Tag Archives: tea cups

A Queensland High Tea.

Leaving behind Bangalow Markets, we were back onto the interminable Pacific Highway heading back over the Queensland border for High Tea at the Old Teahouse Gallery in Mudgeeraba in the lush Gold Coast hinterland. With traffic ever unpredictable, we arrived an hour early, giving us time for explorations and an impromptu photo shoot.

This was stage two of my Sister-In-Law’s 60th Surprise Birthday Party. I must admit it was getting harder to keep the secret quiet, especially when she’d asked us when we were heading home the night before. I’m not a good liar.

Although we’d been on quite a journey, this house is surprisingly well travelled. Nothing like splitting a house in two, sticking it on the back of a truck and moving it around.

In 1911, it was originally built in Scarborough Street, Southport. Salvaged from demolition, it was cut in half and moved into a historic pioneer village, The Settlement. In April 1995, the house was sold, cut in half once again and moved to its current location in Mudgeeraba, nestled among gigantic eucalypts and palms. No wonder it hasn’t moved since. It no doubt wants to put down roots and settle down.

Mama RJL in front of house

If you are not familiar with Queenslander houses, they have their own unique charm and have been designed to suit the hot, wet Queensland climate:

“The Australian tropical house conjures a vision of a large sprawling timber structure on stumps with an extensive, deep, shaded verandah accessed via French doors. The roof is iron and the pitch is steep. A bougainvillaea, a Mango tree, and or a Frangipani adorn the front garden of the house. The primary reason for the development of the Queenslander was the climate. The long hot summer days often ended with a torrential downpour. A house with wide verandahs that provided shelter from these conditions was essential. The importance of the verandahs as an architectural element in a tropical Australian house cannot be underestimated because it is one area which lent itself to an informal semi-outdoor lifestyle suited to the climate. The verandah became an integral part of every house and their use an essential part of the Australian way of life. The cool space framed with white posts, decorative balustrades and brackets became a symbol of the tropical house as an essential link between the indoors and the outdoors.

http://traditionalqueenslanders.com.au/History-of-The-Queenslander.php

Roderick Street

My Grandparents’ Queenslander House.

Stepping into the Old Teahouse Gallery, we weren’t only experiencing its history. Indeed, we were returning to my grandparents’ Queenslander home in Ipswich and retracing the footsteps of my great grandparents and their parents and even their parents before them. My grandmother’s family were Queensland pioneers in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Bowen.

So, as I’m sure you’ll understand, being inside this pretty Queenslander House, brought back so many bitter-sweet memories. My grandparents have passed away. Their Queenslander home has been sold. And, we don’t cross over the border often now either.

Memories, light the corners of my mind
Misty water color memories of the way we were
Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind
smiles we gave to one another
for the way we were.

The Way We Were.

Portrait Mama & Papa

My Grandparents.

Indeed, my memories of my grandparents are so vivid and real, that I can almost reach out and touch them again. Say hello. Give them a hug. Hear their unforgettable voices again. Then, those visions brutally fade and they’re gone. Just like phantom limb pains, my renewed grief is like that macabre, intense itch on a missing foot. Memory’s now hacking through my heartstrings like a blunt knife, severing those precious ties all over again. A desperate beggar, I fall to my knees. Please…just one last cup of tea, one last chat? Then again, I can’t help being greedy and wanting more.

Indeed, I would love my grandmother to meet my kids and for them to know her. I’d love them to go fishing with my grandfather with his handmade line, frugally wrapped around an old lemonade bottle. How I’d love them to hear his stories. He was famous for his stories. They might have been the same old stories and I still remember the annoyance: “We’ve already heard that one”. Little did we know, that he’d outlive his stories, his memories and that laugh would be silenced long before we’d say goodbye.

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Visiting my grandfather with the kids, looking at my son’s Fisher Price laptop. Our visit brought his right out of his shell. It was incredible!

You see, my grandfather developed Alzheimer’s, that cruel disease which snatches away more than just your memories. Like a blasted thief striking during the night, the disease took him away too. At least, the man we knew and who knew us… not that we loved him any less. Perhaps, feeling him slip away, we even loved him more!

Goodbye

My grandfather waving goodbye as my grandmother stands at the top of the stairs.

Yet, while there were all those spangled threads of memories past, with a spider’s architectural genius, we were weaving new threads into a dazzling web. Down the end of the table, the children sparkled, back lit by the sun. Our son sat at the head of their table, surrounded by the girls wearing floral garlands…almost “girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes”.

High tea kids

The kids enjoying a magical high tea.

Time for tea.

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The table was beautifully presented and we each had our own, unique vintage tea cup, saucer and plate. Nothing beats tea in a vintage bone china tea cup, except when you have a smorgasbord of specialty teas to choose from.We were presented with what I’ll call a tea tray with over twenty different varieties of tea in little jars. It was very hard to choose only one and inhaling the rich scents of “Creme Brulee”, “Fruits of the Forest”, orange, cinnamon, raspberry… What bliss!

 

I chose Creme Brulee. Please don’t ask me to describe the specifics. I’m not the tea equivalent of one of those wanky wine tasters who can find “plum” in a grape. What I will say, however, is that the tea tasted fresh and very smooth. That’s as good as my description gets.

However, High Tea isn’t just about tea and fancy dresses. It’s also about dainty, edible morsels in miniature.

Considering we hadn’t had lunch and our sitting started at 2.ooPM, our family was ravenous. Naturally, I wondered whether all these small morsels were going to be enough to satisfy our enormous appetites. Was this going to be one of those places where you need to dip down the road for “real food” after paying $50.00 for a lettuce leaf on a huge white plate? I hoped not!

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However, I needn’t have worried. There was plenty and each morsel was scrumptious. There were savouries, macaroons, mille feuille, mini scones with rich dollops of jam and cream. By the way, the scones were soft and moreish and nothing approaching ammunition. Scones are hard to get right and a good test of culinary ability.

By the time the scones appeared and quickly disappeared, I was starting to think about what we’ll call “an elegant sufficiency”.

There can be a fine line between hungry and gluttony.

Thank goodness, I just made it!

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Alas! You can’t lick your plate at High Tea!

It was time to head back over the border ready for the long drive home.

Have you ever been out for high tea? Please do share and link through to any posts.

Xx Rowena

Anybody looking at savour the delights of high tea at the Old Teahouse Gallery can check out their website at http://www.theoldteahousegallery.com

 

Traveling Tea Cups

If anything was ever too delicate and precious to travel, it’s porcelain tea cups. More fragile than egg shells and potentially quite valuable, they spend an entire lifetime locked away behind the glass, only brought out for very special occasions. That is, if anyone even dares to use them at all.  It’s a case of  “Hands of! Don’t touch AND no ball throwing or even running  near the precious china cabinet!! These antique old ladies are incredibly precious. Just  look at them and they might break.

Tea cup up in the clouds, Byron Bay Lighthouse, 2012.

Tea cup up in the clouds, Byron Bay Lighthouse, 2012.

Being so fragile, I was actually quite surprised to find out that china tea cups could travel. Indeed, that they’re available on eBay. This opened up quite a smorgasbord of choice and opportunity and I was soon buying tea cups from as far away as Canada and the United Kingdom. They arrived on my doorstep wrapped up in layers of bubble wrap, nesting inside cute cardboard boxes plastered with postage stamps.

Teacup at the Paragon Cafe in Katoomba. which makes it's own chocolates and has incredible art deco decor.

Teacup at the Paragon Cafe in Katoomba. which makes it’s own chocolates and has incredible art deco decor.

My journey with collecting tea cups began many, many years ago when my grandmothers were given tea cups, which they kept in precious china cabinets.

My maternal grandmother had worked in Aunty Rose”s exclusive Brisbane hair and beauty salon prior to marriage. Their clients included the wife of Sir Douglas MacArthur Supreme Commander, Southwest Pacific Area who was based in Brisbane in 1942, the year she married my grandfather. My grandmother had a series of very precious tea cups, which had been gifts from clients for her “glory box” which, by the way, was wrapped securely in hessian and dispatched by train across the Darling Downs to Dalby, where my grandfather worked as a Lutheran Pastor. I never recall seeing my grandmother use any of these precious cups but Mum and her sister always used to have a cup of tea out of a particular Shelley tea cup whenever they went North for a visit. My grandmother had all sorts of gifted  treasures which were carefully put away and never used.

Royal Albert. photographed at The Carrington Hotel, Katoomba.

Royal Albert. photographed at The Carrington Hotel, Katoomba.

Teacup Paragon

My Dad’s mother also had a cupboard full of china tea cups, although hers were nowhere near as precious and visitors helped themselves to their choice of cup or indeed, their cup for the mandatory cup of tea on arrival. I don’t know if she had any matching pairs because at least by the time I came around, they all seemed quite different.. an eclectic, kaleidoscope of floral patterns, gold rims and delicate handles.

I was in love!!

So in love, indeed, and wanting to hold onto my precious memories of my grandparents and a distant past, I needed a collection of my own. My own china cupboard filled with my own precious china girls. Now, the tea cups have busted out of the cabinet and have formed a row overhead and have also wandered out into the dining room onto the sideboard. I’m starting to down size my tea cups a little to get things into perspective. We only have so much space and as you would have gathered by now, it’s squashed. A thing of beauty can not be a joy forever in a cluttered jungle. It needs a bit of space.

However, for some of my tea cups their travels didn’t stop at the gate. In the same way that people take garden gnomes away on their travels, I started photographing my tea cups and while this started at home, we ventured further afield to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains and up North to Byron Bay. Indeed, my tea cups were launched on a life of adventure.

Not my best tea cups, mind you. While I might be willing to give my tea cups a little bit of freedom, I certainly wasn’t about to risk my good Shelley tea cups…my “old ladies”. Like their human contemporaries plagued by osteoporosis, arthritis and the like, they really are fragile and certainly not easily replaced. I’ve had a few casualties some out on the road and others at home and while I do put them in perspective, I’d rather they didn’t happen.

My favourite tea cup: Shelley's sunset in the Tall Trees, designed by Charmian Clift.

My favourite tea cup: Shelley’s sunset in the Tall Trees, designed by Charmian Clift.

Although my favourite tea cups are Shelley’s more art deco designs, I also have quite a few from Royal Albert. Although the design also informs my choice. My Dad’s father once gave me a daffodil for my birthday so I have a few daffodil designs. Even though my Mum’s mum introduced me to Shelley china, I also found a cup “May”, my grandmother’s middle name and also  decorated with Lilly of the Valley, which she had in her wedding bouquet. I must admit I was stoked when I found that set in a local Salvation Army Opportunity Shop. My son’s cup is has scene’s from the Blue Mountains. My favourite tea cup is Shelley’s Sunset in the Tall Trees, an art deco style designed by Clarice Clift.

Katoomba Views

Katoomba Views

“Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.”
― T.S. Eliot

Unlike the rest of the household clutter which is forced to justify its existence, china tea cups have never had to be useful and somehow get away with being exquisitely beautiful and purely decorative. That is, at least in our family. Given that I’ve been able to buy these tea cups, someone else had different ideas. Personally, I can’t understand that…particularly my Shelley ones. They’re exquisite.

The tea cup visits Byron Bay Lighthouse 2012.

The tea cup visits Byron Bay Lighthouse 2012.

Any way, hope you enjoy our tea cup tour. Do you have a tea cup collection at all? Memories? Do share.

This have been T for Traveling Tea Cups for the Blogging from A-Z April Challenge.

 

xx Rowena

Byron Bay: Australia’s Alternative Paradise.

As  soon as you exit the Pacific Highway and take the Byron Bay exit, throw your watch out the window and prepare to slow down. You’re now on Byron Bay time. Not only that, you’re about to enter another world where it’s more or less assumed that you’re at least somewhat lateral, alternative, creatively inspired or just plain mad. Well, not quite everyone. Byron Bay is no longer the hippy mecca it once was but despite the yuppie blow-ins, it’s retained much of it’s original character. You might just need to look further afield to find it.

Byron is all about taking the road less traveled...the alternative route. Check out my kids exploring the grass off the well-beaten track.

Byron is all about taking the road less traveled…the alternative route. Check out my kids exploring the grass off the well-beaten track.

Dolphins viewed from Cape Byron Lighthouse.

Dolphins viewed from Cape Byron Lighthouse.

Whale Spout near Julian Rocks, Byron Bay.

Whale Spout near Julian Rocks, Byron Bay.

 

 

 

 

 

As we have family living in the Byron Bay hinterland, we tend to head up to Byron at least once a year and Cape Byron Lighthouse has become something of a yardstick of our kids’ growth over the years as I force them through another round of photos against it’s glowing white fascade. You really do need a good pair of sunnies out there.

Family Photo 2nd July 2010 outside Byron Bay Lighthouse

Family Photo 2nd July 2010 outside Byron Bay Lighthouse

Determination!

Determination!

We always stop for an ice cream at the lighthouse and it's always a race to see whether the kids can finish it before it melts.

We always stop for an ice cream at the lighthouse and it’s always a race to see whether the kids can finish it before it melts.

 

Of

Byron Bay looking North to Mt Warning.

Byron Bay looking North to Mt Warning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of  course, Byron i also renowned for it’s many gorgeous beaches and great surf. However, rather than giving you a picture postcard view of Byron Bay, in keeping with the spirit of Byron, I thought I’d share some of the ephemeral sights we’ve uncovered over the years. You see, when it comes to Byron Bay, anything is possible and you certainly don’t need a permit to be a little different.

Starting off at the beach, we came across a sand sculptor who was building the most amazing creations in the sand. He created this fire breathing dragon, which I’ve photographed here. You’ll notice he’s having a cup of tea and that’s my Royal Albert teacup which I photographed around Byron Bay on a few visits. I’m not ashamed of stepping out beyon dthe flow myself.

 

We met a guy who is a world class sandcastle builder and I offered his dragon a cup of tea.

We met a guy who is a world class sandcastle builder and I offered his dragon a cup of tea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also stumbled across this medley of musos and dancers who met up around sunset each evening just as the Rainbow Lorrikeets were churping away in the Norfolk Pine Trees beside the beach.  They sure showed me you’re never too old to boogie!

We stumbled across this random group of whatsy-me-call-its: dancers, musos and hangers on which meets around sunset at the Northern end of the beach. They sure showed me you're never too old to boogie!

Musicians and dancers, Byron Bay at sunset.

 

 

 

 

 

Crepes at the Beach: January, 2011.

Crepes at the Beach: January, 2011.

In January 2011, we had a wonderful surprise when a  group of French backpackers set themselves up just off the beach doing a roaring trade selling crepes…just like you’d see on a footpath in Paris. We felt absolutely spoilt indulging in scrumptious Nutella crepes or lemon and sugar after emerging from the surf. As you could imagine, this thriving little enterprise was operating without Council approval or any form of insurance. That is Byron Bay.

As much as we love the beach, the sun demands respect and so we stay off the beach much of the day. One of our other favourite hangouts in Byron Bay is the park beside the railway. This park has the most fabulous climbing tree, which is a type of fig. It got damaged in a storm I believe and it’s fallen over and now grows along the ground like a caterpillar. This makes for fabulous climbing, especially for really little kids who can reach the branches.

This tree has become something of a magic wishing tree and every time we go there, somebody has stuck something different in the branches and we can’t wait to see what’s there. We’re only talking about simple things like ribbons tied in the branches, a milk crate suspended by a rope but on one visit we came across a very touching artistic tribute by a grieving mother whose son had died in the park and she wants to help young people feel good about htemselves and help all of us feel more love.

Mister in our climbing tree in the Railway Park. Every time we go there, something else is hanging there or decorating the tree. It seems like a magic wishing tree although there's a rough side to the park here with drinking etc. We need to choose our moments wisely when we take the kids.

Mister in our climbing tree in the Railway Park. Every time we go there, something else is hanging there or decorating the tree. It seems like a magic wishing tree although there’s a rough side to the park here with drinking etc. We need to choose our moments wisely when we take the kids.

She decorated the climbing tree with bright yellow flowers and painted the park benches with all sorts of messgaes and graphics. I was still wandering around with my tea cup and photographed it wioth her artworks.

 

Tea Cup in the Railway Park, 2011.

Tea Cup in the Railway Park, 2011.

A heart broken mother whose son died in this park wrote these messages on the park benches.

 

Unfortunately, even paradise has it’s underbelly and Byron Bay is no exception. Unfortunately, our beloved park attracts some heavy drinkers who can get quite narky and obviously, this isn’t a suitable environment for the kids. I’ve also heard that there are quite a few rapes.

Thje photo below was taken at the old railway station where I’ve sure homeless people must doss down. Sadly, Byron Bay isn’t just all beautiful beaches, peace, love and serenity.

Sadly, Byron Bay isn't just all beautiful beaches, peace, love and serenity.

On a more poitive note, of course, no tour of Byron Bay is complete without going Kombi spotting. Back in the day, Kombis were all lined up prked along the beachfront with boards on their backs. You can still spot Kombis around town these days but they are obviously thinning out. Here’s one I spotted by the railway station:

In it's heyday, Byron Bay was Kombi paradise with rows of Kombis parked beside the each with boards on top.

In it’s heyday, Byron Bay was Kombi paradise with rows of Kombis parked beside the each with boards on top.

This is by no means a comprehenive tour of Byron Bay. I haven’t evn covered Byron Bay’s famous markets, which sell the very best chocolate donuts that ever walked this planet. They’re more of a cross between a jam donut and a chocolate croissant and just thinking about them is making me feel like getting in the car and driving  North.

While it’s a bit of a thing to climb Mt Warning or to the lighthouse to watch the sunrise, we are better equiped for watching the sunset and this is the prfect way to exit Byron Bay.

The Sun Set Byron Bay

The Sun Set Byron Bay

This is my second contribution to the Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Bis for Byron Bay.

xx Rowena

I am participating in the A-Z Challenge.

I am participating in the A-Z Challenge.