My morning coffee ritual is completely unsatisfactory at the moment, such is life with 5 smalls in the home. My first coffee of the morning appears on my bedside table while I feed the baby still bleary-eyed from the earlier 4am feed. I inevitably doze off and wake up to a cold coffee. The second attempt at a hot coffee is also made in vain as the odd sip is interrupted with doing hair for school, making lunches and finding misplaced school items. By the time I get back to the coffee it is luke warm at best.
Once the kids are off to school I either make two back-to-back coffees to replace the earlier coffee failures or I spend the good part of the day flicking the kettle on as I walk past it without ever managing to actually complete the coffee-making process. It all just depends on what day of the week it is and how many children are at home with me.
So let me tell you about my favourite morning tea ritual instead. It is the one I shared every week with my gorgeous grandparents when we were living in Sydney.
Every week I would front up to the home they had built 60 years previously for a 'relaxing' cup of tea. I emphasise 'relaxing' because taking the kids to visit their great-grandparents was actually anything but relaxing. Every available surface of their home was adorned with breakables or valuable trinkets and controlling two year old twins in such an environment was as relaxing as jumping out of an aeroplane blind-folded.
Nevertheless I would be welcomed in by my grandmother and summoned to sit down, somehow relax and tell them all my news whilst keeping an eagle eye on the 2 year old twins as they eyed off my Grandma's collection of Lladro Ballerinas and and the rows of Wedgewood China propped along the shelves that ran the length of the living room wall.
After successfully making it through the minefield of breakables in the living room, we would settle in to the family room. Whilst my 95-year-old Grandpa toddled off to prepare the tea, I was handed the latest photo album and letters from relatives and looked through these while I chatted with my Grandma who sat with her latest knitting project in her lap. As I recounted the news of the week she would repeat it all back to my Grandpa who was still in the kitchen preparing the tea tray. Conversations were interrupted with constant reminders to the boys to stop playing with Grandpa's collection of ceramic pumpkins or to step away from the crystal glassware set out on the bar.
Tea was a traditional affair with everything served in fine china on a silver tray. There was none of this quick tea-bag in a mug of hot water business. It took a very long time as Grandpa would place the teapot down on the table and then go backwards and forwards from the kitchen to the table for the next half an hour gathering cups and saucers and napkins, the tray with the milk jug and the sugar bowl.
Meanwhile, the boys continue their search for the most breakable objects in the home and keep my blood pressure at a rather unhealthy level while I waited for a sip of restorative tea. I would pepper my grandparents with questions about our family history, keen to learn as much as possible in between reminding the boys not to de-frond the indoor ferns or fondle the chains of the grandfather clock. Grandpa would almost be ready for tea when he would have to head into his study to retrieve some papers because he couldn't remember precisely what year the patio extension on the house was done.
I'd hang off every word as Grandpa recounted stories from his time serving in the army in New Guinea, all the while peering sidewards as the boys moved in on the fish tank. The fish tank sat precariously on the top of a wonky pedestal with matchstick legs and teetered from side to side like an amateur juggler on stilts.
Somewhere between distracting the boys from wanting to go outside and step directly into the swimming pool that had no child-proof fence, morning tea would finally be ready. Homemade chocolate cake was usually on offer as well as a container full of chocolate biscuits of the TimTam or Mint Slice variety, a very welcome distraction for the boys. I'd watch chocolate crumbs descend from the mouths of the little boys into the cream flokati rug as I took my first sip of tea. Without fail, and after what seemed like an hour of preparation, the tea was either too strong or only luke warm. However, if we stayed long enough, morning tea would morph into "elevensies" which involved a little nip of wine from the fridge which thankfully only took a small moment to prepare and was already chilled. More often than not, it was just what the doctor ordered.
Despite the stress levels, the shenanigans and the cold tea, my visits were a highlight of every week, a little tradition of spending time with my very special grandparents that I am so grateful for, especially since my Grandmother passed away just shortly before we left Sydney and moved back to Tasmania - a different kind of morning tea ritual that is all about the ritual and (thankfully) not about the tea.
Thank you, Mel, for visiting today. Make sure you check out her blog at Coal Valley View.