UK: Put the Kettle On????

Old Jan 14th, 2005, 01:03 PM
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I just booked a super-cheap trip to London for February ($202.19 airfare & $82/night at Copthorne Tara on Priceline) and thanks to this thread, I plan on bringing back loose tea this time instead of my usual tea bags. I'm a convert!!
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Old Jan 14th, 2005, 03:28 PM
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Anselm: What a coincidence that you should be writing about "quintals" on the first thread I read after walking in the door from the airport.

Just off a plane from St John's Newfoundland where today I did a session on the Fisheries Act at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

A quintal (originally a French word, of course)is indeed a hundredweight of fish, although my French-English dictionary defines the term "quintal" as "112 livres" -- i.e. 112 pounds.

But how 112 pounds = a hundredweight is nowhere explained!

Fodors savants: any explanation?
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Old Jan 14th, 2005, 03:48 PM
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Mathieu: Your description of Kenyan tea plantations recall exactly what I saw in Sri Lanka, on a trip to Nuwara Eliya -- the hill station to which the British repaired in the hot months preceding the arrival of the monsoons in April.

NE was run-down and sad (the old race course is now a public garbage dump) but the descent back to Colombo was one of the most thrilling things I have ever seen. We started off from NE in dense, dense fog, down hair-pin switchbacks -- temperature around 50 F/ 10 C.

Slowly, as we descended, the fog started to thin and we realized we were coming down through clouds. Eventually the clouds were blown away and we saw stunning green all around us, on wild, precipitous hillsides. The tea fields, despite the jagged terrain, are precisely terraced and meticulously maintained -- we saw not one weed in any field.

As only the top leaves are picked, each plant is always in full, brilliant leaf.

Each field has a name-plate with the name of the estate --"Devonshire", "Drumlanrig", etc -- the exact acreage, the date of the last pruning, the date of the next planned pruning and so on.

Often, in the distance you see a great waterfall -- a single powerful thread of water dropping 200 feet and then exploding into a churning river below. In some places, accumulated subterranean waters gush out of a roadside standpipe, where Tamil pickers (not Sri Lankan Tamils but poor Tamil immigrants from S. India) come to wash clothes, cars and themselves.

And of course we stopped at a 19th C. planter's bungalow, now a roadside tea pavilion, to buy a selection of teas for our hostess in Colombo and to refresh ourselves (and more important, our tireless driver) with a pot of the best of the local brew.
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Old Jan 14th, 2005, 04:38 PM
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Re quintals and hundredweight the hundredweight (cwt) of 112 pounds is based on the stone. 1 stone=14 pounds; 1 quarter=2 stones; 1 cwt=4 quarters, or 8 stones, or 112 lb.

That's why a long ton or 20 cwt is 2240 lb and a short ton is 2000 lb.

Isn't metric much simpler!
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Old Jan 14th, 2005, 04:42 PM
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tedgale, a coincidence indeed. It is odd that a hundredweight is 112 pounds ... and that gets me thinking about long tons, short tons, and metric tons, which I have never understood either.

The interesting thing about quintal was that the people I met in Newfoundland pronounced the word as "kennel" rather than "kwintal," which is the way that I would have pronounced it.

There are quite a few French words and phrases that have been anglicized in Newfoundland. Baie d'Espoir, surely one of the more desolate places in Canada, is ironically (or more aptly) pronounced "Bay Despair" in Newfoundland. And my favourite: L'Anse aux Meadows, the site of the Viking settlement, is a corruption of L'Anse aux Méduses, or Jellyfish Cove.

Hmmm, this really has nothing to do with tea, does it? I guess I'm easily diverted.

Anselm
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Old Jan 14th, 2005, 04:45 PM
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Oh my word, here I am wondering about tons and laverendrye is explaining it!

The coincidences continue.

Anslem
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Old Jan 14th, 2005, 05:06 PM
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While going through our mother's effects a couple of years ago, my sister happened across a 1941 fruitcake recipe demanding "1 gill rum". Investigations revealed that a gill was 1/4 of an Imperial pint, or 5 oz.

When Australia went over to metrics in the 1970s the official spelling for a metric ton was mandated as 'tonne' to distinguish it from the old long and short 'tons'. It's pronounced the French way, too, not "tun".
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Old Jan 14th, 2005, 05:13 PM
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Neil: "Tonne" in French is almost identical to our NA pronunciation of ton/"tun". Even closer in Quebec-French pronunciation.

I think there must be a singular Aussie "tonne" pronunciation.

Do you rhyme it with Ron???
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Old Jan 14th, 2005, 06:35 PM
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OK, tedgale, you got me - my French lessons are but a dim memory. The Aussie pronunciation it will have to be then (yes, to rhyme with "Ron&quot.
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Old Jan 15th, 2005, 12:12 AM
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Until very recently spirits were sold in pubs in the UK in measures related to gills. The standard English measure was 1/5 gill, and the standard Scottish measure 1/4 gill. The Scots caught on and most pubs moved to 1/5s, but not all and you'll still see signs in some warning that the customer is getting large measure.
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Old Jan 15th, 2005, 10:17 AM
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kayb95, may I suggest The Tea House in Neal St (off Covent Garden). There's also a branch of Whittards in Covent Garden Market itself and one of Drury Tea and Coffee in New Row nearby. Or having visited them, you could just drop into any supermarket....
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Old Jan 15th, 2005, 10:48 AM
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We normally bring home either Whittard's or Fortnum & Mason breakfast teas. There's a Whittard's close to our flat on Kensington High Street. Haven't been to the Tea House, yet. Thanks for the suggestion.
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Old Jan 19th, 2007, 01:56 AM
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Ive heard that there is a cult following of Pauline fowlers tea cosy? Anyone know anything about this?
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Old Jan 19th, 2007, 03:28 AM
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I suspect that they would be talking about the teacosies on her head. (The knitted type of hat she wears is called a "teacosy&quot
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Old Jan 19th, 2007, 10:12 AM
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Pauline Fowler didn't wear tea-cosy hats (that was Ethel Skinner), just the same old cardigan. The cult object was the Sacred Fruit Bowl. Which duly smashed in her final altercation with Sonia.

How, never mind "Put the kettle on", Pauline's great line - faced with some unwelcome news that clearly demanded a long and miserable conversation - was a face like a wet week and "Right. I'll fetch the biscuits, shall I?"
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Old Jan 24th, 2007, 07:06 PM
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The proper American way to make tea, restaurant style, is this:

On a small plate, put a tiny metal tea pot, a slice of lemon, and a tea bag still in its paper wrapper. The bag should ideally be between five and twenty years old.

Fill the pot with water at approximately 140 degrees fahrenheit and close the lid.

Place the plate on the kitchen pass-through and wait fifteen minutes before serving.

The customer then opens the tea bag, and stuffs it down into the lukewarm water, watching as the bag slowly immerses. After about a minute, pour the rusty-looking water into a cup, add lemon and drink. It tastes of tannin and unhappiness and being in the wrong place. The other diners will probably think you're a bit hoity-toity, too.

We have an electric kettle at our completely American house, which boils the water so fast I'm not ready for it. I do know how to make a proper cup of tea, and even how to spread Marmite on toast.

But the best kind of English tea comes from an urn the size of a steam boiler and is served by a fat lady in a powder blue apron.
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Old Jan 27th, 2013, 11:37 AM
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I live in Maryland but I do want Eastenders thanks to Utube. Whenever the late Wendy Richard would offer to "put the kettle on", I figured she knew someone needed to sit and muddle over an issue that was bothering them. One of my co-workers once got a call from her adult "babied" son and he asked to come over her house to for a bowl of soup. She thought that was odd. I told her in England that's what they call "putting the kettle on." Sure enough, the next time I saw her, she said he came over, pleaded his case, and walked away with a check in his wallet. I like to think of the custom as a way to lend an ear, not necessarily money to someone who needs to talk over a cup of tea or coffee and biscuits.
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Old Feb 4th, 2013, 08:12 AM
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There was a famous line for Wendy Richard when some relative came in and they set up a "Mum, I've got something to tell you" scene, and she just hitched her cardi round herself again and said with a voice of doom "Right. I'll fetch the biscuits, shall 1?"
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Old Feb 4th, 2013, 08:05 PM
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What a nice old thread to pull back up. Enjoyed it quite a lot. Especially the posts by some of our friends who are here only in memory.
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Old Feb 9th, 2013, 05:33 AM
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Re: Putting the kettle on

I'm Scottish and have only ever known electric kettles, but would still say put the kettle on, meaning to switch it on to make a cup of tea. When checking into a hotel room the first thing I would check is that there was a kettle, cups, tea bags and some milk. Imagine my horror on my first trip to New York to discover my hotel room (4star) had no kettle! I called housekeepimg and asked for one but we appeared to be speaking different languages. After much confusion, and being passed to several members of staff they finally seemed to understand what I was asking for. Housekeeping staff finally appeared at my door with a ... Coffee percolator! Seriously! i tried to heat water in it but it tasted foul, so there was nothing left to do but hit the streets of Manhattan in search of an electrical store. So my first purchase on arriving in the Big Apple was an electric kettle, so after long days of shopping I could go back to my room and put the kettle on!

Re: Tea v Dinner

Growing up in a working class family meant that dinner time was at noon (usually a sandwich or similar), tea time at 6pm ish (main meal of the day), and we would often have supper at about 8 or 9pm which was tea and toast. As I grew up and mixed in different circles I started calling dinner lunch. I mostly call my tea, tea but sometimes dinner, and eat a bit later so dont tend to have supper at all. Just the other day my husband was away on business and we had the following exchange of texts:

Him: I've ordered room service for my dinner"
Me: "Enjoy your dinner, I'm about to make my tea"
Him: "I have dinner, you have tea????"
Me: "Yes, tea is when you make it yourself, and dinner is when you pay someone to make it for you"

Simple
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