Though I was there for over four months, there’s one thing I never did when I lived in London for a semester my senior year of college: Afternoon Tea.
I know, I know—who goes to London and doesn’t do an afternoon tea? That’s like going to Scotland and skipping out on the haggis (actually, no it’s not—I promise your palate doesn’t need any haggis). But somewhere between the weekend trips to visit surrounding places, exploring the ins and outs of London itself, and squeezing in the occasional class assignment, it simply didn’t happen—not to mention that afternoon teas tend to be a bit pricey, making them not-so-appealing to college-Kaci’s budget.
That being said, what was at the top of my London list when my friend Kirsten and I decided to make the trip? An afternoon tea! But not just any afternoon tea, afternoon tea at Sketch—a place I’d been drooling over since I first found out about it four years ago. I’ll address this more in my upcoming itinerary posts, but Kirsten and I kept spending to a minimum when it came to food. We packed breakfast bars and bought mainly groceries, but decided to do one splurge meal in both Iceland and London. Sketch was our London splurge—and it was worth every penny.
To be honest though, it wasn’t even the meal itself I was most excited for. What Sketch is known for is its themed rooms (even its bathrooms are cool, but you’ll have to wait until the er, bottom of this post to see what I’m talking about). There’s a library-themed room that serves as a lunch and dinner restaurant, a whimsical woodlands room where they serve brunch, then cocktails in the evening, and a couple different options where you can enjoy an afternoon tea. But there was no real option in our minds—we knew exactly which room we wanted to enjoy ours in: The Gallery—aka, the all pink room. Seriously, its walls, its chairs, even its servers’ suits—they were ALL. PINK. Now that’s my cup of tea.
When I was packing for this trip, in an effort not to overdue it like I usually do, I tried to think carefully about what we were doing each day, and what would be best to wear—that way I didn’t give myself “options” and end up not wearing half the stuff in my suitcase.
As I thought about Sketch, at first I thought I should keep it practical—maybe the jeans and t-shirt I knew I would likely be wearing the rest of the day. But then I thought, why would I wear something practical for afternoon tea in an all pink room? Why not go all-out and make it an experience—even if it meant making a quick change once we got there?
I decided on my new blush-colored dress with bows for shoulder straps, my sparkly headband, and of course, bright pink lipstick. Pair that outfit with an all pink room, and it was hard not to feel a little bit like a princess.
And you want to know a secret?
I loved every minute.
I remember back in college, starting to rediscover my love for the outdoors—I first fell in love with the mountains during family camping trips as a little girl, but lost sight of it somewhere in the junior high and high school years. The renewed interest in college was in large part due to my group of friends who loved to go hiking and camping, and even introduced me to the world of rock climbing. Many weekends we went down south to where my friend’s then-boyfriend was from, and lost ourselves in new trails—and I loved it.
In my mind, I started to see myself as an outdoorsy girl. Then, as I looked around at the “real” outdoorsy girls, I saw that many of them didn’t wear makeup. In fact, there was a whole style they exuded that had no resemblance to my bright florals or curled blonde hair. Soon, I started to wonder if maybe I shouldn’t wear makeup. I mean, I couldn’t be both the outdoorsy girl and the girl who loved to wear dresses, could I?
It’s a silly example to think back on now, but I think it speaks to a pressure we all feel at times—the pressure to define ourselves.
Am I outgoing or shy? The funny one or the serious one? The athletic one or the smart one? Am I bubbly and talkative, or more on the quiet side? Emotional or logical? Am I the tomboy or the girly-girl?
While it’s crucial to have a good grasp on who we are, I think what starts to happen is, as we start to recognize the things that stand out about us, or as others point them out, we begin to neglect the other parts of who we are.
We feel like people expect one thing of us, so we can’t give them something different.
It could be that others have told you you’re the life of the party, so you feel the pressure to perform, like you can’t ever simply observe. Maybe you’re known as the tomboy, so when you want to get dolled-up you feel like you can’t, because that’s outside of your box.
But I don’t think we have to be one or the other. I don’t think we have to pick one thing to pinpoint all of who we are.
Sure, you may have introverted tendencies, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have some extrovert in you too—and you shouldn’t be afraid to let that side be seen. We don’t have to categorize ourselves just to make others—and maybe ourselves—more comfortable because the truth is, each of us is complex. God created each of us in our entirety—not just parts of us—and that means we can create space for all parts of who we are.
So I say—put some lipstick on. Curl you hair, paint your nails, and let yourself feel like a queen if you want to, because you are. Then go climb a mountain the next day, if you want to do that too. Let’s be people who live out fully and boldly who God created us to be, making space for all parts of who we are. I’ll raise cup of tea to that!
Back to our Sketch experience—not a single thing that touched my plate wasn’t absolutely delicious, and there also wasn’t a single thing left on my plate when I was done. Afternoon Tea at Sketch is a preset menu that starts with quail egg and bread, continues into finger sandwiches and mini pastries, then finishes with warm scones and jam. Mmm. You even get a bit of caviar thrown in there in the beginning and I didn’t even know I liked caviar, but boy was it egg-cellent. There’s also refillable pots of any tea of your choice—I went with the special Sketch blend and I still can’t stop thinking about it. Kirsten and I made sure to come hungry, but even then, it was a lot of food. We both started to feel full about halfway through the pastries, but we powered through—my mama didn’t raise no quitter.
Need to use the loo? Don’t mind if I do—especially since it’s so prett-tea.
Keep calm and put lipstick on, if that’s what you want to do. Be you, because you’re be-you-tiful—every part of you, not just one. And if you’re going to keep calm and drink tea, make sure to do it at Sketch—because when in London, it’s the best of the best!
Hello I’m Kaci!
I love encouraging and discipling others in the Word of God, and I really love the One it all points to: Jesus.
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