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The Tea Tavern

This booklet is printed for distribution to owners of roadside cafés and Tea Taverns in the British Isles and is published by the Hovis Organization in association with the Tea Bureau Because we have a professional interest in roadside cafés we learn quite a lot about many hundreds of these places up and down the country. They provide us with much food for thought and quite often we pass the information gained in this way to people who write asking for advice or assistance. The diary which is presented in this booklet embodies so many of our own ideas on the subject that we felt we should pass it on to owners of roadside cafés all over the country. The story shows how the present owner, Mr. Peter Macrae, took over in 1938 and opened it in the spring of 1939. In September of that year the place shut down like many others in the country and it was not reopened until Mr. Macrae returned from the Services in the spring of 1946. We are given a very clear picture of his thoughts and methods. We quote from the letter we received in answer to our request for the story of The Tea Tavern. He said: 'It is always fascinating to discover why and how other people succeed in a task in which you've failed yourself. I thought it would be interesting to find out, if I could, why other people have failed in a Tea Tavern where, from my own experience, it was not difficult to make it a success. By degrees I pieced together a mental picture of the previous owner and these impressions figure in parts of my diary which, in itself, is a brief record of my own thoughts, plans and work. The whole thing is rather haphazard, but I send it to you as it is and hope you can make sense of it. The

relevant items I have marked for you to see. I also enclose some original drawings of The Tea Tavern made by a friend of mine. No doubt they will describe the place more clearly than my diary can hope to do.' Having read Mr. Macrae's extracts and seen the illustrations, we decided to print them as they stand and pass them on to you. Mr. Macrae's comments make good sense and we hope they will help in some small way to bring English 'Tea-taverners' closer together and make them realize the great work they are doing in adding comfort and a sense of home and hospitality to the beauties of the English countryside. Extracts from the personal diary of Mr. Peter Macrae

Early in 1939, Peter Macrae moved into the house which was to become The Tea Tavern. With him he brought Peggy, his wife, and a tremendous enthusiasm. Nearly everybody was optimistic during that spring and summer of 1939, and Macrae was no exception. By July, his diary shows, he was too deeply engrossed in the affairs of The Tea Tavern to worry very much about the international situation . . .

July 13th, 1939
I've located the Fullers at last. They've changed their address three or four times since leaving The Tea Tavern in 1936. At present Bill Fuller works as an employed hand in a market garden. When I arrived at their cottage I didn't know how to explain my visit (I couldn't say I wanted to know why they had failed to run The Tea Tavern at a profit). Having told them where I came from, I explained that we had found a large and interesting oriental idol, which, I imagined, had been left by mistake. To my surprise Fuller said that he had left it on purpose and recommended me to throw it

away because it was quite certainly unlucky. After this introduction it was quite easy to continue a conversation about The Tea Tavern and I left, two hours later, feeling I'd learnt a great deal about them. Fuller, his little red-headed wife and their five children are to come and visit us one Sunday soon. They seem to be a very happy family and I like them.

July 14th
I've been thinking over the things which Fuller and his wife and I discussed yesterday. It seems we all have much the same sort of problems in managing a tea-house. We can both explain in detail how NOT to do it! But there's a very real difference between Fuller and myself . . . a difference in outlook which, perhaps, is due more to the attitude of our wives rather than ourselves. Mrs. Fuller is quite sure now that you can't make money out of the business unless you have a great deal of money to start with, whereas Peggy has always been convinced that it can be done with small capital. I think so too. The result is that Peggy and I are full of hope and enthusiasm (anyway, to start with). Mrs. Fuller, however, confessed she was never very hopeful from the beginning. So far our confidence seems to be justified and, after five months of preparation and ten weeks of actual working, the success of a tea tavern seems to us to depend on the following things: 1. How attractive the Tavern looks from the outside -- this includes making it look easy to park cars and bicycles. (Incidentally, never have an empty car park.) 2. How well you display your notices outside -- giving full details of the extent of services you offer. 3. How efficient you are as hosts. 4. How quickly and cheerfully you serve people. 5. How good and interesting you make the range of food and drink. 6. How much opportunity there is for people to be comfortable in the place. This rule includes a discreetly signposted lavatory.

7. How much you make people feel you'd be glad to see them back. I wonder if we shall think the same rules are right in a year's time ?

July 18th
I met Fuller by chance in the village this morning. He seemed very interested in progress at The Tea Tavern and promised to come over on Sunday week -- bringing his wife and family. This means I must get more fully acquainted with the facts and figures about work in the kitchen so that I can explain how we're organizing baking and supplies and tea-making at the moment. Perhaps it would be better to make a list of the difficulties we're up against and try do decide on a clear course of action to overcome them. I must talk to Peggy tomorrow and make out the list as soon as I can.

July 19th
We must overhaul our working methods in the kitchen as well as our supply arrangements. Peggy thinks our present system with the local baker and grocer is unsatisfactory and, from the financial angle, things aren't as good as they might be. We could make more profit if we didn't waste so much. On the whole the place looks quite attractive now . . . from the outside . . . but we aren't organized to deal with any volume of business if the place becomes popular.

July 20th
Somehow we didn't get down to the job of planning a better system in the kitchen. We're beginning to get holiday couples in quite regularly during the week and one family with three young children came to tea for the second time. They thought the sand-pit ideal for the children.


July 21st
A rainy day. We had our first talk about the kitchen snags. The main point about supplies is a simple one. The shops are half a mile away . . . deliveries are unreliable when we want buns or scones in a hurry and the cakes they make locally aren't very good. They look anything but home-made. The fact that we can get no supplies on a Sunday makes it unworkable. Peggy says she'll confine the things we give people for tea just to Scots pancakes and scones . . . simple little jam tarts and homemade cut cake. We cut out the idea of spice bread or sweet currant bread . . . white bread and Hovis are ample for general needs. This change in plan will make Peggy's work so much harder that I shall have to make all the other kitchen work as easy as I can. I've asked Mrs. Patton if she'll come and help tomorrow and Sunday, and she has agreed. We shall discuss payment when she comes. Meanwhile, of course, I now become kitchen-boy with a vengeance.

July 23rd
Yesterday Mrs. P. was very helpful. Peggy was baking almost all day and I did the tea-making and bread and butter. We had a fair day for business. I think Mrs. P. likes us. She gets real pleasure from looking after people and making them feel at home. She's that rare type of country woman who keeps serene on the hottest afternoon. Today, being Sunday and a fine day, we expected a lot of work but instead things were much the same as yesterday. Perhaps it's the rumour of war which makes me feel so gloomy . . . as things are I shouldn't be discontented. We paid Mrs. P. 1s. 6d. an hour from 2.30 p.m. till 7 p.m. The added expense in wages swallows a lot of the profit on scones and cakes. But if we'd been buying these

things from the local shops we'd have been another 6s. out of pocket. I must be content, while business is small, to make people satisfied enough to come back again and recommend us to others.

July 24th
Because I can always rely on Peggy to be as economical as possible, I was surprised to hear her suggest another pair of hands to help with the serving on Saturdays and Sundays when the weather's fine. I must think about it but I don't like the prospect. It's a matter I'd sooner postpone until we know how much we're making on an average now we are doing the baking ourselves. If it's really necessary to have extra help . . . then I think either of the Pavey girls would be suitable. They're both neat, pleasantmannered and cheerful, and they get on well with Mrs. P.

July 26th
If the Fullers come on Sunday I shall have lots of interesting figures for them to see. Peggy has worked out the rates of production on Scots pancakes and scones. Even though we've had only one weekend's experience it's quite obvious that people like the pancakes. Incidentally, they call them 'drop scones' in this part of the world. When they're freshly made and moist people eat them either with butter or else with jam. Mrs. P. noticed this over the week-end and told us about it with the air of a conspirator. Note. The pancakes are made from sour milk, flour and eggs. One hen's egg will make enough batter for twelve or thirteen pancakes . . . but a seven-ounce goose egg will make thirty-six. Peggy encourages me now to keep and rear Chinese geese. The two old Chinese geese we've got have produced 106 eggs between them since January. We used always to make pancakes on girdles at home but Peggy has found they come out just as well in frying pans. She reckons to make a hundred in an hour, using one pan on the paraffin cooker and two other pans over primus stoves. She

can't use all three burners on the cooker because two of them are needed to heat the oven for scones. There's a snag about batter. It has to be prepared several hours before it's used . . . so that it can stand. If we make enough on Friday night for a hundred pancakes then we can use what's left over for Sunday trade, but we ought to have a refrigerator to keep it in. (I suppose I must find out how much paraffin refrigerators cost.) One interesting point cropped up in discussion this evening. The pancake batter we don't use can be thinned down to make either Yorkshire pudding or else those large pancakes people eat on Shrove Tuesdays.

July 27th
It seems we shall be able to make about seventy scones an hour if the rush of business ever needs it. If only we had something better that the paraffin cooker and the smallish oven. We could use the small kitchen range but it would be very wasteful on coal and difficult to regulate for temperature. Peggy is against it because the oven's too small to justify the misery of an open coal fire in the middle of the summer. I'm wondering if we can provide more room for tables and chairs. At present we've got one large and one small room set out with tables. We've purposely not set them too closely together because it puts people off to rub elbows with their neighbours. The only rooms left on the ground floor are this room (the living room) and the old stone-floored scullery. Could we convert one of the bedrooms or would it be best to use the living room and transfer our personal home to the scullery?

July 28th
We had twenty-five cyclists in today and, as result, we know just how inefficient we are. They wanted single cups of tea. This problem had always worried us but somehow we managed to sidestep it by giving them tea in pots and saying nothing. These

cyclists, however, very definitely didn't want tea in pots. The way we did it today was both wasteful and laborious. By the time the last man had his 'cuppa' the whole bunch were getting very restless. We must try keeping large kettles full of tea ready made. That'll be my job so I may as well start tomorrow.

July 29th
Not a bad day. The best Saturday we've had so far. At 4.30 p.m. the two rooms were full and Mrs. P. proved to be anything but the serene countrywoman I'd imagined. Peggy had to help out with service and a lot of pancakes were burnt and the others were too well done to be the moist bungey things they should be. It was silly of me not to have arranged for Gladys Pavey to come today. Peggy said nothing about it but her furious rushing about and her rather forced cheerfulness made me far more ashamed than if she'd complained. Mrs. P. and Peggy both had an impression during the busy time that there were all sorts of people putting their noses in the door and then going away. I had advised against the garden tables because the day was overcast altho' it didn't rain, and I still think I was right, but my decision was unpopular when we had the daily post mortem. I argued that empty tables set for tea do not look inviting when they're all unoccupied. It gives an unsuccessful look. If we had enough staff to persuade the late comers to take a table outside . . . then it could be laid immediately it was wanted . . . but when we're busy no one has the time to do this. The lesson of today was learnt, however; we must have one or even both of the Pavey girls for just two hours in the week-end afternoons.

July 30th
Today was just as hectic for everyone in spite of the fact that Gladys Pavey came. The Fullers arrived as they'd promised and, of course, just at the busiest time of the day. I had to leave the kitchen

and walk round with Bill . . . but Mrs. Fuller took off her Sunday hat and did my work in spite of those rather half-hearted protests which everyone puts up on these occasions. From now on she'll be easily our most popular visitor. Bill and I spent about an hour walking about and talking while the children were content to watch the ducks or play in the sand pit. When we went to look at the place from the road he went through the motions of a man deeply impressed altho' I realized he'd seen it all before when he first arrived. He pushed his cap on to the back of his head and said: 'You must have spent a mint of money'. The remark was a clever mixture of flattery, disapproval and a question mark. I had the impression he thought I'd been cheating by paying so much attention to mere externals. Instead of resenting this I found myself suddenly wondering if it were true. After all, it might have been better if I'd spent more of my time thinking about a well-organized kitchen. A month's carpentering there would have made our lives easier and I could have left the ornamental pond till next year. Of course, there isn't really an answer to theoretical questions. I shall never know just how much the pond persuades people to come in. Fuller was politely interested in the kitchen statistics . . . but I think that he was heartily glad to be working in a market garden. We discovered that my experiment at making tea and keeping it hot in a kettle was a failure. Bill Fuller and I tried to drink some when it had been made about three hours. It was the worst tea I've ever tasted. Bill is . . . or was . . . quite sure that this business is the purest gamble but I showed him the till just before he left at 6.30. I think I detected just a flicker of doubt and even, possibly, envy when he saw the day's takings. If I'd been a little more honest I'd have told him it was the best day we'd had.


July 31st
Peggy has a bee in her bonnet now about tea. I wonder if she drank some of my kettle brew? She's quite determined that people in this country are so conscious of the difference between a good and a bad cup of tea that they'll avoid a place where the quality of the tea isn't up to scratch. She's asked me to go up to London and find the professional opinion about these things. She also wants me to buy in some higher grade Indian and Ceylon teas. At the same time, I must find out how to organize the single-cup-of-tea-at-a-moment'snotice. If I have to spend much more money I shall need to talk kindly to my bank manager about an overdraft It will be nice to hear Mrs. P. asking the customers whether they want . . . 'Indian or Ceylon'. It sounds quite impressive.

August 2nd
We'd agreed that the stone-flagged scullery would make a good darts room for the locals and cyclists. The alterations must wait, however -- we can't afford the furniture yet. Anyway, while there's so much rumour of war, I shall go cannily with expenditure. Peggy has agreed to wait for kitchen improvements until things look more cheerful. Of course, war's quite unthinkable but I've joined the local Territorials just in case. I think I'll make a short inventory of the improvements we've made here. It should be useful if I have to talk to the bank. Tom Stocker called in on his way back from market today and, after talking about the weather and the crops and prices generally, he asked me how much I'd spent on The Tea Tavern since I'd arrived. He found it difficult to believe it was only about £120. I'll do the inventory tomorrow.


August 4th
Thursday is not usually a busy day but we had quite a large party in at 7 p.m. They thought we were a sort of road-house and asked for bacon and eggs. Cooking for eight people in this way was quite a new experience. In the end they had bacon and sausages, eggs and fried bread. They were certainly hungry . . . and so am I. There's nothing left for our own supper. We're beginning to wonder if it was such a good idea to put that sign outside. We wanted to keep the wording short while giving the idea of 'Big Business'. In the end, we agreed to say 'Light meals provided at any time between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.' Of course, today's case may not occur again for a month . . . but, even if it does, it's quite profitable in spite of the inconvenience.

August 5th
I have made out a description of work completed since 4 September 1938: 1. The first and the biggest job was re-thatching the roof which we started two weeks after our arrival. It was done by one of the local schoolmasters who used the roof as an object lesson to teach his boys the principles of thatching. The children did most of the work in the end. I paid old Jimmie Reeves for his professional advice but he refused to take more than a pound or two because his contribution was largely limited to demonstration. He got me my thatching straw far cheaper than I could have got it myself. We were lucky to have fine weather. 2. While they were doing the roof I started to dig a pond and make a rock garden. It was hard work and occupied all my spare moments for over a month. The pond was a failure because it wouldn't hold water for more than a few days. I had to get the local builder to fix it in the end and so it cost more than I'd reckoned for. 3. In November I grubbed out the hedge which formed part of our boundary along the lane and replanted it some twenty feet

nearer the cottage. This made a rectangle open to the road. I found later that I'd transplanted the hedge at the wrong time of the year but, by some quirk of fate, it didn't die. Having made enough room for a sort of car park, I got three young fellows from the village to help me one week-end and we covered the car park and the path leading to the cottage with medium grade gravel. I ordered one lorry load and we had to make this do. The gravel and the men's labour cost £15. I had a sign painted -- 'FREE CAR PARK' -- and put it up by the road so that it could be read from both directions. 4. The local blacksmith made me some rather decorative wrought-iron gates for the entrance to the garden. These and the bricks and second-hand stone balls cost £11 10s. 0d. 5. One of the alterations which has since become so popular was the sand-pit. Peggy and I both saw the possibilities of an outdoor play-room which would be under cover. I bought a large second-hand garden shed and knocked out the whole of one side. This made a good summer-house with a centre-supporting post added. Then I painted the wooden boarding both inside and out with alternate bright red and white stripes. It looked rather Continental. By the time I'd put a layer of sand about a foot deep, both inside the shed and all round the open front, we'd got a very pleasant spot for the children to play in. The old shed cost four pounds and the sand . . . fine white stuff . . . was fifty shillings a load. 6. When we arrived there were five big garden tables which had grown grey and lichenous with exposure. I was able to buy six derelict garden brollies and Peggy and I re-covered them with sail cloth I bought in a ship-yard. We dyed some cloth red and some yellow and made up alternate sections in these colours. On the whole, they look quite impressive still and well worth the three weeks we took stiching away with sail-cloth needles. It saved us about £20. 7. I asked Jack Horniblow to limewash the whole of the outside walls of the cottage. This was quite a simple and inexpensive job


really but the difference it made to the place as a whole was most striking. Peggy met the local estate agent today and he told her we'd get £300 more for the place than we'd paid for it. That certainly made the £120 capital outlay seem solidly worth while.

August 6th
Mrs. Fuller came over to see Peggy again today. I've an idea she may yet lead Bill into starting another café.

August 17th
I have been thinking of making the scullery into a sort of Tea-Bar room for the locals and cyclists, with a dart board for the locals and maybe table-tennis for the youngsters. Then a man could take his son of fourteen out for a drink of tea and a game of darts. It would be a good thing to put large-scale maps of the area on the walls for the benefit of touring clubs and hikers. It's an idea worth thinking about for next year. Entries after August 17th were very brief . . . Macrae's time grew more occupied with Territorial Army activities . . . eventually, on 3rd September, 1939, he wrote . . . 'Well -- it's come. We're at war. Thank heavens for a capable wife. Peggy can look after things here well enough and with poultry and the two goats and a decent garden, she shouldn't lack for eggs, milk and vegetables. I've arranged for Betty and wee David to come here from Scotland as soon as Donald goes overseas. That'll save their rent and give Peggy some companionship. I'm away next week -- posted to a Training Battalion'


At the beginning of 1946, Peter Macrae returned to The Tea Tavern, still enthusiastic, still optimistic. Realizing that mistakes would be more costly in 1946 than those he made before the war, he laid his plans with care. In March he began serious work . . . The Diary started again on February 14th, 1946, but earlier entries were mainly personal. First reference to The Tea Tavern was made in the middle of March.

March 18th, 1946
I've got two months before the spring season starts. It should be enough to get things in good shape. We're going to have a little conference tomorrow to add up generally and decide what is to be done about The Tea Tavern. I thought we'd written out a list of plans in 1939 but my papers have been stuffed away in the oddest corners. I can't find a thing.

March 24th
Peggy seems so certain that Betty will fit in here that I hardly dare to be pessimistic about it. Donald's been dead now since May, 1944, and yet she shows no sign of interest in anything but this Tea Tavern of ours. Perhaps the work and the people will cheer her up. Now that we've decided what to do, I shall make a point, this time, of recording things in detail in the diary.

March 25th
Peggy suggested today that we should contact the Tea Bureau, who launched many quick-service tea innovations during the war. She had met some of their people while serving in canteens.


March 30th
Things to be bought as soon as possible: 1. A good goat in full milk. British Sanaan recommended. 2. Six hens. For hatching out our own chicks later. One cockerel. 3. Six pullets. 4. One drake and five ducks (Khaki Campbells). 5. Now that it's so late in the year I shall have to buy a complete set of adult Chinese geese.

April 1st
Things to be investigated and discussed later: 1. Has Ebenezer still got my bee-hives? Apply for sugar ration for the bees. 2. Bring our soft fruit plantings up to strength. See Mr. Norris and the Corbetts for cuttings. 3. Order tomato plants for May. 4. Get permit or licence for running The Tea Tavern. 5. Take out an Insurance against any claims which customers may make against me . . . if they fall down stairs or eat something which upsets them. (Note. I believe Hovis put me on to this thing before the war, as part of their service. Perhaps they'll arrange it again.)

April 7th
There are lots of things which need painting, creosoting and distempering. It might be advisable to send out the rumour that there's plenty of spare-time work to be done up here.

April 9th
I must think out some way to get the local children to use this place as a club. We might show 16 mm. films for them on Saturdays. I

must see the Vicar and the highlights of the Rovers and Scouts and Girl Guides and suggest they use the place when they want to, anyway up till May and afterwards in the week-days if they want to. There's also the Young Farmers' Club. I could learn a lot myself if they had some lectures up here.

April 14th
We're very short of pleasant ornaments, wall plates, old prints and things for the interior. I saw old Smith, the antique man, and suggested he sent things up here on a business basis. He could put little well-mannered notices in the rooms saying these things were for sale and are exhibited by O. P. Smith of the High Street. I think he'll agree but he asked time to think it over. If it's worth his while for the smaller things he might put a few pleasant pieces of heavy furniture here too -- on the same basis -- but furniture's so expensive and so much in demand no doubt he'll not want to yet.

May 1st
I ought to make inquiries again about the pubs and cafés and places of interest within twenty miles of this place. I want to make the old scullery into a map room and cover the walls with the largest possible big-scale maps of the district. It should be useful to hikers and cyclists and motorists if I can give them details of all the public footpaths across farmland and plan the best walks and rides between this place and other 'places of refreshment'. I shall have to give them an idea of the times of the journeys involved, of course . . . and the walkers will need to know where all the bus stops are on the routes back to the 'metropolis'. Cyclists will need to know distances to railway stations . . . late train times and the cost of bicycle tickets on the railway. What a ghastly amount of work that's going to entail. Surely someone round here knows all this already. Would the geography master at the school do it for me as part of the children's local

knowledge lessons? If they did the map-mounting up here they'd feel the place was something of their own and the local Scouts could help by trying out all the best walks and timing them for us. They could also pin-point the high spots which give the best views.

May 5th
Went to London today. It was certainly worth it. Saw the Tea Bureau which now has an exhibition and show-rooms in Lower Regent Street. Came back with screeds of informations and lists of gadgets which aren't as expensive as I'd expected. The Planning Department of the Tea Bureau will let me have suggested model lay-outs, both for the kitchen, the tea rooms and the Tea Bar, which we plan to have in service next year. Their Equipment Department advised me on the best type of equipment for every kind of service we have to deal with. While I was talking with them I realized how important it is to keep strict control over all the material we use for tea making. There's no doubt about it that tea served either by pot or by the cup is a wonderfully consistent money-maker. I hadn't realized until I saw the figures how very quickly profits can be eaten up through extravagance either with tea, milk or sugar. Peggy was dead right about insisting on quality and from now on I'm going to insist on economy . . . and strict economy. There's not much time left now before we open, so decisions must be quick. I liked the automatic measurer -- it costs only a few shillings.

May 6th
I started a list of DO's and DON'Ts for Betty. Today I gave her the facts on tea-making which, under Peggy's strict ruling, is to be the central point of our efficiency as a Tea Tavern.

Tea Making: 1. The first rule we proved for ourselves before the war. We bought some trial high quality blends and they do make far better tea and give more cups or more pots to the pound. We shall do the same again and from our allowance buy Indian and Ceylon teas and give customers the choice, just as we ask if people want Hovis or white or both. 2. Use freshly drawn and freshly boiled water. This is difficult for us but it's not impossible if you turn down the heat before the water actually boils and then turn it on full when you're going to need it. Over-boiled or merely hot water makes flat and insipid tea . . . so catch your water when it's just started to bubble fiercely. 3. Warm the pot . . . that's because boiling water poured into a cold pot lowers its heat and doesn't infuse tea properly. 4. Apparently it's so important that water actually reaches the tea-leaves boiling that you should take the tea-pot to the kettle and put the kettle sprout as close into the tea-pot as you can before pouring. This seems a bit much but Peggy swears it makes a difference so you'd better do it . . . or else. 5. Allow four or five minutes for tea to infuse. We're lucky here because our water's really very soft and that makes infusion easier. We make tea straight away and take it as soon as we can to the tables but ask people to leave tea-pots to brew just a couple of minutes before they drink it. This should impress people with our professional keenness!

May 11th
The Tea Bureau offer a free service which we might be able to use one day . . . they will give us a design for the most economical and workable arrangement of the interior of this place. (As we are rather short of space in spite of all our amateurish efforts to arrange things perfectly . . . it's obviously necessary to give the professionals a chance to do their bit.) I shall write and ask them to do this for us.

August 24th
The weather's been bad this summer but, in spite of it, people come out in their cars and nothing seems to deter the cyclists. I begin to wonder if bad weather doesn't drive people into our place. When the weather's like this we find that once people are in they tend to stay. They play darts in the newly organized map and darts room, which was the old scullery, and stare out of the window occasionally and say . . . 'It'll clear up in a few minutes' . . . and they order another tea and a lemon curd pancake and go on reading or playing darts or listening to the radio. A proper Tea-Bar would be a great success.

August 28th
So far, our profits this season have balanced the money I've spent on poultry and livestock, hedging and ditching, painting and decorating and, wonder of wonders, the new equipment for the kitchen may be squared off before the season's over. There's enough left over, to date, to pay this month's bills and leave us just enough to live on very quietly if I earn a pound or two a week writing or working at the market garden with Bill Fuller and his mushrooms. When I think that we started this season with hardly anything we needed. Our bills will never again be half as heavy as they were this year.

September 1st
The weather's been impossible . . . and it just goes on raining . . . if this is the end of our season then I shall have to work hard this winter to save some money. There's a lot left to do to make The Tea Tavern perfect and it's work which must be done this winter. I've had a talk with the bank and they're prepared to give me an overdraft to cover the cost of alterations and additions. I think the banks are a bit easier about lending money these days.


We had only about twenty pounds of honey from our hives. The worst year I've ever known.

September 18th
We had some tea today which tasted of soap. Peggy was entirely at a loss to explain it but later this evening discovered the packet had been stored next to her washing soap reserve. I must keep an eye open for a good box to keep our tea stores in.

September 24th
The 'Teas with Hovis' Advisory representative called today with a baking chart we'd asked for. He says there is little hope of getting any more of their nice decorated crockery until the 'export only' situation eases. That applies to table linen and things too.

October 18th
The Tea Bar is now installed and looks fine. It means we'll have to employ someone to serve there next year if business warrants it. Three of the workmen from the local brick-yard called in for their usual packet of Woodbines this evening and stayed for a game of darts. To my delight and surprise they ordered tea and a pancake each and stayed on at the darts and the tea until nearly 6.30 p.m. The locals are beginning to adopt this room and often come in for darts or to borrow a book or play table-tennis.

December 1st (Sunday)
We've just finished erecting a porch over the front door and tea room. The Tea-Bar room is still doing business every day. Yesterday I bought a new dart board for the match we're having next week.


February 18th, 1947
The kitchen's now looking as much like the Tea Bureau designs as I can manage. My carpenting could be a lot better but Peggy seems pleased. Now that all the major alterations have been made I can take stock of expenditure. We're well equipped and we know something about our trade . . . but my gratuity's gone and I've got an overdraft . . . all in a year. If we have a wet summer again things won't be easy, but if we have one fine season then we should be set to make clear profits for a good many years.

February 19th
The children are doing well in this really severe weather. They have goat's milk and a goose egg each every day so a country life has its advantages.

May 5th
We opened The Tea Tavern officially today . . . being my birthday. I discovered today that improvements never cease. We could replace our old kitchen range with an Esse or an Aga Cooker and maybe dispense with the old oil cooker and oven. If we have a good season I'll get one of these largish anthracite cookers on the 'never-never'.

August 18th
Even if we don't take another penny this year we'll be out of debt. Kitchen and service -- equipment -- Tea Bar -- new porch -furniture and everything paid for and enough left over for that anthracite cooker Peggy wants so much. In addition I've been able to afford a fair salary for Betty. Dolly Graham, who serves at the Tea Bar in the evenings has been getting 2s. 3d. an hour. To cap it

all we've got a bumper apple crop and Peggy has bottled over 150 lbs. of soft fruits. The four hives left gave over 25 lbs. of honey each which isn't bad and one of the goats had twin nanny kids. I think we're very lucky to own The Tea Tavern. -----------------------------------------------------------------------One Shilling Net. Printed in England at the Curwen Press, Plaistow, E.13. -----------------------------------------------------------------------Translated into html by Kai Birger Nielsen. I haven't been able to contact either The Hovis Organization, nor The Tea Bureau to obtain permission to publish this. Please contact me if you know the present copyright holder. -----------------------------------------------------------------------February 28, 2001. Birger Nielsen,, drinker of tea. This document: