Thursday, 3 November 2016

"Stands the church clock at ten to three..."

"...and is there honey still for tea?" 
Thus enquired 
the British WW1 poet Rupert Brooke in his poem The Old Vicarage, Grantchester, so evocative of the English countryside in May.   

And what better title for a window display based around that most British of events - teatime?   I have been musing on the various names for this event. The French call it 'Le Five O'Clock', the Czechs 'Čaj o páté' which both mean that they believe we take tea in England at 5pm.   I have always thought of teatime as 4pm, and Rupert is clearly even more anxious to partake of his cup that cheers.

The idea for this window display came about when I found 3 teapots at a jumble sale, all in the shape of buildings.

This made me think of looking for some more similar pots in charity shops. My friend Lynda also joined in the hunt..... 

We ended up with seven fullsize pots (two of which did not make the cut into the final window display).

I then found a whole range of tiny ones as well and so the display was born. 

Butterfly had acquired a set of library steps - from another jumble sale - which provided the perfect display area for the big pots; a small dresser served the same purpose for the tiny ones.

It was clear, though, that this would not be enough for a full window display so what else could I find in the Small Worlds collection?

A hunt revealed a number of tiny tea sets and then all I needed to locate were suitable tables to place them on.  

Thanks to the glories of the new workspace, where everything has a labelled home, and which you read about in my last post, this was fairly easily accomplished.   

In this photo you can see the relative sizes involved - the mouse house teapot on the left is a fullsize pot and the pink and white rabbit one at the back is a child's tea service....  

The next step was to create some sort of background against which all these items could be displayed. 

Here I have reaped the benefits of a philosophy that dictates nothing should ever be disposed of, in case it might come in useful one day. When we moved into our home of forty years, way back in 1972, we found numerous interesting items in the old garage at the bottom of the garden.   Amongst these were two ancient wooden clothes horses.   My then husband said they were fit for nothing but the bonfire (he loved bonfires) but I demurred.   

And sure enough, time has proved me right.   The larger of the two is now in my bedroom in England, home to around 30 assorted string puppets, mainly Czech ones but with two or three Pelham Puppets amongst them.  

The slightly smaller clothes horse I included in the carload that went over this summer from the UK to the Czech Republic, and it turned out to be just the right thing to support the required drapery.

And what of the drapery?   Well, that's another example of the benefits of never throwing anything out.   Back in 2012 my son got married and the whole wedding was done on a fairly tight budget - you can read about it on Butterfly's blog since she was the main creator of what turned out to be a delightfully decorative day. 

The venue had horrible grey plastic chairs that absolutely had to be covered for the outdoor part of the ceremony.   We begged white net curtains from friends, trawled for more in charity shops, and the final effect was all we could have wished for....  

At the end of the day I bundled all the nets into a suitcase and though I have no recollection of taking them to the Czech Republic, I found the case in the attic of my garage there.   So all the props were ready to hand....

Joy of joys, I now have more than enough space to set up practice runs for new window displays - hugely important this time because I needed to know precisely where everything was placed since the backdrop would have to go into position last and once it was there, shifting anything would be extremely tricky.  Very usefully, the windowsills in The Stables are almost exactly the same size as the display window in Small Worlds itself. 

Not only the library ladder, complete with pots, the small tables and the dresser had to be sited, but also the Ladies who Take Tea, the little chef, and one or two other miniature teapots and services needed to be carefully placed.  

By the way - why are all milk jugs in these tea services clearly out of scale? They are all much smaller than seems correct for the corresponding teapots, not to mention the cups!

Putting the whole affair into the window was a tricky business.   I could not have managed it alone but fortunately I had visitors from Prague for my very last weekend in Bavorov.   Not only did Jana and Ondrej put up shelves and prepare one of the Christmas displays but they were crucial helpers in creating the window display.   Without Ondrej's height and long arms some very delicate rearranging could not have taken place.   It was he too who lifted the backdrop into place once Jana and I had fiddled around for ages. 

This activity of course also involves much running in and out by one of us to view the whole thing from the street, and a lot of shouting through the window to "move it to the right, no not that one, the other red one, right I said, not left...."   This becomes particularly fraught once the backdrop is in place.....

I leave you with a glimpse of the two that did not make it into the window but did get a place on the shelves in Small Worlds, and a picture through the window of the final display.

And finally - a tale that I feel must have some sort of moral to it.  

On my very last day, just as I was leaving the Czech Republic for several months, I stopped by Small Worlds for something. As I left, I noticed that the sign perched on the dresser, "Stands the church clock...." had fallen to the floor.   I decided to leave it - getting into the museum involves unlocking three sets of doors and in any case I could see no way of reaching it without knocking things over.   I climbed into the car, turned on the engine, switched it off again, unlocked all the doors, attempted to reach the sign, could not do so, locked up again, stared at it through the window, decided I really could not leave for the UK with it like that, unlocked three sets of doors, tried again to reach it, failed, locked up, got in the car, got out again, and went through the whole process for what, thank goodness proved to be the last time. By dint of much twisting and turning I managed to get the sign off the floor without dislodging anything - which would have been a total disaster - into place on top of the dresser, and finally locked up for the last time and left Small Worlds to look after itself for the winter.

My grateful thanks to Jana and Ondrej from Prague for their, as always, sterling assistance, and to Jana from Bavorov and Veronika, who open up during the Farmers Markets when I am not there in person.

The blog will be back soon, on Advent Sunday, with the first of four seasonal posts....

Thank you for reading and I hope to see you then.


  1. it is always a delight to wake to a post from you, and this is no different. I love the new window display.

  2. How wonderful all of this looks and so amazing. Teapots and cosies are making a come back so this is bang up to date.

    Love Chrissie xx

  3. (Hmmm. My comment seems to have been eaten. I'll try again.)

    Teeny tiny teapots!

    Lovely. Milk no sugar, thank you.

  4. A fascinating post! Mother had the creamer and sugar bowl/pot that went with the yellow, thatched cottage tea pot it had been bought by one of pupilsat her ballet school asa wedding gift in the 1950. One wonderful Christmas I received a dolls teaset sized teapot, creamer and sugar pot to match it and still have them - or rather my old bear still has them - just incase Winnie The Pooh drops by for tea.
    Your window display is beautiful. Is tea popular amongst Czech people, or do they prefer coffee?

    1. How lovely that you recognise the teapot - and have a miniature set for your bear :-)

      Coffee is probably more popular in the C.R. but tea is often offered. One then has to be careful to specify that one would like "černy čaj" (black tea) or one is likely to be faced with a cup of fruit/herbal tea of some kind....

  5. Well, I'm not much of a one for tea-drinking, as you know, but I could probably manage the amount in one of the miniature tea cups. Glad to see the net curtains are still coming in handy.

  6. Loved this post Sugar - I hope you don't mind me calling you Sugar, it's a Southern term of endearment I guess. I am now into tea cups and saucers and am attempting to make miniature scenes to go into the tea cups.
    I sure wish I could visit your museum. Such a delight to see I am sure.
    Sandy xx