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The One About Afternoon Tea

Thursday Thirteen

Recently my husband took me to a traditional afternoon tea at Cornwell Park in Central Auckland. It’s always fun setting aside the jeans for something a little dressier and enjoying the occasion. Our afternoon tea inspired my TT this week.

Thirteen Things About Afternoon Tea

1. We had our afternoon tea at the Cornwall Park Restaurant. They’ve been selling refreshments and cups of tea since 1908.

Cornwall Park Restaurant

2. Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford is said to have invented afternoon tea. At the time most people ate two meals during the day—breakfast and dinner, which was taken late in the evening (around 8 pm). The Duchess started to have light refreshments and a pot of tea in the afternoon. She invited friends to join her and took the habit with her when she returned to London. Other women liked the habit so much, they started to follow suit. Afternoon tea was born.

Cornwell Park, Afternoon Tea

3. A traditional afternoon tea consists of scones (usually still warm from the oven) served with jam and cream, a selection of sandwiches (usually egg, ham, salmon, cucumber) and finished with a selection of delicious cakes. This is all washed down with lots of cups of tea.

Afternoon Tea selection

4. Tea was first drunk in China and it’s said that Catherine of Braganza, the consort of Charles II first introduced tea to England.

5. The British government placed taxes on tea, which meant smugglers played a big part in bringing tea into the country. They found that churches were excellent places to hide their smuggled goods.

Lapsang Souchong tea

6. I chose Lapsang Souchong tea, which has a very smoky taste, while Mr. Munro chose Nepal Masala Chai tea with cinnamon, ginger and cloves.

7. No one knows where scones originated, but they’ve always been associated with England, Scotland and Ireland. It’s thought that they most likely came from Scotland.

8. Our scones came served with whipped cream and raspberry jam. Personally, I prefer them with clotted cream. Yum!

9. Clotted cream is thick cream, which is obtained by heating milk slowly and allowing it to cool. The cream content rises to the top in coagulated lumps. It’s decadent and delicious and not exactly good for you Who me?

10. John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich is associated with the sandwich. He loved to gamble and didn’t want to leave his game. He ordered his valet to bring him meat placed between two slices of bread. Other men called for meals the same as Sandwich.

11. We had egg, salmon and ham sandwiches, but most British afternoon teas have cucumber sandwiches. Here’s a link to two versions of a cucumber sandwich that look delicious.

12. Cakes. Yummy cakes in small bite sized pieces. We had chocolate cake, lemon meringue pie, sticky date, lemon friands, a flourless nut cake. Chocolate eclairs are also a good addition. Just saying!

13. My favorite place to have afternoon tea is the Ritz in Picadilly, London. It takes place in the Palm Court, and there’s a dress code. No jeans allowed. This is something that must be booked ahead of time—weeks ahead—but it’s well worth it with relaxing piano music and very attentive waiters. Here’s the menu for the Ritz afternoon tea.  I highly recommend this experience if you’re ever in London.

Are you a fan of afternoon tea? Do you have a favorite afternoon tea spot?

13 Snippets About Life in 18th Century England

Thursday Thirteen

This week I’m time traveling back to 18th century England and Georgian life. I’m reading Behind Closed Doors, At Home in Georgian England by Amanda Vickery as research for a historical I’m planning to write.

Thirteen Snippets About 18th Century England Life

1. Locking the house was done with ceremony each night, with boarders, servants etc locked inside. People who loitered out on the streets late at night or early in the morning were looked upon with suspicion.

2. Most people owned a locking box where they kept valuables and other important articles.

3. Poor people tended to carry all their valuable items on their person in pockets and pouches.

4. Keys were the emblems of authority, which is why housekeepers or the women of the house would carry their bunches of keys on their person.

5. A single man in London would eat his meals in taverns, pie shops, coffee houses and chop houses. He’d pay women to do his washing.

6. Young men wanted a housekeeper and, therefore, entered the state of marriage. Young women entered the state of marriage because they wanted to rule their own house.

7. Many families exploited their unmarried womenfolk as unpaid housekeepers, nursery maids, sick-nurses, tutors, chaperons, companions and surrogate mothers.

8. Before 1750 the average age of marriage for a woman was 26. This dropped to 25 in the latter part of the century.

9. A husband’s death restored a woman’s full legal personality under common law. They were more respectable than spinsters and often were welcomed in and enjoyed society.

10. A young widow with children usually remarried quickly while an older widow with many children sometimes inherited large debts and poverty. She fell on the mercies of the parish.

11. In 1675 only 9% of households owned clocks, but by 1725 34% had a clock.

12. Thomas Chippendale was the first to publish a catalogue of furniture designs in 1754. Other London cabinetmakers quickly followed suit.

13. The culture of visiting began in the late 17th century but the introduction of tea took visiting to a new level in the 18th century. Visiting was cheap to stage and became a ritual for women alone or en masse. In May 1767 Lady Mary Coke made eighteen visits a day while in town. (that’s an awful lot of tea and gossip!)

Some interesting things – what do you think of the eighteen visits in a day?

Thirteen Examples of Kiwi Speak

Thursday Thirteen

As a New Zealand author, I’m afraid I’m a bit of a trial to my editors. I keep slipping Kiwi speak into my manuscripts, mainly the contemporary and paranormal ones. When I get my edits back there are comments about “head scratching” and lots of question marks. Here are a few you probably haven’t heard before.

Thirteen Examples of Kiwi Speak

1. “Haven’t seen you in yonks!” – This means ages. i.e. I haven’t seen you for a long time.

2. Sweet as – this means yes or I agree. i.e. Do you want to go for a drink? Answer – sweet as.

3. Were you born in a tent? – I heard this one often as it kid. My mother’s way of telling me I’d left the door open and was letting in cold air.

4. He’s on his OE, earning big bikkies in London now. – translation: The man is on a working holiday in London, has a job and is receiving a good wage. OE = overseas experience.

5. Come on, ref, are your eyes painted on? – the referee is making decisions that the audience don’t agree with.

6. Got any chuddy? – they’re asking if you have any chewing gum.

7. Nine girls are running under a wharf and here I am – this is the way we learn to spell Ngaruawahia, the place where the Maori King lives.

8. You make a better door than a window – this means you’re standing in the way of something the speaker is trying to watch i.e. the television or at a sports match.

9. No need to pack a sad – means that the person is having a tantrum or sulking. The speaker is telling them that there is no need to sulk.

10. Oh, give me a break – means that something has gone wrong i.e. you’d say this if you were mowing the lawn and run out of petrol with just a little of the lawn left to mow.

11. Your turn to shout – means it’s your turn to buy a round of drinks.

12. It’s puckarooed – means that something is broken and can’t be fixed.

13. You couldn’t organize a piss-up in a brewery – means the person is useless.

A bonus – Ka pai – this is Maori and means good. Puku – Maori for stomach. I often say, “My puku is full.”

Have you heard of any of these?

Source: Kiwi Speak by Justin Brown.

Thirteen Proverbs About Patience


Writers spend a lot of time waiting for decisions from editors, agents, publishers. Hurry up and wait. I’m not very good at waiting. Just saying, but patience or impatience makes a good topic for a Thursday Thirteen.

Thirteen Proverbs About Patience

1. Patience is a virtue.

2. Patience is the knot which secures the seam of victory.

3. A little impatience will spoil great plans.

4. Patient men win the day.

5. He who would climb the ladder must begin at the bottom.

6. The string of a man’s sack of patience is generally tied with a slip knot.

7. Long looked for comes last.

8. Patience is a plaster for all sores.

9. Nature, time and patience are the three great physicians.

10. Patience is a flower that grows not in every one’s garden.

11. We must learn to walk before we can run.

12. All things are difficult before they are easy.

13. An oak is not felled at one stroke.

Source: The Penguin Dictionary of Proverbs by Rosalind Fergusson.

Are you a patient person?

Thirteen Fad Diets to Try – or Not!


A few nights ago one of the news items on television was about the new tube diet that is sweeping America. It sounded pretty gross to me, but it did give me an idea for this weeks Thursday Thirteen.

Thirteen Fad Diets

1. Grapefruit diet – a low-carb diet featuring grapefruit/grapefruit juice with every meal.

2. Cabbage Soup diet – a lot of cabbage soup is consumed.

3. Beverly Hills diet – based on a theory that the body needs the enzymes found in certain foods in order to digest food properly.

4. Atkins diet – this is a very popular diet plan. It’s based  on the theory that when we reduce our intake of carbohydrates our body must seek another source of energy and will burn fat.

5. South Beach diet – this diet is similar to the Atkins diet, but it balances good carbs against bad carbs. It could be argued that this one is not a fad diet because it is nutritionally sound.

6. Blood Type diet – food eaten is suited to a person’s blood type. 

7. Paleo diet – the dieter eats the same foods his ancestors ate rather than a modern diet.

8. Negative Calorie diet – foods are eaten that use up more calories during the digestion process than they actually contain.

9. Apple Cider Vinegar diet – it’s claimed that regular consumption will cause fat to be burned rather than stored.

10. Tapeworm diet – a tapeworm is ingested in order to lose weight.

11. 3 Day diet – a low calorie diet done over three days.

12. Israeli diet – done over eight days. The dieter eats apples, cheese, chicken, salad. Each food is eaten for two days before moving onto the next food.

13. Tube diet – the new diet where a person has a tube stuck down their nose and they’re given a limited amount of calories via tube.

When it comes to diets, my preference is to limit my calories and increase the amount of exercise I do each day. With this type of diet it’s possible to lose weight at a sustainable pace and keep off the weight. I think the tube diet sounds gross, and personally, I prefer to physically eat my food and use my taste buds!!

What do you think of the tube diet? Would you try the tube diet?

Thirteen Medicinal Herbs


When my husband and I worked and lived in London, we weren’t very far from the Chelsea Physic Garden. In hindsight, I wish we’d visited this historical garden, which was founded by The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries in 1673. Next time we make it to London, it’s top of the list.

I picked up a copy of Herbal – The Essential Guide to Herbs for Living by Deni Bown at my local library since one of my characters in the historical I’m working on is gifted with herbs and healing.

Thirteen Herbs: History and Use

1. Dill – comes from the Middle East and has been used since Biblical times. Both the seeds and leaves are used in cooking. Extracts of dill are used for calming and toning the digestive system. It acts as a mild diuretic. Dill is said to increase milk-production in mothers.

2. Horseradish – originally found in south-east Europe to western Asia. Horseradish has been cultivated for around 2000 years. The young leaves are good in salads and on sandwiches. The fresh root can be grated. Horseradish acts as a diuretic and speeds the excretion of toxins in a person with arthritis and gout. I love a mix of creamed horseradish and mayonnaise with hot beetroot. Yum!

3. Arnica – Grows in northern temperate regions and the Arctic. Several species grow in America. It has always been a popular remedy for sprains and bruises, but is no longer taken internally since it’s considered unsafe. Some people are allergic to arnica.

4. Mugwort – I hadn’t heard of this one before but liked the name. It’s one of the nine sacred Druidic herbs believed to protect against evil and poisons. It’s bitter to the taste and is a traditional flavoring for eels and carp. No danger of me eating any!

5. Asparagus – has been cultivated since Egyptian times. I love fresh asparagus, and it always says summer to me. It contains asparagine, which is a strong diuretic and gives the urine a strong odour. It contains an acid that kills roundworms, threadworms and flatworms. Herbalists think of asparagus as a cleansing herb for the liver, bowels and kidneys.

6. Marigold – valued as a medicinal herb, a colourant for fabrics, used in foods and cosmetics since ancient Greek times. The petals can be used in cooking as a cheap version of saffron to colour things such as rice. Marigold is a soothing and healing plant. It’s used to heal dry and cracked skin. It’s also used as an antiseptic for eczema, ulcers, nappy rash. Marigold is often used as a companion plant in vegetable gardens, to help get rid of pests.

7. Camphor Tree – this was unknown in the west prior to the 17th century, but was common in Chinese medicine. It’s used in mothballs. Sometimes used in liniments for joint and muscle pain. In Chinese medicine it’s used for skin diseases and wounds.

8. Limes – are native to Asia. They don’t do well in Mediterranean regions and spread to the West Indies. The essential oil is used in perfumes. Lime juice is often added to medicines in south-east Asia. I like limes in cooking, and can’t wait to try Key lime pie when we visit Miami later this year.

9. Coriander – is one of the world’s oldest herbs, and seeds were found in Egyptian tombs. the leaves and the seeds are used in cooking. It’s one of hubby’s favorite herbs. He seems to put it in everything. The tea made from the bruised seeds relieves indigestion and wind.

10. Echinacea – an important medicinal herb to native Americans. They were used to cure infected wounds, poisonous bites and stings. Echinacea is an immune-system stimulant. Some species are becoming rare because of over-collection.

11. Eucalyptus – native to Australia. The essential oil is used as an antiseptic, expectorant and anti-inflammatory. It’s used in coughs, colds, dental hygiene products as well as liniments and soaps. It has a very distinctive scent.

12. Ginkgo – a tree that grows up to 100ft tall. They’re called a botanical dinosaur because the trees are unchanged from those that lived 200 million years ago. They’re sacred in China and Japan and many are grown near temples. Ginkgo nuts are served roasted in Japanese bars. The nuts are prescribed for asthma, coughs, and incontinence. They contain a substance that improves the blood supply to the brain and is used in senile dementia cases.

13. Liquorice – grows wild in Mediterranean regions and south-west Asia. A different variety also grows in central Asia, China and Japan. Liquorice is mentioned in Assyrian medical texts. Liquorice extracts are added to sweets and baked products, ice cream and chewing gum. Liquorice roots contain glycyrrhizin, that has cortisone-like effects. Excessive intake of liquorice can cause side-effects. Not recommended for pregnant women.

Are any of these familiar to you?

Thirteen Famous New Zealanders


When I first started traveling most people didn’t know much about my home country. Once the Lord of Rings movies came out everyone suddenly knew more about New Zealand. But there’s more to New Zealand than gorgeous scenery. We have produced some very interesting and famous people. My TT this week is about famous New Zealanders.

Thirteen Famous New Zealanders

1. Sir Peter Blake – sailor and navigator. Famous for his lucky red socks during the America’s Cup campaign. Murdered by river pirates while on an environmental research trip on the Amazon River.

2. Sir Edmund Hillary – mountaineer and explorer. First man, along with Sherpa Tenzing, to climb Mt Everest. Famous for the immortal words, “We knocked the bastard off.” He was born in Tuakau, the same town where I lived and went to school. He is on the NZ $5 note.

3. Peter Jackson – film director and actor. Famous for the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

4. Bruce McClaren – famous international motor racing driver, engineer and designer. His name is still used in Formula 1 motor racing to this day. Died while testing one of his cars.

5. Herbert J (Burt) Munro – land speed record holder in his motorcycle. His story is told in the movie The Fastest Indian staring Anthony Hopkins.

6. Kate Sheppard – Women suffragette and responsible for helping women to get the vote in New Zealand. New Zealand women were the first in the world to get the vote. She is on the NZ $10 note.

7. Kiri Te Kanawa – Opera singer. She sang at Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding.

8. Ernest Rutherford – Scientist who split the atom. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908. He is on the NZ $50 note.

9. Dame Edith Ngaio Marsh – a very good mystery writer.

10. Sir Peter Snell – athlete and gold medal winner at the Rome and Tokyo Olympics. World Record holder.

11. Jane Campion – Film director. Her works include The Piano, which starred a young Anna Pacquin.

12. Jean Batten – Aviator. She set many solo flying records such as first direct flight from England to Auckland in 1936.

13. Sir Truby King – Founder of the Plunket Society for babies in New Zealand. Well known as a health reformer and a Director of Child Welfare. He was the first New Zealander to be given a state funeral.

Extra – Richard Pearse – is said to have flown almost nine months earlier than the Wright Brothers.

Okay quiz time – have you heard of any of these famous New Zealanders?

Sources: Wikipedia, New Zealand in History

Thirteen Common Endearments


Since it was Valentine’s Day this week I thought a list of endearments would be the perfect topic for my TT.

Thirteen Endearments

1. Love/lover

2. Sweetheart

3. Darling

4. Dear

5. Honey

6. Babe/Baby

7. Sugar

8. Sweetpea

9. Sweetie/Sweet

10. Doll/dollface

11. Cutie

12. Sunshine

13. Cupcake

When we lived in England, it was very common for the customers in the pub where we worked to call the barmaids luv or darlin’ or sweetheart. I was a bit taken aback at first, but soon became used to 18 year old men calling me luv.

One of our regulars used to call all of the girls “me old darling.” He’d say, “Another drink, me old darling.” I hated this and used to grit my teeth each time. When my husband wants to wind me up, he’ll call me that. Gets me going every time!

Do you use endearments in your relationships? Which endearments do you absolutely despise?

Thirteen Types of Sharks

A notice before I get to my Thursday Thirteen:

I’m visiting Chris Redding and talking about writing plus my upcoming release Cat Burglar in Training.


Hubby went fishing last weekend, and he rang to tell me about the shark he caught. He was fishing in the Hauraki Gulf and totally inspired this post.


Thirteen Types of Sharks

1. Blacktip Reef shark – they hang around reefs and grow up to six feet long.

2. Bull shark – this shark does well in both salt and fresh water. It’s the third most dangerous shark to people.

3. Great White shark – anyone remember Jaws? We have a lot of this variety of shark. They attack more people than any other type of shark.

4. Hammerhead shark – this is the one that hubby caught. See above photo. They removed the hook and released it after taking a photo.

5. Mako shark – a very fast swimmer. It’s a jumper and sometimes jumps into boats.

6. Nurse shark – these are common in aquariums. They hunt at night and sleep by day.

7. Sandtiger shark – another shark that hunts at night. The female shark has two uterus. The strongest one eats the other before they are born.

8. Tiger shark – this one is also known for attacks on humans. They eat anything. Things such as boat cushions and alarm clocks have been found in their stomachs.

9. Whale shark – the largest of all sharks.

10. White Tip Reef shark – the most common shark encountered by divers and snorkelers on tropical reefs.

11. Wobbegong shark – this is an Australian/Pacific shark, and it lies on the bottom of the ocean waiting for fish to come near.

12. Zebra shark – this is a small and gentle shark, which is often kept in aquariums with other fish.

13. Thresher shark – this shark has a long tail, which it uses to help catch its food.

Okay, who watched Jaws, and how long did it take you to get back in the water? I watched the movie with my brother. For a long time after seeing it, whenever I went swimming I’d keep touching my legs to make sure they were still there!

Thirteen Groups of Animals

Thursday Thirteen

This week my husband and I, plus several of the other drivers on one of our local roads, had to stop for about twenty geese to cross the road. This started a conversation about what a group of geese is called. According to an online page of the Christchurch library, I discovered that geese come in gaggles, clutches, flocks, lines, skeins, nides or wedges.

The perfect topic for a TT, I thought.

Thirteen Animal Groups

1. Crocodiles – bask or a nest

2. Flamingoes – stand

3. Ferrets – business

4. Goldfish – troubling

5. Grasshoppers – cloud

6. Hedgehogs – nest or an array

7. Hippopotami – bloat, school, pod or herd

8. Leopards – leap

9. Lice – flock

10. Midges – bite

11. Cockroaches – intrusion

12. Owls – parliament or a stare

13. Tigers – ambush

I don’t know how they come up with the group names, but it struck me how appropriate some of them are – hippo/bloat. They match perfectly. I’m not sure how ravens ended up with unkindness though. That one doesn’t seem to fit. Maybe someone can enlighten me.

My question to you – if authors and readers came in groups the same way as animals, what do you think they’d be named?