The Bird & Blend Book Club with Heidi Swain and Eleanor Ray

The Bird & Blend Book Club with Heidi Swain and Eleanor Ray

Tea and books... What a brilliant combination! We’re hugely excited about our next Bird & Blend Book Club on the 7th May at 7pm with the wonderful Heidi Swain, author of A Taste of Home, and Eleanor Ray, author of Everything is Beautiful. 

Drinking tea plays such an important role in books and we wanted to share with you two ‘tea moments’ from the titles we’ll be talking about on Friday… We can’t wait to see you there.


If you haven’t booked your ticket yet you can still do so, here!


A Taste of Home, by Heidi Swain, p. 49 - 50 

We all sat together and, over the tea and sandwiches, I told them about the colourful and often nomadic life Mum had lived. About the travelling and the adventures and how even though she’d been let down by my father, she’d found a refuge at the Rossis’ and established a base with them in Puglia.

‘We did come to the UK sometimes,’ I explained. ‘But never near here.

‘You travelled with her?’ Eliot asked.

‘Not so much recently, but when I was growing up, she took me everywhere with her then.’

Eliot was agog.

‘She sounds amazing,’ he dreamily said.

‘She had her moments,’ I smiled, this time through happier tears.

‘But she never mentioned the farm or her father?’ Louise wanted to know. ‘Or the fact that she’d named you after her very own mother?’


‘She might have been amazing, but that sounds like her too,’ Louise sniffed. ‘I don’t mean to speak ill, but even as a young woman, she had a tendency to live her life exactly how she wanted to.’

I couldn’t deny that she was right about that but given that it had been a life cut so short, I felt happy that Mum had pleased herself when it came to living it. Although not that she had left her father to endure a lifetime of worry about what had happened to her when she took off, of course.

‘And you never thought to ask about what her life was like before you were born?’ Eliot asked.

‘No,’ I flushed. ‘I didn’t. I know that was stupid now, but I never had any reason to give it a thought.’

‘It wasn’t stupid,’ said Louise, reaching for my hand. ‘You no doubt trusted her. Even though you weren’t consciously aware of it, deep down you probably thought that if there was anything worth knowing then she would have told you about it.’


‘You must have been very happy living with this family to think of them as your own,’ she added.

‘I was,’ I said. ‘I am.’

‘And besides, we all have our secrets, don’t we?’

‘Some more than others,’ Eliot remarked.

He was obviously still smarting over the fact that his mum had known my mum was pregnant when she disappeared and never said anything, but I could completely understand Louise’s reasoning for keeping it to herself. My grandfather certainly wouldn’t have felt any better knowing he had lost his daughter and a grandchild. 


bird and blend tea book club


Everything is Beautiful, by Eleanor Ray, pp. 8-9

She made her way down the stairs, holding tight to the handrail  to make sure she didn’t lose her footing over the boxes and crates  that had somehow ended up squatting on the staircase. Edging  through the hallway and sighing at the sight of the newspapers  littering the floor, Amy went into the kitchen to make herself a cup of tea. 


The choice of mugs was a favourite moment in the day. So  many beautiful options lined her counters. She’d just decided that  today was a china teacup with a gold rim sort of day, when the  doorbell rang. 


It gave her a bit of a fright. It didn’t ring often and was never  who she hoped for. It didn’t help that the bell delivered an ungainly  rendition of the first bars of Beethoven’s Fifth that would make  the great man turn in his grave. Amy added a new doorbell to her  mental shopping list and decided to wait it out and hope whoever  it was went away. 


The person outside, finding the bell ineffective, started pounding  on the door. 


Then silence. 


Amy peered into the hallway in the hope that whoever it was had  given up. A pair of brown eyes stared back at her, framed by her  letterbox. There was a clatter as the eyes disappeared and a mouth adorned with a peachy shade of lipstick came into her rectangular  field of vision. 


‘I can see you,’ said the mouth. Of course it was all a lie; mouths  can’t see. ‘Please open the door.’ 


Amy debated opening the door only to the extent that the chain  would allow, but that always made her feel like a paranoid old lady.  She hadn’t yet turned forty. Instead she extracted her keys from  her handbag, opened the door just enough to squeeze outside, then  deftly swung it closed behind her before her visitor could see any  more of her hallway. 


Her next-door neighbour, Rachel, was still crouching with her  mouth pressed to where the letterbox had just been and it left the  women awkwardly close, Rachel at crotch height to Amy. It was a  position neither relished, and Rachel stood up and stepped backwards, looking put out. 


‘Can I help you?’ enquired Amy, with the least helpful tone she  could muster. 


Rachel made a sighing sound that reminded Amy of a horse.  ‘Smudge found another mouse,’ she said. ‘He dragged it across our  new ivory carpet last night and left a trail of blood. I can’t get it off.’ 


Amy glanced at her front garden, deciding that it was time to  water her potted geraniums again. The plants had grown leggy and  the flowers, once post box red, were rather brown, but the glazed pots  they lived in were still a beautiful shade of crimson. Her rose had little  green buds of promise that matched its own green pot and she could  smell her honeysuckle, clinging to the front of her house as it snaked  up from the large, deep blue pot that reminded her of the ocean. 


We can't wait to see you there! 


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