Category Archives: Southend

Loughton Tea Party

Ivan, Lil Dave and I said good-bye to Charisse and Noelle on July 15, 2012.  We left the apartment at 9:30 am for the bus headed to the airport. 

Our plane left at 10:55 am.  Ivan and I slept on the plane.  We arrived at 1:55 am in Stansted airport in Essex, England.  Immigration went by pretty fast for once…I guess they recognized my face seeing as I have entered England (not an euphemism) many times….not or the fact that I said I was married to a Brit.

We got our luggage and then went outside to meet up with Ivan’s parents and his brother Neal.

We started driving to Sopwell House in Hertfordshire.  Today was the celebration of Ivan’s great aunt Aunty Nancy’s 100th birthday.  She was having a tea party being put together by her nephews and nieces.  It took us an hour to arrive.

We arrived there and the place was very posh…way too posh for my backpacker-fashion outfit I was wearing, so I changed my shirt into something a bit more ‘tea-party-ish’.

The grounds were very pretty with greenery, a red bridge and a pond filled with huge Koi fish.


I met Ivan’s family which were his second cousins, their kids and grandkids.  Some were very Jewish looking since Ivan is Jewish.  I’ll leave it up to your readers to decided what I mean by ‘very Jewish looking’.

I met Aunty Nancy for the first time.  She’s 100 years old and she’s totally there – she has an amazing memory.  She remembered how Ivan wore old time clothes at school when he was a young boy. She was most unlike other 100 year olds I have met.

Ivan and I checked out the cool birthday card from The Queen herself. 


She even signed it!!  They could have picked a better picture of the Queen though – she looks like she’s been there all day trying to take the picture and she just wants to get it done with ASAP.  You only get a birthday card from The Queen when you reach 100 years old.

David, Ivan’s second cousin, talked to the group about what Aunty Nancy said about her life.  Aunty Nancy worked in a sewing shop and later worked in a jewelry shop.  She retired at 71, but continued working as a volunteer at a Jewish charity shop until age 96.  Next, David sang a song that he wrote which was quite cute. 

The tables were each given a few tiers of cakes and scones and pots of tea.  Sheree sang a few musical songs like Memory from Cats and a song from Les Miserables.  She had a lovely voice.  There was a request for more songs, but she didn’t have the music for them…I guess they weren’t paying her enough money, or giving her enough tea, or whatever it takes to get her to sing. (Maybe the scones – but I don’t think the issue was with them, as there were tons to go around, and she could easily have had her fair share plus more if she had wanted to.)

We talked with Ivan’s family about the wedding and our honeymoon.  Sheree sang two more musical songs that Aunty Nancy likes. (This time she had the music and/or the tea/scone consumption was just about right).

The cake came later on which was a cool customized cake showing all the things Aunty Nancy’s loved like a hat, cheese and sewing. 

Aunty Nancy made her first speech.  Ivan’s second cousin Peter made a speech which everybody stood up and toasted us for our wedding.  That was very sweet of him, but also a little bit embarrassing.


Ivan and I talked to Aunty Nancy again.  I can’t believe how active she is.  Ivan interviewed her to get the 10 secrets to a long life.  Check out the list here. 


I better start doing some of these!

We said good-bye to everybody.  A lot of people were leaving before 6 pm.  We left at 6:20 pm.

Ken drove us to Loughton where Ivan grew up.  He hasn’t been here in 5 years.  We drove around and saw his primary school, Epping Forest and his old house.

Denise and Ken thought we should try a pizza place for dinner.  It’s called Tuscany which serves Italian and Japanese food.  I had a miso soup and a penne arriabata with tiger prawns (the prawns were super tiny!).  It was pretty plain.  Ivan got some sushi and a noodle soup, which he reported was also very plain. 

Neal decided to take the train back to Stratford.  Ivan, Ken, Denise and I headed to Ivan’s parents house in Southend-on-Sea. Once we got there we just chatted to Ivan’s parents, used the internet and then went to sleep.

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