What a year 2020 has been! Whilst we may all vary in our views, one thing we can probably agree on is that we didn’t see this coming or quite where it would take us. I’ve continually drawn strength and inspiration from our local businesses, their incredible products and services and the way they’ve adapted at whatever stage we’ve been at.
One such business is the very pretty and rather delicious, Dottie About Cake. Having lost her season of vintage teas for weddings due to Covid, Helena Winter-Brown had to look at ways to make her business work in lockdown. Dottie About Cake was born. Using her beautiful vintage tea sets, paired with gingham lined wicker hampers, knitted tea cosies, and the most delicious range of cakes, sandwiches and cream teas, she delivered joy-filled hampers to people’s homes in lockdown and beyond, giving them a characterful treat they could enjoy at home or outside. At a time when so much was restricted this became such a huge source of pleasure for yourself or to give as a gift and kept Helena extremely busy since launching.
We first met Helena a few years back at one of our pop-up networking events. We always remember everyone we’ve met and it was so wonderful to welcome her to the #SHOPLOCAL Directory and help her get her name out for this fantastic adapted business.
As lockdown restrictions lifted and the world began to connect to cafes and restaurants again, Helena looked for a venue to be home to her vintage tea sets and afternoon tea service. The Little Heath Nursery near Potten End was the perfect match and Helena has now set up her tea service there for their foreseeable future amongst the beautiful cottage garden raised beds, rambling, ivy clad building and vine covered seating space. I’d long wanted to visit this space, so it really was the perfect excuse to finally go and meet with Helena and find out more about the business.
To say this place is special, probably doesn’t quite cut it. As venues go it is totally unique, 100% dreamy and it thoroughly deserves the love and enthusiasm of someone like Helena. The venue is first and foremost home to the Little Heath Nursery, which unlike its larger counterparts is focused on growing unusual cottage garden plants in the most rustic of settings that could serve as a film set for a Victorian novel. With rustic blooms and fronds of grass and foliage glistening in the sun, and the popular vine covered outdoor seating, it feels like you’ve been transported back in time.
Meeting Helena at the café was truly like greeting an old friend, as she radiated with welcoming energy and proudly showed us around, chatted a little about the buildings’ history and her exciting plans to use it as a venue to support female-led businesses in the area, many who had been adversely affected by coronavirus. First up is a flower arranging workshop, but she has plans for many more. You don’t have to spend much time with Helena to realise she is driven, energetic, adaptable, and has huge capacity to help others. From a high-end job in London, a successful events agency, to her tea tent started as a project to help women find their confidence in work, and running a Kenyan orphanage, everything she does is both impressive and generally has helped others at its heart.
Of course, we’re here, not only for the chat and the beautiful setting, but that delicious afternoon tea! We sampled her coffee (cafetiere) and tea (cosied of course) lemon drizzle cake and gluten free scones with cream and jam. Of course cream tea at 10.30 am is a perfectly acceptable thing to do and should be encouraged! Helena spoke of her joy at seeing people bringing their older relatives to enjoy tea and cake at the tearoom in their safe, outside space and was so pleased she had been able to provide that service. She also told a story of how she’d been moved to tears by a lady, looking at her trademark tea-cosies told her she no longer knew how to knit – of course Helena intervened and told her she should have a go. The next day she turned up with her own cosey and was now producing them for the café! She’s also on a mission to keep her vintage crockery in sets as so much was being split up to sell on eBay, which as a vintage fan is something I have a lot of appreciation for.
I say with a genuine heart that I truly love this place – the beautiful nursery, peaceful location, delicious cakes and of course Helena’s drive, warmth and desire to support the community. This “treat for the soul” of a venue, very much feels like somewhere at the beginning of its journey, with so much potential. For now, I’ve already planned my next visit (I must try ALL the gluten free cakes on offer after all) and I know the next one after that won’t be far too off. Go and see the beautiful Little Heath Nursery, buy some plants and visit its’ characterful Team Room – all servings come really with really good vibes and even more awesome tea cosies!
Find out more about Dottie About Cake hampers, crockery hire and catering here: https://dottieaboutcake.co.uk/
Also find Little Heath Tea Room on Instagram here:
Find out more about Little Heath Nursery here: