“We don’t really do this sort of thing back home” she said in her rich Australian accent. You can find Afternoon Tea in so many restaurants and hotels in England that you can easily take it for granted when you live here. You forget that it really is something special. However, sat in the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon on the fourth floor of Fortnum & Mason, there’s no denying that it is quintessentially English.
From the moment you step into the bustling department store you feel a wave of British nostalgia sweep over you. Pots of jams and chutneys line the shelves. Delicious fine chocolates and fancy pastries sit pretty in the glassed refrigerator. Tourists swarm into the building wanting to see how far their spending money will get them.
You glide on past as though you do your grocery shopping here. You climb the royal red stairs up to the fourth floor where the grey-haired gentleman plays a mixture of classics and moderns on the grand piano. A lady appears in instant, escorting your jacket to the cloakroom. You hold your head a little higher and your shoulders back as you are led to your table. A strange accent escapes your mouth as you thank your host and ask for a wa-t-e-r. Of course it is now seemingly the norm to pronounce every syllable as though you were a frequent attendee of elocution classes.
After reading the novel that is merely the list of different teas, you settle on a pot of the finest Moroccan mint tea and another pot of green tea with jasmine, both reminding you of travels gone by. It arrives in a dainty (and surprisingly heavy) tea pot, accompanied by a delicate china cup and saucer. Your pinkie immediately stretches out. There’s just something about Fortnum & Masons that makes you want to be a true lady; full of class, grace and style (more so than normal).
A stand full of finger sandwiches arrives. They’ve been cut with great precision. You ignore the guests on the nearby table eating their sandwiches with a knife and fork, and assume they must be auditioning for a job in the kitchen. The vegetarian selection impresses, with cucumber and cream cheese, and char grilled peppers and basil pesto being the favourites. You feel a wave of relief as you’re told that you can order a refresh when you’re ready.
Getting suitably full, you select one of the small scones. You’ve been chatting for so long it begins to crumble as you cut it in half. You make up for the dry texture by putting a generous dollop of cream and blueberry jam on the top. You skip the second scone and head up to the third tier of the stand for the cakes.
Hours later you leave the classy Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon to the man on the piano playing Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Forget You’. It’s certainly different to the Les Mis piece from earlier. You can’t help but smile as he bounces to the music, clearly enjoying himself. He’s not the only one who’s had a good time. Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Mason is simply lovely, daaaahling.
Have you been to Fortnum & Mason before? Is this something that you’d love to do one day? Please feel free to drop me a comment. I always enjoy hearing from you. X
Big thanks to VELTRA for hosting my visit.