Monday, November 7, 2011

Muses for Monday

The arrival of the latest issue of the Persephone Biannually is always cause for great joy.  Knowing that it's on its way is to check the mailbox with childlike enthusiasm.  The current issue is particularly wonderful with short stories by two of my favourites, Dorothy Whipple and Mollie Panter-Downes.  There is always a piece of artwork that catches my eye and whose heart doesn't leap for a favourite blogger when their quote appears? 

The magazine section of the bookstore has lost some its appeal for me.  I can't bear to read about mascara application as if it were a science, I'm cynical about ads for wrinkle cream featuring twenty year-olds and articles about the rapist living next thanks.  And yet people pay lots of money every month for these glossy pages and my past experience is that quite a lot of it is simply flipped through.  Don't get me wrong, there are times when that's all you want, for instance at the dentist's office.  But I am one of those people who apparently can't carry around enough guilt and feel a bit as though I'm stealing from Persephone.  There is so much to sink your teeth into with the Biannually and it's free.  It must cost quite a bit to produce and mail out so I for one would not be opposed to a subscription rate to help fund it. 

And....listening to a podcast featuring James May this morning, he mentioned that he has been debating with his father for forty years about milk versus tea in the cup first.  James puts the milk in first and so do I.  And even though I feel righteous when buying loose leaf tea, I get lazy and end up plopping a bag into the pot...without warming it first.  Tsk, tsk.  What's your tea ritual?


  1. I am a milk in after kind of girl. Though I do rinse the mug out with hot water from kettle before then putting in tea bag and then hot water. Not sure why I do this, because both my parents are milk in first people.

  2. I used to be a firm two-pot brewer - one pot for loose tea and water then strained to a second pot for drinking. I gave that up when I could only find my preferred morning cup in bags. I still sometimes use one of the gold strainers for loose tea but mostly just a bag in the pot. And it's milk after for me, mostly because I have a hard time judging how much milk I need if I can't see the color of the tea.

    And I completely agree with you vis the Biannually, I would gladly pay for it since it gives me much more value than any of the magazines I 'read'.

  3. I'm still waiting for my Biannually to arrive - even more excited to hear it contains shorts stories by Whipple and Panter-Downes. Maybe tomorrow...

  4. That cover is enough to drool over never mind whats inside! Tea - would be sacrilege in a tea growing country to have anything other than loose leaf!!!

  5. My Biannually arrived yesterday & I sat down to read it last night with a cup of tea - loose leaf of course, warm the pot & the cup & milk in first.

  6. Jo, You and your family can brew up a debate of your own by the sounds of it. And warming the cup really does help keep the tea hot a bit longer...I really shouldn't be so lazy about it.

    Heather, Two pots would be the ultimate tea ritual! I see your point about the colour of the tea, there have been a few weak cups poured down the drain at my house for that reason.

    JoAnn, Fingers crossed for today! And if you are having the warm temperatures we are at the moment you can sit out on your patio with it.

    Mystica, You must have the freshest tea! Is it processed in Sri Lanka or shipped out? I have loose leaf still unopened from last Christmas, shame.

    lyn, Ooh, there's a cosy sounding evening! I wonder if your cats like a drop of tea? My previous dog, Squire, would drool if I mentioned the word 'tea'.

  7. I'd happily pay for the Biannually too. It's so beautifully produced, and I really do get so much pleasure from it. I especially enjoyed the short stories in the current one.

    As for tea - I'm a milk after girl. Apparently the milk first thing was introduced when people used china cups, and you couldn't pour hot water straight in otherwise the china would crack. Now we all use industrial dishwasher safe mugs, milk can go in after, and you can ensure you have just the right strength of tea.

    I'm currently going through an Assam phase. Very delicious.

  8. bookssnob, The Biannually is such a gem! Well, Nicola is a very intelligent woman and knows what she's doing but I think a subscription would help define numbers and recoup costs. But I'm not on the panel at Dragons' Den or anything...

    You can't beat a gutsy cup of tea and Assam is definitely that! James's argument for milk in first is that the milk warms as the tea is added. Pouring cold milk into hot tea cools your perfect cuppa too quickly. Could this be a case of six of one, half a dozen of the other? We need a food scientist!

  9. I'd happily pay for my biannually too. When I heard Nicola Beauman speak she quoted - at different points - the number mailed out and sales of particular books and, even when I allowed for the number of books in print and some selling a lot more than others, I was shocked at the disparity.

    I don't drink tea but I was brought up to put milk in first, and where magazines are sold I tend to head first to knitting and then to music. Or to retrieve my fiancee from military history ...

  10. fleurfisher, I'm glad you feel the same way! Well, perhaps Nicola will hear our wee whisper of support and know how much we value the Biannually.

    You don't drink tea!? Oh, Jane...