Blog Post
Another week of memorable experiences

I closed last week’s blog after the family had departed following a large meal.  It was a good day, everyone was “on form” and time passed quickly.

Tuesday I spent time in the garden and really enjoyed the fresh air even though the weather has not yet warmed up.  I love being dressed in my tatty gardening clothes, hands in the soil and generally getting “mucky”.  For those veggie growers amongst us – a little tip.  When I plant out cabbages, cauliflowers, sprouts, kale, broccoli I always plant them too close together but intentionally.  Then, about now when they have grown to about 10-12 inches tall and need to be thinned out – I leave the strongest plants in the ground and take the others out and use them as spring greens – absolutely delicious and tender.  They require hardly any cooking at all and can just be stir fried in minutes.  Give it a go !

Wednesday I was on the train to the south again and met up with a few “Bake off” mates.  We have a Whatsapp group and if anyone is heading down to London they put out a message and if anybody is around we meet up for lunch.

I therefore had an opportunity to see Luis, Claire, Martha, Kate and even Norman – just a brief get together but great to see them again. 

When I won Bake Off I was invited by many people and organisations to do a range of things including demonstrating, writing recipes for magazines, going into schools, live radio and television, cake judging, cake making and even – After Dinner Speaking !

I decided to give everything a try because this whole new experience had to be embraced.  My first After Dinner Speech therefore took place on Thursday evening for Marie Curie.  I had, prior to this done a number of informal talks to small groups but there is something about an audience, dressed up to the nines, well fed and watered – just waiting to be entertained by you !

Though a bit nerve wracking to begin with – once the audience were visibly engaged by what I had to say I then thoroughly enjoyed it and from the feedback I received, my large audience did too !!  I consider an after dinner or any other talk or public address should not involve notes or reading – it needs to be well rehearsed so that it appears fluid and relaxed.  I was quite pleased with myself and look forward to my next one in the coming week.

Friday was a day of recipe writing and testing – I now have a large catalogue of material which is both seasonal, original, thrifty and creative.  I am really proud of the work I have done so far.

Saturday was very special.  I have given a fair amount of support to the Lindsey Lodge Hospice in Scunthorpe and felt very privileged to be invited as a guest on the Northern Belle (sister train to the Orient Express).  The invitation involved a champagne reception at Scunthorpe Station (I bet that doesn’t happen too often !), then, served on the train – a three course meal with wine then coffee and petit fours.  I did wonder what the kitchen must be like and how the chefs manage to serve 225 hot meals in what must be a very confined space.  I got a glimpse though the following day when James Martin tweeted a photo of the kitchen.  He was cooking lunch on the Northern Belle on Sunday.

Our seating plan allowed me to enjoy the company of Maggie Watts who has done a great deal of work raising awareness of pancreatic cancer.  Sadly her husband died fairly recently at a young age and I continue to be humbled by some of the fantastic efforts people make for the sake of their cause.  Maggie asked me for a fatless cake recipe – this one is for you Maggie !

I am on the train to London tonight as this is the start of another busy week – fantastic !!!!!

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