Special cake

Baking was an everyday activity in our house when I was little. The Bero cookery book was always to hand. You never cooked just one item in the oven; the oven was always filled up, with scones as big as your head, fruit pies and crumble.

Grandma was the queen of cakes. Special cakes with a twist. Sponge cakes cooked with real pelargoniums at the bottom of the tin so they tasted of lemon and orange. Fruit cakes where the glace cherries did not sink to the bottom. And Bara brith, a welsh cake using cold tea to soak the fruit.

For a non-religious family cakes for religious festivals were extra special. It struck none of us as odd. Christmas cake always had a layer of marzipan and then a thick layer of hard icing smoothed with a knife. The plaster cast Father Christmas with his sack always wandering across the snow scape. He left a single foot print and his piece of cake was always eaten last.

On a trip to sunny Rye on Good Friday, we stopped at a tea shop.
“One carrot cake and one fruit cake please”
The tea and cake duly arrived. “One carrot cake and one simnal cake”.

Simnal cake – it brought back a flood of memories a wave of jolly nostalgia. Cake at Easter with lots of lovely marzipan, wrapped around and over the whole cake with rolled marzipan eggs all-round the top. My companion ate the simnal cake none the wiser, graciously allowing me a bite of an egg. I smiled a lot inside and thought of my grandma and my mum – one baking cakes in the kitchen and the other sat knitting as they chatted away.

A quick check with my big sister, the oracle on my childhood.
“No idea why we ate simnal cake – I know it was always yummy!”
Happy Easter!

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The joys of WFH

In life I am fortunate. There are many joys.
Today I was lucky enough to be working from home and this brought its own particular joys. I know we don’t all have this luxury, some don’t have a job; some are tied to their work location; some don’t have such an accommodating employer.
Today I was celebrating my good fortune and want to share my smiles with you.

The joys of working from home
You roll out of bed at a sensible hour, no need to get on the train and sit with smelly, sniffing people – unless of course you live with smelly, sniffing people or live on a train!
You switch on the kettle and the laptop and start thinking about what you want to get done without the fight of the london underground to distract you.
You crack on with your list of things to do and make rapid and sustained progress, stimulated by glances out of the window at the sunshine and the flowers.
It is easy to eat ice cream for breakfast.
You take the prescribed health and safety breaks from the screen, drink proper cups of tea and have time to talk to you colleagues properly (The telephone is an old and very good invention).
You may have the windows open and the “office” at a temperature that suites you and that means you hear bird song not traffic noise.
You long list of things to do reduces with satisfying speed, and you innovative thinking time grows.
A proper lunch break is taken – possibly sat in the sunshine and you vitamin D levels are topped up.
Connections are made with your local community – today I made one trip out front to put the rubbish out and I saw and spoke to 3 of my neighbours.
With space, you are able to plan future tasks and key activities and clarify who you need to work with on what.
You finish on time without the hideous reverse journey home and the pressure to catch the infrequent trains.
There is plenty of time for a perambulation around the village and through the lovely woods before you start your evening.
All told a productive and enjoyable day for me and my employer

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Urban hunter

Four furry paws padding over the grass.
Stealth and silence required.
No rustled or crackled can give him away.
And yet, like a beacon he sits stark black and white against the muted hues of green, brown and beige.
An urban hunter in a rural tableau.

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A list of lust

Beautiful bewicks, Perfectly painted pintails
Majestic mutes, Raucous rooks

Tantalising tufted, Glorious golden-eyes
Tidy teal, Sharp suited shelducks

Plentiful Pochard, Whistling wigeon
Waistcoated white fronts

Candid Canadas, Morose mallards
Creating coots, Reticent redshank

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Himalayan sweetheart

Glossy green ovates
Beautiful blowsy blooms
Finest tea-time plant

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Monday Morning

Having the rug pulled out from under your feet is unnerving, disorientating and leaves you vulnerable. It makes you cross and angry. Your life changes, austerity measures kick in and suddenly your opportunities are limited. Self improvement, sensible, grown up decisions you have made to “get you thorough” limit and constrain life and happiness. You plod along and joy is in very short supply.

You employ tools and techniques to help you get by. Prioritise and re-prioritise, constantly count your blessings and remind yourself there are many far worse off than you. Still you don’t manage to live the life you want or get close to the life you had. Envy of others’ laissez-faire attitude niggles and burns. Life is clouded by constant worry. Nothing can be bought unless it is essential in its totality.

In work you live in fear of another lost job, a sacking and you waste your life away travelling to the job you have “cos it’s a job and there aren’t many out there”. In work (and sometimes in play) every day you try to do the right thing often with no thanks.

Miserable and frustrated you open the paper to see people’s lives in pieces. Shattered bodies and shattered homes the horror of a truly unimaginable existence. You “buck up” your ideas “get on with it”, then Monday morning comes around again and the cloud descends. None of it is life it is subsistence.

Picture by gifbin.com

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How hard it is to be an original writer
Every word I know I have learnt from someone else
Every sentence I write has probably been written
And every idea I have will be a variation on a theme that has gone before.
I shall continue to throw letters and words in the air and see how they fall.  Undaunted by the realisation that has just dawned

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