Monday, 30 December 2013

Miss Sue Flay's New Year Roundup 2013

Miss Sue Flay New Year Roundup                     2013 has been a roller coaster of a year for myself but, with lots of fantastically fun shenanigans throughout, I can tell you! In fact, life really has changed within the last 12 months, starting with a redundancy in my day job (I was working in Customer Service & Social Media Marketing for a well known online retailer throughout 2011 & 2012), which actually led me to finally being my own boss in 2013 (Hurrah!) through to radio & television appearances and the meeting of some truly amazing people along the way. Miss Sue Flay New Year Roundup             I can assure you that I will be trooping on into 2014 with my head held high, full of MANY more plans, including an "Afternoon Tea & Hosting Course" for individuals wanting to be a perfect "domestic goddess" and for tearooms and organisations within the hospitality industry too, so watch this space or email me for more info... I do love this time of year, it's a time to reflect on everything we have achieved and done with our lives, so why not leave me a comment below with the fun & interesting things YOU (my lovely readers) have got up to during 2013 too!? - I'd love to hear from you : )  Miss Sue Flay New Year Roundup                     So... to my highs of 2013: January After seeing the New Year in with friends and a triple layer chocolate mousse, January started with a funeral & a few weeks later, a sombre cuppa at Wimpole hall with the partner of a dear friend of whom we sadly lost at the end of 2012, it was a very sad start to the year and not a week goes past without thinking about Shelley, she was a truly lovely young lady and she was a monumental part of my new website, helping me to write the content, of which was getting ready to be launched (from "The Secluded Tea Party" to "Miss Sue Flay"). I was made redundant straight after Xmas, we knew it was coming & my backup plan was ready and waiting... I was to become "Miss Sue Flay" on a more full time basis - gulp! Baking lessons had commenced in my student's own homes and I tried out a group of "test students" including Mark,  Maria, Emma, Lauren & the lovely Leah-Ann - I can't thank them enough for their help in ironing out the creases ready to unleash me on the rest of the Shire!
 I wrote a blog post on the fact that kid's aren't really being taught to bake in schools anymore - sad times, but reality for many schools in the country.
Quy Mill served me a much-fancied afternoon tea on during the first week of 2013.
"Food Porn" was mentioned in a post about my favourite go-to blogs for recipes & inspiration.
1526882_617907311602415_1018201575_n                     February  I was encouraged to put a recipe forward for " The Clandestine Cake Club" book and my "Tuck Shop Cake" was picked (Page 210) and the book launched on Valentine's day - exciting! It was "National Baked Alaska" day & I got creative & made a mocha flavoured creation as well as giving an American-insired "Snickers Pie" recipe a good go - yum! I went wine tasting with my lovely friend Alexa (of Clandestine Gourmet Supperclub), I tried my very first "Steak & Honour" burger at their "Fitzbillies" pop-up & got hooked, I visited Betty's of Harrogate to record a piece on Afternoon Tea Etiquette for BBC Radio 4 and gained my confidence (& blogged about my eating disorder issues) during a makeover & photo shoot for the Cambridge Evening News - Making friends with the stunning Dorothy from John Lewis as a result. "D'Licious" coffee bar in Histon kept me in coffee & cake during a stressful redundancy experience - gosh, I miss those guys & their white hot chocolate! I offered my local expertise and showed the gorgeous Jen from "Great Cake Places" the best Cambridgeshire hotspots for tea & cake, most of which have made it to the 2014 book! My inner geek came out and LOVED hosting a Quentin Tarantino-inspired tea party for some of my lovely guests... "Tearantino" - Not for the faint-hearted! Miss Sue Flay New Year Roundup March  This was a very exciting month, including a book launch party at Waterstones in Cambridge for the CCC book (mentioned above), I started a part time "Household Management" job for a Cambridgeshire family & ended up preparing a fun birthday party spread for one of the boys, I even got to jump on a bouncy castle for a bit teehee. William Hanson popped down to co-host my own take on a formal dining event, "Dine Like Downton" of which I planned for months in advance, but thoroughly enjoyed through to the next morning where we enjoyed a civilised fireside breakfast at a local luxury B&B. Dine Like Downton attracted many different guests, including a Baroness from The Netherlands and we made it to the "Financial Times" food section thanks to Tim Hayward, a superb guest he was too. I appeared on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire with Mark rumble to do his "music of my life" slot and I headed to the David Bowie exhibition, followed by William curley's "Japanese Rituals" afternoon tea at The Halkin. Following a Weightwatchers competition, I won a one-to-one lunch with BBC "Masterchef"'s Gregg Wallace at his place in Putney. The food was fabulous, the company was...ERM... An education ; ) Blog posts included how to make the perfect egg & cress finger sandwich, a guest post from Redbush tea and my guide on how to host a "Breaking Bad" themed tea party... I got addicted (quite literally!) to this show, it's truly awesome! The Perfect Egg Mayo Sandwich April  I agreed to host a very special guest in my home for a private baking lesson and afternoon tea etiquette workshop, Japan's equivalent to Britney Spears, a pop star named Mai Kuraki. What a fantastic experience and a beautiful and polite young lady, what an honour! William Hanson hopped back down to Cambridge to co-host another large afternoon tea etiquette workshop at Hotel Du Vin on my birthday weekend, I always love our events, such fun as always - followed by a surprise dinner at "Hole In the Wall" where owner, Alex Rushmer brought out my pudding with candles in, he's a gem! I joined Gerla at Cambridge Food Tours for a day of food and drink by foot, gave up supermarkets and chain shopping for a little while, reviewed Hot Numbers coffee shop on Gwydir street, sold off my afternoon tea props to focus on my workshops and got involved in the Cambridge Bake Off as a judge. Household Management turned nerdy for me when I headed to Cheshire to join a 3 day course with "The English Manner" where I learnt how to run a large home perfectly. Miss Sue Flay New Year Roundup May The Angel Hotel in Bury came to me to request my company at a bloggers event for the opening of their newly opened Wingspan bar and I enjoyed a fabulous stay and afternoon tea the very next day to boot. My new website, launched and a new logo was designed alongside it, revamping to a more demure look for my alter ego! I celebrated 3 years since I started my "Secluded Tea Party/Miss Sue Flay" journey. My very first burlesque night saw me dressing up and schmoozing with the eclectic Cambridge crowd, bumping into some friendly faces and guests of my own past events at the Midnight ball at Anstey Hall. John Lewis in Cambridge agreed to let me use their super afternoon tea for my smaller afternoon tea etiquette workshops and the lovely Dorothy from the fashion department and Katy, a Twitter friend joined me to dry run the workshop, completely glitch free. JL also hosted a charity event where I was asked me to help judge a "Masterchef" style event. The first round of the Cambridge Bake Off commenced and we munched our way through over 75 chocolate cakes and I then went off that same afternoon to teach a baby shower baking party, where I taught 8 ladies to make... A chocolate cake! My readers could ask me anything. Anything at all. I hosted Blogfest 2013 with guest speakers including Lynn Hill, ReeRee Rockette & Liquid Photo for a day of blog inspiration...we even had cake from world- famous Mr Cake!
Miss Sue Flay New Year Roundup
June Poets House in Ely opened and I was invited to enjoy their stunning afternoon tea with Leah Jenson, Executive Chef for a wonderful rainy afternoon curled up on their trendy sofa. I was invited to the very exclusive "Ice House Festival" by the lovely Emma and had a ball sipping on local drafts and camping in the middle of their Cambridgeshire fields ; ) Cara treated her best friend to a baking lesson in her Ely-based flat whilst she was visiting from South Africa, I had a blast teaching these ladies! The Cambridge Bake Off continued through another 2 rounds, before finishing on Parker's Piece for "The Big Weekend".. The cake tent was like a sauna in the heat! BBC Radio Cambridgeshire started coming to me for etiquette advice... Blimey! I made it clear that online competitions really are worth entering - including my win to a masterclass and Supperclub with Ceviche, it was amazing! Working alone really doesn't feel like working alone and I blogged as to why.
Miss Sue Flay New Year Roundup
July After a chat via (good old!) Twitter, I found myself at an old workplace, Star Radio, for a food & drink show interview with the charismatic Mark Peters, messing about as we did back in the day! I also helped a friend of mine as she created & hosted her very first Indian-inspired afternoon tea Popup. I Helped an old friend from my previous job to write his film script, of which is now about to be made - watch out for a new slasher movie filmed in New York... If only I could fly out there and be part of it during the coming months, gutted truly that I can't afford to do so! I reviewed Balzano's Deli and also joined forces with "Cambridge Bathrooms & Kitchens" on Mill Road for a baking lesson for Independent Retail month, it was beyond hot in the kitchen, with the temperature outside being 33*c - oof! Ravenwood Hall was made home for a couple of days - to say it was a hot week would be an understatement, but an outdoor pool and an old oak bedroom was just the ticket for a relaxing mini break. This kick-started my "Secret Stays & Reviews" webpage.
A photo shoot at Teacake of Shepreth took place with the talented Debbie Wallwork, who helped me to piece together an afternoon tea etiquette (the do's & dont's of) shoot for an upcoming presentation. "The Secret Garden Party", a local music festival enabled me to enjoy my first visit and I partied for 4 whole days, as well as it inspiring me to talk about a piece on "Festival etiquette" with BBC Radio Cambs (becoming quite the contributor haha, nerd that I am!). I started a semi-regular slot with BBC Radio Cambs on the "Story of the week" piece with  Mark Rumble, with some tongue in cheek newspaper stories to waffle about together, great fun!
Miss Sue Flay New Year Roundup
August Shropshire was calling for me to join the ladies (& gents) at the "Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club" for. Presentation (gulp) to 100 members on the etiquette of afternoon tea - what a great crowd! I headed to Suffolk for a spot of Camping at my favourite site, Bailiffs Cottage. I was also inspired to rent out "Belle", my trusty bell tent for private functions over the summer. Bedford Lodge Hotel in Newmarket invited me and two young male companions to enjoy their afternoon tea, it certainly was a show stopping spread. After some frustrating conversations with friends who own and work in coffee shops and Tearooms (nationwide, not just in Cambridge!) I wrote a piece on coffee shop etiquette...worth a read if you work from coffee shops yourself - even I learnt a thing or two! This led to a new page on my website - The Lost Art Of Etiquette, of which I intend to add to over the coming months... Local Secrets, an online "what's on" guide asked me to write a piece on how to host a garden party, following this, I was asked to become an Independent reviewer and writer for them and so, a new writing project started for me follows the end of "The Cambridgeshire Journal Magazine"... Sad, but new times! Miss Sue Flay New Year Roundup September This month was welcomed (or not so...!) with a set of broken fingers and an afternoon in A&E thanks to my accident prone nature - I slammed them in my car boot, oof! I was asked to help Lynn Hill on the CCC stand at the "Cake & Bake Show", finally enabling me to catch up with one of the other CCC hosts, the Gawjus Andrew. We got to meet loads of baking celebs including Ed Kimber, Dan Lepard, Paul A Young, Ms. Cupcake and my baking idol, the stunning Charlotte from Restoration Cake. The Vintage & Alternative Wedding fair asked me to do a talk to newly engaged couples about afternoon tea at your wedding. I joined forces with Lina of Liquid Photo and we nattered about the negatives more than the positives haha...I fear we may have scared some couples into reality, but the feedback was encouraging and I think it helped - hurrah. Talking about a book idea with publishers, we shall see what comes of the plans in 2014! Baking lessons were enjoyed with Sarah (a runner up from the Cambridge Bake Off), Jane and her fabulous family and Tania & Daisy for a birthday party baking lesson. I wrote about hosting a sophisticated evening soirĂ©e, my top 5 afternoon tea spots in Cambridgeshire and a series of blogs on Downton Abbey alongside the new series 4. Miss Sue Flay New Year Roundup October My "Secret Stays & Reviews" took me to Hanbury Manor in Herts (twice!) & to Norfolk for a stay in a luxury spa room at The Pigs B&B, an afternoon tea retreat at Congham Hall Hotel & Spa and a visit to Sandringham House to indulge my housekeeping geekery. I also stumbled upon The funky Mackerel Cafe in Sheringham, where I learnt a very valuable lesson in snobbery. I hosted a private afternoon tea etiquette workshop with Kath, who's brother had treated her and a friend to for her birthday, they were both great fun to dine with. Cake International in Birmingham beckoned, where I visited on the press day with Lynn as a catch up day, of which  we used to gossip, plot, scheme and we even met up with the lovely gent behind "NordicWare UK" who specialise in making Bundt tins. The Geographer in Histon went under my review after the owners took on a property I had personally considered (but wasn't ready financially) to take on as a pretty village tearoom. My bespoke housekeeping services were offered through my website. I wrote a piece on trick or treating etiquette for a chuckle. Miss Sue Flay New Year Roundup November Kenwood delivered a very exciting package for me to review and get baking with The Alan Titchmarsh Show invited me head down to the ITV studios for a tv appearance on "Biscuit Dunking" (Alan was as lovely as I had hoped he would be and I shared a table with Pudsey the dog amongst other names haha) .. I'm a dunker, but I was happy to go along with the evil etiquette opinions hehe ; ) I visited the "Cambridge Alternative Network" at the Royal Cambridge Hotel, thanks to Antonia at MAGPAS for inviting me and there, I met Sarah at Primal Performance... I was soon to find out just how life changing she was going to be for me! A family wedding took me to Somerset to a stunning country retreat. I drove down to London to visit the World Travel Market, inspiring is an understatement! I can't thank Vanessa enough for her support in this new area of my life, 2014 will see plans for more travel, hopefully working alongside this mystery lady ; ) Angel Adoree hosted her very last "Hospitality Academy" at her Vintage Patisserie in Hackney. I joined 7 other ladies on this one day course  and we celebrated in style as we wished her good luck in her new ventures, what a girl! Sketch in London invited me for cocktails and a very exciting meeting...plans afoot! Regus, a serviced office and conferencing organisation offered me a prize through a social media competition, I won a "Business Lounge Pass" for a year and intend to use it on my travels. Miss Sue Flay New Year Roundup December I finished a 6 week personal training session with Sarah at Primal Performance and managed to lose a stone & a half before Xmas! Plenty more work to put into practice for the new year, but a pretty good start... I even tried out Hot Yoga, even if it wasn't for me ; ) Santa was waiting for me not he Audley End Christmas Train - What a treat! My modern manners advent calendar got a few conversations going on Twitter! Christmas cake was prepared using my new Kenwood Titanium and we went against tradition, using 43, a vanilla flavoured liqueur to flavour the fruit, it was delicious! Xmas Eve saw us headed to the cinema to see the second round of "The Hobbit" with some friends. It was a great way to spend the night before Christmas and I'm tempted to chill out that way again next year. Santa brought me even more nerd-taste fuel in the form of a napkin folding book, so I wrote a piece on starching your napkins, might you find this useful! Miss Sue Flay New Year Roundup January 2014 - TBC!  Miss Sue Flay New Year Roundup HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone, I really hope that you had a fabulous Christmas and that Santa brought you everything you deserve (even if it might be a lump of coal ; ) I'd also LOVE to know what 2013 brought to your life... do leave a comment below and share your stories, tips and exciting adventures, it would be FANTASTIC to hear from you too! What are your New Year's Resolutions? What ideas, dreams, plans or schemes do you have the New Year? See you on the other side... Miss Sue Flay New Year Roundup  
Miss Sue Flay

Saturday, 28 December 2013

The Lost Art Of Etiquette - Starching Napkins

Sue Flay Napkin Starching I never thought I'd see the day that I would be stood over my kitchen sink starching my linen... it's a task that I now very much enjoy as a guilty pleasure from time to time. There, I admitted it, much to my own mum's amusement! Napkin Starching From the wringing of the wet napkin to get as much of the cloudy water out of them as possible through to the ironing of the damp material right down to the satisfying sound that a lightly starched & ironed napkin makes as you shake it & listen to it's gentle wobble. Geeky? Yes, I know, I know, but you are reading this, so you obviously want to indulge your inner nerd too! It's a satisfying task and one that I learnt early last year in brief whilst training in household management. We didn't do too much of the practical element at the time, so it's taken me a little while to perfect it with my afternoon tea and lunch napkins, but I'm finally there! Napkin Starching Now I am going to teach you how to perfectly starch your own napkins so that you too can have a simple, elegant, yet practical talking piece at your very own table. You don't want to be able to cut your lips on these when using them, so lightly starched does it for napkins. Napkin Starching You will want to be able to shape these or potentially fold them into an impressive cutlery holder or a decorative display of some sort, so starching them will allow them to stand or stay in place when doing so. Starch can be found in your local hardware shop or in good old Lakeland in the UK, failing that, a little online shopping should come up trumps. I use "Kershaw's Traditional Laundry Starch", a small bag lasts me ages and it doesn't cost very much at all. Napkin Starching It's so simple to starch a napkin and can be done in advance, ready for folding and laying out when needed. It is a nice task to take your time with and it's less stressful than doing it in a rush whilst trying to remember everything else for your table. White napkins are traditional and look great in most folds (should you wish to shape your material into elaborate swans or flowers) but coloured or patterned napkins also look fab for less formal dining events and make certain folds look pretty whilst using them. Napkins also come in different sizes, so the larger your napkin, the (ever so slightly) more starch you may need for a stiffer feel. Napkin Starching Traditionally, napkin sizes are as follows:  Cocktail Napkins - Approx. 9 inches square (normally a paper napkin nowadays) Afternoon Tea Napkins - Approx. 12 inches square (more tricky to find than others) Lunch Napkins - Approx. 18 - 24 inches square Dinner Napkins - Approx. 22 - 26 inches square Napkin Starching How To Starch Napkins: Firstly, wash your napkins as you normally would, but do not use fabric softener or tumble dry. Once you have clean linen, you are ready to starch. I use my kitchen sink and a clean washing up bowl to do this, but a bucket will do just as well. Napkin Starching Place 2 level scoops (if you don't have a scoop, go for 2 level tablespoons) of starching powder into the bowl & a little cold water to dissolve it. You then pour in 2 pints of freshly boiled water, followed by 2 pints of cold water - 4 pints in total. Mix the starch and water well to make a cloudy bowlful, then add your napkins, one at a time. Napkin Starching Ensure each napkin gets a good soaking and wring it out as much as you possibly can. Hang to dry on a washing line or over a radiator for a few hours, but don't allow them to dry fully, you want a little dampness left in them to iron. Place on an ironing board whilst still damp and iron out all creases. Store flat until needed or fold once dry and crisp at once, should you need them right away. Napkin Starching You will have a satisfyingly stiff (but not too stiff!) napkin ready to show of to your next set of guests. Sue Flay Napkin Starching I keep my starched napkins out flat until I am ready to fold, but I do cover them with tissue paper to protect from dust, just as a tip. If you fold them, then wish to fold them into another shape later on, they will look odd with creases in the wrong places. Napkin Starching I plan to write a few posts on different napkin folds, so watch this space... Everything from the "Bishop's Mitre" to pocket folds to hold your cutlery, through to pretty folds incorporating your best napkin rings, I'm having fun experimenting at my HQ! Napkin Starching Miss Sue Flay    

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Secret Stays: Regus, Cambridge Cambourne

Regus is a leading brand, hosting over 1,500 flexible working spaces within 600 cities worldwide, in countries including the UK, USA, even Cambodia, Costa Rica & Dominican Republic to name but a few. As well as permanent office space & conferencing facilities, they offer "virtual office" packages, co-working and "drop down" business lounge access for people on the move, assisting businesses of any kind to work effectively in a way to suit them. No matter what your business needs are, Regus has got it covered, it's the perfect alternative to coffee shop working or home office setups, should you (like myself) have trouble finding places to work whilst traveling. Regus Business Lounge Cambourne I personally adore trying out new & quirky shared working spaces whilst on the move, but the safety with Regus is that you are near enough darn guaranteed to find a centre no matter where you are headed, without the added pressure of trying to find a standalone shared office in your chosen city or country. Regus is a company that has been developing consistently since 1989 and they have a real "Yes/Can do" attitude that helps hectic business owners to focus on their work and not on the mundane office-based issues they may need to concern themselves about. This goes for everything from mail handling, internet connections, telephone answering & videoconferencing, printing and photocopying, even catering and setting up for meetings or conferences, their services are offered to enable businesses to be more focused. By working alongside centre audits, each centre is designed to be at exactly the same standard as the next. This allows the traveling businesses to feel at home as soon as they walk through the door, no matter which one they need to walk through. It offers familiarity and the same attitude around the world and means that you don't have to spend time adjusting within each new centre. Regus Business Lounge Cambourne Setting The Scene: There are two Regus centres in Cambridge, one situated in Histon and one on Cambourne Business Park, the latter being my local centre and was in fact, back in the day, one of my very first employers within the events & hospitality world, so it's a no brainer that I would visit this one being literally on my doorstep. "Regus Cambridge Cambourne" is a two storey building overlooking the main roundabout as you drive into the Business Park, overlooking a small pond and adjacent to the Cambourne nature reserve, it's perfectly located for any business owners in the Cambridge area who do not wish to drive into the city itself. It boasts amenities such as 24 hour CCTV for your safety & security, outdoor seating areas, high speed internet access and easy-to-connect wifi, disabled facilities and shower rooms (if you are a lunchtime jogger!) and even it's own videoconferencing suite for your late night video calls. This centre alone currently houses over 35 individual businesses and 7 meeting rooms of varying shapes and sizes, run by no more than 6 extremely friendly and professional team members, you are looked after as soon as you step foot through the revolving front door. Regus Business Lounge Cambourne The Business Lounge At Cambridge (Cambourne): This is a very light & airy space, situated towards the rear of the building and it overlooks the outside decking and pond area with plenty of natural light, combined with lamps and spotlights for darker days. You can park yourself in one of two "Thinkpods" at one end of the lounge, which do look like some sort of futuristic car and are quite amusing to see at first glance. They are made up of a small desk and leather desk chair, curled up inside a small white booth with a blue perspex window for privacy. Inside the booth is a plug and internet connection (or you can use their free wifi whilst here) and a desk lamp, nothing simpler. You can make the "Thinkpod" your own makeshift office for an hour or full a whole day, I've personally worked shorter and longer days in these and the seat is so comfortable you can sit here all day and even feel snoozy cocooned inside one of these. Regus Business Lounge Cambourne If these don't take your fancy, there is a high top desk with "breakfast bar" style stools, a working telephone to make outgoing landline calls and an Apple Mac available for public use, should you not have your laptop with you. There are also 4 low leather armchairs with built in desk top to place your laptop on over your legs in the main lounge area. These are perfect for a quick email catch up or a chat with a fellow co-worker and they allow for more informal working if this is your style. Sky News projects onto the large plasma TV on the far wall, placed on silent so as not to disturb workers, but subtitled to enable you to keep on top of the day's news, as well as a spread of business magazines, both local and national to browse should you desire. Regus Business Lounge Cambourne The Kitchen:  Facilities are basic, allowing you to help yourself throughout your working day. The kitchen area is a hop from the Business Lounge and offers complimentary tea, coffee, milk and chilled water. There is a constant supply of large white mugs and tall drinking glasses, it's as if a "Washing up fairy" is constantly on the look out and she keeps the kitchen spotless at every opportune moment, it's fantastic. A vending machine sits quietly in the corner, should you be in need of a savoury or sweet snack to keep you going throughout your stay and it's topped up once a week, so never looks empty - there's nothing worse than a sorry-looking and half empty vending machine! Regus Business Lounge Cambourne The Team:  All so friendly and you can tell that they work well together, everything seems to work seamlessly from a visiting perspective and on the whole the centre looks spotless as you walk through the main reception and out to the rear. If you have a question, nothing is too much effort to stop and listen to help you, even if they are in the middle of something. When I first walked into the centre, the girl who greeted me stood up and smiled, not something you see much of nowadays when entering a professional office environment like this, so it was a real added bonus to see. In fact, once I had been in 4 or 5 times, she had almost remembered my unique client number as she checked me in - how's that for service?! Regus Business Lounge Cambourne The Little Niggles:  The lounge is where the back door is situated and this door is used regularly throughout the busier lunch period. As a result, it makes the area very chilly during the winter, so I have started bringing a cardigan in to wrap up during the colder months. Otherwise, it really is the perfect place to concentrate and get on with things with no real distractions. You are all here in one room together, there's not really anywhere quiet to go to take a phone call, so once or twice, I've been sat next to somebody on a Skype call and they've spoken loudly and even had the person at the other end on loud speaker - put your headphones/mic on people, I'm trying to work! Regus Business Lounge Cambourne The Little Extras: On my second visit, the Centre Manager, Laura, popped down to see me as I was writing away and she asked how everything was. It was fine, no problems and we got chatting about the shared offices within the building, where some "one man bands" share a space/share the cost and she happily showed me around with a tour of the centre. The really nice surprise was an offer to use one of the shared spaces for a day completely free of charge to see how I liked it, I'm never going to grumble at a freebie and will take them up on it when I get a full day in the centre. My co-workers in the Business Lounge are usually very friendly, will always respond when I offer them a "good morning" and one or two of them have swapped business cards with me and we've had an interesting conversation or two. It's always nice to meet new entrepreneurs and business owners, so do use a workspace such as this to network and have a natter for a minute or two in the kitchen whilst brewing a cup of tea - you just never know who you are going to meet! Regus Business Lounge Cambourne Final Thoughts: Regus lives by the strapline "Work your way" and they are determined to support their clients in every way possible and this shows through each of the centres I have visited so far - there's even a Regus centre at King's Cross, which is MORE than handy for trips to London with time to kill before getting the train back home to Cambridge, it's next on my list to visit! In fact, I am wondering if there is a co-working etiquette guide to be pitched to the "head honchos" at Regus HQ....I wonder if they might be interested?! Miss Sue Flay Regus Business Lounge Cambourne Please note - Through a Facebook competition, I won a 12 month complimentary pass to all Regus Business Lounges, with no obligations attached to the giveaway. I am in no means obliged to blog or write about this if I don't like it, but I simply choose to share my thoughts with my readers, should I enjoy the experience or product in question. In this case, I have saved myself some pennies on hotel/coffee shop working and have produced some of my best work to date as a result of the peace & quiet of my local Regus centre. Any questions, please do email:  

Saturday, 14 December 2013

10 Reasons To Lose Weight BEFORE The New Year

I'm a cake loving girl, if you didn't know this by now, where on earth have you been? ; )
Miss Sue Flay
2013 has seen me judging with the team at the Cambridge Bake Off competition through to enjoying & reviewing afternoon tea tiers across the region, even chatting on the radio about my sweet tooth and appearing on ITV's "The Alan Titchmarsh Show" (see the video clip here!) to waffle about dunking biscuits  in your tea...
No wonder I've been easily swayed when it comes to indulging my naughty sweet side, but with all the reviews and food-based events I've hosted and been lucky enough to be included in, I've put on a few stone since my last weight loss mission - of which even had me enjoying a healthy lunch with "Masterchef's" Gregg Wallace  in London!
Gregg Wallace
So, why on earth am I going on about losing weight BEFORE Xmas and the New Year and not following the usual "resolution" method for 2014?
Well, I'll tell you. I was invited to a networking event at the "Cambridge Alternative Network" by the lovely Antonia Brickell at MAGPAS as her guest and I met a table of extremely interesting business owners.
One of said business owners was a young woman called Sarah Matthews, a Personal Trainer within her own company, "Primal Performance". She stood up within her 60 second intro and mentioned that she was looking for people to train for her fitness portfolio as a case study... Well, I went up to her afterwards and mentioned that I'd eaten a heck of a load of cake and wanted to lose it.
Tuck Shop Cake
The very next day, I was hosting the lovely lady in my home, making her a cuppa and getting started!
I'm going to be writing up a diary of the first 6 weeks of my new diet & fitness regime (circuit training, jogging, sports massages, a new diet, lots of new rules to follow... all included!) over at in the new year, so I won't spoil it, you will have to read about my first steps on this exciting and equally tiring journey over the last month or two - so watch this space, I'm going to promise to be brutally honest and open as to how it's going and what I've been eating and doing, it's been so much fun I can tell you!
If I hadn't met Sarah, I'd be doing the very same thing as I always do, eating loads of rubbish (just "because it's Xmas!") and most likely getting even lazier and even more unfit over my Christmas break. But, instead, I've lost over a stone in the last month, toned my body, upped my fitness level and completely detoxed and put myself on a healthy "raw food" diet.
Weightloss with Primal Performance Personal Fitness Programme Diet
In all honesty, I feel AMAZING. Tired, but awesomely amazing! And I have Sarah to thank for the very start of a very important new friendship and team... Even inspiring my friends and family to get fit with me, I'm heading for a healthy and extremely exciting Christmas.
So. I'm not going to preach, but if you've been thinking of getting fitter, healthier, slimmer, more toned (etc,etc) in the New Year...why wait?!
Get started now, you won't regret it and will be more likely to stick at it during 2014 and beyond for doing so.
Weightloss with Primal Performance Personal Fitness Programme Diet
Here are my top 10 thoughts and reasons behind why it's going to be useful to get it kicking now and not next year:
1. When was the last time you felt amazing about your body? For me, it was in February 2013, following a photo shoot and makeover with the gorgeous Dorothy at John Lewis (now a fantastic friend as a result) and I had lost a few stone on a weightwatchers plan (and put it all back on a few months later!). Dorothy helped my confidence hugely and then something else knocked it massively (no thanks to an unprofessional local fashion show and a serious bout of depression that followed the entire experience - not blogged about due to the issues it caused me personally) and I want that feeling back for my 30th birthday in April 2014. There may just be one reason to get you inspired, then let it be that YOU want to feel incredible about yourself.
John Lewis Makeover
2. Even more Xmas TV and films to choose from this year means the potential thought of moving simply from the kitchen to the sofa. Whilst that's no bad thing on a mini holiday, a little movement still needs to be involved if you don't want to turn into a huge walking & talking Ferrero Rocher! Take a brisk walk to keep your fitness plan on check in the morning or during the afternoons. Chilly winter days are fab for waking you up, wether you have a pup to take out or not and you will be guaranteed to make human contact at least once or twice.. Which always raises a smile or two as you wish each other a "Happy Christmas" as passing strangers on Xmas Morning - It's a great feeling, try it!
Primal Performance Diet & Training
3. If you find a sport or activity that you love before festivities, you could add some equipment or required clothing to your list for Santa. This way, you are asking for something you very much want and will use. I'm hoping that Santa will be bringing me a set of Kettlebells and a Medicine Ball to enable me to throw my weight (literally and constructively ; ) around the living room - that beats my body weight in Toblerones, hands down.
4. You will save money on the usual long term  "New Year Gym Offer" or weight loss group membership if you get your own motivation now. It's really surprising just how hard you can work yourself without having to go to a gym. Use a mix of online diet and fitness blogs (I'm working on a list of helpful and interesting "healthy" blogs as I speak!) and perhaps kick off with one or two sessions with a personal trainer to save you money and get you exercising more frugally at home.... You are more likely to gain better results than a few hours on an uninspiring gym treadmill, with a trainer mixing your exercises up every time to keep you on your feet!
5. If you are eating healthily and working hard before the real celebrations set in this festive period, you are more likely to make wise choices when it comes to the over indulgent food and drink and you won't have as much to work off your hips in January as a result. You will start thinking about if polishing of an entire box of mince pies is worth it and won't necessarily want to get wasted every time you hit the cocktail bars, so it may well keep you in line on the food front too!
My Xmas day treat is pulled pork in brioche buns with roast potatoes cooked in goose fat, I cannot wait and it'll be worth the wait!
6. Getting healthy can be a fantastic excuse between friends, family and even couples to get bonding in a cost effective way, sharing the cost and having a laugh as you go. Squash is a great game for me and y friends, it's fun and fast paced and I now play once a week. For couples and friends training together, it gets quite competitive but helps to keep you on track instead of having them doing all they want to indulge whilst you sit and watch. It's a great way to gain their support and build up relationships at the same time! And they'll thank you for motivating them too.
Primal Performance Diet & Training
7. Getting healthy now gets you into a pattern and used to it so that you can enter the New Year with a smug feeling, knowing what you are doing, what you need to eat and not wasting time getting to grips throughout the first month or two- you're already there! You can also use the break you may gain over Christmas to learn to relax and switch off. This is something I'm very guilty of... I go to sleep with my phone being the last thing I see, so I need to personally work on a more relaxing bedtime ritual to help me sleep better. Sleep is needed to help you lose weight, if you don't rest, you don't lose as well as you should... What better reason is there to get serious about relaxing??
8. You've already set some realistic goals for a "new you", you aren't just doing it because you feel it's the easiest resolution to stick to for January. I'm heading for being "Fit & 30, not Fat & 30 and in going to do it. It's not a fad, it's not a quick fix, I'm signed up to my local (and free) running group in February, I'm going to be looking a million dollars by April and then even better still for the summer. I'm excited and nervous, but I'm not going to be unhealthy any longer, I'm taking my time and being realistic.
Primal Performance Diet & Training
9. If you start now, you can make the most of pre-Xmas freebies... Personal trainers might be looking for case studies to show off to prospective clients in the new year, local gyms might be giving away a free membership or two on social media and exercise classes may be trialling a new workshop or session for free to ensure it's going to work in January. You might save yourself a fortune by entering into these competitions and ideas - I did, even the free Hot Yoga class wasn't for me, I still gave it a good go and took advantage of the free session.
10. Getting fit BEFORE Xmas is going to benefit the seasonal activities you might want to plan in such as ice skating or skiing... Your fitness levels are going to be much better for these things. You'll also potentially have aimed for a fitting of an old party dress for the office celebrations and you may finally fit back into that sexy little number you haven't rocked in since 2009!
Whatever the reason or the date of reading this post, it doesn't matter when you start your fitness plans, but my advice would be not to put it off... You honestly won't regret it : )
Primal Performance Diet & Training
Lastly, Sarah, you were in the right place at the right time for me and I know I've thanked you a million times, but accept it again, you've changed my life for the better - You are AWESOME!
Should you be interested in Primal Performance yourself, Sarah can be found here - with exciting plans for the future, you'll want to be a part of it!
Have a very HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone and thank you SO much for reading my wafflings this year, you are also awesome for supporting me!
Miss Sue Flay
And if you can't wait to read more on my diaries and weight loss journey with Sarah / Primal Performance, why not get in touch and ask me personally?
Or leave a comment below with your own thoughts, questions, wishes, resolutions and plans for your very now health and fitness in the New Year?
Let's inspire each other!
Primal Performance
Please note - My training is currently a complimentary offering due to offering myself up to being a case study for Primal Performance. I am in no means obliged to blog or write about this if I don't like it, but I simply choose to share my thoughts with my readers, should I enjoy the experience or product in question. In this case, I also have to have my photo taken in my training underwear, so it's a HUGE incentive to gain my readers' support and look amazing in my "after" photos!  Any questions, please do email: