Have you ever wondered what a real life Mad Hatters Tea Party might look like?
Well, look no further as we hosted a very secluded version of the Secluded Tea Party on Saturday 7th April in aid of Miss Sue Flays’ Birthday.
Just to help her cling her to her playful youth a little longer, this was to make it less painless and enjoy a few drinks and a bite to eat with tea party friends - it worked perfectly.
This was a free event offered to previous guests and to my blog & social media supporters, who I can’t thank enough for helping me to make a go of The Secluded Tea Party over the last year and coming back for more... it’s been great fun and it has been brilliant being able to offer this event as a thanks for being so lovely.
Curiouser and Curiouser
We had our very own Alice in Wonderland inspired Unbirthday Tea Party, complete with guests sat around the table in Mad Hatter style fancy dress.
I cannot easily put into words how hilariously random this evening tea party in the woods was.
There were Mad Hatters, Alice's, White Rabbits, Queen of Hearts, even a Dormouse! Everybody made such an effort that I just wasn’t going to even judge the fancy dress hehe.... They were ALL brilliant and I think we took enough photos between us to show you just how random our audience was throughout the evening...
We hosted the Scary Unbirthday Tea Party in the woods at Apocalypse Paintball in Kneesworth, on the very outskirts of Cambridgeshire. This venue allowed us to get creative and set up a very long table, laid with colourful tablecloths and vintage mis-matching china as well as place names, *Eat Me*& *Drink Me* labels and bottles for guests to play around with and of course, little goodie bags filled with silly treats for the child in every guest.
Apocalypse paintball added a little darkness to the tea party by surrounding us with high fences and barbed wire and a 30 acre woodland surrounding us and scaring us as the fire started roaring and the guys who work here started telling us all stories of random patients from the hospital next door appearing in the woods over the years.
It was dark, it was cold, but we soldiered on, drinking tea from our cups and saucers and adding booze if the guests wanted to bring their own to enjoy... some even poured their beverages into their teapots and sipped from the spouts... I LOVE my guests!
The same guests who walked from the train station or cycled on their tandem bikes to my chosen venue. They were shouted at, honked at as cars passed by, this is how fantastic by tea party guests can be. Oh to have been a fellow passenger on their train hehe.
We ate fantastic food, made by our guests and dishes added to the pre-set afternoon tea table as they arrived. Guests made the most incredible amounts of tea party food, including pesto pull apart bread, dodo pie, tiramisu, mozzarella eyeballs, chocolate rocky road bites, sandwiches in the shape of butterflies and even clubs/spades/hearts/diamonds, sausage rolls, quiches, jam tarts, marshmallow mushrooms, finger shaped cocktail sausages, chili chocolate truffles that packed a punch, marzipan maggot infested cakes, even a cake in the shape of the mad hatters hat.
Guests got creative as well as traditional and everything you could possibly imagine in between!
I cannot thank them all enough for entering into the spirit and getting their aprons on to bake a few treats for the mad hatters tea party!
In all my Alice fueled research, I LOVED the quotes I found to add to the table, along with the playing cards of various sizes and variations for decoration. The candlelit table looked lovely and not as scary as I had hoped, but no matter, it was fun that was paramount here.
I am not sure if my guests had quietly noticed the super glued lid on the jam jar in the centre?
It had a quote that read "jam tomorrow and jam yesterday - but never jam today.” ... I felt evil and I glued the lid down to trick those macho guests but I am unsure if anybody noticed!
Throughout the evening, we were entertained with various lawn games available to play such as Croquet, *Painting the Roses Red* with fake blood and white wooden roses and even my own made up game of *Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee Loo Roll Bowling*.
We were also delighted to welcome Guy from Wildfire Productions who came along and wowed us with his fire stick... he put on a live fire show and made a few guests gasp with his stunts. This was just brilliant and got the guests laughing and chatting if they hadn’t already been doing this by this point. It was great fun and a must for the next outdoor tea party event that we run...
My other reason for offering this as a free event was to ask my guests to cough up a few pennies to help raise some money for local charity, Food Cycle Cambridge, of which I have helped out in the kitchen of recently with the mister. We loved it so much, we will be going back to help out again, however from their recent communication online, we noticed that they had certain equipment stolen or go missing or get broken. So we decided to try and help them out by offering a raffle with prizes donated by some EXTREMELY generous businesses. All of which are listed at the bottom of this blog post and I want to thank them and the guests for making this possible...
It took us nearly half an hour to get through all of the prizes - guests were so generous with their pocket money that we raised a FANTASTIC £305 in total for Food Cycle. I LOVE you all for this and I am so glad that Jen, one of the volunteers from this charity got to come and join in at this tea party.
Although, I believe that Jen would thank us but also shout at us for scaring her and her lovely friend Steph a little towards the end of the evening. We had asked guests to bring a small torch with them, but hadn’t advised them as to why they would need it.
Well. The darkness had consumed the 30 acre woods around us by 9pm and my playful friends at Apocalypse Paintball had kindly offered to dress up in scary masks such as old Gas Masks and Tall Mad Hatter inspired Hats, matched with long leather trench coats and boiler suits... (A white rabbit who couldn’t actually see much from his mask so became a very scary, yet clumsy White Rabbit in the dark!)
How could I resist the urge to scare my guests a little?!
So guests were gathered and given a quick health and safety briefing (Don’t trip over in the dark, don’t run into the ditches, don’t fall into a coffin, don’t trip up the stairs to the old creepy woodland church and graveyard...) That sort of thing. As you do.
They were asked to pair up and were sent in bursts of 3 or 4 minutes between each couple, so there was nothing but darkness when they walked in. We didn't want them walking around in a group, this would not have been as scary... They were each searching for an easer egg, a scary and frustrating easter egg hunt was challenged of them... with our scary characters moving the eggs around the woods as they chased our guests and jumped out at them from behind trees, from trenches, old cars and buildings within the woods. Every once in a while I could hear a scream and a yelp and the birds flying around the woods scared the guests even more haha... So much fun - For me anyway!
We all laughed afterwards, but I don’t think Jen and the Food Cycle Team will ever come back to our scary location again... Please forgive me guys ; ) ... It was all worth it in the end... everybody got a chocolate easter egg and a chance to work off some of that tea party food before they packed it all up and took the leftovers home with them and their arms full of raffle prizes.
I know I certainly had a fab evening, as well as tons of laughs & strops planning this one off event, so thank you all for taking part and I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
Hopefully I had 30 very content guests at the end of the evening.
£305 for Food Cycle will go a fair way I hope and if you would like to find out more about this local food charity, then visit their website for more info.
You can also visit Facebook to view the full photo album for this event here.
Now *Happy UnBirthday* to you all... unless it is your birthday today of course!...
I am off for a rest before I plan the next event....
Mad Hatters & scares not included!
Miss Sue Flay
PS - A Note to thank my Raffle Prize Donators... You are all wonderful and thank you thank you thank you!
Kandula Tea, Cath Kidston, Back2Back Massage, The Missing Sock, Cambridge Cookery School, English & Modern Greek Lessons, Cybher London, Higgledy Garden, La Tasca Tapas, The Rare Tea Company, Inder's Kitchen, Scudamores Punting, Cambridgeshire Wine School, Hannah Bakes, Jean Luc Benazet Photography, Hardwick Celebration Cakes & Jams, Revelare Boutique Clothing, 12a Club, Bethany Hughes Petit Fours, Vida Moda, Crafty Monkey Pottery Painting, Folk Museum Cambridge, Jemporium Vintage, Dexterous Diva, Apocalypse Paintball.