Wow, so I've been super quiet lately!
It's all part of the moving-into-your-first-ever-proper-place experience. No more free wifi courtesy of mum and dad/the university/your student landlord - when you're moving into a flat or house as a proper adult, you have to think about these things.
Which I blatantly did not.
Luckily I moved away from mum and dad/the university/the student landlord and straight into a flat directly across the road from a Sainsburys store, which is currently (unknowingly) sponsoring my existence. Not only can I dash across the road (literally across the road - as I sit here typing on my bedroom floor, I can see the bright orange letters of comfort and provision mere metres away) for dark chocolate digestives whenever I want, I can also use their wifi whilst I wait for Sky to come and lift me out of the dark ages. Winning.
Sadly though, Sainsburys wifi blocks access to most blogs. Including mine. So I can write posts (as I've just discovered) but I can't actually respond to comments or visit anyone else's little corner of the internet. Sad times.
(Sainsburys wifi also blocks half the websites I try to use and is not very conducive for streaming so I think it's high time I lodged a formal complaint about this mischievious free service that I'm not paying for!)
So anyway that's that and there's nothing more I can do except count down the days until Sky day (it's 7 people. 7 days!) and get on with blogging about summer.
Which included a rather lovely little trip to this rather lovely little place...
It has been my mum's one request for the past few birthdays to have afternoon tea at Claridge's.
She has dropped hints and asked explicitly and reminded us kindly yet it's never happened before, usually because we're too busy chasing down the other items on her wish list. This year, she asked again... and didn't ask for anything else. So I finally booked a table using the online booking service.
And then cancelled the booking and rebooked for a different date. And then cancelled again and rebooked again etc. etc. as I tried to schedule as many summer holidays as possible around our afternoon tea and basically the moral of the story is this: Claridge's is full of very nice and patient people who will put up with you faffing around even if you change your reservation five times in the space of a week.
(Don't worry, this was all before I actually told Mum we were going!)
When the day finally arrived, we stepped through the revolving doors into another world and another time. Soft carpets instantly drank our footsteps and giant art deco mirrors refracted our reflections into shards. The beautiful monochrome floors had been polished and buffed so perfectly, they looked as if they were made from glass. They were (and still are) probably much cleaner than I could ever hope even my kitchen to be. It was instantly evident that the attention to detail is absolutely beyond someone as messy and "that'll do" as I am.
But oh, Claridge's is not a "that'll do" kind of place.
We were about ten minutes early (this was after a further ten minutes of loitering outside wondering if it was ok to go into this hallowed place before our allotted time but in the end we scurried in because rain). A very friendly lady showed us to the "cloakrooms" (that's the toilets if you're unsophisticated like me and thought it was just a cloakroom - although you can leave your bags and coats in there too). Once we had made use of the facilities (i.e Mum had stroked the Lalique light fittings and I had managed to splash water all over the beautiful old sinks and taps that the poor cloakroom attendant had just polished) we were shown to our table.
We weren't in the main salon but our table was instead tucked in a lovely, cosy little corner just beyond it.
Now there is no messing about here. We all know what we've come for. The menu we were handed consisted entirely of a selection of teas, complete with detailed descriptions of their origins and flavours. I chose the Cornish Earl Grey as the description revealed that it is the only English tea in commercial production with the tea being grown in (you guessed it) Cornwall.
The sandwiches were brought in on large sharing plates. I'd asked to have just the vegetarian and fish sandwiches as I don't eat meat but when they arrived they'd included additional flavours that hadn't appeared on the main menu such as cheese and chutney. Mine arrived on a separate plate although that didn't stop some people trying to pinch them anyway!
We'd turned up pretty hungry - our sitting was at 3pm so we'd starved ourselves all day for maximum afternoon tea capacity. So when they asked us if we wanted a second round of sandwiches, the answer was a resounding yes.
Although this meant that by the time the cakes arrived, we realised that we were in a spot of bother.
Now I don't know about you, but as I've gotten older my appetite has begun to reach some form of limit. I used to be able to eat and eat and eat until there was literally no food left but over the years, I've had to start making notes of the things I just cannot manage to finish anymore.
Sadly, unlimited cake is now on my list of things I just can't.
My teen years were so wasted. Why did I not come to Claridge's before?
All the same, I had a pretty good crack at it.
I don't need to tell you how good these tasted do I?
These exquisite little pastries are the stars of the show. They are just so damn aesthetically pleasing even if our stomachs were beginning to roll at the sight of them. All the same, we got on with our duties and began eating. I started with the zingy berry macaroon with a plan to alternate between the cakes and the scones which aren't quite as sweet. Mum made the rookie error of diving straight into the scones and following up with the cakes meaning she didn't quite manage to finish hers.
And then they brought us this!
I had mentioned on the booking form that it was for Mum's birthday but I hadn't expected anything to come of it really so we were all thrilled when this turned up. Although she then had to eat it so I don't know how long those feelings of joy lasted. (I jest, you can't fail to be in high spirits when taking afternoon tea at Claridge's.)
Besides, they will very kindly box any that you can't manage so that you can take them home and enjoy the magic a little longer.
But some people just don't know when to stop.
As in... I just don't know when to stop.
And I made sure I finished every last bite.
I have only ever felt that full once before and that was after polishing off a 3-course meal and two cocktails at the Hard Rock cafe, to then be taunted by my sister whispering "mayonnaise" and "chocolate fudge" (etc.) in my ears.
Our very kind waitress could see exactly what kind of situation was developing at the table and before anything regrettable occurred, she'd arrived with a large pot of freshly brewed mint tea and three new cups.
On the way out we had one more look at the magnificent entrance, one more admiring stroke of the Lalique lights in the toilet (Mum) and one last photo before the spell was broken and we stepped back into modern day London.
It was truly an extraordinary afternoon.
I'd read before going that the staff treat everyone as if they are the most important of guests and I couldn't fault that review one bit!