Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Best Afternoon Tea

Let me tell you a little bit about the story behind how this afternoon tea came to be.

Before I go on, let me set the scene a bit. The Ritz is beautiful. Afternoon tea is held in the world famous Palm Court, all gilded mirrors topped off by the golden nymphs frolicking in the central fountain to the accompaniment of the live piano. Men must wear a jacket and a tie and women the equivalent and the waiters are all dressed impeccably in red waistcoats and tails. And long gone are the days when guests would arrive in their horse drawn carriages, now your reservation is checked on an iPad and you are showed to your table. Few things are more decadent than settling down at 1130am to a meal dedicated to indulgence. It should be all about lip-smacking sweetness, crustless sandwiches, freshly-baked, crumbling scones, and, of course, a good cup of tea.

Vast selection of tea

There’s a lengthy selection of tea – I recommend the passion fruit and orange

The sandwiches – lovely and soft with traditional fillings – excellently attentive staff:  topping up our crustless sandwiches. Followed by warm, crumbly scones and a variety of cakes. We opted for the pistachio cake and trifle.

 

Ritz delights

Ritz delights

This was followed by the most exciting and life changing event ever – my proposal. Everyone simultaneously gasped as my beau got down onto one knee.  I was speechless, cried and eventually said yes. Sipping on the finest champagne, we revelled in the moment while everyone clapped. 

merry christmas everyone

merry christmas everyone xxxxxxx

You only have two hours to tuck into as many scones and sandwiches as you can. Plenty of time to gorge yourself on sweet treats and I would recommend to everyone.

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Shiva: Matchmaker God

If you’re looking for the perfect soulmate, there is no need to hunt the bars, gyms, and other mating spots. Just keep a fast for Lord Shiva!

Just two and a half months after I began the fasting regimen-and totally unexpectedly-I got engaged. Coincidence or divine intervention? I really don’t know.

I’m convinced there’s nothing like having a mighty matchmaker on your side. Shiva found me a better mate than I could ever have found on my own. I will continue to do the odd Monday as it’s a very spiritual practice that sets the tone for the rest of my week.

In Hinduism, there’s a fast to honor practically every deity. In northern India, Monday is Shiva’s day, while on Tuesday, the Hanuman devotees keep a fast. In the South, the Tuesday fast honors Skanda, while Thursday is the fast day for Vishnu. In the intimate rituals of vrata or fasting, devotees come close to the deity, adding their personal wishes to their prayers.

While there are many festivals in India during which women fast for the welfare of their husbands, Shiva is the god most Hindus turn to for good spouses and a harmonious family life. A very complex God, Shiva is not only temperamental and passionate but also deeply responsive to sincere devotion.

Because Hindu mythology tells us that Parvati, Shiva’s consort, won him over by meditation and fasting, many married women and single girls keep his fast. Parvati, the daughter of King Parvatraja, fell in love with Shiva, an ash-smeared wandering ascetic. She could not get his attention because he was deep in meditation, and so she fasted to win him. Kama, the god of Love, intervened by shooting an arrow of flowers from his sugarcane bow at Shiva. With his concentration disturbed, Shiva opened his eyes and saw Parvati standing before him. He instantly fell in love with her.

Of all the gods of the Hindu pantheon, it is Shiva and Parvati who have the ideal family life. There are many stories of Shiva’s passion and devotion for Parvati and their harmonious relationship. In Rajasthan, women celebrate a colorful festival called Gangaur in which they honor Gauri, a manifestation of Parvati, to ensure their husband’s well-being.

“Shiva is not just a romantic lover, he’s also a good friend and companion to Parvati,” says Dr. Vasudha Narayanan, professor of religion at the University of Florida. “In fact, Shiva is said to love Parvati so much that she becomes part of his body. In many parts of South India, devotees worship Shiva as Ardhanareshvara-half Shiva, half Parvati. That’s the ultimate union; they become truly one in body, and that’s about as romantic as you can get!