Monday, 5 August 2013

introducing afternoon tea

For the past six months or so, we've been experimenting with an old custom, an adopted tradition that neither myself nor Mr Manley experienced growing up (hence the adoption bit).

Afternoon tea.  

It conjures up images of Jane Austen style BBC period dramas for me, ladies in bonnets and delicate lacy gloves; spinster aunts engaging in refined conversation; a slightly balding and very awkward vicar blushing while young women giggle across the table; a fine porcelain teapot surrounded by small gatherings of saucers with matching teacups, decorated with delicate flowers . . .

. . . yeah . . . that's not how we do it though . . .

Sundays in our house follow a pretty well established rhythm, involving food, homework, dog walking, baths and putting away washing.  Because breakfast is usually pretty substantial (porridge or pancakes or veggie sausage / eggs / spaghetti) no one is really hungry for the rest of the day, but a little baking on a Sunday afternoon will never be a bad thing . . . One afternoon Smiler made scones to eat for tea with jam, and Noah made some biscuits, and since Smiler, Noah and Petal all wanted a cup of tea I made a pot, and that was it :

afternoon tea was born.  
Six months down the line we now have a cake stand and a milk jug to add to our teapot, and having tried out every scone recipe from our surprisingly extensive assortment of cookbooks, we've picked out our favourite.  Sometimes Noah and Petal cook independently (independently of Mr Manley and I), sometimes Smiler is in charge and sometimes we all pitch in and do it together.  Usually half of whatever we make goes into the freezer to be used for afternoon tea another week, and something else comes out, but it's pretty flexible, and very yummy.  

Over the years we've come to realise how important routine is to Smiler, and regular fixtures in the week help him feel comfortable, help him feel secure, and while we've resisted going down the plan out every day in advance route, we've seen how a few landmarks can help prevent him getting stressed.  How quickly he adjusted to the changes that Sunday Afternoon Tea brought was mainly, I think, to do with the cakes - Smiler is a big big fan of those!

Come on, who wouldn't swap a crackers and salad and cheese and chutney meal for scones with jam, bakewell tart and chocolate mousse cake given the opportunity?

So while our Sunday afternoon tea may be a long way from the docile gatherings described by Miss Austen, with no embroidery, saucers or sugar lumps in sight, no refined genteel conversations, and a distinct lack of vicars, we've made the tradition our own.  

To capture the enjoyment (and the cake) I'm planning to take a couple of photos each week, and share them here.  It's really easy for me, as a parent, to feel utterly inferior to pretty much every other parent on the planet, and I hope that I may be able to offset that just a little by making the effort every week to concentrate on the achievements of the family as a whole, what we've worked on together to bring to the kitchen table and share with one another.

So, here's yesterday's afternoon tea :

Banana and coconut bread, made by Smiler with a bit of help from Mr Manley; lemon poppyseed loaf from the freezer; and marzipan men that I made in the week.

Have you tried making your own afternoon tea before?  How did it go?  If not, maybe you could give it a go ~ let me know how you get on!


  1. This looks lovely, I am a big afternoon tea fan! Never thought to bring it into our home though... maybe we should? xxx

    1. Hi Katie, thank you for the lovely compliment! I definitely recommend giving it a try - even if it's a something that you do every so often it's a great treat for everyone and children (and adults!) have the chance to do some baking which then gets appreciated by everyone else! I guess it might be a nice thing to invite a couple of friends or grandparents to as well!
      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment, please do let me know how it goes - I'd love to see a pic or two . . .
      Take care

  2. This sounds like the most awesome custom. And your pics are beautiful. BTW, I found you on Love That Max. My post was #49 this week. I love to support my fellow bloggers so if you have a FB page, please let me know, and I will go to it and LIKE it. Glad I found you. your page is beautiful.

    1. Thanks for visiting Linda, and for the wonderful compliment! I do try with the photos, but it's not hard with all the sunshine at the moment! I'll check out your post today, thank you for the heads-up!


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