Thursday, 18 October 2012


I turned twenty four on Saturday (twenty four!). I've not been back to my Mum and Dad's since April so it was great to go home and celebrate. I also took some pictures of the scarf I made for my Mum's birthday earlier in the year, partly because I forgot to do it at the time, and also because everyone knows that if something's not on the internet, it never existed.

It's a great little pattern, based around an eight row repeat. The one I made isn't quite as beautiful as the original on the Purl Bee (I used acrylic) but, until my earnings match my knitted yearnings, I can't really complain.

The rest of the weekend was spent eating (mostly pub lunches, trifle and birthday cake - below, not sure why there was a pig on it), drinking and pottering about Manchester.

We also went to the vintage fair on Stockport Market on the Sunday, and bought an old Robert's radio for £25. It's gorgeous, sounds amazing and, obviously, I'm now planning how to furnish the lounge around it.

But enough birthday talk; you can't always have a pig and ganache adorned cake. You could always have an oaty ginger cake though. So, as promised, here is the recipe for my Mum's ginger cake. 

It's just the thing to perk up an unhappy child on a family walking holiday in the Yorkshire Dales (not that I'd know anything about that) or  scoff with a cup of tea. And it always tastes best after a couple of days.

Some cake-related advice:

I'm not sure how old the recipe is - my mum got it off my auntie, who wrote it on the back of a Christmas card. The uncertain origins of the recipe are also reflected in the slightly vague measurements... I'm not really sure what would constitute a 'large cup' (this, perhaps?) but I just use heaped measurements of a regular American measuring cup.

The method itself is bit unorthodox too - it's probably something to do with the lack of eggs. You soak oats in milk for a couple hours and, in a separate bowl, rub the butter into the flour as if you were making a crumble. Then, you add the rest of the dry ingredients and heated golden syrup. Finally, you stir bicarbonate of soda into the milky oats (I guess this is what makes the cake rise) and stir the whole lot together. I tend to bake mine in a loaf tin lined with foil as the mixture inevitably explodes a little in the oven, so making a lip with the foil around the edge of the tin helps to keep it in check. It also makes it dead easy to wrap up afterwards.

Finally, it's egg-free, so perfect for little sickly allergy-prone children such as myself. It'd be easy to switch to a vegan recipe too - try soya milk or water instead of regular milk and use Trex or a similar hard vegetable fat to replace the butter.

Some unrelated advice:

Don't drink bleach.

Ginger Cake

1 large cup porridge oats
½ pint milk
2 large cups self raising flour
¼ lb butter (cubed and straight from the fridge)
2 tsp ground ginger
½ cup golden syrup
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

☞ Soak oats in milk for 2 hours (or more if you have time)
☞ Rub butter and flour together and mix in sugar and ginger
☞ Melt golden syrup in a pan, add to dry mix and stir together
☞ Stir bicarb into oats and milk, and add to other ingredients
☞ Mix! Spread into chosen baking receptacle
☞  Bake for around 1½ hours, until golden on top and cooked through

Monday, 8 October 2012


I went to work every day in September. I say 'went to work', because there was one occasion where I arrived but left shortly afterwards in an ambulance, after recklessly eating a brownie without first checking what was in it. It was definitely time for a holiday.

Fortunately, earlier in the year, we'd had the foresight to book out a little cabin in Cornwall for a few days. We got back on Friday and I had an ace time.

The cabin was on the edge of a cliff, overlooking Whitsand Bay in the east of the county. This was the view we were met with when we arrived:


Admittedly, the sun didn't last long, but at least the view wasn't going anywhere.

Inside was gorgeous too - a little fireplace to keep us warm in the evenings, the deepest bath I've ever been in and a bed that I'm fairly sure was made of marshmallow.

Actually, day two started bright enough - we went for a walk west along the coast to see Rame Head, a small peninsula with a tiny Medieval chapel perched on top (visible in the distance in the first picture).

Dartmoor Ponies have been introduced to the landscape here; we turned a corner and there were three colts pottering about on the footpath. They seemed quite happy trotting along in front of us, but as soon as the path opened up onto the moor, they were off again. Dave pretended to herd them about for a bit...
The chapel on top was first consecrated in the 14th Century and is dedicated to St Michael who, according to one website, is the patron saint of grocers, mariners, sickness, police and (of course) paratroopers. Although it's completely bare inside, the structure itself is still in pretty good condition. The area is only a few miles down the coast from Plymouth, so there's a lot of navy ships floating about (whey!). Wikipedia suggests the chapel is the last bit of English coastline many mariners see when leaving the country, and the first bit to come into view when they return. How nice for them.

On the Sunday night before we went away, I made a great big brick of ginger cake. It's the same one my mum always makes when we go away, because it's one of those cakes that keeps really well and seems to taste nicer when it's a bit squashed. We had a slice halfway round to perk us up. I'll give you the recipe soon, I will.

After Rame Head, we followed the coast round to the twin villages, Kingsand and Cawsand. After threatening to rain for most of the morning, the clouds finally opened so, to avoid getting too soggy with several miles still to go, we holed ourselves up in a pub for hour or two.

Unfortunately, this meant we didn't have much of a wander round the villages themselves, but I did notice a couple of charming little bus shelters:

Day three was more of the same, but we walked east along the beach this time.

I read about a hermit in the 19th Century who lived in a cave in the cliffs here. Apparently, to relieve his boredom, he carved poetry into the walls and roof. It's called Lugger's Cave (presumably after the inhabitant) and is looked after by the National Trust now.


The tide along this stretch of coast is quite notorious as the cliffs are so steep and there aren't many entry points down onto the beach. It's easy to get stranded if you're not careful; even though we went at low tide, the way the rocks jut out into the sea meant we basically ended up scrambling up the cliff to get off the beach because the routes off are so far between.

As I mentioned earlier, there's a big military presence in the area - we had to walk through an MOD firing range at one point. We also came across this rather interesting sign:


Ridiculous signs seemed to be a recurring theme of the holiday. The next day, some friends came to visit and we went for a wander round Looe (as my cousin clarified in a postcard when we were kids, 'The town, not the toilet'). In one of the pubs, there was a fire extinguisher with a sign above saying 'Fire Extinguisher'. With a picture of a fire extinguisher. Just in case.

The sun reappeared and we spent a rather nice afternoon on the beach eating chips.

There was also another slightly alarming sign.

And the guilty party:

So, all in all, a pretty fun holiday. Lots of tea, lots of cake, lots of pints and lots of walking. Very nice.