Enjoying afternoon tea on a vintage bus tour

Enjoying afternoon tea on a vintage bus tour
Ciara McCaughey, sales & marketing manager, Vintage Tea Tours, during the tour of Cork.Picture Denis Minihane.

PASSENGERS created a storm in a teacup as they indulged in some old style glamour on one of Ireland’s most famous double deckers.

Corkonians were treated to a sight-seeing tour of the city along with some tea and cakes for an afternoon “on the buses” with a difference.

Vintage Tea Tours has been delighting tourists and locals alike in Dublin since 2016 and may be expanding its services to include Cork as well.

It allows passengers to enjoy some afternoon delicacies against the musical backdrop of 1950s jazz and other nostalgic delights.

Ross McAuliffe of Arema Connect having lunch on the bus. Picture Denis Minihane.
Ross McAuliffe of Arema Connect having lunch on the bus. Picture Denis Minihane.

Ross McAuliffe was among Corkonians along for the ride.

Afternoon tea has played a big part in the Burnfort man’s life since he was little.

“I was so young the first time I went for afternoon tea that I can’t even remember it,” he said.

“That’s how country people get together. If this was in Cork I’d be on it all the time. People are really into afternoon tea.

“I do get a bit of a slagging from the lads for it,” he confessed.

“You don’t see a lot of men going for afternoon tea, but I’m a very unique guy,” he said.

Despite a mostly female crowd, Ross wasn’t afraid of being outnumbered.

“I feel like the man of the house. I’ve just spent the last few minutes sending photographs of scones and cakes to my girlfriend.

“We normally go to the coffee shop Lab 82 — and Il Padrino Restaurant for our date nights. This would be something fantastic for us to do together.”

And it’s not just Ross’s girlfriend who expressed an interest in afternoon tea. His male friends were just as keen.

“Surprisingly, there are more guys interested than girls, but maybe that’s just my friends,” he laughed.

Jackie Leahy (left) and Katherine Sutton of Arema Connect enjoying lunch on the bus.Picture Denis Minihane.
Jackie Leahy (left) and Katherine Sutton of Arema Connect enjoying lunch on the bus.Picture Denis Minihane.

Ross was joined by some of his colleagues from Arema Connect Call Centre in Blackpool. The group had a close enough view of the office to wave to their boss Pat Keogh.

“He’s a great boss,” Ross said. “Pat takes an interest in everything we do.”

Vintage Tea Tours host, Shane Laird, shared some touching stories about the type of passengers he encounters.

“We get a few old couples going for a day out on the bus. She’ll be dripping in the family jewels and he’ll have his fancy cane.

I can remember one elderly couple asked me to take a picture on one of those really old Nokia phones. It was so old that you could play that game ‘snake’ on it. I decided to take the picture with a Polaroid camera that we have so they would have something nice to take home,” he said.

Shane has hosted a number of parties on the double-decker, from wedding receptions to hen nights.

“It’s particularly nice for the hen parties because you get the aunts and grannies who aren’t necessarily party animals but still love a day out,” he said.

“I’ve seen a few things in my time. There have been one or two women caught cleaning out the jam jars and sneaking in some alcohol. I’ve even seen them clinking them together before taking a drink but normally people are well behaved.”

Shane has a lot of happy memories from his time on the buses.

“One time my girlfriend took the trip. Her friend had cancelled on her so I wanted to make it as special for her as possible. I did a few little things like leaving a rose on the table and we took the trip together.”

Simone Byrd of Aroma Connect enjoying the tour.Picture Denis Minihane.
Simone Byrd of Aroma Connect enjoying the tour.Picture Denis Minihane.

Simone Byrd from Hollyhill was already making plans for her next bus trip.

“My daughter Lauren would love this. It’s very Lauren. I’ve only had afternoon tea once before I got married. It’s such a lovely girly thing to do. She’s 12 years old now so is at the age where she wants to be with her friends all the time, but this would be one lovely thing for us to do together.”

Vintage Tea Tours is the brainchild of Dublin woman Karen Nixon who after 15 years of working in the service industry decided to start her own business. Her hope was to be able to bring joy to people throughout her working day.

Vanilla pannacotta with berry coulis, homemade maxi twist marshmallow, blueberry almond and lemon drizzle cake, Guinness chocolate brownies are just some of the treats on board.

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