Tuesday, July 31, 2012

More aspects of being queen

Now that July is coming to an end, I hope that everyone was able to see the final two episodes of the wonderful series, Queen and Country

On Sunday, July 15, The Queen's Possessions took a look at some of the more unusual things that the queen owns.  Items belonging to the queen include the Royal Swans, the Tower of London and the Royal Collection of portraits. 

This episode begins by following a session of "swan upping," the annual census of the swans along the River Thames. The swans are rounded up, counted and marked with a ring around one leg.  The Swan Marker and his crew wear traditional red coats and the Swan Marker himself sports a jaunty swan feather in his cap.  The ceremony takes 5 days to complete and draws crowds who line the banks to watch the activity.

While we all learned recently that the Queen is a good sport, she has participated in intricate media events before.  We get to see the process which created the 3D hologram of the queen which is currently on display in the Tudor Great Hall at Mont Orguiel Castle on the island of Jersey.  The creation of the work involved taking over 10,000 images of the queen over two sessions.  The finished product is an amazingly intricate portrait of the queen.

The final episode of the series, Traveler, debuted on Sunday, July 22 and covers the many trips that the queen has embarked upon since beginning her reign 60 years ago.  The most poignant was in 1952, when then Princess Elizabeth embarked on a 36,000 mile visit to the Commonwealth.  Her parents came to see her off, and she said goodbye, not knowing it would be the last time she would see her father.  King George VI died only one week after the start of the trip, and Elizabeth was called home from
Kenya.
 
From 1954 until 1997, the Royal Yacht Britannia served as the Queen's home at sea.  It covered over 1 million miles and hosted a variety of events and guests.  Eventually, it was deemed too expensive to maintain and was sent to Edinburgh to become a tourist attraction.  Queen Elizabeth is currently the head of 16 realms and 54 countries of the Commonwealth.  I was surprised to learn that there are still countries being added to the Commonwealth, the latest being Cameroon (which joined in 1995).

During her reign, the queen has made 325 visits to 150 countries.  Her longest trip was a 5 month tour which included a stop in Australia, where she was greeted by enormous crowds. During her travels, she has visited all the Commonwealth countries (except for that new member, Cameroon!).  She has also been an occasional visitor to the United States, and addressed the United Nations on several occasions.

I was sad to see the series come to an end, but it was so fascinating to get a closer look into so many aspects of the Queen's life.  Certainly, any future rulers will have a difficult time matching her longevity on the throne and her varied and colorful experiences.  I hope she will continue to be a vibrant and beloved presence for many years to come!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Queen and Country for the purpose of this review.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tasty tea!

Living in the south, I simply cannot face summer without a nice big glass of iced tea.  I'm always on the lookout for new tea blends, so I was excited to discover the Paisley Tea Company.  The Paisley Tea Company offers a wide range of delicious tea blends which also are USDA certified organic and fair trade. 


I received two generous boxes of their tea to try, and I the first thing that struck me was the beautiful paisley pattern on both the outer boxes and the inner bag.  So pretty!  The tea bags are "English style."  Paisley Tea explains English style this way:  "because of the increased surface area of the tea in a traditional paper teabag (as opposed to tea in its whole leaf form), each cup brews up quickly with bold, strong flavor. We think of it as "everyday tea," or as our founder and CEO says, 'You don't think, you just drink it. Brew it up, add some milk and there you have it.'"  However you explain it, it makes for a delicious cup of tea!


The English Breakfast tea was the one I was most anxious to try, since I am a early-to-mid-day tea drinker.  Since the tea comes packaged in the paisley bag, it retains a lovely smell when opened.  The tea bags are attached two by two, but are easily separated!  I steeped mine for a few minutes, and the tea was a lovely dark shade of brown.  The tea is very mild and there was no unpleasant aftertaste like you get with some inferior types of tea.  This English Breakfast tea is a blend of Indian and African teas and is delicious with or without milk (I'm a sweet tea, no milk girl myself!). 

The Decaf English Breakfast tea was also a lovely rich brown color and I could taste no difference between it and its more hyper relative!

The motto of the Paisley Tea Co. is "More Than One Might Expect" and the tea certainly lives up to that:  each tea bag features 10% more blended tea, so there is more robust flavor available from each bag.  The English-style tea is grown in a way that ensures respect to the environment.  Richard Rosenfeld, the founder of the Two leaves and bud tea company, visits the farmers who grow the tea used in the Paisley Tea Co.'s products, ensuring that both the farmers and the environment are being well-treated.

Although we're in the middle of a summer heatwave, there's nothing better to help you cool down than a nice cup of tea -- I prefer mine cold, but the hot version is also effective, I'm sure! 

Disclaimer:  I received two packages of tea to try for the purpose of this review from Paisley Tea Co.