Elaine’s Cuppa Cake

Elaine’s already gotta place to land when she gets to Scotland!

Our favourite Tottenham Riviera blogger elaine4queen has been threatening to move to Scotland, so I happened upon the perfect place for her. Her own café. Where we can all go and be sweary and inappropriate. As we are wont to do.

This isn’t easy – all this blogging. To be honest, I’ve never been a daily blogger. Well, there was a time I wrote a post everyday on my teablog, and that was enjoyable. Was even travelling a lot at the time, and wrote about tea drinking in Vienna and Hamburg and whatnot. I’m not against daily blogging in theory, but it’s really difficult to be out there living and documenting it simultaneously.

Lately, when faced with the choice, I’ve gone with the ‘focus on the life swirling round you‘ approach, and have taken sporadic notes along the way. At some point, I’ll get round to actually making those into blogposts.

There’s a great place where we stayed right outside of Durham, and I’d like to finally write a bit about the Lambton Hounds Inn, which is in the curiously named neighbourhood of ‘Pity Me‘. I mentioned in my last blogpost, and I assure you I’ve not forgotten it.

And then Fafa, which is my mother’s childhood nickname, and I went on to Lindisfarne in Northumbria. That’s worthy of at least three blogposts right there. One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. And if you know me even a little, you know I’ve been a lot of places.

Here’s a taste of what’s ahead:

Everybody goin’ to the castle on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne…

Then we went to another castle that someone told us was involved in the filming of all of that Harry Potter nonsense, but when we got there, they were having a wedding and the place was closed off to visitors.

Turns out Bamburgh Castle has no connection whatsoever to the filming of those books that I’ve not yet read, but I suppose I will at some point. *sigh*

Mother claiming Bamburgh Castle for her own!

So, that’s a taste of what’s to come…aren’t you excited? Here’s your not-quite-humble-enough blogger at the same castle:

One of the few times you’ll see ol’ Lahikmajoe in less than formal attire.

quirky cafés and tea shops in London?

going to be drinking a lot of tea in London

Need your help. Please. Pretty please.

Tried this on my Teablog, and only got one tip. I’m in London this weekend, which means there’ll be tea drinking and idling in an entirely new country. Exciting, right?

But as much as I know of the city, there are always places one’s never heard of.

I’m staying near Tottenham Hale, and I need a fantastic, quirky place for a late breakfast on the first morning. Any ideas?

Then, I’m with my friend Nigel in Soho on Friday afternoon, and he’ll take care of where we’re going. At some point we’ll be  darkening the doors of The Idler Academy of Philosophy, Husbandry and Merriment, which I’ll most definitely be blogging about.

But otherwise I’m on the lookout for tea shops and cafés. It could mean the place gets a bit of publicity and then eventually travellers making a pilgrimage there.

Sounds like something no hip café would even want. A load of unwashed tourists with their greasy hands touching everything.

Come on, loyal readers. Where should I go?

‘Help me Obi Wan Kanobi you’re my only hope’


wait and drink tea

waiting and drinking tea

I have a friend who definitely believes in the Pareto principle and quotes it at every opportunity. The basic idea is that about 80% of the result comes from 20% of the work (and the converse: you do 80% of the work and get only 20% of the benefit). Business people talk about this concept often. It’s regularly used to talk about where you’re putting your effort and how you can better optimise your success.

There’s a lot I could talk about regarding this, but I’d like to focus on the way people work together. How groups function, and what sorts of people make up successful ones. But first, why? Where did this topic come from?

I got to thinking about the German idiomAbwarten und Tee trinken‘, which has always made me smile. I like it partly because it includes something I love (tea drinking), but also because it’s a decent option of what to do when you’re just not sure about the next step.

Literally it means ‘wait and drink tea‘. Yet as with most idioms, the literal definition is only part of the story. Wait and drink tea is used specifically when adding pressure to negotiations won’t help. When the best thing to do is to do nothing at all. So, you have to wait…and while waiting, why not brew some tea? It’ll at least make the wait a bit more pleasant.

One of the translations I saw while searching for examples of ‘Abwarten und Tee trinken‘ was wait and wonder. If you know anything about me, you know I love that sort of thing. Sitting and pondering things. At length. Sometimes to my detriment.

Then I went a bit farther down the search list and what did I find? An article from 2005 in Der Spiegel called Warum wir abwarten und Tee trinken (Why we wait and drink tea). And here’s where we get to the workings of a group.

The article talks about a study done by evolutionary psychologist Robert Kurzban in which he divides groups into three types of people. There are the helpers (active, selfless volunteers) and the freeloaders (those that don’t do anything). If you’ve tried to plan or accomplish anything in a group, you know about those. But then he mentions a third group, and those are the ones who wait.

They’ve seen Pareto principle in action, and they’ve already come to the conclusion that a very small number of the group is actually going to do anything. Having seen the freeloaders get by with little if any work on earlier projects, the ones who wait take a bit of a fatalistic stance and then they watch carefully what happens next. It’s what they do.

I had a look at the website of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, where the original study was published. Alas, I found a lot of other materials there about the work of Robert Kurzban, but not this specific study. Here I am translating a German article that’s citing the original…I wonder how close my reading of it is to the source material.

Back to the subgroups

According to the people studied, 17% of people belong to the helpers and a full 20% to the freeloaders. The largest group by far is the ones who wait whose numbers come in at a whopping 63%.

The claim that’s made is that one can predict how reliable a group is based upon the numbers in each subgroup. The ratio of the useful to useless is important, but what’s also crucial is how many people are willing to work if they see that their effort will have any appreciable meaning.

How does one accomplish that? The answer offered is that everyone be informed about each individual contribution. That there’s a sort of positive accountability, in which the ones who actually did the work are praised accordingly. Once the ones who wait see that there exists such accountability, they’ll be much more willing to take part and contribute.

Until then, they’ll be happily drinking their tea.

Shameless plug: here’s my teablog post on the same topic Abwarten un Tee trinken.