Happy Easter! Hope you’ve had a great one. We’ve got a house full of chocolate now – good job I’m burning it off at the moment. I’ve also devised a competition for my readers on this week’s blog so read-on…
We’re just back from Easter weekend with my Mother-in-Law in Suffolk and the kids are in a chocolate stupor. If your house is too, breaking up any leftover eggs and turning them into Chocolate Brownies is always a good idea – recipe here. I’ve had a rare Easter with no baking as I’ve been clearing everything from my kitchen cupboards ready to smash the kitchen up this week and rebuild a new and improved one. Follow my Instagram this week and I’ll update you on progress. I am laying a new solid floor with underfloor heating so I’ll be without an oven for a month or so while the concrete dries. I’ve set-up a mini kitchen in my utility room with microwave, slow cooker and the portable induction hob I use for food demos, but my only oven will be my outdoor Firepod for a while. Luckily my parents live across the road from me so there’s always their oven if I get baking withdrawal.
My wife Sarah and I are both training for the London Marathon, in less than three weeks now. Early on Easter Sunday morning (above), we did our final long runs starting and ending at the beautiful National Trust property, Ickworth, just outside Bury St Edmunds. I ran 18.9 miles so definitely earned my Easter eggs this year! Next week will be a 13 mile run, then 8 miles the week after, tapering down for Marathon day on Sunday 22 April. I don’t have an office full of colleagues to tap-up for sponsorship so this is a real plea to my blog readers to please donate anything you can to my fundraising for Great Ormond Street – here. Our friends Natalie and Martin have spent most of the past year at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, while their beautiful 2 and 4 year old sons have been treated for separate and unrelated cancers (see their blog here). Having seen first hand what they’ve experienced, I really want to raise money for family facilities at the hospital, to try and make one of the most challenging times in people’s lives a little better.
Much excitement in our house on Saturday as all seven BBC series of The Great British Bake Off were put onto Netflix UK for the first time. For a few years now, my series (Season 5 in the UK, Season 1 in the US) has been shown on Netflix US, which is why the majority of my blog readers and messages are from American fans of the show (Hi, Ladies & Gents!) When I think about how I binge-watch Netflix shows, it’s really weird to think people will be able to do that with Bake Off. When I was on the show, my elder two kids were only five and two years old, so they didn’t really remember watching it the first time round. For me, it’s a bit weird watching it back – there’s nothing worse than seeing your own mug in high definition and surely no one ever likes the sound of their own voice.
Sarah, her Mum and the urchins watched a few episodes back-to-back this weekend and our youngest, who didn’t actually exist when I was on Bake Off, couldn’t get her head around seeing me on screen and kept talking to ‘Daddy’ and kissing the screen (see above). I haven’t the heart to show them the final yet, I think they’d be too upset – I’ve only just gotten over it! Our youngest daughter is only a couple of days older than Natalie and Martin’s youngest son, so knowing he’s spent almost half of his life going back and forth to Great Ormond Street Hospital for chemotherapy has made training for this marathon much more poignant.
When it comes to telly though, if I’m honest, I’m more excited that my favourite TV programme started again last night – The Big Painting Challenge. If you’ve never seen it before, it’s a beautiful and gentle show full of interesting and talented people. Catch it on iPlayer here. I was so inspired by it last year that I’ve been going to weekly art classes in the evening for a year now, with both of my sisters. I wish I had more time to paint but just the opportunity to spend time with my sisters and be creative has made us all really happy. Sarah framed my painting of our dog (above) and it’s on the wall now. Unfortunately she’s vetoed my spider sketch joining it!
To celebrate the Bake Off now being on Netflix, I thought I’d run a little competition linked to it. I will post a signed copy (with personal message) of my five-star rated recipe book, B.I.Y. Bake It Yourself, to the winner in the week commencing Monday 16 April. To be in with a chance to win, send your response to me via my contact page here with the answer to the following question:
- What flavours were my entremets in Episode 9 (of Season 5) of The Great British Bake Off?
The competition will remain open until midnight on Saturday 14 April and I’ll announce the winner on my blog on Sunday 15 April. I’ll be picking the winner at random and see if I can find some other goodies to add to the prize. I will also share the recipes for both entremets by email with EVERY PERSON who enters. I’ve never shared or published these recipes but I’m often asked for them so I’ll dig them out of my recipe files.
Now to be clear, I’ve read that if you ask people to sponsor you in return for entering a competition, it means you can’t claim gift aid on the donation so the charity doesn’t receive as much money. So whilst entry to the competition is free, voluntary donations can of course be made by entrants via the link here. Entry to the competition is not dependent on whether a donation is made to my London Marathon fundraising. But all donations, however small, are really grateful received by me and more importantly, by the children and families at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. Good luck entering, hope you had a cracking Easter, and Happy Baking!