Taxidermy? Tea? Together? In one room? Apparently so
I'm sure most people are familiar with Taxidermy and, given the British penchant for tea, I'm sure this concept doesn't need elaborating but both, together, in one sitting seemed rather strange and, dare I say it, a little morbid? Apart from sharing some letters, I was struggling to comprehend where this idea had come from but the next few hours put aside any concerns I had that I would spend my time butchering cute animals whilst swilling copious amounts of Darjeeling. That's not to say that the afternoon wasn't short of surprises.
I've had my fair share of teas and thought that I'd sampled most of the offerings that a person could expect from this most indulgent of meals but here I was gasping away on a Victoria Sponge flavoured balloon, whilst the person next to me had a good, long drag on a Toffee Apple flavoured one, as taxidermed dog with a biscuit necklace looked on. To say that the event was surreal would be an understatement; to calm myself, I made my way for some scones and was liberally smearing them with butter before I was informed that this was infused with Earl Grey. It was too late to go back, so down my gullet it did go and the results were delicious. This was all before the taxidermy had even commenced.
As I made my way upstairs with another balloon and the remnants of my peppermint and liquorice tea, I wondered what could be in store for me, bearing in mind what I'd just experienced in the 'tea room'. The answer was a dead rabbit, Amanda (of Amanda's Autopsies) and some bizarre arrangements of stuffed mice, rats and squirrels. The next two hours gave a fascinating insight into the basics of taxidermy, its history and the niche sector of society who consider themselves taxidermists. Amanda, the taxidermist, regaled some taxidermy related anecdotes and took questions (on occasion the same questions several times, for some of the audience had moved on from their tea to rather more potent drinks) whilst skinning the dead rabbit and, after a couple of hours, there we had it, one stuffed rabbit. As I found myself smelling, stroking and posing with the rabbit, I couldn't help but wish that Taxidermy and Tea had entered into my life at a somewhat earlier point.