The tea party
A story by Jill Pratt about a tea party held in Lumsden
In the Spar shop we always did a McMillan tea party and we brought down a table from the house and had
it in a small part of the shop where we sold pet food or haberdashery.
And we had the tablecloth out and china cups and saucers and the whole works. Then we also had
another table in the actual shop where there were no chairs but the table just had mugs where you could
have a coffee, or cups and saucers, where you could have a coffee and plates where the whole village
baked for us and really did us proud.
Someone would come and help and they just stood in the storeroom of the shop spreading scones. And
there were cakes and biscuits and all sorts, all of it home baked and all of it brought in on the morning of
the tea party.
And the people would come in for tea. One lady came in and said “Oh, they were having a tea party at
Strathdon but they were only having plastic cups so she was coming here because we had china cups.”
Everybody enjoyed it and the people who wanted to sit down at a table to drink their coffee or tea sat for a
while and met friends that they maybe hadn’t chatted to for a while and it was a really, really nice morning.
And the ones in the shop, that was mainly patronised by the lorry drivers that were passing through and
they would come in, throw in a donation, occasionally have a drink but mostly just grab a fine piece for their
fly and throw in a donation into the box. It went very well and that was what we called the “gulp and go” was
the one in the shop and the other one was the tea party. But everyone enjoyed it and we made round about
£300 each time we did it, which considering it was donations and there was no fixed price – and people just
put in what they felt they could and they all had cakes and biscuits and sandwiches and all sorts of things.
And then at the end of the day, after we were supposed to finish at 12:00 according to the leaflets but after
everyone decided they had better go home for lunch, we then had a sales table in the middle of the shop
and before we closed it was gone. Everyone had bought all the cakes and things that were left. So it was a
very successful thing and we did it for several years running. Thanks to the help of everybody in the village
that supported it and brought in cakes and as they did if anyone in the shop had a birthday – somebody
would come in with a birthday cake, so it was a really nice atmosphere – very nice atmosphere.
But I was really pleased that it brought so many people in. The thing I liked about the shop most was when
somebody would say to somebody, “Hello – I haven’t seen you for ages” and they would stand and chat for
ages. Stand and chat for 20 minutes or half an hour, just catching up.
And I really enjoyed that part.