I’ve spent this weekend at a wedding in Suffolk and had the chance to watch a craftswoman at work! Betty had offered to make her cousin and his wife their wedding cake as their wedding gift. They were delighted to accept and had a particular idea about what they wanted – three tiers of chocolate cake covered in white chocolate cigarellos and white roses. You can see the end result below:
How much do you think that cake is worth? Go on, what you reckon? £100? £200? £300? £400? Annoyingly I’m not going to give you the answer – mostly because I don’t know. Depending on where you live, and the quality of ingredients you’d like used, that cake could easily cost you anything between £200-500.
A few years ago I made my little sister’s wedding cake – she’s got modest tastes (not) and wanted four tiers. The bottom tier was fruit cake, followed by double chocolate cake, victoria sandwich and topped with lemon drizzle cake. Her husband is in the Army and she met him at Army Cadet Summer Camp (she was an adult instructor – nothing dodgy) hence the camouflage ribbon and little hearts. You can see it here:
What I can tell you is that the ingredients alone cost over £150 – I’m not a professional and don’t have access to suppliers for the things you need, so the ingredients were all from Sainsburys – yes I could have got them in Tesco or Lidl but it was a one off and my sister at that, so money was no object. So the ingredients alone – cake, marzipan, icing, dowels, cake boxes, ribbon, cake tin hire for the HUGE fruit cake – were over £150. Cost in the time, gas and stress and that cake was easily worth double that I’d say. Not to mention the number of times I did a dry run of all but the fruit cake.
The thing is when people get quotes for wedding cakes they nearly always think they’re extortionate – and to be honest I think I’d always sniff at a couple hundred quid and feel it was daylight robbery, after all anyone can bake a cake right. Well not so actually. The baking is only the first step, then there’s the icing, and the decorating, and the transporting, and the stacking, and the finishing. It really is much more complicated than you think. All of this is time consuming like you wouldn’t consider.
None of this even starts to consider the stress. The responsibility of making the centrepiece for someone else’s special day, takes a lot of the fun out of it. Watching Betty cutting, icing, stacking and decorating the wedding cake this weekend reminded me of just how stressful it is. Never again. Seriously. I did offer to help Betty out with her own cake (she’s getting married in three weeks) but she declined – and I am *so* relieved. Betty, in her real life, is a paramedic, so she’s trained to cope with stress and work under pressure – she is definitely more adept at it than I am.
My final thought is that the value of a friend or relative making your wedding cake is something that you can’t actually buy or put a cost on – it’s love, it really is a *massive* labour of love. So if you’re getting married any time soon, and someone offers to bake your wedding cake for you, please do accept, but accept graciously and spare a thought for the effort, time, cost and love that goes into it.
It’ll taste all the better once you appreciate the love that has gone into it.
On Monday this week Cpl Mark ‘Maldoon’ Palin was killed in Afghanistan. He was leading a patrol to recover component parts that would be used to make IEDs when he was killed by an IED. Mark was a young father to Lennon and married to Carla who is 5mths pregnant with their daughter. He was good friends with my brother in law and neighbours of my sister, who lives a few doors away from his family on camp.
Mark was doing a job he loved, leading from the front, a respected and relied upon Rifleman with a reputation for banter and humour – read his obituary to get more of an idea of who he was. His pal, Easty had this to say:
Maldoon – You have left a gigantic hole in our lives. I don’t know where to start and definitely don’t know where to finish….The banter was always (most of the time) good and there are so many memories that we will all remember.
Just over a year ago I wrote a post Respect please! after my sister’s next door neighbour, Cpl Chris Harrison, was killed in Afghanistan. I ended it as follows:
I just wanted to remind anyone who has bothered to read this far, of the reality of life for those who choose to serve in our armed forces. I guess I’d just like them to think twice before so quickly dismissing their efforts and relegating their profession.
A year on, another loss, Mark was the 377th British military death in Afghanistan since 2001. I’m not really sure why I’m writing this post, I guess partly in acknowledgement of the ultimate sacrifice that so many of our forces personnel make and partly in an attempt to raise people’s awareness and understanding of the impact. For the family and friends of these men, life will never be the same.
The Swift and Bold appeal provides immediate support and assistance for the families, girlfriends and boyfriends of the dead and wounded in those devastating first hours and days after a tragedy. In the medium and long term excess funds are used by the Rifles Regimental Trust to fund meaningful projects for the wounded and their families. If you would like to donate in memory of Mark you can do so on their website.
Last night as I was busy enjoying @PizzaCafeNewton and watching the Apprentice Final, I received a phonecall on my landline. The conversation went as follows:
Caller: Hi, it’s Ben (cant remember his proper name) calling from Santander. Just to let you know this call may be recorded for training purposes.
Me: Uh huh
Caller: Can you confirm the first name of your address please
Me: Um, could you tell me what you’re calling about please
Caller: Um, I need you to confirm your address details first, they’re DPA requirements. I’m from Santander.
Me: Sorry Ben, I’m not sure I’m that comfortable confirming my details to you
Caller: Why not, it’s DPA requirements…Data Protection Act
Me: Well, yes, but I’m still not that happy with it. You called me, how do I know who you are (while really thinking I’d rather be enjoying my evening)
Caller: I’m Ben, from Santander
Me: Yes I know you say you are, but I don’t know that. I’m not that comfortable to be honest
Caller: *Long loud huffff* Oh well I can put something in writing if you want
Me: Yes please, that would be great, thanks.
Am I missing something here. I get called at home, by a bank, requesting my details – when I say no, they don’t even offer a number I can call them on (not that I’d particularly trust that either). Not sure whether it’s spam or just shite customer service but I’ll live without knowing what I’m missing for now.
Sheds are for real men, thinking, practical men, men who actively seek out their own company, men who make things, and do the job, have calloused, dirty hands, who would rather do than speak, who wouldn’t know the meaning of the terms ‘in the loop’, ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’, ‘touching base’, ‘breakout group’, ‘brainstorming session’, ‘thinking outside the box’, ‘tipping point’, ‘pushing the envelope’, ‘fit for purpose’, ‘team building event’, ‘corporate away day’, ‘mission statement’ and all other such trendy inanities, men who know that a workshop is somewhere where you wear overalls, heavy boots and run the risk of physical injury rather than a poncy management love in. Men who were ‘ Made in England’ when it meant something, men that the nation would need if things got tough.
My brother sent me this the other day – he’d seen it and thought of Dad. I love it, especially the bit about a workshop I’ve written quite a lot about my Dad on this blog, about him, his attitude to life and his fight with cholangiocarcinoma. The most recent post is here, for once I’ve not got much more to say, the man is a legend, a great big shed loving legend!!
*When not in his shed my Dad can be found cuddling babies