Are you sitting comfortably, my dears? Then I'll begin.
Once upon a time there was a White Queen. She invited her eleven sisters to take tea with her, and eagerly awaited their arrival.
She had heard tell of a wonderful phenomenon: Mad Tea Parties being held across the world, all taking place on one particular day, and led by the artist Vanessa Valencia of A Fanciful Twist, a great lady renowned for her own magnificently mad feasts.
The White Queen was the eldest of twelve dancing princesses.
Using carrier birds, she sent a note to each sister, with a date to gather them all together for the first time in what felt like so very long.
She lovingly prepared each sweet treat for the tea party herself.
The rarest raspberries, which she used to flavour a creamy layered heart meringue were grown from her own palace garden, infused with the exquisite scent of rose petals.
Cakes had been baked, macarons made and she had even created her own juice, of beetroot and apple and carrot and grape and pretty much every fruit in the garden.
She sat herself down at the banqueting table and tasted her first treat, when who did she spy but a furry little friend.
It was Nico, the cat who had visited her Mad Tea Party last year!
"Welcome, welcome my dancing dear! But where is Emalina, oh puss? asked the White Queen, 'Why has she let you out alone this time?"
"Mistress Emalina sends her apologies, your Highness, sadly she cannot attend due to her many work commitments" purred Nico, "But I have grown, you see, and being no longer a kitten but a real lady cat, Emalina has let me come on my own. I have been waiting for the honour to attend your party all year, if you will have me."
"Why it is a delight to have you, sweet furry face" exclaimed the White Queen, "such a pleasure indeed. We are waiting for my eleven sisters to join us for tea, but there is no reason why we can't start feasting without them. They are dancing their way across the land to reach me via my style blog Kiki & the Gypsy, and may be some time. See those shoes, up on the pergola there? I have kept an old pair for each of us from our heady dancing days."
"Such beautiful shoes, oh Queen," cried Nico, her nose sniffing the air and her whiskers twitching, "But would you mind awfully telling me more about this feast? I so love to know what I'm eating before I eat it, it adds to the pleasure tenfold."
"Well, dear paws, we have home made rose macarons, and honeyed banana cupcakes, and orange blossom and almond bird cake, plus a heart shaped rose meringue layered with raspberry cream for pudding. Would any of that suit you? I know you're a feline of such discerning taste."
"Oooh honeyed banana cupcakes!" exclaimed Nico the cat, her nose twitching more, "I do so enjoy a cupcake! These look delightful. How clever of you, my Queen, to have decorated them with the prettiest butterflies of the realm, I do so love a butterfly too! Extra crunch!"
And with that, Nico swiped a blue cupcake with her paw and proceeded to munch upon it noisily.
The White Queen watched her, smiling, before quietly and secretly cutting herself a slice of the layered creamy meringue heart.
Once they'd both munched and sipped and were resting their bellies, the White Queen took out an unusual looking mirror. She held it to her face, as if to look through it. But all Nico could see was the reflection of the wooden pergola shining back at her.
"I am watching my sisters dance across the land to me" murmured the White Queen "for this is a magic mirror. It helped me find the way many times as I led my sisters through golden woods, silver forests and diamond fields in our heady dancing days."
"May I look?" asked Nico, intruiged.
"I cannot allow you, my dear puss," said the White Queen, "for while you may be an exceptionally pretty and loveable little cat, you have not been taught how to use magic.
What you may do is listen to my sisters' shoes, hear how they start to hum and buzz with excitement as their owners grow near."
It was not just the princesses' shoes that were humming. The plants in the White Queen's garden were teaming with a buzzing sound. What Nico had taken to be the sound of bees pollinating the flowers was actually a deep tone resonating from the flowers themselves.
Even the White Queen's beautiful floral crown was humming with pleasure, the flowers clearly full of life and optimism.
"We cannot help it" exclaimed the White Queen, pointing to her crown, " We are all so thrilled to see my sisters again!"
"I am delighted for you, your Highness!" purred Nico, "Congratulations on your happy day. Now I'm just wondering, would it be impertinent to ask for a slice of the orange blossom and almond bird cake? And may I ask, does it include real birds? I do so love a bird."
"Help yourself, kitty" said the White Queen "although I must warn you these birds are not of the meat variety, but are made from icing. They're still delicious though, as are the rose macarons of various sizes. Do try them too, they were awfully hard to make but so sublime to taste that they were certainly worth the effort."
"Macarons are a little too small for my liking, even the big ones Ma'am. But those honeyed banana cupcakes on the other hand, those are just the size for a grown up lady cat like myself, so don't mind if I do...."
As Nico ate some more - for she was a greedy little kitty - the White Queen fussed over the table, adding the finishing touches to her feast. Fans and wild flowers, rose tea in a teapot and fresh camellias in vases, it could not have looked lovelier for her sisters' return.
The sun shone brightly as Nico gave herself a clean, unashamed of her gluttony, but pleased that she'd shown restraint enough not to eat it all. There would be plenty of treats left for the dancing princesses.
The air grew still and calm but the humming sound grew nearer, and with it a hundred larks appeared in the sky, to circle above the banqueting table. Nico held her breath as she watched them. There'd be no real birds to eat today, these were swooping and ascending with such skill and grace she knew that they could more than outwit her.
"The time has come," proclaimed the White Queen, "the time we've been waiting for my loyal and furry friend. I can see in the mirror my sisters are approaching!"
And suddenly there they were, sashaying and twirling and leaping as they danced their way into the White Queen's garden. The Mad Tea Party was complete!
Oh how the land rejoiced to see all its beloved sisters together at last!
It was a party to beat all parties, one of laughter and warmth and feasting and enormous hugs.
I cannot tell you all that happened, for only little Nico the cat stayed with the White Queen and her sisters until the very end.
But I do know this. Once it was over the White Queen's pergola was aburst with colour, as if every flower in the kingdom had also danced and laughed and exploded with happiness.
And all that was left to show of the dancing princesses?
One very worn, but still humming, pair of red sequin shoes.
Happy Mad Tea Party everyone! Thanks so much for popping by.
Please don't forget to visit the dancing princesses at my style blog Kiki and the Gypsy, where there's more fairytale inspired photography of them dancing their way to the White Queen's tea party.
All cake and dessert recipes are to come in future posts.
Click here to see my 2012 Mad Tea Party post.
Now I'm off to visit your mad tea parties!