Tag Archives: cake

Grinding to a Halt

Sorry about the unexplained absence. On Monday night I felt sluggish, I followed this up with a bad night and by Tuesday morning I was close to a state of suspended animation.

I still went to work, because there were only two of us in on Tuesday, but feel a bit bad for taking the money for doing next to nothing.

When I got home I sat in the car for a few minutes to listen to the end of a radio programme and seem to have fallen asleep. I don’t remember doing it, or even feeling sleepy, but I do remember waking up so there is pretty strong evidence to suggest that is what happened.

The fact that I just had to correct six typos in that paragraph further indicates that I’m still not firing on all cylinders.

I went to bed and slept until Julia returned from a staff meeting. She wasn’t noisy but after years of parenthood you can detect the noise of key in lock from the deepest slumber. I think I managed to make conversation of an acceptable nature as she went away fairly happy and left me to sleep.

When I did drag myself from bed I was in time to see the final element of the Great British Bake Off. They have, as usual, managed to select a final three that I don’t agree with. It’s nothing to do with their baking skills, or even their worth as human beings, because you simply can’t tell without meeting them. However, two of them do exude an aura of oily smugness when viewed on TV. It’s mostly the same every year, the three or four that I like as people prove themselves to be totally incompetent within the first few episodes and I have to watch as the competition is won by sycophants, Paul Hollywood’s favourite or a fully paid up member of the jolly hockeysticks brigade.

Generally I can’t even remember them a couple of years from their win.

While I was looking up the link for GBBO I wandered into looking up what happened to past winners. While I was doing that I found an interesting new fact.

Have you ever heard of Otter Fishing?

Don’t worry, it’s not like trout fishing, it’s using otters to drive fish into your nets. I’d herad of cormorant fishing, but never otters. I also learned that in the 16th and 17th centuries we had cormorant fishing in the UK.

Wonders will never cease…

Fondant Fancy, with lesser cakes at Botham's in Whitby

Botham’s Whitby

Another One Bites the Dust

Hopefully, my masterful title writing has hooked you, and you are now wondering which of my many shonky enterprises is currently munching the dry brown stuff.

It could be the continuity of my blog. I started writing it last night but was diverted by a number of things, including a slow-cooked tea which refused to cook properly and an interesting programme on how they make cakes in factories, including fondant fancies and Battenberg, which are two of my favourite cakes.

Did you know they use jam to glue the cake slices together in Battenberg, but jelly to stick the marzipan? I didn’t. It really is fascinating. Not quite fascinating enough as I fell asleep before the end of the programme and missed my midnight deadline.

I’ve been burning the midnight oil recently, trying to correct the faults in my haibun, which are coming home to roost at an alarming rate. Another set came back today, meaning that I now have a run of five submissions without a single success to lighten the gloom.

I am not letting it bring my mood down. It’s frustrating that I no longer seem able to write acceptable haibun but I’m sure it will pass. If I write enough one of them, on the law of averages, will turn out OK.

With that thought in mind, I am off to lunch at IKEA. Number One son needs a few bits before he moves into his new flat and I want to be as helpful as possible in helping him  move out.

It will be a relaxing interlude, which will hopefully help my writing.

 

 

Cake as a Cure

Just a quick post today as I have had a lazy day eating cake and anti-inflammatories.

One of them seems to have worked as the pain and swelling in my foot has gone down. If I am attacked by joint pain in future I will try cake as my first choice of treatment.

I’m currently watching Sense and Sensibility on TV. For me, Jane Austen is better on TV, and Sense and Sensibility is also better in the Emma Thompson version. I confess I’ve always found Austen difficult to read. While I’m at it I may as well admit I feel the same about the Brontes.

I am not a great reader of classical literature, as my attempts at self-improvement have shown over the last few years, as I tried to plough through several variations of the 100 greatest novels.

Although the plots may end up tweaked for film and TV it doesn’t really matter as I’m watching for entertainment rather than as an academic pursuit.

Today’s photos are of the owl sculpture at Harlow Carr garden – it works better when you are standing there next to it, rather than in a photograph.

The Scone Chronicles XIII

And yet again – no scones.

The venue was the bookshop at Brierlow Bar and though Julia looked carefully, she could see no scones.

She did, however, buy two slices of glistening home-made cake. It looked sumptuous. And delicious. And once again I had to relearn that tough life lesson that looks can be deceptive.

As you may have noticed, I’m not the cheeriest or most modern of people and I am suspicious of change. I’m still not fully convinced that the bookshop needed a cafe, or that a crowd of people and dogs is of benefit to a bookshop with narrow passageways. I’m almost certain that anyone who parks a pram in a gangway, so that fat men with walking sticks nearly fall over getting past, should be prosecuted by social services and their children put into a gloomy gothic orphanage.

In a way it’s a shame I didn’t fall as the combination of damp floor and blocked gangway is a dream for an ambulance chasing lawyer.

Much as I despise the current compensation culture it would be fun to sue and make a few cogent comments to the court about people running cafes in a space that should be filled with books.

I’m not sure whether I would then give the money to Julia for a new polytunnel or burn it on You Tube just to prove a point. (The point being that the money wasn’t important, not that I am stupid).

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Good in Parts

Anyway, back to the cake. It was apricot and some sort of nut. Julia was in “Bear of Very Little Brain” mode and forgot the details on the way from counter to table. You’d have thought she’d have been brighter after an hour and a quarter of top flight conversation with me in the car, but apparantly not.

It tasted a bit like walnut, but there was definitely a large identifiable piece of cashew in there too.

I said: “Cashew!”

Julia said: “Bless you.”

After you’ve been married 30 years this is what passes for humour.

It was confusing cake because some of it tasted of ginger too. The top, where the glaze had soaked in, was nice and moist, but the lower two thirds was dry and quickly reverted to crumbs. Fortunately we had cake forks to deal with this problem.

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Appearances can be deceptive

To sum up, and to put my personal bias to one side, the tea was good, as it always is (made with proper leaves and a strainer), the ambience is getting better as they sort things out, the cake could have been better, but even that wasn’t too bad, and the book stock seems to have improved.

I’m actually quite impressed with what they have done at Brierlow Bar, despite my resistance to the 21st Century.

 

A Rest from Scones

Time, I think, for a change of gear.

We went to Harlow Carr on Tuesday, the Yorkshire coast on Wednesday and Lincolnshire today. On Thursday I went to see my Dad. I’ve eaten scones, sandwiches and afternoon tea, plus a vegan sausage roll. I’ve ticked off another pier and another non-pier. And I have been to three garden centres

As I sit here typing I’m trying to digest two slices of Mrs Botham’s excellent Date & Walnut Spelt Cake. I would have been happy with one slice but Julia likes to ensure I’m well fed. I looked in the mirror last night and can confirm that she is succeeding in her endeavour.

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Scones at Bettys – Devon Style or Cornish Style?

Devon Style – Cream first, then jam on top. Cornish Style – Jam first, then cream on top.

A few days without cake, some exercise and a meal or two consisting of vegetable soup may be in order.

Tonight’s healthy tea was veggie burgers (pumpkin, spinach and quinoa from Tesco’s freezer) with potatoes and organic baked beans.

I thought I’d try something healthy but the beans cost more and had less flavour than the normal budget beans. Back to budget beans, I think.

I did the shopping in Corby last night, on my way back from Peterborough. If you know about Corby you won’t be surprised to learn I bought tinned haggis in addition to veggie burgers and organic beans. Actually you might be surprised – I was. Until last night I didn’t even know it existed.

Sorry for the repeat photos – I wanted to go further back but WP is stopping me.

Tea, scones and sunshine. Bettys, Harlow Carr

Tea, scones and sunshine. Bettys, Harlow Carr

 

A Tale of Two Burgers (2)

On Wednesday, we took a tour of Derbyshire and, needing toilets, we stopped at the Brierlow Bar bookshop. The car park was more crowded than usual, so we deduced that the plan of converting from bookshop to cafe was working.

You can’t begrudge someone maximising their earnings, but it’s depressing to think of all this being done at the expense of the book stock.

The cake was good (we had a very nice, moist blueberry and lemon sponge), the tea was excellent but, and I am trying to suppress a smile here, standards are slipping.

Despite several members of staff bustling about, they were so slow serving that we had to eat very slowly to avoid finishing the cake before the tea arrived. As we ate and drank tea the staff then decided to talk of their urgent need for the toilet (it seems too many customers were using it). This isn’t going to spoil my appetite, but it may be upsetting for the less hardy type of customer.

The real killer moment came when a staff member with a paint pot walked behind the counter and added water to the paint from the kitchen sink. I know they like you to have one sink for hand washing and one for washing up, and, if possible, a third for vegetable preparation, but I’m not sure about paint dilution. It doesn’t contain pathogens so environmental health may not have an issue with it. On the other hand it doesn’t look very professional.

Use the outside tap, use the tap in the toilets or ask one of the kitchen staff to pass you a jug of water. Do not, if you value your reputation, walk behind the counter with a paint pot.

Even worse, in my eyes, was the fact that the tea strainer they gave us had not been washed properly. A couple of left-over tea leaves won’t kill you, but it does make you wonder what other hygiene corners are being cut.

At least I can report that the book stock seems not to have been pruned since our last visit and though some sections are still struggling the crime novels, cookery books and aviation sections seem to be improving.

I’ll leave it there, as I’m starting to remember the book stock we lost.

It looks like Part 3 will contain news of my second burger of the week.

 

Lagging Behind, and Misery in Derbyshire

It’s Wednesday today and I’m still blogging about Monday.

Eventually we reached Carsington Water, where I discovered I had left my stick at home. Though I have a spare one in the car it is one of my Dad’s and is about two inches too short. It actually causes more problems than it solves and is only there for emergencies.

It was a handy excuse for not walking round and freezing. So we went to the shops. Julia spent the points off the RSPB loyalty card on crackers and cards and I poked through the books and bird food before deciding that I didn’t feel like spending money.  I never feel like spending money, but at Christmas I can at least get into the character of Ebeneezer Scrooge and claim I’m entering the spirit of Christmas.

We went into the Air Ambulance charity shop after that. It was a miserable experience.  They seemed to have taken delivery of a new consignment of stock, and most of it was stacked in front of the books so I couldn’t see the interesting books.  To make things worse, the staff member who was on duty seemed to go out of her way to obstruct Julia as she tried to look round. It takes a lot to wind Julia up but she wasn’t very pleased by the time she’d finished.

We like the air ambulance, and though the kids never needed it, we have been at events where other rugby players have been whisked off for treatment. We also like charity shops. Things are bad when I use the words “miserable experience” about a visit.

I was able to look at a cookery book – James Martin’s Great British Winter Cookbook. I won’t add a link as that might tempt someone to buy it. None of the recipes grabbed me, and one, Tomato and Cumin Soup, didn’t seem particularly British or wintery. I mean, where are all the winter tomatoes? In Spain.

Then we went for tea and cake. A day that features tea and cake can’t be all bad can it? And the restaurant is always good. I say “always”…

Julia liked her mince pie. I thought my raspberry and orange cake was a bit dry. And deficient in raspberries, though as I served myself I only had myself to blame. Then I started to think I detected the aftertaste of artificial sweetener. It may not have been, but it was definitely an unpleasant aftertaste.

To cheer things up I suggested a trip to the bookshop at Brierlow Bar.  I wasn’t expecting much, but as we were on the doorstep thought we might as well go.  To be fair, some of the book stock does seem to be improving, after a bit of a slump, as does the card stock. However, we bought cards and stationery and no books, which doesn’t look good for the future.

We couldn’t even eat cake as we are dieting and had already had our daily ration.

In my dreams of next year I see myself standing outside the shop with my nose pressed up against the window looking in at the bright lights. Inside, people enjoy tea and cake, buy expensive bird food and select books that I wouldn’t enjoy.

Sadly, I cannot participate and I gradually fade away like the ghost of readers past…

I will leave you with that picture.

The next post will be more cheery.