Posts Tagged ‘heart of living’

I adore this picture of Mary Kate – the joy & her sheer beauty beams at you from her smile.

Those familiar with the film “The Quiet Man” will recognise this as the scene in which Mary Kate & Sean’s engagement is formally announced & Mary Kate is radiantly happy, after a time when she thought this day might never arrive.

Beautiful Mary Kate on her engagement


Small but perfectly formed – Betty’s Tea rooms are enchanting to visit for any occasion

Whilst an engagement is an important, life changing event, it’s sometimes easy to overlook less noteworthy but still significant times when you are together with those who are most special & important to you. Tea with Mary Kate seeks to focus us on an appreciation of these moments, as significant & special in their own way. This can be a simple invitation to visit for tea at your home or it could be something more elaborate, but both times are equally special & worth treasuring.

A visit to Betty’s Tea rooms spring’s to mind, when, for no particular reason other than it was a beautiful spring day, I found myself over looking Harrogate’s lovely gardens from their rather special tea room there. A visit will be easier for some of you than others, as Betty’s has decided to stop at the small number of six but six perfectly formed tea rooms in York, the already mentioned Harrogate, Northallerton, Harlow Carr & Ilkley. I applaud that decision, taken deliberately to keep the quality & standards of their business high & for me it makes these tea rooms all the more special. Established in 1919, I can highly recommend a visit, worth the wait for the sometimes long queues at popular times but the tea is amazing, the menu an interesting mix incorporating the Swiss Yorkshire heritage that makes Bettys unique, & the service excellent. Afternoon tea in the beautiful surroundings of the tea room was a real treat.

Betty's cafe afternoon Tea

The experience of a visit is enchanting – but Betty’s by Post is a worthwhile substitute

It’s also a lovely place to visit with those that are important to you. For those in the know, Mother’s Day will be a little early this year, on Sunday 14th March – so here’s the rallying call to get your organising hats on, with one idea to give the experience of a visit. If you are not able to visit in person, you can still have a slice of the action by taking advantage of the Betty’s by Post service. I have used & continue to use this excellent way of transporting a little of the Betty magic. Their legendary Fat rascals are beautiful, moist, fruit filled creations that you can always rely on. They also have a lovely Fat rascal tea set range designed by the talented Emma Bridgewater.

Gorgeous Betty inspired Tea sets by Emma Bridgewater

Fat Rascal tea pot

Betty’s gorgeous Easter Badgers

With Easter just round the corner, stocking up on their beautifully decorated Easter cakes or simnel cakes for an impromptu tea sounds a perfect idea . Their tea also comes highly recommended & in their distinctive caddies are really beautiful for gifts too. Finally, if you are short on ideas for Easter, look no further. The Easter badger is an inspiration, I love him! I’ve dropped a few hints already…..

Almost too good to eat - Gorgeous Easter Badger

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I’m guessing with the day’s ticking down to February 14th, the male of the species may be starting to get quite twitchy – Valentine’s is so fraught with emotion, assumption & expectation….& frankly cost.

So I’d like to suggest an alternative, with Valentine’s Day itself offering us a signpost for our future interactions.  It could be so much more than signalling  our feelings opposite a relationship with our “significant others” on just one day. & so much more than just being “romantic” on 14th February. It’s an opportunity to take a moment to assess what we would wish for the future, for ourselves,  for our significant relationships & for everyday.

Mary Kate with one of her significant marriages

I am a great admirer of the poet David Whyte whose recent book “The Three Marriages” explores and challenges on the standard assumptions and definition of marriage and what happens when we fall in love. David Whyte is passionate, deep, with some uncomfortable messages which he also acknowledges for himself.

I’ve been lucky enough to see him speak on a couple of occasions. It’s life affirming & humbling that his self awareness allows him to take great dollops of his own medicine. If you read nothing but the introduction to the book, then it would give enough stimulus for at least a modicum of growth – I laughed and empathised at getting himself  into a pressurised situation & fretted for him.  Do go for reading the whole book for his views on three marriages – that which we conventionally think of with a significant other, the second being that with work, where he has some fascinating alternative thinking on “work life balance”, and his “third” marriage, that of the relationship we have with ourselves.

So, how about a major reframe of Valentine’s day, where you no longer fret if you receive any mysterious cards or roses – have a Valentine’s for you – you’re the person that you’ll have the longest relationship with. Have a Valentines with your significant other if you have one – & I’d advocate in a humbling, authentic way – I’m wondering why folks would cram themselves into a restaurant on one particular night when the service is always at a stretch. The most precious times I’ve experienced have been simple acts of love – a cup of tea in bed when I was far from expecting it – precious, precious moments to treasure always.

Have a Valentine’s week – a whole week where you take care of your interactions with those who matter to you & who you consider important to you.

And do you know, how about have a Valentine’s life, with devoting time to having a greater awareness of all three marriages, to take care of relationships in the moment.

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It’s Tuesday, you seem to have used up all your motivation just for Monday & even though it’s only the second day of the working week, you’re running out of energy with a list of things that you wished you’d found a spare moment to sort over the weekend.  It’s later than you’d hoped, you’ve had “one of those days” & the last thing that you feel like doing is, well, actually anything at all!

But what will you choose to do on  Tuesday 8th March?

Many of you will know this is Pancake Day, or otherwise know as  Shrove Tuesday. The day has its origins in religion…but that’s far from the reason I mention it here.

wonderful Pancake tossing 1950s pictures are by Micheal Greatorex Winster Derbyshire.

As a child, I remember the whole night being devoted  to making our pancake creations – no “proper” tea, it was all pancakes until you couldn’t fit anymore in!

I’ve realised that our pancakes were a bit different too – they had currants included! Yes, you put them in when one side was still cooking so they ended up as part of the pancake. & you’d never volunteer for the first one out of the pan, as more than likely, the cook would not have their hand in at that stage, it would be too thick, or broken. It was such a competition to make the best, the most perfect pancake! But here’s the thing – I remember those nights from my childhood as special, & it was such a simple thing that will be part of me always.

Pancake day- Wonderful 1950s pictures are by Micheal Greatorex Winster Derbyshire.

Tea with Mary Kate seeks to inspire using seemingly ordinary everyday activities as the portal to connect us to those that matter & to what can give us purpose & meaning.

So, if you’ve come this far & are wondering what this has this to do with a Pancake tea, then you may as well read on……instead of thinking – oh why would I do anything at all? I’d like to paint another picture, to inspire you to another vision of what joy, what fun, & how lovely  & memorable that Tuesday Pancake Tea could be.

Make it special, lay the table with a beautiful table cloth, use your favourite crockery – what else are you saving it for? & bring out your favourite tea cups. Ok, so I will concede, it is far from the healthiest of tea, but  the feel good that it is generating will do everyone the world of good. And if you are feeling totally adventurous, have a tossing competion…or go for it, and have a race!

Pancake Tea Fruit special

While you are whizzing the milk, eggs & butter to make that all important batter in the mixer (or hey, cheat & buy a packet to mix), because you’ve decided that the joy is in the doing, the excitement is in creating a bit of a mess when you are tossing. You can employ the rest of the party to create a gorgeous fruit salad that you can graze on while the serious stuff of pancake mix creation is going on.

But here’s the really lazy method – buy them already made – I know, it’s amazing that you can do this & they are quite nice…….. & if you are near Stoke or the Nantwich Saturday Market, you can buy some from the London Road Bakehouse, a really wholesome bakery that has brought back to life it’s coal-fired ovens. The bread is absolutely gorgeous too!

And of course, hot, warming tea! With pancakes, I really recommend Lapsang Souchong, a gorgeous smokey tea, with a dash of honey, or Pembrokeshire Tea company’s Rose tea (see blog article also), as you want something that is full of flavour but without the milk, as you’ll get more than enough from the pancakes!

Family & Best friend Approach

If whizzing up some eggs, flour & milk to create your Pancake mix even at this point is seeming like a step too far, rush to inspire a friend whose more adept on the cooking skills front – & invite yourself around with your other skills in tow. Although I would say that DOING IT is half the fun, I concede that you all may not be on the page of that’s going to be a great idea, but perhaps you can be the catalyst for the opportunity to pause, as these are the times that can nurture our spirits and give space for knowing & healing.

The wonderful 1950s pictures are by Micheal Greatorex Winster Derbyshire. What will you plan to do for pancake day?

Racing along on Pancake Day

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300 years of happy dreaming. So said Mary Kate Danaher in John Ford’s “The Quiet Man” the inspiration for “Tea with Mary Kate”.

Mary Kate is passionate, fiery, & spirited. She has freckles & a temper & although she lives in poor rural Ireland, her possessions are a treasure to her. Not for their material value but for their intrinsic beauty, for the joy of seeing them, for the home they create. The items are old, worn, some chipped but evoke memories.

When it looks like her dowry & fortune will be kept by her brother, her brand new husband, Sean Thornton, remarks “seems like a lot of fuss & grief over furniture and stuff”, she describes how they represent her, herself, & the generation before her – its not just stuff, its memories, it’s connections to the past, it’s the roots of her belonging. It matters where the furniture is placed, down to the candle stick on top of the piano. It is important that her own china & pewter is shining about her.

Mary Kate is radiantly beautiful but practical, she wants vegetables instead of roses.

Sean Thornton wants roses, as this is the memory his mother has painted while dreaming of Ireland from being newly emigrated. Despite these differences, & they are different, they have a connectedness that is fundamental – & love conquers all.

I adore this film. It’s absolutely romantic to its core, & gives pause to think of everyday, every moment, as important, something I think we’ve forgotten but can relearn.  & tea is a signpost to get us there.

Tea with Mary Kate is currently an enthusiatic amateur’s passion to further explore the world of tea, though at its heart is a more fundamental desire to provide the inspiration to connect with each other in a meaningful way that most days we are simply too rushed to do. The ceremony of tea represents an opportunity to pause, to breathe, to admire the aesthetic that evokes a way of living that is gentle and respectful, nurturing the mind, body & spirit. My wish for this blog is to highlight the heart and inspiration for living – & tea!


Mary-Kate and Shawn

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