Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Nothing Changes!

I seem to spend my life saying "When things quieten down..." or "When I've got a bit more time..." but just as I think that is about to happen something else comes along to fill my days. Nothing changes and the more I think about it that's the way it has always been. I guess it is the way I am. I need projects, I need plenty to do, I need to be busy. Which is just as well because busy is what I've been!

How was your Easter? (I'm way behind on blog reading) Good I hope! I finished off all the business baking by Friday evening and rather than have a day off on Saturday I decided to make an Easter cake for us... It took all day! But it was worth it.

I had no sooner sighed "done" than these two appeared as if by magic to "help me clear up"... every bowl, spatula and whisk was licked clean!

On Sunday the family came en masse and there were eleven of us here to eat the cake and other goodies, which was lovely. Then on Monday I went to Mum's new flat to help her with some decorating. After a day painting walls and ceilings I could hardly move!

But in between the busy bits there has been  time for relaxation too and I have got through a few books this month. The first was How to Be Both by Ali Smith. I really wanted to like this book, I really did...  but I didn't. It has won awards, it was clever, very clever but it just didn't engage me. In fact, I can barely even tell you what it was about. Two different stories with a tenuous connection through art, one set in the  1960s, one in the fifteenth century. I didn't like the style, I didn't like the prose, it irritated me and I was disappointed because I really believed I was going to love this book.

A quick read this month was The Bookseller of Kabul. I enjoyed this observation of a different culture presented by journalist  Asne Seierstad who spent four months living with bookseller Sultan Khan and his family in Afganistan. But there was a lot that made me angry, in particular the treatment of women and the values which seem so alien to our Western culture but there was also a lot that engaged me too. I can't claim to understand it but I found it an interesting read.

I also finished The Land Where Lemons Grow by Helena Attlee which was a fascinating history of the gardens of Italy and the citrus fruit that grow there. It transported me to the warmth of the Italian sunshine and made me want to pack my bags. A lovely combination of travel, history, art and food from scented bergamont groves to Scicilian marmalade kitchens. A sensory delight!

My most recent read was Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming. This is our village book club choice for April. Another very quick read, it is a memoir by the actor Alan Cumming. Whilst researching for the TV show Who Do You Think You Are, Cumming not only discovered things about his maternal grandfather but at the same received shocking news from his father, a violent man who had brutalised him throughout his childhood. It is very readable, reasonably well written with humour and wit and amazingly, no bitterness.

There has also been more knitting... a pair of socks finished, another pair for Stewart.

And today I have been packing bags and ticking things off lists... unfortunately not for a trip to the lemon scented gardens of Italy but Folkstone instead. I'm there to teach a three day machine embroidery landscapes course to members of Canterbury Embroiderer's Guild over the weekend.

It might not be Italy but I'm sure we'll have fun making Italian inspired landscapes.


  1. I love that cake Gina!!
    As I've said before I don't read a lot but I do like the sound of " The Land Where Lemons Grow".
    V x

  2. Gina, your Easter baking photographs are fabulous! How I wish that I could sample some of those delicious creations! I keep thinking about how everytime a new person gets a taste of one of your cakes, another new customer is created. Congratulations on all this success!

    It's good that you can also find time for some reading, even if each of the recent books weren't 100% up your street. I'm hoping to now get more reading done, and am off to a slow, relaxed start.

    Those socks look very jolly, too! I'm now about two-thirds of the way to completion of my current fair isle v-neck vest. I'm experimenting with lots of colorways amongst the motifs, trying to see how must contrast I can successfully introduce into the mix. An interesting puzzle.

    I'm sure that your Canterbury embroiderers are going to have a lot of fun with your helping them to channel Italy in their stitching. I love that picture with the cypress trees and fabulous hills and swirly sky!


  3. I have never seen an Easter cake as fabulous as yours! You are an artist through and through. I like keeping busy and always say I need to do less - but of course I never do. I am almost glad I work full time: too busy to think about all the great things I really 'need' to do. I fancy becoming a cub scout leader just now. Have a lovely time in Folkestone. x

  4. Yes, life has a habit of doing that - just when you think it's going to be quiet, "things" happen!

    Let me know how you get on with Canterbury - do they bite? I'm giving my first EG talk there in a couple of weeks!

  5. I feel quite exhausted by the thought of all you pack into a week! Hope you get some 'you' time during the weekend, and enjoy yourself.

  6. That cake is brilliant. I've been wanting to have a go at one of those gravity defying bakes but have a feeling it might be a step too far for me. Such a shame you were disappointed by the Ali Smith book (did you read through to the end or give it up as a bad job? I'm getting better at the latter). I've just finished Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger which I can highly recommend.

  7. That cake looks impressive! I still don't have chocolate fatigue and that photo has set off another craving...
    I tried reading an Ali Smith book once and just couldn't get into it at all. Sometimes it's best to just give it up and move onto the next. Life;s too short to read bad books!

  8. I still can't get over your magnificent cake! Fabulous! Glad you had some happy family time amongst all the busyness.

  9. That cake is amazing! Enjoy Folkestone.

  10. I could eat that cake on my own so don't invite any family around when you make mine will you? I bet the chocolate cost an arm and a leg but worth it for a one off like that.
    I found a wonderful painting last year and it was by Francesco del Cossa and in finding out more about him I came across the Ali Smith book too and bought it. I started with gusto and have petered out halfway through. I keep looking at it thinking I'll pick it up and start again, feeling, as you say, really dumb for not getting into it and being as clever as the reviewers on the inner pages. I think some books have their time to shine and this one may have to wait a bit for me to catch up with it. The others look interesting but I'm reading The Button Box by Lynn Knight at present and that is a fascinating trip around social history through all those buttons we've inherited from our Nan in the Quality Street tin. Enjoy Folkestone. It's nearly Italy isn't it?

  11. What a fun Easter Cake!! I'll bet the family was in awe of your artistic skill when they arrived. How nice that son & husband cleaned up for you! I have the same helpers in my kitchen. I'll ask my daughter if she wants to help bake something, but her usual reply is "let me know when you're finished" (so she can lick the bowl)

    Isn't it disappointing when a book doesn't hold up to your expectations. I have a book that I've dying to read, but I can't seem to get past the first few chapters. I watched the movie based on the book first, and maybe that was my first mistake.

    Your socks look great! Very cozy. I'll be needing cozy this weekend as we're supposed to get a snowstorm(?!) tomorrow. It's 10C at the mo ... they better be wrong.

    Have a great weekend, and enjoy your stitchery class. Love that embroidered scene. The sky is very reminiscent of the calendar picture I have for April. It's by Emily Carr titled "Above the Trees".

    Wendy x

  12. I do like an honest book review Gina, so thank you for those. I haven't read the Allan Cummings autobiography, but I did read interviews with him when it was published, which were very sad. Your easter cake is spectacular! I wouldn't know where to start! X

  13. Hi Gina,
    I need to make a cake for my soon to be 16 year old and I have been looking up recipes and you will be pleased to know that I immediately thought this is the sort of thing Gina would know about. I was thinking along the lines of some sort of chocolate cookie cake, 2 large chocolate cookies sandwiched together but my cookie recipe seems to make squidgy cookies and if I try to bake them longer to firm them up, they will break your teeth, so the point of this ever increasing ramble is you have any suggestions for chocolate cookies that will work on a larger scale and what would you suggest for the filling? ......and now I realise that it sounds like you are some sort of cake agony aunt! Anyway any thoughts would be appreciated!


I love getting your comments and I love to read what you have to say so thank you for taking the time! I reply when I can by email... or if you are a no reply blogger, then I sometimes post a reply in the comments.