THE former owner of one of the most popular tearooms in Basingstoke has launched a new business, inviting customers into her garden to eat cake in a caravan.

It might sound like a bizarre idea, but Carole Turner has been amazed by the popularity of her exclusive tea parties, which cater for just six people at a time in a tiny 1970s caravan she has named Dolly.

The 48-year-old used to own The Parlour Tea Rooms at Viables, but sold these two years ago, saying: “I got to where I wanted to be and thought ‘I think I’m done’. I sold it on with the intention of doing something mobile. On a whim I bought the caravan on Gumtree. I had a month off then decided I was going to do something but wanted it to be different. I thought I’ll put it in the garden and see what happens.”

Carole, who also works part-time as a drinks taster for Mars, revamped the caravan, decorating it beautifully with floral furnishings before launching her business Bob-i-Tea-Boo.

She said: “The first one or two groups came and then that was it. It really took off.”

Customers enjoy tea, sandwiches, scones and a selection of cakes made by Carole, all prettily presented on vintage china which Carole has collected.

“It’s comfy and warm and when you’re inside, you could be anywhere,” said Carole, adding: “I’ve done tea parties in the dark and the whole garden is lit with fairy lights.”

Customers have to walk through Carole’s home in Basingstoke to reach her garden, where they are left to enjoy their afternoon tea in peace, and have a bell to ring if they need any assistance.

Carole also does mobile tea parties, catering for larger groups who wouldn’t fit in the caravan, offering themed parties which are popular with customers.

“I do birthday parties and baby showers. I loved all that part about the tea rooms,” she said.

For more information visit Bob-i-Tea-Boo on Facebook.