Friday, 28 September 2012

Cake & Cocktails Workshops This Autumn

Following the success of my first cake-based workshop earlier this year, I am thrilled to let you know that I am going to be offering 2 new workshops with The Secluded Tea Party and some very lovely local business women to make these even better than before. 

Naturally Tea, cake and even cocktails & mocktails are included in these too... even better if you ask me!

These 2 events will be ticketed (so book now at just £20 per person to grab your place!) and hosted at Greens Coffee & Co in Cambourne, just outside of Cambridge. 
The PERFECT space to enjoy a couple of hours away from your normal stresses and distractions, meet some new people, grab a drink or two and a slice of cake and learn something new whilst you are with us. There is plenty of free parking too, an added bonus for Cambridgeshire hehe.  

 Social Media, Cake & Cocktails - Twitter Basics 
Hosted on Thursday 18th October 2012 
7pm - 9pm

With our Twitter basics workshop, I can teach you how to get a Twitter account up and running, be it for social purposes, or to help promote a business, event or a charity for example. 
I have used various forms of Social Media to fill my own events for the last 2 years or so and the aim of this event is to have fun and help people who are already on and unsure of how to make the most of it or for people scared or unsure on how to use this fairly new and confusing form of social media. 
It's a great platform to help you connect with new people, learn fun facts, plan a new or exiting social life and I will give you plain and simple guides on how to get the most out of it in it's basic form, with some hints and tips thrown in for good measure. 

Through my experience, I have realise that I'm a fantastic networker, so if you are needing to gain some advice on how to network through Twitter, again, I'm happy to share my thoughts and help you out the best I can : ) 

For more information on the very first Twitter Basics Tea Party, click here

Limited Tickets for both events, so book now

Vintage Glamour Make Up, Cake & Cocktails 
Hosted on Thursday 22nd November 2012 
7pm - 9.30pm

Ever wanted to learn how to do your own glamourous vintage-inspired make up and make yourself look like a stunning film star for a special event, for a Xmas party or just for the heck of it?.... Well now you can!

Now is your chance... With this workshop, myself and Greens Coffee are joining forces with Michelle Bullivant, a local expert on historical makeup who can teach you how to do your own make up in front of a small mirror on the night, with all equipment provided on the night. 

Just bring your face as a blank canvas and she will show you the tips and tricks you always wish you could be told and she will help you decide which colours and styles you might suit if you are at all unsure. 

Michelle Bullivant works as a professional local historian, landscape archaeologist, freelance lecturer and researcher based n Cambridge and she specialises in special occasion makeovers is an expert on historical makeup. She has recently provided on site Make Up Artist services for film production, including special effects, for a recent film 'The Haunting of Harry Payne'.

Michelle & her team have also been seen providing 1940's makeup demonstrations to 40's events including Ramsey 1940's weekend and Haddenham Blossoms and Bygones, Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridgeshire (for Cambridge City Council, Cambridge International School and the Friends of Cherry Hinton Hall). 

Be sure to bring your pocket money with you to purchase her goodies on the night, either for yourself or as Christmas presents at this relaxed and informal evening, but no pressure. You can always spend the pennies on more drinks if the mood takes you ; ) 

You are also welcome to stay after either of this fabulous events for more of a chat with your fellow group, should you wish to make more of an evening of it. 

Come along alone or with friends, either way, it's the perfect night out, leave the kids at home with the other half, grab your bag and run!.... Just for a while ; ) 
... And learn a new skill whilst you are with us!

Michelle says you can expect as follows: 

This is a really good fun, vintage makeup workshop where you and your guests get to play around with makeup and colours and find what suits you. 
What Happens:
You each get a little tray and mirror and some amazing makeup for you to play with, including eyeshadows, eyeliner, lip liner, mascara, blusher, lipgloss and lots more. I will also match your Mineral Powder foundation for you. You all sit down round a table and I teach you all different ways to apply the makeup, with tips and techniques. With the Vintage Makeup Workshop you'll learn how to re-create the glamorous looks from the Hollywood Movies and Wartime eras. During the get together you will all put on your makeup step by step and finish off looking gorgeous, there is no need to come without your usual makeup on as we will be starting off with some basic cleansing and moisturising anyway and you'll even get a hand and lip treatment too!
You’ll have you own little form for you to keep where you can jot down any notes and colours you liked so that when you next go and buy some makeup you’ll know what suits you best.
At the end there will be a selection of makeup for you to purchase if you would like to treat yourself and take some home :) I do not do pushy sales and this get together is for you to learn new tips and make yourself feel glamorous but if you would like to treat yourself to some goodies at the end I accept cash or cheques. If you'd like to know more about what I do, the products I use and see some before and after makeup pics then just take a peek at my website 


Limited Tickets for both events, so book now

And drop Miss Sue Flay a line at
to add your name to the guest lists. 


We hope to see you there!


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Cake & Bake Show 2012

This weekend I headed down to the much anticipated Cake & Bake show at Earls Court in London and I was so excited to be rubbing shoulders with Twitter and Blog friends who I haven't yet met face to face during my last couple of cake-induced years online. I met the team from Great Cake Places, 2 Chicks Egg Whites and the lovely Abigail and her partner from The Cake Nest and I managed to buy myself a gorgeous box of their cake balls, which were worth the breakout from my weight watching routine hehe.

For this reason alone, it was worth going to the very first Cake & Bake show to meet those people, as well as bumping into a few familiar faces too. I hadn't realised my lovely friend, Lynn Hill of the Clandestine Cake Club was going to be there, so to see her was fab and I loved that she was wearing her CCC badge to help her recruit new members for her fabulous free international cake-sharing club hehe. I loved that idea and this recruiting tactic worked well for her which is even better news - don't forget I host the Cambridge group and plans are currently in motion for the next CCCC meet in October : )

The edible beach competition, organised by Miss Cakehead and BBC Radio One DJ, Daniel P. Carter was great fun to look around, with a mix of cake entries from both amateur bakers and professional cake makers. They were all massively impressive works of art, especially the fish and chip entry (Complete with a cup of coffee and a pot of *Mushy peas*, which did in fact win a prize and we thought was well deserved. There are certainly some creative cake makers out there and Miss Cakehead does a blinding job of bringing this out of people, this was the highlight of the things to see at this event.

There was also a good line up of high profile bakers, with the very pretty looking and informative  website giving information of their talks and their pre-bookable demos and classes prior to the event. Speakers included Paul Hollywood, Mary Berry, Peggy Porschen, Eric Lanlard, Mich Turner and Paul A Young. However, on the day, listening to these talks, you could hear the lovely presenter (Alistair Appleton of Escape to the Country, who I have recently done some filming with for a local feature) more than you could hear some of the bakers. Jo Wheatley (Great British Bake Off Series 2 winner) for example, bless her, she is quietly spoken anyway, but you couldn't hear a word she was saying above the sound of the kitchen equipment. We had to give up trying to listen in the end, which was a little gutting as I love her and her book to bits, equally.

As exciting as this first event was for the organisers of this event, I did feel that they got a few things wrong and it seems there is a similar feeling with most people I have chatted about it since Saturday, which is a genuine shame, as it could have been amazing. Instead, it was fairly chaotic for want of a better word.

We were charged £12 per person for entry and then once in, we were then to be charged another £3 for a map of the badly organised stands and stages. I have been to many food events before and as a general rule, a small map included in the price is standard practice. There was no order to the event, just a free for all. 
I had already spent £24 on 2 tickets, which gained me nothing other than entry, so I wasn't going to pay for the map on top. We made our own way around the stalls and stands, noting that there were ridiculously lengthy queues for toilets and the one or two eateries throughout. Some people were queuing for nearly an hour for a bottle of water to take away in this hot room... Not impressive and noted for future, take your own with you! The lighting was terrible. 

I felt stupidly sorry for a lovely lady who had designed 5 or 6 gorgeous dessert buffet tables along different themes and they were beyond stunning to look at for an afternoon tea freak like me. However. The poor woman had been placed in a dark, dark corner of the venue, with no overhead lighting and you could hardly see the tables from the rope they were behind. I must have heard at least 6 people mention this to her whilst I was stood there for 3 minutes or so and this was at midday on the first day, she sounded so gutted. I was rather angry for her, this was poor. 
In fact, a fair few of my own photos didn't come out due to very low lighting too, so not many cake pics to show you I'm afraid!

The Cake and Bake Show also insinuated to me that there would be a really good selection of stands and events, not just cakes as such, there was the Real Bread Campaign, again great to meet a Twitter personality, but this really and truly was the "cupcake show". 
I couldn't tell you how many cupcakes there were and as some of you may know, I don't have the fondness for cupcakes that I once used to (Yes, I have an entire foot tattooed with an ode to the cupcake - oops ; ) I do admire the odd cupcake (done well), but for the most part, these were not great and I wasn't paying more than Harrods prices to gain a fluffy piece of cake. 

There were no afternoon tea treats, scones, layer cakes, tarts, petit fours, etc. I am not saying this is the organisers fault, as they would have taken the stalls that came to them, I'm sure. It just goes to show how unimaginative baking business seems to be out there at the mo, which is a real shame. I don't know for sure how much a stand cost, so it could well be that it was extortionate and not worth it for some baking businesses, so I would understand if that was the case. I would be very interested to find this out.

The event was also sponsored by the likes of Kenwood... but where were they? There was no stand, which would have been nice to have a nosey and drool over their products. That was also a little disappointing, but never mind... we will live hehe.

Don't get me wrong, I bought a few bits and bobs from the cake decorating and supply stands, I had my cake balls to take home to enjoy later on with a cuppa in bed (naughty, but oh so nice) and I managed to get some cakey networking under my hat, so I was pleased with my little lot.

It just seems that there was a lot of deflated faces at the event, even walking out after an hour and a half (Yup, there wasn't enough to make me want to stay longer) there was no buzz, no happy faces, it felt like we were walking out of a funeral and I remember commenting on that before I had even thought about writing this blog post. 
It was a really weird atmosphere, not what I had expected at all. 

I am truly hoping that the Cake and Bake show that returns in Spring 2013 in Manchester will take their guests feedback on board and make the second one a huge rip roaring success, as the idea is fabulous and the guest speakers gave it the energy it truly needed. Fingers crossed for new and existing faces to help bring this back next year and make it a lot better... It was their first event, so I can't be TOO picky ; )

Highlight of the event for me... The Sugar Craft Guild and their IMPRESSIVE afternoon tea table made entirely of sugar... finger sandwiches, sausage rolls, strawberry tartlets, a complete tea set, flowers, bunting, cakes, napkins, the lot. It was amazing and I loved chatting to the team about this fascinating and sugary feature.

Also, the plus side of leaving earlier than planned meant that I got to enjoy a well deserved trip into deepest, darkest London, which is rare these days. I ended up wondering around Shoreditch and finding a fantastic burger place called Byrons (complete with thick American-style milkshakes - the best I've ever had I think!) 

And enjoying a tea stop later that day, seeing as we had eaten NO cake at The Cake & Bake show, at Ellas Bakehouse in Covent Garden for a cheaper slice of cake (My fave pitstop in that area), ending the day with a walk along the South Bank for a couple of hours to walk off all the food afterwards, noting a hilarious group of (not so) civilised hen party goers running around dressed as DIsney characters hehe. It was a very relaxed day all in all, making me glad I escaped Cambridge for the day, even if the main event was a little disappointing personally.

Miss Sue Flay   

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

A Lesson in Afternoon Tea Etiquette with William Hanson

Who’d have thought there was a right and wrong way to have Afternoon Tea, that quintessentially English meal?

Well, on Saturday 15th September 2012, a sold out table of 20 lovely Secluded Tea Party guests were told what’s what by the UK’s leading etiquette expert, William Hanson.
With the third series of period-drama Downton Abbey now back on our screens (and who isn’t engrossed in the wedding plans of Lady Mary & Matthew Crawley?!), the nation is once again gripped with knowing the right way to behave.

Queue a two hour event, exclusive to The Secluded Tea Party, a "finishing school of afternoon tea" if you like, co-hosted by myself and William at the perfectly positioned Hotel Du Vin in the very centre of Cambridge. We attracted a great selection of guests, who traveled from as far as London, Leeds, Lincoln and Norfolk, as well as some local faces too. I just cannot thank them all enough for being such great sports and coming dressed in their Sunday best... even I wore a new dress and heels myself, purchased especially for this formal gathering over afternoon tea.

One thing most guests wouldn’t know is that prior to the event, William and I didn’t physically know each other, we had planned the event via email and telephone calls, with myself sat at my messy desk with the dog sat panting on my lap, whilst William was sat writing and sunning himself in St Tropez – completely opposite ends of the organized spectrum hehe )
We met a couple of hours before the event to enjoy a leisurely lunch and get chatting about our etiquette lesson plans and it felt like we had known each other for years, I loved every moment of his company, as did my guests in the feedback they had provided me afterwards.

William has a way of making you feel welcome and relaxed, working the room in such a way that even my hostess skills felt more relaxed and confident than they usually do, it was a novelty to have a co-host, in a very good way. We used the first ten minutes of the event to greet our guests in the Library and get to know everybody and their names, as well as allowing them to network and get to know each other before we moved into the adjacent room, which had been set up as one long table for us all to enjoy the next couple of hours more than comfortably.

The events team had made us proud with the stunning flower arrangement in the middle of the table and the lovely white china set up ready to use as the lesson began. Whilst William and I welcomed our guests and explained a little about the history of tea and how afternoon tea began (The Duchess of Bedford gave our guests some giggles and knowledge as we chatted about how she would have taken tea), we were served 3 types of tea by our waitresses. We had chosen a Chinese Rose Petal (my personal favourite), the traditional “Royal Blend” (which is a strong blend of Assam & Earl Grey) and the good old English Breakfast tea for the less decisive or experimental, just to ensure that there was a nice choice to match the delicious treats we were eating.

Our guests were taught to converse traditionally around the table, alternating your conversation with the person on your left first of all, followed by the person on your right at the subtle *Signal* of your host or hostess (usually a little cough behind ones hand!) to ensure that neither neighbor gets left out in the discussions around the table. The man would traditionally serve the tea to his female diners, however as the men at this particular event were a little outnumbered, we giggled and played along with Williams’ rules as some of us pretended to be men for the lesson - It was great fun!
We were also taught that when a lady excuses herself from the table (her fellow guests don’t need to know where she is going ; ) she should leave her napkin on her chair if intending to return and the gentlemen should stand until she has left the table. This very British tradition is forgotten and seems so formal nowadays, but this was all part of the lesson, teaching the etiquette of the British “upper class” afternoon tea guest.

Guests also learnt how to stir their teacup correctly (yes, there is a proper way!) There’s not only etiquette with the tea, but also with the food. Did you know you should never cut a scone with a knife?
We enjoyed an afternoon tier (on beautifully ornate metal tiers) of finger sandwiches (including salmon, egg mayonnaise & Cress, Ham & Mustard and of course the humble cucumber sandwich. We tucked into huge plain scones, served warm with strawberry jam and clotted cream, chocolate marshmallow cupcakes, fruit tea loaf and wonderfully light raspberry & white chocolate tartlets. William coached us through every single course, advising on how best to use our cutlery and how to eat politely whilst still making the effort to chat to your fellow guests throughout. There was no silence, the afternoon flowed perfectly and we truly didn’t want it to end.

I encouraged guests to share a few tips and recipes around the table, with William leading the good old scone debate (jam, then cream or cream, then jam?) and asking for the bakers around the table to share their method of scone making, which made for a very interesting discussion in itself, with varying answers from different parts of the country.

William also reminded us that elbows should not be present at the table, no matter how our parents or grandparents acted during our younger years. He had a little saying that tickled us all after a little conversation about this topic and it will stick with me for always after hearing it… “All joints on the table must be carved”.
Perhaps it’s the zombie lover in me, but I think that is such a fantastic saying and will remind me to remove my own elbows should I find myself leaning on them at such occasions!

Also enjoyed on the day, was a photo shoot conducted by my wonderful friends Lina & Tom of Liquid Photo, who came along prior to the event to take some photos of William and myself. We went with some very serious photos outside in the little rose garden at the rear of the hotel, however we did have a huge amount of fun messing about with a few cakes and taking some cheeky pictures as well. William, if he didn’t know by this point, would learn that I do like to mess about with my food and I am not in fact the lady that perhaps I should be!
Saying that, he actually seems to have a rather cheeky side himself, of which you may well see shortly, once the photos are ready to be seen… watch this space and you will see ; ) 
The reason we had these photos taken together is to ensure that we have some good photos to use for promotional purposes in our next events, of which we have started to plan for 2013.

We are very excited to announce that we are organising similar events for next year. We are returning to Hotel Du Vin in Cambridge on Saturday 6th April, just after our London version of the class, which will take place in sophisticated Knightsbridge on Saturday 23rd March.

Tickets are priced £50 for Cambridge, and £70 for London. 
Further information and tickets can be 

We are very much looking forward to working together again over another 
delicious afternoon tea, we just hope that you can join us.

Miss Sue Flay & William

Further information about William Hanson:
Further information about Miss Sue Flay:

Also find a fabulous write up on this event by one of our guests, Maria: Here