Mention the phrase ‘A Taste Of The Orient’ to some people and they will probably think a new Chinese takeaway has just opened.
In Woodhall Spa, it’s a little different.
Members of the Oaklands Grange Photographic Group were invited by local author and historian Edward Mayor to visit his very own Japanese Tea House, situated at the bottom of his ‘very English’ garden.
Mr Mayor has been a patron of the group for many years and arranged a formal Japanese tea ceremony.
He is a lifelong student of ‘The Way of Tea’ and regularly presides over the intricacies – and mysteries – of the Japanese Tea Ceremony for small groups.
Group member Anna Phillips said: We were, of delighted to accept his invitation and not quite knowing what to expect, we made our way to his house and into his garden, cameras in hand.
“Prior to the ceremony itself, when no photography is permitted, we were taken into the tea house where Edward – dressed in his formal robe –explained exactly what would happen.
“He then showed us the various utensils to be used and explained their purpose.
“At this point, we were allowed to take our photographs.”
Anna described the actual ceremony as ‘fascinating.
She added: “It was carried out in complete silence, in an atmosphere that was almost religious.
“Afterwards, as we stepped out of the dim tea house into the sunny afternoon, we were aware that we had experienced something of a culture very far removed from our own.”
At a later meeting, members were looking through the images they had taken and someone ‘joked’ that between them, they had more than enough to fill a book.
The idea took hold and having chosen the best photos, they were sent to a publisher.
When the club celebrated its final meeting of 2019 with a buffet party, Mr Mayor was invited as guest of honour, and the book – in a beautiful carrying bag made by one of the members – was presented to him as a token of thanks.
Anna added: “We wanted to thank him for the guidance he has given us, the efforts he has made on our behalf over the years and, not least, for the generous gift of his time.”
•To book a ceremony at the Japanese Tea House ,contact Mr Mayor on 01526 353734. There is no charge.