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Time for traditional tea
Mother-of-two Abi Parsons loved her grandmother’s pink and gold tea set so much that she was afraid to use it. The tea set had hung on the dresser at her grandparents home in North Wales throughout Mrs Parsons' childhood, having been used for her own christening.
“It was precious, but I loved it. I was reluctant to use it, so I started buying my own cups and saucers,” she explained.
She realised how much vintage crockery was lying unused in people’s cupboards.
“I collected so much that I thought it might be good to hire it out,” she said.
The idea led to the birth of her business, The Vintage Set. She now has 40 place-settings, plus mis-matched teapots and milk jugs available to hire.
With two children aged four and seven, and a job at the UK Atomic Energy Authority at Culham, she does not have too much spare time or cash.
“We don't have a bottomless pit of money, so we will keep it small and see how it goes,” Abi said. “We have put it on Facebook, which has proved quite useful and I have put leaflets and posters out in the local area around Didcot.
“I was lucky that a friend set up the website and he called in a favour from a photographer friend. It has been very low-key, and done with the help of friends.”
She added: “It is vintage bone china and porcelain and silver-plated cutlery — just tea sets and cake plates. It has been popular for birthdays, naming ceremonies and christenings, as well as baby showers and garden parties.
“People love it — they have not seen anything like it before. All the pieces are different, but each individual cup and saucer and plate matches.
“They are not all pretty flower designs — there are lots of different designs. People compare them, and they can swap if they want. It is a bit of a talking point."
Abi is a fan of afternoon tea, but her website has plenty of off-beat suggestions, from serving cocktails in tea cups and canapés on cake stands, to filling a cake stand with strawberries, marshmallows or jelly babies.
“The possibilities are endless,” she added.
She has had plenty of inquiries, but so far, no one has booked the crockery for a Diamond Jubilee event.
“It is all English-made, so I hope patriotism and tradition will come to the fore," she said.
Contact: 07908 930299 Web: www.thevintageset.co.uk