‘Some people will tell you there is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea.’
One of the items on my ‘After Lockdown To Do List’, along with hairdresser, dentist and optician, was go to Bath and have lunch at Comins. As they had just re-opened, it seemed a good opportunity to investigate the ‘new normal’. This would be our first Big Outing which required travelling more than 20 miles from home.
Bath was very busy in spite of its being a weekday and there were no overseas visitors or foreign-language students, there were lots of families with young children on school holiday. And Londoners (you can tell from the number plates on their SUVs as they try to drive down one-way streets the wrong way ). Escapees from London now favour Wiltshire and Somerset for short breaks or second homes.
Southgate Shopping Centre was quite crowded with not much social-distancing going on in the streets. Bath Council has made an effort with pavement signs showing the 2m measurement, and it was less crowded towards The Abbey and Milsom Street and side streets, of course.
Comins is off the main drag, tucked away in Monmouth Street behind Bath Theatre Royal, next door to the Ustinov Studio. It’s not your run-of-the-mill café. It is a tea house and tea merchant. It specialises in single estate teas. The choice is wide, and whatever you choose, it is the ceremony attached to its drinking that is part of the experience. You need time to take your time. Not a quick snack and a drink and off to shop and see the sights.
I’m pleased to report that apart from face masks and a Perspex screen in front of the till, the place looked pretty much the same. Proprietor, Rob still cheery and chatty; packets of exotic teas on shelves, handcrafted cups and teapots and napkins and other tea-related knick-knacks for sale.
It’s a small cafe and tables are generally well-spaced any way. The open front and back doors, helped to provide fresh air and a gentle breeze through the building. It’s Grade II listed, mid-19th century and maintains its simple and unfussy interior.
I ordered my favourite tea – 1st Flush Darjeeling Glenburn Estate, and the gyoza (dumplings). Sadly the coronation chicken tartines are not on offer, at present, as they require making on the premises. They are offering a shorter menu of the other Comins pre-prepared food it is known for.
Their ‘signature’ cakes are all there, and my slice of cherry and almond cake with pistachio and coconut went down a treat with my third cup of tea. Oh, how I’ve missed all this!
Simple pleasures go far in bringing happiness back into your life, in an uncertain world where everything has been turned upside-down.