Category Archives: Vintage Silver Notes & Observations

The Once and Future Sugar Tongs

Perched dramatically on the cliffs of North Corwall, Tintagel is reputed to be the birthplace of King Arthur.  Our summer trip to England gave me the opportunity to introduce Mr. and Master Magpies to one of my very favorite places in the whole world.  After an excellent morning spent clambering up the stairs carved into the sides of the cliff and wandering around the headland admiring the view, we made our way back down the perilous cliff and headed to the cafe for a bit of lunch.  Sitting down at the outside table, my eye lit upon some sugar tongs.

sugar tongs

Tintagel is perched perilously and dramatically on a cliff. This cove and cavern are at the base…

Sugar Tongs

sugar tongs

Sugar tongs! Live and in use at the Tintagel cafe.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw sugar tongs in a restaurant or cafe. And it’s been even longer since I saw them used to actually pick up sugar cubes. It seemed such a mental non-sequitur to go from the drama of Tintagel to marvelling over tongs.

However, I was instantly charmed, seeing my beloved sugar tongs (regular readers know how much I love them) in real-life use…and in such a setting. So, I took a few photos and resolved that it would make an amusing blog post upon our return.

After sitting at our table for a few minutes, it quickly became clear why the cafe chose to serve their all-important tea-accoutrements this way.  The Tintagel seagulls are not at all shy about snatching things off the table. Having sugar cubes in the sealed jar keeps them out of reach of the gulls, and safe from the rain which must sweep in quickly and unpredictably from the sea. I did ask the people who ran the cafe if the birds ever steal the tongs.  Apparently they are only interested in the food.

Sugar tongs

Milky, sugary, mess free, self-made tea.

Little did I realise, a few weeks later, I was going to shamelessly imitate adapt this for use in our own house, after years of using sugar tongs for everything except sugar. On our voyage, quite out of the blue, Master Magpies developed a taste for milky, sugary tea.

Emphasis on the sugary.  Hmm, how to regulate the sugar intake, minimise the mess of sugar granules everywhere, and let him make his own tea? Behold, the rebirth of the sugar tongs. A clear limit on the number of sugar cubes strictly regulates the sugar intake in a way that spoonfuls do not. Plus, it’s tons of fun to pop open the jar and launch in a lump (or two).

Looking for a pair of sugar tongs? I have a few in my shop.


Here’s one last photo of the view from the top of the cliff.  I’ll spare you the one Mr. Magpies took of me — quite unaware — as I was re-enacting pulling Excalibur from the stone while telling Master Magpies about the Legend of King Arthur.

Sugar tongs

From the cove and cavern at the base, to the view from the top of the cliff. The cove and cavern in the top photo are several hundred feet below.  This photo looks across from that cove.