Picture this. Gemma, 16 years old, looking for ways to pass the time in a small town.
Weekend evenings mean a drink or two in the pub owned by a notoriously oblivious landlord.
Daytime involves meeting friends in town. There is one high street, a couple of banks, bakeries, a small supermarket, a library, lots of charity shops and not much else. So we meet, as do the other teenagers, the old ladies, the families, at Ye Olde Tea Shoppe. We spend hours sitting, talking, and drinking tea. My favourite is a teacake tea, one buttered toasted teacake and a pot of tea, sometimes it's a crumpet tea, sometimes a jacket potato with chicken, sweetcorn, and mayonnaise. We go there a lot, we always sit in the conservatory (the old ladies sit in the front room), we usually hit the charity shops afterwards. These are not the amazing charity shops of our fondest imaginings, these are charity shops with jumbo cords and comfortable sandals designed for our Grandmothers, we still go at least once a week and somehow we still spend money.
13 years later and a visit to Ye Olde Tea Shoppe is still a must. The menu is exactly the same, the prices have proved inflation resistant, it still has the same mix of customers. The only change is my order. Now it is usually a welsh rarebit with a pot of English Breakfast tea. This weekend it was a buck rarebit because eating a perfectly cooked, and perfectly round, poached egg on top of cheesy mustardy toast can only be a good thing.