10th July 2011
The Gent and I travelled on the motorway over the Pennines from Leeds for a Secret Strawberry Afternoon Tea party at Vintage Afternoon Teas a secret location in Manchester. We allowed plenty of travelling time which turned out to be a very sensible move, because as we reached the peak of Saddleworth Moor, the heavens opened up and slowed down the traffic completely. I’d already Google mapped the location and knew exactly where we were going. A text came with instructions that the exact location was the large white house on the corner of ‘this’ Road and ‘that’ Lane. In fact we arrived early and waited outside in the car until a suitable time was reached before we knocked on the door.
We were greeted by Gwyn and the wonderful smell of her baking. In the corner of my eye I could see the room with her laid out tables set with the most beautiful Vintage china that Gwyn told me some of which once belonged to her Grandmother and some that people had given her in exchange for cake. In the kitchen a wonderful layered strawberry cake also caught my eye.
Soon other guests arrived and we were served a refreshing Iced Tea or Pimms. Monica from The Spice Club Manchester and Vikas were the only people I’d met before and it was really nice to see them again. Gwyn, our hostess, I knew from Twitter but the other guests I’d never met before, which makes it all the more interesting getting to know them.We soon sat at our tables, the tea orders taken and the fresh finger sandwiches arrived on some lovely tiered cake stands. They were delicious.
We had a choice of tea and I chose a Chai tea. Granted it wasn’t a leaf tea but I found it very nice indeed with the Cardamom flavour and fragrance. It came in the most beautiful tea pot and I drank it without milk.
Pacing yourself is a pre requisite when attending Afternoon Tea and we certainly had a great menu to choose from.
I find guests at Supperclubs and Secret Tea Room events are some of the most interesting people. The Gent sat next to a very nice young lady who’d moved up from London as part of the new BBC move to Salford. It was discovered that she had been part of the Blue Peter program. The inevitable question was asked by the guest sat next to me about how does one go about getting a Blue Peter badge. It seems Blue Peter Badges are very hard to come by.
Our table discussed the grading of leaf Tea, a favourite subject of mine ATM as I’m on this Tea & Cake journey. I discovered in horror the possibilities of what exactly does go into some tea bags. It resulted in a sharp intake of breath from me and the knowledge that I’m attending a Tea masteclass in London this week where, do doubt, I shall discover more about this.
One thing I’m discovering as a guest at these events, is how comfortable we all feel around strangers. How lovely all the food is, how simply fabulous the hosts are and that often you don’t want the day/evening to end. The conversation never stops, but as a host myself, I am fully aware of all the hard work that goes into the preparation and how tired I feel at the end of it all.
As we began to leave, we put our donations in envelopes and started to say goodbye. We then remembered that Gwyn had some chickens which we simply had to visit at the bottom of her garden, the eggs of which are used in her baking.
So ended my Tea & Cake Journey – Day 2. Day 3 continues with my Tea Masterclass with Jane Pettigrew in London on 15th July.