Inform-à la-Tea

April 2020
Tea Room Logo

201 Easy Street * Carefree, Arizona 85377 * 480-488-4812 * www.carefreetea.com

Voted Best Afternoon Tea - Phoenix Magazine Best of the Valley 

Rated  'Top 10 Tea Rooms in USA' by USA Today 2018.

Alice, I think we've fallen down the rabbit hole...

The last time I wrote a proper newsletter to all my tea room customers, it was June 2019 and I was joking that I would probably only get around to sending out two newsletters a year (and hearing the almost audible sigh of relief from most of you, as we all get WAAY too many emails).  Well, how true that joke turned out to be.

Now, suddenly we are all thrown together into a new normal of 'keep your distance' 'wear a face mask' 'wash your hands' and 'STAY HOME'...and none of us auditioned for these new roles in this "sci-fi movie" we now find ourselves in.

In the wake of COVID-19 (a name more apt for the spaceship in that sci-fi movie), we are all adjusting to business closures, worry for our families, meetings in cyber space and hoping that all the cuddles we are instead bestowing on our four-legged family members wont actually make them sick too...it wont will it?

Given that most of us are actually spending much more time at home, I am going to assume 10 things, ladies these apply mainly to you:

1) You have "Marie Kondo-ed" every closet in the house
2) You've run out of yeast so no more bread baking
3) You are getting used to that grey-haired parting
4) You STILL plan to download that work-out video
5) Homeschooling? You're NOT as smart as a 5th grader
6) The bathroom scales have a vendetta against you
7) Of course you're wearing gloves, look at your nails!
8) You will never make it as a pet groomer
9) "My Space" has a whole different meaning now
10) You wished you had asked for pajamas for Christmas

...assuming all that, I will assume all of you (ladies & gentlemen) have a few spare minutes to catch up on our newsletter.

We have been closed for over a month now. Therefore, our "news" is a reflection on the last few months and a reminder that despite all the uncertainty, we will be back serving tea in the Tea Room. We know you will be back too. And we do have a little silver lining for you in amongst the dark clouds...read to the end of newsletter!

So, for now, make a cup of tea, relax and read on and hopefully we can distract you from the all the craziness for a short while.

We send our love and best wishes for the safety and wellness of you, your family and friends.

Keep Calm and Carry On.

Fondly,

Jo 

Jo Gemmill
Owner
English Rose Tea Room
PO Box 5865
Carefree, AZ 85377
480.488.4812


Last Summer...

Last summer in Arizona was hot. No surprise there then.  I took some time off and went back to England to visit my family (and I am so glad I did given what's happening now).   I had a lovely time visiting tea rooms, castles, stately homes and antique shops, all of my favorite things to do. We were fortunate to get a 'private audience' with a senior staff member at Highclere Castle (and got all the gossip!). Jane Austen's home was beautiful, and saw the tiny table that she sat at to write all her books. We took a ferry across to the Isle of Wight and went to the very grand home of Lord Tennyson the Poet, with a fabulous rambling cottage garden. 

Caught up with family and friends, and reminded myself of all the things I miss about my home country.  I am so grateful everyone is safe today, who knows when I can get back on a plane to see them all again...hopefully it wont be too long.

Here are a few pics of my favorite places while I was there:


Lunch in Mum & Dad's kitchen
Highclere Castle a.k.a. Downton Abbey
A favorite spot for tea.
Fresh herbs in Mum's garden
 
Jane Austen's home.
Tennyson's Home, photos inside forbidden!

Antiquing 
Pottering about

AUGUST 

Once back home it was 'Teddy Bear Tea Time' and another lovely afternoon spent with Goldilocks, lots of bears and children enjoying story time and tea treats.  Every child gave an old bear a new home that day. It was a bit like a teddy bear rescue! A perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon in Carefree, Arizona.



SEPTEMBER

September was the highlight of our social calendar last year with the hosting of our Downton Abbey Weekend!  It was a spectacular weekend.  All our guests came 'dressed to the nines' as characters from the series, and we all celebrated THE MOVIE that was due out later that month. I managed to create a very fancy "Downton-style" dining table on our patio, and everything you can see displayed came from our local Kiwanis Thrift Market. (The things people don't use anymore!).

Have you seen the Downton Movie yet? If not, add it to your list of things to do while staying at home.





Interesting tidbit...

This picture below was posted by Lady Fiona Carnarvon who resides at Highclere Castle with her husband Geordie, the 8th Earl of Carnarvon.  The photo shows the original staff of the Castle during the late Victorian age, and guess what? My Mum recently told me that two of my great-aunts were maids at Highclere! (They aren't in this photo though) Fun to see the furry staff too, two dogs and a cat if you look closely. If you follow Highclere Castle on Instagram, Lady Carnarvon lets you see a little of life inside the Castle now.




OCTOBER

October brought our 2nd Annual Edgar Allen Poe event and another chance to dress up, you might have guessed by now that we LOVE to dress up at the Tea Room.

Readings from 'The Raven' and 'The Tell-Tale Heart' were performed by local actors and proceeds from the event were donated to Arizona Curriculum Theater (ACT), an organization that brings theater to schools to help children appreciate literature. (No doubt Poe is being 'zoomed' now).

We received very Royal Correspondence from Harry & Meghan (well, their Private Secretary anyway) thanking us for the Baby Shower we hosted in their honor and a surprise visit from Annie & David Toborowsky, famous stars of " 90 Day Fianc√© ".  (I must admit, I had to Google who they were), they have actually been back twice.







 

NOVEMBER

The month to be thankful...although I think lately we have had many weeks of being 'thankful'. Thanks especially to all our health care professionals, teachers, grocery store workers, truck drivers, first responders, volunteers...the list grows longer every day.

Last November, we were honored to cater desserts for our local non-profit, The Desert Foothills Library. They hold a first-class Donor Appreciation Event and we provide some of the treats.  It was certainly nice having all those props leftover from our Downton party, cake pops and macarons on silver platters, of course.






DECEMBER

We ended 2019 with a flurry of activities. From Jane Austen readings and a Regency Tea Party, to visits with Santa, Dickens Carolers, Nutcracker Ballerinas and the Salvation Army Band playing music on our patio.  The whole month was busy and bustling with happy customers, the air filled with festive cheer.  We all looked forward to the New Year with an optimism and excitement for more events to come.

Quick tip: if you ever host a Regency Tea party yourself and need a costume, look up 'white nightdress' on Amazon...tie a ribbon around it, done. Seriously!







The first 3 months of 2020...

A New Year, full of new resolutions, new plans, new merchandise and a new busy season at the English Rose. We celebrated Valentines, many birthdays, bridal and baby showers.  We held a little promotional party for 'Emma" the new Jane Austen movie and had a celebration of our own for our 18th Anniversary...18 yrs serving tea in the desert when some of the locals only gave us 6 months!








(if you only read one part of the newsletter, read this part!)

And then...

Tuesday March 17th will be remembered by most as St. Patrick's Day.  For all of us at the English Rose Tea Room, it will be remembered as the day we closed because of  COVID-19. 

We have been closed ever since.

We have kept in touch with staff and customers through our Facebook and Instagram.  We have shared lots of stories, photos and memories of the Tea Room.  Every Friday for the last 4 weeks my staff have had a "Friday Challenge" from hosting teddy bear teas, to making face-masks and 'virtual' team meetings. Who knew that this is what our new 'normal' would look like?




BUT WAIT!...

Soon it will be May, and with that comes Mother's Day, Teacher Appreciation Week and many graduations and birthdays...all being celebrated at home. Well, we would like to do something special for the loved ones in your lives and offer a treat to look forward to.

Starting Friday May 1st,  from 11.00 a.m. to 4.00  p.m. we will be offering our Formal Afternoon Tea service to be  enjoyed in your own home! 

If you have been missing our sandwiches, scones and pastries you can now order ahead and pick-up those items at the Tea Room.

Rest assured all our staff will wear their masks and gloves and all CDC protocols will be strictly followed. Our in-house dining and regular menu is still not available at this time.

Our service will be curbside
(and no you don't eat on the curb!)

PLEASE,  PRE-ORDER, PRE-PAY AND PICK-UP.

Plan a little celebration at home during this difficult time and enjoy the utterly civilized pleasure of taking time for tea. 

ORDERS TAKEN FROM FRIDAY MAY 1ST.

CALL 480.488.4812 to pre-order and pre-pay.

Visit our website for our Special Curbside Afternoon Tea Menu.


(aren't you glad you read this far!)


And finally...

There you have it, our last few months  in review with a silver lining for you at the end.  I really hope we can see you, safely in the comfort of your car as you come by to pick up tea and scones for a little celebration at home.

We will meet again soon at the Tea Room in a very different world of social distancing and face masks.  We will likely have to consider changing our hours of operation with 'set' seating times and limited seating available, but as confidence increases, remember we can always cater for your party if you don't want to venture out...that's assuming we can start having parties again soon! 

These were my guests at the last tea party I hosted. Time taken to set the table, one hour. Time to have tea before my guests all left? 5 seconds. Honestly, no manners. Attention only held by ham in the teacups!


So, be well and stay safe.  PLEASE keep in touch with us via email, phone, Facebook  or Instagram and each time you have a cup of tea, think of us, because we are thinking of you. 

Here are a few of 'you' from over the years...





Prince Louis on his 2nd Birthday.


Everyone is treated like royalty
at the English Rose Tea Room.


See you soon for tea!

Jo Gemmill




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