|The hen (front right) & Dulcie (front left) & henettes|
Saturday, 14 July 2012
Today took me back in time – not to a bygone era, well not to one that was that has long since passed, but to about a year and a half ago when I threw my first private tea party for a group of lovely hens. They had hired a farmhouse near Frome and were very patient with me when I lost my way. I’m really grateful to them (Sandra, I mean you!) for having faith in me to provide their friend with a fabulous tea-party for her hen do.
Since then I have thrown so many private parties that I’ve needed help waitressing at lots of them, especially with large numbers. Today, however, the girl who was going to help me was ill, so I went by myself – and I loved it!
This party of hens had hired The Manor at Norton St Philip, about half an hour's drive from Bath – a grand period property with a large but comfortable lounge with wooden floor. I’m told the bedrooms are amazing too but I didn’t see them.
The girls didn’t answer when I arrived bedraggled by the drizzle, but the lovely landlady who lives next door popped her head out and let me in.
Inside it’s impressive – although for such a big house the kitchen is tiny, but this wasn’t a problem for tea-making purposes.
The group gradually appeared in small groups, helped me decorate the room and then, around 1.30pm they ushered in the hen– it was a surprise.
I hope they loved the Bette Davis menu – ham and grain mustard sandwiches, egg and rocket sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, mini-Victoria Sponges, Carrot Bites, Dark Chocolate Brownies, Peaches and Cream cupcakes and melt-in-the-mouth cookies dipped in chocolate. They certainly seemed full enough and made all the right appreciative noises.
During tea the girls surprised the hen with gifts – including a corset and net skirt. She went upstairs to change and in the meantime, burlesque expert Dulcie Demure appeared. All the other girls disappeared too, but then reappeared dressed in the most fabulous burlesque style outfits! Top hats, fishnets, sequin shorts, red basques, flouncy flirty skirts – they looked amazing! And when the hen came down, dressed in her finery she was touched they had all gone to such a lot of effort – although she was also confused about what was going on until Dulcie introduced herself.
I retreated to the kitchen to wash-up (the glamour) while the group whooped and shrieked, shimmied and danced there way through numerous moves and music. And when it was over, they asked us if it would be ok to go straight out into Bath wearing their outfits. As anyone who has been there knows, Saturday night in Bath is hen party heaven and you look odd if you’re not dressed up! So Dulcie and I left them contemplating their evening’s outfits and I left remembering what hard work it is to throw a tea party on your own – but also how really rewarding it is too.
Thursday, 12 July 2012
Long-time regulars of The Secret Tea Party will remember the early days when the tea party locations were always well, ...a secret! So on 1st September 2012, the afternoon tea extravaganza is returning to its roots and throwing a special party in a top-secret location, at Monkton Combe, just outside Bath.
The party will be split into two sections and guests are able to join one or both parts of the day. Organiser Mrs Stokes is referencing the classic country house parties that happened at the turn of the 20th century and throwing a tea party and cocktail party in one. Traditionally, September was the prime month for Country House parties and guests spent the morning shooting or riding (which we won't be doing) before having an indulgent afternoon tea (which we will be doing). The evening was spent dancing, talking, drinking and playing games, all with a slightly saucy undercurrent!
Here is what is planned for our Country House Party!
Country House Tea party
*Arrivals from 1pm with glass of welcome bubbly
*Play parlour and board games, explore the surroundings (pray for dry weather!)
*Have optional makeovers and peruse the cocktail bar
*2pm the tea party officially starts
*2.15pm Dance lesson in the dining room
*3.15pm Afternoon tea served on vintage china in the conservatory
*4.15pm Surprise entertainment
*6pm Best-Dressed Competition, tea party ends, cocktail party guests arrive
Country House Cocktail party
New guests are invited to join us and the evening will take on a slightlier naughtier side! All guests will receive a complimentary cocktail on arrival, be able to dance to music, listen to readings from this year's erotic smash hit Fifty Shades of Grey, watch a burlesque performance, have optional makeovers and imbide more cocktails (payable on the day) all in a beautiful, intimate country setting. A best dressed prize will be awarded.
The venue is a small country house hotel 3 miles outside of Bath in the delightful village of Monkton Combe. There is free parking available. The location will be revealed after booking by email.
Mrs Stokes is happy to arrange transport to and from the venue for £6.50 per person. Please buy the appropriate ticket.
There are four suites with a double bed available for any guests who would like to stay the nght. The cost per suite is £180 per suite Friday-Saturday and £140 Sunday to Thursday. Please firstname.lastname@example.org for details of how to book.