Of Mice and Ken

I’ve met some friendly, furry creatures on my trip to London.

There was a vole, quite a few mice, a large rat seen at quite a distance; and squirrels.

I’ve quite fallen in love with squirrels. They bound up, begging for food. I have taken to carrying peanuts. They are less afraid of Lady Devotea than I, but they will with some coaxing place a paw on my finger and ease a peanut gently from my grasp.

And then, larger, less furry but just as inclined to come bounding up with paws outstretched is Ken, or @lahikmajoe, if you prefer.  A fellow beast of Brewdom.

Ken managed to get to London for a few days and we decided to brunch.

Ken of course, decided to promote our meeting as the event of the year. I of course, was much more reserved.

That first meeting was chaotic. Ken and his friend Elaine occupied a table in the corner of J+A cafe, and within seconds of our meeting he had presented me with a copy of “The Sun”, knowing what a ‘fan’ of my hometown hero Rupert Murdoch I am. I found out much later it actually belonged to the cafe.

We had some Irish Breakfast and some Assam. We had some of the legendary soda bread, as mentioned in my highly complimentary review a few days ago.  Unfortunately, this time around, concepts like knives and butter did not seem to register. In fact, the service was a real let down.

The meeting was a lovely manic hour and a half of sheer nonsense. The sort of nonsense Ken & I spout on line, but with added reality. Unlike the Simpsons, I think we are funnier in 3D.

I had initially thought we would share this meeting via video – it had been dubbed “TeaCon” – but a day before it, it was pointed out to me that the timing did not suit our US friends. So, the good news was, I had already arranged a tea meetup for the next day at Maison Bertaux.

This is a legendary patisserie in Soho. It has been around since 1879 or thereabouts.

I emailed them to organise this from Australia months ago, then from London. I also tweeted a lot and included them.

I’ll review the actual tea and cakes in my own space, but the meeting up was chaotic. It comprised tea traders myself, Ken, Myrtle Takes Tea and Vsopfables , wellknown twitterati @_amusebouche_ and @vicdarkwood, plus three friends of Ken’s. We were virtually invited to leave after masses of tea.

A highlight was Ken getting out his wonderful old ukelele and performing. If they had wi-fi I could have shared it.

So, what’s he like, I hear you ask?

Ken is effervescent. He has a manic energy that is caused by his personality being too big for his frame. He is generous and warm. He is at least as sane as I am.

I had been invited quite late in the piece to join in a hookup with our friends from around the globe on Sunday but sadly, I had plans and those plans were not in my own hands, it was a mystery day out. So I was unable to make a third meeting with Ken.

With only a couple of days left and so much to do, I found myself on a train to some of the older parts of London on a family history trail whilst Ken was visiting the London review Bookshop, which would have also been a great opportunity.

But that is what happens in London. You get to do half what you planned and a bunch of stuff you didn’t.

At the end of the day we tried each other’s hats on, I provided some Lord Petersham and the phrase “you can’t always expect goats” was proven by an absence of Capra aegagrus hircus .

There was a lot of tea, there was a lot of fun and frivolity. There was cake and friendship. That is how it should be.

It was a highlight of our trip to meet Ken.



  1. Ah, no wi-fi at Maison Bertaux. That explains a few things. Wish it had worked, but oh – well. Glad you met Ken and so many others, a number of them I know online. Ken of course we met in person last year. “At least as sane as you” you say? But he’s quite sane our Ken. Well, for tea people anyway.
    We had a nice hangout with @lahikmajoe @happygaiwan @lazyliteratus briefly @jopj Michael Coffey and a couple of other ladies instead. You were missed, we want to be on your “meet personally” list next year.
    Thanks for sharing your account of things,

  2. Sharing hats, now I understand it all.

    And don’t worry, we are all perfectly tea sane 😛

  3. Glad you guys had a successful hatted meet-up.

  4. Gotta love Social Media to bring tweeps together and tea tweeps no less! Thanks for sharing Robert. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. Made me quite sentimental for the Big Smoke too *GesturingWipingOfTearFromEye*