Friday, 29 March 2013

Afternoon Tea Etiquette With Miss Sue Flay & William Hanson Returns...

After the success of our very first Afternoon Tea etiquette Workshop in Cambridge with The Secluded Tea Party, we are very pleased to be returning to help you learn your traditionally British manners over a luxurious afternoon tea with Miss Sue Flay herself and the UK's leading expert and consultant in etiquette and protocol, William Hanson.

William Hanson, one of the world's youngest etiquette specialists, will be returning to Cambridge to co-host this afternoon tea party with Miss Sue Flay to help guests to understand the importance of manners at one of our most beloved mealtimes and most English tradition. 

William understands that good manners and etiquette, which are based on common sense, should be universal. He strives to incorporate their proper use in a 21st century context, helping everyone to become more aware of, and sensitive to, the ways in which they conduct their lives. When he’s not stretched out on his sofa relaxing in his toweling robe watching repeats of Lark Rise to Candleford, or tending his renowned terrace herb garden, William provides first-class training and is a trusted advisor to private households, business & cultural organisations and schools alike, and has worked for several VIPs. 

Miss Sue Flay has an unhealthy obsession of David Bowie and Tarantino Films, but also a passion for both traditional and more modern afternoon teas, following the success of her themed events, all based around afternoon tea and her love of baking, she joins forces with William to understand that good manners and etiquette, which are based on common sense, should be universal. Striving to incorporate their proper use in a 21st century context, helping everyone to become more aware of, and sensitive to, the ways in which they conduct their lives.We will be hosting a luxurious afternoon tea to include a selection of delicate finger sandwiches, scones, cakes and sweet treats and, of course, copious amounts of top quality loose leaf tea at this fabulous Cambridge hotel. It will not disappoint and will be the perfect place to enjoy a relaxed afternoon tea with the young king of manners and all things politely British.Miss Sue Flay will be on hand throughout this very thought out afternoon to answer any questions on her knowledge and information gained on tea, cake and everything afternoon tea related whilst William will talk you through how to both entertain politely as well as enjoy as a guest politely and will cover topics such as....

History of afternoon tea
Napkin etiquette
Jam then cream? Or cream then jam?Networking etiquette
How to drink tea
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 many more besides! 

You will leave this event with a knowledge and genuine passion from your fabulous and motivational hosts and educators and they will help you to be both a fantastic afternoon tea host or hostess, as well as the best behaved afternoon tea guest or recipient.
And if you don't, these words coming from Williams' very own lips, he will have you deported for being a completely useless and rude British resident or visitor!

This Afternoon Tea Etiquette Event will be held on:

Saturday 6th April 2013
3pm - 5pm

Location: Hotel Du Vin Cambridge

Full details and itinerary will be disclosed to guests nearer to the event 
once tickets have been booked.

Limited tickets available at £50

This will be the ultimate "finishing school for afternoon tea" and your manners will increase ten fold... we hope!

To see more about the lovely William, who recently appeared on a documentary titled "How To Be A Lady" with journalist, Rachel Johnson from "The Lady" magazine, do visit

To see more about the beautiful Miss Sue Flay, do visit Any questions please do email Sue directly at:

We hope to have you join us at this table full of fabulous guests... Come alone or with friends, it doesn't matter!... As you will get to make conversation as part of the workshop with new people, so join us for a fun afternoon, fueled by amazing treats!

We hope to see you there.

Miss Sue Flay & William Hanson

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Learn To Bake With Miss Sue Flay This Easter...


To find out more about baking lessons in your own home, as an individual,
 couple, family or with friends fora special occasion, 
just click here

Or email: 

Miss Sue Flay 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Great Cake Places Giveaway 2013 - Cambridgeshire

A few weeks ago I was in contact with the lovely Jen from "Great Cake Places" through Twitter, she was on the search for the best cake places across the UK for a new publication that was excitingly touring the length and breadth of our fine country. 

The publication is commissioned by Allegra Publications, a small publishing company based in London, host to some fantastic food guides such as "Great Cake Places London", "The New York Coffee Guide" and "The London Cheese & Wine Guide" amongst many others. 

I had treated myself to a copy of the London Cake Places book just after Xmas and it has become my bible for recommended London cake spots for my trips down there and I know just how important, being a reviewer myself, it is to have tried and tested places to go to, as so many places offer a combination of bad cake and tea/coffee and often disappoint!

So I contacted Jen to rattle off a list of well deserved cake hot spots in Cambridge and the surrounding countryside that were worthy of the new publication, which sees this lovely lady (where DOES she put all that cake?! She's stunningly slim, bah..!) popping into big handfuls of coffee and tea stops, nibbling on cakes, scones and afternoon teas...all in the name of research for you, cake lovers - She's a trooper ; )
Instead of her just visiting the places I had lovingly sculpted Into the longest email in the world, she asked if I'd like to join her, being her Chauffeur for the day and introducing her to the owners of which I knew most... naturally, I agreed to join her in cakey heaven haha. What I love about this guide is that none of these places are expected to pay for advertising, the reviews are independent, based on the experiences as a paying customer, a fair review I feel and the way I work on my own reviews. 

The places we stopped at aren't all currently guaranteed to make the publication, however I truly hope they do, as they all deserve a place in this new and exciting book, which should be launched later this year! 
We also managed to cover a fair amount of ground as we travelled, visiting Essex, Hertfordshire & Cambridgeshire on our journey... I slept well that night, trust me! 

Great Cake Place Número One: Rosey Lea

Based in the historic market square in Bishop's Stortford and owned by the gorgeous Leanne Gregory, is was the meeting place for the very start of our tour at 9am. 
Opting for a very light & fluffy (and generous!) wedge of Victoria Sponge and a large ornate pot of Darjeeling, we sipped away and shared the slice of delicious cake whilst we got plotting our day. Leanne was there, so we made our introductions and got chatting to this very passionate young lady about her first year in business with her beautiful tea room, of which she co-owns with her boyfriend, who in turn renovates retro cars. She's one inspiring woman and she's a great example of how to run a tea room, where she was currently focusing on take away lunch hampers and the impending Mothering Sunday afternoon teas she was going to be offering. They even sell their tea at the counter, should you fall in the love with the pot of loose leaf that you choose on visiting- It was a perfect start to the day. 

Great Cake Place Número Two: Poppy"s Tea Room

Situated in Thaxted on a cobbled lane that needs a little navigating in heels for sure! It's sitting on a gentle hill shared by a gorgeous windmill which is well worth a visit whilst there.
We were met by the lovely Liza, owner of this secretively named tearoom, she still won't let on as to why this cute tearoom is titled Poppy's, but the "usual" guesses are all incorrect apparently... Intriguing! 
We went for a pot of the guest tea, "Lovers Leap" which was a seasonal single estate (Black) tea from Kintyre oya, Ceylon. It was a very delicate tea and it went perfectly with our choice of cake - Coffee Crunch, which had almost a crumble topping, it was a welcome change to my usual choice of a layer cake with cream of some sort, it was delicious. 
Liza knows her tea, as her father used to be a professional tea blender, so she educates her staff perfectly and their loose leaf blends are offered to their guests to match their food choices, it's such a fantastic tearoom and well worth the drive out to visit. 

You can read my full review on Poppy's Tearoom from my personal visit a while ago, HERE

Great Cake Place Número Three: Teacake

A you know by now, I'm sure, I am a huge fan of Teacake in Shepreth, with Christine & Maurice providing the ultimate in friendly tearoom experiences in the Cambs/Herts countryside, it's the perfect country retreat. 
I didn't want Jen to miss out on Teacake, but they were closed on a Monday, so I mentioned to them that I was keen to get Jen over just to have a nosey as it could mean some well deserved national coverage for them... Well, the red carpet was well and truly rolled out and I can't thank them both enough for their hospitality! We got a rare treat in actually having these fabulous tearoom hosts sitting down to join in and enjoy a cuppa and a slice of cake over some seriously passionate cake talk with us, it was one of the main highlights of our day and Jen loved the pampering, hurrah. Christine had freshly baked a gluten free meringue topped crumble slice and the smell just hit us as soon as we walked through the door, so naturally I indulged in a whole piece with a pot of warming winter spiced tea, I couldn't resist. Jen opted for a slice of their decadent Chocolate & Beetroot cake and a cup of their Monmouth coffee, a passion of Maurice's, of which she loved. 

You can read my full review on Teacake from my personal visit & photo shoot for my Cambridgeshire Journal Column a while ago, HERE

Great Cake Place Número Four: Quy Mill

The discussion of a full on afternoon tea at this relaxing hotel on the outskirts of Cambridge was a thought too far at this point, we were getting full haha. So we stopped off for a pot of tea and ended up chatting the friendly Catering manager about a current change to their afternoon tea menu, which will be taking place very soon, so he was keen that Jen didn't touch too much on their current offerings for her review. As a result, he presented us with a huge platter of savoury and sweet scones, of which they were currently adapting the taste and textures of, so it would have been rude not to have sampled them ; ) 
They were Devine & we are so excited to hear more from them on their new menu shortly! 

You can read my full review on Afternoon Tea at Quy Mill from my personal visit, HERE

Great Cake Place Número Five: Hot Numbers

We had made it to 4:30pm still not quite rolling, but nearly, into central Cambridge. This independent and very quirky coffee house based just off Mill Road had to be shown to Jen, as its a fave hotspot when I'm in town and in need of a pick me up. They serve fantastically strong coffees and even have The Rare Tea company on their chalkboard, what's not to love?! Not only do they have a fantastic space, based in an old Brew house, but they support local talent by hanging artwork on the walls of which you can purchase or just admire as you drink your tea and they often host live music nights, especially jazz and rockabilly stuff, it's a seriously overlooked venue and a must-visit for everyone.
We settled for a flat white coffee each, of which I regretted later that night as I buzzed into the early hours on a sugar and caffeine nightmare ( I seriously don't know how Jen does this all the time!!... She insists she drinks a lot of hot water with her cakes and I can see why snow ; ) and we opted to share a Fitzbillies Chelsea Bun, of which they stock here. 

Great Cake Place Número Six: Fitzbillies

Talking of Fitzbillies... We headed into town next, getting stuck in rush hour traffic, the pedestrians were moving faster than we were in the car, so Jen and I Agreed that she would be better of hot footing it to the last stops alone by foot as time was running out before places closed for the day, so we said our goodbyes and she hopped off to this fine Cambridge establishment to say a quick hello and grab her own (albeit brief) Fitzbillies experience. This place is a Cambridge "institution" made even more famous in news by Stephen Fry a couple of years ago when the current owners left and the bakery was stood empty and in need of being carried on... Queue Alison & Tim Hayward, new and current owners doing this place more than proud, continuing with the old favourites such as their Chelsea Buns, Coffee Choux buns and fondant fancies in the shape of frogs (awesome!) as well as adding some new menus to the mix, it's a place worth visiting. 
I love Tim's passion for food, as well as Alison's drive for making it a place worth visiting! In fact, I was chatting to Tim the other day about toilet humour and what people do in coffee and restaurant establishments, especially when it comes to the bathrooms still amazes him to this day... I love that no topic of conversation Is off limits with these guys haha... 

You can read my full review on Fitzbillies from my personal visit a while ago, HERE

Great Cake Place Número Seven: John Lewis Brasserie 

I had told Jen that this friendly central location was well worth a visit, as so many people dismiss it for being a "chain" brasserie, but they have their own pastry chefs on site, a rare treat for JL, as most have it shipped in, admittedly by their own management team, Cambridge does not! And their afternoon tea comes with a view of Cambridge well worth seeing, it's a haven within a stressful (for me!) shopping environment in the centre of town, with free wifi to boot. I love this place, I love the service and Jen has been recommended this place many me, as their afternoon tea treats are fabulous, truly! 

You can read my full review on Afternoon Tea at John Lewis Brasserie from my personal visit a while ago, HERE

Great Cake Place Número Eight: Hotel Du Vin 

I was gutted not to have given us time for Jen to visit this hotel on Trumpington Street, almost opposite the Fitzwilliam Museum, as their afternoon tea is still by far my fave in Cambridge I have to say. It's always a treat to visit, feeling completely pampered and satisfied in every way once I've left. The library is a relaxing atmosphere at any time of the year and you aren't rushed, once you are there, you are there to stay, so it comes highly rated by Miss Sue Flay. In fact, I love it so much, that my very next "Afternoon Tea Etiquette" workshop with William Hanson is bringing us back, with our guests to enjoy tea here on Saturday April 6th for their tasty wares and an education in traditional British Afternoon Tea etiquette.. It's an event not to be missed, with just a few seats left! 

You can read my full review on Afternoon Tea at Hotel Du Vin from my personal visit a while ago, HERE

Great Cake Place Bonus Discussion: The Clandestine Cake Club

On our time between each cake stop, we talked about all sorts, but I did use the opportunity to show off my very first published recipe in the Clandestine Cake Club Book and since showing Jen this, I've seen her baking away and visiting her very own local CCC...hurrah!

Competition Time!....

After such a fantastic day of eating cake, drinking tea and talking non stop about our very similar passions, I felt like I had known Jen forever, it was a fantastic day and it was great to get to know such a like minded lady - she's going to do this next book more than proud!
I had a ball, Jen is a lovely lady and she's going to do Britain proud with her cakey research... And I truly hope that our paths cross again very soon, it was fab to be able to help add to this new publication, if even very slightly : ) 

As a little treat for my readers, Allegra Publications have provided me with two books, a copy of "Great Cake Places London" AND a copy of "The London Cheese & Wine Guide".

There will be two winners for this, how exciting! 

To win a copy of your fave sounding title from the two, we ask you to do the following:

1) Write a short review, no longer than 150 words on your fave cake, cheese OR wine place and submit it as a comment below this blog post. It can be anywhere in the world and will be a great way to spread the love for your fave establishment, no matter where or why. 

2) You must also submit the review to the "Great Cake Places" website, as above for either one of your chosen place types. Visit this link to do this (We will check you do both ; ) 

3) Follow Miss Sue Flay on Twitter & Facebook

4) And finally, follow "Great Cake Places" on Twitter & Facebook

Competition ends at Midnight on 31st March 2013. 

Good luck and do keep your eyes peeled for the "Great Cake Places UK Guide", 
coming summer 2013 all being well! 

Miss Sue Flay

Miss Sue Flay's competition terms and conditions:

Entrants not meeting the above requirements will be deemed invalid and therefore not included in the draw. 
Entries/submissions will will be deemed invalid if the entrant has not completed these compulsory entry requirements. 
Entrants must leave a separate comment below (on this blog post) for their review submission of their chosen location, as well as submitting it through the "Great Cake Places" nomination form. 
Entries & reviews must be independent, establishment owners/management cannot nominate themselves. 
The competition will run through to midnight Sunday 31st March 2013 & we will contact the winners within a week of the competition ending. If the winners do not respond or accept the prize within 2 weeks of notification, we reserve the right to draw a new winner. 
With regret, the competition is open to UK residents only.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

"Music Of My Life" With BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

This morning, I drove through the snow and the icy roads (it wasn't quite the Antarctic ; ) and headed down to the BBC Radio Cambridge studio for a chat with Mark Rumble on his "Music of My Life" Sunday morning show. 
It's like a shorter version of "Desert Island Discs" where he has local business owners on air to chat about their passions and their fave songs, what's not to love?!... 

I haven't yet met the lovely Mark, although we have spoken, well over a year ago when I hosted a live Radio Tea Party at the Cambridge Cookery School, with a visit from the charismatic Glen Jones as our guest of honour. 
Mark remembered this and mentioned in on my arrival, good memory indeed! 

Mark was lovely and had impressed me massively on my way in, by discussing his recent weight loss of half a stone, very impressive. It also made me feel extremely guilty for bringing him a freshly baked fruit scone with jam as a little treat... ooops! 

We talked about how I started "The Secluded Tea Party" as a pop-up tea room in and around Cambridge and the Cambridgeshire countryside after visiting my first pop-up tea party in London 3 years ago. The mister and I had enjoyed it, but had come away a little peckish, the girls were skinny (gorgeous figures for a reason ; ) and we decided that I could do it bigger and better on the cake front and the idea evolved from there... 

I used to work in corporate events & conferencing for over 8 years and they were very stiff events, no creativity required, so I was itching to do something a little more colourful. 
I started by getting all my friends together in local coffee shops, as a free "Cupcake Club" where we would make cupcakes and nibble on each others treats. 
My passion for baking grew from there, falling out of love with cupcakes along the way, although a small regret may have been the Cupcake tattoo I got on my foot throughout that part of my journey haha... Check out the top of my left foot next time I flash my feet ; ) 

The reason I started being a hostess called "Miss Sue Flay" was mainly because 3 years ago there were a only a handful of pop up events going on around the country and the insurance or food safety rules were a little hazy, unlike the huge amount of knowledge & support there is out there nowadays.... I can help cake businesses and pop ups myself, just drop me a lone should you need my services! 
I didn't want people knowing my real name at this time and the alias just stuck... 

It was also for my personal safety, underground supperclubs were quite unknown and I didn't want my guests to know who I was or where I lived. People nowadays want to meet the elusive "Miss Sue Flay" and I love playing as my alter ego, so it works perfectly both ways. 

Mark loved my three song choices... 
My first song choice was 
Otis Redding, "Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay" 

I get nervous, I am a shy person, I wouldn't have said boo to a goose 3 years ago, I was a very unconfident girl and my last 3 years worth of experiences have really helped my confidence... I get ready to this song (putting on my lips and flicks in a 50's style ; ) 
 helping me to relax with a chilled out playlist before I host an event and it's always in the background at my afternoon tea events on my soundtrack, so listen out next time you visit one of my events ; )  

I have now started teaching my baking skills, proudly showing people in their own homes or venues how to bake afternoon tea treats and helping them to get passionate about afternoon tea. With this, they get my support as well as a tailored recipe book, depending on their favourite tastes and their specific requirements, it's very flexible indeed and you can read more about these here

We discussed modern manners and how I got into talking about Afternoon Tea and the etiquette alongside it, having seen the fabulous William Hanson on the TV around 18 months ago, I loved what he was doing and I got in touch with him to see if he might be interested in co-hosting an event with me, I didn't expect such a bond to appear, we plotted a lot more besides and now have a few more ideas in the pipeline which is amazing. 
We hosted our very first etiquette of afternoon tea event at the Hotel Du Vin in Cambridge in September 2012, with another one returning this April 6th (Book Your tickets now! ; ) 
as well as creating a 5 course dinner event titled "Dine Like Downton" in March 2013. 

My second song choice was David Bowie, "Rebel Rebel" 

This was a tricky choice for me, as I have a serious infatuation with Mr Bowie. 
He is my first love and I fell for him after seeing "Labyrinth" one of my most favourite 
films, of which I can pretty much quote word for word!
Not only my traditional Afternoon Tea events, I like to rebel, going against the grain and hosting darker, scarier and gory events such as a Zombie Tea Party and a scary Mad Hatter's Tea Party for my birthday in 2012. 
This song is actually my ring tone and alarm clock every morning, which drives my partner mad as I manage to sleep through it more often than not ; ) 

Mark asked me where everything is heading now with my business and I discussed our "Dine Like Downton" event as part of the Eat:Cambridge food festival with William and we are actually looking to tour this event in a similar format, so watch this space... so excited! 
This was a very successful event and I have found a new passion in entertaining guests and allowing them to have fun as they learn the lost art of etiquette and manners... its VERY tongue in cheek, I certainly don't take it too seriously and I think it's what my guests love about the events. 

I will also be taking the afternoon etiquette into a central Cambridge at an affordable cost for private events, for people wanting a new experience with friends & family, hen parties, baby showers or *just because* they fancy afternoon tea in a fun and relaxed environment. 
I can't talk too much about this as it's being planned at the moment, but it's a fabulous location, new to me and to my guests and there will be a lot of freedom for you to book me and my new venue up for your own afternoon tea with a difference!

Simply email me at: to book a private etiquette 
& afternoon tea workshop with your friends or colleagues, it's going to be 
up and running very shortly!  

Lunch with Gregg Wallace will also be coming up for me, as a reward through my weight loss success, of which I am equally nervous and excited about. 
I get the Masterchef judge all to myself for an afternoon of good food in his restaurant and the chance to talk about our favourite subject as we munch. Watch this space for a blog post about this, I just hope he doesn't mind me taking the odd photo for it ; ) 

I've had so much fun hosting my "Secluded Tea Parties" and the BBC have been so supportive - Both with Radio Cambridgeshire and my appearance on BBC 2's "Escape to the Country" of which I talked about the history of cake and afternoon tea, what a treat that was!
You can see me (3 stone heavier!- weird looking back!)
 in a video clip here

I still also plan to keep blogging about my finds and passions, as well as to continue to write my monthly column for the Cambridge Evening News/Cambridgeshire Journal Magazine or which I love to do and can't thank Alice Ryan enough for giving me the chance to do this, I have a new found love for writing due to this column. 

And as a result, "The Secluded Blogfest" is returning to Cambridgeshire 
on Saturday 11th May 2013, 
an event to inspire bloggers & writers with guest speakers who inspire me, 
including my lovely friend, Lynn Hill  of The Clandestine Cake Club, Tom & Line of Liquid Photo & ReeRee Rockette of Rockalily, who spoke at my last Blogfest in 2011

I also announced today my fourth speaker for this event, local blogger & jewellery maker, Deepa Mistry aka Lazy Giraffe who will be talking at this inspirational event about her own experiences as a blogger! 
Not forgetting the fabulous food that will be at this event to feed our guests, it's an event not to be missed!  - BOOK HERE

Mark finished my interview asking me what my fave type of tea is. 
My favourite tea is a Darjeeling, although a builders tea is always good. 
I'm not fussy, but people are scared to make me a brew as they think I'm going to be sniffy about it... I'm really not, I take it as it comes, so long as it's hot, I don't mind!
I have a friend who likes to make me a cuppa in a crudely worded mug, yes, you know who you are mister...! 

My third song choice was Louis Armstrong, "We have all the time in the world" 

I first heard this song on a Guinness TV Ad in 1994 - on my parents television with those really clunky buttons...I remember hearing this song, seeing the bubbles in the glass, being mesmerised by the song. It's stuck with me and it's a firm favourite on my event playlists. 

The songs I did choose originally were varied, to say the least, with 7 choices for them to pick three tracks from on request, so the ones that didn't make the cut, I will also share with you here now and they were as follows: 

We discussed all my upcoming events... of which you can always find more about through
subscribing to my blog or following me on Pinterest, Twitter or Facebook.

Or you can always book tickets at: 

If you missed the show today, you can hear it here for another few days: 
.....15 minutes into the show ; ) 

And a huge thank you to Mark for having me on his show today, 
what an honour! 

Miss Sue Flay