24 Days of Tea

It’s been an age. But the tea Advent Calendar is back, and so are we. Well, okay, if we’re being technical…it’s the 24 Days of Tea because marketing thinks Advent Calendar might alienate the atheists. The agnostics too. We’d take their point if we thought the average church-goer could still tell you why we call Advent Advent. Alas, we do not, so have faith less than a mustard seed that the atheists and agnostics are ahead of us. Maybe we are unfair. Maybe they are. On the other hand, Lady Marchmaine assures me that if you’re agnostic, you[re practically Anglican. And if you’re an atheist buying a tea Advent Calendar, odds are on you’re more interested in the tea than the branding. We’d imagine.

It was Candy Cane today, by the way. A black tea with pieces of…well…pieces of something it it. Specifically a snowflake-shaped something that gives the tea a liquid After Eight taste and makes the tea sparkle. Really. It’s sort of a filmy-besparkled surface. Our bet is on some kind of mint flavoured sugar crystal. Anyway, it’s very nice if you like peppermint. We happen to. The black tea base counterbalances it well. Be sure to give it plenty of time to steep though. After a good seven minutes, ours was still weak. But then, we use a tea infuser.


It being December, other trivia at this end include the conclusion of the Scottish Country Christmas Dance at our end. Reels, jigs, strathspeys, and lots of metrically complicated things. The upshot is that we now understand a reel of four and the art of set-and-balance. On which note, here’s one of Pat Batt’s poetic gens about the art of the Scottish Country Dance.


By Pat Batt

Well now I’m Intermediate –
My feet are doing nicely –
The brain still finds it hard to cope
And work things out precisely.
I sometimes feel that I’m a pawn
In a giant game of chess –
But the pattern’s getting clearer
And the chaos getting less.
I’ve mastered chain progression,
I can do a nifty Knot –
But the Rondel and Espangnole,
I admit they’re not so hot.

So – here you find me in the set
And I am number two.
I’m O.K. for the first few bars –
I’ve nothing much to do.
I’ve stepped up very nicely
(It’s lovely to be dancing!)
But – someone’s coming up the set –
Oh, should I be advancing?
Ah no, it’s just a set and turn
And balance in a line –
My confidence comes flooding back
And now I’m doing fine!

I’ve come in for the Allemande
(Arm over on bar one!)
Now I can do it properly
I’m finding it such fun!
I’ve done 8 slip steps to the left
And 8 back to the right,
I’ve turned, and now I’m casting
And the end is now in sight.
I’ve remembered all the proper things
That I’ve been taught to do –
And the nicest thing about it is
My teacher’s happy too!


Before we go, here’s a look at Miss Haden’s Reel to round off your evening. It’s a jig, by the by. One can only presume whoever named the thing was having a laugh at the expense of beginners. Even so, it’s a good bit of fun.

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