BAKING has been a lifelong passion for Sue Mackler.

But it was only last month she finally made cakes and sweet things her full-time career.

The former exams officer has switched keeping youngsters in check while they sit tests for a daily routine of cooking up treats.

After her husband’s job moved to the Dengie, Sue decided it was now or never to finally fulfil her dream.

Fast forward 12 months and she has turned a front room on Southminster High Street into a pastel pink bakery and tea room.

Bits and Bobs Tea Room has already established itself as the place to go for homemade cakes, excellent service and comfortable atmosphere.

Sue, 52, lives next door to her passion project having moved from Leigh-on-Sea.

And she admits she never thought it would take off quite so quickly.

So much so at one point it was so busy, there were queues out the door for tables.

“It was really nice. Total strangers were shifting up so that everyone could get a seat on a table,” she said.

“It’s unbelievable, it’s gone better than expected.

“Me and my husband bought the house purely for this part of the building and we wanted to make it a tea room.

“I’ve never run a business before. I used to be an exams officer in a school.

“But then I kept making lots of cakes and my friends said that my talents were wasted. I started getting orders through and I thought ‘This is what I want to do’.”

It is not always easy being the ‘outsiders’ setting up a business in a small village like Southminster.

But Sue has been welcomed with open arms.

“We’re now really into the community and we’ve been welcomed. We don’t feel like outsiders anymore,” she said.

“We’re not really in competition with other people. For example, we don’t do fried foods.

“I opened this place not for the money but because it was something I wanted to do. It’s my passion.

“I don’t think there’s a place around here where you can go for a homemade cake and a cup of tea.

“Yesterday, I made the chocolate cake, the apple cake, the Victoria sponge – I usually make at least two to three cakes a day.

“People travel for Costa because there’s just been nothing here.”

Sue cares for all her clients with food intolerances by making some cakes with gluten-free flour or dairy-free butter.

Sue added: “People that normally struggle to find cake they can eat with friends or family can come here and we can give it to them.

“If you message me the night before so I know that you’re coming, I will make you some gluten-free cakes.

“If someone wants something different, I’ll give it a go.

“All I want is to make cakes and make people happy.”

Sue is looking forward to making her Halloween biscuits and preparing for the winter holidays.

She added: “The menu may change. As it gets colder, I’ll make some chili or soups with warm bread. I’ll work with the seasons.”

If you do pass by Southminster, pop in for some tea and a scone.

Right in the corner of the cafe, there are tiny crates with the phrases “Bits and Bobs” and “A Place for Everything” written on them.

How fitting since Sue has certainly found her place here in the community.