Monday, 31 December 2012

The Secluded Tea Party's 2012

2012 has been an awesome year for myself and the little cake fairies at The Secluded Tea party this year, with lots of good happenings throughout. I can assure you that Miss Sue Flay will be trooping on into 2013 with her head full of many more exciting and new Afternoon Tea-based plans and schemes in the way of cake-based fun and frolics, so watch this space!

This may seem a little cheesy, but I have made so many new friends and acquaintances again this year through my Afternoon tea journey, had so much fun it's unreal and I want to tip my hat to a few of those people and to the experiences that come with them here on the blog to let you (and them!) know that I am thankful that they are in my life and that their enthusiasm for tea and cake has been noted and helped to make for some very fun days, weeks and months throughout this last year.  

I am still baking (soon to be teaching you all to bake too with my own Baking School - eek!) as well as visiting Afternoon Tea venues to enjoy and review, even though I have lost 2 stone since the summer (and still counting ; ) and I am still annoying the mister with my incessant photo snapping at every piece of cake I nibble on... yes, it's my hobby, get over it - pffffft...  

I have added links, where the words are coloured, with links back to all the fun things I've been up to, so if you have some time to kill, do have a nosy and leave comments. 

So... to the highs of 2012:

  • Started with a relaxing trip to Southwold after Xmas, including Afternoon Tea at Tilly's Tea Room in a thunder storm and a rant about *I Saw You Coming* shops ; )
  • I met the lovely Jen, Zoe & the generous Team at Food Cycle Cambridge and got chance to volunteer in their kitchens to help prepare food for the beneficiaries. 
  • My new website was launched, courtesy of the lovely Mark at SPUOC -  I LOVE IT! 
  • Secluded Tea Party guests enjoyed swapping their bad Xmas Gifts at my Crap Christmas Present swap, it was great fun and got me featured in the The Express on Sunday & Real People Magazine... very exciting : ) 

  • I was contacted by the lovely ladies at Cath Kidston in Cambridge and asked if I fancied providing cake for their monthly craft nights, including a very special event in conjunction with "Country Living" Magazine, it was an honor and a blast.
  • I was stood in the ice cold with the lovely Debbie Wallwork & some lovely friends taking part in a Romantic Afternoon Tea Engagement Idea/Photo Shoot. An hour after we wrapped up the photo shoot, we couldn't feel our toes, noses or ears and it snowed!!
  •  I was then off to snowy Cambridge the very next day to deliver a very special package for a gorgeous lady called Aylin, who was having an Alice in Wonderland inspired party.
  • I met a lovely lady called Anna from Jersey, who asked for my advice on starting up her own Pop up tea Parties on her home island, she even gave me some Jersey Butter : )
  • I imparted some of my Twitter wisdom and helped some wannabe Tweeters get started on this fab Social media site - Cake was of course involved!  
  • A very exciting invitation was passed to me from Lynn at the Clandestine Cake Club, asking hosts to go down to the BBC One Show studio for a live cake club meet... Chris Evans loved my cake, he prodded it loads in rehearsals hehe. See me in action here ; )
  •  Lindsey popped over, a lady who had been following me on Facebook and had requested Chocolate Brownies and a Layer cake for a special Birthday treat. It's where my "Heart" shaped obsession started, making her brownies into hearts : ) 
  • Other birthday treats, didn't stop there, as after my "Tuck Shop" cake debut, everybody wanted a piece of the action and I was a busy bee making them to order!
  •  I "Met" a gorgeous family through Twitter who ran a Camper Van Rental company in Essex, we met up for Tea & Cake and I fell in love with their chef-named vehicles!
  • My friend, Lynn Hill from the Clandestine Cake Club joined our Cambridge meet at La Tasca in town. She stayed the night & we planned and plotted over dinner at Fitzbillies. It was so fantastic to see the CCC reaching nearly 150 clubs worldwide - wow! 
  • I decided to throw myself an Alice in Wonderland Inspired "Unbirthday Party" with friends and family joining me, dressed up in creepy Alice inspired costumes to join me at my Mad Hatters Tea Party table. We had a raffle to raise money for Food Cycle, which passed the £300 mark, such a generous group of friends I have, I can't thank them enough. And a huge thank you to my lovely friend Jamie & his fab Team at Apocalypse Paintball for hosting it for me. A birthday party to remember for sure : )
  • The mister tool me to London the weekend after for a further Birthday treat. We wandered and relaxed, stopping for pie & mash in Greenwich (yum!), Tea at Fortnum & Mason and a Movie Night with Bea's of Bloomsbury, which was just awesome.  
  • Not only was April full of Baby Showers... (I love an Easter birthday!) I also had a Chocolate Masterclass with the fabulous Cat at Cakes by Cat, which made me never fear the microwave for melting chocolate again. 
  •  I also got to enjoy an Afternoon Tea Baking Masterclass with Guiliana Orme, the loveliest lady I have ever had the pleasure of meeting in London. And with the class, I was co-students with the equally lovely Takami, a day to remember for sure. 
  • "A Calendar of Bakes" at Cambridge Folk Museum proved to be a very popular Afternoon Tea event and we learnt a thing or two about cake, it was a brilliant day. 

  • Emma came to me with a Hen Party query to die for, to help them throw a surprise party for her gorgeous sister in their own home. Their home was stunning and it was one of my most favorite Secluded Tea Parties to date, it was stunning and so much fun. 
  • I perfected my cucumber sandwiches. You can now learn to make the perfect 'wich
  • After a visit to my home from my lovely Tea ladies at Kandula Tea, I had been chuckling at the lessons I had learnt on the tea in my kitchen cupboard at that time, they were more than educating and I wanted to help impart this new found tea wisdom onto the rest of the world... Queue our Tea Tasting Tea Party - Get their tea into your life! 
  •  I took a visit to a Pop up tea Room ran as an "Art Installation" by Hunt & Darton.. we made naughty things with Battenburg and flicked Teacake wrappers at each others' heads. All behaviour was encouraged by our waiter, I promise you! 
  • Jubilee celebrations ended up with beer and burgers on a local street corner, as well as playing host to a fantastic Royal Hen Party for a fab group of civilised hens! 
  • I got bored with my bedroom, so after said beers, I went at my walls with blue paint... I got the ceiling too and still keep meaning to touch it up. Oops. 
  •  My TV fame continued (ahem : ) with a trip to Woburn Abbey with my home baked cakes in tow, to film a piece on Afternoon tea with BBC One's "Escape to the Country" with the yummy Alistair Appleton. He was just so nice, made me feel at ease right away.
  • We expected "The Unexpected" as our theme for the Cambridge Clandestine Cake Club, hosted at a sunny Abantu in Bourn. It was a beautiful evening, great company.  
  • The mister and I were pleasantly surprised to enjoy Afternoon Tea.... At John Lewis! 
  • After seeing the photos of myself at Woburn Abbey for the filming of my first Afternoon tea TV appearance, I didn't want to look back and regret being the cake-filled lass that I was, so I joined Weight Watchers, made some amazing new friends and have stuck to it to this day. 2 Stone down, plenty more Afternoon Tea tiers to go ; ) 
  • The Rise of the Pop Up Afternoon Tea feature on Jordan's Cereals national website included yours truly, how exciting! 
  • I played host to the Afternoon Tea to Remember! - One to toast health and love to for 2013 if ever there was more need for a reason.  
  • Cambridge played home to a new and exciting breed of WI Women... I missed membership as was on holiday, but plan to join the next chance I get to indulge the old woman inside me who secretly wants to learn to knit and craft...
  • Cycling became my new summertime hobby, come rain or shine. I cycled Grafham Water and Surrounding villages to kick start this new exercise routine, then built it up to Rutland Water in the Sweltering heat and even enjoyed the peninsular, what a ride! 
  • A treat in Norwich saw me join my friend Cat and the ladies at the *Historical Sauces* for a lesson in Vintage Hair Styling... My hair was a little too short, but we got there in the end! What a hoot, these ladies know their stuff and I will be back soon.  

  • I met the flamboyant Jenny at Betty Marshmallow, Ely's BEST cakey hotspot.. get there for her yummy cupcakes, like, erm... now! 
  • We surprised ourselves & enjoyed a muddy bike ride on the trails at Thetford Forest!
  •  I joined the lovely Deepa at Lazy Giraffe Jewellery and we did a Bread Making course together in Cambourne with Ruth at The Bread Bin. We learnt pasta, breadsticks and pitta recipes, it was brilliant and gave us skills we still use now - Ruth is a must visit!
  • Even though it was sweaty and sticky, one Saturday in mid-August, I ventured over to join Ely Clandestine Cake Club with my Sweet Sushi inspired Green Tea Cake : )
  • This month was kick started with a BANG in a weekend break away at Lodestar festival in Lode, it was local, but oh my, it was brilliant! We saw the lovely Grace-Sarah playing live, as performed recently at a Secluded Tea Party as well as Sir Bob Geldoff and the amazing girl band Katzenjammer, who I was infatuated with thanks to my dayjob and the random music I get to listen to. I was hooked & saw them again at the Junction later on in the year!
  • William Hanson was also educated in just how unladylike I am at Afternoon Tea, with our very first collaboration for our Afternoon Tea Etiquette Workshops. He even treated me to lunch beforehand, where he taught me to eat my soup like a lady.. poor guy ; )  In fact there are more plans to co-host events next year, so book now to grab a place!
  • Teacake in Shepreth was subject to my very first 4 page review in the Cambridgeshire Journal, rather than my normal small review column, it was very exciting indeed! With the photo shoot conducted by Tom & Lina Liquid Photo - Their photos are amazing!
  • We were disappointed by The Cake & Bake Show, but happy to see some Cakey friends there all the same : )  Followed by meeting a random man and his parrot in Covent Garden later that day who had us chuckling and chatting about our fair City. We also stumbled upon Byron Burgers in Hoxton which was just delicious - Bonus! 
  • Not forgetting the very first CCC AOG in Leeds, where over 80 Cake Club leaders met in the same room for tea, lunch and of course, cake - It was great to meet everybody! 
  • Headed straight to the Peak District after the AOG and spent the first week of October cosied up in a cute cottage (Called The Old Bakery - it was fate!), with bikes in the back of the car ready to tackle old railways and dams, it was a fantastic getaway and helped me to finally get to Fancie Cupcakes in Sheffield, a lifelong cakey dream which didn't disappoint! 
  • It was the misters birthday and we have both become HOOKED on Breaking Bad (An American TV Show) that had me so geeky, that I created an entire tea party around this fantastic show. It's basically about a Chemistry teacher who finds out he has Lung Cancer and decides to make Crystal meth and become a drug lord to leave good money for his family when he dies... it's AMAZING!... I made edible Meth an' all!.. Blog post to come on this, it's a good one, trust me ; )  
  • I also joined the Beg Bicycles Joy Ride for a jolly good time and enjoyed an autumnal meal at the Hotel Du Vin in Cambridge on a blustery weekday evening, a real treat! 
  • A lovely gent called Adam invited me to join him for Afternoon Tea at the Holy Grail of Afternoon Tea... well, one of the holy grails... Betty's of Harrogate. It was to record a feature on the History of Afternoon tea and the Etiquette behind it for a documentary to be aired on BBC Radio 4 next year - What a hoot!  
  • My treats also featured in a wedding photo shoot with Debbie Wallwork at Madingley Hall, a very prestigious venue in Cambridge. The photos are amazing, a real privilege.  

  • I hosted yet another Clandestine Cake Club meet, but in Greens Coffee & Co in Cambourne this time, joined by 15 lovely members and the lovely Leanne from Cambridge Evening News, who ran a feature on us, including my new co-host, Deepa.
  • Mr Neil B, a local fresh Fruit & Veg man did a cake swap with me in a car park one sunny morning... I made my yummy Oreo Layer cake for his wedding anniversary as a treat for his gorgeous wife, for a fruit and veg box swapsie - It was the best swap ever! 
  • Went to see The Hairy Bikers at Cambridge Corn Exchange... it was bizarre! They cooked just 2 meals and spent the entire show dressing up in drag and showing clips of the TV show we have already seen. Worst £40 I've ever spent. Probably!   
  • In between the last of the cycling for the year (frozen toes, two hot water bottles, lots of tears after our last ride owch!) we started playing squash between Tea Room visits
  • Greens Coffee & Co in Cambourne hosted my first Vintage Glamour Make Up Workshop, which was a sell out and involved cakes and cocktails... it was brilliant.  

  • Cambridge brought a brand new Underground Supperclub which was well worth visiting, for a 7 course meal in the lovely Alexa's home, I will be back again in New Year!
  • My Baking Workshops began, in the form of Test Sessions with some willing subjects... they were baking as well as I could and it's about to launch in 2013! Exciting times : )  
  • I said goodbye to a very good friend. 
  • A Xmas Tea Party was hosted, with the most amazing Buche De Noel you've ever seen!
  • We rode the Santa Express at Nene Valley Railway... Pigs in Blankets and booze included in our private carriage, it was festive and helped us to get in the spirit!
  • Had a quiet Xmas with family and entertained friends as they called in, plenty of cake and coffee on the go, naturally. I also got engaged, the mister did good bless him, with a ring designed by a good friend-Who knows what 2013 will have in store for us now?! 


See you on the other side! 

Miss Sue Flay


  1. What a year! You have achieved so much :)

    1. It was certainly a good year missy, what a hoot! Hope you had a lovely Xmas in Canada? Welcome back : )