An afternoon cuppa, come hell or high water

Although carry on kayaking sounds very British, to do so at 4pm, simply wouldn’t do.

Tea is as British as some of our most famous exports including punk rock, queuing, fair play, football and hooliganism and, Octane being miles from civilisation is no reason to lower standards. Come hell or high water, the Scottish seas offering much of both, we stop for a cuppa at 4pm.

Boiling water

For its pure simplicity the Kelly Kettle is much loved means of boiling water the world over – it can be fuelled with small twigs and eliminates the need for transporting heavy fossil fuels or prolonged sessions gathering driftwood and boils water more quickly than any camping gas cooker on the market.

When in need of a cup of tea, with no wood fuel available as is often the case on Hebridean islands, the Kelly Kettle comes into its own. So efficient is its conduction of heat the process of making tea can be done with minimum fuel (such as dry sprigs of heather or small twigs) and with minimum time. I know of no other method of boiling water as quickly.

Sheltered flame

Furthermore, the fire heating the water within the kettle is sheltered from wind by the internal chimney shape of the kettle itself – a most useful feature on exposed wilderness Hebridean islands. Once the water is boiled the hot embers can be used to light a campfire which otherwise might be challenging in the wind or rain.

Avoiding dehydration

A 5% reduction in the body’s hydration levels can result in a 50% reduction in paddling performance. In summer months in Scotland an active sea kayaker should not only be drinking about two litres of water a day should also be eating well for dehydration is caused by the loss of water, sugar and salts combined.

Drinking little and often is the best method of avoiding dehydration and two or three litres is quite a few cuppas – not necessarily not a problem for the British who like to busy themselves drinking 60 bullion cups of tea a year.

It started with tea

Many other countries were as technologically advanced as Britain in the early nineteenth century yet the industrial revolution started here – why so?

The manning of industry’s factories required an urban density never achieved before elsewhere because plague and pestilence traditionally limited urban population growth. Accordingly, densely populated areas were often decimated by plague during population peaks. However, because the British started to boil their drinking water first to make new found Indian and Chinese teas, their water was purified killing all harmful bacteria and protozoa. Furthermore, as belt and braces, the tea leaf itself is a natural disinfectant.


Empire links with India gave Britain tea and trade links with the West Indies gave the same people sugar soon making a virtuous circle of tea lovers, sugar addicts and shopkeepers. This holy trinity enabled urban populations to increase to unprecedented levels thus supplying manpower to those dark satanic mills.

Food for thought

So, the discovery of a rather modest drink created a virtuous circle of trade, cleanliness and addiction fuelling the industrial machine to define the modern world in which we live today. Worth pondering next time you sip a cup of afternoon Rosy Lee.


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