I always have a slight worry about doing something like this as there’s the question of whether it can possibly live up to its reputation.
My close friend was extraordinarily kind and bought this experience for my birthday treat, knowing that it was sitting there at the top of my list. I was really moved and excited when I opened her invitation.
So last week off we both went. Our reservation was at 7.30 in the evening, not a traditional time for tea, but I’m past worrying about traditions. I must say, we felt apprehensive about entering such a swanky establishment – after all, they’re the domain of the privileged, the rich, the famous, aren’t they? They’re not for the likes of little old ordinary us. However, one thing I’ve noticed about getting older is that I care less about what people think. I’m just as entitled to be there as the next person.
The doorman welcomed us and we entered the Long Room, where we waited to be shown to our table. The decor was ornate, pastels and gold; there were starched, white tablecloths, silver teapots, cutlery and other items necessary for tea. We selected our tea from a scarily long list, choosing the Earl Grey, which had a beautiful flavour that I wouldn’t have thought possible in a tea. The waiter carefully placed a cake stand with delicately cut sandwiches (no crusts here) on the bottom tier, the middle tier was waiting to house the scones that would follow, and residing at the top were perfectly proportioned and exquisitely presented cakes. At some point, a small creamy dessert appeared and then a cake trolley drew up offering more tempting treats. Very thoughtfully, my friend had ordered champagne.
I thought there might be lots of snooty, upper-class ladies who lunch, but there weren’t. There were couples, some surprisingly young, and groups of friends. A trio, or was it a quartet, played its accompaniment to our eating, drinking and chatting.
The experience felt incredibly relaxing and a perfectly normal thing to be doing on a Wednesday evening, an oasis of calm and civility in a hectic life. The two hours passed extremely quickly and I completely enjoyed every delicious minute and cream-filled second.
It was a very special thing to do, an experience and I will always remember and treasure. I would like to say a big, big, thank you to my dear friend.