Thursday, 30 May 2013

Gift Experiences For Fathers Day

Fathers Day is coming - if you didn't know already! And what on earth are you going to buy your old man or the kids dad this year? Kids Baking Lesson Every year it gets harder and harder, especially when they don't want for anything and another set of novelty golf tees just aren't going to cut it! Well, look no further, Miss Sue Flay will sort you out and help you to book a Fathers Day experience like no other - She will help you to win him over in a heart beat! You can book a baking lesson in his own home, either to help him brush up his skills or learn to bake full stop. It can be tailored to his likes, so can be as simple or as technical as he would want it to be, you can even let your old man choose his own recipes once he knows what his gift is... It's very flexible indeed. Or you can book to join him or have a family baking lesson, getting the children involved, baking up a storm over an hour or two, then sitting down to your very own Afternoon Tea afterwards to enjoy the goodies you've made together. Perfect. Fathers Day What could be better than the smell of a freshly whipped up Victoria Sponge and some fruit scones & all the trimmings with a pot of dads favourite tea?! If your dad isn't into the baking at all, but you want to learn a few new skills to bake for him, then we can do this too... make it your own and give him something very special and personal this Fathers Day. Some of the recipes you can learn to make: Chocolate Malteaser Layer Cake Cinnamon Streusel Scones Salted Caramel Ritz Cake Giggle Cake Profiterole Tower Orange & Cinnamon Curd Retro Sweets Show Stopper Cake Cherries & Cream Cupcakes Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Truffles Meringue Kisses Tuck Shop Cake On the flip side of that, your old gaffer could be more into the eating than the baking, so why not book an Afternoon Tea Etiquette Workshop instead? You can now book a private afternoon tea etiquette session with a luxurious afternoon tea in a very relaxed City Centre venue in Cambridge to include a selection of delicate finger sandwiches, scones, cakes and sweet treats and, of course, copious amounts of top quality tea as we converse. Practice the art of conversation, enjoy some fabulous tea & cakes or use it as an excuse to spend some time with your family, it's a superb way to while away an afternoon. Or, again, why not book Miss Sue Flay to visit you in your own home or venue of your choice, should you prefer to make or source your own Afternoon Tea? Fathers Day Etiquette Topics you will learn throughout your session include: History of afternoon tea Napkin etiquette Scones - Jam then cream? Or cream then jam? Milk then tea or tea then milk? Hosting manners Good guest etiquette Table manners - why they matter Dressing for afternoon tea Polite table talk - and putting it into practice Excusing yourself Plus much more besides! This is the "ultimate finishing school for afternoon tea" and your manners will increase ten fold… we hope! On reflection, perhaps YOU (my dearest reader) are the father and you want to treat YOUR family for a change? Who needs tradition?!... Let's get plotting any which way you choose. To book or discuss one of the above packages & simple pricing structure in further detail, simply email: Or visit: Tea Party And most importantly... Happy Fathers Day!   Photos courtesy of Liquid Photo

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Cambridge Bake Off Round One - Chocolate Cake

On Saturday, I was lucky enough to be invited to help judge 100 chocolate cakes as part of the Cambridge Bake Off with the Cambridge Evening News. Yes, you read that correctly, one HUNDRED chocolate cakes! Jimmys Night Shelter We took over the Cambridge Cookery School and the lovely owner, Tine Roche guided is through each cake, allowing is to sample a tiny mouthful of each in a controlled manner so as not to make any of us sick with cake overload. It was great to meet the other judges, especially Jimmy from Jimmy's Night Shelter, where the cakes went down to after the competition. At the start, it was a very daunting thought as the entire room was filled with chocolate cake creations with the smell hitting you as soon as you walked into the room, all home baked by talented and local novice bakers. In fact, no two cakes were the same, all were unique in taste and appearance and it was a very difficult task to whittle them down to just 38 cakes for the next round, they were simply stunning. They were all numbered, not named and as a judge, I hadn't seen the bakers arrive, so it was a fair judging not knowing who's cake was who's. This, I'm glad of as I knew a few of the entrants personally from my own cakey adventures, so there was no unfair advantage ; ) This round was not only being sponsored by local company "Tucker Gardner", it was also sponsored by "Chocolat Chocolat" and they had very kindly donated mini packs of truffles for every entrant as well as a bouquet of their famous chocolate shards for the "Cake of the round". This particular cake was a worthy winner, smooth ganache and a simple decor, filled with gorgeous layers of chocolate & raspberry flavours with a genoise sponge, it reminded a few of us of a "Fitzbillies" creation (a local bakery). The owner of this cake had worked hard on it, as had everybody else, but it was well deserved regardless. I can't really single any other cakes out, they were all delicious and it was tricky to know which to put through. The next round is "Victoria Sponges" next weekend and the bakers will have to piece their concoctions together at the venue! The professional shots were taken on the day by the lovely Ashley at Groover Photography. Miss Sue Flay

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Teaching A Japanese Superstar

I was emailed at the start of April by a lady called Alison who teaches English to foreign students visiting Cambridge and she had been asked to help with a special request by a student she was currently teaching. Baking Lessons The lovely lady she'd been helping was a Japanese student visiting Cambridge for just 4 weeks, wanting to learn to bake her very own traditional Afternoon Tea. How could I resist? Mai Kuraki The only problem was that Mai, the girl in question has quite the following in Japan, as she is in fact a pop & R&B star back in Japan and she is a very big name indeed. It turns out that Alison had initially suggested going for Tea at The Ritz, however, she would not be able to enjoy it to its full, as she would have been followed & papped. Blimey, I got straight onto Google to find out what I was letting myself in for hehe. Mai Kuraki Mai Kuraki has been a star for over a decade and now, in her early 30's she's making a come back and she is one of the most friendly people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting - she's a huge star it seems, so I got even more nervous! Mai arrived at our agreed venue with Alison (to help her with her English) and Asuka, a good friend of Mai's who knew England well having stayed here before. The three of them together were an absolute delight to teach and spend an afternoon chatting away with. Mai Kuraki We had agreed to make fruit scones and vanilla cupcakes, both of which Mai had so much fun making, she even had most of the lesson filmed to watch back later, so I had to get used to a video camera in my face very quickly hehe. I had a ball, all three of the lovely ladies got involved, making & shaping the scones and swapping recipes and tips whilst discussing the ingredients available in Japan - it was as much of an education for me as it was for them, I loved hearing all about their culture, it was fascinating. Once we had moved onto the cupcakes, passers by would have wondered what on earth was going on as the ladies giggled away, piping the cakes and making pretty patterns, even animal faces out of the decorations, it was the perfect rainy afternoon. Baking Lessons Cambridge Between each recipe, Mai insisted on washing up the equipment, making me completely redundant after each recipe hehe. As it turned out, there's a very different way even to wash the dishes in Japan, so this was a fantastic lesson in etiquette and Japanese culture for me as well - she's welcome to do my dishes any time! I had set up an afternoon tea table for us to place the treats onto afterwards, complete with Redbush Tea and finger sandwiches for Mai to enjoy. The girls wanted to know how to eat their Afternoon Tea correctly, so I gave them a mini etiquette lesson and this helped with Mai's English conversation as well. Miss Sue Flay We had been talking about favourite music throughout our baking lesson (Mai is a fellow David Bowie fan so we rocked out whilst baking to his music ; ) and also films. We are a similar age, so it was interesting to learn that she loved "Labyrinth" as a child too, but hadn't seen it in years. I put it on for her in the background whilst we ate and I think she was one very happy girl that afternoon : ) After our Afternoon Tea and etiquette discussion, we had a lesson from Mai in Napkin origami and she taught us how to make a penguin with our Afternoon Tea napkins, such fun! - it was the perfect end to a fab day. Japanese Student Cambridge It was a pleasure to meet all 3 of these ladies and I'm so glad to have met Mai Kuraki, she was down to earth, great fun to teach and dine with and she is hopefully now making Miss Sue Flay's scones & cupcakes for her family back in Japan... You now can also book a private baking lesson or Afternoon Tea etiquette workshop here. Afternoon Tea Etiquette You can see the full photo album of all the fun & treats from this superb afternoon here. Miss Sue Flay

Monday, 20 May 2013

John Lewis Gourmet "Masterchef" Challenge - An Invitation

As well as helping to judge the Cambridge Bake Off (starting this weekend, very exciting!) I have also been asked to judge a "Masterchef" style competition as a fundraiser event for Papworth Trust with John Lewis in June, I'm so excited to be asked to help, so of course I said that I would be thrilled to. You, my lovely readers, are also invited to come along and try some gourmet food at a great ticket price, so why not book a ticket and support this great food event? Gregg Wallace The night is going to involve three teams of Papworth Trust disabled adults learning to cook a two course meal – three chefs from John Lewis will head up and train each team.  The teams are all learning to cook with their chef this month and on the evening of Wednesday 5 June they will come together and have a 'cook off'.  Food Cycle Tickets are just £15 each for people to come along and have a taster plate; a bit of each of the three meals cooked. The judges will be sat at a separate table (5 judges in total) who will try all of the meals and give them a score.  Some feedback will be given by one/all of the judges to the diners/teams at the end of the evening with a winning team given a cup.  Date     Wednesday 5 June  Time     6:15pm – 8pm  Venue  John Lewis Brasserie, Grand Arcade, 10 Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3DS   Tickets are only £15 (£18 with a glass of wine), with a discount for tables of six. The price of a ticket includes a generous sampling of each of the menus, a chance to influence the decision of the judging panel, and free entry into a prize draw. John Lewis Cambridge   Tickets are available from the Customer Service department in John Lewis Cambridge. For more information, please call 01223 224 633 or email All proceeds will be donated to Papworth Trust, a disability charity which supports people to live more independent lives. And the 3 menus for the John Lewis Gourmet Challenge are... Team Noir Sea bass with a warm Niçoise salad and salsa dressing Passion fruit panna cotta with mango, pineapple and mint compote garnished with a tuile biscuit Team Jane Vegetable cannelloni with a rich tomato sauce served with a summer salad Lemon tart with raspberries and crème fraîche Team cat Stuffed pork loin with braised cabbage, celeraic puree and cider jus Profiteroles and chocolate sauce Food Cycle Papworth Trust is a disability charity. We support as many people as possible in as many ways as we can – providing accessible housing, personal care and employment services to name just a few things. By attending this gourmet challenge, you will help us make a difference for disabled people. To find out more, please visit  Registered charity 211234 Miss Sue Flay Please Note - I'm not paid or bribed to say these things, I review places & events of interest and items of my own accord, because I'm simply THAT geeky about tea and cake and all things in between. I pay for my own food, drink, services & products, I don't tell the establishment or suppliers what I'm doing, unless I enjoy it so much that I want to blog about it. I then simply ask their permission to do so and I chat to them about my experience to make them aware that I (and others) have enjoyed it : ) If you would like to discuss my independent reviews or blog write ups on any of the subjects on my blog, please do email for a chat.

Ask Me Anything - My Answers

Last week I gave my readers & followers the chance to publicly ask me absolutely anything.  No rules, no topics, just to ask "Miss Sue Flay" a question... and for me to answer it as best I can.  Miss Sue Flay I have to say, I was inspired by the very talented & crafty lady, Claire Wilson who is better known online as Claireabellemakes. She did this and it inspired me to see what my followers would ask of me.  To say I was a little nervous was an understatement, but you have been lovely and very amusing in this little experiment, so thank you to all who posted me a question! So here are the questions that were asked of me, along with my answers, I hope you enjoy the randomness of these as much as I did! What part of your life do you find the most challenging and why? (Claire) Good question, I find so much difficult it's hard to pick ; ) Believe it or not, I'm a shy girl and speaking publicly petrifies me. I've recently spoken at two different events & have been asked to do a talk at a huge home makers event in London, I'm scared witless, but my stubborn nature stops me from saying no. I like to challenge myself, no matter how much it scares me... how boring would life be if I said no all the time?! I have no idea why it scares me so much, as I can usually make sense of what I'm trying to say, I guess it just comes down to confidence and it took a long time for me to gain anything resembling that, but am getting there slowly, but surely- I can thank my lovely friends lately for being so supportive! Cambridge Bake Off When was the last time you ate a cupcake? ; ) (Deepa) Deepa knows all too well how much I used to LOVE cupcakes haha... then I fell out of love with the little blighters. I have a real love/hate relationship making them to say the very least. I'm not 100% why I must say. A slight pain, seeing as I had one tattooed onto the top of my left foot a few year ago, bugger! In fact, I now run a private household for a Cambridge-based family part time, it's great fun and I get to bake with the lads in the kitchen, which I absolutely love doing. As they are young, they love making cupcakes, so I did in fact make some of my infamous Oreo cupcakes last Friday and I "May" have nibbled on one as a result... ahem! 
Have you ever gone to teach a class at someone's house to find their kitchen in a dirty state? How do you cope with that? (Victoria) Actually Victoria, this is a slight fear of mine... but I am very lucky to be able to say (to date!) I have been very lucky in the kitchens I've been invited to help bake with students, they have all been fabulous. Even the smallest kitchen I taught in had the most STUNNING collection of Emma Bridgewater china proudly nestled in a space saving cupboard above the oven - I was in my element! Ask me again in a year, once I've really got going - eek! The biggest problem with teaching in the winter was actually teaching in freezing cold kitchens (especially when it snowed) and having to keep the buttercream for certain cakes from freezing solid, it was that cold in some homes, including my own, it was a bit of a technical nightmare that I have had to learn to cope with fast and on the spot. Kids Baking Lesson What would the 10 year old version of you think of you now and the person you've become? (Scott) Wow, a question I have no idea how to answer. When I was 10 I wanted to be a policewoman if I remember correctly, I was a tom boy really and was probably equally as scary as I may come across now in hostile situations. I would have made a mighty fine copper, however, as for most of us, those mainstream jobs go out the window when you start your working life. I've done everything from working in a stables, opticians, chemist, dolls house shop, boring admin jobs in various offices, through to chasing a career in events & hospitality. None of them were meant to be for me, I was too strong minded and had my own ideas of wanting to work for myself. I think my new business ventures would confuse the 10 year old me, I wouldn't have got it, but I would have thought the cakes I make are awesome and I would have wanted to lick the bowl every time I saw my 29 year old self baking something, that's for sure! Whats your top tip for icing cupcakes? (Victoria)  Don't handle the buttercream too much, otherwise it will start to melt... especially important in hot weather. Use a large drinking glass to place your piping bag over, then hold the glass when topping up the piping bag so you don't touch the sides with your fingers. This way you don't need to handle the buttercream until you are ready to pipe your cakes. William Hanson and Miss Sue Flay Jamie, no I can't bring myself to write your question and answer it, it's just too crude for this blog post hehe  - trust you! ; p Miss Sue Flay

Sunday, 19 May 2013

What Miss Sue Flay Did Next...

I just wanted to set the record straight on my new plans as of... well... today really!

For 3 years I've been hosting my Secluded Tea Parties, making cakes and hosting events all based around Afternoon Tea. I've had such a ball, but it was more of a hobby for me, a sideline whilst I was working full time. 

In February, I found out that I was being made redundant from my job and it was more of a shock than I thought it would be, as I knew it was coming since October last year for various reasons. So it's been a slightly stressful time moving forward, but I've come to a decision. 

I want to be self employed. Be my own boss. Suit myself. Earn my own money. Have some fun whilst making a name for myself. 

The business people around me have beyond inspired and supported me through my changes over the coming months and I can't thank them enough. 

I've decided to change the way I do business, mainly to make things simpler for me and for my fans/followers/readers/customers.

My new website launches this week at and I have a new logo which brands ME rather than the playful "Mad Hatters" theme I've lived by for a few years, it's time to become a little more sophisticated and adult with my future brand - and I LOVE it!

I am no longer going to be offering cakes to order or Afternoon Tea treats to buy, for various reasons, however, I will be offering the following (all of which is fantastic for individuals, couples, families and groups of any kind):

Baking lessons in your own home
Afternoon Tea Etiquette workshops in Cambridge 
Household management and etiquette -move over super nanny, Miss Sue Flay is here! 
Events - watch this space for news on upcoming events, they will continue naturally

It's an exciting and refreshing change and I'm loving all the new challenges that I have taken on, I even had a surreal experience or two over the last two months including having lunch with Gregg Wallace and teaching a Japanese pop star how to bake her very own Afternoon Tea, which was a huge amount of fun and a blog post will follow on both shortly ; ) 

For all your gift experience, baking lesson, hen party, baby shower, birthday celebrations and much more besides, I'm your woman!

Miss Sue Flay 


Friday, 17 May 2013

Polite Reading Material

Following my recent adventures and new found interest in Private Household Management & etiquette training, I've been finally getting into reading books... real, actual BOOKS! 
Anybody that knows me, namely my family, will know I'm one of those people that reads a chapter, gets bored (or I should probably say, distracted!) and moves onto the next one. 

However, I have got the reading bug ever since the lovely William Hanson (who I co-host events with such as "Dine Like Downton" back in March) mentioned a whole reading list of books, I've been clicking away on Amazon and switching the TV off to get down with some research. 
I have to say.. I am loving it too, I've been reading in the evening before bed, educating myself and making myself chuckle, talk & even gasp out loud... much to the confusion of the pup sitting on my lap as I go!  

So, should you want to learn a little about traditional and/or modern etiquette, here is some bedtime reading suggestions for you too, some of which I have already read & enjoyed, some still to read over the coming weeks:

Debrett's New Guide To Etiquette & Modern Manners
By John Morgan 

As it says on the front cover, it's "The Indispensable Handbook"  for anybody who wants to know how to get ahead with good manners, most of which are common sense and very interesting indeed. The cover topics such as personal relationships, entertainment, how to behave in public (and private), rites of passage (birth, baptisms, engagements & weddings), the written word (writing your thank you letters is very important in this day and age!), royal & formal etiquette as well as more modern "netiquette", phones, faxes etc. 

Debrett's Etiquette for Girls
By Fleur Britten

Billed on the back cover as "the ultimate girls' guide to getting it right". 
It's a controversial one and a title that the more traditional etiquette enthusiasts get a little hot under the collar about for some very obvious reasons. Naturally, the rebel in me wanted to read it, so it has to go on my reading list out of intrigue, more than anything.  It covers topics such as : New rules in a modern life - for every girl about town, flirting, one night stands (Yup, really there is etiquette for this it seems!), breaking up, getting ahead at work, what to wear, even festival, polo and private jet etiquette - a girl can dream!  

Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management 
By Isabella Beeton 

Originally published in 1861, she documented an otherwise undocumented social 
run down offering her unique view on manners and life in the everyday Victorian household.
The cookery section was large to say the least and is still used to this day. She was the first to give precise measurements and cooking times, she truly was the first domestic goddess! 
She was also the eldest of 21 children!!! Married at 19 to magazine publisher where she contributed as a columnist on cookery & fashion and they had sold 60,000 copies within the first year. She sadly died at just 29 ( following the birth of her fourth child) - what a woman!  

Simply Wonderwoman
By Joanna Gosling

After my training with Barbara Allred within the household management course, I fell in love with all the little tips & tricks she taught us from cleaning to setting up a guest bedroom, through to packing a suitcase for our household. This book is a modern take on making life simple, a little like Mrs Beeton, but I imagine her to wear superman-style "pants of power"! 
It's titled "a survival guide for women with too much to do" - well that's me through & through. 
It shows you how to entertain stress-free, how to be empowered by DIY (who needs men?!),  how to look stylish with zero skill (erm yes please!) and even how to make the most of your free time with children. 
It even shows you how to make homemade gift ideas (who knew jars have a million uses!)

** Coming Soon ** 
'The Bluffer's Guide to Etiquette... for the Socially Less Fortunate'.
By William Hanson 

So, talking of the man himself, my lovely friend, Mr Hanson, is currently penning his own book on etiquette for socially less fortunate - that's me then ; ) 
This is so exciting and will be one to look out for, I know I will be one of the first buyers myself. 
William says: The Middletons are the modern Hyacinth Buckets (although Kate & Pippa are more successful than dear old Mrs B ever was.) Knowing what to do in every social situation has never been more vital. If Kate can become a Duchess, then almost anyone can rise through the social ranks and become a wife of a Baronet, at the very least.
The book will be the guide for social climbing and will teach bluffers how not to put a foot wrong when conversing, dining, socialising and marrying those in the know.

Happy reading book worms!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Secluded Blogfest 2013 - An Inspirational Day

On Saturday 11th May 2013, a secluded (and very secret) Cambridgeshire location played host to The Secluded Blogfest - a second blogging & inspirational event for 17 fabulous guests. 

This was an unusual event in Cambridge where guests stumbled upon a breakfast of bacon sandwiches, a selection of Layer Cakes made by Mr Cake himself, a lunch provided by a fabulous Cambridge-based supperclub and were even invited to bake a cake and bring it along for a mini version of a Clandestine Cake Club in the afternoon. It was an event with superb food & drink, as well as exceptionally talented & friendly speakers and fellow bloggers.  

The Cambridge-based Golf & Leisure Club that we used was taken over for a full day, joining myself & my 5 guest speakers to get inspired and meet others with the same interests whilst making new friends and using the wifi to blog, tweet and facebook their inspiration as they gained it. 

After the success of the very first Secluded Blogfest back in November 2011, it was time to offer a second helping of this event for writers, bloggers & their friends. 
We were lucky enough to be joined by ReeRee Rockette of Rockalily, who had been to talk at the first Blogfest and she was willing to return to update us on her adventures, of which there have been many exciting changes since the first event... 

ReeRee actually started blogging as a way to run a personal blog to chat away as a Librarian... it was aptly titled "Too loud to be a librarian" and this is where her blogging started, much to the interest of our guests, who had no idea this was the case before moving onto Rockalily. 
This lady has had quite a colourful past career wise, much like myself, she is inquisitive in nature and tries new things, following her nose and her heart at the same time, I admire this hugely. 
ReeRee has worked as a stage manager in a burlesque club, as well as entering into the world of "Rockalily" as a "pin up masseur" to start with... for just over a month, before moving to "Rockalily Lipsticks", of which she really started to make a name for herself through this small bedroom start up company. Her advice was invaluable and she gave us a run down of her favourite business owners and bloggers, as well as helping us to think about who our readers & customers are and how to identify their needs -  "Engage & interact with your readers, you won't regret it"
She doesn't apologise for her actions and had no worries with telling us that she wants to write a book as well as to be a millionaire, she has a head for business and is loving every minute of running her new hair salon, of which has been opened for a year now. She has customers visiting her that have read her blog for years, as well as passers by who note her pet dog, Ellington, in the window - Ellington even has his own Facebook page as the Salon's very cute mascot! 

Following ReeRee, I had invited a favourite Cambridge-based blogger and now, my personal friend Deepa Mistry of Lazy Giraffe Jewellery to talk. It was her first attempt at public speaking and I know just how petrifying it can be, but she did fabulously, as I knew she would. 
This lady is one talented cook, baker, jewellery maker and events & social media expert, without sounding cheesy, she's multi-talented and I met her at my very first Secluded Tea Party event, where she had booked as a guest. She then went home and blogged about me... I followed her blog from that day and over the last 3 years, we've become food buddies and co-hosts of the Cambridge Clandestine Cake Club. 

Deepa talked to our guests about her blog and where it has taken her, how she got started and the lessons she has learnt along the way - "Be original & honest, check your spelling, never copy and always give credit where credit is due"
She advised that it's great to have something to educate your followers with, so have (or learn) a skill that you can be known for and people will come back for more and if something goes wrong, simply admit it - it shows you are human and allows you to have a laugh with your readers!

Deepa is a blogger to watch, not only does she blog about her baking & food-based exploits, her stunning jewellery has just made it onto "Not on the High Street" website, but she is also about to start plotting some Indian Supperclub events in Cambridge this summer, which is so exciting I can't help but start wondering where they might be! She shared a few of her favourite supperclubs and restaurants, but she did admit that there is a real lack of good Indian food locally... 

We had cake provided by our fellow Cambridge Clandestine Cake Club member, Chris Holmes, better known as "Mr Cake" who was recently in the press for sending his bosses a resignation letter written onto one of his infamous Passion Cakes... of which we got to enjoy (as well as a naughty moist chocolate cake), it was deliciously spicy and sweet, perfect with a cuppa for elevenses. Thanks Chris, it was great to finally try your cake and equally good to know that you can buy a wedge at the Gog Magog Farmshop Cafe should you fancy a slice whilst visiting! 

There was a lot of talk on books, pubslishers & self-publishing throughout the course of the day and a good point made by one of our speakers was that publishers don't always sign authors, they sign experts, so you never know where your exploits may take you. 
A prime example of this is my lovely friend, Mr William Hanson, who is an etiquette specialist and has just been signed to pen "The Bluffers Guide to Etiquette" 

We were also provided with a gorgeous Mediterranean buffet lunch by The Clandestine Gourmet team, a local Cambridge-based supperclub and their food was the perfect fuel to keep us going for the afternoon. We had Tomato gazpacho consommé with beetroot jelly, Roast cauliflower salad with green beans & peppered walnut, Maneesh with pea & feta dip, Asparagus, pumpkin & goat's cheese frittata and their trademark Blueberry cheesecake for dessert. I can't thank them enough for standing in at the last minute, they were the best decision we could have made and did Blogfest 2013 proud! 

Once everybody was fed and happy, Lina & Tom of Liquid Photo began their talk starting with a fun slide that was simply titled "Oo look - Pretty pictures!"... which was really what they wanted to educate guests with this afternoon. You may write beautifully, but a photo or picture may in fact be what is enticing your readers with approximately 3 seconds to catch somebody's attention, so you need to ensure that you get the photography right from the very start. Not forgetting watermarking images, a big topic of discussion within the group.  
This talented duo have been taking some of my event photos over the last few years and I feel comfortable in their company, which can be half the battle when having your photo taken if you aren't as confident as others, it makes for a more natural picture I feel and is why I asked them to speak at this event, as they have a lot of expertise in many areas of imaging & photography, running The Cambridge Darkroom as well as their own company.  

They mentioned some inspiring brands such as Kat Williams of Rock N' Roll Bride
and as two of the top blogging sites worldwide and their websites and blogs are an inspiration, of which we agreed and discussed our favorites including bigger brands as well as lesser known blogs too. 
Tom & Lina also advised that size matters when it comes to images, so to ensure that readers aren't having to squint when looking at a photo, but also how to not stretch your images to buggery at the same time. It really helped us to learn how to take a better picture. 

We finished the day with my friend and fellow-cake fanatic, Lynn Hill, Founder of The Clandestine Cake Club, a cake "sharing" club that now has over 9,000 members within 180 member-run clubs worldwide. It all started with just 11 attendees and 6 cakes in Lynn's dining room in Leeds, with 1 man who actually fell asleep after eating so much cake in one sitting ; ) 
Lynn talked about the idea and how it ll came about, through to the media attention she started to get including BBC's "The One Show" and "The Alan Titchmarsh Show" & the fun she and some of the CCC members had whilst being surrounded by names such as Paul Hollywood, Arlene Philips and Gok Wan - Surreal was one word for the experiences. 

Lynn talked about her love of social media and how much it has helped to spread the CCC nationwide, as well as being a source of help in an hour of need - as the Cake Club website went down under the weight of traffic after being featured on BBC One, but Twitter came to the rescue and helped her to source somebody who could help her sort it out again!
Her first book was published in February 2013 and it features members' recipes (see Page 210 ahem ; ) and she advised that if you ever get  chance to write your own book, to do it!
And never under estimate that "Spam-like" email in your inbox from a journalist... you just never know where it might lead. 

We even had our very own mini Clandestine Cake Club to finish the day, thanks to guests who baked some lovely concoctions & entered into the spirit of it! 

All of our guest speakers were inspiring, as were our fabulous guests, all who discussed their plans and blogging adventures with us throughout the day. 

The Hashtag on Twitter went crazy (#Secludedblogfest) and helped to get people engaging and networking throughout the event. I know I came away feeling overwhelmed, I just hope it helped my guests as much as it did me.

I don't plan to give away all of the secrets & tips learnt here... you will have to contact me directly or my guest speakers for their advice & time if you want the full picture ; )  

Now to focus on 

It's about to be launched, so keep your eyes peeled!

Miss Sue Flay

PS - Full Photo album of this event can be found here

You can also view blog posts from some of my lovely guests since this event, 
as follows: