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Three-hour long wrong turn as the GPS takes me to a tree instead of high-end tea

Kwanele Ndlovu Singles Lane
Three-hour long wrong turn as the GPS takes me to a tree instead of high-end tea.
Three-hour long wrong turn as the GPS takes me to a tree instead of high-end tea.

Growing up, the only experience of fancy tea I had was when the church folks came around at my grandma's. The gold-rim tea set would be dusted off the display cabinet and we would struggle balancing serving trays while trying to kneel down before the guests.

Two teabags in a teapot served a roomful as we were called back and forth to top up the water. Back then, I honestly believed that pouring your tea onto a saucer and sipping it off the saucer, cautious not to make a sound or stick your tongue out - was the epitome of sophistication.

Oh, and the teaspoon remained in the cup throughout as you will need to continuously stir as you consume more gossip and scones. The flip-side of that tea party was the dreaded daily tea routine for us kids.

That tea was made in big containers - either a two-litre plastic jug or a five-litre bucket, depending on how many kids were around - and two teabags were manna.

Between the counting of bread slices and trying to smear brick-solid margarine on them, we'd be lucky if we drank our tea hot.

Somewhere in the deep part of my conscience that thinks in English, I had always known there must be more to tea experience. I longed for the days when I get to truly understand the appeal of chai spices, that Insta-moment of garnishing my green tea with a leaf of mint and the acquired taste for camomile.

Fast-forward two decades and my life is so lit I now score invites to tea parties - the last one having been just this last Saturday. A High Tea, with high society, in high places!

Only, the way my bank account is set up . I had to omit a few items on my grocery list to afford this kinda tea. But I was not going to miss this event for anything! I had killer heels, a pretty little floral dress, a fascinator and a car nobody trusts can drive from Empangeni to the Midlands.

I set my GPS for the three-hour trip and planned to arrive an hour early. I drove in jeans and a tee, planning to change at the destination to avoid being creased along the journey. I drove alone. The car stereo retired about three years back, so I believe I love driving in silence.

It being autumn, I guess every guest had prayed for a sunny day for the sake of the event - it being a garden party and all. But whoa, did God answer that prayer in particular! First of all, my car aircon has never been installed! The sun just chose to be on the driver side the whole time.

Two hours into my sun bake, the GPS led me off the freeway, past the small town of Howick and into the wilderness. I continued to drive, because as hot as it was, I had to get me some photos holding aromatic tea and decorated fondant.

Then I hit the gravel. Only I just could not reach the destination and so I put on some music on the phone. My car would continuously let in a cloud of dust through vents between every body panel and probably through the windscreen cracks.

I was sweaty and dirty. Tired and burnt. I was angry because I was listening to Eminem. Then finally, my navigator says "Your destination is on the right," referring to a tree. I was early at the wrong venue!

When I finally got through to the correct venue on the phone, I had to drive back another hour. I was so bushed. When I got there, I wished the tea had a dash of gin and three space muffins to calm my nerves.

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