After leaving the Dorchester, for more than 72 hours I had limited tea. It is the confluence of limited opportunity and circumstance and limited tea supplies.
In an attempt to walk off some of the repast after The Dorchester, we walked across Hyde Park. Then through some of Kensington. In fact we walked for about three hours. Add that to the three hours walking the markets before hand, and when we returned, I had several sparkling mineral waters instead of tea, to rapidly hydrate.
The next morning, when drinking my Assam in our apartment, I noticed, not for the first time, an oily sheen. When emptying a teapot out in the morning, the pot needs a really good clean. Something is not right about the water.
Anyway, the day was to be spent with Vic Darkwood, who is of course the legendary alter ego of the quite sensible* painter Nick Jolly.
The day featured an amazing hotel, a cemetery, a historic tomb, The British Library, the house of the architect Goldfinger, Hampstead Heath and three pubs of historic significance; plus a feat of athletics worthy of the Olympics – Mr Darkwood demonstrated the hop, skip and jump from the number 216 bus directly through the door of a pub without ever seeming to touch the ground, in less than a second. Bus patrons stood and clapped wildly.
It also featured a visit to Darkwood Manor itself, where we were permitted to gaze upon such sacred objects as a genuine PIFCO tie press, which is one of humanity’s greatest inventions.
As the luncheon of that day was at a secret location and many hours previous, Lady D and I stopped at a cafe near Tottenham Court Road on our way home, despite being almost ready to fall over with tiredness. I had a meal that I described at the time as “remarkably cheap and generous” but later was to describe as “unwise”.
So, a minor case of food poisoning made itself obvious over the next few hours and it culminated in some unpleasantness. I did dose myself with a little oolong. Actually, seven or eight cups.
Anxious not to let my condition completely ruin our day, I bravely** insisted that we at least take a walk in Hyde Park and feed some squirrels. We set off some time after noon to do so.
The walk lasted five hours. That’s the bloody problem with London. Now matter how tired you are or how much your feet are protesting, there’s always something to see on the next block. Highlights included me being rude to the staff at Kensington palace (how dare they sell loose leaf tea in overpriced tins in the shop and then offer tea bags in the cafeteria) , a crypt under a famous church in which a guy was frying snacks, the monument to the Great Fire of London and a surprising exhibition of old maps of London we found in the bottom of a building that looked like it was made of old Dalek parts that we were walking past.
Upon returning, I made a tea, but increasingly worried about this sheen on the water, I did not drink it.
The next morning, I also eschewed the tea. After an early morning call, we winged our way to visit relatives of Lady D’s south of London.
Even though we presented them with tea, the first round offered was tea bags. No, thanks.
I drank Coca-Cola all afternoon – and it was an excellent afternoon – until a teapot came out. I’d already poured myself a cup when I realised the pot had been created, horrifically, with bags.
I drank the (thankfully small) cup with as much grace as I could muster (possibly*** a distressingly small amount) and continued to enjoy an excellent evening. Arriving home lateish, it was mineral water before bed.
As Tesco’s opened at seven the next morning, I was there to buy 5 litres of water for a remarkable 61p. One thing I have noticed when travelling is that water everywhere in the world is much cheaper than in Australia. I returned to the apartment and cracked open a bag of 1910.
And thus was excellent tea restored to our adventure, but it was about to get a whole lot better.* Only sensible by comparison to his other self ** No actual bravery required. Pig-headedness is more accurate *** Probably I was an arse