Sometimes I like to put coherent thought into things – no, really, I do. And sometimes things just happen. So it was with Sunday, when I found myself a) baking a cake – I may be a food writer and editor but I freely admit that I am rubbish at cakes – and b) giving some of the cake away. I know, I know.
It’s all the fault of VP, aka Michelle of Veg Plotting, who came up with the idea of a bloggy contribution to the Chelsea Fringe – The Bloggers’ Cut – enabling gardeners all over the place to join in with Chelsea-related fun no matter how far they might live from London (or, in my case, however allergic they may be to formal flower shows).
No, that’s not entirely accurate. It wasn’t all VP’s fault. Some of it was down to Karen at the Artist’s Garden, who thought it would be a good idea to participate and alerted me to the possibility of cake plus gardens, always a winner. On 2 June participants were to have tea in a garden, basically, and blog about it, and then all the posts would be linked over on VP’s site. Karen added her own element, though: that we would go to her garden, which has suddenly gone PING as gardens do at this time of year,
do a little light weeding (!!!) and then have cake. I opted out of that adaptation on the grounds that bakers don’t weed. Particularly other people’s gardens. Plus I had other friends over for lunch. So the cake was made; the cake – predictably – sank; the cake was iced lavishly to hide the fact that it had sunk; chocolate was sprinkled over the top on the grounds that chocolate is always good. (Of course it helped that it was a chocolate cake, ahem, from a recipe given to me by my friend Caroline and her daughter Ellen, then eight years old, when I explained I couldn’t make cakes. Ellen was appalled and demonstrated that she could make cakes beautifully. The recipe is called the ‘can’t go wrong cake’. Oh yes it can…)
When I got there I was quite glad that I had baked a cake and thus got out of weeding, because Karen is doing a lot of work on her garden this year and there had been some dramatic activity, especially around the big pond:
and amazingly the weed stank of the sea. Why, I wonder? I know we’re not far from the coast, but the stench of rotting seaweed was marked, even though none was involved. Very odd. Happily the table was well away, and what wind – correction, gentle breeze, a most unfamiliar sensation – there was blew in the opposite direction.
So much work has been going on, and not just with the pond. A wall has been pulled down and rebuilt to curve in the opposite direction which works much better, for example,
and, all in all, I think everyone rather deserved their tea (with the possible exception of Muggins the messy-cake maker). Strangely, Dobby seemed rather reluctant to stop weeding, but then it does sometimes get you like that: there is an certain addictiveness about clearing an area. We did manage to persuade her to stop, which was just as well as the sun wasn’t exactly helping the cake improve – but I am not complaining about sun, no way, nooooo. Idyllic, really. No rain. No snow. No sleet. Hats stayed on, rather than needed to be chased all over the garden. Sunglasses – whisper it low – were even required.
And the cake was fine – having served its purpose in getting me out of pond clearance, and making the fact that I was given this mug more or less ironic, hee hee:
(I think I need one that says ‘keep calm and fill the dent in the middle of the cake with icing’ – except that might not fit on a mug.)
Now, Karen sells plants. Lovely plants. And so I deliberately left my purse at home. The best laid plans… As a result of all the clearing and replanting, I came home with a large punnet full of wild garlic in need of a new home and a pot of self-sown erigeron plantlets. Dobby then provided me with a big clump of forget-me-nots (mine are most disappointing this year for some reason, and these should provide me with a fresh supply of seed), and three large lilies – of which she has an excess, due to an highly successful propagation drive.
A lovely way to spend a late Sunday afternoon. That’s it, this is definitely summer, so here’s one more shot of the backdrop to our tea to prove it:
and to make up for my lack of industry, I have spent this morning weeding (in my own garden). But I did leave the remains of the cake. Monday breakfast?