Putting the world to rights over a cuppa is one of our greatest traditions, but getting a decent cup of tea at outdoor events can be easier said than done.
This realisation was a lightbulb moment for Nicola, who set about finding the perfect mobile unit for her peripatetic tea and cake venture.
“I found a little vintage caravan on ebay and my husband I did it out,” she told me, as I admired the delightful bijou vehicle, temptingly stocked with delicious-looking cakes.
“Our cakes are mostly homemade and we serve only best quality teas. We also offer homemade lemonade, and also soya and almond milk for those who have different dietary requirements,” said Nicola who previously ran a mobile sandwich bar.
“I ran Mrs Bun’s Lunch for 15 years and I delivered to all the industrial estates. I became a bit of an agony aunt; it was an occupational hazard, especially on a Monday morning,” she chuckled.
Deciding to change course and swap her regular sandwich round for serving tea and cake at fetes, festivals and shows, what has remained consistent, however, is her work as a foster carer.
“We have been fostering now for 11 years and we absolutely love it. We are in contact with most of the kids; they are family,” she said, her pride in the young people whose lives she has helped to shape plainly evident.
“Mostly, we have fostered teenagers. Seeing them gain life skills and doing well is great. It can be challenging, of course, and you do need patience. You also need to be caring, understanding and fun. We also go on a lot of courses to learn how to give the right support,” she told me.
At events that Love Tea attends Nicola enlists the help of her sister, her son and her husband (“if he doesn’t wear his pinny then he doesn’t get his £5 wages!”), but she admitted that it doesn’t really feel like hard work.
“There is lots of variety because it’s always a different event. I Love meeting people. People are my thing. I probably chat too much,” she confessed, adding:
“But I do insist on good old fashioned customer service. That’s really important to me. A smile and a polite and friendly manner go a long way.”
And if you’re thinking of setting up a small catering business Nicola suggests seeking guidance from the local authority before you start.
“They are really helpful and will give you good advice,” she confirmed.
As for fostering, she can’t recommend it highly enough.
“It is a family commitment so you all need to be willing, but it is really, really rewarding.”
Catching me drooling at the inviting array of cakes, she suggested I try the carrot cake.
“But then again the lemon drizzle is lovely and so is the Victoria sponge,” she sighed, struggling to pick a favourite.
So I tried them all. Obviously.
Find Love Tea at www.facebook.com/LoveTea.Nicola.
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