Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Secluded Blogfest - Coming November 2011

Having a passion for reading and following some fantastically written blogs as well as blogging myself about my own food and cake exploits over the last year or so, I am always finding myself talking to people about the world of blogging when getting into conversations about most things lately! 

And so ....

The Secluded Tea Party's 
first ever BLOGFEST 
..... has been dreamt up and is finally ready to go!

Saturday 19th November 2011
10am - 2pm

To Book Your Ticket Click Here

At a secret leisurely location somewhere approx. 7 miles from Cambridge City Centre.....
Address emailed to you a few days prior to the event to get you really excited!...
Limited seats for this very relaxed and informal blogging event, you are given the opportunity to meet 3 VERY SPECIAL GUESTS to talk to you about blogging and tell you all their stories, ideas, tips and thoughts on the world of blogging and social networking. 

As well as giving you the chance to bring your laptops along and make use of the WIFI access at my top secret country hide out to write a blog post, tweet and facebook your friends & followers live from the event or if you are new to blogging even get started with your first blog using the expertise around you. Why not even get snap happy with your cameras in this inspiring countryside location? ....
Not only using my special guests as inspiration, but using your fellow guests to chat to and help get you excited about blogging, whatever point you are at in the blogging world : )  


10am - Arrival & Welcome 
(A chance to network & meet your fellow bloggers)

10.15am - Guest Speaker - "The Power Of Marketing Through Social Media" 
with Mel Hollidge of Wired2Create
With 15 years marketing, design and journalistic experience, Mel is the Social Media Guru of Cambridge with a passion for networking both online as well as though local networking groups. 
She will be here to help you set up your new blog and help with any existing blogs and technical help you may need, as well as talking about her passions in the blogging world and will give you her best advice & experience on how to optimise your marketing through social media.

10.45am - Guest Speaker - "Individuality" 
with Liz Fraser, BBC Radio & TV Presenter and Fabulous blog-writer.
Liz Fraser is a new friend to The Secluded Tea Party and is a best-selling author of three hilarious books about the realities of being a mum and raising children, as well as being a fantastic TV parenting commentator. She will be at this event to talk about finding your own VOICE and making it YOURS, rather than a copy of other blogs. As a writer, she feels very passionate about this topic and she will be here throughout the day to give you her input and advice on your own blogs and ideas. 

11.15am - Tea, Coffee & Selection of Home made treats
by myself, Miss Sue Flay.... Mmmm Sugar fix hehe!

11.30am - (Secret Blogging Plans and Fun - TBA)

12noon - Guest Speaker - "How My Blog Changed My Life"
with ReeRee Rockette of Rockalily Lipsticks.
ReeRee Rockette is a blogger, creator of "Wonderful Women: Minding Our Own Business" a support network for creative women in business as well as being the owner of Rockalily Makeup in London. She will be at The Secluded Blogfest in Cambridge to inspire all guests with the story of how blogging transformed her life, as well as offering advice & tips on making your blog it's own brand, and rules when you are blogging (And which you can break)!

12.30pm - Time to Network, Blog and attend The Secluded Blogfest workshop. 
Use our Social Media Guru, Mel and the Lovely ReeRee Rockette's & Liz Fraser's advice to help set up a blog, get the most out of your existing blog and to get (re-)inspired. 

1.30pm - Tea, Coffee & Cake with a chance to network & use the locations leisure facilities for the rest of the afternoon - Bliss! 

Recently I have found that I am meeting two kinds of people on my travels and adventures....

1. The fellow blogger, who loves sitting down and tweeting, facebooking, instagramming (Is that even a word?!) and blogging about the new pair of shoes they are strutting around in their office today, or the piece of cake they are drooling over in the coffee shop queue, or the wonderful meal they have been cooking and enjoying with a loved one (Even if said loved one is putting thumbs up or flipping the bird in the background because they are getting annoyed with you papping yet another piece of well cooked steak on your plate to show the world! - And yes, the world and it's wife does sit and look at these photos hehe... me included ; ) 
Blogging is a fun and important part of this persons life, and they are making friends and expanding their network through this big white box fueled with their personal stories and photos. It's such a simple thing, but an exciting part of their followers day. 

2. The Wannabe blogger, who keeps hearing how wonderful the blogging world is and how easy it is to get started once you have that idea or seed to start growing it and waffling with the rest of the blogging world. This wannabe blogger just hasn't yet found the time to get around to writing their first post, or perhaps just doesn't think they have the technical expertise to be able to start a blog let alone maintain one. I can tell you honestly now, Mr or Miss Wannabe Blogger.... Not many of us DO know much of the technical stuff... most of us just decided to give it a go, we got it started and learnt from each other as we went along hehe. And once you find one brilliant blog to follow, you find a link to a new one, and then another, and another..... And soon you are hooked. 


Why not take advantage of this fantastic day of blog-related plans and enjoy a very tranquil and peaceful countryside venue, which even offers you the chance to spend the rest of the afternoon using it's sports and leisure facilities to energise or continue relaxing should you desire.

This event is open to everybody, no matter if you are a blog writer or reader... It will be inspirational to anybody, whatever their blog interests or favored subject : )  

To Book Your Ticket Click Here

The first Secluded Blogfest is just £30 per person to include all workshops, talks, cake and refreshments.

I hope to see you at this very special Secluded event!

Miss Sue Flay 

Friday, 16 September 2011

My Date With Cambridge

Whilst spending time at home being a lady of leisure, following a recent redundancy (It was expected, and the last 7 weeks have been well and truly relaxing and I have enjoyed every minute!) I decided to spend the day in Cambridge and have a date with my home town. 
Just me and Cambridge. 
In the Drizzling August Rain. Lovely. In fact, I had such a great day in my own company that I just want to blog about it to diarise it. Feel free to skip it if it doesn't interest you, but I can't rate a date with Cambridge enough..
Why not take a day off and do the same!?
I started with a quick stop and walk around Madingley American Cemetery, a great place to relax and think about things. The only other people around were two american tourists who politely spoke a few words to me and then carried on walking. It's such a picturesque location, yet so sombre at the same time. I had only visited for the first time last year, after years of driving past without going in. Now, if I need a peaceful hour, this is one of the best places in Cambridge to go. Perfect start to a relaxing day. 
I also decided to stop being a bus snob, and actually took the park and ride for the very first time in around 10 years hehe... It was quick, cheap and easy and I felt like an old fogie with a big bus-induced smile on my face. My dad would be proud! It even stopped right in the centre of town close to a new coffee shop I had wanted to try for some time, Michaelhouse Cafe which is situated in a pretty church on Trinity Street, so I thought it rude not to stop and enjoy a pot of fairtrade tea and a slice of fresh-from-the-oven New York Fruit Cake which consisted of peach, apple and vanilla, it was moreish and very different to anything I had tasted before - I will be taking Mister back here soon!
Unfortunately the day had really darkened, and the heavens decided to open on the one day that I forgot my umbrella, so I had to pop to TK Max and join the queue of fellow umbrella forgetters... but I found myself a really cute blue and red polka dot brollie to hide underneath, so I was actually happy in the rain for once... frizzy hair free for the rest of the day hurray! 
I had actually agreed to meet a fellow Twitter addict at Sidney Sussex College to pick Mulberries for my upcoming Punting & Picnic Tea Party and by the time we had found the mulberry tree, the rain had stopped which was a saviour as I'm not convinced we could have balanced our brollies with this messy fruit!
TIP- If you find yourself mulberry picking, please do not do as I did and wear light pastel shades of clothing, wear black clothes! Mulberries stain. Fact. 
After what looked like blood stained hands, I thought I might want to go home, but I trooped on and indulged in a sneaky purchase or two at Lakeland and bumped into an old friend which was so nice to have done so, and we had a good old natter and a catch up before he trotted off again, and I even found what I was looking for in the form of a baby gift for my friends new born baby boy as well as a tea cosy for myself in Cath Kidston.... A very lucky visit at the perfect time led to a chat with the girl at the counter who convinced me to book onto their upcoming crafting evening. Nothing lucky ever happens to me like this... It was a weird sensation to be having such a nice and surprising day hehe. 
In fact, the ENTIRE day had been made of little conversations and meetings with people that I would never have met or got talking to if it wasn't for my tea parties and my new found confidence : ) 
It's so important to chat to people and natter for a minute or two, I feel. 
Just strike up a conversation with the next new person you come into contact with... You never know WHERE it will take you, honestly!
I finished my day off in the late afternoon with a quick step out of the very heavy sheet rain that had decided to come back and frizz up my hair (Ha!... You failed again rain ; p ) into Benets on Benet Street, where I ordered a creamy Hot Chocolate and a gorgeous round of Millionaires Shortbread to take back for the Mister. I have only ever tried Benets Ice Cream in their new Ice Cream Parlour on Kings Parade, so I got chatting to the lad behind the counter and we had a good old moan about the punting lads who bully you into punting on a rainy miserable day and won't let you pass with their big boards and perfectly coiffed hair... I liked him, a sensible boy with some very good ideas to swipe the punting pests away haha. 
I haven't really ever spent the entire day in town on my own comfortably, and it was so nice to just please myself and enjoy my favourite elements of Cambridge. I walked around and enjoyed some parks that I would normally just bypass in a rush, visited some charity shops and found a cute milk jug and also picked up the latest AA Guide to Afternoon Tea in the UK.

 Cambridge is hiding so many secrets ready to explore.
I'm up for a second date if Cambridge is!

Miss Sue Flay 

Saturday, 10 September 2011

The Secluded Midnight Feast



9.30pm 'Til Midnight

 Limited To 8 Spaces Only For This Event

In agreement with the stunning Angel Adoree of The Vintage Patisserie in London, I will be planning a Midnight Feast Tea Party over this weekend from a VERY Small & Personal Venue...My very own kitchen to admit!
A REAL version of the Underground Tea Party for once.... How an underground restaurant should be : ) 
 A one off event to please all guests who fancy a small & intimate get together with strangers over delicious Tea Party Treats with some recipes inspired & freshly prepared from Angels' new and beautiful book titled
"The Vintage Tea Party Book". 


Leek & Goats Cheese Rarebit with Chive Grass

Warm Cheese Scones,
served with flavoured curls of butter

Orange Possets, 
with Spiced Walnuts

Cookies & Cream 3 Layer Cake, 
topped with home-made Oreo Truffles

Earl Grey Truffle Hearts

Hot Chocolate, 
served with Decadent Chocolate Spoons

Selection Of Loose Leaf Teas Served 

Menu Subject To Change

Suggested Donation Just £25 Per Guest. 

This menu will be served by candlelight & will involve some vintage parlour games to keep you entertained, so come with a sense of humour and why not dress to impress...Think *Clandestine Midnight Feast*... This is a great way to end your Saturday Evening and see in Sunday Morning with new friends over tea & cake. 

Why not BYO Bottle, should you wish to do so?...
Bubbles most welcome, just let me know if you are and I will make space in fridge!

To book your tickets visit : 

If you need to contact me, you can email:

And do keep an eye on
for further updates : ) 

I look forward to welcoming you to this version of The Secluded Tea Party....

Miss Sue Flay

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Cambridge Museum Needs Your (Teacup!) Help

After having a nosey browse on a local business directory last week, I noticed that one of Cambridge's most treasured museums actually hosted a Vintage Tea Room and I had never noticed it before... I immediately slapped my own wrists and got in touch with the museum to have a chat with them about a plea they were making for Teacups to make this tea room sparkle just a little more than it already was. 

Cambridge & County Folk Museum hosts a volunteer run vintage tea room, which they have been heavily manning over the summer holidays alongside a pop up pocket money shop for the kids to enjoy spending their well-earned pennies. They plan to turn it into THE place to be in Cambridge for fantastic home made cake and tea served in dainty china cups and teapots on a more regular basis over the coming months. It's wonderful and I want to let you all know about this little gem!

The tea room is situated in the beautiful courtyard to the left as you walk through their huge gates which is a lovely Cambridge sun trap on a hot sunny day... and on a rainy day, it's the perfect place to relax and enjoy the array of pictures, books and unique decor including a gramophone with interesting info on it to educate you between mouthfuls of Victoria Sponge or Buttery Flapjack. 

What made me want to visit Susan and her lovely team of cake-loving volunteers was the fact that are looking for donations of teacups and saucers to add to the tearoom collection. At first I thought this was just a cry for anything that they could use to pour tea into, but I was wrong... They are looking for donations of interesting and pretty cups and saucers and a matching plate if possible, hopefully with a story alongside it. 
By a story alongside it, they want to know where it came from, who used it before you donated it, how you came to own it, etc. 
Basically a story that can go alongside the teacup to amuse the tea drinker that uses it on their visit. 

I think this is a superb idea, and I for one would love to sip on a cup of Earl Grey and read a cute story of somebody's grandma using it to bake cupcakes in her aga with it back in 1901.... Or something along those lines ; ) 

And what we had discussed was that if somebody did indeed own a teacup and saucer that was important to them, they most likely wouldn't want to give it up.... So even if you find a pretty teacup, saucer and side plate in a charity shop or at a car boot sale... bring it down to Susan and her team at the Folk Museum and MAKE UP a story... Who would know? hehe. We won't tell anyone ; ) 

So, if you are feeling kind and charitable, please take some china down to this lovely museum and be part of this fantastic little tea room and their brilliant teacup project in our very own City.

This is why I love Cambridge... It's such a lovely place to live.  

Miss Sue Flay 

Monday, 5 September 2011

The Secluded Tea Party Live On BBC Radio Cambridge

Yesterday saw The Secluded Tea Party taking place Live on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire with the lovely and ever so slightly eccentric Glenn, one of the producers of the shows at this local station. 
We had been expecting the lovely Sophie, however due to illness, Glenn had to step in and save the day by joining myself and my fabulous Tea Party guests for a delicate cup of tea and a slice of home made cake. 

Such a hard job, but somebody had to do it ; ) 

This version of the Tea Party was in fact hosted at one of my favourite Cambridge city locations, The Cambridge Cookery School, which is secluded within beautifully landscaped grounds to make it work perfectly for a secret mid-morning tea party with plenty of cake and tea and of course great conversation with new friends. 

My guests were a mix of returning tea party fans who have been to previous versions of The Secluded Tea Party and who have enjoyed my secret afternoon tea locations across Cambridge and the Cambridgeshire Countryside. 
We also had some brand new Tea Party guests joining us for their very first time, and very nice it was to have them join us too. 

In fact, one guest had brought along some of her friends for a girly catch up over the afternoon tea party table, and I knew that I had met one of her friends before as soon as they walked through the door. 
It had taken me a while to figure it out, but we both realised that we had met through a mutual friend 12 years earlier at our Sixth Form College.... Wow... What a small world!
 And it was fantastic to catch up and find out what we had all been doing since those college days, with the talk of Tea Parties, the beautiful & local town of Saffron Walden, Montessori Schools and Hippy Communes... as you do hehe. 

The menu consisted of Cinnamon Breakfast Rolls made by Tine at the Cookery School as well as my freshly baked Fruit & Spice Scones (of which I was still cutting out and preparing when my guests started to arrive, but I was pleased that they could see just how fresh my scones are made for my events!) and they were served straight from the oven to the table to enjoy with some locally made preserves from my favourite jam lady in Cambridgeshire. 
I had also conjured up 3 layer cakes including a deep Victoria Sponge with Blackcurrant Jam, a Cookies & Cream Oreo Cake and the favourite *Tuck Shop* inspired layer cake with Sherbet Buttercream, of which I had dreamt up a few days earlier for the Clandestine Cake Club meet in Cambourne. 

I even got to use my brand new Cath Kidston Tea Cosy from their Cambridge shop, which was a focal point and discussion topic whilst chatting to Glenn hehe. I love this and would love more tea cosies added to the collection as the months move on. 

One of my guests also had a birthday coming up, of which I had learnt whilst facebooking the previous evening, so I decided to surprise her and put candles in one of the cakes and of course allow my 14 other guests to sing to her and just embarrass her slightly as we Brits like to do hehe. 
We were not allowed to sing the song live on air, as after asking my lovely waffling BBC Radio friend (Glenn, who at this point was running around the room chatting to my guests in between slurping my home-made lemonade in pretty polka dot jam jars and digging into mouthfuls of my cake in between conversations with the on-air Radio Presenter - We think hehe...), he told us that if we did, Disney would be knocking on the door to charge us!... I had NO idea that they owned the rights to that song haha... so we sang off air to be safe, but it still got a mention on the wireless later on : )

It was just hilarious and random and we all loved every minute of it! 
And as you may have heard, we were 99% female at today's table, with one lucky man enjoying the cake and ladies... his two favourite things in life, he said it himself... live on air ; ) 
Robert, you are a fab guest every time hehe... And I think Glenn was slightly jealous of your place at the table, I mean, what man wouldn't be with all those lovely ladies surrounding him!?

A big thank you to my guests for being such great sports and for taking the left over cake away with them once they were all full to the rafters but willing to eat more later for their dinner (I love hardcore cake Lovers), and to Heather & Vanessa at Radio Cambridgeshire for arranging this fun-filled morning at our Secluded Tea Party, and a huge thanks to Liz Rhodes for mentioning our spot on her Afternoon Chat show the very next day (Twitter friends had made me aware whilst I was busy working away, you have got to LOVE Twitter for these sort of updates!)

I am starting to enjoy becoming a regular on the Radio (That's 2 wireless appearances now : ) ... Bring on the next Radio-inspired adventure.... should there be one out there to enjoy in the future!
Perhaps next time Glenn can come and join us for a fairy tea party and be given the chance to wear his fairy wings that he so badly wants to show everyone.
Hmmmm... I'm tempted!

And if you missed it, you can listen again for the rest of this week HERE.
And I suggest you do as it's so silly it will put a smile on your face hehe. 
(You will find it starts around 1 Hour 30 minutes into the show, and we had 3 or 4 live slots after this : ) 

Miss Sue 

Sunday, 4 September 2011

REVIEW: The Buns Are Back In Town At Fitzbillies !

That's right folks.. 
If you haven't heard it already, Fitzbillies is back with a refreshingly subtle reopening in Cambridge at the same spot it has always been on Trumpington Street.  
Fitzbillies is the bakery that myself and Mister Flay would take a stroll down to when we fancied something sweet and naughty back when we used to go on little dates together (Doesn't happen as much recently, so we took the opportunity to relive those days last week : ) 

Their Chelsea Buns are irresistible and their Coffee Choux buns are a must with their sticky brown topping and the oozing cream filling in the centre. I am pleased to see that both have been brought back to the counter, hurrah! They are just as we remembered them back in the day. 
It feels like forever since I last had one of those famous Chelsea Buns in all their sticky glory... And what's even better still is that there is now a savoury version of this baby in the form of a Cheesy Bun... It's a Chelsea Bun in appearance, however it tastes like a cheese straw... It's amazing, take my word for it - especially when caught fresh out of the oven! 

I can proudly say I have visited twice since they re opened those bakery doors! Hehe
Once on opening day with my lovely Twitter friends (Sarah A & Sarah CP!) where we enjoyed a chat with the new owners, Tim & Alison and a tour around the kitchen as well as a good old drool over those fresh buns being soaked in syrup, straight from the ovens -  What a privilege & a tease all in one. 
In fact, I did something I usually never do and that was have two coffees whilst I was there, which is not a good idea for me, as I NEVER drink coffee, and I had the most manic afternoon of buzzing around the house with a hoover followed by a fast crash and burn straight afterwards haha.... But it was worth it, the barista knew her stuff and the coffee was strong and perfect alongside my sweet treats (I know how passionate Tim was to get the coffee right, and the tea making is an art, as he also taught us : ) 

The second visit was over bank holiday weekend, after reading their tweets on the delicious sounding Bacon Roll with Rosie's Plum Ketchup (I must go and try this one day, sounds right up my street!) we bought our Cheesy Buns, Mister had a really good Sausage Roll (Pastry was buttery and naughty in every way) and of course the Coffee Choux Bun to enjoy at home later (It didn't last long!)

What's really fun and exciting about the re-opening is that the Fitzbillies Kitchen are playing around with all sorts of recipes and menus (Old and new!) and making this place somewhere that will be different every time you walk through the door.
They have done their landlords, Pembroke College proud... In fact, they have done Cambridge proud. 
 It's so refreshing not to be handed a menu that will be with us until the dawn of time... 
They have a fantastic team working there and it's going to be the place to go for a
 buzzing atmosphere come rain or shine, mark my words.

Miss Sue Flay