These are the hands of my friend Fran. This is a cup of Earl Grey she cradled in between her 12 hour round trip to see me - a massive journey for a stay of less than 24 hours.
All of my closest friendships have been forged around tea. At uni, as homesick teenagers trying desperately not to be, we nursed hangovers with English Breakfast.
We ran to cups of tea (and chocolate fingers, and any kind of cake) in each other's rooms when dissertations overwhelmed us, when boyfriends dumped us. Even when one of my closest friends' Mum died, suddenly and heartbreakingly, we turned first to a simple cuppa for comfort.
One of the things I love best about my boyfriend is that he knows exactly how I like my tea (differently depending on the time of day). Fran and I still set times to make ourselves a cup and sit down to chat on the phone. My uni friends and I get together from our corners of the country a few times a year, and we unfailingly end up in fits over copious cups of tea.
Tea to me has always been about friendship, and about comfort. When I'm ill, I revert back to an obscenely milky English breakfast, because that's how my Mum first introduced me to tea. Tea is symbolic - a sign of constancy, of reassurance. It holds us in it's arms and lets us know that whatever happens, it can always be remedied by a decent cup.
A heartwarming, touching guest post from Lucy Rigby.