Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Mummy on the Edge - FamiliesNW Magazine May/June 2011

(Please pardon the dollar signs - this was written whilst on hosl in Texas and I can't be arsed to change it :))

Angelina and Mini-me enjoy high tea  not  at the Ritz.
It seems nowadays you can't scroll down your inbox without 17 discount offers jumping out to tempt you. I have become virtual-coupon queen and signed up to several sites which promise to save me money and enhance my life. Let's see, at first look this morning I've come upon teeth whitening, hair straightening, wine tasting, Argentinian barbeque, laser hair removal, fish pedicure, country house weekend and race car driving. All suitable mother-daughter activities in ooh, about 10 years but nothing for right now.

BUT I did find what I was looking for a few months ago. It was Mini-Me's birthday and I wanted to take her somewhere special and memorable. We both love food and theatre and I thought I could combine the two with lunch at the Japanese restaurant Benihana, where they chuck knives and ingredients around and the food, magically prepared mid-air, lands on a grill in front of you where it is cooked to sizzling perfection. (Yes, I have been watching too many cartoons on Boomerang with Mini-Me). This was working out pricey however, and I wasn't sure that it would hit the spot, birthday wise. Perhaps, I thought, I could take her for a slap up lunch at the famous oyster bar at St Pancras. Then I remembered whose birthday it actually was. Aha, I thought! Afternoon tea at an uber-posh hotel in town (as in London Town, not Watford Town), somewhere achingly luxurious where we would never stay - at least not until after my oeuvre is completed and MGM buy the film rights (unlikely until at least the next decade as the opening paragraph is resting in a neurologically dormant corner of my brain - along with the closing sentence and all chapters in between). 

What could be better, I thought, than consuming teensy-weensy sandwiches and heavenly frou-frou cakes with our little fingers pointing skyward, in the company of ladies who lunch, caressed by the calming notes of muzak, sipping fragrant piney lapsang souchong grown and harvested on a romantic, misty mountain by singing angels.  I spent a few hours trawling the net for options and looked up The Ritz, The Wolsley and just about everywhere elsey. Everything was mondo pricey, in the region of $25 - $45 EACH. Hmmm, I sighed, if only there was a coupon for such a thing. Lo and behold, what should pop out of my inbox THAT VERY DAY (who says cosmic ordering doesn't work?) I bought a voucher from Livingsocial for champagne afternoon tea for two at Le Meridien, Piccadilly for the grand sum of $25. Okay, not the Ritz, but it would do. I conceded that the place would probably be filled, not by the ambient crystal titter of well-heeled ladies who shop but by clodhoppers like me, waving vouchers.

By the time we took up the offer it was two months later; its purpose had mutated from "Mini-Me's birthday treat" to "Mini-Me's post-birthday and pre-mummy-going-to-Texas-for-a-wedding-without-Mini-Me-for-5-nights treat". I've never left her for longer than a night and there were some pre-departure nerves on both our parts.  "Wow!", she gasped as we entered the revolving doors into the lobby. "Shhh. Don't sound impressed. Just belong," I instructed in reply. The Terrace Restaurant was bright, sunshiney and empty; the well-heeled possibly giddy with delight in Liberty and the rest perhaps clodhopping elsewhere. After waiting quite a while, the waiter arrived with my Champagne, Mini-Me's milkshake and our two, 3-tiered serving thingies; at the bottom of each, six finger sandwiches of salmon, egg and cress and cheese and cucumber; the middle, 4 mini scones, each the size of my big toe (I'm a size 5, since you ask) and at the top, pretty little fancies, garnished with gold leaf and curled chocolate. It all looked doll-size, but by the time we had worked our way to the top we were both slighty green.

"What's an anarchist, mummy?" asked Mini-Me after, as we worked off high tea with a pleasant mosey up 
Regent Street
under an impossibly blue sky and egg yolk sun. It was the day after the central London cuts protest and although we avoided the broken windows of Piccadilly, subtle hints that something had occurred were dotted around. A touch of graffitti depicting the "A" sign had prompted a detailed explanation but I only made a brief one before ducking into The Gap sale where Mini-Me sat in the changing room hanging clothes back on hangers for me after I had tried them on. She’s a great gal, that Mini-Me. And I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for further exciting inbox adventures that we can enjoy together now – or in 10 years time...

I found my high tea deal on Livingsocial but there is also Groupon and Travelzoo – be prepared to receive offers daily.

Angelina Melwani runs Sing and Sign Baby Signing Classes in Harrow, Bushey, Stanmore and Ricky. More info at