Monday, 15 August 2011

All’s well on the cream tea revolutionary front

A little bit about this blog:
My husband Ian and I had a very restless night last night.  After a busy week of news, markets and fun, for some reason this was on his mind.  I give to you Ian's thoughts on the following subject! 

All’s well on the cream tea revolutionary front

The people took to the streets – well, more accurately, the pavements and patios of Yorkshire, on an August Sunday of sporadic sunshine.
We went to Betty’s – a North Yorkshire institution.

Some will have come to celebrate an occasion, others, after a brisk country walk or a leisurely stroll around the Harlow Carr RHS gardens. Some may even have come after church.
We went for a treat – after 6 days of hard graft.

It’s most likely, even customary, that you’ll have to queue for both the table service café and the coffee shop, although we have been lucky in recent times. The queue itself is an example of how civilised we really can be – a subject to which I shall return.

Betty’s is not cheap, and yet you can probably get a coffee and pastry for only a few pence more than a high street coffee shop, and, just once in a while, it’s nice to sip out of fine bone china rather than chunky mugs.

You also get “served” at Betty’s. By young, and some not so young people in crisp white shirts - waistcoats for the men and frilly aprons for the ladies. They wear a uniform that is probably the same as when the small chain of cafes opened nearly 100 years ago.

Betty’s is high in the “top employers table” and the staff certainly appear to stay with the company, and do their job very well.

The customers’ attire will have changed considerably.
Nowadays, whilst there will still be those of a jacket and tie mentality, it’s quite acceptable to be in whatever makes you comfortable – be it shorts and t-shirt, or designer walking gear.

Now I don’t stand in the way of progress – note the Yummy Yank and I were most excited by our advances in application use of our smart phones over the weekend! But mobile phones are requested to be turned off at Betty’s.

What I like about Betty’s is the consistency (bar a couple of unrunny poached eggs which need to be addressed by the YY). Whilst styles and modes have changed over time, they present to us an unchanging, genteel and, yes, civilised aspect of our society. Something that tea-rooms all over the country are doing.

My parents had their own tea ceremony – unchanged, I’m sure in the 37 years that they graced my life. The loose tea, the warmed teapot, the tray set out with cups, saucers, spoons, tea strainer and jug of milk. And always, my father “would be mother”. How very civilised. I hope that I have some of their civility in me – and that I, in my part, have been able to pass the same to my children.

I really hope this, because we watched on in horror as many of our cities smouldered last week. Our politicians and police are now engaged in undignified point scoring over the “moral collapse of parts of our society”. And yet we spent a very civilised Sunday with a good cross section of our civilisation.

We noticed a young couple, sitting side by side. She poured the tea whilst, perhaps, he talked of his hopes and dreams – for the next week, next years, for life.

I hope that they, like us, will return over the generations – as parents, grand and even great-grandparents – to Betty’s. And that Betty’s will be unchanged and still, so very civilised.

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