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Time for Tea: Melbourne Breakfast

Tea is a big deal in my house. If you can remember my post about my new house, I talked about how much tea we had. That hasn’t changed. Well…actually, the numbers gone up.

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So. Much. Tea

So, I was going to do a whole blog post about my favourite teas. And while it would have meant being able to make, like, 8 cups of tea in one go for some very pretty photos, it’s way too warm for that. And so this is the start of a series that probably doesn’t have a end about my favourite teas.

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I introduce you to: Melbourne Breakfast

Melbourne Breakfast entered my life, courtsey of a friend who served it at her house. It was a++, exactly what was needed after casual drinks in the nearby pub. Then it came into my house via Beth, who bought me some for my birthday.

It’s sold by Tea2 as bags and as loose leaf tea. You can get in in bright yellow cubes of 25 bags or 100g or in large foil packs or tins of 60 bags or 250g. Beth bought me a gift cube of it, and we drank all of it in a week and a half.

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It’s so bright. I love it.

The description says ‘A deep and warming tea with a hint of sweetness, reminiscient of Melbourne. Full bodied with vanilla notes. An essential tea.’ I think that’s pretty bang on, though I’ve never been to Melbourne so can’t speak to that. I love this tea because its comforting. And because it’s part vanilla, it’s perfect morning, noon and night.

I think how fast me and Beth drank it when we first had it in our house speaks for itself. Oh, and one of our friends came over that week, tried it too, loved it so much that she went and bought some for herself. Legit good tea.

Was not sponsored in any way to make this post. The cup of it I drank while writing this post was made from teabags I bought – I just really love Melbourne Breakfast tea.

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Welcome to my Crib v2

I’m back! Kind of… This blog comes to you courtsey of 3G. Despite having moved in with my girlfriend over a month ago, we still don’t have broadband. It’s a work in progress, but I’ve missed you guys, so 3G it is.

Back when this blog was still a Year Abroad blog, I did a post about my room. And I thought, as moving in with Beth has been the highlight of my year, that I’d show you the cool bits of our house.

So many house guardians 

Our mantelpiece is full of totoro and hippogriffs and pokemon and dorky dinosaurs from Iceland. They’re cute and cuddly and look after the house while we’re not there.

Hoxton Monster Supplies do great business out of us

I’ve mentioned Hoxton Street Monster Supplies before in this post, but since then I’ve been to the actual shop not just the Liberty’s pop up.

HSMS is fantastic, a childhood dream come true. It sells salt made from tears, tinned fear and fang floss for even the most discerning werewolves.

All proceeds go to the Ministry of Stories, a creative writing and mentoring charity for children. It’s a great place to visit and a great place to support. It keeps our kitchen well stocked with the Collywobbles and Mortal Terror.

Space!!!

We have a space wall. Because space is great and we might become an interplanetary species. Also, Nasa do some really fantastic space posters.

Most important part of the house

 Behold the tea shelf. The heart of the home. A world of choice and none of them wrong. At last count there were at least 20… We may have a problem. A warming, mood lifting, cup full of a problem.

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Ladies who Afternoon Tea

At the end of April I headed to London, in search of good company and distractions. London is full of both and this is how Maddie and I ended up at Sketch for afternoon tea.

Judging by my Facebook newsfeed, Sketch is one of the places to go for afternoon tea in London. It has 4 out of 5 stars on Trip Advisor and Time Out describes it as “a place with wow factor”. All in all, it was promising, even if those promises included the word expensive as well as fabulous.

Walking into Sketch felt like walking into Wonderland. Going through what felt like tent flaps pinned back, into a dark, spacious hallway with various pieces of odd and interesting art, we were greeted warmly and directed towards the The Parlour. To get to The Parlour, you go past the cloakroom and through The Glade, which we marvelled very briefly at before we reached The Parlour.

Now, I will admit that we were early. Any place that takes your credit card details when you book so that they can charge you if you don’t turn up is guaranteed to have me arrive half an hour early. So of course we were told our table wasn’t ready. Which is completely fine, though we weren’t sure where we would go for twenty minutes, especially as it was raining outside and window shopping is only good when one doesn’t have rain dripping down one’s neck.

But we started to head back out, but the lovely greeter, confused as to why we were leaving so soon, suggested we go back to The Glade and have a drink at the bar while we waited. This was an excellent suggestion.

The Glade was gorgeous.

The Glade was beautiful, decked out as if there was a lawn party in the middle of a forest. With dappled green walls, moving mirrors to catch the light and wicker chairs, it was lovely. The cocktails we went for were delicious, and I have no doubt that any of the selection would have been equally good. And the waitress was excellent, suggesting other drinks when they were out of the one I wanted.

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Edible flowers are the best.

Eventually our time came, and we went back into The Parlour to have afternoon tea. The Parlour is very 1920s and very pink, as well as lined with David Shrigley’s work. The overall effect was…interesting. David Shrigley is an artist whose work I’ve encountered several times, and sometimes I walk away feeling unsettled and sometimes I walk away with a smile. The full range of his work on display at Sketch meant I was unsettled and smiling which is a very odd feeling. And as for the décor of the room…I felt like I’d walked into a womb.

Some excellent crockery.

The Parlour is as different from The Glade as it could possibly be, and to leave a room I loved so much to go into one that made me a scooch uneasy was saddening. I’m sure that for many people The Parlour is gorgeous, but I wished we were still in The Glade.

With a choice of nearly 20 different teas, we were soon sipping away from china designed by David Shrigley. Although we were served our drinks fast, it then took another 20 minutes before we saw any sandwiches or cake. I may have missed a memo about current afternoon tea etiquette, but I always assumed one had the tea with the sandwiches and cake. Happily, the tea is refillable so we weren’t left as bereft of beverages as I was concerned we might be.

So much food. So much. 

The food was delightful. Tiny parcels of pesto and chicken, salmon sandwiches with caviar sprinkled on them, cucumber and asparagus sandwiches…The list goes on. I would recommend not biting into caviar though. I didn’t realise what it was until I had. Rookie mistake.

Cakes included the densest coffee and chocolate cake topped with gold leaf, adorable strawberry tarts and profiteroles filled with raspberry sauce. In addition to the cake stand, we had a scone each and the pudding of the day, which was pear something French.

For the most part, the food was delicious, and the bits that weren’t are a question of taste. Like the egg sandwiches that had olives in them. I’m not a proper adult yet and do not enjoy olives. At all.  So on grounds of food, I would very much recommend Sketch.

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The toilets were space pods. SPACE. PODS.

Some of the other bits of the experience were less good. For one thing, when we sat down, I sat in the booth rather than the chair and the man leading us to our table then trapped me there by pushing the table in. Then he moved the next table along closer to us, as if to make sure that I would never escape. This proved awkward when I had to ask the people next to us to move their table and then ask Maddie to move ours so I could discover the ridiculous toilets. I got some serious side-eye, but it was that or climbing over the back of the booth.

We also couldn’t pay the bill. Which is to say, after we were presented with the bill, no-one came to ask us to pay it. For half an hour. In which time the people next to us, who had been given their bill at the same time, paid and went. In the end, I had to flag a passing waitress down.

Overall, I really wasn’t impressed with the service at Sketch. I’m not sure if me and Maddie looked particularly young or out of place, but we were paying the same £45 as everyone else. So while the food was great, and the décor fascinating, the lack of good service and being wedged into a corner dampened the experience as much as the rain had dampened our window shopping plans.

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Cures for (English) Homesickness

All cures are tried and tested by me, and I guarantee that they work a hundred percent.*

1. Blasting the Johnny English theme song.

2. Tutting at foreigners who have the audacity to queue jump.

3. Watching Blackadder/Monty Python/Doctor Who online and giggling to yourself about the sheer Britishness of said programmes.

4. Letting someone stand on your foot and then apologising to them.

5. Working out exactly how many miles you are from England and therefore from chavs.

6. Starting a conversation about the weather with an unsuspecting foreigner.

7. Remembering that no matter where you are, the British probably invaded at some point. So you’re not the first person to think this place would be better if it were a little more British.

8. Rejoicing in the fact that for once you simply sound English, not Northern or Southern.

9. Watching almost any big budget Hollywood film because the villain is English and the accent reminds you of home.

10.The biggest cup of tea you can brew.

* for me, at least.