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Posts Tagged ‘Enchanting Afternoon Tea’

When Miss Kate Cranston asked Renie Mackintosh to design the now famous Willow Tea rooms, the marvellous Scottish tea tradition was firmly established. Tea with Mary Kate has taken the inspiration for this tea from that heritage and Scotland’s most famous poet, Robert Burn’s, to create this Burn’s night tea.

Burns night is all about celebrating Robert Burn’s life and works.

Robert Burns Night Tea

Choose your favourite Robert Burn’s poem and add a few lines for inspiration to your tea menu – finish it off with beautiful tartan ribbon to contrast with the crisp white table linen. My favourite lines are from “to a mouse”:

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!

I love the line “best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft agley” as quite honestly my dears, that so captures life!

Burn's Night Tea

Burn’s Night Tea

Vegetarian haggis with miniature nepes & tatties

Smoked Salmon on wholemeal bread

A generous portion of clottie dumpling served in vintage tea cups

A strong Scottish leaf Tea – Taylors of Harrogate

A traditional Clootie dumpling - Perfect for Burn's night Tea - from Clootie.co.uk

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Brief Encounter - Afternoon Tea at the refreshment Room

A terribly British and the most romantic film I have ever seen

From the moment of kindness when the unsuspecting Laura Jesson (the quite perfect Celia Johnson) has a speck of coal removed from her eye by the charming and very capable Dr Alex Havey (Trevor Howard), to the last scene, where their final precious moments are interrupted by an acquaintance of Laura’s. It is an accidental love, and all the more tragic for that – neither was seeking it in their married situations.

We never see but have to imagine the delicate Madeline, Alex’s wife. We do meet Fred though, Laura’s solid and understanding husband. In the opening scene of the film, Laura is speaking to us, as she starts to tell us the story from her arm chair by the fire with Fred, an insight into her life with him. He loves her – and she him, but not in the way that we come to see she has loved Dr Harvey.

Noel Coward’s film is an emotional journey

It is of innocent kindness, unconscious love, passion, and then guilt, with a dreadful, painful separation that neither will probably ever totally recover from. On the train journey to return home, Laura imagines the life that could have been with Alex, had they met earlier without their current commitments – the image fades as she arrives nearer home, and in the most depressing scene of the film, you witness her utter desperation and sorrow.

The Brief Encounter Afternoon Tea is a tea for a rainy day

With Rachmaninov’s Piano concerto No 2 the perfect music which plays throughout this amazing film. Include time for a viewing of the film in your afternoon tea. China is vintage, old fashioned and plain white, do include sugar in the spoon as there was in the film. For an authentic touch, add Bath Buns to your menu – although they never eat them while they sit at their tea table. Fare is simple and very traditional to echo the time when the film is set in 1945 when there would have been rationing from the war still.

Brief Encounter Afternoon Tea

Egg mayonnaise sandwiches on white bread

Victoria Sponge with strawberry jam

Bath Buns with lashing of butter

Brief Encounter afternoon tea - Victoria sponge - BBC recipe

A strong Leaf Tea –  like Henritta Lovells Royal Air Force tea

Old fashioned Afternoon Tea Henrietta Lovell’s Royal Air Force Tea –

Rare Tea

Filmed in 1945 at Camforth Station, the tea rooms have now been restored. Tea with Mary Kate hopes your brief encounter at your Afternoon Tea is a memorable one.

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A Tea with Mary Kate Future Tea Trends Prediction for 2012 is the Tea Dance

With the gaining momentum for afternoon tea, and our increasing interest in dancing, what more sublime a combination is there than the tea dance. Amazing locations, vintage frocks and enchanting music. It is an invitation to step back to another era – a time of beautiful china cups, convivial conversation, and beautiful dancing – quite a wonderful a combination.

Future Trends in Tea - The Tea Dance

Imagine being whirled around the dance floor, with a wonderful afternoon tea waiting to be served in the wings – well, my dears, you’ll need something to keep your strength up! And what’s more, it is virtually guilt free! All that energy expended dancing quite marvellously redresses the balance of that sumptuous afternoon tea. Tea with Mary Kate is predicting the tea dance as a healthy future trend in tea if ever there was one.

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Take a New Year Cup of Kindness, my dear,  for the sake of Auld Lang Syne

New year is always a time of reflection. In the famous tune, Auld Lang Syne, composed in 1799 by Robert Burns, it asks us to remember, to think about our memories and recall past events. Burn’s makes such an evocative request, it cannot fail to provoke a strong emotional response. Scotlands nostalgic pipers echo the past, their sound seems to reach almost through time itself.

This New Years Eve Afternoon Tea party is inspired by Auld Lang Syne. It is old fashioned and drawn from traditional Scottish fare. It is quite deliberately comforting, as this time of year can be hard – for those who are on their own, who are facing difficulties, or past memories that end of year events prompt a return anew. It is a time also of opportunity, of renewal, a perfect time to turn over a new leaf.

Take a Cup of Kindness - Scottish New Year Tea Party

A Traditional New Tears Eve Afternoon Tea Menu

As you will be familiar, Tea with Mary Kate is a fan of leaf tea – oh, I hear you cry, all that mess and fiddling – but friends, that is the point, to take time, to make the act of making tea a pleasurable one, and frankly, one that gives a much better brew. The leaf Tea for our new years eve tea party is a strong Scottish Blend, malty and full bodied. Crisp white linen adorns the table, candle light and beautiful tartan ribbons, tied on menus, around cake stands and vintage china. The fire is roaring, and all is right with the world.

New Years Eve Tea Party Menu

Tea Cups of hot Scotch Broth

Traditional steak pie filled tea cups, draped with pastry

Smoked Salmon sandwiches on wholemeal bread

Black Bun

Lavender Shortbread – served with sparklers

Traditional Scottish Black Bun - New Year Tea Party - from Delicious Magazine

Time is fleeting. Tea with Mary Kate wishes that this new year’s eve is one where you choose to take time to reflect. May it be a time of contentment and happiness for you – have a memorable New Year.

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By February 14th, you are more than halfway out of the dark.

And very much, Valentine’s Day  feels like an opportunity for the next bright start after the new years celebrations. It is a chance to practise the day you would wish to have everyday, to put your best side forward, to love as you would wish to be loved.

Valentine’s afternoon Tea – Mary Kate & Shawn’s Wedding in The Quiet Man

Valentine’s Day is but one day in the year, and while it is an opportunity to be romantic for a day, I think it can act as a portal for how to be everyday

Last Valentines, I wrote about David Whyte’s book, The Three Marriages, and his thesis that highlights a triangle of relationships. The first is the conventional one with your significant other, the second with your work, which I think most of us would recognise even if we would not wish to acknowledge, & finally, & perhaps most importantly, the third marriage is with yourself. Now while there are elements of each of the “Three marriages” that will have greater or lesser resonance with us, I concede that it is the first one that can really provide a base camp to allow the others to manifest. To have the absolute trust & care of another is simultaneously slightly scary & a quite wonderful thing.

Idea’s for a Valentine’s Tea to Fall in Love With

The true gift of a Valentine’s Tea is that thought & time have been spent to create it.

Choose favourite things to eat. Create a special menu, and include a reference to a favourite poem. It will add a quite thoughtful & lovely touch. Dust off the china, lay a crisp white tablecloth, light a scented candle, or even a few sparkling tea lights, the intent being to create a rather special atmosphere to savour the aesthetic & treasure the moment in time. For more afternoon Tea idea’s inspiration, do have a look at Five splendid idea’s for afternoon tea, which includes a wonderful Rose themed afternoon Tea menu, just the ticket for Valentines, with gorgeous sandwiches & sumptuous cakes.

Spectacular Valentine’s Tea – Cake from Thoughtfully Simple

As a Valentine Tea is such a special occasion, do remember to make a gorgeous cup of Leaf Tea

No if’s or buts or excuses, as advise on Top Tips on Brewing the perfect Cup of Tea is at hand. You will be amazed at how gorgeous a properly made cup of tea tastes.

I confess that Tea With Mary Kate’s one weakness is for China Tea Cups

I adore Wedgwoods Queen of Hearts china tea cups. In fact, I love the pattern so much that somehow the tea pot, milk jug, sugar bowl & cake stand managed to find their way into possession, but do chose you own favourites. If you are feeling rather generous, the china could also be a gift, but, ahem, do wash it before it goes out of the house.

Valentines afternoon tea in beautiful Queen of Hearts Wedgwood china tea cups

Perfect for Valentine’s afternoon Tea – Beautiful Queen of Hearts Wedgwood china tea cups

A few final thoughts from Shakespeare's sonnet 116
 
 Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove: O no! it is an ever-fixéd mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wandering bark, Whose Worth's unknown, although his height be taken. Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle's compass come; Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom: If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved 

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Spectacular views from the Splendid Scarlet Cornish Eco hotel

Arriving to a breathtaking view, inspiring art, and tea by the fire, what more perfect welcome for Mary Kate’s return to the Scarlet eco hotel.

Sweep back the curtains and a quintessional Cornish coast greets you, revealing a breath taking vista. Above the noise of the rhythmic waves crashing, the swooping gull’s scream in their daredevil flights, all framed by the larger than life sky overhead. A favourite sight is to watch the starlings flock in their annual dance, the black pattern of hundreds of birds all but disappearing at the turn of a wing, like swirling leaf tea first added to boiling water. It is impossible not to feel very alive to the possibilities of the day in this amazing part of the world.

A pot of Tregothan Leaf Tea in Bed is the perfect start to the day

Why it is so lovely to be brought tea in bed? A knock at the door, and while you’re still warm as toast in bed, a pot of freshly made tea arrives, perfectly brewed ready for pouring. It is the start of another amazing Scarlet day. The equally fabulous bit is the local Cornish tea estate, Tregothnan, supplies the leaf tea used. The unadulterated, sheer indulgence of that pot of splendid leaf tea that appears as if by magic at the door is such a perfect start to the day.

Tea in Bed at the Scarlet

Significant Life events are played out at the Scarlet

The Scarlet is a venue at which events happen. Just contemplating the arrival of the main course after a quite delicious starter, suddenly a chap on the table opposite is on bended knee, ring box in hand, gushing proposals – and they hadn’t even ordered their first course!

The appropriately coloured scarlet hot tubs are the place to view the sun set, as sky turns into evening

Spectacular Scarlet Hot tubs - add seaweed for an even healthier dip

The  stunning Cornish vista is displayed before you. Bathed in the warmth of the indoor pool, I watch as the sun rises, alternating between the eucalyptus steam room and a few more lengths for a completely clear conscience for breakfast. I am delighted to discover that as last year, the breakfast menu is a quite wonderful surprise each and every morning – lemon & thyme poached pears were gorgeous, followed by my absolute favourite – eggs Benedict.

After a blustery walk on the beach, what more could you desire than an Enchanting afternoon tea with scrummy christmas cake

Cornwall is an amazing and magical coastal retreat

A walk on the coastal path from St Agnus to Chapel Porth is rewarded with a Sinners Honeymoon, a warming milky drink with honey & cinnamon, and a slice of ginger cake. On another day, a gorgeous pasty from Rick Stein’s deli is the treat on the walk around Padstow’s beautiful harbour. Scenic, spellbinding, and utterly splendid, the Ayurvedic spa is an utterly healing experience, and the staff genuinely engaging, Mary Kate will be counting the days to her return to this rather special, and quite magical, hotel – did I mention the view?

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What, may you ask, has the King’s Speech to do with Tea?

The gift of Tea, and its quite splendid ceremony, is that it can transcend all barriers and provide universal connections across social status & generations. When the stuttering Duke of York initially visits his prospective speech therapist, Logue offers him a cup of Tea & insists on calling him Bertie. In another charming scene when the then King & Queen visit his home, Logue has laid the table all ready with gorgeous china tea pot and cups.

The Queen takes Time for Tea in the Kings Speech

The King’s speech is an utterly British film about King George VI during the time of the abdication of his elder brother, King Edward VIII. It captures an iconic moment in time, when the world was turning on its axis and just about to be plunged into an almost unthinkable scenario to many, a second World War. Colin Firth, already tipped for an Oscar, is utterly brilliant as the stammering Bertie. Having seen the film, and read a few interesting reviews including the  GuardianBBC,  & Mail, where Logue’s Grandson shares some fascinating undiscovered papers left to him by his father, what I adored was that iconic, and quintessionally British stalwart, tea, was at its very heart.

The King's Speech - a stuttering George VI dreading the prospect of speaking

I adored the scene when Lionel Logue first meet’s the then Duke of York. The kettle in on & an offer of Tea is made!

Despite the social status of his patient, and unbeknown to any of them definitively at that point in time, soon to be the next king of England, the eccentric Lionel Logue recognises that his talent can provide the healing to lead a nation.  This did not prevent the offer of and making a cup of tea while conducting his interview, completely at odds with how the Duke was used to being treated. Indeed, when a visit was made to Lionel Logue’s home, the table was laid splendidly with the best china all ready for tea time, with the then Queen happily helping herself.

The Kings Speech -Time for Tea

The scene I loved the most though was when the then Duchess of York is being driven through the foggy streets of London to seek out Lionel Logue initially.

Having exhausted conventional treatments to cure her husbands stammering, she was prepared to take great risk. It often takes a desperate situation to act, love to follow it through, courage to persuade others to take that first step, and then finally bravery to conquer your innermost & deep-seated worst fears.The Duchess provided a pseudonym, and in one of the most touching and amusing conversations in the film, Lionel asks quite innocently  if her husband can avoid public speaking by doing another job. Confessing her position then, Lionel becomes aware of the huge influence and help he can offer for such a prominent individual in serious need of speech therapy.

The soon to be Queen Elizabeth Seeking a speech therapist

What if you had always lived in the shadow of your elder brother, with no expectation of the throne. At a time of great peril, on the verge of another world war, what if your main role was to do the thing you most struggled with?

Colin Firth is perfect as the Duke of York, then the people’s King, George VI. His portrayal of the unprecedented situation of his brother’s abdication that was unfolding around him, and his rising panic but huge integrity to do the right thing was incredibly touching. The film felt intimate, and although surrounded by wealth & privilege, you felt the Duke’s despair at the huge weight of responsibility, the dread & fear of his own short comings. It was clear there was not the slightest wish to be thrust into the lime light. The Queen knew the only way out was to conquer his stutter. In Logue’s Diary, and in letters between them, there is a very touching description of the relationship that had developed:

April 19, 1937 – Went to Windsor.

King in grey clothes, blue stripe. Came forward with a smile: ‘Hello Logue, so glad to see you. You can be of great help to me.’ Went through Coronation Broadcast speech and altered it considerably. King in excellent health, a bit stiff about jaw, most anxious to do best.

April 30, 1937

Went through Coronation speech with King. When I told him he took two reputations into the box with him, he said he knew he did, that’s why he was laughing. He is a good fellow and only wants careful handling.

The King’s Coronation – Wednesday May 12, 1937

A car took me to the Palace at 7 o’clock. Went upstairs and found His Majesty, looking very fit after his very emotional day. We went through the speech once, at the mike, and then back to his room, where the Queen joined us, looking tired but very happy. We discussed the Coronation, particularly the solidness of the Archbishop and I told the King how we all noticed he took over the doing up of his belt. He told me that in some Coronations, the King was naked to the waist.

Kept him talking right up to the loud speakers playing the National Anthem. The Queen said ‘Good Luck Bertie’ and he walked right up to the mike and began (the perspiration was running down my back). He went on beautifully, a splendid voice, flexible, slight trouble with one word… he had me so worked up, that I could not talk at the end.

In a few seconds, he walked out into his passage and gave me a warm pressure of the hand as he said ‘Good night Logue, I thank you very much’ and the Queen did the same, her beautiful, indescribably blue eyes shining.

I said ‘The greatest thing in my life your Majesty is being able to serve you’. She said ‘Good Night. Thank you’ and, softly, ‘God Bless You’. This bought the tears to my eyes and sent me feeling like a fool. I had a whisky and soda, a silly thing to do on an empty stomach, and the whole world began to go around.

Letters between the Queen Mother and Mr Logue

Feb 20 1952

Her Majesty
Queen Elizabeth
The Queen Mother
Buckingham Palace

Your Majesty

There arrives a most wonderful letter from His Majesty on December 16th telling me all about his health and what he had gone through – unfortunately I had to go into hospital before I could reply.

The King’s letter is in front of me as I write, and I cannot realise that it is the last one I shall ever receive.

Since 1926 he honoured me, by allowing me to help him with his speech, and no man ever worked as hard as he did and achieved such a grand result.

During all those years you were a tower of strength to him, and he has often told me how much he owes to you.

I have never forgotten your gracious help, to me, when my own beloved girl passed on.

I have the honour to be your Majesty’s humble servant.

Lionel Logue

Feb 28 1952

Buckingham Palace

Dear Mr Logue

I am so grateful for your kind letter, and very much touched by what you write – I am indeed sorry to hear that you have been so ill, so it was most kind of you to make the effort to write to me.

I think that I know perhaps better than anyone just how much you helped the King, not only with his speech, but through that his whole life, and outlook on life. I shall always be deeply grateful to you for all you did for him. He was such a splendid person, and I don’t believe that he even thought of himself at all – I did so hope that he might have been allowed a few years of comparative peace after the many anguished years he has had to battle through so bravely. But it was not to be.

I do hope that you will soon be better, and with again my heartfelt thanks, I am, yours very sincerely.

Elizabeth R

What do you do if the King & Queen are planning to drop by for a visit?

Dust off your best china, lay a lovely table cloth, and offer them a cup of tea of course! The gift of Tea, and its quite splendid ceremony, is that it can transcend all barriers and provide universal connections across social status & generations. Are you equipped for that all important visitor popping in for tea? Tea with Mary Kates does hope so.

Soon to be King George VI - The Duke & Duchess of York by Vandyk 1923

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