Christmas cake and other #baking delights- chaos in the kitchen a la #GBBO

Given the title of my blog, I thought I really ought to write something about food for a change. Consuming it is no problem- as is evident from other posts.

I’ve been watching repeats of The Great British Bake Off this week , and trying to imagine myself in that tent of terror. I know I would be the person whose quiche slides off the work surface, whose caramel cracked your teeth, and who most definitely produced a soggy bottom or two. Today I made our Christmas Cake, only two days after I planned to- writing got in the way. Everything was fine – until I realised I’d left out the treacle and the orange and lemon zest, and the cake was already in the oven.

I yanked it out and added everything to the warm mixture while it was already in the tin, gave it a hopeful stir, and shoved it back in. Here is the result, not looking too shabby, I think.


Even if it doesn’t taste brilliant at the moment, by the time I feed it liberally with brandy, and ice it, I don’t think any one will care.

Next, mince pies ( with brandy) and Christmas log ( with cherry brandy)…


Getting Past Writer’s Block- coffee, cake and conversation

coffee shop
My office

I know the rather wonderful J K Rowling made this famous, but writing in a coffee shop is really that helpful. I don’t expect to write the next great children’s book-mostly because I’m not trying to- but whenever I get really stuck, it’s what I turn to. Luckily, we have plenty of choices locally – the one above is one of my favourites- where the owners are quite tolerant of me and my scribblings.

A large cappuccino, and on particularly uninspired days perhaps a pastry or a brownie set the scene. A round biro, my favourite notepad and a copy of a draft, if I’ve even got that far, complete the picture. Ideally the coffee shop should be buzzing, but not too loud. I don’t like to be able to pick out words, because I can’t help being drawn into listening to snippets. Ordinarily snatches like that are defined for my  battered, brown leather notebook, but on a writing day they are just another distraction, like the ones I have escaped at home.

I’m a bit like Dug the dog in “UP’- most things are potential squirrels. I have a perfectly good study, with a rocking chair, desk, computer and a view over the city- all distractions, before you take into consideration noises downstairs, the phone, the  mobile, the iPad, the book cataloguing project- but I’m getting distracted…

For me, lack of ideas is not the problem- it’s deciding exactly what, out of all the things that distract me, to write about and how to do it. Coffee shops say to me, ‘Stop prevaricating. Put the pen to paper and just write, for goodness’ sake’ And so I do.

Thanks to all the baristas, waiters, cleaner uppers, cooks and bottle washers, managers and managed , who make it all possible . I’ll be back tomorrow.