Sun and sarongs

It’s so cold and drizzly here today that I’ve been dreaming of holidays past.

I have this first picture framed in my living room because it evokes the wonderful holiday we had in Tobago a few years back. The lady in the picture was a permanent resident of the beach where we stayed, and we got to know her a bit.  She said she had always wanted to come to England to experience a train ride, and see snow!  She obviously didn’t know of the horrors of travelling by British Rail, or how the whole country grinds to a halt when there is even the slightest hint of snow on the ground!

The second one was taken on deserted beach that was only reachable by boat.  We’d waded through the warm, still, and clear, azure sea to get to it, and just threw our sarongs over the branches to dry while we toasted ourselves on the sand and waited for our guides to cook freshly caught fish on a makeshift barbeque. It was completely idyllic, and just thinking about it warms me up!

Hope you are all keeping safe and warm.

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Tea for me please #2

Reading my last post back, I noticed that I failed to mention that although I don’t drink coffee, I am, in fact, a tea connoisseur.  Even I didn’t realise that until after I’d written it.  Perhaps it was when I counted the different teas I have in my cupboard.  Twenty.  Yep, twenty different teas.  There’s the bog standard fairtrade everyday tea bags (I like Diplomat ones from Aldi by the way!) and then there are packets of:

Camomile, Peppermint, Pomegranate & Raspberry, Cranberry & Raspberry, Fennel, Masala, Ginger, Selfridges Afternoon Tea, Boh tea from Malaysia, Tetley’s Earl Grey, Jasmine, Kiptagich Highland Tea from Kenya, Darjeeling, Fairtrade organic Breakfast tea, Sarawack tea from Borneo, a packet of herbal tea from Sri Lanka, Fortnam and Mason’s Orange Pekoe, Pure Ceylon from Sri Lanka and Highcrown BOP from Sri Lanka.

A fair selection I think you’ll agree.  Some of them have been hanging around in my cupboard for a while, but I’ve tasted them all. Many are brought from distant shores and remind me of holidays.

I’ve sipped a thick sweet black tea in a make-shift corrugated iron cafe by the sea in Turkey.  Warmed up with Jasmine tea after nearly being frozen to death, even in the brilliant sunshine, on the Great Wall of China.

The mint tea in Morocco was served from tiny silver teapots into little glass cups, in a sweetsmelling and peaceful courtyard tucked away behind the exciting and exhausting madness of Jemaa el Fna and the Medina’s.

Recently I had my first taste of Masala tea in India.  The slightly curried warmth of it will always remind me of collapsing by the pool at one of the fabulous hotels after a full-on day of exploring the mosaic cities, wonderful palaces and extraordinary rivers that make India such a fascinating and wonderful place to be.

Ginger tea was taken on a rooftop terrace in the sunshine, while contemplating the world of people wheeling around the brilliant white Boudhanath Stupa in Katmandhu, Nepal.

Without a doubt though, the best cup of tea I have ever had, was after a very long and arduous journey in a jeep up into the mountains of Sri Lanka.  We’d travelled through rising seas of tea plantations, lush and green, dotted with women in colourful sari’s plucking the leaves.  We were hot and sticky when we eventually stopped to visit one of the factories.  The manager there greeted the four of us (me, husband, two 14 yr old daughters) warmly, and took us to one of the fields where we learned about the bushes and their growing habits, and the different types of tea.  We then saw the tea itself in different tubs depending on quality (always look for Orange Pekoe!) and were told, somewhat disconcertingly, that the tea bags we get in England are made of the equivalent of the sweepings from the floor!

After the, fairly brief, tour, we were shown into a beautiful, fan-cooled room, where there were huge soft sofa’s that we were ashamed to plonk our grubby selves on.  We did nonetheless, and sat and enjoyed the comfort after the bashing around we’d had in the jeep.  Tea was served to us by a beautiful young Sri Lankan lady dressed in an simple orange sari.  She poured from a proper teapot, into proper china cups.  The tea was black, and untainted by sugar.  It would be impossible for me to describe the flavour, but I would say that it was exquisite, subtle, and refreshing.  To top it all it was served with a slab of perfect chocolate cake.  I was in heaven.

Of course, as well as my travels, tea reminds me of a nice cup of tea with my mum after a hard day at school, and all the time’s when I’ve come home from work feeling grumpy and a cuppa has made me feel better.  Some of the tea’s in my cupboard have been bought for me by my daughter’s when they have been on their travels (Malaysian BOH, and the Sarawack from Borneo for instance), which makes me proud and happy too.

So yep, I admit it, I’m Kaye and I’m a Tea-aholic!