Now this is unusual for my blog; to write about a tearoom. What I am really writing about I suppose is one of my favourite childhood books (away from my obsession with Enid Blyton anyway). Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I loved the book and still have my childhood copy given to me by my godparents; red faux leather with gold embossed lettering, published in 1975. Just getting the book off my bookshelf this evening, has made me want to read it again. I chose the black and white image rather than coloured ones, as that’s how they appear in my book.
Lewis Carroll, aka Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, is one of the famous people named on many of the lists of famous autistics. He preferred the company of children (!) and was very antisocial. He disliked dealing with more than one person at once. His time management was such that he missed meals and bedtime, in his bid to concentrate on writing. He had a curiously naïve belief that others could be converted to his way of thinking. He was extremely rigid in thinking and planning. He was an obsessive photographer. Several of his characters show potentially autistic traits apparently.
These are just some of the traits which have been linked to him. It certainly sounds as though he was on the spectrum but of course he died long before Hans Asperger or Leo Kanner had described these traits or before they were named.
Local to me is a new tearoom; aptly named Alice and the Hatter. It is a lovely big colourful place; not strictly following everything Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but there is a very large nod to the book itself. It is really an assault on the senses; perhaps if autistic and you’ve had a difficult day, it might be a little too much, or simply pick a quieter late afternoon weekday visit. This seating area is just one section; there is a massive long table with grass going all down it, either for eating at or for children to read or draw, and there are usual grown up tables and chairs. There is a literary scheme where local businesses sponsor the tearoom to buy ‘Alice’ books to encourage children to read. I believe the children can take these home with them. Food is named around characters and scenes from the book. There is ‘Disney type’ music playing. At events there is a Mad Hatter and Alice. It really is quite lovely. I am trying to encourage the owners to open an ‘Enid Blyton’ themed tearoom next. I can imagine eating the Famous Five High Tea with ginger beer and rock cakes!
If you are passing through East Kent, pop in for a visit, but it might be worth booking; at the weekend, it was jam packed. Until then, just revisit your favourite childhood book; I love to get out of the adult world from time to time. Let me know what your favourite childhood book was and what memories it stirs.
Until next time…