It was 12.40pm and the first of our guests had just arrived. We were downstairs in a luxurious function room - leather chairs, massive polished mirrors and a sense that this room had not changed since the days when its guests had been rich tea-merchants and their custom. We were at the Horniman at Hays - a pub on the sight of one of the most important tea merchant warehouses.
We offered a cup of tea to the early-arrivals and asked where they had travelled from. All three had woken at 5am that morning to reach Hays Galleria, London Bridge, by 1pm. They had come from Carmarthenshire in West Wales!
Their excitement was contagious and soon many more independent councillors, candidates, supporters and Americans who wanted to support Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity but were on the wrong side of the Atlantic were sat together talking politics and sipping tea.
Brian Ahearne, Chair of the Independent Network, made the case for independently minded politics in the UK and explained the work of the Independent Network thus far, before Tamsin Omond, its new network coordinator,spoke about the Council of Reference and our new focus on the Local Elections 2011.
We could not get enough of the tea (generously provided by Teapigs) or the room (generously provided by Horniman at Hays) and so conversation flowed past the 3pm advertised end of the event. At 4pm eight guests still had room for more cucumber sandwiches and cups of tea, before helping us to clear up and clear out to the pub upstairs...
It was an interesting event and we hope it will be the first of many more tea-party meetings for independents committed to the Bell Principles up and down the UK.