Friday, 18 January 2013

Miss Murtagh & the Tea Party

Back in the winter, when the nice lady Kay came & spent some time with us & the "fruit lady"story was published in our local paper, way across town in Taradale, Pat read the article & something about it seemed just a little familiar. "Was that the old house in Nelson Street?" & off to the phone book she went, sure enough... it was! "Well that's the end of that idea," she sighed to her family.."they said that they would be staying in the house until they were old, so I guess there's no chance of an Open Home & a little look around then."
In early November, a thoughtful niece came knocking on our door wondering if she could take some photos of the house as a gift to Pat for her 80th birthday. Of course that was fine by us & before Diane had left we had come up with a perfect little plan
...a tea party in the garden.
last Tuesday, the girls arranged to take Miss Murtagh out for afternoon tea as a nice little birthday treat.
"Oh look there's my grandparents old place," she cried as they nearly drove passed. And indeed they pulled to a stop, all hopped out & proceeded to come up the driveway!
And here we were waiting.
Pat's grandparents owned "our" house for over 40 years & after losing her mum at quite a young age, Pat spent a year living here with them & would return often to visit through the years beyond.
It was a perfect day in the garden, neither swelteringly hot nor raining (as it did the following day).

It was quite a peculiar thing to have a whole group of women wander around our home who'd been here before & who wanted to examine every nook & cranny. 
I found this cake stand very was just perfect!

Rob holding court with all the girls while I made the tea!
Weren't these just the prettiest cupcakes? I found them in the supermarket..imagine that!
Diane got up early Tuesday morning inspired to make "Grandma Murtagh's apple pasty".
The apple tree holds legendary status in the family memory bank..sadly now long gone from the garden.
Cucumber sandwiches are always the bees knees don't you reckon?

These two and...
this lovely lady have been friends forever & all went to school together.
It was she who spied the basket inside.."Oh look! she cried, "You've even got all the old books to go with the house, Wind in the Willows".
There was a bit of tittering & wiggling inside the basket as the three Willows realised they'd been spotted in their hiding place..watching all the comings & goings & visitors.
They were delighted to meet the lady in blue because she was so kind & interested in their journey.
Here's the old girl.
Not sure when this was taken...need to ask.
Apparently the boys used to sleep on the porch in the summer.
You could see right across to Cornwall Park & there were paddocks all around, horses & other stock grazing there.

Old Mr Murtagh set out two great strips of vegetable garden round the back & the fruit trees were planted beyond that right at the end of the section.
I don't think there was much call for flowers in those days.
These are the same windows in our bedroom, just as Pat remembers.
She even asked Rob if we'd bought the wardrobe with the house because she was quite sure it as the same as her grandmothers.

I am so pleased that we collected this Old English Rose china especially to have for tea parties..everyone had memories of it being used by the older family members, although some were quite sure the roses were bigger. Funny how memories go isn't it.
It's the simple things that remain in the end: rose china, apple shortcake & old wardrobes in the corner of a bedroom that can weave a family together, binding hearts & generations.
What a lovely visit!
What old family memories do you have? I'd love to know.
Much love dear ones.
Thank you for checking in on me.



  1. What a wonderful story - your house looks beautiful and must have brought back so many memories. Of course, I just love the vintage china!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

    1. So glad that you popped in Liz..thank you for your lovely comments. I do hope that you plan a tea party yourself sometime soon. They are so much fun! Oh & by the way..I have been delighted to arrange my cups a bit like yours in your tea cup post & they look so good...I hadn't ever thought of that before...thanks! Much love Catherine x

  2. Oh my, that is one magical gathering! Lovely, lovely you! I have nothing to rival this. Winkle picking out of the back of Dad's station wagon in the cold in summer at Dundrum Bay springs painfully to mind!

    1. Oh you are so funny Mags! Perhaps you need to pop over to our sunny climes for a bit & we'll brighten your spirits with lovely tea parties & picnics with Willows : ) x0x0x

  3. What a very sweet kind thing for you to do! I've been by the house I grew up in & even though I know the family slightly, it was not a fun visit. I don't think I'd ever like to go back.

    It is different to visit your grandmother's house I think. Everything looks beautiful!

    1. Hello Jenny, no you're quite right things don't always work out the way we imagine & it all very much depends on the kinds of memories that are associated with a house or place in the first place. It's not always a good move to return. Fortunately this one was a very happy story : )

  4. What an enchanting story Catherine!

  5. Oh Catherine - what a beautiful setting for your tea party - my mouth is watering. Your garden, your umbrellas (especially red spotty), your china, your food & flowers just look amazing dear friend,. Look at the ladies faces, how much they are enjoying it all. So, so lovely of you to do that.
    Your bedroom looks beautiful too - love the bunting and LOVE the prisms on the carpet - you must have some crystals in your window perhaps??
    A beautiful post - gardens are definately for sharing. Happy weekend dear friend - Mum is coming for 4 days so I have been cleaning!!!! Oh how dull !!! Love/hugs, Julie Xox

    1. Hello Julie, you must have your Mum with you by now. Hope all goes well. What does she think of Mr Fluffy? Ah you'll be able to sit in your new chile red chairs & have tea. Yes you are quite right they all had a lovely time, the ladies, I made them a special Smilebox with all the photos & they are just thrilled especially Mrs Murtagh...she never married I've discovered & she is still completely overwhelmed by the whole thing. Yes..lovely old Pollyanna prisms in our bedroom window, you can see them in the photo above..same room. So many people must find pleasure in your garden too. Have a lovely week. Much love Catherine x0x

  6. What a lovely post. the photo's are beautiful. Such a warm and inviting house you have. :)

    1. Thank you so much for visiting & for your lovely comments. x

  7. Oh it's so fun to see the pink book and the boys tucked close! Your photos are delightful! I want to live in them!

    1. Hello dear friend, yes the boys were a tiny bit shy with all the women in the house but didn't want to miss out on all the excitement. I have been getting them used to the idea that it might be just about time to be on their way home. We'll let you know when they head off of course so you can prepare. x

  8. This is just so beautiful! you made a really special event for that lady and now you have some new friends. A wonderful idea - I know how she felt a bit as I once visited the village where my grandmother lived and knocked on the door of her cottage - I just had to know who lived there - it was the lady who used to live up the road when I was child and she knew who I was straight away! amazing - I didn't get to have tea and look around though! Your tea set by the way is very pretty. Bettyx

    1. Hello Betty, yes you're right we do have knew friends! We love living in Hastings & have made our home together here so it is really nice to be part of the community in a rich & meaningful way. Pat has already sent us the loveliest card & the kindest gift. I rang & thanked her today & said that we'd like to stay in touch.
      Good on you for knocking though..sometimes just the turning up to see can satisfy an old curiosity, even if it's not quite what we thought it would be. Yes the Old English Rose is a very evocative pattern & nice to work with in setting up & combining colours. Much love x0x0x

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  10. love the china, the sweet bed, the entire post! How delightful my visit was today; many thanks, Catherine, for your time in putting it together. So restful, calm, gentle...much needed before climbing on the tractor and setting out hay today -smile-.

  11. Dear Catherine
    You've told such a beautiful story around the visit of these sweet ladies. They will still be talking about their day with you.
    I can see they were enchanted with everything you did for them - and I know how important it is to 'go back'!

    Much like the roses on the china plates appearing smaller than they thought - when I returned to see my childhood home, my memory was of a large house and even larger garden - it wasn't - and I felt quite let down!!!

    Shane ♥


So lovely of you to leave a comment. Thank you!! ♥

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