Home From The Sea

Eight Bells Tea He was getting old, and he knew it. His eyes weren't as keen as they once had been; and the sailors often had to speak a little more loudly and repeat phrases a little more often than they once had done. He knew there was talk about him, not in his presence, to be sure, but he'd been in command enough years to know what went on below decks or in secluded parts of the ship, conveniently out of earshot.

Well, England was but a day or two away, if the winds held, and this time it would be home for good. Admiral Grey knew that he would sail no more, and that he would quietly pass the rest of his days in England, tending his gardens and drinking his tea.

It had been a long career, and a fine one filled with adventure and honour. He reminisced fondly about the day his cousin, the Earl Grey, had gotten him a commission in the Royal Navy. But he had earned his way from there; everything he had become was through his own skill and his own work.

He had sailed the tropics and made landfall at many an isle. He recalled the island that was filled with exotic and flavourful fruits which his cook had blended with his brother the Earl's favourite tea. The memories were indeed colorful and expansive, and the Admiral knew he'd need many a day to write his memoirs.

His musing was broken by the sound of the ship's bells. Eight bells; four in the afternoon, the change of the watch. And for the Admiral, it was time for his tea. He made his way to his cabin--- how much more slowly he seemed to walk nowadays!--- in anticipation of cook's newest idea. Flecks of dried cream, and dried passionfruit mixed in the Earl's tea--- and cook had promised some sweet biscuits as well. Even cook seemed to know that this was the Admiral's homecoming voyage, and tried hard to serve him well.

Cook had lain an elegant table in the Admiral's cabin. Everything just so; gleaming silver and the ship's best tea china were arrayed in an attractive manner. The aroma emanating from the teapot awakened the Admiral's senses, and the biscuits looked so inviting. It's ironic, thought the Admiral, that as one ages it's the small things that can please so much. And, the tea was indeed delicious, with its slight hint of fruit complimented by just a bit of heaviness from the cream. Yes, it was certainly the Earl Grey's own tea, but this was something special. Cook's sweet biscuits were wonderful, too. I'll enjoy this often of an English afternoon, he dreamily said to himself. There are still many days and many of these little pleasures ahead of me.

(The Admiral did indeed enjoy his Eight Bells tea for many a contented year, and confided the details of the blend to his memoirs. Today, Eight Bells tea can be obtained through Tea Trader , where the proprietor, Ted Jones, has come into possession of the blend's secrets.)

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