The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters

I’m certainly not the first to acknowledge this, but Sarah Waters is a genius.  Her writing style is beautiful and her every book is compelling.  It’s a unique skill to combine classic prose with such a strong storyline.  The Little Stranger is a can’t-put-it-down-page-turner, but unlike many other page-turners, you aren’t left feeling cheated and slightly dirty afterwards because Waters’ writing is as satisfying as the tale.

The Little Stranger weaves an observation on social class into a modern-era gothic novel. It is set in rural post-war England where across the country aristocratic families’ fortunes are in decline.

Drizzle Cafe, Battlefield, Glasgow

As the double doors swing behind me: ‘Pot of English Breakfast tea?’. I nod and grin, then mumble incoherently about not looking at the lovely cakes…on a diet….. look so good but… etcetera. A smile to acknowledge my mumble.

As a creature of habit, this is one of the most comforting moments of my week. I never knew it till it happened, but how I had longed for a cafe owner to recognise me on arrival and to know my order before I do.

And this isn’t even the best part of Drizzle. A small cafe on Sinclair Drive in Glasgow, it envelopes you with its friendliness.  As you walk in, you have to acknowledge the selection of home baking and the artisan bread at eye level. You see the daily specials notice, sitting above the selection of Scottish cheese and chutney.  The menu promises home made soup and farmhouse style sandwiches.

Tregothnan Tea

Tregothnan has the fine distinction of being England’s first and only tea estate: ‘putting the English into English tea’. When you think about it, it is odd that there is only one tea estate in the UK given the coupling of tea and the British Isles. Maybe it’s something to do with empire – you wouldn’t really bother doing it at home when colonialism served it on a platter (literally) – or more probably it’s to do with the weather. Either way, this Cornish tea is a triumph.

I have a big box of Tregothnan classic tea in my cupboard.  It has a well rounded, mild flavour and vitally for me, no tannin after taste.  You can steep the tea bag for the recommended time and not feel the need to check your teeth are still there after your first sip.