Full on Christmas party season this week and I certainly made the most of it.
It’s been a real party week this week. It was great to catch-up with Nancy again. I can’t say where we were yet (it’s a surprise!), but we got to meet the incredible Paloma Faith and her band, including Reuben Fowler (pictured with us above) who plays the trumpet in her band and is a big Bake Off fan. They must have had a really busy week this week as I’ve seen them on Jonathan Ross and on Strictly this weekend – seriously hard-working musicians.
I really didn’t use to get out much since having the kids – I’m a bit of a hermit really – but the past few months have been really sociable. I was reading Grace Dent’s best London restaurants of 2014 and was surprised to have been to a few of them in just the past couple of months and planning to tick a few more off too. Things have really changed for me! I’ve got some great lunches, dinners and events coming up over the next few months. I’ve never needed to have a social diary in my life but it’s already getting booked up for 2015. Pretty exciting.
I’ve been busy baking as usual too. I’ve made loads this week and am still learning more every day. I baked some festive treats for Christmas Parties this week – doughnuts and mince pies. I’m getting through so many window cake boxes but they’re a great buy, especially if you’re baking things as gifts. I get mine here. I’ve got to make a lot more things for people over the next couple of weeks so I’ll need to restock my supply of boxes pretty soon. The Christmas cake I made for Melanoma Research went for £100 this week and their fundraising evening raised over £2,000!
We’ve had quite a few friends and family over this week to see us and my new favourite thing to bake are black olive and rosemary breadsticks. I must have made over 100 in the past week – they’re totally moreish. I baked another batch today as my wife had six of her friends over for their annual Christmas lunch. I went to primary school with some of her friends and I’ve known them a really long time so it’s pretty weird when they all asked me to sign photographs – probably the most surreal thing so far! It’s been really good having had so much support from our friends and family this year – the Bake Off experience has been loads of fun for the people around us too.
I’m a bit hooked on a website called Pinterest, particularly in the run up to Christmas. If you’re into baking and you haven’t heard of Pinterest, I’d really encourage you to sign up to it. If you type in something like ‘Christmas Bakes’ or ‘Snowflake Icing’ there are 100s of different ideas to inspire you. The site was so useful during my time on the Bake Off, particularly for ideas for things I’d never heard of before like making a Dobos Torte and a Piece Montee. I need to get into the habit of pinning my own bakes and recipes on the site, but as someone who wasn’t particularly computer literate a few years ago, it’s been enough getting the hang of Twitter, Instagram and my blog – I’ll get there eventually! If you want to follow me on Pinterest I’ll try and get a bit more active on it – I’ll make that a New Year’s Resolution.
Finally, I went to see Riverdance yesterday on their 20th Anniversary tour. It really isn’t something I’d have chosen to go to normally, but my mother-in-law used to be a champion Irish dancer and as our eldest daughter is very into dancing, me, my wife Sarah, our eldest daughter and my parents-in-law went to Hammersmith yesterday as a Christmas treat. We’re big Eurovision fans in our house – any excuse for more themed baking – different European bakes and cakes! I’d only seen Riverdance before in the Eurovision clip above but I really enjoyed yesterday’s show, particularly the fiddler. Our daughter’s nagging us to start Irish dancing lessons now, but as she’s only an 8th Irish I wonder if it’s a bit tenuous. She looks the part though, with her long ginger hair so I’m sure she’d fit in!
Anyway, another fairly short blog post this week as I need to get back in the kitchen to bake something for the morning and I’ve got a really busy week ahead. I’m particularly looking forward to Friday as all the Bake Off crew are coming to London for a Bake Off Christmas dinner (except Iain, who’ll be in Northern Ireland so I’ll catch-up with him on Thursday instead). A few of the guys are staying over at mine on Friday night, so no pressure on making them a special breakfast on Saturday then!
See you next week…!