… someone, as they say, has to do it.
I had fully intended one of those self-satisfying afternoons pottering round the policies, perhaps a power tool or two in hand. But the weather got in the way, and clouds scudded across the sky at turbine height, driven by the sort of wind that keeps every weak Grasshopper firmly indoors, squalls of horizontal rain racing up the valley. So no cycling, and definitely no outing for anything involving a two-stroke engine. Even the humble hoe took the day off.
But the indoor power tools came out instead. No, don’t be silly now. Of course we’re not talking of sanders and drills or other manly beasts. We’re talking here of mixers, and beaters and wands.
For the baking season is upon us. This weekend is The Exposition, our local agricultural show. It’s the day when vintage tractors take to the roads; when ponies are led in-hand and tears flow as little darlings fail to clear the triple. And there’ll be sheep with curly horns and bulls showing off. The Clydesdales will be dressed and the air filled with that smell of Johnson’s powder which some people still associate with babies’ bums whilst real men dream of foals and harness and dusted feathers.
But it means too that the Women’s Industrial shed will be closed for judging, and nerves will be shredded. The Urchins will be looking out their Favourite Place Mat or Egg Cup or whatever is called for this year; and they’ll be making pictures with macaroni or decorating something or other.
And before that we have the opening meeting of The Rural. So it’s baking time again, competitive baking, prizes to be won, reputations lost. First up is strawberry jam, with pristine jars and gingham lid-covers, preferably hand-crafted from old knickers or something; and calligraphy on the label. And it has to taste good too. Wheaten scones, now that’s a tester; the angst over selecting the right flour before you get even close to the oven.
But more importantly, we shall eat cake, for it’s celebration time. Chocolate? someone suggested. Is there another type, thought I. So choccy it is.
Now we’ve again dipped into the rich vault that is the lore of Tamasin Day-Lewis. This one is Miranda’s Chocolate Cake and it is even better than it looks, rich and deeply flavoured.
She does another one, does our favourite foodie, Chocolate Mocha and Irish Whiskey. It is utterly sublime but as I’m the only one in the household that likes it, and therefore gets to indulge and indulge and indulge again, it is a rare treat on the kitchen table. Now you might think that one would get the final decision, the ultimate choice, when it comes to cakes for ones own birthday, but sadly it’s Miranda again this time. Still there’s plenty left should anyone call round, but you’ll have to be quick, for I’m home alone until the school bus arrives, and drooling. Think I’ll need to get the coffee on, just a wee treat for elevenses you understand.
And in a fortnight I get to choose, and to bake. For The Genealogist can get anything she likes, so long as it’s limited to the few recipes that I’m capable of not spoiling. It might have to be Nigel Slater’s Lemon-frosted Pistachio cake, again. She likes the rose water and the petals scattered over the icing. She does, honestly. Anything so long as it doesn’t have coffee in it. Maybe her taste buds may mature when she gets to be middle aged.