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At the age of just eighteen, I went on my very first independent excursion to London with my extremely good friend Sally. It was the summer between finishing our A-levels and the start of university and, after all the stress of our exams, we just couldn’t wait to let our hair down and to finally have a little taste of independence. We spent those three days eating a great deal of cake, drinking quite a lot of tea, visiting the sights and having long chats about everything from setting up our own cake emporium to where we would likely be in ten year’s time.

Well, quite a lot has happened in the 14 years since but Sally and I have remained good friends and we have said many times that we should plan another excursion (albeit this time with a bit more of a budget and our own credit cards) and a couple of weeks ago, we finally found time to make it happen. I asked Sally to join me on the Afternoon Tea Bus Tour (run by BB Bakery) that had been a gift from my former colleagues. She was very happy to accept and, on a rather warm Saturday afternoon, we presented ourselves at the designated departure point near the London Eye to await the bus:

Afternoon tea bus

As you can see, it was a rather delightful, old-fashioned Routemaster bus that we were informed was over sixty years old. When we boarded, we were greeted by a very friendly member of staff and shown to our table on the bottom deck where a selection of sandwiches and cakes awaited us!

Afternoon tea cakesAfternoon tea cakes 2

The tables had obviously been specially made as they also included a space to place your cup or glass so that it wouldn’t spill when the bus was in motion. Given my penchant for spilling drinks, I was quite glad about this! The tour took in most of the main sights of London and I realised that there are many landmarks in London that I have actually never seen (sadly, it was a little difficult to take photos as the bus kept moving and the cars just kept getting in the way!). After we had eaten all of the sandwiches and little cakes (including quite possibly the best brownie that I have ever eaten) the staff brought round scones followed by cupcakes and macarons. By the time we disembarked we were pleasantly full of tasty cakes and were ready for our first cocktail of the evening (well perhaps after another cup of tea and a little lie-down…)

I do like London but it is all rather too hectic for me and I do think that people are not always quite as polite (for example when boarding a tube train) as they might be. I did contemplate living there after university but I think I’m happier with a slightly slower (and more considerate) pace of life now in the midlands, where people are mostly friendly and usually don’t shove you off a train. Indeed, there is no friendlier place to be in the midlands than the annual Festival of Quilts, which takes place during the second weekend of August at the Birmingham NEC. Last year I went somewhat apprehensively on my own but I needn’t have worried as I met some lovely people, gazed at some beautiful quilts and had lots of quilty chats, all of course accompanied by copious amounts of tea and cake.

This year, I introduced my mother in law to the delights of the Festival of Quilts. Similar to last year, I was absolutely stunned by the quality of the many quilts that were on display. I prefer the traditional patchwork quilts:

PicMonkey Collage 1 - patchwork quilts

My mother-in-law was drawn to those that were a bit more contemporary:Modern quilt

Modern quilt 2

Quilt 1

Regular readers of my blog will know just how much I like Suffolk-puffs, so I  particularly liked this beautiful quilt:

Suffolk puff quiltAttending the Festival of Quilts also gave me a chance to peruse the latest sewing machines and I was very happy to find one that is a bit more advanced than my current model but hopefully not too complicated to use. My new Janome QXL605 will shortly be delivered and I really can’t wait to start sewing with it.  I am hoping that this will encourage me to complete a couple of projects as I haven’t managed to do a great deal of sewing since starting my new job in late June (oh how I wish sometimes that I could spend my days piecing together lovely bits of fabric instead of sitting in front of a computer screen…)

Anyway, I shall leave today’s post with a picture of this beautiful tea-cosy:

Teacosy

Till next time 🙂

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