Around 12 hours after my Mam and I enjoyed this afternoon tea, we awoke to sunlight peering below the bottom of my bedroom blind and a tinny alarm on an iPhone ringing out 5am. We got dressed, I made a flask of tea and poured myself a tiny amount of coffee then we set off for the ice rink in time for me to pull on my skates for my 6am synchro session. Wrapped in a purple blanket from the bottom of my bed and a fresh tea from the breakfast table, my mum sat at an ungodly hour in a plastic seat in a freezing ice rink for two hours to watch me skate. It was like being a teenager again, only the rink was in Aberdeen and I wasn’t wearing american tan over-boot tights practising spirals with my sister. She could have been cosied up in bed as I skated, but she wanted to make sure I got to the rink safely after we discovered a slow puncture on my tyre the night before. She then found the first mechanic open at a silly hour on a Saturday morning to fix the problem. We were home before 9.30am and a breakfast of teas, coffees, avocado and feta toast and scrambled eggs was consumed as a fixed car sat outside my flat. And I was so thankful to have her.
I wanted to share that small glimpse into the kind of person my Mam is, because the surprise afternoon tea we shared as an early birthday present is really more of a hug, kiss and thank you for 26 years of being-a-mum wrapped in pretty macarons and baby eclairs. Like most mothers of course, she is special; so silly, so fun, so loving and supportive beyond words but with firm sentences and gentle pushes that tell me I have this, I should really try this and don’t bloody do that. As we get older we get so much closer, and nothing makes me happier when I go home to chat over a bottle of cold Fiano about nothing and everything while the tones of Joshua Kadison play in the background. Half a bottle in we’re wailing along with him, the poor soul.
Earlier this month, we met up to enjoy my mam’s Christmas present of a blow dry bar session at Aberdeen salon Linton & Mac with a glass (or four, they were very generous) of bubbles and her first manicure. I chose a pretty bouffant ponytail that was intricately sewn together with elastic rather than secured with kirbies and Mam chose a bouncy blow dry with a soft curl. We moved on to the nail bar and I chose a plummy pink toned purple and she chose a beige with an accent sparkle nail on her ring finger. When we were invited to sit in the corner on an sofa and enjoy yet another prosecco top up and wait for our nails to dry, watching my mother admire her nails with such joy was just the best feeling. I had to keep biting my tongue as I paid when staff asked what our plans for lunch were. A continuation of a day for mum, a person who adores an afternoon tea and anything pretty, cute and delicious with a glass of fizz. And so, after the surprise written in an early birthday card was revealed, we arrived at Almondine, a pretty duck egg blue patisserie to enjoy a stunning afternoon tea for two as we chatted while I snapped a few pictures.
I have loved Almondine for a few years now, having covered the story of the mother and her two daughters who started making Italian-style macarons in their kitchen, expanding to a petite but very busy patisserie on the edge of Union Street for work. Their macarons are so crisp and well flavoured and quite frankly, the best birthday breakfast you could think of (my favorites will always be lemon, salted caramel and pistachio). We were seated in the original, smaller part of the patisserie before its expansion next to a wall hanging of the Eiffel Tower. I tried to crop these pictures as best as I could so we could pretend we really were in Paris.
So with our hair done, nails did, we nibbled on soft sandwiches, scones, a baby chocolate eclair, raspberry and lemon possets, a piece of patisserie my Mam nicknamed the ‘jellyfish’ for its pink sheen and of course a fat vanilla macaron each, filled with fresh raspberries and a white chocolate creme patisserie. It was up there with the Balmoral afternoon tea we enjoyed last year, full of fresh flavours and eye-pleasing colours. We left with full bellies, another glass of prosecco down and plenty of tea and coffee to perk us up before we did a bit of shopping. Naturally we fancied just one more drink in town and headed to Bos’n, where our lovely bartender whipped up Latin twists on an Old Fashioned (me) and a Cosmopolitan (Mam). Afterwards we sunk into the sofa with a glass of prosecco to watch Gogglebox and Love, Rosie before heading to bed for that early start.
Every day, I feel ever more thankful she is my mother. She has done so much for me and my sister (wish you could have come with us too Emski), that afternoon teas and manicures and having your hair done will never be enough to show 26 years of gratitude. But a little can go a long way. Of course, we will always end up wailing along to the same old songs whether I’m 20, 30 or 40 and I love that about us. I love you very much Mammy, I had the best day with you.