Tea and Makes
If I was to work out where my love of all things tea began, I would have to say it all started with my lovely Nana, who I often enjoyed a sweet milky cup of tea with as a very small child. Both my Nana and Mum always made sure there was a china cup and saucer, and tea was always made in a pot (in my Nana’s case using leaf tea from a fascinating wall-mounted dispenser.)I lost my wonderful Nana when I was in my teens, but still have some of the willow pattern cups and saucers she would use, which she saved up Ringtons Tea vouchers to collect in the late 60s.
Through my student years, insisting we had Yorkshire Tea in our shared house, and right up to my involvement in running a tea-shop, my love of tea has been a constant, almost inevitably leading to me having my own tea brand, which I sell at festivals and markets. Probably the apex of my tea-selling career came this summer when I was invited to have a stall and a pop-up tearoom at Saltburn Food Festival.
The festival brought in 14,000 visitors last year, in the one day it runs on the town’s Milton Street and with even more people visiting this year, had a whole street filled with the very best of local produce and amazing food from all over the UK.
We showcased our range of 10 packet teas including the new Special Matcha Green, selling cups of tea too so visitors could try for themselves. My youngest, Sadie sold cakes for the charity trip she is taking for school to work in an Orphanage in India, and we had my usual tea-cosies and other makes , infusers and vintage teacups & saucers to buy. It was a real family affair with both kids serving alongside me, and Husband Chris keeping the hot water coming, from the back of our T25 camper van Ruby.
An amazing day was had by all and I would highly recommend a visit next time, on the first Sunday in August next year! (So hope we’ll be invited back and am already counting the days!)
Ruby the Camper
I couldn’t do what I do without the support of my wonderful family, who are with me all the way and often help out (sometimes the dog comes along too.) The two kids will be alongside me this year at the Festival of Thrift, and running the stall while I teach my ‘Kitchen Cupboard Books’ classes there. This little aside, however isn’t about them; it’s about my ever faithful van Ruby the other important cog in the machine, who I thought you would like to know a little more about.( I say who as I consider her a person, not a machine)
Before that, a little step back in time.
As a couple, Chris and I have had a few Volkswagens over the years, and probably my earliest memory of VWs were those owned by my uncle in the 1970s; the orange Beetle with the big sunroof he would drive around our estate standing up, and the Karmann Ghia which lived on our drive ‘temporarily’ for a year looking stunning but totally engine-less, like a model who’d had a frontal labotomy. This was my plaything and thoroughly ingrained in me this love of VWs.
Over time we owned a T25 pickup truck and and a nippy little Polo, but Ruby came along when we were looking for a fully blown kitchened camper. She’s from California, but we picked her up in Doncaster, with a full service history and Californian plates which enabled me to find her first owner who had her right up until she was imported to the UK in 2009. She told us Ruby had been a ‘he’ in the US, called Wolfie as he’s an edition from the famous Wolfsberg factory. He became a she, renamed by her new UK owner and when she ended up with us, we gave her a spruce up with a respray and had some dents removed and she was ready for the road. She’s taken us on holidays and festivals up and down the UK, and often acts as both my kitchen and my office when I run Totally Locally markets.
In 2008, I set up SkyBlueRed, a community arts company. I wanted to give my new venture a non-specific but creative name; and as most of my work entailed creative sessions in schools, thought the use of colour would be good. I also wanted a title that reflected my personality, and when I asked a friend how they would describe me, they said ‘really blue eyes, red hair, and red lipstick’. It was a done deal. When I decided to have my own ‘brand’ for selling at fairs, it seemed an obvious choice to keep to the same red and blue theme. Also Sadie was going to be named Ruby, but Ruby Rogers? With a name like that she was destined to be a Country and Western singer and not much else! (As she’s something of a singer, I think that may have been an issue)
So, it was ironic that our new acquisition was called Ruby when we got her, years after Ruby and Blue came into existence, so completely fitting in with everything I do (and we couldn’t really not buy her) and if you ever see her about the place, you might notice ‘Blue’ the bird in the middle of her windscreen, made for me by the lovely Paula of ‘Vintage Polly. Ruby the van, and Blue the bird, coming to a festival near you soon !