And a good time was had by all

I must apologise to those of you who have been awaiting my tea party report with bated breath (that would be all two of you then!). I meant to do this last Monday, but work and life and things got in the way and I just couldn’t find the time. But better late than never as they say!

So, a quick recap for those of you who’ve forgotten (or just don’t know) what I’m going on about.
My wonderful blogging friend Katy (whose blog you can find here) is raising money for The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths, in memory of her friend Michelle’s baby boy Keelan. Katy is raising money by hosting tea parties… and having other people host tea parties for her. Could there be a better way to raise money than by eating cake?! Clearly there could not! Which is why I had to get in on the action and host my very own tea party.

I went for an afternoon tea type event. The entire German-speaking world seems convinced that we Brits drop everything at 5pm every day and sit down for a cup of tea and a scone. I have no idea where they get this from! I’m sure most of us would love this to be the case, but do any of you know anybody who actually does this? No? Thought not. Netherless, I decided to keep the cliche going and have people round for tea (and scones and cake and little traingualr sandwiches) at 5pm on 9th July.

I got up nice and early and started cutting teapot shapes out of colourful paper.

You can’t actually see from the picture, but the non-patterned shapes have tea quotes on them.
Having decorated the living room to my satisfaction I headed to the kitchen, where the carrot cake I had made the night before was waiting to be iced.

The Yorkshire Parkin I had baked the week before was still waiting in its tin. Amazingly we had both managed to avoid eating any of it – despite the fact the Parkin is my absolute all-time favourite cake. I love it even more than the richest and most deliciously gooey of brownies – and that’s saying something!

Yorkshire Parkin

I was secretly hoping people wouldn’t be too keen on it so there would be lots left for me, but (alas) it went down rather well. In fact, I saw one guy take three pieces. Success!
The donations tin was placed prominently next to a plate of melon (a contribution from a guest) and, to my surprise, instead of taking the opportunity to get rid of a few coins almost every guest put in a note! We ended up with 76 euros in the tin. Add to that a donation each from Jan and myself, plus the fiver someone who couldn’t make it gave me a few days later and I was able to transfer 95 pounds to Katy’s just giving page! Much more than I was expecting! And I received more compliments on my baking skills on that one day than I have in the entire rest of my life. Conclusion: The tea party was a resounding success!

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Feeling hot, hot, hot

After days and days of weird, wintery, can’t-make-it’s mind up weather, with rain one minute, then five minutes of sunshine followed by wind and rain again five minutes later, the sun decided to come back out in full force today. It has been boiling! Too hot for me – as we all know, I get sunstroke at the drop of a hat. I’m definitely a Spring kind of girl! (I do like snow, but winter gets depressing after a while with all its dark nights). It was hot enough in our office, with the fan going full blast, but once I got outside it was so much worse. I had to go into town anyway though, then I had to slave over a hot stove making tea for myself and the boyfriend. Naturally he is not home yet, and his half is still sitting in the kitchen waiting to be reheated. Luckily that task will fall to him – I don’t fancy spending any more time near sources of heat today!

My charity tea party plans are coming together. I’ve actually managed to find a free date for it now, and a few people have already accepted the invitation so there’s no going back! It shall be on 9 July. Now I just have to complete my list of foods and get on with the baking! I’m going to start by making Yorkshire Parkin a week before – it actually gets better if you leave it in an airtight container for a couple of days so there’s no risk of having ruined cake on the day. Although it will require a lot of willpower to stop myself from eating it all! Perhaps I’d better make extra… By the way, those don’t know what I’m talking about should read this post then go over to The Dormouse’s Last Stand to find out how to host their own charity tea party for a rather excellent cause, namely The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths.

That’s all for today. I have some work that needs to be done before I go to bed.

How hard can it be to find a date?

Very is the answer to the question above  judging by the trouble I’ve been having doing just that. I was going to have my charity teaparty on the first Saturday in July, except it turns out a seminar  we’re having for work is being held on that day. This weekend I have visitors who I’ve promised to show round Karlsruhe and the following Saturday there’s a live music performance in my local Irish pub that I really want to see. It starts at 8pm and I’m planning on holding the tea party from 5pm (the five o’clock tea stereotype, remember?) which rules that date out. A tea party that has to end after three hours isn’t a real tea party! So it’s looking like I’m going to have to postpone things til further into July… but not too far in as towards the end things get busy again with Das Fest (Karlsruhe’s big music festival) on the weekend of 24th July followed by another trip to England the weekend after that for the next wedding. I’m not sure where I would fit in time to bake in among all that, never mind hosting the actual party! So another date shall have to be sought. In the meantime, I’m still collecting ideas for stereotypically British tea party food. All suggestions welcome! Recipes too, if you have them…

Let’s all eat cake…

My amazingly wonderful blogging friend Katy is on a quest. A quest to raise money for a very good cause.
In January, Katy’s friend Michelle lost her baby boy, Keelan, to what was diagnosed as sudden infant death syndrome. Instead of dissolving into a little pool of grief (which is probably what I would done), Michelle chose to remember Keelan by raising money in aid of FSID – The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID). The original plan was to take part in Mile in Memory, walking a mile in memory of Keelan, which Michelle and Katy duly did. The day of the walk ended up expanding into a whole event, with a raffle, cakes for sale, a bouncy castle and general fun for all the family. Bteween them, they managed to raise an amazing £6000 for FSID! I think you’ll agree that’s quite an achievement.

Originally, the fundraising was to have ended there. Then they learned that the FSID has come up with a new fundraising plan. The charity is turning 40 this year and they are asking people to celebrate their anniversary (and raise money) by having tea parties. How could anyone resist the idea of having a good natter of a cuppa and a piece of cake and not even having to feel guilty about it because, of course, it’s all for charity! So of course, after not much debate, the two of them put their fundraising caps back on.
And that’s where I (and you) come in.

Michelle and Katy are going to be arranging tea parties in memory of Keelan, of course. But that’s not the big plan. The big plan is as follows: have other people host tea parties as well, in memory of Keelan and in aid of FSID. The more tea parties the better. They can be small tea parties or large tea parties. Virtual tea partiesm birthday tea parties, teddy bears’ picnics… anything goes. As long as the hosts believe it’s a tea party it will be accepted.

Naturally, I want to help too. I am, after all, in a perfect position on put the “international” into the events. And that’s where I need your help.

The Germans (and quite possibly all continental Europeans) have the idea of 5 o’clock tea firmly fixed in their heads. I don’t know why, but they’re utterly convinced that every British person drops whatever their doing at precisely 5pm every single day and goes off to have a cup of tea and a snack. No matter how often I inform them that I have never in my life gone out of my way to have a cup of tea and 5pm and can’t think of even one friend or acquaintence who has they remain utterly convinced that this stereotype is true. I’ve managed to get them to admit that it doesn’t always rain in the UK and I’m slowly convincing them that English food can actually be quite good, but the five-o’clock tea myth persists. No matter that nobody in the English-speaking world seems to have heard of it – they’ve always heard about it, therefore it must be true. So I’ve decided to embrace the stereotype. Why not? At least it’s a nice stereotype. So, I shall be offering my friends afternoon tea proper British style in memory of Keelan. Starting at 5pm, obviously.

And this is where I need your help! I want you to tell me what foods instantly spring to mind when I say the words “Afternoon tea”. The more traditionally English/British the better. I already have scones (both cheese and plain) on my list, and I even know of a source for clotted cream here in Germany! I’m also thinkin Cheddar cheese sandwiches – cut into little triangles for maximum posh Englishness – shortbread and Yorkshire Parkin (the latter shall be made using my Grandma’s recipe. What could be more English). But I need more! Hungry mouths to feed and all that. All contributions welcome, especially from those readers out there who are not British. What do you think is an absolute must at an English tea party? In this particular case stereotypes are welcome! (But only good ones, please. That’s what we’re trying to reinforce here).

By the way, you too can host a tea party in memory of Keelan. Check out The Dormouse’s Last Stand to find out how…