"I would like to invite you to Afternoon Tea while we are in London, what do you think of that?" "Afternoon Tea???????" Terje and the girls looked at me, three pairs of eyes filled with question marks. "Yes, come here and have a look at The Goring Hotel website"
While they looked I did my best to teach them about the lovely British Afternoon Tea tradition. Not that I've tried it very often, as a matter of fact, the only real experience I have of it is from The Plaza in New York, where an online friend took me for High Afternoon Tea, with champagne, harp music and everything, in 2002. I do have alot of reading experience though, from Jane Austen, Beatrix Potter, Anthony Trollope, Susan Howatch and their like.
Terje and the girls were a little hesitant. "You know,I don't drink tea" Marta said, "This is quite expensive" - well, Terje didn't actually say that, but I am sure he wanted to, "If you really want to invite us mamma, I am in" Ingrid beamed at me.
"Yes, I really want" I looked at them all smiling, and then made myself busy booking online a table for four.
I had been on a "just me walk" to see The Old Curiosity Shop and to fill another bag of books from a special travel book store, and came to the hotel some minutes before the others. In the lobby I spotted a desk and some beautiful The Goring Hotel stationary. Just perfect to sit down and write a letter to Carolyn.
The girls felt a little awkward at first......this is not actually us, we are just an ordinary family, how do we do this....... The charming atmosphere, the friendly staff, the food,.......well, it all made them relax pretty fast and we could all sit back and enjoy a couple of very pleasant hours.
We also started to enjoy looking at and listening to the party at our neighbour table. Five ladies, probably old friends, had tea together. After finishing eating they all brought out a parcel from their purse, all fancifully wrapped. "Will you please do us a favour" one of them asked the waiter,"take these five gifts and give them to us at random". The waiter happily did what he was asked, and then he was given a sixth small gift from one of the ladies. "Oh, why didn't they ask me to give out the gifts" Ingrid shouted. "Then the sixth gift would have been mine......."
Back at our hotel, late at night, I showed the girls a brochure I'd found at The Goring. Together we looked at the bedrooms, the suites........together we agreed that we could easily, very easily, adapt to a life as tourists staying at this lovely hotel. At least for a week-end.........a week.......a month.........a.......
I am back in Norway.......and I am dreaming.........of a week-end at The Goring. I am completely sure I would fit right in and I would love every single minute:-)
Thank you Staff at The Goring for your friendliness and your hospitality, you gave us a memorable afternoon.
PS or afterscript - when we flew home I asked Terje, Ingrid and Marta what was the highlight of the days in London. Blinking to each other they all shouted: The Afternoon Tea at Goring! I knew they were teasing me, just as well as I know that deep in their heart they spoke the truth.