The Comforts of Tea in Bed

By Susan Roberts

I never used to be much of a tea drinker. My mother would often make tea when I was a child, but I don’t remember experiencing any particular joy from drinking it. It wasn’t until I was at University and the third year drama students were given a common room with a kettle, that I began to drink tea with any relish. Suddenly it was a privilege and a treat.

Fast forward another year, to my first job in Johannesburg. I started drinking my tea weak and black, because I could make a single tea bag last two (or more) cups, and I didn’t need to buy milk. On my paltry salary, I had to take all the help I could get!

As time went on, I discovered the pleasures of loose tea leaves enclosed into a stainless steel tea-ball on a chain. Tea became a pleasure, and the ritual of making it was an equally pleasurable preamble to the actual drinking thereof.

On holidays back home visiting my parents, I discovered another new ritual. My mother would always make tea early in the morning, and because my father never drank tea, she would check to see if I was awake, and bring me a cup. This started one of the most enduring love affairs of my life – my love of early morning tea. Waking up to a fresh mug of steaming tea next to my bed was something that surely only Heaven (and my mother) could supply.

Returning to Johannesburg and leaving my parents was always a sad wrench away from normality, back to my unreal world of hard work and crazy hours for poor pay. After ten years of struggling financially, I took a job in a far away casino resort.

The money was great but the job was a constant battle against the massive egos around me. Not all of the old-fashioned chauvinism was bad; some of it was kind and genuinely concerned. Puzzled male colleagues asked me why I was there. They wanted to know who my father was, or my husband, because in their eyes that was the only reason a woman would be there, and some of them had seen wives and daughters go a little stir-crazy in that bizarre environment.

For me, the worst part was the lack of phone lines and the inability to call my mother. At the age of thirty, I missed her far more than I had in my eager early twenties. My father had died five years before and I still worried about her being on her own, so not being able to contact her when I wanted to was not easy to deal with.

However, my new salary enabled me to level my debts and build some capital, so for a limited time it suited me. I indulged in a few comforts which reminded me of home. One of these was that magical British invention called a Swan Teasmade.

I bought a machine that was a radio, alarm clock and tea kettle all in one. At the appointed time, the alarm would go off, the radio would play softly and the internal kettle – filled the night before – would boil and pour boiling water into the tea in the ceramic teapot. The sound of that gurgling rush of water from the kettle pipe into the teapot was my real alarm clock. Like Pavlov’s dog my mouth would water as I waited the three minutes it took to draw a strong brew that would give me two cups of Twinings best.

My Teasmade lasted about ten years before it eventually died from overwork. I scoured shops far and wide until I found another one. That too lasted about ten years until I wore it out and then – disaster – I couldn’t find another Teasmade! Undaunted, I bought a second kettle and kept it on the bedside table.

I still had both ceramic teapots from my two Teasmades, and these alternated for pride of place next to my bed, supplying me with my standard two cups of tea every morning. Generations of kettles have come and gone since then, but those two teapots were both carefully packed into a box in my Move Cube two years ago when I moved to Australia.
I don’t currently have a kettle next to my bed, and sadly Teasmades seem to be rare vintage relics, hard to find in Australia. I have to get up and go to the kitchen to make my morning tea, which is probably a good thing. It forces me to stay awake on the cold mornings we have in Melbourne.

I always take my tea back to bed with me and set up my laptop for a writing session that can last me through several cups. It all works out fine for now, but one day when I am once more in a place of my own and have a bit more space, I will unpack both those ceramic teapots, buy a second kettle and treat myself to my mother’s morning treat – tea arriving next to me while I’m still in bed.

IMG_3321

Advertisements

Unbearable Lightness

By Jac Dowling

Funny how things just happen. Here’s me wondering what on earth I should write about this month – follow up on the river saga, hack on about He Who Must Fall? Then, voila, something totally different pops up. In the form of Rachmaninov’s 2nd piano cencerto and Milan Kundera’s ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being‘. What have they in common? Nothing much as far as I know, except for the deep romance evoked by both music and plot. And what have I to do with either for goodness’ sake? More with Kundera than Rachmaninov as it turns out.

In 1960 something, five of us headed off to Swedish Lapland in a camper van for a chilly and extremely interesting voyage of discovery. The trip up the Arctic Highway, literally from London to the Russian border at Kirkenes was spectacular; fjords, icy glaciers, chugging ferries to cross the wide waters, and reindeer grazing in the snow around the van at night. We found a set of moulted antlers which we attached to the roof rack, with flag attached and felt well and truly Tundra’d.

Image result for images arctic highway

The trip back down through flat Finland was peaceful, tranquil, no alarums or excursions; just vast lakes, birch and conifer forests and a feeling of well-being. We never really knew when to go to sleep because of the midnight sun and 24hr daylight, and the mozzies were colossal and really stung, even through track suits and thick socks. And so to Denmark, heading for the last few laps down through Germany, taking in Bayreuth (outside of opera house only!) and leaving out divided Berlin. I was in charge of map reading and managed, in my post Finland torpor, to land us up on a ferry which turned out to be heading for East Germany. Mistake. Big one.

Image result for BAYREUTH

We, the only passengers, disembarked and were immediately herded into a pen between two booms, by soldiers in full army dudes. They weren’t even amused by our be-flagged antlers. Took away our passports and left us sitting for two hours, in the van, while they made numerous phone calls, keeping an eye on us all the while. Funny it was not. Eventually we were released with a transit visa which didn’t allow stopping or shopping or talking to the locals. Since we’d run out of food it was even less funny but we put foot and headed off along the quickest route to Berlin. For two nights we slept behind large hay stacks, eating borrowed apples from nearby orchards. The countryside was interesting, communal farms, no traffic other than rust buckets and horse-drawn carts; the towns bleak and dreary.

Image result for berlin apple orchards

And then, out of the blue came the tanks. Hundreds of them, some with young soldiers sitting on top, others rattling along belching out foul diesel smoke. There were trucks of soldiers, some on foot as well, all going in the same direction – Prague. From our safety net in haystack we watched for a couple of hours until they were well out of sight and went hell for leather to Berlin where we learned of the Russian occupation of Czechoslovakia. It was definitely not funny!

What has this to do with Kundera and The Unbearable Lightness of Being? When you read it all will be revealed. Better still, watch the old movie, it tells it all as it was.

On the rocks

by Jacqueline Dowling

Early Portuguese navigators called it Cabo de Bon Esperanza (Cape of Good Hope), rounded Cape Point and, depending on the weather, either sank or sailed on to lands of monkeys and exotic spices. Or, they called it Cabo Tormentosa (Cape of Storms), and simply sank. There are some 3000 wrecks along the Southern African coast and, after shivering through our present and extended winter, it’s not difficult to imagine why.

Image result for google images cape of good hope

Recently, the lagoon breached in a volcanic fury of mud, bushes, trees and a wall of water which swept away all intersecting sandbanks and clashed with breakers of the high spring tide sending columns of sea and fresh water high into the air , and a river of sludge heaving along the coast. It was an apocalyptic sight: especially when viewed from a car park rumoured to be built on the rubble from the old Birkenhead Hotel, named after a Royal Navy ship wrecked in 1852, with the loss of 450 lives, off Danger Point , at the southern end of Walker Bay. The Birkenhead, at the time, was the largest iron ship of the Royal Navy, en route to the Frontier War.

Today the force and anger of the lagoon is gradually sending the spirit of Birkenhead on yet another journey, undermining the car park in the process. It’s a crowd gatherer, no doubt about it: we stand in the teeth of a winter gale, leaning against the yellow safety barriers and rubber-necking in time with the surging and crashing of the tide. At times it’s almost balletic to watch the human movement, a motley collection of bodies swaddled in polar gear swaying hither and yon as the sea sucks and swells, woolly hats bobbing to the rhythm of their feet.

Recently the Atlantic exploded with such force against the sea wall in the fishing harbour that gates were washed away, windows in the diving ‘hut’ smashed and a trawler sank at its quayside moorings. Seaside homes had boulders delivered to their living rooms, bedrooms and garages on the back of brutal waves which smashed everything in their path. Tents and marquees erected for the annual Whale Festival landed up in trees and out at sea…and everyone agreed that it was the worst winter in living memory.

In time the gates were recovered from the seabed, slightly misshapen, but restored to their rightful place nevertheless. Divers fitted sliding sea-proof shutters to their hut and the pier was strengthened with vast quantities of concrete blocks: chunks of rusted boat were dredged up and sold as scrap. Now there are no more trawlers in the little harbour.

The sea is an icy bottle green: hail pounds the roof of our car as we battle to find a sheltering Milkwood: waterfalls race down mountainsides into the lagoon which, once again has reached saturation point. My mobile buzzes with a text from the municipality warning of heavy rainfall over the weekend , high winds and severe flooding.

It’s the first day of Spring.

I’m Just Saying

by Penny M

… from Communications that Matter:

Edition V July 2016: Longevity Nutrition Report – Adaptogens: THE STRESS SOLUTION by Kheyrne Danu

‘Dr Leila Sadien … explains: “We are all exposed to stress in modern times, and the capacity of our ability to adapt is a valuable strength in every person’s health. I prescribe adaptogens to every patient who is experiencing … , for example, and patients who are interested in general anti-aging and optimum wellness.”‘

Well, if you don’t mind ‘multiple choice’ grammar and expect to live long enough to finish reading this excellent article, you are as hooked as I am. Thanks for the amplified version of your article, Kheyrne Danu.

IMG00816-20160622-2131 (1).jpg