Tea for seven and seven for tea

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(or seven fall into a sugar induced coma)

I am very excited to report that I have been somewhere lovely for afternoon tea, thus achieving the first challenge on List 34.

I found some friends who could attend, a venue and a menu (mid sentence rhyming, how super) that was slightly out of the ordinary. Why have PG Tips and a scone when you can have apple pie tea, meringue carrots and edible chocolate cups? At the Sanderson Hotel in the West end of London, you can have a mad hatter of an afternoon tea fit for a March hare, a dormouse and even Alice.

The hotel is rather fancy, five star don’t you know, but this is probably a good thing, otherwise I suspect at least one of our party would have insisted on us channelling our inner Lewis Carroll outfit wise and we’d have been in fancy dress wandering around the West end shouting “Off with their heads” and “You’re entirely bonkers”.

Afternoon tea itself was very creative; drink me potions in delightful little bottles (so delightful that I suspect one of our party stole one… shhhh…don’t tell anyone), cakes shaped like clocks and fizzy popping candy making a curiouser and curiouser appearance when least expected, Heston Blumenthal style.

The savoury selection was also yummy, multi-coloured triangle sandwiches nestled alongside teeny homemade quiches. Although as tasty as the cucumber and chive cream cheese on spinach bread was, I couldn’t shake the feeling that eating bright green bread was wrong on a ‘is this loaf radioactive?’ level.

There were some delicious mini savoury scones, unfortunately these were placed rather too near to the delicious mini sweet scones and some idiot got them confused.*

*possibly me

I can however confirm that cheese scones with strawberry jam and coconut scones with herb butter both make for unusual but not entirely unpleasant taste sensations.

Two hours later and we were all full to bursting and about one piece of rainbow coloured white chocolate or strawberry and cream flavoured mushroom away from type two diabetes. Alice may have thought it was the silliest tea party she ever went to. I prefer the Mad Hatter’s approach “it’s always tea time”.

Where there’s a will

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Seven months ago I launched List 34; a list of 34 things that I would like to achieve before I turn 40 in ten three and a half years time.

With 34 missions and a four year timeframe, we don’t need Carol Voderman’s big mathematical brain to calculate that I need to be moving full steam ahead to complete the list in a timely manner.

So I’m very excited to share all of the marvellous things I have accomplished so far.

Here goes:

*dramatic drum roll noise to build suspense*

Achievements:

*longer than necessary pause like the ones on Strictly Come Dancing or the X-Factor that happen before the winner is announced*

I am the very proud owner of one ‘Last Will and Testament’

End of list

There we have it; seven months, one deed. I am ashamed. Not because there are so many other things left to do, that’s good, it gives me something to look forward to. My sense of disappointment is great because of how utterly, utterly boring this accomplishment is. Important, yes. Necessary, yes. Rock and roll? No.

I have not watched a sunset in a beautiful location (No 4) written a novel (No 6) or built an igloo (No 11), my life has been devoid of helicopters (No 19), treasure hunts (No 18) and charitable undertakings (No 28). What have I been doing with my time?

I have downloaded ‘The Great Gatsby’ (No 22) to my kindle but I haven’t read it and my savings account is not currently empty (No 32), 45p counts right?

I suppose what I have done is the bucket list equivalent of eating my green beans first (why must they squeak so?) and saving my potatoes until last (carbs are my friend). I’ve got the will out of the way and I’m heading face first into afternoon tea (No 1). Figuratively not literally, no-one wants a quiche face pack or scone exfoliator. I’m going to bust open Breaking Bad (No 14) and add to that 45p. Bring on New York (No 34).

***

If you would like to read my tribute to Kate, you can find it here

List 34 in full.

My friend Kate

There is a very famous first line of a novel which came to mind when I heard the news. In Love Story by Erich Segal, Oliver Barrett IV says “What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant? That she loved Mozart and Bach, the Beatles, and me?”

The quote kept going around in my head, with some slight modification. “What can you say about a thirty-four-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant? That she loved food and travel, Dexter the dog, and Steve?”

There’s no other way of putting it really; on 15 July 2014, my friend Kate passed away after a tragic accident and knowing that I will never see her again, is terribly sad.

I worked with Kate for six years, but I can’t really remember her being just a work colleague, we had a lot of fun together:

At the risk of sounding like the cliché queen, Kate really was a ray of sunshine. She was always bright and positive. A doer, always trying new things and going to new places. She had a tremendous passion for life and I take comfort from the fact that she experienced so much.

Kate was witty and intelligent. At work she was calm and composed and had a confidence and self assurance that made everyone feel at ease.

Outside of work she was a pleasure to spend time with. I can remember so many social events that we enjoyed together; canal boats, comedy nights, dinners, dancing, drinking. She was at my flat when the infamous ‘Robert Leader’ cocktail was invented. I say invented as though it was something that we planned or thought through. I think the conversation went something like this:

[Quite a few vodkas into the evening at Chateau de Josiejolene]

Me: Right, who wants another drink? Vodka and orange all round?

Everyone: YES!

Me: Balls. I’ve only got a tiny amount of orange juice left.

One of the gang:  [Because my measures of vodka are always colossal] Can you add something else to it?

Me: Erm… I haven’t got much else.

One of the gang: I’ve got some Red Bull.

Me: Fair enough, let’s stick it in.

If memory serves correct, I think Kate was the guinea pig who tried the made up drink for the first time and deemed it acceptable for the rest of us to drink. I can’t recall why we decided to also stick a cocktail cherry in it. Drunk logic I’m sure.

Inspired by my gorgeous, enthusiastic, adventurous and spirited friend, I have spent a lot of time thinking about how I could best pay tribute to her and I have decided upon List 34.

The list consists of 34 things that I would like to achieve by the time that I am 40. An age that until 15 July, I was pretty apprehensive about heading towards. Now, I’m just grateful to have the opportunity.

Goodbye my lovely friend. Thank you for the smiles, the laughter and the good times: