Posts Tagged ‘The Quiet Man’

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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Royal Wedding Bells are in the air

I was very excited to see that a beautifully designed  commemorative China has been  issued to celebrate Prince William & Miss Kate Middleton’s wedding day on 29th April 2011. I love the gold with muted grey & soft blue colours & regal design of doves, hearts & garlands with their initials intertwined, inspired apparently by decoration in Clarence House. And even better,  it is manufactured in good old Blighty in the traditional Potteries town of Stoke on Trent , a splendid touch.

Official Royal Wedding Commemorative Tankard

Beautiful official royal wedding commemorative Tankard


Although the tankard is very nice, I confess though that I am an avid fan of partaking of my favourite brew from a china tea cup.

I live in desperate hope that someone in the Stoke factory will expand the range & manufacture a gorgeous celebratory Royal wedding china tea cup! Quite frankly, I would love to be sipping my tea from a beautiful china tea cup as the day unfolds. It got me to thinking of Mary Kate’s Wedding day and their picture, a wonderfully old fashioned, formal pose & slightly startled expression from them both. I do anticipate that Prince William’s & Miss Kate Middleton’s pictures may be slightly different! Tea with Mary Kate implores you to join the campaign for a commemorative Royal Wedding tea cup!

Mary Kate on her wedding day


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For those of you familiar with the film “The Quiet Man”, you’ll recall the scene when Mary Kate, in her very practical Irish manner, chastises Sean for not growing a cabbage or a potato in the garden of their new home.

But no, Sean was creating the rose garden his mother described, when she dreamed of her Irish birth place from all that distance in Pittsburg, after their immigration to America. Sean wish was to recreate that place his mother had described and still yearned for, the land her heart belonged to.

Tea with Mary Kate has reached a happy compromise in her Kitchen Garden this year

Alongside the onion’s and potatoes, Dahlia’s and Mollucella are happily thriving with the herbs, the kitchen garden providing a supply of both vegetables and flowers, the practical and the aesthetic.

But do remember to take time for a lovely cup of tea

A picnic in the kitchen garden is a wonderful experience, it is just like being on holiday. Flasks of hot water, or a small gas stove to boil water for that all important cup of tea between weeding and digging, just splendid!

Blackfly 3: Ladybirds 0 – An almost disaster with the broad beans!

Organic principles are a guiding force in the kitchen garden. There is a tension here though – my darling other half is all for getting the chemicals out, and I laughed out loud at his football analogy for the broad beans. Of course, he is right but I am trying not to admit it – not since I accidently ran into our resident nest of young beautiful mistle thrushes. They have after all eaten all the snails, the graveyard of shells provide the evidence, and it seems to me a few black flies are a small compensation to see them happily bouncing along.

Back at our old allotment, one of the old boy’s mentioned that to get rid of blackfly, you take off the top part of the plant . I thought he must be joking, playing a trick to see if I actually do it, how an earth is that going to work? But I was desperate, and needs must – and it turned out to be an absolutely top tip! I still have no idea how it works – all I know is that it does, and I hoping it is going to work its magic again. As a bonus though, I do have a rapidly growing ladybird population!

Simple and effective idea to maximise Space with growing Runner Bean’s

Planting the runner beans across the at gap at the end of the rows has meant that instead of using valuable space in the raised beds, it has used only a fraction of the raised bed, with the added bonus of an attractive arbour over the path, can you tell I am quite pleased with it?!

Dare I mention Christmas in July?

I know, it is shocking – it is only July I hear you cry! The strawberries bushes are still in full production……The reason I will beg your forgiveness  for this premature mention is now is the time to plant your festive sprouts. I have planted nasturtiums and marigolds for summer colour –  and as an attempt to keep the kitchen garden organic so that we can have our very own spouts at Christmas

Tea with Mary Kate’s new favourite mint – Basil Mint

A few leaves of this variety steeped in hot water produce a lovely refreshing, minty brew.

Tea With Mary Kate is inspired to Grow your own

Fresh salad, crisp radish, courgettes that you know have never been touched chemicals, all ready to be picked straight from your garden direct to your plate. Weeding and watering the kitchen garden, surrounded by the lush growth and bright flowers, the smell of the earth always transports me back to my grandfathers garden, his patience and attention, the warmth in the green house enhancing the distinctive smell of geraniums, neat pots all organised in rows.

Tea with Mary Kate seeks to highlight the seemingly ordinary events in life, and highlight them for the special moments they are. Feeling the earth between your fingers, watching the kitchen garden grow, taking time for tea are all precious times that allow us to connect, time actually feels like it slows, moments that can encourage us to live life to the full every day, every interaction is important. As someone mentioned to me recently, life is so very precious, do live it.

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Now, Mary Kate is Irish, through and through, so I thought it would be fitting to share a few thoughts about St Patrick’s Day, on 17 March to celebrate the day. St Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland of course, but for me, the day is all about celebrating your Irish heritage, and testimony to the scattering of the Irish are the parades  that have taken place for centuries in countries all around the world. I can trace my own roots back to a potato famine, where my Irish relations fled to Wales rather than starve.

Bright green shamrock biscuits

The tradition and celebration of this day and the time of year did put me to thinking of other Irish traditions. I know many of you familiar with the film “The Quiet man” will recall Michaleen Oge Flynn, the “shocklhorn” or matchmaker, who formally introduces Sean to Mary Kate. Sean just planned to “honk his horn” to have Mary Kate a running but Michaleen advises that there is a route that needs to be taken, customs that need to be followed.

Mary Kate & Sean are both impetuous, and having waited for the approval of Mary Kate’s brother, a tricky and lengthy negotiation, the pair escape the eagle eyed gaze of their watcher, and end up in an old church yard in the rain, with a shared passionate kiss that is for me the most romantic scene of the film, or any other film for that matter.

Passionate kissing in the rain - Sean & Mary Kate

No St Patrick’s Day would be complete without a song, and I admit a romantic bias for my absolute favourite Irish song in all the world “O Danny Boy”. I have such strong childhood memories connected with the singing of this. “Danny Boy” was originally said to be intended as a message from a woman to a man but has been interpreted by some listeners as a message from a parent to a son going off to war or leaving as part of the frequent massive Irish emigrations that took place. The song is widely considered an Irish anthem, and trite as this may sound, I confess I can never quite make it to the end without a glimmer of a tear in my eye.

Danny Boy

Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling
Tis you, ’tis you must go and I must bide.
But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow
Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow
Tis I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so.

But when ye come, and all the flowers are dying
If I am dead, as dead I well may be
You’ll come and find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an “Ave” there for me.
And I shall hear, tho’ soft you tread above me
And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be
For ye shall bend and tell me that you love me
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.

Have yourself a very special St Patricks Day – and see the opportunity of celebrating the day as a gift. Find a parade, go to Dublin Saint Patrick Day on Wednesday 17th March, London St Patricks day celebrations takes place on Sunday 14th March, the Manchester Irish Festival also looks great fun. Dress up in green, make a cake decorated with shamrocks, sing a few songs, have afternoon tea, with a strong cup of your favourite Irish blend, invite some friends around to celebrate.

Above all though, my hope is that this blog gives you the impetus to change your plans for 17th March, and provides you with the motivation for you to connect with those who are important to you, to celebrate your friendship together, to create your own traditions, to remember that part of you that is forever Irish.

Irish celebrations for St Patricks Day

An Old Irish Blessing

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

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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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A good stretch of the legs……

Mary Kate often references this phrase when she is encouraging Sean to accompany her on a walk. It is how she & Sean first “step out together” for their formal engagement.

A good stretch of the legs

But those of you familiar with film “A Quiet Man” will also recall the scene when Mary Kate leaves him and boards a train departing Castletown and onto Dublin. Infuriated, Sean arrives and drags her off the train, and back to her brother to “give her back”. They are followed by the townspeople, and Sean forces her to walk the five miles to Innisfree from Castletown to Will Danaher’s farm.

The Quiet Man aptly illustrates the importance of taking action on what really matters to you…..

Sean demands that Will hand over her dowry, & when Will finally relents, Mary Kate and Sean throw the cash into a furnace.This is a wonderful moment in the film, no words are spoken but there is an understanding of what that act means. Sean was always concerned that Mary Kates focus was just the money, & he had more than enough for them both. But to Mary Kate, this money represented her, her dowry & she wanted it for what it represented, her freedom. The act of securing it was also symbolic to Mary Kate – that Sean loved her enough to stand up to her brother & defend her. A thought has occurred to me that it is only when you are prepared to take great effort over something that perhaps that is indicative that it is really something that is important to you – if you are not prepared to do that, take that stand, then perhaps that is the message that subconsciously, perhaps you don’t believe it’s worth fighting for.

Hartington is a wonderfully quaint little Derbyshire Village

Now, I’m far from suggesting the dragging method for a walk around Hartington, but with it’s stone houses, duck pond & lovely parish church, it had me recall that scene, when all the villages followed Shawn, in anticipation of the “big fight” that was to follow. I can just hear the music in my head now, dum dee dum dee……I think I am suggesting though that your acts & deeds do indicate where your heart truly is.

Rookes Pottery has beautiful, creative & unique ceramics

As well as the path that leads to a lovely walk through Wolfcotes Dale, Rookes pottery in the heart of Hartington is a real find –  including this quite lovely teapot.

Beautiful Tea pot form Rookes Pottery

As a reward for all the walking, do leave time to visit The old cheese shop

It’s crammed with locally sourced artisan cheeses. The ones that found their way into my shopping basket were organic Staffordshire with wild garlic, Berkswell Ewe, a really nice nutty flavour, & white Stilton with lemon….and it was packed with Lemon!

A cheese lover's paradise - Hartington Cheeseshop

Do see Miss O’Shea’s blog the roadshowversion that provides a wonderful synopsis of The Perfect Irish Romance: John Ford’s “The Quiet Man” (1952)

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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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