Good morning ladies and gentlemen, I hope you are all feeling extremely eleven o clockish because the time is, of course, eleven o clock and no doubt our lovely werewolf butler is just itching to break our door down and shower us with tiffin.
You find us this morning pressing on with revolutionary business- which in this case means writing covert communications using Tsaiography (or as some uneducated folk call it ‘Charlatin’) .
That’s right, last week we showed you the Victorian art of coding with flowers, this week we are using tea (which is much more environmentally friendly and also better if you happen to have hayfever).
Tsaiography is extremely versatile and if you were ever forced to learn Latin at school, or if you grew up anywhere near East London, you will have no trouble at all as it bears a striking resemblance to the noble cockney street-slang known as ‘pig latin’
The basic rules are as follows, however there may be regional variations:
First select the word you wish to speak (or write) and, very carefully, slice away the first consonant and anything that was unfortunate enough to come in front of it ( So, for example, TEA would become EA and BUFFOON would become UFFOON ) Keep those letters in a safe place now, we’ll be needing them again in a jiffy.
Next open your larder, pantry or picnic hamper, remove your trusty tea caddy and choose any type of tea you fancy. Carefully insert the name of this tea after the next consonant in the word. If there is no other consonant, simply insert the tea at the end of the word. (So if we used ASSAM; TEA would become EAASSAM and BUFFOON would become UFFASSAMOON)
Now, remember where you left those first few letters that you cut away earlier? Scoop them up, being careful to keep them in the correct order of course, and place them right after the name of the tea. (Sticking with our examples, we now have EAASSAMT and UFFASSAMBOON)
Now you may be stuck with an unhappy circumstance in which the new word you have created doesn’t sound quite the ticket. (EAASSAMT for example) Don’t panic. If this occurs simply act swiftly and haul another tea from your caddy to add to the end of it. (EAASAMTOOLONG, for example, is vastly preferable to EAASSAMT )
Last but not least, if in doubt make it up. No true lady or gentleman would ever ridicule or berate another for improvising around the rules where necessary and there is plenty of fun to be had by combining meaningless multisyllabic ploynons with various brands of tea without worrying too much about whether or not you are spouting anything meaningful. (Children catch on to this much more quickly than grownups – follow their lead.)
To start you off, here are some useful phrases:
Hello – Ellassamho
How are you? – Ochaihwearlgrey aredbushegreentea ouchaiyoolong?
Would you care for a cuppa? – ouladygreywld ouchaiyoolong arassamec orchaif a uppingshuica?
Quick! Put the kettle on before I pass out! – Uigreenteaqck! Utoolongpearlgrey herooibust ettassamkle on efchunmeebore I assyunnanpoolong oukeemuntsouchong!
Now, if you are feeling brave, here are some phrases to translate yourself:
– I think that cake may be laced with laudanum, better let me try it first.
– Excuse me, Sir, did you happen to see an airship parked around here?
– Is that a flame throwing parasol by any chance?
Now hopefully our tongues aren’t in too much of a twist to enjoy our elevenses which this morning is a traditional fruity Yorkshire Teacake to compliment all this tea themed nonsense and you can find the recipe for it here
And now all we need is some inspiring music to keep us going through the afternoon…
Splendid, we wish you a totally tea-tastic afternoon and until we see you again please be always,
teapot image from http://www.freeimages.com
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope you are all feeling extremely eleven o clockish because the time is, in fact, eleven o clock and we, tentacles laden with scones of good will and bakewells of cheer, are ready to meet the hour!
You may sense an air of joviality in my address this morning, in truth I am bubbling over with excitement because the thaw water has all drained away, the parlour is warm and cosy again and tomorrow, here in the Scattered Isles Of Ire, we will be celebrating the first day of spring.
There is an ancient myth (far pre-dating the tyrannous reign of Wiz) that tonight, The White Lady, Silver Needle, will begin her walk across the land, warming the earth with the gentle steam of her breath, watering the soil from her swinging kettle. On the first of February, she stops at the house of every Good Tea Fiend and leaves a small present. What will it be? Earl Grey? Chamomile? Darjeeling?
It is polite to leave The White Lady a cup of white tea in return, to strengthen her on her long journey around the world.
Max says that if you have been very wicked, Lady Silver Needle will leave you a jar of instant coffee instead. Hopefully this is just his failed attempt at being amusing.
Nevertheless we have been diligently practising our songs of welcome ….
We all come from the White Haired Lady
Poured from out her sacred pot
Cup and spoon, saucer and cube
Cup and spoon, saucer and cube
Silver Needle stirs her cup and the year turns round
She will warm the earth and water the ground
The seeds we sow, the tea will grow
The seeds we sow, the tea will grow
Silver needle stirs her cup and the year turns round.
and have even been persuaded to go to some strange vigil thingy that Mrs Baker is holding in Peril’s Lovely Library at midnight. Hm? What’s that? Oh no don’t worry about the Liver Birds, Max will take his aether-colliding energy ray pistol to fend them off. And some lemon-grenades…
But goodness all that singing is exhausting, let us see what our lovely werewolf butler, Klapka, has nosed out for us this morning…
Mmm… Silver Spring Tea Bread, it’s her own recipe apparently…
silver spring tea bread
225ml freshly brewed white tea
juice and zest of 1 lemon and 1 lime
50g of butter
100g white sugar
225g SR flour
Melted white chocolate for drizzling
Crystalised flowers for decoration
Mix together all the ingredients except the chocolate and flowers. Pour into a 2lb loaf tin and bake at gas mark 4 for about an hour. Cover with foil if it starts to brown too quickly.
Cool the cake in the tin then turn out and slice. Serve each slice drizzled with melted white chocolate and sprinkled with crystallised flowers (primroses, rose, violets, jasmine or lavender would all work well).
We will be leaving a slice out for The White Lady along with a lovely cup of Silver Needle tea and our calling card. Now then, all we need I think is something zesty to tap our tentacles to as we kiss goodbye to the rancid old hag of winter and usher in the buxom bosom of spring….
We wish you a delightful day filled with tea, cake and magic and until we see you again please be always,
Good morning ladies and gentlemen, we hope you are feeling extremely eleven o clockish because the time is indeed eleven o clock and you find us desperately clinging to a printing press, screaming for help (and cake) in increasingly agitated tones. Here is what happened –
We decided that before the frost fair ended we ought to do one more round of the fuddling tents and then get our names printed on one of those souvenir flyers by one of the many presses which have sprung up across the frozen river.
I think we may have become a little too fuddled however, as by the time we reached the printers Max was no longer content on having our merely our names on the thing but had begun composing a lengthy treatise against tea rationing, sugar tax, dairy alternatives, the monarchy and poets in general… the poor printer was struggling to arrange her wooden blocks as this tirade of caffeine fuelled wrath drew curious punters from all over the river.
The crowd listened in awe for around five minutes until the part about the cats and then, as one, they turned and fled, screaming in terror. It took a few seconds for myself, Max, and the printer to realise that it was not the cats but the breaking ice which had sent them scurrying and, too late, we found ourselves adrift on one of many small ice islands which were rapidly breaking free and speeding off on the mischievous currents of the thawing river.
One, bearing a cargo of serving maids, ploughed into the side of a barge and shattered, sending the girls flailing into the icy water. Sadly I could do nothing to help as my tentacles are still out of action but Max did valiant things with a histrionic napkin – wafting it at them in a most heroic and undoubtedly helpful way – until they all managed to clamber up onto our island and choke themselves puce (don’t worry, we perched on the printing press to avoid any embarrassment involving vomit and shoes) .
And so we were stuck – we tried to punt our way to the other side using a parasol but once we got there, some thugs tried charging us to set foot on the bank. None of us had a bean and our offers of throwing them a sopping serving maid did not go down well at all.
Not with anyone.
The maids turned savage and pitched the printing press – with us upon it – into the water (who’d have credited them with such strength?) and so here we are, desperately in need of elevenses, and assistance. If you happen to have either, please do not hesitate to hurl them in our direction.
In the meantime we will wish all a very uneventful morning and attempt to endear ourselves to passersby by busking along to this…
Good morning Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you are all feeling remarkably eleven o clockish because it is, indeed, eleven o’clock and hope that you will come and join us as we stroll around the Lancastrian Frost Fair, taking in the sights and looking for dainty delicacies to nibble on.
I say strolling, which implies a leisurely pace, but my Very Quiet Gentleman Friend is doing an embarrassing amount of huffing and puffing and gasping for breath which is quite off putting I can tell you and leads me, once again, to question exactly what constitutes ‘Very Quiet’ in the realm above the waves.
I say strolling, but perhaps that is a misnoma for the exercise as in fact my tentacles are all still in splints from the ice skating affair and Mrs B has kindly rustled up an old wheelchair from somewhere and we have strapped a couple of floor board planks to the wheels so that Max can push me through the snowy cobbled streets and over the icy river with ease.
Oh the joy! I cannot tell you how immeasurably more enjoyable it is to experience a winter’s walk from the cozy comfort of an armchair…there are fire eaters and jugglers, oh my goodness is that an elephant thy have over there?! It is! I’m amazed the ice does not crack! Mind you, they are roasting spit an ox with impunity over there and I am certain it is going to lead to disaster.
There are so many things for sale, most of which are double the price one would expect to pay for them because they have the word ‘souvenir’ and a date scratched onto them. Luckily Max is a bit of a Finger Smith and we manage to procure some excellent spiced buns and treacle toffee before slipping away into one of the ‘fuddling tents’. These are made of the barge sails propped up haphazardly with poles and inside you with find some of the most lethal chai-cocktails to be mixed this side of a Tiffin Den.
We sampled ‘Purl’ (a steaming black brew made with lapsang and wormwood) which the vendor told us would have a man gibbering for days, and ‘The Spiky Mother’ (A pungent Assam with chilli and dark chocolate) which had apparently already hospitalised a crowd of eight, but we must be candid and say that, even after four or five cups of each, Max still had the wherewithal to hot foot it out of the tent and away before the angry vendor could catch up with us an extract his payment. (no mean feat pushing an octopus in a make-shift sled)
He almost cornered us but luckily Max employed a pocket full of escapological marbles (if you naive to the uses of escapological marbles to thwart a pursuer just ask the nearest five year old) and we left him cursing in the gutter.
So here we are again, back in the parlour, and after all that excitement we had better have something weird and wonderful to hum along to while we devour the rest of our frosty fayre,
We wish you all a very splendid afternoon and hope you will join us for more frosty fun on Thursday so, until then, please be always,
Good morning ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s splendiferously sparkling and frostabulously frozen parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster!
True, some have called it a frigid place of cold hearts and frosty welcomes but we consider that uch people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.
You find us this morning, warming our tentacles beside an imaginary fire after an enterprising and entertaining morning at the fabulous frost fair which is being held on our beloved river Lune.
Our psychotic scarecrow landlord, Montmorency, woke us before dawn with the business end of his walking cane and demanded that we head out into the frozen darkness and not return until we had enough money to pay for this month’s rent. The fact that we only just paid for the last month seems to have escaped the rogue and so I perched upon Max’s shoulder and we set off towards the river.
There were already traders setting up stalls on the ice but none of them took favourably to our offers of assistance (it seems that Queen Vic’s recent amendments to equality in employment law do not extend to an Octopus and a Tea Fiend) So we settled ourselves on the bank instead and watched the sun rise over the frosted spires of the sail barges which had collapsed crazily into the ice sheets and lay mired liked the skeletons of stranded beasts from some fantastical caffeine-fuelled nightmare.
Things picked up once the punters arrived. After some initial competition from a woman hawking root beer (For a Very Quite Gentleman, Max can be terribly clumsy when glass bottles are around) we managed to sell twenty bottles of lemonade (and drink many more) without being lynched by the barge folk for selling without paying the trading fees.
We decided that that was quite enough hard shirking for one morning and spent the rest of the time mooching around the stalls, watching the jugglers and fire eaters and, most impressively to me, the ice skaters. Having lived under the sea all my life, I never imagined this curious form entertainment and I am determined, soon, to beg, borrow or steal enough pairs of ice skates to attempt the thing myself.
Now here we are back in the parlour, our landlord briefly appeased, our cats greedily devouring the last of the skimmed milk ration, and all desperately in need of a reviving spot of elevenses and some soothing music to tap our tentacles to. Unfortunately our absconding butler has not seen fit to deliver the goods this morning (perhaps she thinks it’s a holiday? ‘Though what a werewolf would find to do at a frost fair we have no idea…) but not to worry because we managed to run into our lovely Mrs Baker on the way back and she has set us up with a packet of genuine Frost Fair Souvenir Gingerbread which, knowing Mrs B, will be crammed full of illegal sugar…mmm…
And, by happy chance, Max’s constant pocket companion ‘The Whole Duty Of A Woman (or an infalliable guide to the fair sex) – 1737’ (A birthday gift from a devoted family member I think) has an excellent recipe for … OWCH! …Well, really! You know, for a Very Quiet Gentleman, Max, you can be excessively violent devoid of a sense of humour…
I was going to say, before I was so rudely interrupted by a flying teapot, that this is a recipe for ginger bread biscuits, rather than the cake which we are enjoying now but it is nonetheless share-worthy, I think…
“To Make Gingerbread…
Take a pound and a half of London Treacle, two eggs beaten, half a pound of sugar, one ounce of ginger, beaten and sifted, of cloves, mace and nutmeg, all together, half an ounce beaten very fine, coriander seeds and caraway seeds of each half an ounce, Two punds of butter melted; mix all these together, with as much flour a will knead it into a pretty stiff paste, then roll it out and cut it into what Form you please; bake it in a Quick Oven on Tin-plates; A little time will bake it.”
And now we’d better tune in our Tesla radio and have some soothing sounds to placate my beastly savage companion… drink your tea Max and calm yourself down, it is not becoming for a Very Quiet Gentleman to sulk like that…
Ah, much better, that was Smith and Burrows if you were not aware of the before they are rather marvellous. We wish you a very pleasant afternoon, filled with with warmest and spiciest of delights, and we will see you back on Thursday for something rather special. So, until then, please be always,
Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Max and Collin’s treemendously treerific parlour filled with only the most tantalising treets.
True some have called it a pithy place inhabited by a branch of the family tree which is barking mad and ought to have been severed years ago, but those people are Max’s parents and so we pay them no heed whatsoever.
You find us this morning still ferociously celebrating Wizmas and filled to the brim with maniacal cheer as we construct our Wizmas tree in the centre of the parlour.
We hear that in your dimension you have a similar tradition during the winter months, well, let me take a moment to tell you how the Wizmas tree came about…
Long before Wiz defeated the Goddess, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter.
People believed that evergreens were the favoured plants of snow pixies, who brought gifts and granted wishes around the time of the Winter Solstice to cheer people up at the midpoint of the cold, dark season. They would bring an evergreen Tea Tree into the home and hang teacups and treats from its branches.
Gaul is credited with starting the modern Wizmas tree tradition. In the 16th century, devout students from the collegiums of Munster brought nuts, bolts, wire and cogs into their dormitories and shaped them into pyramids resembling trees in an attempt to symbolise the evergreens of Siberia where Wiz is said to have defeated the Goddess.
Tina Thrumler, wife of the 16th-century reformer Nathaniel Thrumler, first added lighted candles to a wizmas tree. Walking toward her home one winter evening, she was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst the pit heads of the local treacle mines. To recapture the scene for her family, he erected a tree from pistons and cogs in the main room and added candles to the tiers.
To the Mor Ire Puritans Wizmas was sacred and this new custom of the Wizmas Tree seemed too much like the Tea Trees of old; Wizmas was a time for snow and sobriety, not prancing around the parlour.
Bradley Williford, of the House Of Tea Time Lords, wrote that he “tried hard to stamp out this pagan mockery of the observance of Wiz’s victory, penalizing any frivolity, carol warbling, spoon jousting, feasting and spurtling most severely.”
But the public persisted and in 1846, even Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated Lichfield News standing with their extended family around a Wizmas tree, spoons in one hand and oat cakes in the other.
Hm? No I am not giving a history lesson, Max, I am simply…. oh alright then… Max says I should ‘put a cork in it’ and show you some Wizmas trees (you know, for a Very Quiet Gentleman, Max can be extremely dictatorial at times) Well you can see some splendid examples of the sort of thing we’re talking about here…
Moving swiftly on then to some seasonal music to usher in the afternoon…
and because we can’t really ever get enough of this ‘Doctor’ of yours…
We wish you a treemendously splendid afternoon and we will see you on Thursday when we will be All Punked Up With Now Place To Go so until then please be always
Wizmas! Hurrah! The jolliest, snowiest, most expensive and pointless day of the year is just around the corner: The day all citizen MUST (that is, LOVE TO) celebrate the victory of the awesome ruler of the universe, Wiz, over the inferior, primitive powers of the green goddess and all her ridiculous minions. (Are we doing well? We think we are doing well)
This morning you find us sketching plans for our Wizmas Witch hunt Wagonette. Every Wizmas, up and down the country, locals band together in fantastical contraptions and chase down any suspected witches, capture them in cages or sacks and lock them in the stocks where they are pelted with hot plum pudding until they confess. They are then transported to The Witch Holes in Slakeland.
So, poor Mrs Baker, we’re no sure what she is going to do – hopefully not try to disguise herself as Albert again, that caused untold difficulties last time…
But enough of the worries of others, we have our own necks to consider! So, on with the show…
Our Witch Hunting Wagonette Design…
As for the engine it is a simple four stroke powered by gunpowder tea which we saved from our recent visit to the Temple Of Heaven on the Jentacular Landmass.
But of course we wanted something that looked and sounded beautifully complicated and fabulous so we opted at first for the Daimler 1889 V12 design …. but then we got carried away and modded it up a bit to look a little more like the 1914 V8 because well, being an octopus eight seemed more natural…
But before we hoist on our goggles and roll up our shirt sleeves…sorry? Well how very dare you, of course an octopus may have shirt sleeves!… we simply must have a little music to tap our tentacles to as we tuck in to the delighful treats that our lovely werewolf butler Klapka has nosed out for us this morning… Oh my goodness! Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake made by Ashley at Baker by Nature click on the picture to go to her recipe…
Wish us luck! We wish you all a very exhilarating morning and hope everything you catch brings you good fortune and plenty of cake. We invite you back to join us for Tea @ Three on Thursday so until then please be always,
You find us this morning in a state of oaty bliss after a weekend spent at The Annual Wizmas Golden Spurtleglove Oatcake Championships (we understand you have something similar in your own dimension?)
If you are not sure what spurtle gloves are let us enlighten you – the spurtle glove is an oversized oven mitt used for oatcake flipping and a golden one is made in Lancaster every year and given to the contestant who can faultlessly flip the most oatcakes in six minutes.
The judging is conducted by three highly trained oat flip observers and presided over by Lord Ashton himself but there are also smaller prizes for the most original oatcake creations and these are voted on by the general public.
This year some of the winners in the Innovative Oatcake Recipe section included Chorizoat Cakes, Plum Compoat and Chocoloat pudding.
The best part by far, though, was the riot which began when the voted winner of the Oatcake Sculpture section (a truly gargantuan oatcake with a smiley face put on with raisins) was declared by Lord Ashton to be “An offensive and infantile attempt at subordination and mob-rule.” He then proceeded to disqualify the oat face and award the prize to a detailed oatcake sculpture of Lord Battenberg, the noted explorer, instead.
Lord Battenberg’s donations to Ashton’s extensive collection of arthropods is no secret and the furious crowds stormed the stage, seized the judges and began hurling lumps of the hated Battenberg into the River Lune. In the end Ashton had to call his man eating Liver Birds and we all fled for our lives… but it was worth it. All jolly good fun!
But now we are quite exhausted and simply dying to kick our tentacles up on the table with a nice pot of tea and a good book and, fortunately we have both…
The Earl Of Brass (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #1) by Kara Jorgensen
We very much enjoyed this fast paced book. Lord Sorrell is a free thinking adventurer but when he loses his arm he risks having his wings clipped and becoming trapped in the hum drum life he hates. Hadley is a strong minded young woman who is struggling to keep her prosthetic business afloat but when she meets Sorrell she is suddenly caught up in adventures beyond her wildest dreams.
This is a gripping and very original steampunk adventure story, well written with just a splash of romantic sub plot; enough to engage without becoming too heavy. It’s the first in the series and we will definitely be getting our tentacles into the second one shortly.
Now then, I suppose we really ought to have an extra special Earl Grey to accompany our Earl Of Brass and here it is…
Duchess Earl Grey from Junkicreations – we cannot praise this divine tea highly enough, more than just your average Earl Grey, The Duchess combines cornflower, rose petals, citrus peel and lime leaves with luxurious bergamot oil to make this a cup that sets out tentacles trembling at just the very thought of it.
Hm? ….Max says ‘steady on old chap’ … I have no idea what you are talking about Max I am perfectly steady. Steady enough to pop out Oracular Cephalopterois into his cup and see what wizmas cheer it has to offer us this morning….
Oh that’s marvellous, how we wish we had been able to sing that at our Spurtle riots!
Ah well, the tea is brewed and there is nothing left for us to say except ‘chin chin pass the tin open the book and lets begin.’ We wish you a spurt-tacular morning filled with wholesome delights and we invite you back to join us for elevenses tomorrow when we will be souping up our wagon and heading for some dreadful wizmas shenanigans so, until then please be always,
Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s fabulously festive and expertly extravagant parlour located within the spledidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.
True, some have called it an offensively ostentatious affair, filled with frivolous flamboyancy but we consider that such individuals are tasteless and we would never consider having them for supper.
You find us this morning turning the parlour into a veritable Wizmas Wonderland…
Apparently the final battle between Wiz and The Goddess took place on the snowy peaks of Siberia. (Having visited Siberia ourselves recently we are, to be candid, a little sceptical of this assertion.) and so it is traditional to cover one’s self and immediate surroundings in as much snow as possible throughout the Wizmas season. The more snow you are seen to sport, the more you likely to convince The Good Folk of your allegiance to our supreme ruler.
Of course there is always the small problem that snow in The Scattered Isles is not the most common meteorological phenomenon. Still there are ways to fake snow and we have pushed the iceberg out this year on that front!
We have carpeted the entire floor in sheets of cotton wool batting (We did try white crepe paper initially but it wasn’t nearly as messy, irritating or difficult to remove).
The window sills, we have piled high with a mixture of baking soda, white and blue glitter, a few drops of vanilla and peppermint oil and a tsp or two of water just to get it to hold together.
Upon the tea table, we have carefully sculpted a pyramid from ‘snow balls’. These were made by mixing glitter (again) with coconut flour and a little cold water.
Sadly we no longer have any glass in our windows after a close shave with a couple of Liver Birds last week, otherwise we could have stuck baking parchment over them to make them look ‘frosted.’
As for our own attire, we have given eachother a fairly good dusting with white glitter and talcum powder and can safely say we look perfectly abominable.
We simply can’t wait to see the look on Montmorency’s face when he sees the effort we have gone to…true it is difficult to read the facial features of a psychotic scarecrow, but we tend to guess that when his head is leaning to the left he is in a better mood than when it is leaning to the right, he looks a little friendlier like that you see.
Anyway, now that we have enough snow to infuriate our landlord we can sit back with a nice cup of tea and see what delightfully festive treats our lovely butler Klapka has prepared for us… mmm, frosted gingerbread cake with caramel cookies, click on the picture to go to the recipe…
Now all that is needed is some suitably snow spangled audios to usher in the afternoon so let us tune in our Tesla Radio and ….
Marvellous! We wish you all a very splendidly snow filled afternoon, and we invite you back to join us on Thursday when we will be finding out where the fun is happening this weekend. So, until then please be always,