Category Archives: Tea

Haunting

My whole life is filled with hauntings lately.

I’m pretty sure I’m being haunted by a ghost. And not in a friendly, Casper-like way. In a malignant something’s-watching-me-from-the-corner-of-the-room way. It’s most likely my highly-strung imagination combined with watching horror films and reading a ghost story. (Though how you explain footsteps up and down the stairs when you’re tucked up in bed and there’s no one else in the house beats me). I took Sophie-cat to sleep on the end of my bed last night it’s getting so bad. I’m pretty sure Mummaloo and Poppaloo think I’m going nuts (it’s a 1960s built house and I’m pretty sure there were no deaths here before we moved in). I guess it doesn’t help that I still have an irrational fear of the dark (I don’t care what you say, 24 years old does not mean you get over your fear of not being able to see what’s under or at the end of your bed/in the wardrobe/at the other end of the hallway).

I am also being haunted by a Blue Tit. No euphemisms please. Every morning I am greeted by a tapping on the frosted window of the back door. I’m kind of enjoying the greeting with my morning cuppa. I’m just terrified of opening the back door and finding he flies in and becomes Sophie-cat’s new plaything.

And, finally, I am being haunted by the novel-that-never-was. Or, should I say, the novel-that-should-be-but-is-still-gathering-dust. All my fancy promises of a new start and writing every day seemed to fall to the wayside almost as quickly as I announced them. Life is still taking over. Instead, my forlorn little notebook is just looking (forlornly) at me with (forlorn) accusatory eyes. It follows me around the room, begging to be picked up, but not daring to say anything in case I hurt its feelings by giving a half-baked excuse of being too busy. I even dreamt about the damn thing last night! But that might have been the overdose of Sudafed I took in an attempt to breathe whilst sleeping affecting my brain patterns, or whatever.

What’s haunting you at the moment?

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Filed under Blogging, Sophie things, Tea, Writing

Save the Teapot

And so, like the dreaded chocolate version, the bottom is falling out of the teapot industry. Big brands have launched a campaign in an attempt to save this oh-so British tradition. Twitter was rife with trending hash tags, and teapots even featured on today’s BBC Breakfast (tea cosy and all).

So what is it that is making us turn from the trusty teapot? Most argue it’s the convenience of a good old tea bag… after all, who has proper time for brewing a good pot of tea nowadays?

As a tea-fiend, I for one am backing the campaign to save the teapot. There is honestly nothing better than a pot of good, home-brewed tea to soothe the soul (preferably with some scones, raspberry jam and lashings of cream for extra soothing, but I’m not fussy). Having tea from a teapot is a bit of a special event – from the preparation to the pouring to the drinking – and it’s a wonderful symbol of friendship and community. What better way to welcome friends than to put on a pot of tea?

So, support our teapots! I think we tea-fiends should unite and save the humble teapot from an innocuous death. I for one will be nipping in to Whittard for my own pot (my current beige two-cup-worth pot simply isn’t enough – I need a matching milk jug and sugar pot too) as soon as I get the chance!

It doesn’t matter if you’re reading this and you’re not British (that’s no excuse) – because tea isn’t just for us Brits any more (we’ll forgive you Americans for the whole Boston thing).

Normally a coffee drinker? Bah! I say – time for tea (and none of that “I need the caffeine” rubbish, tea has the same amount of caffeine as coffee just in a slower hit).

Never had tea before? Pop your tea cherry with a good, hot pot of the stuff.

A tea connoisseur? How about creating your own blend? My fellow tea fiend Ana even tweeted me to inform me of her own blend (Darjeeling and Ceylon if you’re intrigued).

Put down your PG Tips triangle bag – designed for the fuller flavour from the brew – and pick up that loose leaf Earl Grey that’s been in the corner cupboard since last Christmas, dig out that sterling silver strainer your Gran left you and that stained and well-loved (but now almost forgotten) teapot out. It’s time for tea.

Long live the teapot!!!

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Story Cubes

Tuesday was Tea with Bits Day. We did the usual – meet in Caffè Nero in Waterstones and put the world to rights, and then spend the next hour browsing to our hearts’ content. I had a couple of books in mind that I wanted to get: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (in the posh new cover, not the teen one) and Ulysses by James Joyce (after a long discussion with E at work, who happens to be a bit of a Joycian). Well, I failed on the first point, but managed to nab a copy of Ulysses and also a copy of The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore – because after my last post I was too overwhelmingly excited to wait. Standing at the till – waving loyalty card and stamp card and money at the bookseller with too much enthusiasm – I noticed THESE little bad boys. Have you ever had those decision dice that you rolled to decide what to do (“homework”, “eat”, “sleep” etc.)? These are almost the same – dice with little images on that help you decide what to write a story about. You simply start with Once Upon a Time and use the upward facing pictures for the rest.

Okay, so they’re a daft little game to pass the time (and procrastinate) and I’m pretty sure most of the stories I can come up with are surreal humour pieces, but I really fell in love with them. Just think of the possibilities!

So I’m starting a blog game… Each week I will roll the dice and write up the short story for all to see. However, before that begins, I thought I’d let you lot have a go.

Here’s what the dice have given you today!

Keyhole
Beetle
Footprint
Arrow
Crescent moon
Castle
World
Clock
Shooting star

Let me know what you come up with – I will be posting my own short story from this soon.

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Filed under Tea, Word Wonders

Versatile Blogger

I am extremely flattered and even more surprised that Life and Laughter nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award! Normally I get told to shut up with my ramblings, but apparently by blog it’s more acceptable – so thank you to everyone who reads the blog, and especially to Life and Laughter for the nomination.

The rules of the award are that I now have to reveal 7 things you previously didn’t know about me, and what you know you can’t un-know… you have been warned…

1. I’m a natural blonde. Yes, these astounding chocolate locks come from a bottle! I did it in first year of uni because I was bored, and also sick of people asking me why I had dark eyebrows and blonde hair, and I’ve never looked back!

2. I have sky-dived, bungee-jumped, white-water rafted, hang-glided, wrestled a lion (okay, cuddled baby lions) and ridden on the back of a Galapagos tortoise. No, I’m not mental (not totally anyway), it was when I went travelling before university. I decided to try EVERYTHING, and promptly did– though I will never, ever bungee jump again.

3. I only discovered the joys of tea a few years ago. Tea was a relatively unknown and unexplored area for me until university, when tea became an all-important accessory to the degree.

4. I have a weakness for lemon tart. So I can’t really eat it now, and this breaks my heart, because honestly that stuff is like a drug for me. I could eat my way through an entire Tesco Tarte au Citron in one sitting if I could (if anyone has a gluten-free lemon tart recipe, I will sell you my first child for it).

5. I hate feet. Not just in a “that’s gross” way. I really, truly hate feet. The very thought of them turns my stomach. I can barely look at my own and if you dare get one of your feet near me, I will kill you. Just so you know.

6. I’m a vodka snob. Actually, if you went to university with me, you’d probably know that. It’s Smirnoff where needs be, Absolut if possible and Snow Leopard for when I’m rich. That’s it… no supermarket own-brand rubbish. If it’s even close to paint stripper, I’ll use it as paint stripper rather than drink it.

7. And last, but not least, one of my favourite films of all time is Bubble Boy. Normally, I’m a supernatural/gore-fest/action thriller type of gal (no sappy chick flicks thanks), but I will make an exception for Bubble Boy. It’s just so CUTE. I do love other films like Hook and Jack, and I adore Marie Antoinette and Anchorman, but as a rule, it tends to have to have some kind of bloodshed. Oh, and foreign films and art films are my“aren’t I cultured” choices (Coco before Chanel, A Single Man,Che Part One) for if I’m trying to impress someone. Poppaloo brought me up on Monty Python, and Mummaloo indulged my love of Disney, but Bubble Boyis one of those films that I chose for myself, and I can watch over and over again without a break, and still find it awesome.

So there you have it – the seven things you didn’t know about me. And now, another award rule, it’s my turn to nominate some Versatile Bloggers. Introducing to you the 15 bloggers deserving of the award:

1. Bound by Books
2. Anything Goes
3. The Monster in Your Closet
4. Devouring Scotland
5. Every Book and Cranny
6. Hold Your Horses
7. With my shoes full of feet
8. neverlandking
9. Cakes, Tea and Dreams
10. One Book on the Shelf
11. Everyday in Stilettos
12. conchsaladesque
13. Carole Finds her Wings
14. Travels with the Blonde Coyote
15. Stupid Ugly Foreigner

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The January Slump

So the year has started, not with a bang, not with anything very interesting happening at all really. In fact, apart from starting a new role at work, life has fairly plodded. This is great! you think; this means lots of time to dedicate to seeing friends, drinking tea, attending to blogs and even (dare I say it) doing some writing! I am, after all, a social animal with a penchant for tea, blogging and writing. Yup, you’d think so.

Instead, I had forgotten how exhausting it is actually doing something each day. Nearly two weeks off with nothing better to do than eat and vegetate, and my “writing muscle” has gone weak, limp and useless. I’m the writer’s version of a flabby ex-gym-bunny. From time to time I push myself to blogging, if I have any energy left after throwing myself into my new job. (Serene as a swan on top, paddling like mad underneath). The new job is exciting, busy and completely and totally NEW. Learning on the job, for some reason, seems more tiring than anything else.

I have reached the January Slump – that quiet, forgotten bit of the year where everything and everyone takes a huge breather. Including, it seems, writing. The only bit that hasn’t slowed down is my five-cups-a-day tea habit (I think it’s around five cups a day now anyway). Even now, on a Sunday afternoon when I have nothing better to do, I am sat here with a cuppa instead of a pen.

How do you get out of your January Slump? Do you even get one?

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Filed under New Year, Tea, Writing Curves

Winter is Coming…

Have you tried Googling “winter is coming”. It’s freaking hilarious!

Anyway. Winter is definitely on its way. I’m sleeping in a hoodie and slippers because the radiators are on the blink even when turned up full blast. My tea drinking has doubled (shocking, I know) and I’m slightly tempted to write with fingerless gloves on.

Still no snow though. Just ridiculously freezing rain and wind, and miserable weather all around. What I need right now is a roaring fire and a blanket. And I’m not even middle-aged.

I’m keeping myself occupied by watching episodes of The Wire (new addiction, which is annoying seeing as there’s five whole seasons to work through), reading Perks and LOTR, and downing tea like I have moments to live… which, by the way, sometimes it feels like because it’s so COLD. Remember I mentioned writing a snow-scene for my novel which is primarily set in summer? I think it might be to do with the weather. Now, how does it sound when I say I’m going write my novel backwards?

Bear with me. WINTER IS COMING. The start of my novel is in summer, yes? So why not have the ending in winter? After all, there needs to be some kind of timeline. And I’m always useless at getting endings right, so why not begin with the end and work backwards? Can’t go wrong then, right?

Yes, my friends, winter is coming… and I’m going to write about it.

It’s also convinced me that A Clash of Kings is the next book on the list. I miss the Starks!

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Filed under Tea, Writing

The Perks of Being a Tea-drinker

I love tea. I talk about tea all the time (and not just on this blog). Tea is a British Institution. It’s a symbol of the Stiff Upper Lip, Tally-ho and WotWot of all British clichés. I do nothing to disperse this image – when I’m in a restaurant I still have to ask for tea (and not an espresso or whatever’s fashionable coffee). Tea is a cure for all ills, and that’s why we English love it (I can’t speak for the Welsh, Scottish or Irish – though I hear that they’re not averse to it). It solves crises, resolves arguments, begins love affairs, ends love affairs, keeps families together and has been witness to gossip and intrigue for centuries.

For me, a good cup of tea is ideal in the following situations:

1. In front of the telly/watching a film

2. Reading a book

3. Writing

4. When you’ve just got up (particularly good when hungover or über-tired)

5. When you’ve just got in from work/shopping/walking the dog/seeing friends

6. Just after dinner/lunch

7. When you have cake

8. When you’re catching up with friends and/or family

9. When you’ve just got in and it’s been raining/snowing/hailing/all of the above and there is a radiator on and you have big fluffy slippers on and you can just rest

10. ALL THE TIME

The title of this blog post has been shamelessly ripped off and adapted from the book I am currently reading: The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This book, I have decided, is a particularly good tea-drinking book. It’s not a huge, heavy tome that requires both hands to hold (so therefore one hand is free for tea), and it’s not too intense that you forget you have tea and then take a slurp of tepid tea-like stuff and nearly spill it down you in horror. So I have been drinking lots of tea whilst reading Perks, but I have also been drinking a lot of tea whilst I write.

I have already gone over this in previous posts – and it’s a well-known fact amongst NaNo-heads that the healing qualities of tea can help all those ailing under the NaNo-madness (which, strangely, is sorely missed right now). I now feel that tea should have a cameo in the novel. As, after all, it is tea that has got me thus far, and it will be tea that takes me to the end in limping, milky-with-lots-of-sugars-please moments. Now, the decision is: what kind of tea should it be? Is it going to be tea as we know it – that black-leafed, bagged-up stuff that you add your milk to? Or should it be that posh, fancy-free tea – green tea or herbal tea or fruit tea or whatever-else-tea it’s popular to be gulping down at the moment?

Is it a good old-fashioned British mug of black breakfast tea for a fantasy novel, or a flower-infused herbal hot water? I honestly can’t decide – the herbal stuff seems more… fantastical to me. And yet, I’m a traditionalist at heart. If it’s not PG Tips (though there are many other brands available in your local supermarket), I’m not interested. I’m only just coming round to Earl Grey and Lady Grey! How can I hope to know about jasmine tea and peppermint tea if I simply don’t know enough about it? Mummaloo drinks fruit and herbal teas by the tank-load. They smell delicious, and are far less faff than your bog-standard cuppa (just-add-water), but they don’t have any of the heart-warming qualities of that beige-brown, hot liquid that we know as TEA.

What’s your top brew? Any suggestions for Fantasy Tea?

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