On Being British and drinking tea


I’ve recently read Pretty Good Number One, a food memoir written by an American on his time spent in Japan. What struck me most was not the differences between US and Japanese cultures, but the similarities between the Japanese and English. Nowhere was this more abundantly clear than when it came to drinking tea. I did some internet research and was informed that although Americans think that they have tea, it’s not the same strength or flavour, they make it with hot (not boiling) water and don’t use milk. Is this true? Can any American readers let me know please?

Personally, I love a good cup of tea. It’s a much gentler way of getting a caffeine fix. A standard response to bad news in the UK is “I’ll stick the kettle on” – which translates to “I’ll make tea” (my internet research also suggested Americans don’t have electric kettles. Is this true? How do you boil water?) Tea is also a standard hangover cure, is given to people in shock and is a great restorative drink after a busy day.

Making tea can be as complicated or as simple as you want it to be. The easiest way is with a teabag in a mug, but for a fuller flavour you can use loose leaf tea in a teapot. Just to be clear, this is British (black) tea (commonly referred to as builders tea), not herbal, fruit, green or iced tea (I don’t even know what that last one is). There’s lots of different varieties of black tea but I’m going to show you how to make a standard cup of British tea.

First, you need a mug or a cup. Everyone will tell you that tea is better in a China teacup (that’s a cup made from China clay, which is actually British). No one in the UK below the age of 70 actually uses them though, unless you’re having afternoon tea in a nice cafe somewhere. We all use mugs, which are sturdier and can survive the dishwasher.

Below are a few pics of teacups that I’ve inherited from my grandma, and some of my own mugs:

Next, you need to find some tea, either loose or in a teabag:

If you’re using loose tea, you’ll need a teapot and strainer. If you’re using teabag you can add it straight to the mug. 

I have a collection of teapots that I’ve inherited from various relatives:

You’ll then need to add boiling water, either into your mug over the teabag or over the tea leaves in the teapot. I boil my water in an electric kettle, or you can use an old fashioned stovetop whistling kettle:

If you’re using a teapot, leave the tea to brew for a few minutes, then pour it into the cup through the tea strainer. If you’re using a teabag, poke it a bit to release the flavour, then discard. Add milk and sugar, if you want. (Black tea is almost always drunk with the addition of milk. Sugar comes down to personal preference). In all cases, stir. 

That’s it! A lovely cup of tea. Enjoy!

Advertisements

Godiva Festival

http://www.godivafestival.com

I love the Godiva festival. Every year it gets bigger and better. I can remember the days when it was one stage, a few local bands and bring your own beer. Now, It’s a full on commercial enterprise with some big name acts as well as lots of promotion of local and unsigned artists. Also, it’s completely free!

This year we had some unforseen issues on the Saturday (a power cut from a broken electricity meter) so we finally got there in the late afternoon. We bought some beer (they really need to get more bar staff or make the bars bigger, the queue took forever) and had a look round the local/vintage/craft stalls. We caught the end of the Mystery Jets set (really good) and managed to get really close to the front to see the Charlatans. Their gig was excellent. The Charlatans were one of my favourite bands growing up and they played all their hits plus a couple of new songs which sounded really good. I was surprised at how young the crowd was and how into it they all seemed. I just about managed to avoid the mosh pit but there was a great energetic vibe without it getting too violent.

Unfortunately I was ill on the Sunday but I really wanted to go to see the launch of the Coventry City of Culture 2021 bid. There was some great acts on too like Sound of the Sirens and Emma McGann plus I wanted to check out He is a Pegasus. Oh well.

If anyone is from the West Midlands they really should visit the Godiva Festival. Beer, sunshine, great bands, free entry…what more could you want?

Ben Folds Live – Birmingham Symphony Hall

image

‘What are you wearing to the gig?’ I asked my friend Jess. ‘Ummm…’ was the reply.
‘Are you dressing up?’ I asked.
‘Ummmm’ said Jess again. ‘I don’t know. What are you wearing?’
‘I don’t know’ I said. ‘Should we dress up?’
‘Oh God’ said Jess. ‘I don’t know. Maybe?’

This conversation went on in a circular fashion for about another half an hour. You see, we were both used to going to gigs in pubs. Gigs in clubs. Gigs in fields. Dirty gigs in the back room of a bar where we would have to move furniture out of the way to dance, or where we would have to wade through raw sewage if we wanted to use the toilets. But never a gig with an orchestra that had actual proper seating in a Symphony Hall. It felt like we should be wearing heels (why not? We’d be sitting down).

Going to this gig made me feel like a grown up.

Birmingham Symphony Hall is a beautiful concert space. It has great acoustics and is clearly built to provide maximum impact for classical/orchestral music. It is grand and plush and imposing. It has clean toilets. It was not designed to showcase one girl and her bassist playing intimate, dreamy folk rock. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we got.

Poor, poor Lera Lynn. As a support act I could see why she was chosen to go on the Ben Folds tour – her music was in a similar vein to some of his work so I can understand why the organisers thought that the audience might like her. Unfortunately, this was completely the wrong tour to be on. Her music got swallowed up by the space. What could have been hauntingly beautiful became, quite frankly, boring. It didn’t help that we had such comfortable seats. Quiet, dreamy music + velour chair + audience over 30 on a Monday night = sleepy time. Luckily, we had Ben Folds and yMusic to wake us up.

THIS is what the space was built for.

I am a huge fan of Ben Folds. He is creative and clever and funny and engaging and he isn’t afraid to be utterly geeky about the music that he loves. By re-working his songs to include the orchestra he added a totally new dimension which was such an incredible thing to witness live. At one point Ben started freestyling with things that the audience were shouting out (like ‘rock this bitch’) and he somehow composed an entire song around it. Live. Including all 7 members of the orchestra. How does he do it? It sounded incredible. Proof that Ben Folds is a genius.

I had a great time at the gig. It was like nothing that I had ever experienced before. It was weird to be siting down (but nice cause, you know, heels) and to be able to see the band was novel (I’m 5ft1). If anyone gets the opportunity to see this tour then I would urge them to do so.

I write because…

*This is a 15 minute free writing exercise as part of the writing 101 challenge. Please forgive any repetition or meandering thought processes!

I write because there’s all these thoughts and opinions insideof me that I need to let out, otherwise I’ll go crazy.

I write because I need a challenge and a focus in my life.

I write because I’ve read enough free ebooks/blogs/fan fiction to think that I can do better.

I write because I’m egotistical enough to think that someone, somewhere will be interested in what I have to say.

I write because I want to connect with the world.

I write because I’ve read my old diaries and they are unintentionally hilarious.

I write because I want to attempt an authentic snapshot of my life.

I write because hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I write because I believe that if you work at something you love, good things will happen.

I write because I want people to understand me.

I write because I want to spread some positivity and happiness.

I write because I find it cathartic.

I write because I love words and language.

I write because I enjoy it.

I write because I want to meet Neil Gaiman.

 

It’s all about me

Hello world,

Allow me to introduce myself, I don’t think we’ve met before. My name is Lucinda. I’m 33 and from the West Midlands – no, you don’t have to do the accent. I’m unemployed despite having two degrees and a load of professional experience. I usually work in HR which is an utter nightmare. For example, here’s a few situations which I’ve had to devote weeks of my time to:

* someone used the wrong milk – we need to investigate it as potential theft

*a dog was left in an employee’s car – can you look into it?

*someone has hurt their back having sex on top of a company car, are they entitled to free physio?

*someone is off sick but when we went round their house they appeared round the corner on a white horse, is this allowed?

*we need to employ a new temp – the old one has moved on and there’s no one to make the toast

*as a manager I shouldn’t have to look after all these people issues – that’s your job

*I’ve had to have a vasectomy because I’m Catholic, if you don’t let me have paid time off I’ll sue you for religious discrimination

*You took too long investigating my initial grievance so I’m launching a new one about the delay

*We can’t change his company car allowance, his ex wife had it written into their divorce settlement

So, I’m unemployed. Unsurprisingly, I haven’t been particularly motivated to find a new role. DISCLAIMER ALERT : I’m not claiming any kind of benefits (not that there’s anything wrong with that) I’m living off my meagre savings. This blog is about my life at home and what you can get up to when you’re not occupied 9-5 and have no income. (Seriously, who works those hours? I think you get my point though.)

I have a number of interests which I’ll hopefully be blogging about – gardening, interior design, antiques, reading, cooking, eating out, art, culture – as well as relationships, people, family and life in general. As I’m at home all day I wanted to do something that would connect with the outside world and would use my brain (I’ve literally forgotten how to write). I’d love to gain a few regular followers and to hear your opinions on what I have to say.