England is a wet and wretched country. It rains in sheets most of the time. The sky is of such uniform greyness that one doesn't even see clouds. Like a soggy old towel, heavy with the dirty spills of ages, it lies above cities and the land. Murk and mist suck the red from bricks and buses and the green from parks and trees. No highlights remain, no color, no light even, if the fog descends densely.
Inside, it's warm and dry, but get out the apartment and you'll be hit by woeful slaps of wetness, by pounding gales, cold with misery. Step out on the street and you'll feel despair weighing down your shoulders. You'll see people scuffle by, completely soaked after the few steps from the tube to the bus, or from the bus-stop home. Pitiless buses splash deep puddles onto the sidewalk, yet passers-by hardly notice. Even if you managed to dodge the filthy fountains from the side, there'd be no avoiding the downpour from above. The rain will never let up, pummeling you relentlessly with fat drops, every hit like a bucket of water emptied over your head.
Why would you leave the apartment in such conditions? I don't know about everyone else, but I had to get breakfast this morning. My fridge was empty, my bread eaten up to the last piece of crust, fruits had left their bowl. I was glad that the Polish grocery store was only three minutes away. That little walk was enough to drench me thoroughly, and while the sweet smile of the saleswomen cheered me up for a moment, I had the walk back ahead of me. I was doomed – and got wet.
Once breakfast was on the table with coffee steaming the windows and smelling so good, there was no reason to leave the apartment. Today was a holiday. All could have been good, except I had made plans to go to Richmond for a stroll in the park and a picnic. Since picnic invariably means a pub or coffee shop these days, the plans were not entirely incompatible with the weather. I went on my way.
Out in Richmond, in zone four of the transport grid, farther out than I have ever ventured, it didn't look quite as bad. It wasn't a day I would have picked for a walk, but area was beautiful, the views pretty, the green fresh and full of life. Everyone agreed to start out in a pub, and half called it a day after that. I hung one for a half hour by the river and across the lock. By then, the rain was just soft drizzlets stroking my face. Gore-tex kept my body warm and dry, and I could have gone on, but afternoon tea was beckoning.
After looking into this place and that and not being satisfied, or the place being full, we happened upon The Tea Box, a delightful little tea house. Their list of teas is several pages long, all is served loose and paired with homemade cakes. I had my favorite for a lazy afternoon, a cream tea, oh so lovely. So what if it rains every once in a while?