On Sunday 14th August, I teamed with the lovely guys at letsgopunting.co.uk to provide a peaceful and relaxing version of The Secluded Tea Party - The Punting & Picnic Tea Party.
It was exactly this... My 12 guests were met at a secret spot by the lovely Caroline and she pointed them in the direction of their river transport for the evening. They were then punted along the famous backs of the River Cam whilst not having to lift a finger... Simon did all the work, hurrah - A true gent : )
A Perfect way to end the weekend in anybody's eyes! (I did this tour myself with Mister Flay a while back... It was perfect with a glass of bubbles and a good catch up with the guys as well as scouting for a perfect picnic location for my fellow Tea Party Guests....)
We had decided that whilst my guests were being pampered and shown the glorious Cambridge Colleges and the beautiful grounds on their way through, I would be at the other end, in a (luckily sunny!) cow field near to the Mill Pond, (Not so!) gracefully setting up a picnic blanket and a feast for my guests to enjoy once they had reached the end of the river.
The prep for my menu had been so easy compared to the stresses of the cow field hehe... Not only had it threatened rain all weekend and then teased me by becoming gloriously warm and sunny this afternoon, but the cow field was full of...well... shockingly... cows ; )
A group of around 40-50 people had been enjoying a late afternoon picnic when I arrived, and the cows had decided to wander over and start going through their bags whilst I was throwing out Blankets and cushions and setting up my make shift table in the centre. In a comical moment, naturally, knowing my luck, they turned towards my feast and headed in my direction. But they were about to mess with the wrong Tea Party Hostess... I boldly started to shoo them away with my floor length dress as a flag... waving them away with my hands mixed with asking them to leave politely, they headed for the opposite side of the path and stayed away for the rest of the afternoon. Manners win every time...
In fact, whilst I was setting up my picnic table, I had lots of curious looks and tourists walking up to me asking if they could take photos and wanted to know what I was doing, so I reveled in telling them all about my events, of course. I even had a couple of local policeman walk past and take a card before my guests arrived - how funny : )
My menu was a feast of dipping Ciabatta Breads with Smoked Olive Oil & Cranberry Infused Balsamic Vinegar as well as a wonderful Red Onion Marmalade made by my Jam lady, Crudites with a Home-made Garlic & Herb dip, Teapot shaped Fruit Scones with a dark Cinnamon Glaze (Served with Home-made Apple Sauce and Clotted Cream - A refreshingly delicious combination!) and a Mulberry & Gin Bakewell Slices (With the Mulberries being picked at Sidney Sussex College with my lovely Twitter friend Sarah and recipe courtesy of The British Larder)
I had also made a very tasty version of my Layer Cake, with a spreading of Forest Berry Jam and Freshly picked (And Huge!) Blackberries, again, with Sarah in her garden..you are a star, thank you!
The blackberries were mixed into the sponge mix before baking, which gave a beautiful colour as I cut into it, and the Vanilla Buttercream gave it the perfect light and creamy taste to end the picnic on a sugar high. I had two guests (Both with the name Rachel to make singing life easier ; ) with birthday celebrations, so in true British Style we all sang Happy Birthday to them and I gave them 2 candles each to blow out and get embarrassed over ; )
Of course, being in a meadow meant that we couldn't have tea as such, so I prepared lot's of traditional lemonade and presented it in polka dot-lidded jars with straws for easy and non-spill serving. They looked fab, and we topped them up with flavoured Iced Teas over Ice throughout the afternoon. Some guests even brought their own rum to spike their own Mojito flavoured Iced Teas (Courtesy of Tea Box Online!) which was very amusing to see... I love my naughty guests hehe... So long as they keep it in their own cups, I don't mind at all.
This tea party was relaxing and lot's of talk from the guests about their favourite places for cake and afternoon tea was a real eye opener... Thank you to everybody for the suggestions, all noted!
What I haven't really seen before is my guests all leaving at the same time and all walking off in completely different directions at the close of the tea party. It was such a surreal feeling seeing them all leave the blanket at the same time and literally head off in every direction possible... It felt, for the very first time, like a really secret, clandestine event and it put a smile on my face to know that just for 2 hours we sat and drank tea, ate cake and talked around a picnic blanket to strangers we wouldn't normally have met in life otherwise. Success for me is this very feeling. And knowing that after all that washing up and heavy lifting after the event, I will sleep well for the next 3 days!
That is exactly what The Secluded Tea Party is all about....
Until next time.
MISS SUE FLAY