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A New Page

A New Page

Greetings Hoogly fans! I hope you are all safe and well. Since the last blog I’ve had my first vaccination jab, which was an extraordinarily efficient process, with hundreds of people being manoeuvred with military precision through a large hall, with the whole thing (including the fifteen-minute precautionary post-jab wait) only taking about half an hour. Remarkable work by the healthcare and admin teams, and another step closer to freedom. Fingers crossed things continue to look so positive!

In the meantime, I reckon it’s time to once again delve into the delights of the literary world, discovering which books are the new must-reads as the summer season approaches. Books have been a much-treasured lifeline for many over the lockdowns, their escapism and immersion so much more pointed and urgent than in regular life, giving us an opportunity to relieve a bit of pressure from the valve that steadily builds in confinement. In fact, one of the silver linings of my time on furlough was the ability to read a lot more, which creates the space to try new authors and genres, something that can be the most unexpectedly pleasurable and satisfying experience, and one that people often wish they had tried earlier.

For me, the discovery was American author Anne Tyler, a name I had seen countless times on bestselling lists and on bookshelves, but whose book covers and plots had never appealed to me. I sat down with a mug of Hoogly Earl Grey and started a book called ‘A Spool of Blue Thread,’ which is about three generations of a family in Baltimore, their loves and losses, their triumphs and successes, and the way each generation impacts on the next. I instantly fell in love. Tyler has a forensic understanding of family dynamics; her characters are all relatable, their decisions—good and bad—mirror our own, and we feel their sorrow and joy, crying and laughing with them. Humour, in fact, is sprinkled lovingly throughout the book, with seemingly every other line infused with a wry smile or a wink to the reader, which offers a counter-balance to the more emotional scenes, some of which you have to read a few times to properly understand how beautifully crafted, meaningful and poignant they are. Tyler writes, in fact, just as many of us experience family life: with love and fun, intersected with thunderbolts of drama, woven together with compassion, comfort and few unwelcome surprises! I heartily recommend all of her many novels; you couldn’t find a more Hoogly author if you tried!

So what books are making a splash as we speak? Our first Hoogly recommendation is ‘The Lamplighters’ by Emma Stonex. Inspired by true events, this is the story of three lighthouse keepers who vanished from their lighthouse in 1972, with the entrance door locked from the inside. Within the walls, the clocks have stopped; the weather log speaks of a terrible storm, but the skies have been calm all week. Twenty years later, a writer approaches the women the keepers left behind and invites them to tell their story. As they confront their darkest fears, the truth begins to surface… With critical and popular acclaim, ‘The Lamplighters’ is going to be a must-read novel for the summer ahead!

Our next pick is a stunning mash-up of genres. ‘The Devil and the Dark Water’ by Stuart Turton is a historical mystery thriller with elements of crime and the supernatural. It takes place in 1634 as the world’s greatest detective Samuel Pipps is being transported as a prisoner to Amsterdam aboard an East India Company merchant vessel. Almost as soon as the ship leaves the harbour, the devilry begins, with strange symbols appearing on the sails, a dark figure stalking the decks, and animals being slaughtered. Can Pipps and his faithful bodyguard solve an impossible theft and a brutal murder before the ship’s passengers descend into terror and anarchy? The author brings the scenes vividly to life with acute observed details and a poetic descriptions, drawing you into the era and the setting from the very first page, and then carrying you along on a wild and scary ride as the super sleuth follows the clues and battles enemies real and imagined! If you fancy something inventive and different, this is the book for you!!

For kids around ages 9-12, we highly recommend ‘Harklights’ by Tim Tilley. This is the story of Wick, who lives in the terrible Harklights Match Factory and Orphanage, working without rest for Old Ma Bogey. As he dreams of escape, he happens across a tiny baby in an acorn cradle. As midnight chimes, Wick is visited by the Hobs, who are miniature protectors of the forest, who thank Wick for taking good care of the baby. But their gratefulness does not end there: the Hobs offer Wick an amazing opportunity—escape from Harklights and start a new life and adventure with them in the wild! This is a beautiful book, extremely Hoogly in its themes of friendship, family and the natural world, and offering a much-needed message of hope during the difficult times we have all experienced. Kids will love the world that is created inside the covers, and will embrace the Hobs and their urgent need to protect the world around them.

As for the perfect accompaniment to your literary treasures, look no further than a beautiful mug of Hoogly tea! We can’t think of better way to relax and wind down than to pick a cosy nook of your home, curl up with a good read and sip a delicious brew while you immerse yourself in a good story. How about kicking off the summer with a cup of Spiced Orange herbal infusion?! This is a zesty sensation that sings of sunshine, combining fruit and mulled spices to create a taste that will thrill you during those long, warm nights with friends and family!

For something a little different, why not try Blueberry Muffin Rooibos? This tantalisingly toasty brew is infused with sweet berry tones to recreate a classic naughty treat, perfect to accompany breakfast, or as a Hoogly mindful moment at any time of the day as it’s naturally caffeine-free! Sure to become your new favourite cuppa—and as restrictions ease, it will become your guests’ favourite too!

That’s it for now; take care of yourselves, pop the kettle on and stay Hoogly!

Written by Chris Bedford

www.hooglytea.com

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Black and White Tea!

Black and White Tea!

Greetings Hoogly lovers! I hope you had a lovely Christmas and New Year! How are your resolutions coming along? Congratulations to everyone who is attempting Veganuary! This is a truly exciting and virtuous mission, helping the planet and its animals in numerous ways, and we at Hoogly are fully behind you! Don’t forget that all of our tantalising teas are vegan, so you can complement your new menu with our relaxing, eclectic selection of scent-sational brews!

Aside from being tidier and better with money, my resolution for the new year is to indulge in a regular routine of retro movie nights. This is a simple and relaxing pleasure I have drifted away from in recent years, especially since the advent of streaming, and the constant deluge of new content provided by the giants of TV subscription. When I was younger, my parents introduced me to some of their favourite films, and watching them I discovered a whole new world that seemed distinct and separate from the films I was watching at the time. Firstly, the oddity of black and white. It took a while for me to fully understand that this was a limitation of technology and not evidence that previous generations had actually lived in a world without colour! As I grew older, the films my parents raved about so much began to take on new meaning for me. I began to appreciate the craft involved, the style and scale of some of the productions, the beautiful orchestral music, the purity of the dialogue, and the magnetic draw of the shining stars that appeared in them. Humphrey Bogart, Laurence Olivier, John Wayne, Vivien Leigh. Names my parents spoke about with such reverence, such joy, such fond recollection. I began to understand why Mum and Dad had watched these films over and over, endlessly, never tiring of what was being offered. It was an escape—all good movies are, of course—but these films of the forties, fifties and sixties seemed a breed apart. They were reassuring. Comforting. Like an old friend. They reminded people of a different era, and in many ways (although reality almost certainly differed) a better time. A period of respect and understatement. A period where awful things were implied but not shown. A period in which everything felt ordered, safe, aligned. An idea that, for ninety minutes, nothing else mattered, and everything was as it should be.

From the hundreds of films my parents introduced me to, a handful have stayed with me forever, and now make up the hit-list of retro movie night. But before I get into the details of this glorious rollcall of cinematic delight, I must share with you the proper way to enjoy your relaxing retro evening.  First of all, you must wear pyjamas. If you don’t own a pair of PJs, then a t-shirt and lounge pants are acceptable. Secondly, you must have a duvet or sheet: you never know when the movie night may extend beyond reasonable hours—it might be midnight already when Gone With the Wind starts, and you’ve got four hours to get through yet, so it’s wise to make arrangements to sleep where you sit! Thirdly, you need copious snacks, preferably popcorn, but I will allow any reasonable assortment of chocolates, crisps or nuts. Fourthly, you must have an endless supply of Hoogly Tea at your side! As you know, like Hollywood movies, our teas range from the classic to the exotic, from elegant simplicity to flavour fiestas, taking your around the world on a chilled and refreshing journey. So get your kettle and bags ready—lights, camera, action!

And so to my favourite retro films. If you haven’t seen these already, then you’re not living your best life. Sort it out!

 

  1. Brief Encounter. A chance meeting of a married woman and a doctor at a steam-covered train station leads to a romantic affair, and a dramatic exploration of loyalty, regret and the choices we make. Has one of the greatest—and most English —endings in cinema history.
  2. Wuthering Heights (1939) This adaptation of Emily Brontë’s novel is a wind-swept and moody saga of love, loss and obsession, with a sweeping and underrated orchestral score, and fine performances by Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon. Have a hanky ready!
  3. Casablanca. Humphrey Bogart plays night club owner Rick, who agrees to help his former lover and her husband stay a step ahead of the Nazis—but old feelings are soon rekindled. This masterpiece has some of the greatest lines of dialogue ever written, a beautiful score, high drama, and never fails to delight, no matter how many times you watch it.
  4. Carve Her Name With Pride. The true story of Violette Szabo, an English war-widow who became a secret agent in occupied France during World War 2. A film about courage, love and doing one’s duty, this a fitting tribute to a remarkable heroine—the first woman to be awarded the George Cross. Included in the film is the reading of a love poem Szabo was given to help encrypt messages while she was in France—it is a thing of rare beauty, and the moment the poem appears will stay with you forever.

 

If you fancy a seductive treat to add a little bit of Hollywood glamour to your movie night, why not try one of our Hoogly hot cocoas?! We have three decadent flavours to choose from: Luxury Hot Cocoa, Cocoa & Mint, and Salted Caramel Cocoa! These sweet sensations will knock your cosy socks off, and keep you coming back for more! So give one an audition today!

Until next time, good luck with all your resolutions and enjoy your movie night!

www.hooglytea.com

Written by Chris Bedford.

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