Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Big Top Tea Room.

On the 10th of July do come along to the Lewisham People's Day and you will find the Golden Afternoon Tea Company doing what we do best in the Big Top Tea Room. As part of Lewisham borough's biggest festival, we will be serving delish homemade cakes and tea in our vintage teacups to the crowds.

There will be jiving,tangoing, ukeleleying and allsorts going on in the tea room big top, with Spitfire Bounce taking care of the 1940's swing dancing, the Brockley ukelele orchestra and I can't wait to see The Cockney Awkestra , they have human coconut shys and mass knees up to Mother Brown. Seriously just how much fun can there be under one tent?

 We'll be there in our retro aprons, teapots at the ready, there will even be a couple of  Nippies, as if they've come straight out of a Lyons Tea House!

Come along and say hello, there will be so much to do with 3 other stages and a flashmob dance to
Walking on Sunshine with Katrina and the Waves.  And if that doesn't deserve a slice of cake, I don't know what does!

Have a look here for all the info about how to find it plus it's absolutely free!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

peonies and patriotism

Can you believe I bought these gorgeous peonies in Ikea?  You never would, would you?

There were sulks round Farley Mansions as I had so far managed to have gone peonie-less in the very short peony season but hurrah, on a trip to Ikea to stock up on bottles for elderflower cordial, there they were.. and reduced to 50p a bunch. Most were overblown or rotten but with eagle eyes I found four bunches of gorgeousness. Bargain? I think so..  They were called Blomma which I imagine in Ikea language means bloom!

Did you watch the match? We had a world cup tea of cheese and chive muffins and cake for second half, no sucking oranges at half time though, just a couple of g and t's to steady the nerves.

I couldn't take the strain, so had busied myself making England football world cupcakes- and what is the best suited to the team colours- Red Velvet of course, patriotic eh?

Seemed to do the trick anyway, may the football madness continue a pace. Shall I send a care package to South Africa?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Elderflowers and confusion at the chemists.

Have you noticed that there is a whole ton of elderflower blossom everywhere? I have been longing to concoct some cordial and finally got round to it last week.

Our local park has been brimming with the starry white flowers and I went to do some 'pruning'.

Returning home with armfuls, it was only then I checked the recipe and read it called for citric acid. So warning to you all, before you pick - get some in. You can buy citric acid online or try your local chemists as I did...
However what I thought would be a simple purchase turned into rather a mission as the first chemist had just run out apparently and refused to tell me when they were going to get some more in. Odd, I thought. Trekking on to the second chemist, they too were devoid of the stuff. I was exasperated and cried 'oh no where can I find some,i've been all over' (ever the drama queen) .The lady asked me what it was for and I explained to which she replied 'oh well you seem genuine' and reached under the counter and brought out a box!  It would seem that it is used for nefarious doings which made me think how could the first chemist obviously assumed that's what I would do. What a cheek..

I guess I do live the wrong side of the tracks, where they might not be used to  Tom and Barbara Good Life behaviour!

There are lots of recipes on the internet, but as I couldn't really work out how much elderflower I had.. I just winged it, but mainly based on this one.
So if you have a large bowlful of elderflowers- say an armful when picked, this should work.

To make the sugar syrup bring 1 and 1/2 litres of water to the boil with 1 kg of caster or granulated sugar, stir to check all the sugar has dissolved.
Whilst this bubbles away,  clean the flower heads by shaking any bugs off and removing any sign of brown flowers, I also gave them a quick dunk in a bowl of water.
I got a great tip through twitter from Easton Walled Gardens to pick the heads when they are fabulously fragrant and heavy with pollen! Don't you love it?

Pare two unwaxed lemons with a veggie peeler and then slice up the fruit and place with the rind in a the bowl of elderflowers.

Pour over the sugar syrup and stir in 50g of citric acid. Simples.

Cover and leave to stand for at least 24 hours, some recipes advise 48 hours, which is what I did as I had also forgotten to get any bottles.

The house was wonderfully scented with lemony fragrance.
Strain through muslin or a new jay cloth and pour in to sterilised glass bottles. Wash and rinse the bottles and place in a warm oven for 15 minutes. Using a jug and a funnel pour into the hot sterilised bottles.  Or pour the cordial into plastic bottles and freeze for future use.

Elderflower cordial is such a delicious tipple,dilute with still or fizzy water and garnish with sliced lemon and mint. A summer's day could be magnificent with a cool glass of cordial in your hand, use it with icing sugar to ice lemon cupcakes or try it poured on ice cream.
Or mix up a cheeky cocktail with a shot of vodka, cordial,  lemon juice and soda water, shake it all up in your cocktail shaker and serve with lots of ice. Doesn't that make your mouth water?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Beach Huts and Picnics

So following on from our previous adventures, the Chap and I hotfooted it up to Yorkshire and to our dear friend's birthday celebrations in Whitby. Mrs Lee not only has a fabulous blog full of inspiring finds and mouthwatering recipes but the lucky lady is a proud owner of a scarlet red beach hut called Queenie.

As you can see it was the most glorious day -we were so lucky!
British seasides in the sun just can't be beat and what do you need  for that perfect day on the seaside- why a picnic, of course.
All laid out on a tartan woolie rug,just the right side of scratchy, wicker baskets full of lemonade and ginger beer, and a huge plastic chiller box filled with goodies.. egg and cress sandwiches wrapped in greaseproof paper, sausage rolls,  a homemade pork pie if you're feeling adventurous,  rolls filled with coronation chicken or ham. Loading melamine plates high and trying to avoid the sand from getting everywhere but of course it always does.
A flask of tea to warm you up after a quick dip in the freezing water, do you remember the Lift Lemon tea? oo that was the taste of seaside picnics for me. Shortbread biscuits, punnets of strawberries preferably bought from a roadside table and a dash to the ice cream van returning with 99's and cornettos for all the family. Now isn't that heaven?

Wouldn't you love to be a bathing beauty on one of these cossies?

The Golden Afternoon Tea Company's vintage seaside picnic is one of our most favourite things to do, we have a number of rugs, vintage deckchairs,vintage hampers and picnic sets to hire, all set with our unique china or melamine for the real retro flavour and packed full with deliciousness, sandwiches, cakes and cordials, there's even a little bottle with the sunshine in. Perfect for a day trip to the seaside.

If you're like me and you adore all these vintage beach pictures, the flickr retro beach group is fab for inspiration and you must look through the Beach Bygones blog for lots of gorgeous pictures and interesting finds. You can even buy your own 1950's costume through her online shop, there are some fantastic styles there, just what you need for lounging on the dunes.

Happy picnicking

          We would love to hear some of your favourite seaside picnic memories, what reminds you of sunny seaside days?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

have a cuppa tea

Have a cup of tea with The Kinks.
One to warm the cockles that's for sure.

Granny's always ravin' and rantin'
And she's always puffin' and pantin',
And she's always screaming and shouting,
And she's always brewing up tea.

Grandpappy's never late for his dinner,
Cos he loves his leg of beef
And he washes it down with a brandy,
And a fresh made cup of tea.

Have a cuppa tea, have a cuppa tea,
have a cuppa tea, have a cuppa tea,
Halleluja, halleluja, halleluja, Rosie Lea
Halleluja, halleluja, halleluja Rosie Lea.

If you feel a bit under the weather,
If you feel a little bit peeved,
Take granny's stand-by potion
For any old cough or wheeze.
It's a cure for hepatitis it's a cure for chronic insomnia,
It's a cure for tonsilitis and for water on the knee.


Tea in the morning, tea in the evening, tea at supper
You get tea when it's raining, tea when it's snowing.
Tea when the weather's fine,
You get tea as a mid-day stimulant
You get tea with your afternoon tea
For any old ailment or disease
For Christ sake have a cuppa tea.


Whatever the situation whatever the race or creed,
Tea knows no segregation, no class nor pedigree
It knows no motivations, no sect or organisation,
It knows no one religion,
Nor political belief.


Hallelujah indeed!

Friday, May 14, 2010

of cabbages, kings and lots of pretty things

Whilst tripping through the charming streets of Stoke Newington in North London last Sunday, what should I see but a sign for arts and craft fair- well a girl doesn't need asking twice and we snuck in smartish.
Organised by the owners of a shop called Of Cabbages and Kings, they host a monthly market at Abney Hall, Stoke Newington Church street, showcasing everything from vintage style knickers made from silk scarves, fabulously eccentric illustrations, little birds made from London clay, children's picture books to jewelry and decorative things essential to a pretty home.

Amongst my favourite spots were canvas bags by Doje especially the one with this print on it. I think Lina and I could be eligible for the Victoria Park tea ladies society, don't you? You can also buy their bags and prints here. Love the clever use of pen and ink illustration with a twist!

The chap and I were particularly tickled by this bag, the invented Hackney Guild of Taxidermists, compete with motto and emblematic zebras and owls!

At the next table were some great birdy items from Eskil Design, chopping boards, trays and also cute weather brooches, like this thunderstruck one- very 70's weather map!

She has an online shop too.
My wish list was growing with every step- a gorgeous hand painted bird box from London Clay Birds, and one of the smooth little birdies,made as the name suggests from that heavy clay found in all of London gardens, to perch on my windowsill. How about that for giving someone a piece of London? Have a peek at their folksy shop
More tweeting objects were oohed over at Heart Zeena's very pretty table. Supersweet textiles and illustrations with a folk art feel.
Teatowel too pretty to use and fab screen printed cushions found on etsy and folksy
An apple a day and this one is a cushion called fred!
There were lampshades covered in vintage fabric by Midnight-Bell  and the cutest sleeping sets from Sannapanda complete with fuzzy feltie hot water bottles, closed eye sleep masks and, something I have been searching for, ear plugs with tassles! Just like in Breakfast at Tiffany! Have a peek here.

And By Louise was one of my most favourite stands as she creates brooches, rings and pendants from pieces of vintage china, you can imagine how much I loved that. I was very taken with a bee design but had not a penny to rub together having cleared my purse out at the boot fair that morning.
(picture taken from Louise's flickr set)
And have a look at Trompe L'oeil on facebook for pictures of the silk shorts/knickers I was coveting.  Made from vintage scarves, totally pin up and perfect for posing in!

You can see who else was there on the Of Cabbages and Kings website.

The next market will be on 10th and 11th of June, highly recommended and there are tons of vintage clothes shops and delish cafes nearby to keep you happy.

Tootle pip!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tea Love

As tea lovers I’m imagining that most of us have can extol the virtues of that perfect cuppa, and no doubt we all have our little ways to go about making tea perfection. But if you have yet (shock horror) to whet your palette with the warm, feel-good inducing properties of tea, then take a look at George Orwell’s tea making rules……

A Nice Cup of Tea
By George Orwell (Evening Standard, 12 January 1946.)

If you look up 'tea' in the first cookery book that comes to hand you will probably find that it is unmentioned; or at most you will find a few lines of sketchy instructions which give no ruling on several of the most important points.

This is curious, not only because tea is one of the main stays of civilization in this country, as well as in Eire, Australia and New Zealand, but because the best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes.

When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I find no fewer than eleven outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty general agreement, but at least four others are acutely controversial. Here are my own eleven rules, every one of which I regard as golden:

• First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase 'a nice cup of tea' invariably means Indian tea.

• Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad.

• Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.

• Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes — a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.

• Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.

• Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.

• Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.

• Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one's tea is always half cold before one has well started on it.

• Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.

• Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.

• Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tealover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.

Some people would answer that they don't like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.

These are not the only controversial points to arise in connexion with tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole business has become. There is also the mysterious social etiquette surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary uses of tealeaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping the carpet. It is worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water that is really boiling, so as to make quite sure of wringing out of one's ration the twenty good, strong cups of that two ounces, properly handled, ought to represent.

Sounds like my ideal brew down to a tea - but always curious to know, how do you take yours?

(image from weheartit)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

One fine day

Haven't you been in raptures with the burst of pink cherry blossom lining the street this last week? Clouds of pink and the breeze carrying confetti.
A few days ago I  discovered a perfect spot for a cherry blossom tea party under an arbour of three trees whose branches filled the sky and we have some gorgeous photos to share with you very soon. It was gasp-makingly beautiful!

I thought I would dig out some of my favourite vintage cherry blossom finds.
This vintage tea set is by JG Meakin and is decorated with pink blossom and birds, mountains and bridges.

The design is called One Fine Day, after the aria from Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly, which was set in Japan and written when the obsession with Japanese and Exoticism was at it's height. Have a listen, it's such a romantic pieces of music.

This influence is apparent in the design and dates from the 1950's, the curved cherry blossom branches sweep gracefully round the curve of the plates and saucers, and the oval sandwich plate and shape of the milk jug are so distinctive.

There are even two birds inside the cup and  swooping off the edge. Love a teacup with birds, don't you?

I've been filling pots and window boxes with these pretty violas, and they are the perfect size for popping on cupcakes!

This Cherry blossom watercolour is one of my favourite finds, found at a car boot fair a couple of years ago, it still has the date it was framed on the back- 1945 in a printing shop in Dartford.

Enjoy the blossom, our wedding present cherry tree is fading fast. In a few days all we'll have left is the pink petal snow.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Votes and tea

It's been a beautiful day in London town, gloriously sunny and warm and as I'm sure you all know there's hopefully been a whole lot of voting going on. Regardless of which colour you prefer, it's so important for a girl to vote, you know. An awful lot went on to bring us to this point and don't you think many many cups of tea were drunk during those suffrage meetings?
Maybe they would have had a teapot like this..

 A spirited poster from 1909

Even Kellog's Cornflakes did their part. The cereal of suffrage!

 Here's a stamp designed in 1968 commissioned to mark the fiftieth anniversary of votes for women. Unfortunately the stamp was never made, would have been lovely to collect that one.

So don't forget now! You can even sing along to this wonderful song from Mary Poppins as you go..
' Though we adore men individually, we agree that as a group they're rather stuuupid'  T'riffic!