High Tea at the Forresters

 

Every year about this time, my wife Marie and a friend host a “high tea” at our house for about 20 ladies, usually a mix of Americans and Japanese.

Man, it’s posh! The Pump Room in Bath, England, the site of many a high tea in Regency novels, has nothing on Marie’s teas. (The photo below, taken before the piles of delicacies were put on the tables, doesn’t really do the scene justice.)

Marie and Toshimi, the co-hosts, spent days in the kitchen preparing for the tea, making scones (of course), pavlova (a layered meringue-based dessert), grapefruit Jello (Japanese love Jello), finger sandwiches, quiche, egg mousses on tiny toasts, key lime parfaits in little shot glasses, and three or four kinds of tea. Marie brings out her finest china, silverware, and teacups. All the ladies wear skirts or dresses. As I said, it’s posh. Here are Marie and Toshimi.

The guests are asked to donate 20 bucks, money that goes toward the scholarship of an older woman returning to college. Some of the women give more.

For my contribution to the festivities (Marie’s been doing these for six years), I always give away one of my jigsaw puzzles to the best beans-in-a-bottle guesser. I call the puzzle you see below “Four Puzzles in a Bento Box.” Those animals you see are pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to their right.

Bob the dog and I stay out of the way during the affair. While it’s going on, we take a long walk and then hang around outside on our deck, where I drink coffee and do my crossword puzzles. I drop in occasionally to refill my coffee. I don’t stay long. The cacophony of 20 women all talking at once drives me back to the deck with Bob. A high tea is no place for a man or a beast.

Here’s one of the numerous flower arrangements that Marie scattered about the place. I made the structure for this fool-the-eye illusion. Marie grew and arranged the flowers.

As I looked about Marie’s tea this year — with its fancy flower arrangements, scones topped with clotted cream, elaborate table settings, women in dresses, and five kinds of tea — I thought that a high tea might very well be the apex that 5,000 years of civilization have been moving toward. At the least, we’ve come a long way from luncheons where half-naked men squatted around an open fire, their eyes darting suspiciously at their fellow diners, while they silently gnawed on a wildebeest — and all without a single scone or a cuppa to brighten their existence.

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There are 52 comments.

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  1. Hank Rhody-Badenphipps Esq Contributor

    KentForrester: Bob the dog and I stay out of the way during the affair.

    Wise man.

    Also wise dog.

    • #1
    • June 14, 2019, at 6:40 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  2. Mark Camp Member

    R’s: Let’s get to work with the Likes on this.

    I want this bad boy promoted to the Main Feed before lunch, so my wife can read it. (She’s too cheap to subscribe, sorry.)

    • #2
    • June 14, 2019, at 6:56 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  3. Kay of MT Member

    My goodness @kentforrester, you are more useful than I thought. Sneaking in to see what is going on is kinda shabby though.

    Beautiful High Tea setting, and I wish I had been there.

    • #3
    • June 14, 2019, at 7:02 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. Mark Camp Member

    Kudos to Kent for a valiant try at appearing to finally be in touch with his feminine side. 

    Unfortunately, he gave it away by saying that all the ladies wear dresses, and then showing a photo with a woman who is clearly wearing a skirt and a shirt.

    [EDIT: Aha! Good catch, all you Unusually Old Self-confident Males who wrote in to correct me! They never call that a shirt! It is called a “cute top.” (I think “cute top” is two words. But I’ve never seen it in writing, only heard it: Girl is strictly a spoken language).]

    • #4
    • June 14, 2019, at 7:03 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  5. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Kudos to Kent for a valiant try at appearing to finally be in touch with his feminine side.

    Unfortunately, he gave it away by saying that all the ladies wear dresses, and then showing a photo with a woman who is clearly wearing a skirt and a shirt.

    [EDIT: Aha! Good catch, all you Unusually Old Self-confident Males who wrote in to correct me! They never call that a shirt! It is called a “cute top.” (I think “cute top” is two words. But I’ve never seen it in writing, only heard it: Girl is strictly a spoken language).]

    Mark, I think you know more about women than I do. I think I knew the difference between a skirt and a dress, but I just didn’t think it through. I just asked Marie about the “cute top” comment. She says that’s the correct terminology. “That’s a cute top you’re wearing today, girl.”

    • #5
    • June 14, 2019, at 7:09 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  6. Hank Rhody-Badenphipps Esq Contributor

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Kudos to Kent for a valiant try at appearing to finally be in touch with his feminine side.

    Unfortunately, he gave it away by saying that all the ladies wear dresses, and then showing a photo with a woman who is clearly wearing a skirt and a shirt.

    [EDIT: Aha! Good catch, all you Unusually Old Self-confident Males who wrote in to correct me! They never call that a shirt! It is called a “cute top.” (I think “cute top” is two words. But I’ve never seen it in writing, only heard it: Girl is strictly a spoken language).]

    I think it qualifies as a compound word, in an early stage of evolution. Since a top may never be referred to as anything other than “cute”, (to someone’s face, naturally. Behind the back anything goes) then we may treat the two words separated by a space as one word. You watch; language will evolve from ‘cute top’ to ‘cute-top’ to ‘cutetop’ being the accepted term.

    • #6
    • June 14, 2019, at 7:11 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  7. Mark Camp Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Kudos to Kent for a valiant try at appearing to finally be in touch with his feminine side.

    Unfortunately, he gave it away by saying that all the ladies wear dresses, and then showing a photo with a woman who is clearly wearing a skirt and a shirt.

    [EDIT: Aha! Good catch, all you Unusually Old Self-confident Males who wrote in to correct me! They never call that a shirt! It is called a “cute top.” (I think “cute top” is two words. But I’ve never seen it in writing, only heard it: Girl is strictly a spoken language).]

    Mark, I think your know more about women than I do. I think I knew the difference between a skirt and a dress, but I just didn’t think it through. I just asked Marie about the “cute top” comment. She says that’s the correct terminology. “That’s a cute top you’re wearing today, girl.”

     

    Give Marie my thanks. I can’t wait till the Brown-Eyed Beauty hears that her struggling student has received such a compliment.

    • #7
    • June 14, 2019, at 7:14 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. Arahant Member

    Well, it’s not a cutty sark.

    • #8
    • June 14, 2019, at 8:33 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Well, it’s not a cutty sark.

    Arahant, do you have the Robert Burns poem in mind. What is that? Oh yea, “Tam o’ Shanter.”

    “Well done, Cutty Sark,” Tam yells out while watching witches dance in the forest, one of whom, a young witch, was wearing her cutty sark, a short undergarment. That was stupid of Tam.

    • #9
    • June 14, 2019, at 8:55 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. Arahant Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Arahant, do you have the Robert Burns poem in mind.

    More the article of clothing, and it’s not necessarily an undergarment, especially if she’s wearing nothing over it. 😁

    • #10
    • June 14, 2019, at 9:08 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  11. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Arahant, do you have the Robert Burns poem in mind.

    More the article of clothing, and it’s not necessarily an undergarment, especially if she’s wearing nothing over it. 😁

    Arahant, in the Burns poem, the cutty sark that the witch is wearing is what we might call a shift or chemise. 

    • #11
    • June 14, 2019, at 9:20 AM PDT
    • Like
  12. Arahant Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Arahant, do you have the Robert Burns poem in mind.

    More the article of clothing, and it’s not necessarily an undergarment, especially if she’s wearing nothing over it. 😁

    Arahant, in the Burns poem, the cutty sark that the witch is wearing is what we might call a shift or chemise.

    I am aware. I’ve shifted a few off the lasses in my time.

    • #12
    • June 14, 2019, at 9:30 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  13. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Arahant, do you have the Robert Burns poem in mind.

    More the article of clothing, and it’s not necessarily an undergarment, especially if she’s wearing nothing over it. 😁

    Arahant, in the Burns poem, the cutty sark that the witch is wearing is what we might call a shift or chemise.

    I am aware. I’ve shifted a few off the lasses in my time.

    Shifted or shafted?

    • #13
    • June 14, 2019, at 9:35 AM PDT
    • Like
  14. Arahant Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Shifted or shafted?

    First one, then t’other.

    • #14
    • June 14, 2019, at 9:46 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. She Thatcher
    She

    Lovely! There’s nothing like a good high tea, and I’m something of an expert. Looks like Marie and Toshimi nailed it.

    PS: I’ve been to the Pump Room in Bath.

    • #15
    • June 14, 2019, at 10:44 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  16. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    She (View Comment):

    Lovely! There’s nothing like a good high tea, and I’m something of an expert. Looks like Marie and Toshimi nailed it.

    PS: I’ve been to the Pump Room in Bath.

    She, it’s the first place Marie wanted to go when we arrived in Bath, after a six day walk from Oxford.

    BTW, did you catch the Britishism “cuppa” in my post? I put that in there just for you.

    • #16
    • June 14, 2019, at 10:54 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  17. Mark Camp Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    She, it’s the first place Marie wanted to go when we arrived in Bath, after a six day walk from Oxford.

    And they brag about their public transit system.

    • #17
    • June 14, 2019, at 10:59 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  18. Arahant Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    She, it’s the first place Marie wanted to go when we arrived in Bath, after a six day walk from Oxford.

    You walked?

    • #18
    • June 14, 2019, at 11:06 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. She Thatcher
    She

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    BTW, did you catch the Britishism “cuppa” in my post? I put that in there just for you.

    I did!

    • #19
    • June 14, 2019, at 11:15 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  20. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    She, it’s the first place Marie wanted to go when we arrived in Bath, after a six day walk from Oxford.

    You walked?

    Yep. Marie and I like to walk. We took a six-day walk along the Nakasendo Trail in Japan last year. Not as good as the Cotswold walk from Oxford to Bath, though. 

    • #20
    • June 14, 2019, at 11:18 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  21. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    Ricocheters, if you like to walk, the walk from Oxford to Bath in the Cotswolds is the best walk Marie and I have ever undertaken. Every village along the way is a place of beauty, full of thatched houses and quaint shops. Just a delight! The countryside is full of sheep (Hi! She) and beautiful woods.

    • #21
    • June 14, 2019, at 11:28 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  22. Kay of MT Member

    Once upon a time, I spent a month in the UK. I had the foresight to purchase a Britrail pass in USA, and spent the month riding the British Rails. For the most part they would stop right smack in the middle of some little town. You would be able to walk just about anywhere in that town. That was back in the 1980s. The tour book named several hundred pubs that were worth visiting, and I did my best. Fell in love with a beer they called “bitters” but I didn’t find it so. I tried to be very polite, and would ask for one half of a pint of bitters, and the pub owner, gave me a good look over and said, “doll, just ask for a half, they’ll know what you want.

    Then there was a train conductor who refused to let me on the train to Berick-upon-Tweed, until I learned to pronounce it properly. Said he didn’t want me embarrassing myself. For the most part stayed around the Bristol area.

    • #22
    • June 14, 2019, at 11:32 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  23. Kay of MT Member

    She (View Comment):
    PS: I’ve been to the Pump Room in Bath.

    So have I, and lots of photos of Bath, a wonderful place.

    • #23
    • June 14, 2019, at 11:39 AM PDT
    • Like
  24. She Thatcher
    She

    Kay of MT (View Comment):

    Then there was a train conductor who refused to let me on the train to Berick-upon-Tweed, until I learned to pronounce it properly. Said he didn’t want me embarrassing myself. For the most part stayed around the Bristol area.

    Hahahaha. Yes. “Warwick” is the same. Pronounced “warrick.”

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    the walk from Oxford to Bath in the Cotswolds is the best walk Marie and I have ever undertaken.

    Walking around the Malvern Hills isn’t so bad either (pretty close by). Those are my old stomping grounds.

    • #24
    • June 14, 2019, at 11:40 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  25. Kay of MT Member

    Found descendants of ancestors at Neston Park, probably 5th or 6th cousins. Descendants of landed gentry. Took photos of the beautiful place, felt like I had returned home.

    • #25
    • June 14, 2019, at 11:48 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  26. Arahant Member

    Kay of MT (View Comment):

    the pub owner, gave me a good look over and said, “doll, just ask for a half, they’ll know what you want.

    Then there was a train conductor who refused to let me on the train to Berick-upon-Tweed, until I learned to pronounce it properly. Said he didn’t want me embarrassing myself. For the most part stayed around the Bristol area.

    Both of these are fun story bits.

    • #26
    • June 14, 2019, at 11:55 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  27. EB Thatcher
    EB

    The tea looks beautiful AND delicious!

    However, my English husband (and Miss Manners) say that “high tea” is a casual supper that takes the place of dinner. Your wife’s wonderful tea is “afternoon tea” or just “tea.”

    Apparently, American restaurants began using the word “high” thinking it implies high society.

    • #27
    • June 14, 2019, at 12:08 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  28. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester Post author

    EB (View Comment):

    The tea looks beautiful AND delicious!

    However, my English husband (and Miss Manners) say that “high tea” is a casual supper that takes the place of dinner. Your wife’s wonderful tea is “afternoon tea” or just “tea.”

    Apparently, American restaurants began using the word “high” thinking it implies high society.

    In England, as Google tells me, high tea means a solid meal, with tea, served when working men get home around six o’clock. The afternoon tea in England, with scones and so forth, was eaten by the upper classes to tide one over until the late meal around 8 p.m. That apparently is called, by people in the know, as a low tea.

    At any rate, in the U.S. a high tea usually means a tea with fancy finger foods, served almost any time. Damned Brits don’t know how to name their teas. 

    • #28
    • June 14, 2019, at 12:27 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  29. Arahant Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Damned Brits don’t know how to name their teas. 

    😁😁🤣🤣

    • #29
    • June 14, 2019, at 12:36 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. Hang On Member

    The Japanese are well known for their tea ceremony. Did you and your wife partake when you were hiking in Japan?

    • #30
    • June 14, 2019, at 12:51 PM PDT
    • 1 like
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