Thursday, 13 June 2013

So, I missed eating cake with everyone…

Yep, The Bloggers’ Cut for the 2013 Chelsea Fringe went ahead without me. Aw… and I love to bake cake and seriously enjoy cake decorating. Yep… and tying that in with a garden tour would have been the icing on the cake ;-)

The first cake I thought of when I read about the theme for the Bloggers’ Cut was instant. It wasn’t one of my own but one I tasted on a visit to Norfolk Lavender when on holiday in the area back in 2008. It wasn’t strictly speaking a garden visit. However, there was a garden area to wander round near the plant sales which we enjoyed.



The cake above was lavender flavoured which I tried to convince myself I was enjoying at the time. I think from memory I did. We all tasted a bit and I was left with the fork… enough said. I went out there with the lavender coffee too… that definitely wasn’t to my taste. However, this was the most memorable cake I’d say I've tasted… oh wait a minute though…

What about the warm, fresh out of the oven, homemade apple flavoured cake left out on the dining table by the cottage owners for our arrival to a holiday home in Kent some years before? Now, that too was memorable especially coming after our visit to the gardens at Sissinghurst en route from London City Airport. That very special garden visit was the icing preceding that very tasty cake. Every time I have seen an apple cake since I have dearly wished I had dared ask for the recipe to that one... she sighs...

So most of us will have heard of and tasted cake but have you heard of The Chelsea Fringe? I hadn’t but the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is on my doorstop so I get the concept.


The Chelsea Fringe coincides and overlaps with the RHS Chelsea Flower Show but is completely independent of it. The Fringe is entirely powered by volunteers.

The first Chelsea Fringe took place in 2012 and is a new festival for everyone who’s interested in gardens and gardening. With its emphasis on participation (most events are free), the Fringe is also about pushing the boundaries – its inguaural programme included a peripatetic bicycling beer garden, a floating forest installation in Portobello dock, an aromatic ‘garden of disorientation’ as well as pop-up community gardens and horticultural happenings of all hues. Anyone can enter a project – as long as it’s interesting, legal and about gardens, flowers, veg-growing or landscape.
More about the Chelsea Fringe


This year fellow garden blogger VP at Veg Plotting came up with the great idea of getting garden bloggers involved in the Chelsea Fringe. She recognised that distance makes it difficult for everyone to be part of events like this especially for those outside the UK.

Ah… but where did the cake come in? Well, there was already an organised cake event running… haha... and one bite lead to another and the Fringe organiser gave the go ahead to Chelsea Fringe… the bloggers’ cut. Well done VP!!




This event is over for this year. Unfortunately, the timing wasn’t good for me (sorry VP) but I was delighted to see others took part and the event got a great write up on the Chelsea Fringe website. I do love to see the hard work of active bloggers like VP get mentions especially when it involves bringing the blogging community together and raising the profile of garden bloggers. She's already sitting with an idea for next year! VP gets a big gold star from me :-D

Yesterday's blog at Veg Plotting The Bloggers’ Cut: Garden and Cake Finder thanks everyone for taking part with a map that links all participants to garden visits and cake for everyone to enjoy. Oh yes… some tasty cake recipes may be found there too :-)




Cake would have probably been quite acceptable to the worn out Blackbird parents in my garden yesterday morning as their young followed them around begging for food. However, the high energy sunflower hearts provide would be much better for the hungry Blackbird juveniles. To help out, I hid sunflower hearts in a ground feeder tray in a spot I knew the parents would find… and they did… very quickly!

We’ve had a bit of a dry spell in the garden which has been great for getting stuff done and enjoying eating outside with the odd barbecue. However, I missed noticing the birdbaths had run dry and no sooner were they filled up and the birds were squabbling over them. However, the two juvenile Blackbirds that caught my camera yesterday seemed very mature and civilized as they waited to take turns in bathing.




Mmm… don’t they just look so innocent above… like butter wouldn’t melt. It wasn’t until I was cropping my photos that I spotted… my common spotted Orchid leaves with holes in them (seen hanging over the basket on the right edge of my photo) and I don’t suspect slugs this time!

I grant you it is amusing to see young juvenile birds pecking at anything and everything wondering if it is edible. I’ve noticed they don’t appear to instinctively know what is food for themselves when they fledge. I spotted the pair above pecking at leaves, the planting baskets and my iron garden chair and table where one got caught its beak tangled in a cobweb for a moment!

Just as the young birds were refreshed in the birdbath, my plants were also refreshed with an overnight and morning shower of rain. This was much needed too with new foliage growth and flowers in the garden just now. I am very pleased with the plantings and colour in my June borders (images to come soon). When I began my first garden, orange was a colour I avoided as I associated it with marigolds which I disliked. I would never imagined that some years later I would be embracing it!

Coming back to cake… there was no celebration cake special enough for our family during the week that was the The Bloggers’ Cut 2013! There were hospital visits where my OH got the all clear on his annual CT scan check-up after having a tumour removed from his pancreas 2yrs ago – what a relief! My youngest daughter finally got her knee operation after 2½ years with it dislocating regularly (glad that’s over and fingers crossed it has been a success. She is one week down of 12 before her brace comes off and she can have full weight bearing). Oh yes… and the day before the knee op... her (very anxious for her final Uni results) older sister qualified as a Physiotherapist! What are the chances of timing like that? What a relief that all her hard work dedication and determination through some very difficult times at home and with her own health has come to a successful end - she has a very caring and considerate manner and will make a great Physio - I am bias of course ;-) What a week of stresses and highs!

Sadly, there was no cake for my Dad’s birthday (the first since he died) which ended this intense week but he would have been absolutely delighted to hear our news. He was in our thoughts and being the character and fun Grandad that he was, we have many fun memories of him which we will always hold dear.

Finally, what cake memories do you have? Perhaps you enjoy cake in the teas at Open Gardens? Do you have a favourite? If you were to invite some friends round for cake and a cuppa in your garden, do you have a cake in mind that you would like to make/buy/share? I’d have to make two… the first would be my old fashioned chocolate cake recipe that tastes so velvety smooth. The second one would be a simple gluten free lemon Victoria sponge with lightly whipped fresh cream and white chocolate shards as this was the first cake I made for my knee op and new Coeliac daughter. This cake was deliciously light and fresh and I was thrilled to get the texture of the sponge just like one with gluten - so much so that my daughter questioned it :-D

Ooops… I bet I have made you hungry for cake now ;-) Lol... I've made myself think of baking! Wishing you a great weekend of good company in gardens, birds and wildlife :-D


This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in June 2013.

9 comments:

VP said...

I'm thrilled with your post, Shirley thank you :)

I must add you to the map straight away - I need to find where to pinpoint you in Scotland first though!

Sorry to hear that your family's been through some tough times lately, though it sounds like you're turning the corner now thank goodness. Time for some celebratory cake methinks :)

L said...

Glad to hear that the family is restored to good health. It is good to recall good memories of those who are no longer with us, especially at family celebrations. My mum used to make fantastic cakes;chocolate eclairs, baked cheesecake, and Chelsea buns. I have her recipe book and baking some of these are on my to-do list. Eating cake didn't make me put on weight in those days but now I just have to think about them!

rusty duck said...

Oh you're in Perthshire, what a fabulous place to live!
And what a week you have had too.
I don't think I've tried lavender cake, and certainly not coffee.. brave woman.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Shirley, It sounds like you are having quite the summer already. Congrats to your eldest daughter. All of those long nights of study paid off. I am happy to hear that your Husband's tests came back negative. I know that is a relief. I hope your younger daughter's surgery is a success too. It sounds like with all this going on you deserve a cake of your choice.
If it was me, I would like a Texas Sheet Cake. Yummm. Haven't had one of those in some time. I also like carrot cake. Or either cake that you mentioned would be fine. Yes, you are making me hungry. I might have to go home (I'm at work) and bake a cake! Our garden is full of fledged birds too. Such a fun time of year. We have had enough rain that I havne't had to water. Everything looks so lush. I hope this trend continues and we don't have a drought this summer.

Shirley said...

Hello everyone, thanks for all your comments :-)

VP, I’m delighted you liked this one. I wasn’t expecting to be added to your lists or map (thanks for all the links). I genuinely just wanted to share what you’d done with this with everyone that stumbled my way. I understand the work that goes into something like this – well done you! Haha – you’re not too far off for your map. Sorry, my range of Perthshire doesn’t help anyone pin pointing me but I’d rather not say exactly where I am. Thanks, you just have to move through and on with things. Today, we were making a booking for my Mum’s 80th – I’ll be baking soon for that but my main focus is going to be in a 3D Royal Iced Birthday card as a decoration to accompany a cupcake display. I’m going up the attic tomorrow for some icing books :-D

L, thank-you, it’s great that you have your Mum’s recipes. That’s a wonderful way to think of her when you use them. Haha… yep, cake can come at cost ;-)

Jessica, welcome! It is a very pretty place, Perthshire. Yes, that’s the way it goes sometimes isn’t it when everything happens at the same time. Yep… I feel I did earn a brave badge on the lavender coffee. I can smell it even now!

Lisa, thanks for all your wishes, I’m glad we are past all these things for the moment. Focus goes to organising more celebratory things now. Ah (after a quick Google) I see that a Texas sheet cake is a chocolate cake – looking at the recipe it does sound yum! I too am partial to carrot cake. It’s great to hear you are enjoying seeing young fledglings in your garden but I am delighted to hear that you are having plenty of rain – I remember how you lost heart in your garden with your drought last year as your plants suffered. Wishing you a better gardening summer :-D

VP said...

Tee hee Shirley, I just got the map to Perthshire and 'stabbed' the pin in at random ;)

No problem, re wanting to be private, I've kept everyone's locations on the vague side, including mine :)

ShySongbird said...

Hi Shirley, Sorry to be late with this comment. So glad your husband and elder daughter had excellent results and I do hope youngest daughter's knee op is successful. All good wishes for elder daughter's future career. Hope your Mum enjoys her upcoming, special birthday. I think you are all due for some good fortune now. :-)

Well, I'm not a big cake eater but having said that I wouldn't be able to say no to a chocolate eclair or a slice of coffee and walnut...mouth watering at that thought now! I did try Lavender cake once and to be honest couldn't decide if I liked it or not, I thought I did at the beginning of the slice but wasn't so sure at the end...it was certainly very distinctive... ;-)

Love the Blackbird photos.

Anna said...

Oh your lavender cake experience reminds me of when I tried lavender ice cream a couple of years ago Shirl. Liked the taste but not so keen on the texture :)

It sounds as if you must have been through some challenging days recently - so glad that that the outcomes were all positive. Still it takes it out of you so take care and keep up the cake intake xxx

Midmarsh John said...

Blackbirds aren't the most grateful of birds eating the free food we put out. They pull the petals from crocuses, especially the yellow ones. Now they are digging up my succulents looking for grubs and worms.