I first ‘met’ Ann-Margaret through a bloggy birthday mail club I took part in. This was a couple of years ago, the Birthday club I don’t think exists any more, I jumped ship after about a year for reasons I may talk about one day, but the good thing which came out of that was the virtual friend I found in Ann-Margaret.
(photo stolen from The lady herself)
Like many bloggers, I have lots of Virtual friends. Some I write to, some I just have a little postcard swap with every now and again, and some I just ‘speak’ to through the blog world.
All are great, but different.
So imagine how excited I was when I received the message that this girl would be visiting London for a few days due to her hubbies work. Do you think anything was going to stop me from getting on the bus and making the 3 hour trip? Not on your nellie.
I had a slight conundrum of where we should go. I did feel a certain amount of pressure. Where to take a Tea loving American on their first ever trip to London?
I decided there was only one place for it.
Fortnum and Mason. For those of you not in the know… a bit of background…
Fortnum and Mason is recognised internationally for its high quality goods and as an iconic British symbol.
Founded as a grocery store, Fortnum's reputation was built on supplying quality food, and saw rapid growth throughout the Victorian era. Though Fortnum's developed into a department store, it continues to focus on stocking a variety of exotic, speciality and also 'basic' provisions.
Fortnum & Mason is famed for its loose-leaf tea and its world-renowned luxury picnic hampers, which the store first distributed to Victorian High Society for events such as the Henley Regatta and Ascot Races. These hampers – which contain luxury items such as Stilton cheese, champagne, Quails eggs and smoked salmon – remain popular today, especially at Christmas time and can cost (as of 2008) anything from £35 up to £25,000.
So enough of the history lesson, what you really want to know is, was Ann-Margaret as she seems on her blog? Did we even get on? Were there any awkward silences where we didn’t know what to say? What did we talk about!?
It was a dull drizzly day, I’ve never travelled to London on my own before but I decided that I am a grown up. Time to do it.
We met at The London Eye, (when I turned around and saw her I just remember thinking, she is Teeny! And so bloody Beautiful!) but there was no dragging my friend on as she had already told me before hand she would hate it! We walked up The Mall (of course we passed up tea with Queenie that day as we had reservations at Fortnum’s…)
I seem to remember we met at about 11.30am. The next time I looked at the clock it was about 4.30pm & we had been sat at our table in Fortnum’s Tea Parlour for hours. Literally. Hours.
I tried lemon curd spread on a scone for the very first time. (yum) I heard tales of Ann-Margaret’s tea room, her home & family, including her cute little westie Tucker, (who has his very own Face book page Tuesdays with Tucker & you should definitely go over and read his antics) her art, how it annoys the hell out of her when people shorten her name (oh thank the lord I had the social grace to ask first!).
We admired the china, people watched, (wondered why on earth anyone spending that amount of money on afternoon tea would choose to do so accompanied by a screaming baby!?) compared cameras, took lots of photos of everything, (haha oh how predictable bloggers are).
I have to admit here I was taken aback at how much we had in common, although I was very excited to meet her, I never expected to feel so close as we did in those hours sat at that table, gossiping like we met like this every other week, about our blogs, our friends, our lives, and when the black cab pulled up to us to take her back to her hubbie, I was more than a little sad that our time had ended for now.
I have to give credit for the photos to Ann-Margaret. Without whom I would be photo less as I seem to have misplaced all of the pics I took in the black whole of my computer. Never happened with good old 35mm.
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
― C.S. Lewis