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Devonshire tea

Devonshire tea

June 29th

Mackay, QLD

I am writing this in a notepad I bought in my boredom yesterday, as I am sitting in the most decadent teashop I have been in outside of the UK.

Devonshire Tea seems to be something rather popular here, although I often wonder if the Australians understand the meaning of such a delight. One in Bacchus Marsh (VIC) I delightedly pulled my hire car into a parking place outside a cafe offering just the same, hoping for a taste of England. Not knowing that ‘Devonshire Tea’ was a generic name for scones, jam and tea, I had asked excitedly where the proprietors were from, thinking I could bring up the Devon/Cornwall cream tea debate (jam the cream, or cream then jam). I was so pleased to see this taste of home – I had pangs of desire to sit on a sunny patio in a beautiful garden to enjoy what I was about to eat. Anyway – that particular ‘Devonshire Tea’ disappointed me tastewise and more so that the guy who served it had never been to England, let alone Devon, so had no idea what I was chirping on about.

This time, however, in this delicate setting, I feel quite at home and quite quite sure I won’t be disappointed. A Deja Vu Experience is the name of the tea shop/ boutique.

I am sipping Lady Grey tea out of vintage English bone china. My scones are fluffy and light ( unlike the rocks I manage to bake) and are complemented with crystal glasses of jam and cream. The cream, of course, is not clotted – I was told that that level of pasteurisation is not allowed anywhere outside of the UK!

The setting is idyllic. A shop draped in china, lace, glassware, floral crockery and lavender, rose and orchid products. I am sitting at a table with silk roses, a lace table cloth and listening to soft jazz. The other clients are also ladies, sitting here enjoying their scones and jam too. We are offered 15 different teas and 5 different types of scones, all for $11:50, which is very reasonable, considering that you might pay that in pounds at home.

Sitting in a place like this often makes me dream of the house I may one day have. Part of me would love to have a really English country garden cottage with cream floorboards, wooden furniture, white lace and flowers, and somewhere to sit and write. Who knows where I’ll go next though…

on to Mackay

On to Mackay…

28th June

Weather: sun and cloud

Temp: 20-25 C

I had to get up at 3:50am today, to get a bus at 4:10, to get a 6:am flight, 2 infact, to fly all the way to Brisbane and then back up to Mackay. Why? Mackay was the easiest place to get back to the bus from. That’s really all there is to it. There is nothing else there!

There is no public transport from Mackay, to go 6km to the city centre. The options are hiring a car or spending $20 on a taxi! Hmph.

I arrived at Gecko’s Rest hostel and went to check in. Bed wasn’t made, so I went back to reception, to leave my bags and pass the time looking for a much needed coffee.

“So what I can I do here?” I asked the receptionist who seemed just so bored of her life. “My budget’s low, so where should I go today?” Despite the array of tourist paraphernalia adorning the walls of the reception, her response was; “there’s nothing much to do here.”

Me – ever bright and positive: “Well, I’ve heard that the sun is going to come out later, so I’d like to go to the beach, how do I get there?” “There is no beach here, and no buses; you need to take a taxi” What?? If it costs me 20 bucks to get here from the bloody airport, I shudder to think what the price of a round trip to the seaside 16 km away would be!

As a last resort I asked for a map, and said I would like to have a coffee and breakfast so she got a photocopied map and reluctantly highlighted the “main” streets for me and just about managed a smile as I wished her well and sloped away. I was exhausted. I hadn’t got up that early since catching a red eye flight to Barcelona last summer, so all I wanted was to sink into a comfy chair with a large coffee and ask the Lonely Planet what to do. Could I find such a place? Don’t Australians drink coffee? Do they not need breakfast? Is it not the school holidays? Where IS everybody?!

I spent the day wandering around, in and out of a few shops. I found a charity shop, which made me happy. I found a nice place to sit down and try and sunbathe at the Bluewater Lagoon, which I enjoyed until the sun went in and an ant bit me on the bum. I browsed a few shops and finished a very long day off at the cinema, which as you’ll now know is a rare treat!