Scones, jam and cream are my favourite daydream


Scones with the wind, not scones which are heavy like stones, is how we must refer to our favourite item on the High Tea list.

Some people are particular about the way words are pronounced. We are tutored by English school masters online in how to say culinary words.

One such word is scone. That is to say, the word ‘scone’ rhymes with ‘gone’ as in “Gone with the Wind”.

We were tutored online, by a Prof. Henry Higgins type, that the word is not pronounced as ‘scone’ to rhyme with the word ‘stone’…  The correct pronunciation is scone/gone.

The humble bakery item known as the scone is a staple of every delicious Devonshire tea, cream tea and High tea.  In the interest of high-performing culinary arts, to impress your family, your partner, or your team members, learn how to make the best scones you can.

If someone likes sultana scones (as I do) then buy the best sultanas you can find to make your scones absolutely perfect. Source sultanas which have labels saying the contents are not laden with chemicals.

Fresh sultanas make the best sultana scones. If you haven’t seen one or tried one before, check your local boulangerie to see if they have some in stock.

Which scone recipe is the best?

In terms of the best recipe for scones, various recipe books and online gourmet sites have been consulted. Many recipes were sourced in hard-copy format and on-line, poured over, dreamt about and re-read with enthusiasm.

However, the winner of the Best Scone Recipe today is clear. It is an English recipe. It is Fortnum and Mason’s scone recipe.

This recipe makes 15 scones. It is plucked from the Fortnum and Mason Cook Book.* To comply with law, the recipe is listed here with full acknowledgement for intellectual property reasons.

The set of measurements have been provided for the Fortnum’s recipe in Metric/American. In this recipe, the ‘OO’ flour type is the thinnest flour and the gold standard for cooks. Some ‘OO” packets are available as self-raising gluten-free.

Either way, freeze this flour when not in use so that it stays fresh and of best quality. It is an important kitchen ingredient for many recipes.


400g ‘OO’ type flour
20g baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
115g unsalted butter, diced
80g caster sugar
175ml whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten, to glaze
Icing sugar, for dusting
(optional 50g sultanas)

Cooking utensils

Large kitchen bib or apron
One-two baking trays
Kitchen butter brush
Cling wrap
Flour sifter
Rolling pin
Wooden board
5.5cm round cutter
Small saucepan
Large mixing bowl.
One-two wire racks
Food covers

The recipe

1. Wear an apron. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

2. Stir in the sugar, and if you are making sultana scones, add the fruit. Add the milk and mix to give a soft dough. Do not over-mix the mixture or else the scones will be heavy. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to about 1.5cm thick. Use a rolling pin if necessary. Cut out the scone rounds with a 5.5cm cutter. Reroll the trimmings (left overs) where necessary to make one or two other scones.

4. Brush with the beaten egg and leave to rest for another 30 minutes.

5. Place in an oven heated to 180 C/Gas Mark 4. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until well risen and golden brown. Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool.

N.B. Place food covers over the racks to prevent early ‘theft’ and/or burns in the kitchen. Some people think that an ‘early scone’ won’t be missed. That is, 15 scones – 1 scone =14 scones. 

Others have asbestos hands and/or mouths. They liberate a scone and don’t care that the scone is too hot to eat. In two ways, it is a hot scone. Milk will quickly subdue a burnt tongue or mouth.

To serve the scones

Most recipes suggest dusting the scones with icing sugar before serving. This is appropriate if the scones are moist and full of fruit such as sultanas or currants.

Or, if they are savoury scones, such as cheese or bacon scones, serve them with chutney or mustard and slices of gherkin or pickled onions on the side plate.

Some cooks like to serve the sweet scones with whipped or clotted cream. As a health warning, please be aware that this type of dairy product is packed with kilojules/calories.

In addition, if your team members are lactose intolerant, the dairy cream can be hard to digest. Everyone is different, as some people cannot digest scones without several tablespoons of double-whip cream.

Others prefer to use a jam or fruit preserve to moisten the scones. For my money, there’s nothing like raspberry jam atop sultana scones to show that an afternoon’s hill climb is worth rewarding.

In other words, please enjoy!


* See The Cook Book: Fortnum and Mason, (retrieved 16 August 2021). It is about $70 AUD and published by Harper Collins. It was written by Tom Parker-Bowles and David Loftus in 2016.

See my blogs on ‘Christmas in July at the Australian Parliament House’ July 2021; and ‘High Teas with the birds and the bees’ June 2021.

Text copyright: Fiona Rothchilds 2021; Fortnum and Mason’s website and Fortnum’s Cook Book.
Photographic image copyright: Department of Parliamentary Services, Australian Parliament House, 2021.
Uploaded 22 August 2021.

Key words:  scones, sultana scones, cheese scones, baking, dessert, scone, sweet things, puddings, tea-time, boulangerie, fruit preserves, High Teas, cream teas, Devonshire teas, Department of Parliamentary Services, Australian Parliament House.

Neighbors are with us all in good times and bad


Neighbors will come and go in some neighborhoods. Other neighbors, stay and live to a ripe old age.

Or after years of turning their garden over, they sell their home to turn it into a cash crop.

Some neighbors talk about their plans and leave notes in neighbors’ mail boxes to advise them of future property developments nearby. Some neighbors are ‘neighborly’ and others … are not.

In phoning my immediate neighbors recently, I inadvertently interrupted their computer time. Oops. Mea Culpa. I apologized … and they cut short their conversation to return to the computer … uh oh.

It is never a good time to phone anyone during the lockdown period who uses their computer line as their phone line. It makes their life difficult. Now we know … that was a lesson learned.


Occasionally, some people cannot tear themselves away from the computer screen … It’s called in some parts of the world by the term”screen-sucking”. It literally means being stuck to the scroon (computer screen or television screen).

It’s important to remember: some neighbors don’t like being interrupted on their landline phone number.

But, I’ll bet that, in the long run, the occasional interruption is a good thing.

Sometimes, we have to telephone. We hope the receiver of the phone call will try to understand the reason why we made an effort to be in touch by telephone.

I’d recently chatted with my neighbor at our adjoining mail boxes during the week, for about 10 seconds, on ‘neighbourhood issues’. Given COVID restrictions, we kept our talk of neighborly matters brief.

I later found out that it was not shared with me that a near neighbor’s house was about to be pulled down. I learnt through the experience of ‘walking around the block’ that the fencing around that other neighbor’s house and the tiles off that roof of theirs did not mean a replacement roof and new garden.

Conversations by telephone

So, my phone call had a purpose. Phoning was a useful exercise in that I checked to make sure that my neighbors did know that the house next door to their back garden was to become a ‘tear-down’.  In these pandemic times, not every neighbor is leaving their home to walk to the local park.

Local media extoll the public-spirited virtues of being in touch with our neighbors and friends for social ecological reasons. Having tried that several times in the past few months, I think the results of my efforts are probably too early to tell.

At work, we spend time online and meeting others virtually via webinars. It’s as if we have universally decided that online communication exists permanently in our work life.  We are used to assisting with projects and discussing the whys and wherefores of technical or strategic matters by verbal communication online.

Every neighbor is different

My neighbors, who live either side, might not live the same life as my household.

That is to say, they might not be aware of why it is important to be socially-minded during a pandemic … and communicative. If they are aware, maybe they have difficulties in sharing?

It’s not just me who’s thinking this. I’m reminded of this situation by an article in The Canberra Times entitled ‘How you can help friends and neighbours stuck in isolation’.*

It is important to stay updated and aware of changes in lockdown measures. The following live links might help:

Department of Health
Department of Home Affairs
COVID-19 Resources
Smartraveller Travel Advice
Information for International Travellers.

The information which the organizations provide via these links might happily help to ease your life through this temporary pandemic situation. Have a good day.

* For further information, see 17 August 2021 article by Amy Martin of The Canberra Times.

Text copyright Fiona Rothchilds 2021.
Text uploaded 20 August 2021.
Photographic image copyrighted by Fiona Rothchilds 2021.

Tags: neighbour, neighbourhood, neighbourly, lockdown, COVID, pandemic, conversation, health, The Canberra Times, neighbors, neighborhood, neighborly.

Chocolate lemon tart for Winter dessert delights


Chocolate poured over cooked lemon filling and topped with whipped cream will make a sweet dessert any time of the year.

It is true that chocolates and fruits fresh from the orchard make a rare and delicious treat during the winter. My immediate neighbourhood is full of lemon trees in fruit. 

‘Tis the time to start baking and make the most of the fruit freely available.

I’d like to thank my neighbour for her generous gift of two baskets of sweet tasting lemons the other week. She does not know what a frenzy of baking and fruit peeling she has begun.

This chocolate lemon tart is for a special occasion. To thank my neighbour properly, I’ve returned to my favourite book on chocolate and found a delicious dessert recipe which serves 8-10 people.

The recipe, Chocolate Lemon Tart, is on page 151 in the Chocolate Tarts, Pies and Cheesecake section of the book on chocolate.*

Cooking utensils

25cm/10 in flan tin
Kitchen butter brush
Flour sifter
Small saucepan
One baking sheet
Large mixing bowl.
One wire rack

The set of equivalent measurements have been provided in the recipe in the following order: Metric/Imperial/American.


175g/6oz/1.5 cups plain flour
10ml/2 tsp cocoa powder
25g/1oz/.25 cup icing sugar
2.5ml/.5 tsp salt
115g/4oz/.5 cup unsalted butter or margarine
15ml/1 tsp water.

For the filling

225g/8oz/1 cup caster sugar
6 eggs
175ml/6fl oz/.75 cup fresh lemon juice
175ml/6fl oz/.75 cup double or whipping cream
chocolate curls for decorating.

Cooking instructions

  1. Grease a flan tin. Sift the flour, cocoa, icing sugar and salt into a bowl. Set aside. Melt the butter or margarine and water in a saucepan over a low heat. Pour over the flour mixture and stir until the flour has absorbed all the liquid and the dough is smooth.
  2. Press the dough evenly over the base and side of the prepared tin. Chill the pastry case.
  3. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5 and place a baking sheet inside to heat up. Prepare the filling. Whisk the sugar and eggs in a bowl until the sugar is dissolved. Add the lemon rind and juice and mix well. Stir in the cream. Taste and add more sugar or lemon juice as required for a sweet taste with a touch of tartness.
  4. Pour the filling into the tart shell and place the tin on the hot baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the filling is set. Cool on a rack, then decorate with chocolate curls and whipped cream. Some shards of lemon zest might look appealing too!


*From ‘Chocolate: the ultimate reference and recipe book for all chocolate lovers’, Christine McFadden & Christine France, 1999, Sebastian Kelly, Oxford, UK, p. 151. ISBN 1-84081-104-8.

* See my blogs on ‘Christmas in July at the Australian Parliament House’ posted July 2021; ‘High Teas with the birds and the bees’ posted June 2021; ‘ANZAC Biscuit baking supports Commonwealth values’ posted April 2021; and ‘French Chocolate Cake for Valentine’s Day’ posted February 2021.

Text copyright: Fiona Rothchilds 2021 and as cited above.
Photographic image copyright: Fiona Rothchilds 2021.
Uploaded 16 August 2021.

Key words:  chocolate, chocolate lemon, Christine McFadden, Christine France, neighbour Helen, pies and cheesecakes, chocolate lovers, chocolate tarts, baking, dessert, sweet things, puddings.

Christmas in July at the Australian Parliament House.


A Christmas in July luncheon is now served at the Queen’s Terrace Café at Australian Parliament House in Canberra.

We visited the Queen’s Terrace Café today to enjoy a late afternoon tea.* The Premium teas were prepared and served in earthenware tea pots with other home wares by a most hospitable Café attendant called Joseph.

Accompanying the tea was a slice of Whole Devils Food (Chocolate) cake, prepared by the Parliament House bakery. It was eaten in a flash! This is the best chocolate cake this diner has ever tasted.

For the price of $8.70 for tea and cake, this is surely the best afternoon tea served in a five-star location in Canberra at the moment.

The Christmas in July luncheon

Our food and beverage attendant said the Christmas in July lunches served on 15 and 16 July were well received by visitors and diners. The bakery and kitchens in the basement area of Federal Parliament create delicious meals for diners to enjoy their mid-year celebratory luncheon.

The Christmas lunch will be served again this Thursday 22 and Friday 23 July from 11.30 am. Wearing festive attire is optional though, as Parliament House is a grand building, corporate dressing is recommended for the luncheon.

The two-course meal is $45. Three courses are priced at $50 and the five-course Christmas Degustation will cost $60 per head.

The Christmas in July menu

Entrée Menu

Game Farm spatchcock, poached mandarin, Warrigal green tahini honey verde (lg), or
Pumpkin tortellini, red cabbage vinaigrette, Happy Wombat hazelnut, cultured butter (v), or
Murray cod croquette, bouillabaisse broth, rosella sauce rouille, aromatic herb.

Main Menu

Turkey stroganoff local mushroom pot pie, roast gourmet potatoes, cranberry compote, or
Long and slow lamb shin, Parisian gnocchetti, Yorkshire pudding, wattle-seed bearnaise, or
Confit pumpkin steak & velouté, winter vegetable medley, Holy goat’s cheese, saltbush (lg, v)

Dessert Menu

Grand Marnier sunrise lime souffle, burnt vanilla ice cream (lg, v), or
Spiced Australian chocolate molten, Davidson plum raspberry sorbet (v), or
Neapolitan ice cream cake, chocolate biscuit, muntries malto (lg, v).

Five course Christmas Degustation Menu

Pumpkin tortellini, red cabbage vinaigrette, happy wombat hazelnut, cultured butter (v), or
Murray cod croquette, bouillabaisse broth, rosella sauce rouille, aromatic herb, or
Turkey stroganoff local mushroom pot pie, roast Gourmet potatoes, cranberry compote, or
Spiced Australian chocolate molten, Davidson plum raspberry sorbet (v), or
Petit four – Eggnog brulee (lg, v), chocolate Rosella Rocky Road (lg, v), gingerbread people (!?).

LG = low GI; V = vegan.

Kindly note, though, that this menu price is for food-only. That is to say, the Christmas in July menu price does not include drinks or beverages, A separate arrangement needs to be negotiated for refreshments.

Catering contact points

To book and enjoy a mid-year Christmas meal, email or telephone 02-6277 5239. Or via the APH’s website:

Any feedback on catering matters could be emailed to the Café management at:

Building security protocol

Suggestion: allow 20 minutes to travel from the underground car-park to the Security main entrance of Parliament via the stairs or the lift.

Traversing the Protective Services’ instructions about conditions of entry into the building takes no more than 45 seconds of silence. Nodding in agreeance to indicate that you won’t transgress another person’s 1.5 metre spacing requirement is an acceptable response.

This minute of silence is a small price to pay to, once again, be within the confines of Australia’s most architecturally beautiful building,

Once in the Marble Foyer, turn left and take the lift or the grand staircase to arrive in the Queen’s Terrace Café.

Queen’s Terrace Café

Within the Queen’s Terrace Café, the Christmas tree with tinsel are in position waiting for you (see photo above). Let’s celebrate another festive event within Australian Parliament House!

The views from the front window tables of Old Parliament House and the War Memorial are stunning. By arriving by 11.30am we are assured of gaining a great table view before the lunch-time crowd arrives.

This is a great occasion to celebrate fine food prepared by highly-skilled food and beverage teams. The chefs and bakers work within Australian Parliament House so the food quality is fresh on a daily basis.

The quality of the afternoon tea enjoyed today is an indication that the Christmas in July luncheon is sure to please most palates.

Bon Natalie and Bon appetite!


* See my blogs on ‘High Teas with the birds and the bees’ posted 1 June 2021; ‘ANZAC Biscuit baking supports Commonwealth values’ posted 20 April 2021; and ‘French Chocolate Cake for Valentine’s Day’ posted 13 February 2021.

The Queen’s Terrace Café email is:

Text copyright: Fiona Rothchilds 2021 and Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS), Australia, 2021.
Photograph credit: DPS and Australian Parliament House.
Text uploaded: 19 July 2021.

Happy Birthday to you and your family


Happy Birthday if it’s your birthday this week!

If you’ve turned 100, 75, 50, 25 or five this week or last week (or will next week) … Happy Birthday!

Not to be exclusive, if you have a birthday year that fits within anyone of those dates in this week of July, then Happy Birthday to you too …

Why is this important?

A birthday is a special day for someone. It is a day to be recognized and honoured.

Everyone deserves a Happy Birthday song sung to them on their birthday.

If it’s your birthday, then let everyone know.

Sing a song, ‘the Happy Birthday song’, or other beautiful songs … to celebrate your birthday and your mother’s gift of life to you.

A birthday is a time to recognize that other people live on the planet and have birthdays, just like you do.

If someone does not acknowledge it or celebrate your birthday, then they might miss out on something special.

As an action point

For the self-absorbed promoters (narcissists) in the community, this is the time to put your device down. Then look around. What do you see? Do you see other people on the planet, walking around and driving around near you?

It’s time to positive mirror for good fortune …

If you want other people to recognize and celebrate you and your achievements– then get used to ‘positive mirroring’.

Positive mirroring is doing what you want for yourself – but for others. It’s an active participation in bringing good into your community.

Actively role modelling what you want to happen to you is a more productive way to bring happiness into your life. It’s a more effective way of showing the world how you’d like it to be for yourself and for others.

(As some radio jocks say, “Work with me here …”)

That is to say, what you give out comes back to you. It’s also known as karmic resonance.

If you want something special to happen to you, then become active! Make the same special thing happen for someone else that you want to happen in your own life.

Who’s turned another year older this week?

I know one guy, now living in Florida, USA who turns 75 this July. Here is my big opportunity to wish a Happy Birthday to him!

I’ve known him a long time and always as a filial associate.

I first met him in London, UK, a few decades ago in an art gallery. I mistook him for a Hollywood movie star and thought I had walked into a film set.

I was a little star-struck. He was standing there looking every bit like an All-American rodeo cowboy champion.

He said he thought I must be in television or on radio because my voice was ‘cultivated’. Then he asked which channel should he ‘tune into’ so he could tell his friends that he’d met me in London, England.

I did quickly pinch myself. I did look like a book-worm in those days so wondered why someone would say such things to me. (I did not have the confidence I have now).

His wife spoke and said that they were travelling on vacation with their young daughters from the USA. They were visiting the UK with his parents.

His father was busy at work representing a business matter and had meetings to attend in London.

It later transpired that the ‘birthday guy’ went on to take over his father’s role in the family business. He was also a success in the family’s world of work.

Turning point

It was important for me to know this family during my time working in London. Their view of the world gave me a broader perspective.

In talking with them, and hearing about the American way of life, I was able to gain a different perspective on my life in Australia.

I also gained a new view of my relationship with my English family and my working relationships with people in the UK.

It was an important meeting for my personal and professional development. I feel lucky to have met him and his family.

Fast forward

I met his family again in London three years later when on a work assignment. Our paths crossed at the Tower of London as tourists. He and his family were on vacation from the USA again and I was touring the museum for a work matter.

We stood and talked and laughed together.  We remembered meeting the last time and laughed that we’d met again. We laughed at our luck. It was another serendipitous meeting.

Ten years later, in Washington, D.C., his family was deeply engrossed in business matters. I visited that beautiful city for work reasons. Good fortune came my way and, happily, I met his family again. One year later, we met again in Washington, this time for mutual work matters.

Inspiring people

Meeting the ‘birthday guy’ in the art gallery and talking with his family inspired me to take a second look at what I want from life. And what I want to give to life.

Meeting his family encouraged me to take a different course of professional development. That decision has made all the difference to my career.

Sometimes a seemingly innocuous meeting can shape the way a person sees the world – and all for the better.

That American guy, who has a birthday this week, took the time to talk a bit about his life and his business attitude. He already owned one sporting club at such a young age. I was impressed enough to listen.

His business story showed me a view of life that was not readily available from the people in my home life or from the teachers at my schools. He became a role model.

With thanks

That innocent meeting made difference in my life.

So, with grateful thanks, here’s a special Happy Birthday to the ‘birthday guy’ who told me to “Go for It”.

In the middle of this pandemic, I’m reaching out and singing Happy Birthday … across the miles for the ‘birthday guy’ for yet another year! 

I hope it’s a truly wonderful day for the ‘birthday guy’ and his family.

May there be many more cerulean (sky blue) days ahead.


Text uploaded 06 July 2021.
Text copyright Fiona Rothchilds 2021.
Photo image copyright Fiona Rothchilds 2021

Commonwealth countries to count on as friends


Commonwealth members have a job to do to in this pandemic to keep their friendships alive.

Australia is part of the Commonwealth of Nations which is supported by the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS). The RCS* is a friendship society based on mutual belief in support of the Commonwealth.

Founded in 1686 in London, the RCS is a ‘family’ of nations and peoples. It is non-partisan and independent of governments and registered as a not-for-profit organization. Like many non-profit organizations, the RCS relies on public donations to achieve its goals.

The growing list of countries

The list of Commonwealth countries is significant:

United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Malaysia, Nigeria, Cyprus, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Maldives, Malta, Zambia, Singapore, Guyana, Botswana, Lesotho, Barbados, Nauru, Mauritius, Swaziland, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji Islands, Bangladesh, The Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Dominica, St Lucia, Kiribati, St Vincent & The Grenadines, Vanuatu, Belize, Antigua & Barbuda, St Christopher & Nevis, Brunei Darussalam, Namibia, Cameroon, Mozambique, Rwanda.

These diverse nations represent about one quarter of the world’s population over every continent. They include Republics, national Monarchies and a number of nations that recognize Queen Elizabeth II as their own Head of State.

There are three interdepartmental organizations which are part of the Royal Commonwealth Society:

Uncertain times

This season we have learned that everyone is living in “uncertain times”. We are each coping with COVID-19 matters. This includes every member of the Commonwealth. No-one is immune to the stresses and strains of uncertainty and change.

Many people have concerns regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as a stressful situation on their life. These issues include careers, business, investments, work-life balance, studies, family, home life and emotional wellbeing. If feeling troubled, please seek assistance from a registered health provider. These trained and highly-skilled professionals are paid to care.

Or, if you prefer to speak anonymously to someone over the telephone or by mobile phone, there are support services available to you every day of the week.

Some of these telephone support staff speak languages other than English. Most impressively, some are well-versed in cultures other than the Aussie way of “… thanks Mate, love ya work.”

They will never fob you off/disregard what you have to say by using that phrase: “No worries. She’ll be right, Mate.” Your cultural viewpoint will be respected.

These trained and professional staff manning the telephones really do care that you’ve taken the time to phone. That is to say, they are trained especially to listen and to respond empathically.

Furthermore, they are prepared to be socially-engaging as well to talk about things which matter to you. If you phone them, then they will listen and then chat in that order.

There’s always someone to share with

Never forget that there is always someone within telephone reach to listen to your thoughts and feelings. Remember, the person at the other end of the ‘phone line will listen to you without interrupting you.

It is important to stay updated and aware of changes in lockdown measures. Keeping in touch with people who matter to you is important for your survival.

If you belong to a Commonwealth Society in your home state or city, now is the time to connect and renew friendships.

Or you might try to make a ‘COVID’ friend as we are in the middle of a pandemic? Remember that you too are important. It is critical to your own self-esteem and sustainability to remember this. Life goes on …

Someone to talk to without judgment

The following live links will assist you to contact someone who cares to listen anonymously. They are hired to be non-judgmental. In particular, making this phone call might help ease your life through this temporary pandemic situation.

The telephone support counselling services are free of charge. Feel free to use them. Have a good day!

*The link for The Royal Commonwealth Society is
Try the link
… And there is a link at
Facebook page is
LinkedIn page is

Text copyright Fiona Rothchilds 2021.
Image copyrighted by Fiona Rothchilds 2021.

Text uploaded 19 June 2021.

Tags: lockdown, COVID, Commonwealth, Royal Commonwealth Society, RCS, conversation, COVID-19, Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II, Royal Commonwealth Society, Commonwealth of Nations, Lifeline, Menslink Canberra, 1800 Respect, Griefline, Compass, Relationships Australia, Queen Elizabeth II.

High Teas with the birds and the bees


High teas anywhere in the world are a special occasion to celebrate being with loved ones.

Within a simple, three-layered metal tray frame known as an etagere, lie sweet, savoury and more sweet tempting offerings.

Last month, to celebrate National Bee Day (20 May), a Bee High Tea was tested at Parliament House in Canberra.

We visited the Queen’s Terrace Café one Saturday afternoon after a tour of Parliament House.

The High Tea menu looked inviting and the price of $45 was also attractive. The three-course offering came with lashings of English Breakfast Tea so it was sure to please my tastebuds.

As we settled into our seats near the window of the Queen’s Terrace café, we looked out to the inner courtyard of the Parliament’s terrace. Rays of sunshine highlighted the flight of bees which were circling the Winter flower beds on the terrace.

Various-sized birds were swooping in and out of the Queen’s Terrace architecture to gather the crumbs of recently enjoyed High Teas. The only birds which I recognized though, during our visit to the Queen’s Terrace, were magpies of the black and white variety.

Bee-keeper’s tour

We’d just completed an absorbing tour of the Parliamentary Gardens, bushland and bee area with the volunteer beekeeper and his knowledgeable supervisor.

Along the way, we learnt about the Parliament’s garden walks in planted bush settings as we strolled through the outer landscape of Parliament House.

We also learned about bird life in Canberra. For example, there are many different types of birds known to nest and breed within the Parliamentary Triangle of bushland.

These include Eastern Rosellas, Crimson Rosellas, variegated wrens, Magpie larks known as Pee Wees, Australian Magpies, Currawongs and Kookaburras.

On this tour group, we met representatives from the Australian Bee industry group, as well as from the Swiss embassy and the Swedish embassy. Apparently, each of these embassies in Canberra has a resident beekeeper on site who tends to the bees and hives.


Honey from the diplomatic community and federal parliament in Canberra seems like a market-niche for any honey lover. Thankfully, the Parliamentary Gift Shop has plenty of Australian varieties of honey to try. We noticed several different types of honey from Beechworth, in Victoria, on display.

As part of the organized bee tour, each patron received a gift tote bag full of bee-products. These gifts included oats and honey handmade soap and three different types of Australian honey. We also received literature on beekeeping practices in the grounds of the Australian Parliament House.

With the one-hour tour of the Parliament Beekeeper’s paradise completed, thoughts of thirst and hunger for honey products definitely came to mind.

Bee High Teas

In the light of Winter’s sunshine, three decadent plates of nourishing food arrived. What a welcome offering! Each plate featured a different type of gourmet sample featuring bee products from the gift shop.

My pot of English Breakfast tea was replenished quickly and it was time to sample the delicious-looking High Teas (see the photo of High Teas menu above).

On the menu to tempt weary bee-keeping tourists were:

Gourmet potato, wattle seed, Stracciatella;
Lamb nigiri, Alto olive, dukkhah;
Tuna crudo, sea kelp togarashi;
Campari tomato & cream cheese, Pico de Gaye;
Chicken, avocado & bacon brioche club;
Mixed friands;
Rosella lamington;
ANZAC cheesecake;*
Citrus marshmallow tart;
Chocolate hazelnut fudge; and
Lemon myrtle crumble choux.

It was a superb High Tea and absolutely scrumptious, thank you. Bon appetite!

* See my blogs on ‘Christmas in July at the Australian Parliament House’ posted July 2021; ‘High Teas with the birds and the bees’ posted June 2021; ‘ANZAC Biscuit baking supports Commonwealth values’ posted April 2021; and ‘French Chocolate Cake for Valentine’s Day’ posted February 2021.

Queen’s Terrace Café:
Or email

Text copyright Fiona Rothchilds 2021.
Photograph copyright Fiona Rothchilds 2021.
Uploaded 1 June 2021.

Mothers Day is essential for family bonds


Mothers Day is a good time of the year to be selfless. It’s not your fault that you’re human. Your Mother made you that way. But sometimes Mother’s grit their teeth when their offspring do things which they wish hadn’t been done.

Sometimes offspring say things that, probably, in hindsight, shouldn’t have been said … to Mothers.

In general, Mothers are tolerant and kind. But they are not cars which you can take to the Auto repair shop to have fixed under your car insurance scheme. Every relationship needs repairing now and then.

To put it another way, your Mother put up with nine months of knowing you when you did not even know that you existed.

She put up with the kicks, the indigestion, the food temptations, her sore back, sore legs, the heartache and heartburn that goes along with maternity to bring you into the world.

On Selfish versus Selfless tasks

A Mother was selfless to make you and to deliver you. Being selfless in return on Mothers Day is one way to repair the hurts which you might have caused her along life’s road.

In point of fact, you are in the world because of your Mother. In other words, she was your creator and your first carer.

If you are the selfish type and always put yourself first, then try to be nice on Mothers Day. Think of your own Mother. Why not thank your Mother for her existence and your existence?

It is a very small thing which you can do to make sure that she continues to recognize you, remembers you and plans to be with you in the future.

On Mothers Day

Would it be possible to be nice, supportive, kind, attentive and caring on Mothers Day? Listen to your Mother’s story about how you came to be alive.

If you did anything to upset your Mother or make your Mother feel uncomfortable or unwelcome, then listen to what your Mother tells you. Perhaps think of asking her one or two of these suggested questions:

“How did I come into the world?
Who was present at my birth?
Who first held me?
What was happening in the world on the day of my birth?
What do you hope I will do with my life on the planet?”

How to communicate with your Mother

When your Mother has finished talking, why not then apologize to her?

“I think that sometimes I might have been less of a son/daughter than you hoped for.  Sorry Mum.”

Some people would say that is a good way to apologize. Is it a good idea to remember from whom you originated?

That is to say, you are on the planet because your Mother brought you into the world. Without her considerable efforts all those years ago, you would not exist.

What will work for you, Mum?  Anything I can do to help, Mum?

Then make plans for the future with your Mother in your life. The proverb applies “He that would the daughter win, must with the mother first begin.” *

Would it be a good idea to be nice to your Mother on Mothers Day? After all, you need her goodwill. This particularly applies if you plan to include her in your own family in the future.

In other words, remember to future proof. Why not try to celebrate Mothers Day in a nice way for your Mother’s sake?

*Proverb 283, ‘He that would the daughter win, must with the mother first begin’, English Proverbs Explained, Ronald Ridout and Clifford Witting, (1967, 1969), Pan Reference, Reading, Great Britain, p. 83.

Text copyright by Fiona Rothchilds 2021 and Ridout and Witting 1969 as cited.
Photographic image of silk postcard memorabilia at the Australian War Memorial.
Photograph copyright: Fiona Rothchilds 2020.
Uploaded 09 May 2021.

CHOGM 2021 is cancelled until further notice

CHOGM 2021


That is to say, CHOGM 2021 is postponed indefinitely due to the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The President of Rwanda, his Excellency Paul Kagame, and the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Right Honourable Patricia Scotland QC, announced on 07 May 2021 the postponement of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM 2021).

The 2021 organizing committee reviewed available evidence and risk assessments including those using the World Health Organization’s (WHO) risk assessment tool. Crucially, the committee conducted close consultations between the Commonwealth Secretariat and Member States. After assessing the facts, the organizing committee postponed the CHOGM event in Kigali, Rwanda until further notice.

What the President of Rwanda said

“The decision to postpone CHOGM for a second time has not been taken lightly. The health and welfare of all Commonwealth citizens at this critical time must take precedence. We look forward to welcoming the Commonwealth family to Kigali for CHOGM at the appropriate time.”

What the Commonwealth Secretary-General said

“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to have a hugely damaging impact on our member countries, many of whom continue to face huge losses to lives and livelihoods.

“… it is with deep disappointment and regret that we cannot bring Commonwealth leaders together at this time.”

As a timely reminder, the Commonwealth Secretary-General said that it is important to be mindful of the huge risks which large meetings pose. That is to say, public health and safety come first.

She continued her remarks with an upbeat message to encourage Member States to stay positive and active.

“I look forward warmly to a time when we can be reunited with the Commonwealth family, face-to-face, in Rwanda when the conditions allow for us to do so safely and securely,” she said.*


* Further details are available at:  Link retrieved 07 May 2021.

Text copyright: Fiona Rothchilds 2021 and CHOGM 2021.
Photo image copyright: Fiona Rothchilds 2021.
Uploaded: 08 May 2021.

Your good manners make a difference.


Good manners are what our parents, grandparents and teachers use as a yard-stick for how we will get on with other people on the planet throughout our life.

In a more day-to-day existence, good manners grease the wheels that keep everyone happy and easy to work with.

Responses to feedback

Recently, I invited a few work associates to a night of theatre. It was evident from their responses that many had gone to a school of manners.

Alternatively, they were brought up in homes where manners are practiced and polished to perfection? This was a bonus to the experience of inviting associates to attend the theatre as a compliment to them.

Firstly, many of the responses were quickly delivered. Secondly, the range of replies to the standard invitation were illuminating. Importantly, those apologies received were happily accepted as genuine and sincere.

In reading some of the responses, the Guide to Good Manners document is consulted with good cheer for further learning points.

The Good Manners Guide

“Good Manners” is based on rules of the Children’s National Guild of Courtesy. Originally, the ‘Good Manners’ chart was issued to Queensland schools from 1898 to 1960s.

The chart was published in an article in the Q150 commemorative edition (see The article was provided by a reader of this website blog as a Thank you gift for the National Library of Australia’s 2016 article about feet on tables in libraries.

Some people are lost for words when they see poor behaviour exhibited in the workplace and in public. Others vent their spleen by penning letters to newspapers, magazines and social media sites. This is done in an effort to record their passion for good manners.

One particular issue ‘gets on the goat’ of some older travellers: some public library readers continue to use any available coffee table as a foot rest. Furthermore, this is even after the readers’ have received genuine feedback on appropriate use of furniture in the library as a public place.

Hopefully, the original article provided in the Guide to Good Manners will highlight the following matters:

Courtesy, Politeness, or Good Manners, means kindly and thoughtful consideration of others.

A Celebrated writer has said that a Boy who is Courteous and Pure is an honour to his country. Brave and Noble men and women are always Courteous.

Courteous boys and girls are careful to observe the following rules

As to themselves: Keep out of Bad Company. Keep your Face and Hands clean, and your Clothes and Boots brushed and neat.

At School: Be Respectful to your Teachers, and help them as much as you can; their work is very difficult and trying.  Observe the School Rules. Do not cut the Desks, or Write in the Reading Books.

At Table: Always Wash your Hands and Face before coming to the Table. Do not put your Knife in your Mouth. Do not Speak or Drink with Food in your Mouth. Put your Hand or Handkerchief before your Mouth when you Sneeze or Cough.

Everywhere: Do not forget to close the door quietly after you. Never interrupt when a person is speaking. Always Mind your own Business.

Remember: Do what your conscience tells you is right.”


The article highlights good manners expected of children. In particular, this applies when they are at home, in schools and libraries, and in public.

However, some people continue to learn good manners until their old age. Importantly, the children of children can look forward to this occurring.

Learning points

Firstly, I recall that sometimes I regrettably laugh with my mouth open. Secondly, I will put my hand over my mouth in the midst of laughing at a good comedy. Thirdly, I will remember not to laugh when in public.

In this regard, good manners maketh the woman.


*Proverb 445, ‘Manners maketh man’, English Proverbs Explained, Ronald Ridout and Clifford Witting, (1967, 1969), Pan Reference, Reading, Great Britain, p. 116.

Text from the ‘Good Manners’ chart was published in education views by the Department of Education, Training and the Arts (Volume 18.01), Queensland Government, February 2009. Originally published by F.J. Arnold & Son. Ltd Educational Publishers. Leeds, Edinburgh and Belfast.

Copyright of other text: Fiona Rothchilds 2021 and Ridout and Whitting as cited.
Image copyright: Fiona Rothchilds 2020 of item at the AWM.
Uploaded 02 May 2021.