Tuesday, 11 December 2012

A Perfectly Lovely Few Days

One of the best things about having a busy schedule is taking a moment to look back at everything you have achieved and realising that if you can do all that in a few days, the possibilities for the next few years are limitless. I'm having one of those moments right now with my cup of coffee and keyboard and feeling very optimistic for the rapidly approaching new year.

Last Friday was my little Addy's school Winter Fayre. I had volunteered to run a 'Decorate a Cake' stall to keep the children entertained as well as making biscuits to serve with mulled wine as an alternative to  the more traditional mince pies on the refreshment stall. I love baking and I particularly love baking on a grand scale, usually for party food or in this case for a fundraiser. I baked four batches of butter biscuits cut in Xmas shapes and then set about the task of embellishing them with icing.

I had just finished decorating Xmas tree biscuits with royal icing (green food colouring producing a disappointingly insipid shade) using an 'outline and flood' technique and topped with a sprinkling of white glitter sugar when the doorbell rang. It was the postman delivering my latest issues of the Cake Decorating part work I subscribe to which included a Xmas Special. It couldn't have been more perfect timing. I used the snowflake cutters providedto emboss discs of ready roll icing to top circular biscuits and did something similar with star shaped ones. Leftover ready roll icing was perfect for transforming snowman shaped biscuits into proper little snowmen. I also had a go at cutting out delicate snowflake shapes using sugar paste. It was fiddly but effective and could well be used again when the time comes to decorate this year's Christmas cake.

I was pleased enough with my biscuits and although transporting them to the school was a bit nerve wracking (a gust of wind blew the cling film right off one tray), the job was done and another box on my to do list could be ticked.

How much money the Winter Fayre raised has not yet been released but I had the feeling that it was not well supported by parents. A lot of effort had been put in to make a successful event but without the people attending to spend their money, it would all be in vain. My 'Decorate a Cake' stall did very little business because there simply wasn't the steady flow of young people I'd hoped for, keen to roll their sleeves up and drizzle icing and sprinkles in imaginative ways. I am not blameless. My own children stayed at home because they were tired by the end of the week and I knew we had an early start the next day to pay a Xmas visit to the grandparents in Brighton.

As I left the Fayre (in a hurry as I still had packing to do), the lovely 'burger van man' gave me a bag full of unsold veggie sausages and burgers to take home. I enjoyed a little snack on my drive home and handed out warm, meaty(ish) goodies to the family on my return. The 'family' numbers were swelled on account of Taylor being home from Uni for the Xmas break. It was a joy to see her looking healthy, happy and confident after completing the milestone of her first term

I always love going to Brighton. It is where my husband grew up so has special meaning for him. It is where my older sister settled and holds many memories for me of her life and death. And it is where my husband's parents live still.

Addy was especially excited about seeing her grandparents and the promise of staying in a hotel.

A four year old's vision of a "ho-tayal"

My mother in law had a terrible health scare recently which resulted in the need for surgery on her heart so it was a wonderful surprise to see her looking fantastically well. Well enough to have gone dancing with her husband and well enough to have made a raspberry trifle for our tea. My mother in law's raspberry trifle is one of my absolutely most favourite things.

The hotel did not disappoint Addy and I thoroughly enjoyed cheering for James Arthur in the X Factor final on the telly from the huge, comfy bed with a pint of beer bought up from the bar.

It would be a shame to go all the way to the south coast and not visit the beach. We wrapped up warm and took the children for a walk along the seafront. It was cold but the sun came out - bracing and glorious. Unfortunately, Addy got a little too adventurous with the breaking waves and as King Canute could have told her, that will never end well. Soggy shoes, socks and trousers removed, she was wrapped in a warm blanket ready for the long journey home.

Borrowing one of Addy's hats and using hubby as a windbreak to keep warm

Hadn't realised I'd dressed Dylan as a mini dad!

Moments before Addy's soaking

The icing on the cake of a perfectly lovely few days was watching James Arthur win X factor 2012, back home in front of a blazing fire.

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