Remembrance Sunday is always taken seriously in our house. A time to reflect on our own families’ histories and how much we have to be grateful for. It’s also been a week of catching-up with my awesome Bake Off buddies and travelling thousands of years back in time.
Both of my Grandfathers fought in the Second World War. As working class men, they were both sent out on the front line. My Mum’s Dad was the youngest of nine children and went into the Army at 16 as there was nowhere else for him to go. By the time war broke out he’d been in the Army some time. I was pretty young when he died but he never talked about his war experiences. I was much closer to my Dad’s Dad, who died eight years ago. Over many years of spending lots of time with him I was able to draw out from him some of his war experiences, which will stay with me forever and I’ll share them with my own children as they get older. He was also in the Army, evacuated from Dunkirk, and then sent to India, North Africa and Burma, rising to the rank of Sergeant Major. I’ve always been acutely aware of the sacrifices made by their generation and the one before them in the two World Wars, and very grateful they both survived.
Our daughters are very lucky to still have a Great-Grandfather in their lives – Sarah’s Grandad Joe. Joe is 94 and as a 21 year old soldier, was involved in the D-Day Landings and the liberation of Eindhoven in the Netherlands. It’s only been in recent years that Joe’s shared his own experiences of the war. Our elder daughters went to Eindhoven with him and Sarah’s Mum (all pictured above) last month for a Freedom Run in his honour and to hear him speak to Dutch school children about his wartime experiences. It’s been really good for our kids to have this personal connection to the past; to understand why we wear poppies and remember the sacrifices made by others.
My wife Sarah and I aren’t religious but today, both of our elder daughters went to church for Remembrance Sunday services with their Brownies and Rainbows groups. It was our middle daughter (pictured above)’s first time going to a church service and she got to march in the parade with the flag while my niece laid the poppy wreath their Rainbows group had made on the war memorial. I think it’s important for the kids to participate in things like this as if we don’t remember the sacrifices made by others, we’ll always be in danger of letting history repeat itself. We showed them this little film by CBeebies to help put Remembrance Sunday into context for them.
Speaking of history, yesterday we went thousands of years back in time on a visit to the British Museum. I can’t believe I’ve never been before when it’s only 40 minutes from our house and free to visit – we had such a brilliant day. It’s worth going for the book shop alone. I spent nearly an hour browsing in there and could have bought dozens of books. In the end, I settled on three Very Short Introduction books – Music, Myth and Logic. As I work with my hands in both my building and baking work, I’m totally hooked on podcasts, particularly one called ‘Myths & Legends’. I couldn’t recommend it more highly, and thanks to having binged every single one, it made my experience of the British Museum even better.
We were there to have a go at the Samsung Great Court Games, that happen once a month. To test out the game, we had a free run of the museum for about an hour before it opened – a really special experience for all of us. The next opportunity to play the game, where you’re Whatsapped clues to find around the museum, will be on Saturday 9 December from 11am to 4pm. Our eldest daughter (aged eight) really enjoyed playing as she’d been studying Egyptians and Romans at school, so there were so many amazing things for her to look at. There really is something for everything there though. I loved the Japan gallery, Sarah loved Medieval Europe and the kids loved Roman Britain and seeing the Egyptian mummies.
As an aside, I feel it’s my duty to test out the baked goods everywhere I go and the cakes at the British Museum definitely got Family Burr’s seal of approval, as you might have seen on my Instagram story!
On Friday night Sarah and I had a great night out at Honey & Smoke with my Bake Off mates Chetna, Iain, Martha, Kate and their other halves. It felt like ages since we’d had a proper catch-up and we all had so much to talk about. I love spending time with these guys – they’re such good friends and all so interesting. I feel really lucky to have them all in my life. You do find it’s a bit of an Instagram-fest when the food comes out though – I keep laughing at the picture above of Chetna and me both Instagramming my pudding!
This week I’m going to be at the Taste of London Festival from 16 to 19 November teaching baking masterclasses, including how to make my festive sausage rolls, like my sausage roll wreath pictured above. So I’ll probably eat my weight in sausage rolls over the next week – not a bad fate! There probably won’t be a blog from me next week as I’ll still be at the Festival but I’ve got some fun bakes planned the week after. Until then, Happy Baking!