It’s cold. Minus 5 degrees celcius cold, with winds that T says “steal my air”. We have to allow an extra ten minutes to get the girls layered-up before school, and the doorman now gives a quick check in case I’ve forgotten to zip up B’s fancy 7am Enfant blanket again, before he shoulders the door to push against the wind.
One consequence of this cold snap is that my need for proper tea has doubled. Even headed home for 45 minutes the other day in order to make myself a cuppa before the afternoon school run.
Since being told recently by one local cafe to please stop asking for boiling water, I’ve largely given up ordering tea here, as it’s just so disappointing. Until an Anglophile school mom took me to Tea & Sympathy.
Tea & Sympathy looks exactly like the English tea shop usually found in market towns, frequented by old ladies. Except here it’s in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, and is packed full of locals who say they once lived in London and miss it. The owner and staff are all Brits, and I found I got a bit emotional hearing the accent and gloating over the menu. Baked potatoes. Welsh Rarebit. Bangers & Mash. Cottage pie. Sticky Toffee Pudding with custard. Scones. Finger sandwiches. And of course the tea. Leaf tea served in china tea pots, cups and saucers, and a china milk jug (with cold milk, naturally, none of this hot milk nonsense).
Realise this all makes me sound like a walking stereotype here, but really it’s true. I am obsessed with tea. It wakes me in the morning and soothes me at night. It peps me up and it keeps me going.
But back to Tea & Sympathy. There are house rules, printed in bold on the back of every menu. My personal favourite is #6: ‘If we don’t need the table you may stay all day, but if people are waiting and you have finished then it’s time to naff off.’
The walls are decorated with classic British monarchy memorabilia, tea pots and posters. The loo is tiny, too small to change a nappy in, and indeed the cafe itself is too small for a pushchair, so this is one to visit with older children. Or better yet, without children altogether to distract you.
There is a little shop next door run by the same lady, which stocks toffee tins, Mr Kipling’s mince pies, and even Remembrance poppies in season. And next door to that, a fish and chip shop called A Salt & Battery. Was too stuffed on glorious British stodge to manage a fish and chips too, so will have to make a return trip later.
This week’s Highs & Lows:
High: Watching New York gear up for Christmas. It’s such an iconic time of year here, more so than in many cities. Window displays are appearing, twinkling lights festoon park trees, and ice rinks have gone up. Took T ice skating for the first time yesterday, and she did so well. Lots of scrambling and sliding and plopping down, but no tears whatsoever.
Low: Hat hair. Every day. Mine is v fine and flyaway, and let me tell you, it does not enjoy being flattened under hats, hoods and head bands day after day. Have got a can of dry shampoo which does the trick, but realised I’d reached a personal low point when considering whether could get away with spraying it on three days in a row as it looks better than actually washing it. Shame on me.