Monday, 25 July 2011

The Secluded Tea Party Guestbook - Comments & Feedback

Down here at The Secluded Tea Party HQ, I love to hear feedback... The good, the bad and the ugly, although it's always fantastically glowing reports that I receive - naturally!

So, I dedicate this post to all of my wonderful guests and their lovely feedback on my events, as well as their own private bookings, picnic hampers and ad-hoc collaborations with Miss Sue Flay and The Secluded Tea Party.... And please do keep your comments coming... 

Should you have any comments or feedback from any event or Tea Party that you have attended, please do email me at 

 I would be thrilled to add your comments to this post - Thank you : ) 

A Lovely Blog Post from Helen who attended the Book Club Tea Party in March 2011, click HERE

Dear Miss Sue Flay...
I just wanted to thank you for the most amazing picnic!!! 
The food was fantastic and the iced tea went down a treat!!! 

You definitely have a new fanclub :)
I will most definitely be getting in touch when I'm organising the next hen weekend.

(Private Picnic Hamper Delivered to their Hen Party 23.07.2011 in Cambridge )

Sunday, 24 July 2011

REVIEW: Bill's Cafe - Cambridge

After an afternoon of wondering if there was anywhere in Cambridge that offers Afternoon Tea... Scones and Jam in particular... after 6pm on a Wednesday night, I remembered that some of my fellow Cambridge bloggers had recently been mentioning and liking the new cafe that has recently moved into the empty space where the old Slug and Lettuce pub used to be. 
(Thank you Deepa, Miss B & Sian ; ) 
So onto the internet to look up Bill's Cafe on Green Street, I found, much to my delight, that they do indeed offer such sweet delights after 6pm. Hurray!
And with my fabulous friend, Amy, I headed down there for some gossip and man-free time away from the stresses of work, family and animals jumping all over us (The usual scenario whoevers house we usually go to catch up in hehe : ) 
 Walking down Bridge Street and onto Green Street is one of my very favourite parts of Cambridge to walk in and it always relaxes me, as it is less touristy around here, especially on a week night. I managed to spot a new and rather impressive painting by mine and Mister Flays' favourite Artist (Henderson Cisz) in the window of a local gallery on my walk down here. I couldn't help but take a cheeky snap and wish I had the £12,000 to buy this beautiful original... A girl can dream!
If the evening walk had to be made any better, the only thing that can do that is a quick visit to Fopp, although now taken over by HMV, I still like to think it is a great little music and film treasure trove, and I managed to come out owning the entire back catalogue of "Mad Men" on DVD and a random CD story book written and spoken by Nick Cave of The Bad Seeds. 
I love this shop. 
On arrival at Bill's Cafe, I was greeted with an almost too-cheerful-to-be-real welcome...although I think that is a little unfair on them, as they weren't rude, and that would be the first thing I would have jumped on if they had been. Perhaps the little Grinch in me was playing up today, I'm not sure.
But they were all just a little too helpful - In the first 15 minutes of being sat at the table waiting for my friend, I was asked if I wanted to order a drink FOUR times, by FOUR different staff members.... The first person to ask me this was already off making me one ; ) 
I had ordered a Pink Lemonade & Vanilla Ice Cream Float, which came with a whole strawberry on the edge of the glass which made it look very pretty. Not bad, if a little pricey if I had to pick.
I have never had an Ice Cream Float in my life, and the flavour wasn't really much to write home about, but I had read the same day on another bloggers post in a London tea shop that they had ordered a coke float and the waitress told her that it would explode as soon as she stirred the ice cream with her straw.... I had to give it a go... And it was more of a fizzle than an explosion, but child-inducing all the same. Hehe - Simple things.
The girl who had seated me was also very helpful when I asked if they had Wifi here. I was purely asking for future knowledge, however off she went for the code and she came back and wrote it down for me. Thanksfully in fact, as I didn't have a signal in there to tweet or email...shock horror! it actually came in very useful. 

Chatting to one of the many helpful and bored looking waiters as he wandered past a second time to ask if everything was ok.... Yes, yes, fine, fine... I did ask him if they were on Twitter, to which he replied no. 
So I gave him a geeky lecture on how I think they should be so that we can all link them when we are sat here thinking of blog posts and taking a million photos of our food and drink instead of actually eating it - Come on, I can see you hanging your head in shame yet agreement here! 
When it came to ordering food, Amy had the Fish Finger Sandwich and it looked pretty darn good after I had turned down the savoury option, and instead going for the Warm Scones with Bill's Strawberry Jam and Clotted Cream - The entire reason we popped in, so thought it rude not to give them a go. 
At just £3.95 for this, I was expecting to perhaps get a couple of disappointing miniature scones with a teaspoon of each of the trimmings, however I was presented with a large wooden board with what actually looked like 3 huge slices of fruit bread with a big bowl of jam and a second of the cream. They were indeed warm (Not scones how I had imagined) and already buttery and they were just delicious. The only thing I could fault was that the jam was a little tart for my liking, but I'm becoming a bit of a Cream Tea snob even though I had promised myself I wouldn't, so I have standards all of a sudden. 
It wasn't a huge problem, lets put it that way, I devoured the lot.
And I LOVED their teapot...a  cute tin pot with a lovely pouring spout... It was a dream to pour the tea from. I really wanted to buy one, but couldn't see them on sale if they are. Shame. 
And the last point that I will mention, is the music. An important part to my own tea parties.
The background music was relaxing, tastefully mixed up and right up my street. 
I heard my new favourite singer a couple of times, Caro Emerald. As well as some Nina Simone to add to the mix. A brilliant soundtrack and a really relaxed atmosphere. Even if it were busy in here, I am not sure you would notice. It's a great place and I will be back soon with Mister Flay to try out their burgers, as they looked pretty darn good. 



Tuesday, 19 July 2011

"Thoughts From The Queen Of Tea Parties, Miss Sue Flay"

... That's me... And I feel honoured that Tea Box Online feel that I deserve this title hehe... And who am I to argue with such a grand one at that?!

In fact Tea Box Online have become one of mine and also one of my Tea Party guests most favourite tea suppliers, mainly because of the unique and exciting blends that they produce and sell online through their website. And when asked if I would write up a guest blog post, I jumped at the chance to let their readers, as well as my own know just how fantastic I think they are... and that is the complete truth - They are not bribing me to say good things, scouts honour! I just don't work that way. 
If I don't like it, I won't blog about it. Simple. 

Ever since I started serving tea and cake at The Secluded Tea Party, I have been nothing but honest when it comes to the most important element of my tea parties.... The Tea.

I am not a tea connoisseur, far from it and I feel it best not to claim that I am, otherwise I fear I could get myself into a lot of trouble saying so!

I have to admit, if it wasn't for the lovely Kirsty at
Tea Box, I am not sure that I would have the same excitement and passion for tea that I do have for it right now.  Not only is the service friendly and fast, the choice and quality of the tea is more than perfect.

I now regularly serve the Rooibos
Rhubarb & Custard at my afternoon tea events, and it takes my guests back to being a child again, sucking on those lovely sweets that we chose to go in our pick and mix bag in Woolworths - Do you remember those days? It is naturally sweet and caffeine free and it is a perfect addition to my tea menu. Not an event passes by with at least half of my guests wanting to sip on this blend and give it a very excited pour from their individual teapots.  This mix also makes for a really fun take on Iced Tea, and went brilliantly with my home-made fruit scones and Loganberry Jam on a recent picnic. My family loved me!

The Cricketer's Tea instantly drew me in as soon as I saw the name, purely because Mister Flay plays village cricket and it made me think of myself and my fellow cricket widows perched in deckchairs on a sunny Saturday afternoon watching the boys and clucking like hens over a pot of tea and a slice of cake. It makes up a lovely strong brew and has also held guests intrigue over this mix of Indian Assam and Sri Lankan Uva tea leaves.  And, if it even needed another selling point, it is also helping to raise money for The Broad Appeal, which gives you one further reason to buy a pack of this refreshing tea.

Such a real smell and taste to all of the
Tea Box blends, no nasties in any of them. This is the reason that I love coming back for more, because I have fun serving it and my guests have fun sampling it.

Next on the list is the
Mojito Iced Tea for my Al Fresco Summer tea parties!..... Watch this space.

Miss Sue Flay

Thursday, 14 July 2011


Back in May, I entered myself into a competition called "Sugar Slam 2011 - Whisks Of Fury" which had immediately caught my attention through Twitter as a baking competition with my kind of twist to proceedings.
It is a wrestling themed online bake off, hosted by Bake And Destroy, with guest judges such as the legendary Mike Edison, Ben Roche and the inspiring Beth Phoenix... If you are into your wrestling, you will know they are all fricking awesome and it was just so much fun reading about this competition, let alone cooking up ideas on how to actually enter it from the UK!
My entry is now in and needs the people's vote ... so PLEASE DO VOTE FOR ME HERE : ) 
(Just look for my piccies as on my post here... You can't miss it! : )

I don't know huge amounts about wrestling, but I used to LOVE the MTV cartoon "Celebrity Death Match" and equally loved playing the play station games too.
It helped relieve some of that pent up teenage anger inside of me and now I can release that anger through the medium of baking... Much more constructive I would say.
So why did I enter? Well. A little while ago I met up for a cuppa and a chat with the lovely Claire Young who runs School Speakers and Girls Out Loud, as well as being more well known for coming second in line for the title of "The Apprentice" with Sir Alan Sugar in 2008. I remember Claire inspiring me at that time, showing how head strong women in business can be and I admired her for giving her all in all those scary tasks. Then last year I got chatting to her through Twitter... I have no idea how... I think it was our mutual love for @fancie and her lovely cupcakes, which got us chatting about tea and cake... Naturally.
I mentioned that if she was ever down this way, we should meet up for a cup of tea... so we did just that.
A couple of months ago Claire was hosting a local awards ceremony at Chilford Hall and I was invited down during her run through and she offered me half an hour of her time to chat about my business, her business, business ideas in general and her thoughts on my plans for the future of The Secluded Tea Party.
Claire made sense, she knew what she was talking about and made me realise that I wasn't chasing a silly idea. I am very thankful to her for the honesty and her suggestions, including the idea of entering baking competitions  and draws to win some awards and titles and push forward my ideas with these under my belt.

So this is the first baking competition of many to be entering this year I hope. And what fun it has been - Thank you Claire for the push!
It took me a while to think about how to execute this entry, and it finally came to me... And it looked perfect in my head. However, did not quite come out the way I had hoped for in the baking. Never mind.
It kept me out of trouble for a few hours and I even got a funny double use for the cake itself that day.... After running my living room-based wrestling photo shoot in the morning, I then stuck a rubber duck in the middle of my creation (In the vain hope it would hide the big holes on the top!) for a photo shoot with the Cambridgeshire Journal later that afternoon. Not my proudest cake moment. Oops.

My entry was sent for judging via email and I told them that I was very keen to get my floury mitts on the Sugar Slam World Championship Belt and I wanted to prove that even us conservative, 50's housewife types can get respect in their manly world! I mean, what man doesn't enjoy cake baked for them by a lovely lady?!
I don't believe for a minute that all WWE wrestlers are beer guzzling, steak eating burger men folk. Oh no. I believe that deep down, each and every one of these guys are gentlemen... Deep deep down, most just don't openly admit it.

I entered a lemon sponge layer cake with a home made lemon curd and butter cream filling, calling this masterpiece "When (WWE) Life Hands You Lemons..."
It is a delightful concoction that works very well with a cup of rose infused Assam tea, the perfect calm-me-down after a sweaty session in the ring! (Of which is also portrayed in my photos on the very top of my sponge, using Cadbury's milk chocolate "Twirl" fingers for the posts.
Please also note my barbie fans and their placards, made by my own fair hands. This took a lot of work to pose them for the shoot, especially trying to get the little cocktail sticks to stay in place. This took dedication and a lot of tongue poking out of the side of my mouth action hehe.

It provided me with hours of joy... Erm... I mean Blood, Sweat and Tears ; )

And a HUGE thank you to Louis, my new little friend, for lending me his fantastic wrestling figurines and taking some of the finished product away to eat so it didn't go on my hips! And also to Bethan and Megan for lending me their fabulous Barbies to pose as my cheering fans and also taking some cake off my hands.
So now I sit and wait for the results of this years' Sugar Slam 2011 winner and I am just hoping that my fun and very British creation is in with a chance. Do keep everything crossed for me and hope that they overlook the poor old squashed edges after the wrestler trampling the poor cake got during the shoot!
Don't forget to go and vote for me...Please do help me if you can!

Miss Sue Flay

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

REVIEW: Afternoon Tea In Ice Cream Form

Ok, So technically Ice Cream isn't Afternoon Tea fodder, however, it is when you incorporate dessert into this cold treat....
Twice recently I have found myself wandering around Cambridge on a really hot and sunny day, which is a rarity to be doing that once on a day off, let alone twice in a row lately - What a treat!

And so, naturally, taking a trip down Kings Parade to soak up the sun and the beautiful architecture whilst walking through Cambridge town centre recently, myself and Mister Flay stumbled across the new Benets Ice Cream Parlour... Yes, I did say it, new Ice Cream parlour.

How on earth had we missed this fantastic place?!.... We had no idea that they had planned to open this, knowing only that their ice cream concoctions are smile-inducing and delicious in every way. We had been told great things about it, but hadn't yet sampled it, so to see a whole new parlour open in it's honour meant we had to take a step inside and check it out - It's only fair to Cambridge to try these things ; )

The parlour is adjacent to the Kings Parade Coffee shop and it has red leather chairs to sit on at the bar downstairs, or more seating tucked away upstairs should you wish to get away from the crowds. It has a real Grease/50's feel to the place. I love it.

The first time we found this little gem, we jumped in both feet first and argued our way to the front of the queue to order our ice cold treats! We felt like kids for 20 minutes!
I enjoyed a scoop of Apple Pie Ice Cream in a small plain waffle cone and Mister Flay enjoyed a scoop of Banoffee - Both absolutely divine.

And then, we visited again this weekend after an amble around town in search of fake blood for my Zombie Tea Party... Strange errands I run, I know.
Mister Flay was stomping around like a child only wanting to leave after having an ice cream at Benets... How could we resist given the hot weather?... So we popped in for a different taste test. I ordered a chocolate tipped waffle cone with a scoop of Bakewell Tart Ice Cream, which was just heaven in a cone.
And Mister ordered a double scoop of Mocha, which has pieces of crushed coffee beans blended in - It was so much better than a frappuchino to cool you down on a hot coffee-craving day.

And the fact that all of their ice cream is made by themselves downstairs in the basement, just gives this family-run business an edge that some other coffee shops in town just don't have. Apprently they are also open until 10pm most nights, so well worth heading down there for a well-deserved treat.

Their flavours change regularly, and on our second visit there were new flavours that hadn't appeared the first time - Including Ferrero Rocher, which sounds intriguing.

If you haven't been to Benets new Ice Cream parlour yet, then get yourself down there (Opposite Kings College Chapel on Kings Parade) as soon as you head into town - I just can't rate it enough!

Such a new and central, yet still slightly secret gem right here in Cambridge.


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Miss Sue Flays' Plans & Adventures for July 2011

 After a chat and a lovely Saturday afternoon last weekend, spent with Bakelady from
The Secret Tea Room in Leeds, she suggested that a great idea to keep everybody 
updated with what I am up to each month is to do exactly that hehe.... 
So thanks to this advice, here it goes... 
Should you be at all interested in what I am planning to get up to this month....

Friday 1st July - Making a Lemon Layer cake to take into BBC Radio Cambridgeshire for my interview on the "Chat Lounge" with Liz Fraser and fellow Guest Inbali Iserles.
It went down a storm, and you can read more here

Saturday 2nd July - Off to relax at the Milton Keynes Bowl to see the Foo Fighters play live, with special guests such as a Biffy Clyro, Deathcab for Cutie, Tame Impala and even Alice Cooper! It was awesome and I loved every minute of the day! Sun & Cider with Mister Flay too - perfect. 

Monday 4th July - Burger trials at The Punter on Peas Hill in Cambridge to help Mister Flay with his Burger Blog. This was the BEST burger we have tasted so far in Cambridge, it will take a lot of beating! Laughter with friends over a pint made this a fantastic night to help exercise those mouth muscles. Another perfect sunny evening. 

Thursday 7th July - Making gory cupcakes, brownies and trying my arts and crafts skills (Gross Hand Painted Blood Stained finger printed Cake Boxes, which actually looked pretty effective in the end : )  at the Cambridge Cookery School in preparation for....

Friday 8th July - The Secluded Zombie Tea Party at my now not-so-secret secluded venue... Apocalypse Paintball near Royston, which was just the BEST venue for this event, it worked perfectly and we managed to scare our guests and entertain them all the same time, it was so much fun... With cakes and Zombie Make up provided by the beautiful Emily at Atomic Cupcakes... Write up here
Saturday 9th July - I will be meeting with the Lovely Lynn aka Bakelady of My Secret Tea Room in Leeds, who is travelling down to enjoy a spot of tea and cake with me at Peacocks Tearooms in Ely and we will then be joining my lovely friend Cat who runs Cakes By Cat to practice French Fancy decorating in readiness for a Tea Party Collaboration later this year.... Keep your eyes peeled for more info in this soon. 

Monday 11th July - The closing date for a recent competition I have entered - Sugar Slam 2011. See my entry for this Wrestling related cake competition, which was just hilarious to get involved with... fingers crossed for the winning title ; ) 

Friday 15th July - The very last day of my day job (Eek!)... I have completed the redundancy procedure there now, which has been a long time coming, and I will be moving onto new adventures now... Scary but exciting all at the same time!
I am now taking a couple of weeks out to put a plan of action together, catch up with old faces, meet some new ones, spend some time with my mum and my friends and just relax. I can't wait. 

Saturday 16th July - I will be attending a scary-sounding baby shower, complete with "Put the dummy in the babies mouth" game... argh, oh dear! - Haha.
But she is one of my bestest mates in the world, so I will suck it up and coo for an hour or two...and I will be helping to curb her chocolate craving by making a big old cake for us all to tuck into! It will be lovely : ) 

Sunday 17th July - Is a Big Walkies BBQ and Pup walk at Hinchingbrooke Park at midday, so I have decided to join in with my puppy (He is 7, but still my pups!) and meet some new canine friends. It will be lovely, so long as the sun is shining! This group is ever expanding and I haven't yet had time to join in, so it's been on my want to do list for ages now. Hurrah. 

Tuesday 19th July - Will see me joining in with a Tweet Meet with some fellow Cambridgeshire Twitterers thanks to the lovely Lisa Garwood of Native Brand. I am not sure where exactly this will be or what time just yet, but I can't wait to meet some of the faces that have been joining in my cheeky cake chats over the last few months.

Thursday 21st July - Is the 1st Birthday of Crafty Monkey Pottery Painting in St Neots, where my Crafty Tea Party was hosted back in May of this year. Chrissy, the lovely owner and new tea party friend is naturally so excited about her first year here (And so she should be, it's a fab place to visit!), and I couldn't resist getting involved when she asked me to join in the celebrations, so I will be running a Tea Bar there that evening. How exciting and it sounds so much fun, I may see some of you there should you be going along for this evening.

 Friday 29th July - Is a real first for The Secluded Tea Party... I will be baking for a Private Hen Party in conjunction with Lets Go Punting, where 10 sophisticated hens will be celebrating the impending marriage with a tour of the backs with these guys, and enjoying my afternoon tea on the riverbanks afterwards. Best of luck to the bride to be - I hope you have lot's of fun in the sun this weekend!

And the rest of the month?... Well who knows WHAT will happen or pop up over the next few weeks!... Lot's more plans to come, I have no doubt about that and am excited at the unknown.... Bring it on : ) 

Miss Sue Flay