Friday 27 April 2012

The Not So Glamourous Side of Being An Afternoon Tea Hostess

This thought crossed my mind yesterday whilst packing up the tables at my latest privately booked secluded tea party, that if somebody walked rough the door right now, they wouldn't see a calm and cool tea party hostess sat down sipping a cup of tea and giving herself a well deserved pat on the back for a successful baby shower afternoon tea...

No. Instead, they would be greeted with the hostess bent over a village hall table, folding the table legs in with both hands, arse in the air, granny knickers in full view under her floaty summer dress. Not lady like at all. But the only stance I could take with a bad back killing me after being on my feet for a full 15 hours of baking, setting up venue and taking it down again.
Not forgetting the shopping for the event, sorting tea party props,  setting the table, serving tea, endless washing up, floor sweeping and chair stacking.

So bending over with my bloomers on view made me chuckle loudly with the realisation of how un lady like I was being (NOBODY should see that!), especially after having just read a chapter or two on the etiquette of being a lady in preparation for the lovely Mr William Hanson and our collaboration in September. 
I need a few hours with Mr Hanson to sort myself out.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't me moaning, I absolutely LOVE hosting The Secluded Tea Party and the day I fall out of love with it will be the day I stop hosting.
But I do have to admit, there are very few glamorous moments in the world of afternoon tea.

Elbow deep in sticky scone dough, attempting to master the art of clearing away used loose leaf tea leaves without clogging up any sinks, lifting boxes of china up and down 3 flights of stairs to the car-then to the venue and then in reverse whilst trying not to sweat off your eye liner or blusher at the same time, scraping smeared on jam and clotted cream off side plates before washing them up and getting all over yourself whilst doing it (no matter how carefully you try!), the tears and hissy fit your other half suffers when a cake doesn't look as you imagined.... Or worse still, your ginger bread is sloppy and won't work, queue a full on toddler-style fist slamming and bottom lip wobble whilst he jumps in to save the day....which annoys you even further, as then it isn't all your own work!
Not forgetting the fabulous photo shoots surrounded by children fueled with sugar (Ah, didn't think through the part where they were actually allowed to eat the cake and then proceed to run around the garden for 3 hours before they crashed!) or the romantic countryside shoot just before it snows... in minus 7*c temperatures and you gain a set of blue fingers and black toes that take a week to thaw... Great ideas at the time hehe. (But LOVELY Photos that come out of them, which then makes it WORTH it!)

When I had my 1950's Inspired make up lesson for my birthday last year, I thought i would be making myself up beautifully for every tea party, however i'm lucky if I have time to get my eye liner on in some sort of presentable fashion before I have to get back to slicing 5000 cucumbers and mashing a million hard boils eggs in preparation for those fiddly finger sandwiches that have to be served 5 minutes AFTER your guests arrive, otherwise they end up dry and crusty before they have even started. The finger sandwiches were not a stress that I had anticipated, but those little beggars are an art in themselves hehe.

Not forgetting the fabulous outdoor venues I have used for The Secluded Tea Party.
My lovely friend Jamie runs Apocalypse Paintball near Royston and we have been very lucky to have been allowed to run amok in the woodland there.
But with woodland comes the Unglamorous toilet quandary... It's portaloo versus squatting in the woods....
There are portaloos here, but bare in mind that manly paint ballers use these. Enough said ; ) 

And just adding a little more here, after a complete and unnecessary freak out and childish hissy fit over a cake last night. Yes, you heard me correctly, if you can imagine a toddler in the terrible twos phase, hurling themselves on the floor shouting abuse in an uncontrollable manner at a victoria sponge. If I could have thrown it, I would have. The only reason that stopped me doing this was the thought of even more mess to clean up afterwards. Jam and buttercream does not come off the floor easily, so this would be the only thing that stops me from covering my kitchen in baked goods. 

Meanwhile, the pup and the Mister are both quaking with fear in the attic waiting for the shrill noises and infrequent crying fits to stop and allow them to go back to the lounge and relax. It sounds funny, but at the time it's the world's biggest tragedy to the baker and it always happens just before a photo shoot where you need a beautiful & photogenic cake to show off your fabulous baking skills, but it comes out looking like Freddy Krueger has made it in a murderous frenzy. 

The not so glamourous world of cake making and afternoon tea.... in all it's honesty.
I have to admit, this is just a FEW of the stories I could regale to you all... some stories are just not there to share.. And will NEVER be shared. 

What happens at The Secluded Tea Party stays at The Secluded Tea Party...
Usually ; ) 

Have you had similar experiences as a hostess or baker, or perhaps your other half scares you witless when they freak out or put you through similar situations? ... Please do leave a comment below and share your stories and thoughts!.....

Miss Sue Flay 


  1. If I can't roll out fondant right for the cake or it gets too many folds I actually go BALISTIC! I am grumpy baker through and through, but I do LOVE it!

    Nom! x

  2. My 'Bottom' is usually in the air when I'm putting the boxes of china away under the stairs after each Afternoon Tea I do. Thankfully only the Gent and Son are there to witness this splendour. I swear that each time I'll be more organised with this crockery, but tiredness at the end of a lovely day puts that thought right at the back of my mind until the next event comes along with the same thought, only to repeat itself. Or, until I find a suitable sideboard or cabinet to show off my lovely hoard.

    Keep up the good work.

    Lynn x

    1. Haha that promise sounds oh so familiar... It's the tiredness that does it for me too. Only to swear the next time I will be more organised... a Year and a half later... I am no more organised ; ) xx