Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Secluded (CRAFTY!) Tea Party - Full Write Up

This Months' Afternoon Tea event saw us parking up at a very Crafty Venue in the centre of St Neots for a very special edition of The Secluded Tea Party!...

My Guests were invited to join me at Crafty Monkey Pottery Painting, owned by the fantastically enthusiastic and fun host, Chrissy Brown.
Chrissy welcomed my 12 guests and talked them through a short pottery painting master class to allow them to get the best out of their time painting a lovely Teacup and Saucer set which had been laid out waiting for them to attack with sponges, brushes, various types of paint and even their finger tips, using Chrissy's favourite book, a finger print design technique. So much fun!

We all sat down for the first hour of the afternoon getting better acquainted and had great fun learning that some of my furthest travelling guests had driven up to meet us from Windsor today on a crawl along the A1 to meet various people along the way!
One guest had even travelled by car, and then train, and then by taxi to get to us - I LOVED her dedication, and I am honoured that my guests are prepared to do this to visit The Secluded Tea Party : )
We had 2 small guests attending who enjoyed getting messy and making hand prints, as well as painting a princess money box to add to the mix. 
In fact, this mini guest was enjoying herself so much so, that when we broke off for Afternoon Tea, she stayed at the table to keep her artistic commitment up whilst sipping on a cup of TeaBox's finest and nibbling on a Scone or two - So great to see the enjoyment from the eyes of my smaller guests too!
A separate table had been set up towards the back of the room, where I laid out my Afternoon Tea treats for everybody to sit and enjoy for a well deserved break.
Everything had been baked at my very first session in the kitchens of the Cambridge Cookery School, and what a TREAT it was for me to be able to use dishwashers and the well-equipped kitchen to do this - Such a difference it made.... Completely complication and disaster free : )  A stress-saving opportunity to say the very least!
This menu included Elderflower & Strawberry Cordial on arrival, as well as a selection of Sandwiches, Savoury Onion & Crème Fraiche Ciabatta Swirls, Fruit & Spice Scones served with a locally-made Forest Berry Preserve, Oreo Truffles and a decadent 3 Layer Carrot & Walnut Cake.
Instead of a table cloth, this month I set the table using many different sized and coloured material cut offs, of which had been donated to the Tea Party Table by a new blogging friend. They looked fantastic against the colourful backdrop of the room, and they will be used for a variety of different ideas over the summer too. Perfect.
Tea Box Online have been firm winners when it comes to my Tea Menu, and this month was no exception!
Not only does the lovely Kirsty at Tea Box HQ offer flawless customer service, but the selection of loose leaf tea is ever increasing and as impressive as always.
The Rhubarb & Custard was a popular choice, naturally. With it's sweet and distinctive flavours, you would not even notice that this is a caffeine free option unless I told you.
I also allowed 2 of my guests to sample a small tea cup full of one of their upcoming flavours, Whiskey & Ginger.
Admittedly, I am not a fan of either ingredient, so I allowed it to be sipped by guests who would truly appreciate this new taste sensation. They adored it, and the smell was fabulous, even to me. So here's hoping this one is available to buy later in the year, it will get many guests noses twitching that's for sure!
As per usual, I also sat on the sofa at some ungodly hour last week and created an entirely new IPod Playlist for my Crafty Guests to enjoy listening to whilst indulging, and I would like to thank the very charming Glenn from *My Mate George* for allowing me to play his fantastic song titled *A Nice Cup Of Tea*.
If you didn't hear it or haven't yet seen this video, please do check him out. He has placed a smile on many tea lovers' faces these past few weeks, mine included!

This crafty afternoon offered a very relaxing edition of The Secluded Tea Party, and it was a great opportunity for myself and for Chrissy to sit down and get to chat and help our guests with their mini projects.
I could definitely get used to sitting around and enjoying an activity with my guests in the future!.... It makes for a very chilled out Miss Sue Flay hehe.
I can't thank Chrissy enough for allowing us to take over her venue for the afternoon, we all had so much fun and the creative side came out of us all : )
Who knows, perhaps we will make a return visit one day in the future...?
The Next version of The Secluded Tea Party will be offering my guests a Vintage Theme which will not disappoint!
It is being held in a very exclusive venue, with a few surprises to boot, with only 2 Tickets left for this event.... Why not grab them and join us for Afternoon Tea with a twist?!...

Miss Sue Flay

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

New Baking Residence

After some very exciting chats with a good friend of The Secluded Tea Party, I am THRILLED to announce that I, Miss Sue Flay, will now be baking AND preparing my Afternoon Tea Party Food, Cakes and Private Orders from the fantastically equipped and located .... 


The very lovely and talented Tine Roche, Owner and Head Chef at the Cambridge Cookery School has allowed me over the last few months to take over her kitchen to host both a Tea Party and The Cambridge Clandestine Cake Club, inviting my guests along to enjoy this location whilst tucking into my freshly prepared goodies, so it is the PERFECT location to use on a more permanent basis. 

This weekend will see me packing up my baking bags, and storming into the kitchen on Saturday morning to start my preparations The Secluded (Crafty!) Tea Party which will be held on Sunday 29th May at 2pm.

  I can't thank Tine and her team enough for this exciting oppurtunity!
Allowing me to bake in the Cookery School will give me a greater confidence in my own concoctions, especially with some real professionals giving me constructive criticism as I go along! - I can't wait!

Cambridge Cookery School run some of the most saliva-inducing classes, including a new Posh Picnics Course which is currently running an offer if 2 people book... I would HIGHLY rate the classes in this state-of-the-art Kitchen in the centre of Cambridge. 

 I have taken part in one or two courses myself this year, and the recipes have appeared on 
The Tea Party Table from time to time, they are SO easy to replicate. 

This is the beauty of their classes... They can be repeated with ease once you get home and fancy giving them a go on your own using their easy to follow recipe sheets that you get to take home with you. 


A New and Inspiring Baking Residence for my alter ego. 


Monday, 23 May 2011

To Tea or Not To Tea?

I have to admit that before I started conjuring up Tea Party fun and frolics, I was a PG Tips drinker... Ahem. And I am not afraid to admit it. We all have to start somewhere.

Yes, I openly admit, that I had no experiences of the strong, smoky smell of a Lapsang Souchong, or the excitement and new taste sensation of my guests' favourite Rooibos Tea with Rhubarb and Custard ...Yes, you heard it right - Drink this to become a child again!

Why on earth did I start creating a pop-up tea party if I have no experience of tea tasting prior to doing so, I hear you ask?

To put it simply. 

  I like to think that I am a cake connoisseur, I know exactly what cake I like, and what my guests will enjoy.  I am, if you had not realised by now, a cake fiend.
I started with Cupcakes, even starting up a "Cupcake Club" in Cambridge in 2010, where my friends came along to meet me in a coffee shop, and we drank coffee and swapped home-baked cakes. It was bad for the hips, but great fun nonetheless.

My passion spun from there, and now I am enjoying providing my Tea Party Guests with a unique Afternoon Tea experience each and every time. 

I don't claim to know about every tea under the sun by smell, touch and flavour, But I can be completely honest and tell you that I am enjoying experiencing new and wonderful teas every week, and introducing these to my guests at each Tea Party.

I would also say that there is absolutely no problem with you drinking a normal brand of *Builders Tea* in my eyes.
Please don't ever think that this would be sniffed at by me (I am as guilty as anybody for accepting this weak version at office elevenses)!, I promise not to scoff at you when you tell me this at The Secluded Tea Party - I still do it too in time of need!

If you like this typically British cuppa, then I can provide a simple Breakfast Tea, an aromatic Earl Grey or an Assam to satisfy your needs. 

If you are looking for something new to try, then I can highly rate the Rose Infused Assam that can appear at the table from time to time - It compliments a piece of my home-made cake perfectly, no matter what time of day it is.

Or, perhaps a luxurious White Tea with a hint of Melon. It is full of antioxidants and is known for it's anti-ageing benefits.... So perhaps try this before I sip it all up myself ; )

I serve in individual Tea pots, so you are welcome to share your choice around, or keep it purely for yourself. And you are encouraged to try more than one, should you be undecided.
This is a great chance for you to come along and not only eat lot's of freshly baked treats, but to sample different Teas  from my ever-changing Tea Menu that perhaps you would never have thought of trying before. 

I change my Tea Menu for every event, and try to have at least 10 different Teas to sample and choose, with a new addition or two at most events.
These do include caffeine free options too.

I have also been learning that there are certain health benefits to tea, such as the fact that it is a great natural source of fluoride. So If you forget to brush your teeth in the morning, sip a cup of Char and help cut down on that plaque build up?!

It's also a great Pick Me Up. How often do you see Dot Cotton pouring the EastEnders crew a cuppa in a time of stress?!.... I rest my case.

Do you know what your favourite Tea is yet?... If so, please do leave a comment and share it with me and my guests : )

And if not, then why not come along to The Secluded Tea Party and find your new favourite Tea?.....


Monday, 16 May 2011

Cakes & Meetings And Meetings About Cakes!

The last couple of days have just flown past!

Mainly because it has included meeting so many GREAT people and doing so much food related activities (Both baking AND eating!)...Generally having lots of fun picking up new Tea Party goodies along the way!

I will share with you just some of the fun things that I got up to this weekend.

Firstly, a little challenge between myself and my day-job colleague, Lina!
I found a recipe from Mr Blumenthal for a 2 Ingredient Chocolate Mousse. 
Chocolate being one. Water being the other.
She told me that this didn't sound as though it would work too well.
Challenge accepted! Hmmmm. Admittedly, I wasn't sure it would work either!
I decided to infuse the water with Earl Grey Tea, and it worked wonders. A very rich and thick mousse, not even I could finish a tiny pot in one sitting. 
I liked it. Some family members didn't. So more for me!

Saturday hosted two very important meetings for Miss Sue Flay.
The first being the drop off of my very first Birthday cake with Let's Go Punting in Cambridge! My Victoria Sponge with Forest Berry Jam, which went down very well indeed with the group of teenagers on this Punting tour! Hurrah!
Myself and the lovely Caroline also planned and plotted for our collaboration, this being The Newly announced Secluded (Punting & Picnic!) Tea Party on Sunday 14th August 2011. Very exciting indeed! 

The Second meeting was a very welcome chat and cup of tea with the lovely Claire Young, 2008 Finalist of BBC1's show The Apprentice, and who has since set up organisations such as Girls Out Loud and School Speakers.
Claire met with me at Chilford Hall where she was hosting an event, and she gave me half an hour of her time, where we sat and discussed my plans and ideas. Her advice was invaluable and I can't thank her enough for the feedback she gave me. It has got me thinking in ways I had not even considered! She even sat and enjoyed one of my freshly baked scones, an added bonus to see that she enjoyed it! 
Check her projects out, they are very inspirational indeed!  

The scones I baked this weekend were a plain fruit scone, with a delicious cinnamon glaze. I used a new Teapot shaped cutter for these little beauties, and they were so cute I almost didn't want to share them hehe!
Everybody who tried these enjoyed them, even my mum, one of my very harshest critics! 
So needless to say these will appear on the Tea Party menu very soon.
Sunday saw myself and the man friend heading to Hitchin Vintage Fair where I picked up a few goodies for The Tea party Table, as well as to see the stunning Kate Garner play live.
I have been playing her music for a while on my Tea Party play list.
In my usual style... I managed to completely miss her playing live and caught her just as she was leaving for home... DOH!
But she was so charming and stayed for a quick chat which was great! I felt a little star struck if I am honest hehe!
Kate has performed alongside the likes of Van Morrison, Roger Daltry and even Chas and Dave- Check her out! She has some brilliant gigs coming up.

(Some more secret than others....But Shhhh.....!)
Whilst we were in Hitchin, we couldn't resist enjoying an afternoon treat at the delightful Just Desserts on Bridge Street!
Mister had a Banoffee Waffle with lashings of cream and sauce.. but it was a little much for me to cope with, so I settled for a delicious Bakewell Slice which helped to satisfy a sweet tooth in a much smaller package!

A lovely weekend with lots of plans and things to follow up with now!
It never stops hehe... I love it!


Wednesday, 11 May 2011

A Nice Cup Of Tea

 No waffling needed for this little Pick Me Up!.... 
 Just sit back with the sound turned up ... Or your headphones in and enjoy this little gem that I stumbled upon on during my tea research last night!... It sure put a smile on my face!

I hope it puts one on yours too!....

And now go and have a Nice Cup Of Tea! 
Miss Sue Flay 


Monday, 9 May 2011

On the Defence ... How to survive a Zombie Encounter!

Have you ever asked yourself what exactly would you do in the event of a Zombie attack?!
What would happen if a virus broke out and turned us all into flesh hungry monsters as soon
as we came into contact with said virus?...Be it by being bitten, or coming into contact via a shared cuppa and a piece of cake?!....Should you ever share!?

How would you turn your house or place of work into a a safe base?!
Would you be able to consider quickly the pros and cons of each building type?... What if you decided to baracade yourself on to your third floor house, to then find yourself surrounded and unable to leave....?! 
What supplies would you need to survive and maintain a safe shelter?... And what would you do if you needed to move on and make a new one should it ever be over run by the blighters?!

What types of Tea and Cake would you take with you to live on?!...
This is a panic alone! ; )

What weapons would you use to protect yourself? - Your trusty KMix to whisk these beasts into submission?!... A sack of Potatoes to drop on their heads from a decent height?!.... A hot vintage cup full of Early Grey to throw in your enemies face?.... You need to think these things through!

How would you move around from town to village and back again?!
Would your local ice cream van cause too much noise and attention for those sugar-craving child zombies?!..... Perhaps one of those pesky Cambridge student's bicycles would be better as it is a lot quieter and no risk of running out of fuel.... Finally a use rather than a pain in the proverbial perhaps?!.... Haha

How far back does the Zombie attack plan even date?
Well, my friends, believe it or not, it has been said that our Egyptian friends even had a Zombie outbreak plan!!... Where they would run to I am uncertain.... The pyramids are a deathtrap at the best of times!....
Can you tell I have put a lot of thought into this eventuality... that could possibly... never...maybe... one day happen?! Haha.

Well... The Secluded ZOMBIE Tea will enable the Zombie entusiast in us all to enjoy an evening of fun and games and more geeky conversations on the possibility of an outbreak at a very Apocalyptic outdoor venue!... It won't disappoint! Trust me! - What choice might you have?!... Hehe

More info & Booking HERE... 

Miss (Zombie) Flay

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Tea Parties In The Press....

What a whirl wind the world of Secluded Tea Parties has produced over the last few months!!!... I am having a blast planning and plotting and chatting and meeting new cake-loving friends along the way! 

If you didn't know... I am now the very proud and smiley supplier of celebration layer cakes, home-made by myself (Choose from Lemon Curd, my own Coffee Curd or Forest Berry Sponge with lashings of Vanilla Buttercream!) 
to the lovely guys at The Cambridge Punting Company down on our very own River Cam!... Cake & Punting on a sunny afternoon on the backs... what more could you want?! : )

I have just sat back and taken stock of the personal progress that I am making, and have made since my first Tea Party, back in January...

So much has been discussed and so many lovely guests and fans of my blog have said such fantastic things about my alias and my afternoon tea parties.... And I have had fun meeting lots of local (and not-so local!) food fanatics and some very influential people along the way!

So this blog is in honour of all of you have made this work out for me and your continued support throughout this year! 

I know it sounds stinky-cheese-like here... But THANK YOU SO MUCH for supporting me... be it offering me a venue for an afternoon... Coming to join me at afternoon tea for the afternoon.... Treating me to a cup of tea and a chat about cake in town... Or just your friendly emails (Some have even started up conversations from America and Australia amongst other countries!.... Amazing! : ) 

So.. Here are just a handful of lovely things that have been said and mentioned about me on your blogs and websites!.... Please do keep spreading the Tea Party word : ) 

This summer, I will be producing a lot more ideas to offer you all! 
So keep an ear to the ground and an eye on my blog page! 

My First ever Tea Party Review from The Secluded (NEW YEAR!) Tea Party in January 2011! From the lovely Deepa, Ireena, Maria and Nora

The LOVELY WRITE UP from my lovely friend, Sian Townsend, previously of Agenda Magazine.  

 Not forgetting the two most influential Underground Supperclub Hosts who have helped me with advice and their kind words over the last few months!.... Bakelady and MsMarmiteLover!

 The fabulous Lady Fenn... A local girl who actually goes by the name... (No... I won't give it away!) .. But she is very well known in Cambridge for her networking events! I love her and love her even more for blogging about me! More to come with Lady Fenn later!

After deciding it would be a good idea... more for personal pleasure and the chance to meet more tea and cake-loving people (!)... I am now hosting the Cambridge Branch of The Clandestine Cake Club! Our first meet was brilliant fun and more to come!
Thank you so much to Sarah for the lovely write up!...

Not forgetting my new Email pal, Sarah from Vermont, USA!... She was my Tea Cup Trade partner in February, and she sent me the most beautiful items for the Tea Party table! All of which were used for my Book Club Tea Party!


Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The Secluded (CRAFTY!) Tea Party is coming in May!

  My newest version of The Secluded Tea Party is on ... 

Sunday 29th May 2011 from 2pm to 4.30pm .....

.. Don't worry!.....You don't need any crafty experience to enjoy or take part in this afternoon....It will be SO much fun! You would be a fool to miss out on this afternoon tea with a crafty twist....!... So Exciting!


Something Sparkling on Arrival

Savoury Tartlet Selection

  Home-Made Fruit & Spice Scones,
served with all the trimmings

Bursting Cranberry 
& White Chocolate Blondies

Hummingbird Bakery 
Carrot & Walnut Cake

Oreo Truffles

Selection of unlimited Loose Leaf teas served, 
courtesy of Teapigs and TeaBoxOnline amongst others!

Join Miss Sue Flay and her guests for a very interactive and sociable
EDITION of The Secluded Tea Party!

The Venue ... At a secret location somewhere in Cambridgeshire
- Can you guess where it is yet?!..... Hehe!

This secret location will be revealed to my guests nearer to the time!
Suggested Donation is just £24 Per Guest (To cover materials AND food & tea!)

To Book, Click here... http://www.wegottickets.com/event/119353

I look forward to seeing you soon!

Miss Sue Flay 


Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Cambridge Clandestine Cake Club - Our First Meet!

The first ever version of the Cambridge Clandestine Cake Club was hosted by the fantastic and very suitable venue in the form of Cambridge Cookery School, Owned and run by the lovely Tine Roche.

The theme for this Cambridge-First was *A Right Royal Knees Up*, in honour of this weekends' Royal festivities!.... If you don;t know who we are talking about, then where on earth have you been? hehe. 
It was a superb talking point for the guests who joined in, and we all discussed the beautiful gown that the bride had worn and how lovingly the handsome Prince had looked at his wife throughout the day. 
What a lovely talking point to have over Tea and Cake!

Our bakers did The Clandestine Cake Club Proud, pulling off the most delicious and creative cake creations for this afternoon.
Cakes included Pistachio, Spiced Honey, Coffee Curd & Chocolate, Lemon Drizzle, Chocolate & Chilli and a fab twist on the traditional Sachertorte.

We couldn't beat The Clandestine Cake Club Cake Slice record (Which was 11 slices in one sitting in Leeds!!!!)... But what we couldn't manage, was divided up towards the end and taken home for a second sitting later on in the day with our families haha! 
Nobody turned down the option of taking cake home... that's for sure!

We neatly tidied the Cookery School up after we had finished gossiping and gorging and sipping on our cups of tea.... and we thank the venue SO MUCH for their hospitality for this meet! 
What a treat and a privilege to be allowed to use this kitchen for our first of many Clandestine Cake Club meets!

To see more on The Clandestine Cake Club, started by the fabulously talented Bakelady 
(A fellow Underground Tea Party hostess : ) 
visit the ever-growing Clandestine Cake Club website!

And we hope to see some new Cambridge people .... and welcome back some old faces too, having all enjoyed this relaxed Saturday afternoon enjoying all things cake-y! 

One of our lovely guests, Sarah wrote this fab blog with her own photos of this event!

And, of course..... some photos to get you drooling.....