If you asked me what books I read as a child Enid Blyton's Famous Five along with anything by Lewis Carrol would feature heavily on my reading list with the complex and obscure tale of Alice in Wonderland coming out on top and becoming a life long love of mine and a book I've read (and tried to make sense of) again and again. I realise now that it is, in effect two books; one for adults and one for children. From what I can gather, Alice in Wonderland is the third largest best-seller in the history of publishing, behind only the Bible and the works of Shakespeare and that says it all really doesn't it?
If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't-Alice, Alice in Wonderland
As a creative and a photographer, I am drawn to things that are a bit nonsense and whimsical and enjoy filling my house with odd little tidbits and items that are conversation starters. These are the pieces that make the most brilliant props and help me to tell a story with my photographs. Since we moved into the new house -our grown up tree house on the edge of the woods- dining and entertaining has been one of the most exciting things for us. Suddenly having all this outside space and large wooden terrace overlooking the trees, we wanted to make the most of it. Now with the weather turning warmer this space is the perfect setting for get-togethers and tea parties.
When Amara got in touch and asked me to have a look at their site I immediately knew what I'd like to feature here on the blog and a few items that I've been lucky enough to get my hands on have made the perfect centrepieces for my Alice in Wonderland, Mad Hatter's tea party.
The Alice in Wonderland tableware range from Mrs Moore’s Vintage Store has several stunning pieces featuring silk prints with many of the classic novels most iconic characters, there are mugs, teacups and saucers and tea plates each available in six different designs, along with a creamer, teapot, sugar bowl and a two tier cake stand. All items are made in Staffordshire, England are are decorated by hand. They are of the finest quality and the prints are exceptional. The teapot is large just how I like them, because you can never have enough refills of tea, can you?
Of course, there have been many adaptations of the illustrations from the books over the years but unless I am mistaken I believe the prints on this collection depict the original ones which is a very special touch.
This is a collection that can be added to over time and really will become your pride and joy, as it is mine. There is something completely resplendent about pouring tea from an 'Alice' teapot into cups placed on saucers printed with the famous quotes 'curiouser and curiouser' and 'drink me'.
Have I gone mad? I'm afraid so. You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret, all the best people are.-Alice to the Mad Hatter, Alice in Wonderland
For the tea party, I hung up signs in the magnolia tree directing my guests 'This way' and 'That way' towards the table where they found cucumber sandwiches cut into tiny triangles and one of my favourite cakes to bake: a Victoria sponge topped with fresh fruit and cream; the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea, don't you think?
Alice in Wonderland Victoria sponge recipe
For the cake
- 200g caster sugar
- 200g softened butter
- 4 egg, beaten
- 200g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp milk
For the filling
- 100g butter, softened
- 140g icing sugar, sifted
- drop vanilla extract
- half a 340g jar good-quality strawberry jam
- fresh cream and variety of fruit to decorate
- Preheat over to 190 degrees/gas mark 5
- Butter two 20cm cake tins and line with baking paper
- In a large bowl beat all the cake ingredients together until you have a smooth batter
- Divide the mixture between the tins. Dip a tablespoon in water and smooth the tops of the cake mix
- Bake for 20 mins until a skewer inserted comes out clean
- Turn out onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely
- To make the filling beat the butter until smooth and creamy and then gradually beat in the icing sugar. Add the vanilla extract
- Spread the buttercream over one of the cakes and the jam on the other and then sandwich together.
- Add fresh cream and fruit to the top of the cake for a final flourish
I also made some 'spring sheep' especially for the party from cupcakes (made with leftover victoria sponge mix) that I iced and covered in mini marshmallows with half a small creme egg for a face and a bit of icing for the ears, eyes and mouth.
Everyone really enjoyed the tea party on our terrace with the spring sun high in the sky, drinking perfectly pink tea from clinking bone china cups. I hope that there are many more wonderfully whimsical afternoons just like this one.
Pin this to your party inspiration board!
* I was gifted the Alice in Wonderland tableware from Amara for review consideration