Sunday, 26 January 2014

Afternoon Tea and a Tale of WW1

On Friday I meet with Soo and Jenny for afternoon tea and present exchanging, we haven't managed to coincide our diaries before now so it was a somewhat belated Christmas for us!

I got a finger wag telling off from Soo for not having blogged for weeks and rightly so, I was going to last weekend but in a mad moment I decided to randomly move pieces of bedroom furniture and deal with whatever this revealed, the dust was like geographical strata in some corners - shocking!
 I am a bad one for hoovering up to, but not behind objects, anyway I did find a couple of earrings so it wasn't all bad.

Now if I were a blogger worth my salt I would have some marvelous photos of our tea and the fab surroundings but quite frankly I was more interested in the food, and the company of course. So I have blatantly nicked these pictures off the internet.
I didn't know Bill's was a chain, but apparently it is. I had been recommended it by various people at work for an evening meal but when we saw they also did afternoon tea we decided to check it out.

As Jenny reminded me we had been in this building, which I believe is an old chapel, once before. That time it was for one of those poster sales that always seemed to happen when the new academic year started, and as Jenny had just started university at the time we were looking for stuff to cover the walls of her room with. For years after that it was a soup kitchen for the homeless, I really hope that has moved to a new premises somewhere and not just gone for good.

Inside is light and airy and somewhat bizarrely kitted out in the baroque industrial style, with touches of baptist chapel, but you know what? it works
The atmosphere is chilled, we were there for the best part of 3 hours and not once made to feel like we were overstaying our welcome. The food was delicious and I loved the fact you got a bloody massive pot of tea each, marvelous. 
There wasn't masses of food I have to say, but as it turns out it was just the right amount with no left overs. I will definitely have to try here one evening soon.

Before we had tea we went for a browse in Arcadia a wonderful teeny tiny shop bursting with pretty things, they also happen to sell secondhand books and old postcards.
Soo and I love reading the postcards and both still regret not buying one we found from an outraged father to his daughter demanding to know the name of the person who had SHINGLED HER HAIR!
Anyway we were all three busy reading snippets out to each other when the owner asked us if we would like to hear a story to do with postcards. It was wonderful and I hope I do it justice when I tell it here, we were all rapt as he recounted it.

He said one day a lady came into the shop and started sorting through the postcards like a woman on a mission. He said she caught his attention because not only was she sorting them into 2 piles her hands were shaking badly as she did it. He said he started to worry he might be having to call an ambulance as she was clearly agitated and sweat had started to trickle from her forehead too, but she finished sorting and gave him one of the piles and said 'I'd like to buy these please'.
He saw they were all sweetheart postcards from the First World War and written in the same hand. The lady explained that she had been contacted by another woman who said 'I believe you are the granddaughter of...'
It turns out this random stranger was a fan of genealogy and had bought 3 or 4 of the postcards the week previously.
Having realised they were written by the same person and being struck by the beautiful loving way they were written had decided to try and trace the author. It turned out the lady with the shaking hands was indeed the granddaughter, and that not only had her grandfather survived the war he had gone on to marry the sweetheart he wrote too.
Even more romantic was the fact his sweetheart's parents had not approved of him so the pair had eloped on his return and lived a long and happy life together. Apparently they had both died in the mid 1970s and there had been some issue with the house and contents, items had disappeared, the postcards being one of them.

Now here's the amazing and wonderful thing. The shop owner collects postcards as well as sells them and he said only that week previously he had sorted through his private collection and decided to clear some of the duplicates etc and sell them in the shop.
When he looked closely at the lady's postcards he realised not only were they some of those from his personal collection but he also had more of them at home.
So he took the lady's number and said he would hunt them out for her. When he went home and sorted through he realised that not only did he have more, but they happened to be the first ever collection he had ever bought in 1975!

He was so moved by how beautiful they were he had bought them as a job lot rather than see them broken up. The lady came back the following week bringing with her the genealogy lady who had contacted her about them and was happily reunited with her grandfather as a young man in love.

Now as the shop owner said of course it's probably just coincidence but what were the chances that he would have bought them all in 1975, and kept them all until that very week when the genealogy lady came into the shop, and that she would decide to do her research........

Serendipity indeed.


  1. What an amazing story, Gisela. I am a total sucker for old postcards, and often buy them as much for the messages written on them as for the pictures. And I find it so sad that correspondence which meant so much is not valued enough by those who come afterwards to hold onto it... But on this occasion, the postcards found their way back to someone who will treasure them, and that's wonderful.
    I love the father's outrage at the hair-shingling! My Grandma apparently caused consternation in her small village when she was the first woman to get her hair bobbed in the 1920s. She was a goer!
    Glad you got out with the girls and enjoyed your afternoon tea. xxx

  2. Awww, what a great story! I love reading old postcards.

  3. Aw, what an awesome story about the postcards. That lady might have been so happy to get her grandfather's cards back.

    I'm glad you're blogging again :-)

  4. Oh wow i have a huge lump in my throat what a wonderful story and so beautiful that she was able to trace the postcards :-) dee x

  5. Wow, what a story! Serendpity!