*insert customary foot-shufflings over prolonged absence here*

Blogging. Difficult to perform with a reluctant-to-be-named-in-print husband. Not rendered any easier by a child (Seven. SEVEN, FFS!)


who, not merely content with acquiring reading skills, is also pathologically inquisitive (a result of Aspergers-meets-genetics perfect storm) and was recently heard to enquire ‘what’s a blog?’

He has also taken to reading my Facebook posts, and, like his father, having OPINIONS on them.

So. When Subj. to be trodden around carefully include, for everyone’s sanity, family, work, politics, and religion, all I am left with is cake. Lovely caaaaaaaake.

I thought I would share with you my determined attempts this week, to get in amongst the silverware at our tiny local agricultural society show on Thursday. I have shared this event with you before, notably 2011, the year I cruised to exultant victory, winning the Novice Victoria Sponge class. (NB: Novice: never won 1st before.) That year, I received a certificate, £5 prize money, and the Society’s congratulations. This year… THIS year… they have instituted a perpetual trophy for the class, as well as importing Princess Anne from the Cotswolds in order to distribute the silverware.

I could cope with missing out on either the silverware OR the royal handshake, but I am, frankly, cheesed-off at missing out on both.

No trophy for Ann this year! But…


There is another.

Presented to the competitor gaining the most points in all sections.


It’s ON. I have entered 14 of the 28 adult classes, costing me a mighty £7. I fought desperately with my conscience about the possibility of ravaging my parents’ garden – who are away, and thence can do nooothing to stop me wielding the secateurs indiscriminately – and thereby entering a further 3 flower classes too, but I have restrained myself. I have still entered the classes, mind you, but on my mother’s behalf. She steps off the red-eye from New York at 7am Thursday morning, so I expect she’ll thank me for sorting the paperwork out for her, ready for her to gallop cheerfully outside and start slicing stems and cleaning vases.

I have stepped outside my comfort zone in terms of scope and scheduling here. Plus I have a slightly buggered, recently-out-of-serious-spasm back, which isn’t helping. I am always short of time; I am chaotic, ludicrously distractible, and generally over-committed. I am also taking part in classes I would not normally attempt. There is only one cake class – lemon drizzle – and further classes for chocolate brownies and treacle tart. Lemon drizzle is not a speciality of mine, although I have turned out many edible ones. Treacle tart I stand a chance with… providing my pastry goes ok. Brownies… well. I just don’t make ’em. I don’t know why: I’m always quite keen to get outside them; but the point here is that I lack experience and confidence making them. If you have a killer recipe, don’t keep the links to yourself; my confidence levels are already running low following a recent attempt to make gluten-free ones ahead of a visit from May. Unhappily, I had left it a bit late, and, upon realising that I had 40 minutes before needing to leave to meet her train, fully 15 of which would be required for baking, I moved up into a mental gear entirely unsuitable for reading internet recipes printed off in – I kid you not – 2 point font; as a result, I omitted the 5oz of butter.

We went to Waitrose on the way home.

I have already potted up chutney, jam and marmalade. I am on my 4th batch… and 7th boiling… of jelly, with nothing so far I can enter. The hedgerows by my house have been thoroughly denuded for Project Jelly: in vain. The Preserving Mojo: I have it not. I feel this to be a significant lack in a farmer’s spouse. But I DO have a tiny bottle of raspberry and vanilla vodka left over from Christmas: a happy oversight, as I siphoned up all the rest of it.

Flower arranging is something I have come to late in life, and I Faff For Bloody Hours Over It. I am currently allocated, on high days and holidays, the tiiiiny windows opposite the altar in our local church. In order to progress down the aisle to a Visible Opportunity, I must wait for one of the current window incumbents to die… whereupon, we will all move down one.

The bottle bag I have completed,

bottle bag

concurrently with barking gluing instructions to Harry over his sock puppet.

sock puppet copy

(*weeps for loss of two perfectly nice socks*) I was obliged to take over some of Harry’s gluing when A) it became apparent that Proper Superglue was required in places and B) the superglue reacted with either sock or pipe-cleaner – and caught slightly on fire. Which was… unexpected.

I have bought little glass bottles to do Something Festive with, horribly out of season. I have a plan. What I do not have is time.

I am about to Draw A Cow before I go to work at 12. I have drawn cows before, very badly. I am the only member of my family on my Dad’s side who cannot pick up a pencil and do impressive things. Having a 60 minute time window is unlikely to improve on my previous efforts, so I will be broadly content with anything recognisably bovine.

I will take a photo of an animal at some point this week. Whichever cow, sheep, dog or tortoise will agree to stand still long enough gets the gig.

So. Further updates will primarily be pictorial, and hurried. I am typing this in Word, and am about to attempt to not only remember my wordpress login, but also how to work the bloody thing.

I am feeling rusty in many areas, including the vertebrae.

11 Responses

  1. My vertebrae are corroding only slightly more slowly than my patience with waking up at 5 am and running around in a hospital!

    I covet all of the cakes you make.

  2. Ha! Any baking skills I possess are courtesy of my good friends, Betty Crocker & Duncan Hines…
    But it’s great to see an update from ya in any case – who can imagine that my young man is 16??!!??
    I can’t recommend yoga highly enough for a tricky back ( join the club)… Never thought I’d gain any proficiency at it after years of piddling, but my flat feet forced me out of slogging.

  3. The base brownie in the recipe for buckeye brownies on the brown eyed baker website is fabulous. http://www.browneyedbaker.com/buckeye-brownies/

  4. !! But! But yes, you can draw! Most especially cows! Have seen evidence! Your rellies must be da Vinci to have caused this complex. Go forth, Ann!

    All updates most welcome be they pictorial, semaphoral, in pigeon, in Klingon, or Clanger (as spoken by The Clangers)(of course). More power to your elbow! Also: Caaaaake!

  5. The bottle bag looks suitable for a dominatrix. Or dancing the CanCan.
    Does that first photo depict a birthday cake? (Happy Birthday!!!)
    You said work. I’m picturing you selling hats for weddings in a lovely boutique.
    Not that you would have the time for it, but have you considered going password protected somewhere? for issues of fertility shenenigans? (or lack thereof )
    And last but not least: with me you always win with brownies. Chocolate!!!

  6. Brownies – best recipe I’ve tried is Nigel Slater Kitchen Diaries. Works every time. Really easy. Adulation from all brownie eaters.
    Pilates for the back maybe. It’s all in the core I’m told. My core has gone west.

  7. Give me caek!

  8. Cake for MEEEEEE!!!! But stop reading comments and get straight back to the demented great big hairy goal you’ve set yourself. We’ll be here cheering you on.

  9. I can’t wait to hear the results! I like the Baker’s apprentice brownie recipe or the supernatural brownie recipe in the New York Times. If I’m honest, I haven’t really met a brownie I haven’t liked.

  10. […] Chocolate Brownies tasted fab, (I used Betty’s suggested recipe, thank you!) but I overdid them very slightly – and had lined the […]

  11. Is your Facebook page public? would love to follow/friend you!

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