At the Copper Kettle Tea Rooms

  • Posted on: 01/04/2022

Something New To Investigate

At last spring is here. The snowdrops and crocus have given way to the daffodils. The lenten roses are standing proud, provided that is you remembered to take the leaves off in February.

Into the darkness has come light and so to the town dwellers have ventured to the countryside. Rural boltholes require checking and lists made for spring cleaning and repairs organised after the ravages of wind and rain. It is a busy time. However, as we know all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Jill very grumpy. Those curtains that need ‘a sapple through’ can wait, and moreover, there is a new tearoom. The Copper Kettle which has just opened to attract the visitors who will be coming in their hoards, won’t they? Those and such as those are checking it out.

Not THE Muriel Wylie

“There you are Madam, one white coffee, half and half with a nice fruit scone and bramble jam from our own hedgerows.”

“Thank you Mrs…..”

“Mrs Thompson, Flo Thompson.”

“New to the village I believe.”

“Yes, just after Christmas, my husband and I have been doing up the old place, more than we bargained for I am afraid.  They say the Home Guard met here during the last unpleasantness and I don’t think the walls have seen a lick of emulsion since then.”

“You will find, Mrs Thompson, that they say many things. Have you come far ?”

“We have moved from That London. Just too busy, nothing but building. All the old communities gone; anyway we wanted a new challenge. I have always longed for my own tearoom.”

“Well, you have certainly done a simply marvellous job. I couldn’t have done better myself, well I could have of course, but… My name is Muriel Wylie.”

“Not ‘Chez Nous’ Muriel Wylie in my tearoom?”


“My, goodness well, Mrs Wylie what an honour to have Scotland’s leading interior decorator in my tea shop. I do hope all meets with your approval.”

“Of course, it IS an honour for you; and yes overall it does. I like the blue and white China, so crisp and clean and so Charles Rennie MacIntosh, but might I make one little helpful suggestion? Put a thick deadening cloth under the linen tablecloth; it will cut down on the noise, giving, almost at once, an expensive and exclusive feel. Your spring flower posies on each table are a delight, although some ladies in town might find the fragrance of Daphne rather overpowering and clashing with their own Chanel No. 5 or in my case Lanvin’s Arpège. That won’t generally be much of a problem with the locals as most smell of pea and ham soup or well fired rolls. There are, however, some ladies in the vicinity who are no strangers to a Christmas gift pack of Yardley’s Lily of the Valley. Here comes one now, best bring the same again.”

A Hint of Lily of Valley in the Air

“Muriel Darling, isn’t this marvellous? A new tearoom in the village, can I join you?”

“Bunty Haystack, as I live and breathe, you have survived the winter then.”

“Too funny Muriel, yes touch and go with the old chilblains though, but I have been scribbling away.”

“So, you have writing finished another of your bestselling rural murder mysteries then?”

“Another 5!”

“Since October?”

“No since last month Muriel. I may live all winter in the country, but I don’t let the grass grow under my feet. Have you noticed, by the way, that the grass is growing? I did mention it to Young Old Jock, but he said your mower needs attention. I did suggest he tackle your gooseberry bushes, but he said, and I quote, ‘Ah ken yer weel meaning Miss Haystack, but last time I tackled Mrs Wylie’s bush wi’oot prior discussion there wis hell tae pay.’ Sometimes the rustics are exhausting. So you will need to see him yourself, but I did pay him for pruning your Rambling Rector.”

“Thank you, Bunty, I will get Jasper to put some money in an envelope and put it through your door.”

“No rush dear and that reminds me, where is Mrs Travers?”

“Oh, a long story Bunty, I will give you the gory details at suppa, but basically I have been deserted for Socialists in Midlothian.”

“Good heavens dear, but how perfectly ghastly. How are you surviving?”

“Well, we have a new woman, a Mrs Sloan, what does and a great deal, but Jasper has taken against her. Frankly, Bunty she doesn’t let him get away with the things Mrs Travers did and he resents it.  For one thing she has put him on a diet. He also says she goes through his things and is trying to poison him.  Complete nonsense of course and the house has never been more organised. She vacuums backwards like a dream. It’s like living in Buckingham Palace.”

“Well, I take it he is with you.”


“Mrs Sloan?”

“No, she is in Glasgow, she wanted to bleach the scullery tiles and Gayle is staying with a school chum over the weekend. So, it seemed the best thing to let her get on with it while I take on a village girl for a few days to start the spring cleaning here.”

“That explains it then. I heard in the Post Office that Clatty Corra had got some temporary work, good luck with that one and count the spoons. Must dash, thanks for the coffee.”

A Breath of Fresh Air at the Rural Bolthole

“Can I get you anything else Mrs Wylie?”

“Actually, Mrs Thompson, I wouldn’t mind another cup of that delicious coffee.”

“Of course, and can I tempt you to another scone.”

“So easily, but I cannot afford the calories.”

“Very good; I will just be a tick and there’s the latest Vogue, I believe the back is very fashionable this year and the overall look is defined as pretty. Daisies are big.”

“Thank you, Mrs Thompson, you are going to be a breath of fresh air in the country, I do hope they don’t crush you.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s just that country living can take it out of a person. They don’t like change and it can be very wearing on those who bring it. You have to be strong to survive the country, but I think you’ve got what it takes. Oh, dear here comes someone else, perhaps another cup.”

“Co-eee, Muriel, It Is Me”

“Muriel, darling!”

“Patience, I thought you were in the Côte d’Azur or some such wintering hole.”

“I was Darling – Nice, wonderful. Just got back last week with Patrice.”

“Who is Patrice?”

“My French teacher; he is spot on with his conjugations.”

“I thought you spoke fluent French. “

“I do Darling, but one must not rest on one’s laurels and anyway he wants me to go to Algeria with him for Easter.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea Patience, they are having a revolution.”

“Oh, he did say something about that. Never mind. Isn’t this new teashop wonderful? How is dear Jasper?”

“He’s working on a presentation for the Hysterical Society. Something about not being able to see the wood for the trees – all to do with maps and woodlands. Last I saw of him was disappearing up one of the glens with his camera. Just as well I have someone turning out the bedrooms.”

“Yes, I heard in the ironmonger’s that Clatty Cora was fully occupied, rather you than me. Where is the dear Mrs Sloan?”

“In Glasgow; Jasper said if she was coming to the Bolthole then he was going to his Club for the weekend.”

“Oh dear, Muriel this is not going very well is it? I thought you were pleased with Mrs Sloan.”

 Traumatised by Sock Suspenders?

“Don’t get me wrong, I am pleased with her work, but I have to admit she is a little odd.”

“Perhaps she is traumatised by all the goings on she witnessed at Cliveden. I mean a War Minister in his sock suspenders is enough to send anyone over the edge, Dear.”

“We are not supposed to know about that Patience.”

“But we do, don’t we; as for that osteopath and the call-girl! Well I never! It will all come out eventually.”

“You think so? Perhaps. We must hope the Handsome Stranger  works his magic. Now, I take it Patrice has more to offer than verbs?”

“Really Muriel! You are incorrigible. Anyway I didn’t come here to talk about my romantic life, I am merely an old woman clinging to the wreckage before I am finally washed out to sea. By the way did you order for me?”

“Umm, yes as usual  coffee and a freshly baked scone.”

 A New Entertainment for Lady P-F

“There you are your ladyship, I do hope you enjoy the scone, the flour is from The Pentland Firth Mill.”

“I didn’t know I had a mill.”

“Why yes; on the old drove road. Handsome young miller – top quality grinding.”

“I must investigate, check his lade is fully functioning. Now Mrs Thompson do you do outside catering because you might be very useful at my Country House Concerts, provided the margins are right of course.”

“I do indeed. Would you like some sample menus?”

“Most certainly, do you have anything that might go with layered sound and a Tierce de Picardie?”

“I think I am hearing chicken and mushroom vol-au-vents with a vinaigrette dressed bean salad.”

“We are holding the same note Mrs Thompson. Perhaps I will get the menus at the end when Mrs Wylie is paying the bill.”

Patience Has An Idea Which Is Always Worrying!

“Do you want to discuss the Country House Concerts Patience, given your new grasp of musical theory.”

“Well, I do, and you can thank Patrice for that. He’s very in touch with his musicality, but not this morning. Perhaps you could come for a working suppa on Sunday and we can talk about that. Bring Jasper, I am sure he will find Patrice fascinating. Lots to talk about and I imagine they have history in France.”

“I have heard that is the case, Patience. Some of it I helped to make.”

“Oh, do forgive me Muriel. I had quite forgotten about you, Dynamite Di, Winnie from the Wool Shop, and the Gestapo. We can’t have heard it mentioned since all of last week. No, I want to talk about the Parish Awards.”

“What Parish Awards?”

“The ones I am sponsoring.”

“First, I have heard about it.”

“Here are the winners, I have had Patrice type a list.”

“How Patience, can you have winners, before you have had nominations and anyway most of them are you or your tenants. How do you justify this?”

“It’s called owning 25,000 acres, 10 farms, a brickwork, sawmill, most of a village and now it would seem a mill. Here give me the list, I shall add a category for best scone making flour.”

“Really Patience you go too far! And look the overall winner Parish Personality of the Year – Lady Pentland-Firth. How do you know anyone will vote for you?”

“I have already sent out the pre-ticked nomination forms with the new rental agreements.”

“Well Patience you are on your own with this one. I have not seen such a blatant example of jerry-mandering since my great great grandfather went to Parliament representing two sheep, a washing line and his pet frog Freddy and that was before1832 and Freddy also had a vote for Oxford University. Mrs Thompson the bill, her Ladyship is paying.”

“Anything you say dear, but did you see who The Most Stylish and Influential Parishioner of 1962 is?”

“Oh….. well then – let’s split the bill.”


Muriel Wylie

April 1st 1962