, but we can start by gently and politely criticising those who promote such events.
Let’s do it over a cup of tea. Now, which one?

 


*Links are to the USA shop. Head here if the Australian store is required. The UK is currently not active.

** The lady in question worked for the Catholic Church as a librarian
***Not available in the USA, sorry. And being phased out in Australia.

**** Not my Mum. She has no tea palate whatsoever and is quite frankly an embarrassment. When she was in hospital once, she asked ME to take in her favourite brand of teab*gs. ME! The whole thing haunts me to this day.

 

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Tea and Life, Tea History

A Trolley Good Time

The Tea Lady is virtually a mythical figure these days. Once an essential part of any medium sized business; the post is now reduced to a couple of stereotypes.

In my part of the world, they finally seem to have totally disappeared in the early 1990s, although the die was cast a couple of decades earlier.

I blame “Time and Motion Experts”. Remember those guys? They had a stopwatch and a calculator, and they stood behind people and worked out how much work they could pump out in a given time. Then workplaces such as factories could insist upon that work being completed.

I had a factory job on a muffler welding line when I was in my early 20s and every task had a number of seconds it was supposed to take. The reality was, when people got to the number of items they were supposed to have completed in a shift, they’d stop. Sometimes they’d go and help someone else who was behind in their work, mostly they’d hide outside in the yard with an iced coffee and a cigarette for an hour.

“Time and Motion” Experts have, over time, been shown up for the complete waste of resources they were. The standard version is a guy with a stopwatch, a calculator, a clipboard, an accounting degree and a complete lack of understanding of behavioral economics, who made stupid pronouncements, put in a large bill and then wandered off to cause misery and mayhem elsewhere.
And it was as business became entranced with these charlatans that the demise of the tea lady was complete.
There were other forces at work. The idea of a tea “lady” was bound to come up against notions of gender equality, and was unlikely to be a role that educated young women with the world at their feet would aspire to. Whereas previous generations of office workers could not leave their desks, the gradual phasing out of smoking in the workplace led to the extraordinary idea that nicotine junkies had the special status of being able to leave their workplace to indulge in their foul and anti-social habit every so often.

The ironic thing that underlies all of this is that tea ladies were mostly introduced during wartime to boost productivity.

Yes, it’s true. The theory being that if people who were working very hard on typical wartime pursuits such as moving information about, creating armaments or directing forces could be refreshed and energised with a nice hot cup of tea without leaving their station, more could be achieved.

And you know what- it worked.

Pretty obvious when you think about it. Slow release caffeine, topping up of bodily liquids, a sweet treat and a small bit of office gossip delivered in one hit. The perfect pick-me-up.

The same theory holds for a cup of coffee delivered in the same way, of course, except that coffee is not ideal as the caffeine is more of an instant hit and dissipates more quickly.

So, something that was introduced to boost productivity – and worked – eventually fell victim to various social forces including the just plain wrong assertion that removing it boosted productivity.

When I was working at a large company in the early 2000s, I simply took 15 minutes just before 11am and 3pm precisely and headed to the kitchen with my large teapot. As the hour struck, up to a dozen people from all over the building would drift in to share whatever tea I had bought along that day. Since a few of the people involved were quite senior, everyone assumed it was some sort of officially sanctioned activity. Eventually it lead to The Humorous Incident.

I’m a big fan of the meeting over a cuppa, and wherever I can, it’s something I indulge in. If you have to have a meeting, might as well have a teapot, I say.

It’s a fact, though, that many people in their workplaces cannot just pop out to meet a client or some other stakeholder over a brew as I like to. Many people cannot leave their station, whether it be the booth of a car park, the ninth cubicle in the second row on the left or a front counter.

I doubt there’s a better way to boost their morale, productivity and blood sugar than tea and a biscuit.

So, where to from here? Let’s be practical. How do workplaces bring back the tea lady?

It’s not via help-yourself methods such as vending machines or filthy teab*gs in the kitchen.

Vending machines in particular irk me, as they are full of corner shop type impulse buys – chocolate bars, potato chips, oat bars. The joy of a small biscuit or cake is often that they are not in your eyeline every time you buy a newspaper. And these machines dispense foul, substandard beverages. Powdered milk, or even worse, “non-dairy creamer”, which as I previously examined, is basically so wrong that it is used as an explosive and is not allowed to be sold as “creamer” in countries where it’s against the law to lie to your customers.

No! You can do so much better.

The first thing a workplace needs is a conveyance, be it trolley or tray, and a conveyor, which can well be someone who also has another task. Sadly, so few places have workplace cafeterias these days, which is an obvious place for a tea lady to work when not delivering tea.

We have to drop the “lady” as it is clearly not a gender-specific role. “Tea boy” is a well established alternative but just isn’t right. I myself was effectively the office tea lady for several years – and was called that – but we need a better term. So what to use?

Corporate speak would be “Beverage Requirement Facilitator” and I think we can safely say that’s a non-starter. We could borrow the word “sommelier” from wine, but I personally disapprove of using overblown winespeak – something I have opposed since Alexander Neckham’s remarks in 1240 or thereabouts, so that’s out.

“Trollista” is something I came up with, but rightly should be smacked about for. “Beverage Attendant” sounds wrong.

If you need to sell the idea to management, perhaps “Work Booster” is the best title.

Since I can’t actually come up with the perfect title, I’ll leave that for the comments.

But business needs to hear our clarion call. Do it now! Do it properly!

Teapots or large french presses or samovars or urns. Loose leaf tea. Biscuits (cookies) and/or small cakes. Sugar cubes. Proper milk. Drip filter coffee if you must.

Get your business trolleyed up and equipped to take on the world.

Bring back the tea lady. Give her a different title, lose the gender specification and add a flashing amber light if your Health and Safety requirements insist but bring “her” back!

There are so many workplace morale ideas that can now be implemented. Golden teacup of the day for outstanding effort. Special jam biscuit when it’s your birthday. Competitions to pick the week’s tea blend.

And when your company rises like a phoenix, slaying all it’s tealess competitors and becoming top of the heap, you’ll have the means on hand to enjoy a well-deserved celebratory tea.

And perhaps a really nice little cake.

 

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Tea and Life

The Humorous Incident

In a blog post I am writing, and have been writing for a while, I mention The Humorous Incident.

Not the Hilarious Incident, not the SideSplitting Incident, but just a Humorous Incident. As I didn’t want to insert the details into an already lengthy blog, I’ve decided to relate it here.

And thus:

On the 25th of May, 2005 I started a new role, after a promotion. In addition to being Research Manager at the firm I worked for, I had now become Administration Manager.

This had many new responsibilities but the most startlingly obvious one was this: I now controlled kitchen expenditure, including the tea and coffee budget.

I filled in a petty cash voucher and the next day, took a large chunk of cash tea shopping.

I visited one of my favourite tea outlets, and had  a cup of a nice large-leaved Darjeeling.

It was so nice I asked for a kilo.

All talk ceased in the shop.

“A kilo?” asked the shopkeep, being more used to people buying 50 or 100 grams.

Nearby customers tried not to look like they were listening in.

“Yes indeed, Stout Providore” I replied (or something along those lines). “If you actually have a kilo. If it’s not… too much for you”.

The other customers were definitely sensing trouble in the air.

He raise the ante.

“I think I have… TWO kilos”.

Other customers edged toward the door. One got under his table. I wasn’t about to back down.

“Then I might as well have all of it”.

He produced two kilos of a light, airy large leaf Darjeeling in a sealed plastic bag. It looked like a see-though pillow of tea.

“And …” he added whilst the other customers quivered in or under their seats. “I have no brown paper bags left”.

“That’s OK” I retorted “I’ll take it.. as is”.

After this, the tension passed, and the other customers returned to their business, the pianola player started back up, I handed over $126 and departed.

Now, I may have confused some of this transaction with a Clint Eastwood film, but I’m definitely right about the $126. I remember the accounts department in Sydney querying it for months, with stupid remarks like “twice the annual tea budget”. Halfwits.

Anyway, we’re almost at the Humorous Incident.

I then proceeded to walk though the streets of Adelaide with two kilos of Darjeeling in a plastic pillow under my arm.

A gentleman of the hippie persuasion said to me in passing. “Right On, Man, Well Done”.

Obviously a tea fan, I thought.

A moment later a young lady passed me at a crossing. “I think that’s brilliant” she said.

“Wow”,  I thought. “People love tea in Adelaide”

A car went past honking its horn, and four young men within all gave me a thumbs up and yelled something I didn’t quite catch.

I got back to the office somewhat bemused, dispatched a minion to go buy some airtight jars and headed back to my office, just in time to hear the news on the radio.

On Thursday, May 26th 2005 an Australian woman, Schapelle Corby was convicted of drug smuggling in Indonesia after a large pillow-sized bag of marijuana was found amongst her luggage as she entered Bali. It was a controversial case, with various allegations of corruption, dubious behaviour on both sides of the law and the resultant 20 year sentence sent shock waves throughout Australia.

I guess that night, a hippie, a young woman and four young men probably told their friends about the brave protester who was striding Adelaide’s street with a plastic pillow full of marijuana under his arm.

 

 

 

 

 

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Tea and Life

It’s a Mugs Game

New Year’s Day is a time for reflection, and as I am writing this on just that day, I’ll reflect.

2014 was the best of times and the worst of times, to paraphrase Dickens, and over that year I blogged a little less due to being extremely busy, living in several different locations across the world and being quite angry at times. Now, most people who regularly read my blog would expect a bit of anger from me in midst of my rants, but I’m not talking about the righteous anger that is justified when I get a sub-standard cup of tea, but the sort of white-hot anger that has one thinking less about blogging and more about hiding the bodies.

During 2014 the ones I love and myself were subjected to appalling situations, and interacted with some very poor specimens of humanity, as well as meeting some really lovely people. It was a year where the bad guys were a lot more significant, though.

Our transient lifestyle means that our extensive collection of beautiful teacups was packed up in April, shipped in May and not seen since. Best guess at this point is late January.

So, the obvious question is: what have we drunk tea out of over the last seven months?

We’ve had nice cups while out and also standard coffee cups. We’ve had polystyrene and paper. We’ve stayed with friends with elegant tea glasses and IKEA coffee mugs. We’ve even had to put up with the hipster craze of putting everything in mason jars or milk bottles.

Along the way, we’ve been confronted with times when we just needed to buy a cup, any cup. And worse, the only place open or available was a supermarket.

Some of those we’ve brought out of necessity have been abandoned, lost or broken along the way, but as I write this our cupboard contains 4 supermarket-bought mugs.

So, when you are making a cup of tea and reading our blogs and posts, you might imagine that we are indulging in a big cuppa from one of these, which I present in chronological order of purchase:

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JUNE: This 600ml mug is huge, and is from Tesco in the UK. We have a 600ml teapot so it is a perfect ‘tea for one’, assuming one wants a massive tea hit

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AUGUST: This was one of three different mugs I bought as gifts for Lady Devotea, and our son and his girlfriend at Sainsbury’s in the UK This is the only one of the three that made it to the case.

 

 

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OCTOBER: From Woolworths in Australia, this is from the Jamie Oliver range. With ‘Luscious and Lovely, just like my tea’ on it., I had to buy it for Lady Devotea.

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DECEMBER: Lady Devotea gifted me with a fez-wearing superhero cat. “Cuppa Kitty To The Rescue” is my new favourite tea mug, from Target in Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, regardless of whatever is going on in your life, if you have a whimsical mug, great tea and your loved ones close by, it’s not all bad.

After all, both loved ones and tea are necessary when you have all those bodies to bury.

 

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