I must confess that I never expected the huge level of interest in our recent venture of providing Afternoon Teas at Ardgillan Castle. Nor did I expect there to be as much interest from the men as there has been. So, I’ve been asking what the perception is.
In the mid-19th century, Anna Maria, seventh Duchess of Bedford “invented” Afternoon Tea. For her, she couldn’t bear the hunger pains between lunch and dinner and so insisted on being served tea and cakes between 2 and 5pm.
Hunger pains, don’t feature in our responses. Instead it is perceived to be an opportunity to slow time down completely. Lingering for two or three hours over several cups of tea and dainty bites of food, is such a welcome departure from our everyday hectic pace. There’s space and time to talk, to listen and to experience our companions in a different light. For a change, there’s just a nod to alcohol with the Prosecco being an under-feature and the Teas taking a far greater prominence.
Something about the setting of a Castle lets people don a different mask, act differently, with more gentility and refinement. It is also a reminder of the passage of time, of the transience of problems, even a prompt to bring a bit more grace into our daily lives.
Sitting in the Billiard Room with the magnificent furniture, beautiful tableware and linens and watching people on their “best behaviour”, I am reminded of my heroine, Aunty Kathleen, the most graceful and dignified person I have ever known and how she comported herself – if she could see me now!