This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Puttin' on the Ritz

So there was mention of us going to The Ritz before we came to London. My mom and Jhun passed the message along that we needed some "smart clothing" in order to go to The Ritz.

Apparently, Jhun's godfather works there and he was offering a trip for tea there. Reservations are made well in advance, as in months, so getting us in would be a treat. And in the filipino life, especially here in London, as Joyce said, "It's not what you know, it's who you know" and my family appears to know many well-connected folks.

Since I never called anyone in London, prior to coming here, with any plans, the arrangements for tea were not really made. So we were led to believe it wasn't going to happen on such short notice. For Tim and I, we were okay about it since we didn't know what the big deal was with the Ritz. A nice gesture on the part of my family, but whatever...we are enjoying our time with the family thus far.

So at 4:30PM, Jhun called Joyce to say "we're in - get them ready for The Ritz for 7:30 PM", we were on overdrive yet again. Of course, we had schlupped all around London for most of the day and now, we had to get back.

And as you read from the previous post, I got us lost LOOKING at the very flat we needed to enter. And I learned that tea at the Ritz was for only Tim and I. I panicked a bit: are we ready for that? To be released in London by ourselves?

But they had it planned to a tee: Jhun would drive us and escort us in...we would sit...enjoy tea...and he would pick us up and take us back home.

Getting ready was fun. With the help of my stylish cousin Joyce, I was London chic for my tea. She did my hair (she is a stylist) and Tim looked quite dapper in his suit and tie.

Off we went -- while the girls hung out with the familia.

Jhun took us into The Ritz and asked the doorman where we needed to go for tea and the doorman promptly said to him that he was not dressed appropriately (he was in jeans). Jhun corrected him and said it wasn't for him but us where the doorman promptly apologized to Jhun and then showed us the way. Such nice folks, these British.

Tea at the Ritz is on a platform with very elegantly set tables. There were two ladies in front of us mentioning their 7:30 tea reservations. The host apologized and said he could not find their reservation. I wondered if we would get in, since we had just received them that day.

Well, we did and then I thought, we must have bumped those poor ladies off.

We were seated in the back center of the tea area. The waiter explained how everything went and we were brought coffee instead of tea (I don't drink tea). Each one of us received our own polished silver urn of coffee. Sugar cubes were available for us with small silver tongs.

Then a three-tiered tray was place on the table. The bottom tier had two rows of finger sandwiches -- exact replicas for me and for Tim. These were the best. Oh my god, I pigged out on these. One had a cucumber filling, another mayonnaise (which is quite popular here) and a green herb, and a few others that I can't remember. The only one I didn't touch was the salmon.

The top tier had all of the cakes - little petit four type cakes. These were good but I couldn't eat but a bite from a couple because I had stuffed myself with sandwiches...along with the number of coffees I had in my system.

The middle tier was filled last with scones. These were so good. I enjoyed these more than the little cakes, quite honestly. There was clotted cream at the table (it looks like mayonnaise) and I loved the combination of this with the scones.

After an hour, we were pretty much done and slowly drinking out 12th cup of coffee. Another waiter came by with two sparkling glasses of champagne. He said it was compliments of Rudy, as he was told to expect our arrival.

Wow. We felt so priviledged! And we could see a few eyes turn to us...maybe wondering who we were to get such attention.

The champagne was amazing. I am really not a champagne person but oh my! This stuff was the nectar of the gods. We drank slowly and enjoyed the bubbly and basked in the glow of such an amazing experience.

And suddenly, another waiter came to me with a Ritz bag. Inside was a teddy bear with a Ritz shirt and Ritz chocolates, contained in a Top Hat box. Again, all eyes are on us and I am overwhelmed with this attention. As I enjoyed all the 'stuff', in the back of my head I'm trying to figure out who was going to get the teddy bear: CJ or Mi-Mi...

Once done, we placed our voucher on the table, grabbed my coat and headed out. We asked another doorman where a pub was and he pointed us to The Claremont, which was across the street.

We thought we'd hit the pub as we waited for Jhun to pick us up. It was a good 10-15 minute drive to get here, so we assumed we had enough time for a drink.

We had no cash so when we got our pints (well, I had a half a pint), we hadn't spent enough to use a credit card. But there was a machine to get cash so Tim was trying to get some from the ATM. For whatever reason, it wasn't happening so he went back to the bar and added a bourbon and coke to our bill.

We sat at a bar table with two beers and a bourbon, while Tim slowly typed away on the phone, a text message to Jhun that we were done and waiting for him at The Claremont.

Not only can Tim not type fast, he also types a novel. I said nothing as I watched him type sentence (full sentences) after sentence to Jhun. By the time he finally sent it, we had received a text from Jhun that he was waiting outside for us. Tim went to check it out and then rushed back in to say we had to go.

We left full drinks sitting on the table, which I was able to enjoy (although I really didn't as I was full and the ginger beer was not all that great to me) but Tim maybe had one sip since he was busy typing the bible into a phone.

We make it back to the flat which is now full of people. Uncle Rudy was there (the fine man who got us into the Ritz) as well as other extended family members.

My auntie Tess had prepared my favorite dish, pancit lug-lug, and I eyed it enviously, wishing I had enough room to eat a small plate. I did much midnight snack and by god, it was divine.

Anyway, Mi-Mi and CJ received much attention from everyone and even received money from a real relative (married to an uncle), Auntie Precy. Apparently, Auntie Precy remembered me from when I was about CJ's size, when we lived in the Philippines.

It was a warm, family feeling -- all the noise, the talk, the comfort of having special folks around. We had a blast chatting with everyone -- getting more attention after our time at The Ritz.

I have no idea how I am going to survive back in Raleigh, becoming an ordinary joe again.

That's if my head fits through the door of the plane...

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