I haven’t blogged for ages, for a number of reasons, mainly because I lost ‘my mojo’Nothing grabbed me, or made me feel compelled to put pen to paper… Or rather, finger to keyboard!. And I’ve always said I wouldn’t blog for the sake of I, just to publish posts.
Then I saw the Post40bloggers’ writing prompt… And I was suddenly taken back to when I was 14 and desperate to earn some money on my own.
I lived in a small town ,without many opportunities for weekend or holiday jobs. . There weren’t the residential homes like there are now, where you could get a job as supper girl or laundry assistant, as you could when my daughter was looking for weekend and school holiday work. And I wasn’t old enough to be a Saturday girl at Boots….. Though I did achieve that ambition when I attained the magical age of 16….. Haven’t many of us started our journey into the world of employment doing that?
So what did that leave me with? I wasn’t sure, and wasn’t sure how to go about finding one. I was very shy and pretty quiet ( now now, stop your laughing!). Then
, walking through town one day I noticed a local tea rooms were looking for a waitress. So I plucked up all my courage and went in. I had never stepped foot inside it before. Meeting friends in tearoom so didn’t really happen then.
It was a lovely building with a big bay window and lots of oak beams. But as a 14 year old I didn’t really appreciate that then.
Inside I was greeted by an abundance of the most amazing looking cakes, the likes of which I had never seen before.
The owners were a young couple who worked and lived there. Sadly I can’t remember their names now. Mr. Tearooms did the cooking, and Mrs. Tearooms was responsible for the amazing bakes.
After a short chat they offered me a shift the next Saturday to see how I got on, and if I would be any good. I was to wear a black skirt and white shirt or blouse, and flat black shoes. No money was discussed, but I was very excited! And mum and dad were pleased I had found something.
Saturday came round, and I was up bright and early, raring to go. When I arrived Mrs. Tearooms gave me a frilly white apron to wear and a little ‘frilly thing’ to wear on my head. Yes, I know, now you’re all seeing Julie Walters in her famous restaurant sketch!!
The food was simple, compared to what we accept as the norm today, Welsh Rarebit, poached eggs on toast , scones, and the like. Lots of sandwiches (made with sliced white bread) and, of course, those amazing cakes.
Tea and coffee was served in bone china cups and saucers.
My job was to take the customer’s orders, and make the tea and coffee. And do the washing up. No dishwasher. I had never even seen a coffee machine before! And, going on my friend’s comments about my tea making skills now, I’m amazed anyone ever drank the stuff I made for them then!
It was a busy day, and the time flew past very quickly.And boy, did my feet ache at the end of the day! I don’t remember making any mistakes. Or Mr and Mrs Tearooms were too kind to mention them. Anyway, they offered me a job. And paid me for the day I’d just done. Not only that, but I had tips as well… I remember vividly that they came to £12 and on top of my wages I thought I was rich!! I danced my way home.
As I became more confident I was allowed to make the sandwiches…. And whip the cream for the Victoria sponges! I never rose to the dizzy heights of being allowed to help bake them though. And I was always very nervous about slicing the portions for fear of not giving people equal sized ones!
I loved it there. We had lots of regular customers, (whom I thought were very sophisticated when they came for their cream teas), and I got to know many of them, to the extent I would know what they were going to order before they said anything!! Creatures of habits
At the end of the day, when all the customers had left and we’d washed, and cleaned, and tidied, we would sit down and have a drink and Mr. Tearooms would make me something to eat. If there was any cake left (there wasn’t very often) we would have a slice. If, after that, there was any left, I was allowed to take some home to mum and dad and my sister.
I worked there every Saturday and in the week during school holidays for over a year, until Mr and Mrs Tearooms announced they were having a baby, selling the business, and moving back to be nearer their families. I had hoped it would still be a tearoom and I could stay on with the new owners, but it was changed into an antique shop. And with that ended my foray into the world of hospitality.
Over the years it has been many things, including an Italian restaurant, and is now an exclusive restaurant that only opens 2 nights a week, and you have to make reservations way in advance. I haven’t eaten there yet, but it’s on the list. And I shall be intrigued to see what they’ve done with the interior.
But it will always hold a special place in my heart as what I considered to be a sophisticated tearoom, and as the place that gave me my first taste of employment and having my own money. Something I have never forgotten.