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||Hello there Nicey, Wifey and the Younger Members of Staff|
I am responding to your website's article about holiday cakes. I haven't had a big summer holiday this year so I'm afraid I don't have anything international to offer, but I have been on a few camping trips in England.
The first of these was an expedition to the Essex coastline. The weather was horrible, but we had an aim - to walk from Southminster Station to the coast to find somewhere to camp and to swim in the sea. We managed the first two. It rained all the way and footpaths in Essex seem to be the same thing as overgrown field boundaries. So when we arrived at the campsite / empty field, we set up the tent and dived it. Never before has a tent felt so warm and cosy. Then came the ultimate satisfaction... we brewed up a cup of tea on the camping gas stove under an umbrella outside the tent door and got out
the cake. It was a slightly random purchase initially - bought only because it mentioned tea on the wrapper - but the contents were delicious. I had bought a Yorkshire Tea Tea Loaf. It's a dense but moist loaf with raisins and cherries and it goes superbly with a nice cup of tea and a sit down. I would heartily recommend it for anyone, especially if you are planning on a rainy camping trip and have therefore attached a picture to help spot it in the supermarket. I would have photographed the cake inside too, but I was in on my own last night and thought if I opened it I would have eaten the who thing which I think would have got me in trouble with my housemate since I had bought it in order to share the joy I felt in Southminster.
Enjoy the cake.
|Nicey replies: James,
Thanks for evoking such a vivid tea and sit down moment, it almost makes me want to rekindle my hiking days and wander around a bit lost and drenched to the skin so that I can really really enjoy a cup of tea.
|The Lincoln biscuit is alive and well in our local Sainsburys, it is now called 'Lincoln Shortbread' but packet looks the same as always and they taste the same.|
|Nicey replies: Thank you for this important information.|
Custard Cream Review
|Ah, when I was younger custard was always Bird's. In fact, an offer of 'nanas and custard was usually turned down with a "can I just have the custard?".|
Then we upped and moved to more southern waters, where there was no Bird's (or even custard creams!), and the natives preferred something rather vile called Ultramel. This way too viscous stuff came out of a tetrapak carton and was an unnatural shade of yellow. Strangely enough, I went off eating it altogether. (Although I would still eat far too many custard creams if I could get my hands on them).
My husband and I have now moved again, to another southern clime, where I managed to find some ludicrously priced Bird's powder (and some custard creams!). Since making it for hubby, I've realised that I actually do like the stuff. In fact, I like it even more when I make it myself from eggs, sugar, vanilla, etc. I like it kind of 'tuesdayish' I think. Runny (or Creme Anglais-y if you want to be posh). It just musn't come ready made out of a carton. Eww.
Thanks for the bittersweet reminders of my favourite biccies. Think I need some tea now.
||The two-cup drink/dunk is an amazing thing. I am sat here in Australia in a water shortage situation at the mo and can't help but think that it is too much of a luxury at present to be dunking in a separate cup. I will have to stick to holding a piece of biscuit in my mouth and quickly taking a sip of tea, to achieve the dunked effect without getting that nasty sediment at the bottom of the cup.|
Nicey, I lived for some time in London, and coming back to Australia has reminded me that tea can taste oh so different depending on the local water supply. I remember having lovely cups of tea in Devon and The Peaks, and I always used filtered water in the kettle in London. Where, in the world, is the best 'tea water'?
|Nicey replies: Very good point about the water. Our water at NCOTAASD HQ is very hard being drawn from chalk ground water. It does however produce its own sort of unique tea which without realising over the space of a mere ten to fifteen years one gets quite used to. Having spent three weeks travelling around France making tea in various places, there is still nothing quite like that first cuppa when you get home. Is it the water?
I'm sure many people would be thinking of Yorkshire Tea's two blends for hard and soft water areas which they'll post samples out free to UK residents. Also I'm fairly sure that vats of Manchester water used to shipped out to Indian tea plantations to aid with the proper blending of the tea before shipment.
||Hola Nicey (gone all Spanish for a bit as it's hollies season)|
You said in your reply to Nessa's lovely pictures of her tea party (what a fabulous idea, I may take the liberty of following suit if she doesn't object...) that the plucky blue teapot had a chip out of its rim. But surely you can see that it's one of those spangly-fangled clever teapots which can hold its own integral strainer attachment, thereby allowing the use of leaves instead of bags without having to cart around the small hand-held tea strainer (with the accompanying dilemma of where to put it when it gets full of leaves).
Jolly lovely array of teapots and cups/saucers there, do all of Nessa's friends share her passion and brought along their own I wonder? What a fabulous idea - after the advent of book clubs, knitting circles and sewing gangs, perhaps we should all be starting NCOTAASD appreciation societies, meeting once a month for general tea, biscuit and sit-down activities in the company of like-minded others? I'm sure I can't have been the first to think of it...
Hope you head off somewhere smashing for your hollies, love to Wifey and the YMOS.
Sarah in Bath xxx
|Nicey replies: Yes you can see how ignorant I am of cutting edge teapot gadetry, and you're not the only one to pick me up on this. Still I think a few chips and the occasional missing handle add a touch of earthy personality to some of the more senior teapots, even if it does make them unpleasant and awkward to use.|