Tuesday, 13 March 2012

A Very Scary Un Birthday... This Just Got EVEN BETTER..

A FREE & very creepy (and hopefully slightly twisted) version of The Secluded Tea Party is coming to a top secret Cambridgeshire venue. This venue will be released to guests a few days prior to the event, however we can assure you that it is near to a train station for easy access.
Not many rules will apply, however strictly over 18’s only.
Thinking along the lines of last year’s Secluded Zombie Tea Party (and if you missed this fantastic and very secluded version, you missed a superbly gross and laugh aloud event!) ... this April will introduce a new version of The Secluded Tea Party to celebrate Miss Sue Flays birthday tea party in her very own style!
The Secluded Tea Party presents....

A Very SCARY Un Birthday

(A "Mad Hatters" Style Al Fresco Tea Party)
Saturday 7th April 2012
6pm – 10pm
(With the possibility of moving into the nearest town afterwards should the mood take us ; )


Entertainment To Include: 


FIXED TICKET PRICE.... at just £2.50 per strip... PRIZES TO INCLUDE... 

Prizes up for winning are MAGNIFICENT and I can’t thank our donators enough for their generosity... Prizes up for grabs will be the following, I am super excited about the quality of these prizes, so dig deep my lovelies!...
·         x 1 Ticket to sold out event "Cybher London"
·         Bee Friendly Seeds from Higgledy Garden
·         A Private Paella Cooking Lesson for up to 8 people at La Tasca Tapas
·         Tea Selection from The Rare Tea Company (As seen on BBC1’s "The Apprentice")
·          £22.50 Wine Tasting Voucher from cambridgeshirewineschool.com
·         Bespoke Petit Fours Selection from Bethany Hughes Confectionary
·         Clothes Voucher with VidaModa.co.uk
·          An Indian Meal for 2 from Inders Kitchen
·         £20 Voucher for Revelare Dress & Hat Agency, Bourn (Why not hire a hat from them for this event?.... Contact them or visit their shop in Bourn to gain a 25% discount if you do : )
·         4 Tickets to Bat Safari with Scudamores Punting, Cambridge
·         Selection of Delicious Cake Pops from HannahBakes.co.uk
·         A Portrait Photo Shoot with Jean-Luc Benazet Photography
·         1 years membership to the Exclusive 12a Members Only Cocktail Bar, Cambridge
·         Classic “Print” Mug Set from Cath Kidston, Cambridge
.   Acupressure Massage with Katherine at Back2Back Massage
Raclette Meal for 2 & International Meal for 2 at The Missing Sock, Quay
Beginners Bread Making Class at Cambridge Cookery School 
2 Hour Basic Greek Lesson with EnglishandModernGreekLessons.co.uk
£10 Crafty Monkey Pottery Painting Voucher, St Neots
Homemade Preserves from Deborah at Hardwick Cakes & Celebrations
3 Sets of Family Tickets to the Cambridge Folk Museum *Mad Hatters Mystery Trail* with Chocolat Chocolat treats on the day
£20 Gift Voucher for Jemporium Vintage, Grafton Centre Cambridge
and many more FANTASTIC prizes besides!... I can’t believe how amazingly generous these guys have all been! 

Miss Sue Flay loves all things Alice and Wonderland, but has until now steered clear of this ever increasingly popular afternoon tea theme because she hasn’t wanted to try to live up to some of the amazing tea party events that have been successfully executed over the last few years. They have genuinely taken a lot of living up to, so it’s been ignored.
Until now that is.....

We have a top secret and extremely secluded venue with nothing but trees and woodland around us. It will be very “Alice” in the dark by the time we have settled.. We will most likely be visited throughout the evening by various odd characters when we least expect it, whilst guests get to explore the grounds and enjoy the freedom we are being offered at this superb location. As a guest you will be a little fearful and it will get the heart pumping, unless you are a fearless Jabberwocky warrior, ready to tackle anything that faces you... hehe
Yes it may be chilly, seeing as it is April, so bring a jacket or a blanket with you and stop being a wuss!

Just 30 guests will be able to join Miss Sue Flay around a pre-laid Secluded Tea Party table, completely free of charge too. No tickets on sale as such for this one off celebration and night of entertainment.
Expect the unexpected.
So how do you nab a ticket?

Well. Firstly, we have an empty banquet table waiting for 30 bodies to adorn it (mwah ha ha!)
Those bodies must be dressed to impress... If you don't do fancy dress, make sure you dress up smart... and if you do... Then thinking Alice, but trippy, creepy, gothic, scary, gory, gross, freaky, zombie, slutty even Burlesque if it takes your fancy... basically ANY way that isn’t “normal” and would have you thrown out at a civilised afternoon tea sitting at a top class hotel. Think Royston vasey if you have to gain some inspiration... We are certain you can make a scary face with some carefully placed tape or some slapped on makeup hehe. You can even go with the Tim Burton style of Alice... but we want you to go darker, scarier and anything that isn’t Disney and Mother fricking Hubbard - This is more Blunderland than Wonderland, ANYTHING goes! - Fancy Dress is OPTIONAL... But if you don't "Dress Up" in this way, at least Dress to IMPRESS  : ) 

The event is both to celebrate Miss Sue Flay’s Birthday and to thank her previous guests, followers & fans, but also to raise some money through donations instead. All we ask is that you bring your Pocket Money along to buy Raffle Tickets and be prepared to spend a fair minimum of £5-£10 per guest with 100% of the proceeds going to local Charity, Food Cycle Cambridge. Money raised will go towards this fantastic project that we have been lucky enough to be involved in & help them to purchase some much needed kitchen equipment to keep in their new lockable cupboards in this community kitchen on Hills Road.

-       Guests need to dress to impress, as above. A prize for the best dressed guest. (Best Dressed” being judged by Miss Sue Flays’ occasionally warped sense of humour and mind ; )
-       Guests need to bring a dish to add to the table. This is a free event, in exchange, Miss Sue Flay would like each person attending to bring something sweet or savoury and fitting for this event. You can be as creative or as traditional as you like, the mix would be fabulous. This is a Mad Hatter style Un Birthday party, so let your imagination run and you must submit your dish idea by email ASAP to secure your own dish/recipe to add to the event(It doesn’t have to feed 30, but the more people you can feed, the better)
-       Guests will also be asked to bring along a random & MANDATORY Un Birthday Gift...Wrapped ... again, the creepier or funkier looking, the better ; )  Every guest will enjoy a party game with their Un Birthday presents and everybody will be walking away with one at the end. It’s all part of the fun & games, so think along the lines of Secret Santa and aim to a budget of up to £5 and honestly no more.
-       Guests are asked to bring along a torch of some sort. A small torch will do. This IS the woods... there is a very creepy party game currently in discussion which will involve the need for a flashlight of some description, so come armed. Or you will be completely blind in this task.. Hmmm actually that sounds even more fun!!... Hehe... This is a game that will get your hearts pumping...

BYO beverages. If you would like a sensible drink or two, then you are more than welcome to do so to get into the party spirit. (Miss Sue Flays’ favourite tipple is BOOZE - Bubbles will get you in her good books ; )

So what are you waiting for?... Email Miss Sue Flay above with the information required
Before Friday 24th March 2012:

PS - If you have a skill or talent or know anybody else that has one that could provide us with some unique  entertainment, please do let us know so we can look into booking you/them in for a slot... even if just for a minute or two... Perhaps you have a fun or even grim party trick that you can share around the table, do let us know in advance!
I want this evening to be a night full or surprises, so the more the better, just get in touch! I want to treat my Secluded Tea Party followers to a fantastic and freaky night of fun and games to keep them amused and put a smile on their faces as well as a shiver down their spines....
Miss Sue Flay
(Un Birthday Girl!)

Friday, 9 March 2012

Cambridge, Cake & Custard Campers VW Camper Van Hire

When you think Volkswagen Camper Van Hire and VW Camper Holidays, you think of all the beautiful coastal roads and beach trails in Devon, Cornwall, Scotland, Wales & even Ireland, but do many people think of the beautiful countryside and scenery that we have in mainland England?
It is said that you would need more than a lifetime to visit all of the stunning and interesting as well as the darn right awe inspiring locations across the UK, if ever there was more of a reason for you to avoid going abroad for your summer holidays and start exploring our very own holiday destinations, right here under our noses.
So why not book yourselves a holiday with Delia, a newly re-vamped Volkswagen Camper Van from Custard Campers based in Chelmsford, Essex, where you can pick her up & whisk yourselves away to enjoy a leisurely drive not too far up the road to the truly beautiful & interesting region of Cambridgeshire.
Please note, I am not linked to the tourist board or any of these suggestions in any way, they are purely my own opinions as local lass, so I hope they inspire a visit in some of you!

Cambridge is home to The Secluded Tea Party and we are more than passionate about our local attractions, events and beautiful countryside. There is so much to offer that you can make a fantastic break away with Delia and your friends or family in to just to this area for a fairly low cost through to a more luxurious adventure, depending on your budget.
With lots of monthly events, The Secluded Tea Party is the perfect event to turn up to in this stunning VW Camper and make you and your holiday vehicle the topic of conversation at the afternoon tea table over a cup of loose leaf tea and a slice of Miss Sue Flays’ delicious homemade layer cakes or warm fruit scones with all the trimmings. We even offer you refreshing lemonade in our signature jam jar glasses with straws to make you feel right at home. The photo opportunities with Delia are endless at our perfectly secluded afternoon tea events, so why not use it to make new friends and fans for a couple of hours hehe.
Upcoming events that you could plan your trip around could be the Tea Tasting Tea Party with our new tea supplier (Kandula Tea) on Saturday 26th May, with some tickets still available should this countryside event take your fancy.

Or why not come and join in with some Jubilee celebrations in Cambridge on the Sunday 27th May at Granchester Village Hall, where The Secluded Tea Party will be hosting a pop up tearoom throughout this vintage-inspired day. With lots of fabulous local suppliers selling their wares to raise money for a fantastic local charity, it’s going to be superb with live music and great food, this is not a weekend to miss out on. So book Delia for this jam packed weekend – pun intended!
Or, if you prefer a slightly more highbrow event, then join us on Saturday 15th September for a very special edition of The Secluded Tea Party, leaving Delia parked up close by, at a secret Cambridge City location this time for a very luxurious afternoon tea and workshop on Afternoon Tea Etiquette with Miss Sue Flay and the famous William Hanson, the youngest etiquette specialist in the UK. He knows his manners and will show you a thing or two over a spot of tea as you pass on through with Delia. You will leave with an entire library of knowledge and skills to pass on and enjoy regaling to others on your travels.
 Many other afternoon tea events are planned for 2012 and beyond including a very adult themed and scary birthday bash in April, punting event on the River Cam as well as a New Years Eve Tea Party, so do check our website throughout the year.

You can even book your very own Secluded Tea Party, no matter how small or large, perhaps even a picnic to collect as you whizz past? All you need to do is open Delia’s doors and we will run (Well perhaps we won’t run ; ) alongside her and chuck in a beautifully presented afternoon tea package for you to take away to enjoy along the way.
But you may even prefer to be pampered for an hour two in a romantic spot with a view... We have just the place and Miss Sue Flay can even join you there with her Retro 5m Bell Tent to provide you with a waitress service for you to enjoy the your very own piece of cakey heaven whilst being treated like royalty at a pre-arranged & secret location.... Just get in touch before you intend to come by emailing us and we will happily provide you with some Scooby snacks for your mini adventure. 
You could arrange to be met with Miss Sue Flay, your very own private Afternoon Tea party and a fabulous local photographer at one of our Secluded Tea Party locations to make the most of Delia using her as the focus for a fun few hours to help keep lasting memories of your mini holiday. Again, just ask.. we would love to help you do this, why not even bring your own props along to grab and use throughout to make it personal to you?

So, where to park up with Delia for the night whilst visiting Cambridge? 
We can highly recommend Bourn Golf & Leisure Club which is approx 8 Miles out of Cambridge City for a very chilled out and tree-surrounded pitch with fantastic walks in the surrounding villages. Bourn is home to a lovely gastro pub called The Willow Tree and also to Bourn Windmill, which is just beautiful and fully restored, a must see on an extremely fun and bendy countryside road to enjoy pootling along in Delia!  
It also very close to Wimpole Hall, a local National Trust must see, complete with its very own Folly which will give you a beautiful afternoon of walks and sights should you wish to incorporate this into your visit to this part of Cambridgeshire.

Or if you would prefer to be North of Cambridge, you could also enjoy the seclusion of Red House Farm in Wood Walton, home of the Secret Garden Party near Huntingdon. This tranquil location is based on a working arable farm and the lovely Stephen Parsley, owner and farmer, is a friend of The Secluded Tea Party and would welcome with open arms the odd sight of Delia trundling through for the odd stay. Whilst visiting this neck of the woods, you could take a trip over to Grafham Water for a bike ride or a fabulous long walk for a spot of nature watching and a cosy pub lunch along the way. Or perhaps Houghton Mill, a working flour mill not too far down the road and well worth a trip whilst out this way.
And if you still need ideas throughout your visit to Cambridge on your exciting VW Camper holiday, then here are a few of my very favourite places to see and pick up food along the way in Cambridgeshire and beyond....

Harlton Clunch Pits and Grufallo Bridge, which is fun for kids of absolutely any age... young OR old! You can swing from trees on the rope swings, slide down the hills in the snow (or mud, depending on the weather!) or even just enjoy a piece of walkers heaven from this secret and modest Cambridgeshire village location. It’s got great views of Cambridge city from here and it’s a favourite location for our Secluded Tea Parties. Very romantic and extremely fun all at the same time.

Burwash Manor Barns in Barton is just down the road from Harlton and this is the home to a small farm with animals and some gorgeous shops to browse. Everything from a pamper room, to a tearoom, toy shop, various adult & children’s clothing outlets, gift shops and a superb deli with local and nationally sourced produce, perfect to pick up a few bits to enjoy in Delia on your travels. They often have events on throughout the year, so do check out their website prior to visiting, as their Apple Day and seasonal food events are brilliant and they attract local celebrity chef & restaurateur, Jamie Oliver – spotted with our very own eyes!
Go GeocachingLook it up, then pre-arrange a few depending on where you plan to go. Our favourite Geocaches in Cambridge are in the villages of Steeple Morden, Tadlow, Arrington, Longstowe (both of the latter are near to Bourn Golf Club if you choose to stay there), the list grows longer every time we pick this hobby up ourselves. And now thanks to those clever smart phones, you don’t need a GPS system to get into this fun and addictive hobby. There is no doubt that anywhere you stop with Delia, no matter where in the world you are, there will always be a Geocache close by.  

Not forgetting your main reason for coming to this area...Cambridge City Centre, should you want to wander around our stunning City, where the Cambridge Market Square changes to an array of different food stalls on a Sunday, including our local Ostrich Farmer who cooks his gorgeously lean Ostrich burgers fresh on their stall. Not to be missed whilst enjoying an amble around the Colleges, Kings College on Kings Parade is of course not to be ignored. Miss Sue Flays Grandfather was once the Head Gardener at this famous College and she is darn proud to show this fact off to all and sundry. And not forgetting to try your hand at a spot of Punting, our favourite Cambridge pastime whilst taking in the views of The Backs, glass of Pimms in hand.  

Once you have enjoyed our City Centre, take a tour a couple of miles out of Cambridge to stop at a Countryside Pub, the Green Man in Granchester makes a mean homemade burger. And this quaint historic village is not only said to have the world’s highest concentration of Nobel prize winners, but it’s also the home to Famous Poet Rupert Brooke, Lord Byron and more currently Jeffrey Archer.   
Other equally perfect village pubs around Cambridgeshire would be The Blue Lion in Hardwick, where they currently serve the most addictive sweet Lemon Curd Baked Alaska or the gorgeous thatched Poachers Pub in Elsworth, which is perfect for a gentle walk afterwards through the village, which is home & inspiration of the Rev Wilbert Awdrey, creator of Thomas the Tank Engine (There is even a Geocache to find on this very topic!). And the story of how this tale came about is simply a piece of history that Cambridgeshire residents are extremely proud to be a part of.

You should also take a trip to the Duxford Imperial War Museum, which is set within some very spacious grounds of the famous former First and Second World War airfield at Duxford, just off the M11 which is perfect whilst passing on your way through from Chelmsford. And not too far away again are the beautiful Wandlebury Ring Walks, followed by a quick stock up of some local produce at the Gog Magog Hills Farm Shop, taking in the back roads (LimeKiln Road) for a fabulous view of Cambridge City with it’s high spires and tall college buildings. Another campsite is very close by here, so it’s the perfect third option for Delia to hunker down should you prefer to be closer to civilisation.

If you have time, make sure you take an hour or so to visit Plurabelle Books on Purbeck Road on the outskirts of Cambridge. Approx. 5 minutes drive from the Gog Magog Hills and Wandleberry. It’s a stunning book warehouse, which looks like something out of Alice in Wonderland with chairs and Tricycles hanging from the ceiling and stacked from floor to ceiling with old hardback books. It’s as mad as the Hatter himself and has a cute and pond side secluded garden complete with a life size Chess Board, perfect for summer reading.

Further afield, depending on where the wind (or roads) takes you, you could also visit 
Woburn Abbey, home of Afternoon Tea, Nene Valley Railway, Ickworth House & Bury St. Edmunds, Thetford Forest (check out their website for open air films and concerts throughout the year as well as Go Ape Tree Top Adventure) and not forgetting the historic market town of Saffron Walden on your route home to drop Delia off when it comes to that point. Here, you will find Cafe Cou Cou, a boutique cafe which sells the dreamiest Chocolate Ganache Cake you will ever sample. It would be criminal not to end your holiday on a sugar high to keep you happy for a little while longer. 
What are you waiting for?... Get yourself booked in with a mini holiday with Delia, take a visit to The Secluded Tea Party and come and explore Cambridge and all we have to offer you. 

Miss Sue Flay 

For more info on Delia visit www.custardcampers.co.uk
For more info on Miss Sue Flay & to book or order visit www.secludedteaparty.com 

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Review: Poppy's Tearoom Thaxted

It's the first weekend in a very long time where I have had absolutely no plans whatsoever, other than to relax. And relax I did, it was well needed after my last few weeks of planned and privately booked Secluded Tea Parties and my first ever LIVE TV debut on BBC's “The One Show” on Friday 24th February alongside the Clandestine Cake Club feature - So exciting! 

So, I was on a super sugar charged high over the weekend, with all the cake love being emailed to me thanks to this feature and my live airing and cake pointing from the mighty Chris Evans over my Tuck Shop cake that I was showing off there! (Well, Miss Sue Flays / Miss Souffl├ęs Tuck Shop Cake ; )
On Sunday morning I was lazing around in bed watching Downton Abbey (I don’t know why I haven’t been hooked on this sooner, where on earth have I been?!) and feeling seriously jealous of all the afternoon tea that the Grantham ladies and their guests get to sit and enjoy throughout their day, that I decided I wanted to try somewhere new for a spot of afternoon tea myself. The mister didn't want to head to Ely for afternoon tea and I didn't want to go into Cambridge for a change as I couldn’t be doing with the potential traffic and crowds, so we agreed to head south and drive out the sunny Essex countryside in the search of a fabulous sounding tearoom called Poppy's Tea Room in Thaxted. 
Thaxted, home of Dick Turpin, is in fact a pretty and very peaceful little town/village on the outskirts of Saffron Walden and it's the perfect distance for a little joy ride on a lazy Sunday Afternoon. 

Passing all the chocolate box thatched cottages and water towers along these winding roads, it felt like a mini escape from Cambridgeand it was welcomed after a day in London 2 days prior... It seems more and more so, that am a countryside sort of girl through and through!We had pre-booked our table at this very quaint tea room and I am glad that we did, as you must note that this is an extremely popular afternoon tea spot and it's fairly small tea parlour would not have easily accommodated us if we had just turned up on this occasion. I am very polite British citizens and we always pre-book for afternoon tea as we appreciate just how fiddly it can be to prepare and this is only fair on our tea hosts. Good afternoon tea etiquette, of which I am sure my new friend, William Hanson will approve of in preparation for our joining of forces in September. We were warmly greeted and the waitresses throughout were smiley and helpful and couldn't do enough to make us feel comfortable and at home at our warm and cosy table, which was laid with a clean and pretty floral table cloth, with perfectly white china and gleaming silver cutlery beckoning to be used. I was in awe at how shiny the butter knives were, I am perhaps so easily pleased!

Our fabulous hostess talked us through the afternoon tea for two menu, of which is the minimum you can order, whilst offering us a varied selection of finger sandwiches, even a choice of scone from Plain, Fruit or Cheese. This is just fantastic, as usually I am either told on my menu what I will receive, or it is pot luck depending on which afternoon tea establishment you are visiting.
They also are very sure not to put Bicarb of Soda in their scones, so no horrible, tacky tasting scones here, something which happens in too many tearooms for my liking. 
So, to be asked what we would like and proving their knowledge of the loose leaf tea blends on offer, we went with their own blend, which was a light and very addictive Ceylon tea of which we re-ordered when it came to more later on. It was the perfect accompaniment with our order and we couldn’t get enough of it.

We also had a choice of cake to go with our tier and whilst I went for an unusual choice for me (A very generous slice of Lemon Drizzle Cake which was so moist and light I couldn’t resist but get stuck into) the mister went for a nice strong and deep ginger infused loaf cake which was the perfect end to his afternoon tea feast. He absolutely loved this dose of double ginger and was chuffed to have stolen the very last piece before a larger group walked through the door. The delicate finger sandwiches that were served to us were a selection from Wild Red Salmon, Cucumber & Cream Cheese and Wiltshire Ham & mustard, all delicious and moreish, with us both arguing over the last salmon sandwich is rare for the mister, as he is not usually a big fan of salmon, but it was delicious. 

Everything was homemade and it took a little time to be served to us, which was fine as it had been politely noted when our hostess took our order and we told her not to rush of which I think she was pleased to hear. This was welcomed, as again their friendly service is second to none here, they even told me over the phone to come no later than 3.30pm so that we could allow plenty of time to sit and enjoy our food and to not rush it before they closed their tearoom. That is the way afternoon tea should be taken and they do not push you out of the door as soon as you are finished, it’s just a wonderful place and I just wish I had found it sooner.

The only downside I would say and suggest to them is that the loose leaf tea could be served within a tea pyramid or removable strainer so that the tea does not turn bitter after a little while. But this is a minor query on an otherwise faultless feast of afternoon tea treats. It’s my favourite to date and I felt so pleased with myself to have found this perfect little Essex bolthole, as I have not yet ventured out to this part of the world, tut tut.
I think it would be the perfect place for a spot of tea on a rainy winter morning, or a sunny summer afternoon, it wouldn’t matter when you take a visit.

What made the afternoon even more perfect was a little wander up the beautiful cobbled paths to an old windmill with picturesque views of Thaxted and the rolling green countryside beyond it. It was such a lovely afternoon and we got to watch the sun set from this location which put smiles on our faces and ended the perfect weekend being lazy and, a feeling that is very rare for Miss Sue Flay, I didn’t feel guilty for it.

If you love afternoon tea as much as us, then I would suggest not wasting any more time (not that reading my lovely blog is a waste of time hehe ; )  and get yourself a table booked at Poppy’s Tea Room in Thaxted quick sharp and leave a comment below if you do take a visit.

Visit Poppy’s Tea Room at www.poppystearoom.co.uk
or call 01371 830453 to book a table for their wonderful afternoon tea.

Miss Sue Flay