“Take some more tea” The march hare said to Alice.
Hats and High Tea – a wonderful combination when you think about it! The image of beautifully dressed ladies having tea and lunching on delicate pastries as they chat with their girlfriends in beautiful settings like a garden or formal dining room.
This was just the type of event I was fortunate to be invited to recently at the Clipper Merchant Tea House in beautiful Bridgton Maine. The proprietor and Tea Mistress, Melinda Thomas invited me to her British Victorian Tea House in the Lakes Region to showcase my hats and speak at an event entitled Hats and High Tea.
I flew into Portland, Maine and after about an hour’s drive we arrived at the Tea House at dinner time, the tea room was closed for the day so I got to explore it.
After giving me a tour of the tea shop and dining room, Melinda set about making us some items from her menu. I had this wonderful grilled chicken & brie croissant with a pomegranate and spinach salad and a glass of Pinot Grigio - delightful! While we ate Melinda told me about the town of Bridgton and the history of the house. It is a landmarked house on the National Registry and is a wonderful old Victorian home that now houses the Clipper Merchant Tea House. It was once used as a hospital. She also explained that it was haunted which I imagine might be expected with its long eclectic history. She told me one of her staff members mysteriously gets locked in the kitchen from time to time, and once after spending time matching up their antique cups and saucers, they came in the next day to find that they were all oddly miss-matched. Apparently one of the ghosts is a little girl and obviously has a mischievous demeanor.
Melinda and her staff had to be at the Tea House at 5am to prep for the event so off we went to the Noble House Inn just a few houses down the street.
This beautiful B&B is equally historical and beautiful in the most luxurious way. All details of the interior design are so well done. As I went to my room I heard soft Christmas music playing which always sets the holiday mood for me. I slept so well on the comfortable bed in blissful silence surrounded by antiques and no New York City traffic. The next morning the coffee was delicious and the breakfast of roasted pears with maple syrup, cranberry relish and quiche Lorraine with maple cured bacon, a side of roasted broccoli and carrots mmmm - delightful! It positively invigorated me for my day! I was now ready for my brisk walk to the Clipper Merchant Tea House for the event.
I entered the Tea House already bustling with Melinda and her staff prepping the food and putting the finishing touches on the tables. The rooms looked amazing! All my hats looked like they always belonged there, perfectly propped on hat stands throughout the entire House. I double checked them and briefly went over my speech and soon the first guests arrived! I even saw a familiar face, Barbara Furey, I had just seen her at Breeders’ Cup in Del Mar, California. Small world! As always, she was put together with perfection. Soon more guests started to arrive and I mingled and we made introductions – all so charming! Things were shaping up for a wonderful event! As the ladies got settled, drank champagne and made their tea selections I talked about my company, how I got started, current hat trends, how to select the perfect hat and fascinator, even some little celebrity tidbits! I talked about pieces from my current collections, including pieces from my hand painted Botanical Collection and pieces from my Dessert Collection – both perfect for a Tea!
Then we all sat and enjoyed the various tea blends and Melinda’s menu of savory and sweet delectables including arugula pesto with goat cheese, scones with Devonshire clotted cream and lemon curd, Scottish shortbread and sticky toffee pudding to name but a few! During the “sweets” course I talked about how hats are made, how to wear a hat and fascinator and how to select one. Barbara was so kind to model for me and fabulous at it and I soon found I had many more models, each one finding the perfect and
most loved hat for each of their personalities.
Soon with hatboxes in hand, cans of tea for the go, tasty untouched left-overs from the tiered dessert trays tucked away for the drive home my audience left, and I found myself alone with Melinda and her wonderful staff. We toasted the success of event with a black currant mimosa. Cheers! We all said to one another feeling loved and giving love and being thankful for a wonderful fall day in Maine!
So here is the take-away: I love creative entrepreneur’s like Melinda who have the vision and skills to put together an event like this. She saw my hats and knew right away that they would be a perfect match for an event in her Tea House. I have found that more and more small business owners like Melinda are producing in-house events to draw a new customer, guest or clientele to their establishment. Events like this help enhance and define a business and help them to build a community as well. Women are always looking for events where they can dress up have a new experience, enrich themselves in some way and have fun in the process! I have been involved with more Teas and Luncheons and Botanical Garden events over the years, because they are fun social events that enhance old friendships, build new ones, and leave a positive impression of and on the community. So don’t be afraid to step out there and give it a try!
If you have an idea that involves hats contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information and other events at the Clipper Merchant Tea House in Bridgeton Maine go to their website at: http://www.clippermerchant.com