Saturday, June 16th, 2018
I’m always relieved when people ask for coffee as their breakfast drink. If they ask for tea, I cheerfully ask “English Breakfast or Earl Grey?”. But what I’m inwardly thinking is: “Another tablecloth to wash tomorrow, then.” Teapots inevitably create stains like this one, and having to launder and iron a large tablecloth (108 cm x 70 cm) because of just one stain seems so wasteful. In this case, it was two large tablecloths because there were a lot of guests, and there was a similar stain on the companion cloth. The huge breakfast table is covered with two identical overlapping cloths rather than a single one, partly to facilitate ironing and partly because it’s rare that the whole extent of the table is used, so one side may remain pristine while the other side gets soiled. Guests are usually very careful to avoid spilling jam, egg yolk or tomato ketchup on the cloth. But unfortunately, my teapots-for-one are hopeless at pouring. No matter how careful one is, the spout generates drips that crawl down the underside of the spout and surround the base of the pot to produce unsightly rings. It’s definitely not the guests’ fault because this happens every day unless everyone is a coffee drinker. There is something about the design of most teapots’ spouts that makes them conducive to dripping. It’s odd, because I don’t have that trouble with the coffee jug, which also has a spout, albeit short and wide and more akin to a pouring lip. It behaves impeccably, so why can’t teapot manufacturers redesign their pots accordingly? Today I tried putting the pots on small white side plates to see if that helped. It stopped the rings but it did nothing to stop the dripping spout, so there are still small patches of tea stains dotted around. Saturating the stains with stain removers like Vanish alters the colour of the stain but doesn’t make it disappear. The only remedy is a hot wash immediately after the breakfast table has been cleared. When all my guests are coffee drinkers I can keep a cloth going for several days if I’m lucky.