22 April 2014

English Afternoon: Cream Tea

Have you had cream tea? It was one thing on my list of thing I wanted to be sure to do while I was in Oxford.The first time I ever had cream tea was in 2009, in Oxford, with my brother Jason. We sat by the river, in Magdalen College, taking tea outside the cafe where students usual mingle. Empty punting boats sat on the river, and I got to taste something new, and delicious. Cream tea is usually an afternoon indulgence. It consists of two scones, clotted cream, strawberry jam, and a pot of tea. Here is my recent encounter, straight from my journal:

It's tea time. 4:00 PM. It has been a full day of climbing St. Mary's Church tower, lunching at the Vaults and Garden Cafe at the church, walking to Magdalen College and touring the college, including almost all of Addison's Walk and back, only to find C.S. Lewis' poem very much closer to the college than I thought. Oh well- it was the most pleasant walk I have ever been on. Literally, fields of flowers all in bright bloom. I've never seen anything like it. And quite chilly- which is perfect to me.

I got the best compliment today upon entering Magdalen. As I got to the porter's gate to pay, he asked if I was a student. He said I look like a student. I couldn't help but smile.

Now I am having cream tea at The Grand Cafe, across High Street from Magdalen College and down a block or so. It is the site of the first coffee house in England, from 1650.

I am eating the most delicious scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, and drinking lavender tea. Oh. My. Goodness. The best tea.....I am so happy I have a whole pot of it.

There is something about lavender that is irresistible to me. It's sweetness. It's flavour. And the subtly of it. It's not tart or fruity or overly sweet. It's the perfect blend of flowerly scented goodness.

It's quiet in the cafe right now. Several tables are occupied, but it is a small place, so it could get quite crowded quickly. It's kind of fancy in here. Across the street is Queen's College and Queen's Lane, of course.

The best part of these last few days is how I've done a lot each day and yet each day I have taken hours of time to sit in a coffee shop to write and read. It's exactly as I like.

Now that I am full of scones and lavender tea, I'll probably walk around for a bit and soak in more of Oxford until it starts to get a little darker. Then, I'll surely grab a quick takeaway from EAT or Pret for later, since I won't be hungry for several hours. And at that point, I will be ready to relax back at my room in Blue Boar Quad.

I feel like I could be a regular resident here. Just walking the streets. I glance at tourists and smile. I give directions to a few. I hang out at local spots down side streets. Just drinking lavender tea in a little cafe. Gosh, this lavender tea. I am drinking every last drop -- 3 or 4 cups??

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