The Traditional English Tea


We stayed in this morning for a visit from the owner of the flat upstairs and a technician sent by her insurance company.  On 2nd March I described a leak from number 9 that had dribbled through our ceiling.  Christine, in residence, is the tenant.  Sarah, the owner, had been told by the insurer that, in order fully to investigate the cause of the intermittent penetration of our ceiling, it was necessary to aim a device at our plasterwork from inside our flat; the electronic gadget, allegedly capable of its own painless penetration, would be able to diagnose what was wrong with the bath. Apparently looking directly under the bath was not an option.

This rather mystified us, but we had no objection.  It rather surprised the technician too.  He had no such instrument, and had no idea how he was supposed to diagnose the leak from a bath nestling on the floor of a room about twelve feet above the soles of his shoes, and through ceiling, joists, and floorboards.  After some quite lengthy and helpful discussion about the building, estate agents, and owners, Sarah and the young man repaired to number nine.  When he had left after completing his work, she kindly came to tell us that he had indeed taken off the side cover of the bath and found what was wrong;  apparently an overflow and something to do with damp plaster, possibly from showering.

We were thus delayed in partaking of our brunch which was to sustain us until the visit, for a traditional English tea, of Helen and Bill and their German friends Hilda and her great nephew Simon.  This meant that we did not have time for checking out two prospective properties for which we have been idly surfing the net.  Or is it browsing the web?

Actually, we would have had time for two had we not got lost.  Property-wise we have rather a dilemma.  We are very pleased with the wonderful flat in its idyllic setting that we occupy.  But we do have to pay rent, and by the end of the year, we may just have enough money to buy somewhere.  Not, unfortunately, in the rather expensive New Forest.  So, we have been having a look on the property websites, but not actually at any houses themselves.  Today we decided to at least reconnoitre the areas of a couple of places that could not be more different.  The first a pretty cottage in a pretty lane in a pretty village; the second a large ground floor flat in an Edwardian Manor pretty much like what we have at the moment, possibly even grander.

Fyfield Cottage

We found Fyfield Cottage in Everton with no trouble, and had a wander around.  Fyfield Cottage gardenIt is more extensive than it looks from the very narrow West Lane, and has a lovely garden with a new shed and parking space for three cars.  I have my doubts about whether the ceilings would be high enough. Honeysuckle and actinidia Every home in the lane was attractive, and I was particularly taken by the happy juxtaposition of honeysuckle and actinidia in the hedge opposite.  Just window shopping.

It was the second possibility that proved elusive.  This was Ossemsley Manor near Bashley.  We knew exactly where it was.  But how to get to it?  Had my driver not turned right too soon we may well have been congratulating ourselves.  But she did.  As the track began to peter out, we came alongside a teenage girl on a horse accompanied by an older woman on foot.  The girl claimed not to be any good at directions and left her companion to set us on our way.  The young lady had said we needed to go straight ahead, but wouldn’t be able to get through the gate in front of us.  We followed the other’s directions, and after we had detoured for a good mile or so, our paths crossed again.  Our informants had only travelled about a hundred yards, or metres.  This was after the car’s suspension had been sorely tested by invisible speed bumps set in a badly made up road.  I was convinced we were going in the wrong direction so we turned around, returned to a proper road, and set off back to Minstead to be in time for our German guests.  In the process we drove the reverse of a long stretch I had walked on 27th February.  I was then able to see where we should have gone.  Had I only realised where we were or remembered the name of the common where I had seen the chicken cross the road, we may have had better luck.  As it was, we had to put off that little recce.

Bill, Helen, Hilda & Simon

Our guests arrived on time and were treated to a traditional English tea.  The kind that no-one ever eats today, unless on holiday in the West Country.  Which I suppose they were.  A bit like the Full English breakfast only being consumed when staying at a B. & B.  And since everyone except Simon, who preferred sparkling water, drank coffee, it wasn’t quite authentic.  Nevertheless the excellent spread included the traditional cucumber sandwiches, scones, clotted cream, strawberry jam, strawberries, two different cakes, and even biscuits with an assortment of cheeses and pickles, and was consequently enjoyed.  It was a more than adequate evening meal for us.

After the repast we all watched an old sixteen millimetre film starring Helen, Jackie, and a little later, Shelly, taken by their Dad, Don Rivett, about sixty years ago.  The format, after several reincarnations over the years, is now DVD.  Guest appearances are by their paternal grandparents, mother and father, and cousins Adrian and Christopher Barlow.  Although the sisters have seen these films often, the memories came flooding back.  Since it was silent, it probably gave poor Simon a rest from listening to spoken English.


3 responses to “The Traditional English Tea”

  1. Thanks for putting me onto this, Derrick. I am starting to get a better picture of high tea. BTW, how do you make your cucuymber sandwiches? JUst plain cucumber on bread and butter or do you use some form of spread with them. I read about using a mixtur eof cream cheese and mayo, which sounded lovely. Geoffles tells me that’s “posh”.
    Hope you’re enjoying your Summer!
    xx Rowena

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