Tea, cake and art: a delightful Friday afternoon ritual!

Last Friday, I went along to Amelia’s book launch at the lovely Bunker basement soon to be opened cafe at 123 Bethnal Green Road with Siam and of course, my permanent guest of honour, ‘Dukey’ the 6 month bump (currently showing his flair for rugby high kicks while I type!).

Amelia is someone I have known since she assisted my old friend and fellow Watford evacuee (though she went back!), Lou Winwood.  She then took the brave step to launch her own magazine: http://www.ameliasmagazine.com/ which after 5 years as a biennial print publication, is going online, while she concentrates on book publishing and other projects.  Her last book I remember poring over in a bookshop on Broadway Market, so I was keen to see what was on offer this time, with ‘Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration’, a book of illustrations by new artists of sustainable fashion designs.

123 was a bit of a revelation (www.123bethnalgreenroad.co.uk): like a Georgian house, where winding wooden staircases led to rooms filled with old friends’ designs: JJ’s Noki collections feature heavily, alongside other designers with a sustainability slant, including the lovely Kenna (hairdresser extraordinare of my wedding day locks) even more lovely girlfriend Aimee McWilliams’ designs. 123’s stock is sourced purely from the M25 radius.  I felt amongst friends; Siam felt partial to a good shop, which suited me as I sat in a lovely leather chair, surveying the room and edited her choices from my new ad hoc throne.

Meanwhile downstairs in the Bunker Cafe there was much merriment to be had.  As someone whose first home economics lesson at her rather aspirational girls’ school was how to bake a victoria sponge, prepare the cucumber sandwiches and correctly lay a tea tray, for the English lady’s ritual that is high tea, I have never been one to shy away from that gathering of the clan, that genteel art, which is afternoon tea and conversation.  Girls in brightly coloured tights, with sleek hennaed hair, or patterned frocks, pinned with antique brooches, drawing pad in hand, offered to paint our portraits, while we sipped Pukka teas and surveyed the mountains of miniature gilt edged scones, which we could diy coat with lashings of jam and cream, laid out on vintage china.  This, I thought was my kind of party.

Jenny Robins (http://www.jennyrobins.co.uk/) painted my portrait, I was amazed that she could paint without seeming to mark her corners.  Here I am, doing what all expectant mothers seem to do: hug their precious bump, aah!

Impressive I think and a marvellous aide-memoire for when he is born, of what pregnancy was like.  Siam’s portrait was a fabulously glamorous rendition of her 1940s aka a Nana Golda Goorwich-inspired outfit, velvet turban et al!

It was such a charming sparkly way to spend a Friday afternoon, the bubble of which was certainly not burst when I surveyed the treasures incarnate in the goody bag (thank you Amelia!): I defy any woman to not smile with delight (and possibly squeal) when presented with gifts including Dr Hauschka products, Tatty Devine treasures, magazines and more.  This ocean of beneficent goodwill carried me forth to buy my husband bagels on Brick Lane, drive back to North London listening to Pulp and into the weekend with a sense that all is right, nice and proper in the world – just as it should be after an afternoon tea soiree!