Before becoming a Professional Tea Lady, I was a secondary school teacher. As an aside, I heard on the radio the other day that a Mobile Sustenance Facilitator is a chip van. Surely there must be a fancier way of calling myself a Tea Lady, if for nothing else only to satisfy my poor Dad! But I digress.

I loved being a teacher, but it was tough. Before you ever got to the business of learning happening, you had to run the obstacle course of other things that needed addressing in the classroom; such as manners, and discipline, and respect for others, and active listening. Once this was all under control, teaching became a high like no other, and I loved the buzz of seeing young minds engaged in learning things they never thought they would either understand or have any interest in.

Another aside, teaching poetry to 15 year old boys isn’t always a breeze, but if life was too easy we’d be bored by it.

I often wondered as a teacher about the increasing lack of discipline and co-operation in the classroom, and where it stemmed from. My theory – totally unfounded by the way, just my own thoughts – is that our children today are being raised in households where gathering together around the kitchen table for mealtimes no longer happens. Schedules clash, technology prevails, whatever the reasons, the core point I was interested in, is that it no longer happens.

 

As the youngest of ten kids in 80s Ireland, I learnt manners, and discipline, as well as respect for elders, and indeed my conversation skills when sitting round the table every evening with my older siblings and parents. The values and morals of my family were passed on to me, and these are what make us and shape us for the future.

In yet another aside (don’t go getting lost now) a popular disciplinary action by my Dad was to threaten that the bacon and cabbage dinner you were staring at in stubborn resistance would be there for your breakfast if it wasn’t eaten there and then. I’d need to be trapped in a lift for 2 days without food before I would entertain that meal today.

So even though when I’m asked how I went from being a teacher to a mobile Afternoon Tea Lady, I have to agree it seems an extraordinary leap, but the seeds of the idea were being sown even when I was a teacher.

 

We all know the cliches ‘the best things in life are free’ and ‘money can’t buy happiness’, but the problem with cliches is that by their definition they are overused phrases, and when anything is overused we become blase about it.

But the fact of the matter is, the best things in life are your family, your friends and your health. Bring your family and friends together around a table, and sit and chat and laugh and share, and your health will be just fine.

Our socialising culture in Ireland is diversifying as we internationalise. Gone are the days when the pub was the only meeting place outside of the home. Cafe culture is steadily gaining popularity as places to gather and meet friends, and hang out.

So too in the home. People are using their homes more as places to socialise. The beauty of the home is that it is a comfortable, relaxing and familiar space where there’s no rush to end the party, unless the host is sick of you!

As companies attract more international talent and become a melting pot of cultures, they too are using their office spaces to facilitate team building and networking gatherings.

The future is bright. The table is becoming a popular place to gather round and hang out again. Maybe you’ll decorate your next table with a SocialBee Afternoon Tea party. : )