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Village Food & Drink

Time for tea

Posted on October 07 2009 at 1:52:42 0 comments

Introducing a brand new business based on tea-time traditions.

The traditional cup of tea is one of the mainstays of English society, but in this age of convenience, the time-honoured apparatus of loose tea leaves, a warm teapot and china cups and saucers has largely been replaced by the quicker method of dunking a tea bag in a mug.

However, one thing hasn’t changed – a “nice cup of tea” is still the preferred option when we arrive home after a hard day’s work, when we get together with our loved ones or provide a sympathetic ear to a friend.

And it’s this sociable aspect of tea-drinking that appeals to Diane Cooke, who has founded her new business on the basis of tea-time traditions and the happy memories they can evoke.

Equipped with an ever-growing collection of vintage china and tableware from silver teaspoons to tiered cake stands, Diane will set up a traditional tea party in your home or your chosen venue, whether for a birthday treat, a gathering of old friends or an occasion such as a christening, wedding or funeral.

“I bring all the china, table linen and cutlery, as well as fresh flowers and a vintage radio with Glenn Miller music, if desired!” says Diane, who also provides homemade cakes, sandwiches and of course the tea itself.

She will serve the food and drink to your guests and then take the washing-up away with her, leaving you with the flowers and hopefully some cake! It’s an unusual idea, perfect for anyone who wants their party to be a bit different, and will appeal especially to those with a penchant for vintage memorabilia and the stories behind it.

Diane herself loves to expand her china collection by visiting antique shops, flea markets and house clearances, and enjoys the fact that these attractive old objects are getting a new lease of life.

“Most of the cups and saucers and plates deliberately don’t match, but they all look so pretty laid out on the table,” she points out. Indeed, Diane has an expert eye for colour and design – she has an MA in printed textiles, and runs this new wing of her business from her cosy studio at Tardebigge Court, where she also exhibits her artwork at the next-door gallery.

Her artistic talents even include creating bunting from vintage fabric, knitted tea cosies, and old-fashioned “pinnies” to wear at the parties. The whole ethos is designed to remind people of traditional home comforts, and to encourage friends and family to spend time together. In fact, the studio, and hence the tea party service, is named “Constance Wallace” in memory of Diane’s own parents.

The tableware will certainly remind many people of bygone days (look at the sweet little tea cups or embroidered napkins and you’ll find yourself saying, “My gran/mum/auntie had one like this!”) but even for younger generations who may never have experienced “proper” tea, there’s an element of nostalgic fun in the recreation of an English tea party.

“If you look at homes and interiors magazines, there does seem to be a trend towards ‘making time for tea’, with lots of vintage-style kitchenware and cupcake motifs,” says Diane.

As well as an English Cream Tea (scones, strawberries etc) and High Tea (sandwiches, cakes, trifle), Diane offers a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, which sees the teapots filled with wine rather than tea! A great idea for an eccentric hen party, especially if the ladies dress up in big hats. And it’s not just a summer idea – imagine a cosy winter tea party with mince pies and mulled wine…

Diane also offers a china hire service – for more information about this and the tea parties, just give her a call.

Constance Wallace
Tel: 01527 540111


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