Thursday, June 27, 2013


It's a glorious day here; I have been out, mainly to get some provisions, however, I did give myself permission to go to a nice little café  that is decorated in candy colours and has shelves full of beautiful old bone china. All the washing up is done by hand, not in a dishwasher, by this means, the customers are all treated to their various coffees or teas in lovely old bone chinaware, too.  If you want a mug of coffee, I am sure that would be something provided in keeping with the ambience.  I sat in the bay of a window  inside.  all the outside tables, about four of them, were taken.  I benefitted from the warmth of the sun through the windows.

It was just too tempting to choose a home-made cup cake, but, I did not.  It was also tempting to think about munching a slice of the home-made banana cake, but, I did not.  Instead I chose home-made carrot and orange soup with seeded bread.  The soup arrived in an early 20th century bone china soup bowl, which sat on a rectangular plate, which, as you will have guessed by now, was also old bone china and had the remains a gold lined edge.  The bread rested on it.  How many storage cupboards had the crockery lived in; what kind of tea tables had it graced, it did look loved and used; what kind of food had been  made and presented to the family or guests using the china?  So many questions to be asked, the answers to which, can only be guessed at.

Similar to one of the many the styles of early 20th century china in use in the café (courtesy of ebay)

The arrival of my blueberry scone and home-made raspberry jam in a large heavy cut glass condiment dish, broke into my reveries of the various possible social histories of the crockery. The jam spoon handle sticking out of the hole for it in the lid, had a medallion of decorated porcelain finishing it off with a flourish.  Every little detail was thought about.  My pot of tea arrived covered with a hand-knitted tea cosy, which had a little funnel (knitted) on top; I guess I could have accessed the pot lid via it, if I had wanted too.

On the way home, I gave a lift to a young couple laden with full backpacks, who were hitch-hiking.  I dropped them off on a main road South, where they were very likely to get another lift on route to their destination.


David Oliver said...

*sigh* Oh to be in civilization...
I'm glad you appreciate it. There is nothing like that on my side of the ocean, at least not where I live.

Thank you for the view!

ZACL said...

Oh David,

This place was a treat - I don't go there too often because I want to keep it that way. And yes, I do appreciate fine china and porcelain, old and modern, when care and design have gone into the craft of creating the pieces.

I bought some of the most interesting, (to me) and tactile porcelain in New Hampshire USA.

I feel a great joy when I see pottery in the making on a wheel, with the potter's hands working and shaping the clay. It's even better seeing the end result. I don't often buy it though!

Once, I watched a potter who was a bit frustrated, having had a bad week with pottery results. On the other hand he seemed sanguine about 'bad weeks'. It was an odd juxtaposition of emotions, really. At the end of talking about it and working this item,a vase, he closely examined it, then credited me with his one success. He was very obviously thrilled with the outcome and carried it like a new born baby to prepare for the next stage. If it fired well, the potter thought he might keep the vase as an exhibition piece.

As you can imagine,I left the pottery feeling pretty good. :)

David Oliver said...

What a good story ZACL! And you know if you've read my profile, I LOVE stories. This one I can actually relate to a little as well. At one time I did quite a bit of canvas painting. It seemed I could never predict the outcome. Sometimes I didn't like what I had done at all, most of the time it was okay but occasionally I would paint something I loved.

I don't really know anything about china or dishes generally. I do know that sometimes when I get my drink and food in styrofoam, I feel like I'm being feed out of a pet tray.

ZACL said...

Styrofoam eating facilities are not enticing are they, David. I wonder who designed those. Some mass produced breads are like them, perhaps that's where the idea came from!

I guess, like a lot of people, I believe I have a subjective and appreciative, eye. When you see a great deal of something, you begin to recognise patterns, traits and so on. Recognition of features links you very often to the creator or an item's source. It doesn't, I guess, necessarily make you knowledgeable in the formal 'expert' manner. That isn't important though, unless you're setting yourself up to be an expert.

Anonymous said...

To enjoy tea and cake on 'proper' chinaware has to be one of life's best, simple pleasures!
Thanks for a delightful, and indeed mouthwatering, post. Flighty xx

Anonymous said...

What a very appreciative post. I can easily relate to all of it - it makes a big difference to one's enjoyment as to how food is served. Daughter One likes collecting - if not bone china - old mismatched plates. She thinks it's far more interesting than a modern streamlined dinner service. The food sounds perfect too. A treat to be enjoyed for a long time, one hopes!

ZACL said...

I like a cuppa in a china or nice porcelain cup, not too big. I remember going through a thick, earthy and chunky stage with drinking receptacles. I still have a couple of them, these days they get used as plant pot holders, if a pot fits.


ZACL said...

Hi GillyK,

I think your daughter number one, and the owner of the café, (who says she is indulging her dream)have a great deal in common, in collecting crockery of a particular milieu, shall we say, for the specific purpose of using the pieces, much as they were originally intended. I find it delightful when the nibbles order arrives on them, even if they are mismatched. The china is, for me, an art from in its own right.

Snowbird said...

Oh what a lovely post....I really wish I could have pulled up a chair and joined you. A wonderful treat, as you say everything is so much nicer when served on wonderful plates ....I can't enjoy wine unless it's in a lovely glass which can be swirled!xxxx

ZACL said...

I'm sure most people would love to relax in the café; pulling up a chair is what you do.

You must have a good stock of generous sized wine goblets to take the happy, unspilled swirling of a glass of wine. Some of the very deep ones have a particular name, which I cannot remember. It isn't a senior moment, (honest) I just do not use the term often enough to recall it off the cuff.

Anonymous said...

A pleasure to read about such a positive experience at the cafe. I'm not really familiar with 'bone china' is that cups and saucers that are made of the bone of some animal, and if so, which? Sounds very interesting.

ZACL said...

Hello Shimon,

Bone China is a particular type of construction, with a key ingredient we call china clay. It has very high firing temperatures. Here is an explanation courtesy of Wikipedia. Here's the link (in English) for you.

Bone china is a type of soft-paste porcelain that is composed of bone ash, feldspathic material and kaolin. It has been defined as ware with a translucent body containing a minimum of 30% of phosphate derived from animal bone and calculated calcium phosphate.[1] Developed by English potter Josiah Spode, bone china is known for its high levels of whiteness and translucency,[2] and very high mechanical strength and chip resistance.[3] At its finest you can hold up a piece to the light, say a cup or a saucer, and see the light through it.

keiko amano said...

I also enjoy good bone china and porcelain. An ordinary cup of coffee in a fine cup and saucer makes my day. If I were in Europe travelling, I'll go crazy at every meal because I enjoy different china, glasses, and silvers. I'd lift my cup and plate to see the maker and quality, and appreciate the design, colors, and so on. I don't do it anymore, but I used to make a visit to antique stores on weekends.

keiko amano said...

I love the color and design of the saucer in your photo. There are many different designs of that style, but none is the same, so we can talk about it again and again. It's fun.

ZACL said...

Keiko, I love your enthusiasm for the use of fine chinaware and it's attractiveness.

I like looking to see if I can see through a cup or saucer etc. The transparency of a utility that you use for hot and cold liquids, for eating from is a delight.

As you rightly say, most of the old fine china designs are individual, since the designs were painted by hand and not introduced with a transfer. Nowadays, most patterns are placed on chinaware by using a pattern transfer. That said, some modern china is immensely eye-catching in both shape, finish and design.

Thanks for your comment Keiko.

Snowbird said...

I call the deep glasses tulip glasses....lovely they are, one can swirl without sloshing, MOST important when enjoying

ZACL said...

Hi Snowbird,

Thanks for the description of your glasses. The name of the type of glassware I was wanting to recall was balustre. It just flashed into mind when I started to reply to you! My brain is obviously beginning to access its recesses