Create: Tea breaks

tea time good house guest

GHG posts have been scant, and this tea tableau in an indication of what’s been distracting me. No, not idle afternoons spent with a cuppa and scones, but rather, I’ve taken a new editor post at Mr & Mrs Smith, a UK-based travel site of hand-picked boutique hotels that are researched by discerning scouts and then anonymously reviewed. I spent a week in London, along with my remarkably talented co-editor, Kate Thorman, under the tutelage of the sharp and whip-smart edit team there. A group who, aside from being all that professionally, take their tea breaks very seriously, and a few times a day.

It’s such a friendly, convivial ritual, and for the first time I understood the importance of this act. More than a routine gesture, it’s all about the act of slowing down to share something other than work banter during the busy day. Taking a moment – even to step away from your desk for lunch – can be rare in the U.S. working world. But deadlines always loom and that to-do list will grow either way, so I’m going to try and remember to stop and take a few minutes for a mind-clearing cup of tea. Care to join me?

Wander: London

Todd and I went on vacation last month to London and Berlin. Without the baby. Aside from one overnight, one parent has always been with Soren. Traveling just the two of us again, is something we’ve longed to do. So before we (ok, me) had time to back out we asked my mom to come stay (she was thrilled) and booked tickets. We were off.

Cue the roiling waves of deep gratitude for those who made it possible; guilt for leaving the work to others; moments of home sickness; uncertainty about what to do with all the free time and mental space; and more guilt still for not missing our son every single second. Soren, it turns out, was having such a good time he was largely unaware of our absence.

It was decadent. And it probably won’t happen again for another 10 years. I felt fortunate to have the experience at all. So here are snapshots of Part One of what my husband termed ‘The Seven Day Date’

Yes, we went to the Tate Modern, but our friend Adam also suggested the off-beat Soane Museum. This former residence is crammed (borderline hoarder antiquities style) with the personal collection of architect Sir John Soane. The art itself wasn’t of great interest to me. But a peek into the world of an eccentric collector and stroll around a tony neighborhood (picture above) made for an odd-ball afternoon.

Paella, French pate, fresh mozzarella, stinky grilled cheese sandwiches, lamb burgers, ostrich farmers, fish mongers, bakers, spice vendors, florists and even a classic barber shop can be found in the abundant  Borough Market. A classic old-world market of the highest order.

We strolled Brick Lane not for the Indian food (which I’m sure is fantastic), but for the graffiti. The crane is by ROA, anyone know about the yelling guys?We wound our way through Soho and ended up at a very no-frills 12 seat restaurant in Chinatown for filling won-ton soup and steamed pork buns. Kinda perfect on a dreary London day.

The permanent feeling pop-up restaurant from the chef collective the Young Turks above the Ten Bells pub (lore claims it was a Jack the Ripper, er, pick-up spot) was a total surprise. It was certainly our favorite meal in London and on our Top Ten Ever list. The seven course menu of deftly handled seasonal and local ingredients mixed high––combos like pigeon, duck egg and watercress or the suckling kid, grilled onion and ramson savory finale––and low brow––more fried mutton breast sticks with mint sauce please. The whole experience felt more like a relaxed dinner party than stuffy dining experience. The chef even popped down with several more desserts as if he was just goofing around upstairs in the kitchen and needed to run a few things by us at 11:00. It was outrageously good. They’ve threatened to cook in Brooklyn this fall for a few nights. I hope to catch up with the Young Turks when in town.

And, of course, the main attraction, our dear friend Elinor. An excellent guide and generous, relaxed hostess. She and her beau Adrian made for such a warm start to the trip. We’ll be back.