This blue marble

– and yet it spins

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In Grantchester

grantchesterI only know that you may lie
Day long and watch the Cambridge sky,
And, flower-lulled in sleepy grass,
Hear the cool lapse of hours pass,
Until the centuries blend and blur
In Grantchester, in Grantchester. . . .

(From Rupert Brooke’s “The Old Vicarage”)

The old church clock may no longer stand ten to three; Jeffrey and Mary Archer live in Rupert Brooke’s old vicarage; and swimming is no longer allowed in the all-around-fenced Byron’s pool. But there is always honey for tea in the Grantchester Orchard tea garden. Just like it was at the turn of the 20th century when a group of Cambridge students bothered the lady owning the orchard for tea so many times she opened a café (teaé perhaps, for here it’s all about the tea and scones) under the shade of her trees.

“And Cambridgeshire, of all England, the shire for Men who Understand”, wrote Rupert Brooke and longed for home while feeling stuck in Berlin. Under the shade of the fruit trees one could imagine the world a better place “and feel the Classics are not dead”, especially if one was in the company of Virginia Woolf, Rupert Brooke, Ludwig Wittgenstein, John Maynard Keynes, Bertrand Russell, and EM Forster.

And it was Brooke who created the legend of Lord Byron’s pool: “till in the dawnlit waters cool his ghostly Lordship swims his pool, and tries the strokes, essays the tricks, long learnt on Hellespont, or Styx.”

The best thing about Grantchester is that it is never sadness to leave, because the walk along the “yet unacademic stream” back to Cambridge is pure loveliness. And each time I am left wondering, why ever did I leave Cambridgeshire?Cambridge

(Cambridge, United Kingdom; July 2016)

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Afternoon tea with Lady Georgiana Cavendish

afternoontea-2Lazy Sunday afternoon sunlight drizzled through a window and hit gold: her golden hair, golden violin strings, and golden decorations on the grand piano. There was lovely music in the air, and fluttering sleeves and rustling taffeta skirts. Lady Georgiana Cavendish was alive again just for this day – and she had brought her talented friends. And meringues. And tea cakes. And much humor.

Slowly sipping a fresh cup of darjeeling we enjoyed this parenthesis of a Sunday, an afternoon when time stood still. Where music and meringue towers were most important to all those present.afternoontea-1(Helsinki, Finland; October 2015)

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Stands the Church clock at ten to three? And is there honey still for tea?

Grantchester-2would I were
In Grantchester, in Grantchester! –
Some, it may be, can get in touch
With Nature there, Or Earth, or such.
And clever modern men have seen
A Faun a-peeping through the green,
And felt the Classics were not dead

But these are things I do not know.
I only know that you may lie
Day-long and watch the Cambridge sky,

Until the centuries blend and blur
In Grantchester, in Grantchester ….

(Rupert Brooke)


Happy to be back in Cambridge. Rupert Brooke felt it, too, as he longed for Cambridge and Grantchester meadows from his apartment in Berlin in the spring of 1912.

103 years later we ditched our luggage with all their Polish dust at the hotel, grabbed Prosecco and strawberries and the picnic blanket and headed for Grantchester meadows, river Cam, and the summer sun.

Grantchester-3Hours later, heavy from soaking up the sun, we climbed over the cow fence into the Orchard at Grantchester, where Brooke and his friends Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, John Maynard Keynes, Bertrand Russell, and Ludwig Wittgenstein once used to sit and repair the world with the power of thought, word, and verse.

The church clock may no longer stand at ten to three, but there is always honey for tea – and fresh scones with jam and clotted cream.

Grantchester-1(The Orchard tea garden, Grantchester, United Kingdom; July 2015)

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Back to my kind of candy land

London-4Oh! Towers of butter cookies and tins of fragrant tea! Boxfuls of florentines and heaps of marzipan fruit. That’s marzipan shaped to look like fruit, not the other way around. Tea rooms and picnic hampers and lovely flowers. I am glad to be back at Fortnum & Mason, the candy land for adults.London-3Tea is healthy so I will have some. And marzipan crafted into perfect disguise as an apple cannot be anything but healthy, right? Now where could I hide until the lights go out and I have these treasures all to myself all night? London-5(Fortnum & Mason, London, United Kingdom; June 2015)

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Oh, who can ever be tired of Bath!

bath-2When I lived in the UK I wandered around the lovely streets of Bath for a weekend. Just like Catherine from Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey I wonder, who can ever be tired of Bath?

“A fine Sunday in Bath empties every house of its inhabitants, and all the world appears on such an occasion to walk”bath-16“they hastened away to the Crescent, to breathe the fresh air of better company”

This lovely piece of green pasture is marked on an old map as “never to be built upon”. The Bath city layout is sprinkled with circles, squares, and crescents, and even contains one circus.

bath-12They set off in good time for the Pump-room, where the ordinary course of events took place; Mr Allen, after drinking his glass of water, joined some gentlemen to talk over the politics of the day and compare the accounts of their news-papers; and the ladies walked about together, noticing every new face, and almost every new bonnet in the room”

The Pump Room is open for a delicious breakfast, lunch, or afternoon tea. Wander in at breakfast time, after 9.30 am, and the sunny room, with light tunes of violin and piano floating in the air, will be all yours. Try the spa water – it’s not half as ill-tasting as in many other places. These are the “lower rooms” of Jane Austen, where ladies and gentlemen “took the waters”, along with “Oliver bisquits” (delicious but heavy on calories), during the day, and enjoyed conversation and dance during the night.

bath-14bath-1“Edward has been pretty well this last week, and as the waters have never disagreed with him in any respect, we are inclined to hope he will derive advantage from them in the end”

The thermal waters of Bath bubble up from three springs in the Roman Baths, over a million liters per day. The baths are beautifully restored and the excellent audio tour easily keeps your wandering around for 3 hours.


bath-5Hoping to dip your toes into the famous thermal water? Finally Bath has a spa again. The Cross Bath, and the all-new Bath Thermae Spa, are located behind the Roman baths. Half a day just flows by in the hot thermal waters, aromatherapy steam rooms, spa treatments, lovely restaurant, and rooftop pool.

““I could not tell whether you would be for some meat, or only a dish of tea, after your journey, or else I would have got something ready… Perhaps you would like some tea, as soon as it can be got.” They both declared they should prefer it to anything”

Afternoon tea in Bath is not to be had without the Bath Bun, or the Sally Lunn Bun. Fluffy and round, split in half, dripping with hot butter and brown sugar syrup with a hearty dash of cinnamon… the secret recipe and the tea room have served thirsty and hungry visitors for over 300 years, which I think Sally Lunn would have been very proud to know.bath-2All quotes by Jane Austen (Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, personal letters)(Bath, United Kingdom; June 2011)

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My kind of candy land

Londonshopping-2We had a kettle; we let it leak:
Our not repairing made it worse.
We haven’t had any tea for a week…
The bottom is out of the Universe.

– Rudyard Kipling

Of course we could not spend a week in London without visiting the Twining’s tea shop, Harrod’s tea department, Fortnum & Mason’s tea shelves, and without having afternoon tea at the Dorchester. That would have simply been silly.

Londonshopping-1(Fortnum & Mason, London, UK; October 2014)

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Afternoon tea by sunny lake Geneva

Geneva-2Blinded by the rare December sunlight sparkling on the lake we slipped into Hotel d’Angleterre for an afternoon treat. There were silk napkins and silver teapots and a single blue flower in a glass. There were towers of sandwiches and cakelets and creamy fluff. The sun rays danced around the tables as we sipped our steaming hot darjeeling from rosy bone china.

And I felt an overwhelming gratitude for being allowed to call this extraordinary person my friend, in a world never too big for an occasional cup of tea together on a Sunday.


(Geneva, Switzerland; December 2013)