“your hand needs to be empty to take something”
said my very best friend to me once. the deeper meaning of this profound saying didn't strike until one cool, gusty springish afternoon when i wandered into Fortnum and Mason and curtseyed.
okay, i didnt curtsey, but i was wide-eyed as my head went “ill have one in every flavour” (referring to their marvellous jams, scrumptious biscuits and candied fruit) while my heart went pitter-patter. wracked with indecision i decided the best thing under such circumstances was to have a propah sit down tea - that splendid british institution that insists you stuff yourself with tiny delicious things in the late afternoon, accompanied by endless cups of no-milk tea and then waddle back to wherever you came from.
while the bemused waiter tried to help with the tea selection, saying unhelpful things such as “how about the assam?” and “the flowery pekoe is a bestseller”, my eyes lighted on the russian caravan, that beautiful tea (russians and caravans not included) which i had last had many moons ago at yet another grand tea at the sydney observatory hotel.
as i sank deeper into the plush furnishings my eyes skipped appreciatively over the gaggle of beautiful cakes straddling the centre table. the coffee machine whirred in the background and the low hum of chattering swirled over me, punctuated by the tinkle of real silver and laughter. i sighed contentedly thinking, good decision.
it was about the time that Take Five by Dave Brubeck started playing that the smokey russian caravan tea arrived: you could practically hear the fire crackling and violins playing while a wizened fortune teller told tall tales about your soon-to-be-but-where-is-he intended and of course you believed every word
the russians were closely followed by no-crust, just-so finger (licking good) sandwiches of smoked salmon, cucumber, roast beef, egg salad and coronation chicken (my favourite)
and then, perfect, perfect warm crumbly divine head over heels in love with scones which if you are lucky you find once or twice in your lifetime (okay maybe thrice if you have one of those special grandmothers). the scones soon had on them masterfully messily applied wild (wild) strawberry jam, so thick it wobbled ever so slowly off my jammy spoon, topped with real honest to goodness clotted cream that i could have just slathered all over myself
and finally, little beauties of cakes and fancies... well i don't mind if i do!
replete with happiness as i nibbled and savoured and delighted in and enjoyed, all i could think of was:
1. im so lucky
2. thank God i have two hands ;)